Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Royal Mile

Having posted not much other than reviews and show recommendations I thought it would be worth chatting about other great aspects of the Fringe.

One of the highlights of the festival is the Royal Mile.

Right in the centre of the old town the street comes alive as 100's of street performers, theatre groups, flyerers and a few tramps all compete for attention.

If you want to soak up the Fringe atmosphere this is the first place to head. The street performers will keep the kids entertained for hours, there are three mobile stages with acts doing short preview performances every 20 minutes. If you wander between the three of them you are pretty much constantly watching something new.

If you like anything you see you can buy tickets from the fringe office which is right there in the middle of the Royal Mile. (There are also a lot of year round tourist attractions there - head further up the hill to see the Camera Obscura - one of the world's oldest visitor attractions).

You'll also see people trying to invent new ways of getting attention. Lying in the road pretending to be dead seems to be popular at the moment, which can be quite annoying when there is a big crowd trying to get past.

Yet there are still people handing out flyers without so much as a smile!

See my posting from last year for tips:


A mention should go to the cast of "Much Ado About Nothing" for attracting photographers with their posing, before dancing in the middle of the street with each other (and encouraging passers by to join in). Geat way to get attention. Good luck with your show!

Also the cast of "Showstopper" deserve a mention for a very entertaining improvised song. Their show looks great.

If the weather holds I will probably head back down today.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Shows for Non-English Speakers

I've been asked for recommendations for shows that would be appreciated by non-English speakers at the fringe...

My first thought was Gamarojobot, a Japanese mime act who often perform a mixture of magic and mime on the High Street and usually do a full show at a venue as well.

I say usually, because unfortunately I haven't seen them listed this year.... so on to the shows that are.....

The Soweto Gospel Choir are Fringe veterans. They've been coming for years and always get good reviews. I've only seen them on the street busking/promoting, and heard them on the radio. I've never seen a full show, but I have no doubt they will be impressive.

I saw the group running "Venezuela Viva" three years ago and although there is a storyline to the show, it's bursting with energy and is mainly dance based. It got 5* reviews all round and the girl I was seeing at the time loved it.

Tao - Samurai Magical Drumming I think would be another safe show to see although I know less about it.

The "Dance and Physical Theatre" section will have more ideas. The Japanese/Eastern dance acts are always spectacular.

If I spot anything of interest I'll add it to this post.

Here's a couple more:

The Magnets at the E4 Udderbelly are worth a look. They creata a big band sound using only their voices.

Or you could hang out at Whistlebinkies and see the best Scottish traditional and contemporary music. They have stuff on all day during the fringe.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

The Heresy Project: Kill Your God ****

Be afraid... Be very afraid..... for the two comedians brave enough to put on a show with this title, let alone the content within the show.

The advertising for the show is not subtle "...makes Richard Dawkins look like the Archbishop of Canterbury" screams the poster. This show is clearly not for people with imaginary friends!

I've taken a keen interest in the god debate in recent years, so this is my kind of show and I knew it would be.

The show pulls no punches. Zero. Imagine the most blasphemous thing you can possibly think of, then add willies to it. And Donkeys. With willies. For every major religion.... So, you get the idea of the content. On to the show itself.

The show is a well presented and well prepared hour which makes good use of mulitmedia without being overly flashy and dependent on it. But what impressed me most was the preparation that has obviously gone in to preparing the dialogue itself. The two comedians did have their scripts on stage to refer to, just in case they went off track but they didn't take too many peeks so it never took away from the show itself.

What we ended up with was two passionate comedians talking about something that they believe in with a good on stage rapport as well as a natural talent for being funny.

Although there is a lot of goofiness and a fair bit of equating people they don't like to other people they don't like (Christian Voice are a bit like the BNP apparently) some of the central arguments of the atheist perspective are put across quite well, in a simplified, offensive kind of way.

So... if blasphemy is your kind of thing, go and see it. If it's not, don't.

