Goodbye… I’m Leaving

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The Caves
Aug 21-22, 26 (23.59)

Material: five-stars  Delivery: five-stars  Laughs: four-stars.png  


As I watched the two members of La Barca dei Soli perform their clown routines, I found my spirit soar along its past lives to medieval towns, to a provincial child staring wide-eyed with glee at a pair of touring Provençal street entertainers. La Barca have hit the seam, the tradition is with them, they are Jedis of the clowning art. Their Yoda is, unsurprisingly, Philippe Gaulier, & to see La Barca perform is to witness the genius of Monsieur Gaulier, whose fussy eye has helped in the development of the show.

Goodbye…I’m Leaving is the ultimate comedic skit on the Don Quixote/Sancho Panza archetypes, stuffed full of myriad ingredients which have infused themselves into the Clowning tradition. Our two performers are the wiry, classically exuberant Claudio Del Toro (Italy) and eye-brimming Armando Gonzalez (Mexico), the former a Basil Fawlty, the latter ‘Papa Guinea;’ a naughty, precocious, mischievous child in a grown man’s body.

Their show consists of an expositive exploration of the nuances & combinations surrounding a single piece of dialogue/performance; & as we follow this impressive education in clowning, the amusement levels go through the roof. Repetition can be hilarious, especially in the hands of such consummate mastery, when laughter feels like obedience, but absolutely delighted to be thus compelled. The show is on at an awkward hour – midnight – but  if you are anywhere near the Caves at that time, I beg you to see this show before it leaves Edinburgh. Trust me, La Barca could keep making up variations on their show until the candle burns down, & then keep doing it in the dark, & we’d still be laughing.

Damo

five-stars

Two Faced Bitchin’

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PQA Venues @ Riddles Court
August 21-22 (19:00)

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The first thing that struck me about this show was the sheer level of energy. Our two performers were utterly fearless and, after a slightly wayward Fringe weekend on my own part, rather more than a little intimidating. Initially, the tsunami of said performance energy made it hard to warm to ‘Cassandra Hunt’ & ‘Cynthia Murphy,’ but I  eventually started to relax into things, albeit with the ever-present fear they were going to rope me into one of their skits.

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Two Faced Bitchin’ is essentially a sketch show with several different double acts all played out by the same two performers; with the common thread of a home shopping channel they kept returning to. My personal favorite was the Victorian Revivalist pair consisting of a man in a period dress and a woman in some kind of lace burka and a mouth-guard that made most of her speech incomprehensible. They were certainly very skilled and confident performers, with my main reservations coming from the material which at times seemed a little bit on-the-nose and excessively silly. However, it was when this silliness exploded into the downright surreal, slightly embarrassing and somewhat disturbing that I felt the show was at it’s best, & it was in these moments that the few personal belly laughs I did churn up came gushing forth. Not to say that the rest of the audience didn’t seem to be enjoying themselves. Everybody seemed to be having a whale of a time and it was in the aforementioned more peculiar moments that I seemed to be the only one laughing. Maybe the fault was not with the performers but with my own warped sense of humor.

I guess that’s just the kind of guy I am & what I’m saying is, if you’re going to do silly go all-out and make no attempt to water it down with any kind of logic or narrative thread. But then, judging by the audience reaction, that is not the prevailing opinion. In conclusion, my advice is to go and see this show, & you will probably love it, & it’s also nice to see someone punting a little bit of vinyl for a change.

Victor Pope

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Eat Sleep Shit Shag

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City Cafe
Aug 21-23 (13:45)

Material: five-stars  Delivery: five-stars  Laughs: three-stars.png


Not only does Abbie Murphy’s solo show have the best title on the Fringe, but it is rapidly gaining the best rep. I mean, the City Cafe’s Las Vegas Room might not be the biggest venue at the Fringe, but the effect of seeing the audience queue snaking into every crevice of the City Cafe basement based on word of mouth is exciting. So in we went, & folk were forced to sit on the floor & lap around the walls, leaving about six square feet of space for Abbie & her massive Aztec showgirl head-dress to strut her stuff. It was so intimate, it felt like we were Slavic peasants sat down around a single oil-lantern for light & warmth & that Abbie was that very candle.

So, the show itself. Abbie is a cheeky Essex girl, whose 32 years sit her sweetly on the cusp between youth & middle-age, which is reflected in the universality of her comedy. We were all laughing, but quite strangely at different times, picked off by her punchline sniper rifle. As Abbie frollicked almost machine-like through her down-to-earth & snappy delivery, it felt like we were one of her girlfriends who she’d met down Ilford to do some shopping one afternoon; & we’d decided to hit a bar for a beer, a giggle & a catch-up.