The Heresy Project: Kill Your God is on at Espionage at 20.40



Shaggers Part 1&2 ****

I've been to Shaggers three times since it started last week and I've seen some good stuff...

For thse of you who haven't read my previous posts, it's basically a show lasting 60-80 minutes with guest comedians who are given one rule: You must talk about sex.

It's a late show at the Counting House and it starts at 11.40pm in the ballroom upstairs. I don't claim to remember the names of every act on stage but there have been some seriously good ones.

Here are the highlights...

Marcel Lucont: An absolute class act both times. He's got some cracking on stage banter as well as some great prepared material. He has his own show at the Underbelly around 10pm, which I'll hopefully get a chance to see before the end of the fringe.

Dan Willis: Solid shagging stories from an experienced comedian. He's on quite regularly so there's a good chance you'll see him if you head down. If not he's got a solo show around 6pm in Espionage and he comeres "Northern Talent" in the Meadow Bar.

Lewis Schaffer: Got to gives him kudos for pushing the boundaries. He managed to get about 10 eopl eot walk out with his humour but alos provided me with the best joke to repeat to all my sick and twisted mates (which I'm not repeating on here). His show, which is definately not for the feint hearted or easily offended is on at the Counting House at 6.40pm.

Nik Coppin: My lodger for the fringe... superb compere (he'd kill me if I said anything else but it's true). He also has a solo show at Espionage at 7.20pm.

Ben Dover: Porn star, but also a pretty competent stand up judging by his preformance. Alhtough I have friends who went to his show last night and apparently a few people walked out it was so bad! Funny how comics can kill one night and die the next. Pretty good based on what I saw though.

I've also stuck my head it to the tail end of a few of the free shows when I've been drinking at the venues... Donald MacIntyre had a few good jokes, but with a tough crowd. Kai Bosh was compering a late show and had some great filler material in the 5-10 minutes I saw him. Imran Yusuf also had a great short set.

Nick Mohammed in Apollo 21 **

The blurb for the show doesn't tell you much, other than it's a show about the moon landings and it's listed in the "comedy" section.

Unfortunately I didn't really figure it out. It's all very much moon related, but I just don't think he really took the theme anywhere. The show followed the timelines of the moon landings in a loose fashion but he didn't really try to go in one direction.

The show started with, and kept going back to imressions of Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins although Mohammed strangely chose to put on an accent for Collins, but use his own accent when playing the art of Aldrin).

Rather than talking about things that actually happened he chose to imagine how they may have bitched about each other then repeat his thoughts to the audience. There were one or two witty observations scattered in there but mostly it was predictable... pooing and peeing in space, Michael Collins being jealous because he didn't get to land on the moon etc.

He touched on the subject of the debunking the conspiracy theorists who try to claim that the moon landings were faked, but again didn't really take it anywhere.

Unfortunately the best part of the show came when he had a major technical problem with the projector and couldn't get it to work. This lead to some funny interactions and ad libing while the computer restarted and we got to see his screensaver.

So there is proof that there is a good comedian out there, he just didn't manage to show it in this show.

Nick Mohammed is at The Pleasance Upstairs at 16.45



Friday, 14 August 2009

The Motherwokfantastic - Daniel Rigby ***

Daniel Rigby is a very interesting charachter. His ridiculous style of comedy which mixes deadpan with stupid songs and on stage giggling makes him really hard to define or take seriously.

His deadpan style comes across as a little arrogant at first. I got the impression he thought he was a genius and was just waiting for us to realise it at first, but he won me over by the end of the show.

Some of the sketches were repeated, getting more surreal each time.

I really can't decide if I like him or not. There's a good chance he's the sort of act that grows on you the more you see them (there is more than just a tip of the hat to Monty Python in his sketches)... I could quite easily see him next year and give him 5 stars. He could just as easily fall of the face of the earth.

Why not go and see him for yourself and post a comment below....

Daniel Rigby is at the Pleasance Cellar at 18.00



Regret Me Not **

You can sit and watch someone who is clearly talented and recognise their talents, but still not enjoy the show all that much.

Andrea Dovovan is likeable and I don't know if it was that tiredness was starting to set in, but I didn't get in to the show at all.

With no-one to bounce off on stage and no audience interaction (which I admit was a relief afer Adam Riches) the show was far too one-dimensional. The costume changes took up quite a bit of time and although the charachters could have been funny, they took too long to establish.

She'll go on to do well I think. Other people in the audience were enjoying the show more than me, but it was definatley smile to yourself funny rather than laugh out loud funny.

I expect to see Andrea Donovan have success in the future, possibly getting parts in comedy acting... I don't know how exerienced she is... if this is her first Edinburgh show then it could be a good starting point for her, but she will need some new ideas to really get on... more props, people starring alongside her.... use of multimedia in the show could all help take her to the next level (Her youtube trailer for the show is decent - link below).

Regret Me Not is at the Peasance Hut at 16.45:




Rogue Males - Adam Riches *****

Mr Riches, if you are reading this, you are very lucky I have a sense of humour.

I figured it was charachter comedy rather than stand up, there were seats near the front, the room was filling up and I was by myself, so I figured I could sit at the front and be safe..... Big mistake. Schoolboy error.

There was some hilarious charachter acting in the show from Riches and his sidekicks (with the Daniel Day Lewis impressions being the highlight) but the only people who get it worse than Mr Day Lewis are the poor audience members in the front row.... which included me.

During the show I was snogged by Riches, forced to bear my (lack of) chest hair, dressed up as a MI6 operative and only avoided an unusual drinking contest because a fat guy in the audience decided to start heckling (NEVER heckle when there is audience participation in the show).

This is exactly the sort of show you'd want to go and see with your work mates. (Point out the boss and I'm sure Adam will oblige in picking on them).

Despite my humiliation I thoroughly enjoyed it and I'm sure the audience enjoyed it even more!

Rogue Male is on at the Pleasance at 15.30



Success Story *****

I've had a busy week of festivalling and working which has left me with hardly any time to blog my fringe experiences so far. I've fianlly got some free time and it's raining, so here's my first catch up review...

The one thing that annoys me about the fringe is the blur between comedy and theatre. I see a lot of stand up but some of the best shows that you see are theatre shows that are funny. A well acted play with well executed funny lines can give you double the pleasure as you're seeing a story unfold infront of you rather than just retold, but you also get a decent gag to laugh at.

There isn't a guide out there for "funny theatre". There's definately a gap in the market for someone who coud list al the threatre shows that consider themselves funny rather than all out serious.

Success Story is exactly the kind of gem I look for. A great play that allows the actors to shine, without taking itself too seriously. One of the best plays I've seen is Ben Elton's "Popcorn" and whilst Success Story isn't as gory, it has many similar attributes.... Hollywood types holed up in an apartment, suddenly facing a moral dilema, not a small amount of stress and some strained relationships.

The acting in this play is top notch, particularly from the lead actor (who's name isn't easily found on a google search). There are twists in the tale, some great one liners and a real sense of escapism as you're taken away for an hour in to the lives of the Hollywood elite.

The small intimate venue of the Pleasance Upstairs also helps the atmosphere in the room.

I expect this play to get more 5* reviews as the festival progresses.

Success Story is at the Pleasance at 2pm



Thursday, 6 August 2009

Day 2 Summary

I saw the following shows today:

Success Story 5/5
Rogue Male - Adam Riches 5/5
Regret Me Not 2/5
The Motherwokfantastic - Daniel Rigby 3/5

Nik Coppin - Liquatious - see below.

I cant remember seeing three 5* shows in a row, but the first two today were both great adding to the joy of Hugh Hughes last night. Full reviews will follow, I'm trying to cram in as many shows as possible at the moment so it's inevitable I'll fall behind.....