The central section of her show deals with her time as a showgirl on a cruise liner, a gentle & natural anecdotal ride which surpasses most story-themed comedy shows that come to the Fringe. As for the rest, it was varied in subject, but always funny, even the Jesus material near the end, the seventh time I’d witnessed a comedian touch such material so far in 2018… but Murphy’s was definitely the best.

The only problem for me as a spectator was the venue. In this instance Abbie is a five-star comedian in a two-star venue – cramped & stuffy – & for this reason a lot of the laughter was held back by the audience. Watching Abbie in a large auditorium with decent air conditioning would have been a much superior experience, so lets hope it does happen because Abbie definitely has the talent to pull off a much larger gig.

Damo

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Pernilla Holland: Pop Ditz

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Just The Tonic at the Grassmarket Centre
August 21-26 (22.00)

Material: four-stars.png  Delivery: five-stars  Laughs: three-stars.png


For those who like their comedy with hyacinths & biscuits – i.e. sweet & crunchy – Pop Ditz is the only choice. Directed by burgeoningly brilliant Lucy Bairstow (Theatre with Legs) & performed with chainless precision by Pernilla Holland, let us take a look at 21st century urbanity through the eyes of a young Norwegian lady, far from her one-reindeer village; the caged bird set free in ‘the land of Eng’ to observe, & then report her vulgar findings with a tremolo of energetic delivery.

The show itself consists of a fun-sustaining sequence of ubersketches, played out between witty, not-that-well-sung songs. It was all very revelatory & original, as if some secret comedy pond had been stumbled across by the ladies one night, from which they are hooking slightly mutated, but extremely delicious fish. Continuing with the water theme, experiencing Pernilla’s flow of near-gibberish is akin to having a water-feature attached to one’s psyche, from which our smiles bubble up constantly. Pernilla’s own smile, by the way, is the widest one I’ve seen on any performer at the Fringe that I can recall.

Imagine entering a thick-walled tavern beyond the Arctic Circle, where red-nosed, akvavit-addl’d Norwegians are making funnies around a hot fire, laughter looping through the smoke… that’s experiencing Pop Ditz. There’s some absoultely mental moments; using her shoe for a chat with an audience member just one of them, while the Scandinoir sequence made for uncanny comedy. ‘No words are better than silence,’ repeats Pernilla, ‘except the singing goat,’ & as my eyes grew wider & wider throughout my 50 minutes with this classic 21st century clown, I could only nod my head in complete & awestruck agreement.

Damo

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Daniel Muggleton: Mouth Breather

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Laughing Horse @ The Counting House
August 21-26 (16:00)

Material: three-stars.png  Delivery: four-stars.png  Laughs: three-stars.png


Daniel Muggleton appears on stage like some Alexandrine statue, Callimachus perhaps, & beacause of the smart confidence to his delivery emits the same sagely energy. He is an Australian living in London, & this is his third Fringe in a row. Daniel has a really easy vibe, & at the commencement of his show, as he chatted with every party in the room, he reminded me of a recycling truck which visits the street house-by-house, emptying the blue & red plastic boxes of all that Fringe junk, & leaving our mental vestibules fresh for more comedy.

Mr Muggleton is no cavalry charger, but as his libertine mind gondaliers through his material, he does appear happiest taking the subtle piss out of anyone & anything, including himself. Along the way we are treated to a contemporizing tour of his personal zeitgeist; Brexit, Tube Travel, potentially imminent fatherhood, racism – all of which varied in quality, but was entertaining enough. I must admit the ‘vagina voodoo shit‘ of his finale-tale held a pre-eminent fascination.

It was towards the end when he began chatting to a fellow Aussie about the alternate colloquial understandings of the word ‘dogging’ that I had a wee epiphany. When Mr Muggleton interacts with the audience, the room lights up, you can feel the warmth, & its a genuinely great place to be. My instinct tells me that if Daniel can weave a show where his jokes bounce off the audience interactions, a rainbow may sunder the sky along which path should lie his comedy gold.

Damo

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An Interview with Rob Gee

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The Vancouver Fringe is rising rapidly on the horizon, & impeccable wordsmith Rob Gee is, well, geeing himself up for his gigs, big time…


Hello Rob, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
Rob: Raised in Derby, Living in Leicester, currently in Calgary.