Success Story is a great play, with a fantastic young good looking cast and well worth going to see.

Adam Riches is on his way to getting a 5* review despite humiliating me on stage three times. Never sit in the front row - I made a huge school boy error thinking "It's a charachter show - he won't be picking on people". I was a whole new level of wrong. Think Michael Fish in 1987 and you're close. Maybe it's got something to do with his beautiful assistant throwing herself at me but despite being used and abused the whole show I still enjoyed it.

Regret Me Not will be getting a similar review to "Almost 10". Charming actress - slightly dull script - raised a few smiles but all out laughs were rare. Another talent who would highlight her skills better with some on stage interaction.

I'm still undecided about Daniel Rigby. He came across as slightly arrogant at first... but did win me over by the end. Performers getting the giggles can sometimes add the show - but you have to be careful not to do it more times than the audience - and Rigby and his sidekick weren't far off crossing that line. I thnk he's pretty new and he will develop in to a great comedian/performer over time - I was pretty tired by this point so he's maybe a bit unlucky I saw it at the wrong time.

Nik Coppin is staying with me this festival so any review would be biased and I don't want to compromise my integrity. But take it from me he's a funny guy and as well as doing his own show he is also the brains behind "Shaggers" the late night show where three guest comedians get on stage - with the only condition being that they have to talk about shaggin'.

I banged on about how great Shaggers was last year so check the archives if you want to read the old reviews (there's also a review of Nik's show from before I knew him - which I don't know if he knows about yet). No doubt I'll be making plenty of trips back to Shaggers this year which is at a bigger venue this year in the Counting House. Great drunken fun and it's part of the Laughing Horse Free Fringe so it doesn't cost you anything)!!!

Other thoughts on the Fringe in general - I'm pleased that the bar prices at the Pleasance are reasonable. £1.50 for a 500ml bottle is rather fair so well done to them for being sensible.

One thing I did notice that due to the nature of the staff's job they spend most of their time outside and therefore think it's OK to just stand there smoking or rolling fags! You don't see Policemen, or Zoo Keepers or even Street Cleaners doing it so I don't understand why Pleasance staff think it's OK - just because they are working outside. They are meant to be there to interact with customers. It just looks unprofessional.

Anyhoo... I'm off to bed. I'm hoping to get one if not both of the two plays about Charles Darwin in tomorrow! After that it's anyone's guess.

Hugh Hughes.. in 360 *****

I saw Hugh Hughes last year and the year before and I was almost tempted not to go again, because although I have previously been impressed, performers rarely make wholesale changes to their shows, they will always be different, but generally follow the same formula, I thought I'd enjoy his third less for that reason.

I changed my mind because I was with a female friend and girls can't fail to look at Hugh without going awwww.... and gushing. He literally has the same effect on people as a six week old puppy.

Luckily we weren't disappointed. From his unique start and right the way through the show he charmed the audience, interacting when it was appropriate but keeping the flow of the story going nicely.

Hugh has a very youthful charachter, so it was appropriate that his story was all about friendships and how they develop from childhood into adulthood and it really brought out all his best features, sentimetality, cheekiness and his fun loving nature, out to play.

He sweeps you away on a journey like no other actor/comedian or anyone else in between and leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling on your way out.

It's hard to define his show. It's definately more theatre than stand up comedy - but he does engage with the audience in a way that stand ups do. He was't using props this year which gave it more of a stand up feel, but the way the show is structured still convinces me that it is proper theatre. In the end it doesn't really matter how you choose to label him and his show as long as your description has any of the following adjectives attached: brilliant, funny, uplifting, cheeky, enjoyable, pleasant......

I could go on all day but I'd just be repeating myself.... So just go and see it..... You will not be disappointed.

Hugh Hughes is at the Pleasance at 19.05




Early Long Island Iced Tea ***

I'm not into cabaret.... and it's not the sort of thing I'd normally go and see.

Peter Straker is a great singer, with more than adequate accompanyment an a famous director buddy in Mel Smith - who I ended up sitting right next to.

There was some good audience interaction and a bit of playfulness between songs, but there was nothing outstanding or special within the show.

If you like cabaret it's certainly competent and you'll enjoy it.

I'm going to be more selective with my viewing choices today and perhaps succumb to the randomness of free tickets a bit less.

(Thank you to the lady who gave me the ticket - her husband hadn't turned up so she offered it to me - I didn't realise she'd actually paid for it herself and assumed it was a comp). I feel bad for not offering her a drink now!

Early Long Island Iced Tea is in the Cabaret Bar at the Pleasance at 14.30



Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Almost 10 ***

I've got quite a lot of good things to say about this show. It's funny and it's well acted and it certainly lives up to the description in the listing.

I was hesitant to go even although it was free, as I found out straight away it was a monologue! (If you want to know about my previous experiences on one-person-plays, check out my review of "All Dressed Up To Go Dreaming" from last year).

But I gave it a go and was rewarded with some very funny lines from a talented actress. (A couple of fluffed lines should be forgiven in previews - there were a couple in there, but they were well covered and didn't distract from the show so I'm not letting it cloud my judgement).

I still don't have an overly high opinion of one person plays - I think all plays benefit from charachter interaction and I woud like to see Caroline Horton as part of a cast in a similarly themed comedy because she was good.

The play itself tries to be quite risque and there are some very close to the bone lines. The lines are funny because they are the sort of things that children say that cause embarassment, because they don't know any better - and many of them did work, but there really is no need for Jamie Bulger jokes - and it wasn't just one of that ilk... there were a few. Let Frankie Boyle tell them - don't incorporate them into a play like this.

You could even tell that Horton was uncomfortable telling that one in charachter.... and I'm glad to find out it wasn't her that wrote the play herself.

However, the central idea was a good one. A confessional of a nine year old told by a young adult actress. I've seem plays similar to this in the past and it can be - and was in this instance - a great way to deliver some funny lines. Despite my objections, there were a lot of funny lines.

So to sum up - fan of the actress, fan of the concept of the play (adults playing children and saying words that come out of their mouths), fan of the script with a few jokes aside and still not a fan of monologues in general...

A good 3/5 bordering on 4

Almost 10 is at the Pleasance Below at 12.55 daily.



Monday, 3 August 2009

It's Almost Time!

The Fringe is almost here! Previews start on Wednesday and already you can see the city getting ready to double it's population. The big purple cow is back in Bristo Square, the Assembly Rooms are being tarted up.... Not long now.

My impending trip to Las Vegas means it'll be a lot of free shows for me again this year!

Check out the two following posts from last year which are still relevant if you're looking to do the Fringe on the cheap:



The first link tells you how to get free preview tickets.

The second link is all about Laughing Horse Comedy, who seem to go from strength to strength.

As well as the eight venues from last year they've added another six and now have 233 shows in total. You could spend the whole fringe just going ot see their stuff!

Add that to PBH Free Fringe who have 6 venues (and a much more difficult to navigate website, so I don't know how many shows they are doing in total - I think it's about 150) and you're laughing (pun intended).

Here's the direct links to the websites:



As the blog enters it's second year things are starting to progress and I've been invited to my first press event, although it looks like I may have to work that day - but it's still nice to get the invite.

I also have a comedian staying in my flat this August which should be fun. (I'm sure there will be a blatant plug for his show appearing it the blog in the near future).

Finally, after my rant about shows with terrible pretentious text in their listings, I think it's only fair to give a shout out to people who do things properly....

I've never heard of "Two Shades of Blue Theatre" but their listing for "Once Upon A Time" caught my eye. Kudos to them for summing up their show in a way that makes you smile and gets you interested. Their other shows don't look bad either:


I might come along - and if I don't make it, I hope they do well!