Why comedy, what is it about being funny in front of other people that makes you tick?
Rob: I’ve always liked entertaining folk since I was king Herod in the school nativity. And the sound of a bunch of people laughing is lovely. Also, I sometimes talk about some pretty rough subjects in my shows, so it comes down to that thing George Bernard Shaw said about how if you’re going to tell people the truth, you’d better make them laugh or they’ll kill you.

You’re also a dab hand with a quill. Can you tell us about your poetry?
Rob: Anyway, basically I do stand up poetry, which is a bit like stand up comedy, but it rhymes and there’s no jokes in it. I used to do loads of poetry slams too. One of the reasons I’m looking forward to returning to Vancouver is its fantastic slam scene.

You’ve shared stages with numerous personalities & luminaries; who have been your top 3 & why?
Rob: Sue Townsend, who wrote the Adrian Mole diaries. She was a really interesting speaker and her books are hilarious. Tony Benn, old school Labour MP. He was a delight. Dick Fish, who sings for punk band the Subhumans. I grew up on punk rock, particularly the anarcho stuff, so Dick was a childhood hero. I gigged with his band, Citizen Fish, once or twice in the 90s, and then he started doing spoken word, so I gigged with him a bit more. He’s lovely and he always spoke to me like we were mates. I was all awestruck and dithery, but it didn’t seem to phase him.

You’ve got three famous figures from history coming round for dinner. Who would they be & what would you cook; starter, mains & dessert?
Rob: It would have to be the three wise men, surely? They’d be pretty interesting conversation with a few beers in them. Actually, maybe two wise men and a translator. I’m not a very cook, but I live in Leicester and there’s a lovely South Indian place near me. We’d go there.

You’re bringing a show to this year’s Vancouver Fringe, can you tell us about it?
Rob: It’s a murder mystery set on an Alzheimer’s ward. I was a psych nurse for a number of years and I also love murder mysteries. There was also a lot I wanted to say about dementia. So it’s funny, with the occasional moving bit.

What’s the difference between a Canadian audience & a British?
Rob: I can only speak in terms of Fringe festivals, because they’re the only Canadian audiences I tend to do. Generally speaking, Canadian audiences tend to be a lot bigger, because their Fringes are better – the whole model is different. This leads to more questions than answers, I know. You’ll just have to take my word for it. Also, Canadian Fringe audiences are orientated more towards theatre, whereas UK Fringe audiences (particularly in Edinburgh) tend to be more focused towards comedy. In terms of what they laugh at though, it’s actually very similar.

What is the creative process behind writing your comedic material?
Rob: It starts with the idea that makes you giggle, or at least ignites something happy in the old grey matter. Once that happens, I then I like to write many pages of drivel which, several drafts later, I then use to I bore the people around me. Then it’ll do a scratch performance in a pub near where I live, and then it’ll do a tiny Fringe festival somewhere I lick the beast into shape. And then it’s ready!

What are the key ingredients to your style?
Rob: I like lots of light and lots of dark. And it goes in and out of rhyme. And it’s both kinds of funny.

You have twenty seconds to sell the show to someone you are flyering in the streets of Vancouver – what would you say?
Rob: It’s like Clue meets Memento. (That allows a few seconds in case they’ve not heard of Memento, then I can refer them to Google…)


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Forget Me Not

The Alzheimer’s Whodunnit

Revue Stage

Sept 6, 9, 11, 12, 15, 15 (times vary)

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www.robgee.co.uk

The Establishment: Fool Britannia

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Heroes @ Boteco
Aug 18-20, 22-26 (17:30)

Material: four-stars.png  Delivery: four-stars.png  Laughs: four-stars.png  


You’ve got to love The Establishment, who dwell somewhere in the realms beyond bonkers, but are also as surefire as twin torpedoes streaking towards the hulls of all our seriousness. Yes, the Fringe & the Establishment are perfect bosom-buddies, for watching their supreme joviality makes you feel like you are finally at the festival properly. This is what its all about. This is comedy.

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The theme of this year is a timewarpin’ whirl through British history, sandwiched either side by a Clockwise-Cleesian headteacher who ‘loves’ his ‘fuc£in’ school.’ He is soon joined by a colleague, ‘Mr Foster,’ & together the two proceed to combine their talents for the rest of the show’s swimmingly fashioned imaginarium. Each scene from history floats easily upon the bantertastic sea of silliness supplied by The Establishment; Cavemen, Romans, Vikings, & so on – all the major motifs are given the treatment, & embellished with colourful costumes. Attention-grabbing from beginning to end, Fool Britannia is, as I hinted at before, the quintessence of what should be happening at the Fringe.

Damo

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