Day 8 at the Fringe. 6th August 2014
Having had a lovely day off visiting family at Loch Lomond and then spending the night with my wee sister and her partner in Glasgow; I headed back to Edinburgh this morning. A warning red light came on as I was about a mile away from the B and B, my battery light apparently. A quick call to my garage in Cornwall ascertained that it could be one of several things – so the question is, when do I phone home rescue given that we are hardly here with back to back shows booked for the rest of the Fringe. Something will have to be worked out!
Anyway, eventually I headed down to the Pleasance Courtyard for my first show of the day, Beowulf: The Blockbuster – and Dave’s second. It should have been his third but he had lost Clare Rowley’s The Mouth Trap in the Yurt at the Free Sisters. Apparently about fifteen people were waiting for her but she never showed. So his first gig was Bits and Box at the Pleasance Courtyards’ Beside room, where we were to spend the rest of the day. Dave said it was very good – a piece of theatre using a very large cardboard box and incorporating a story about the war – very moving, was his verdict.
Beowulf is a one man show telling the story of an Irish father bringing his young son up alone after the death of his wife with the tale of Beowulf informing their relationship and the dad’s illness through a series of beautifully observed metaphors. It is a cracking piece of theatre, with characters, voices and actions that will have you smiling through tears Several people in the audience were visibly sobbing, including the lady sat next to me who was in floods. Go and see it (12.50pm, Pleasance Courtyard “Beside”)
Next up was an even darker tale – Talk About Something You Like. The title is taken from a list of helpful tips laminated and stuck on the wall in a ward of the home for mentally ill people that our show presenter had been sectioned to, and in which he was locked up. Diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder, Byron Vincent, tells us his story with humour and pathos (and lots of similies!)
Third on the menu for Beside, was The Greatest Liar in all the World – a theatrical, vaudeville costumed production, telling the story of the adventures of a wooden puppet and his great love – the lady in blue. Nicely done; we liked this one a lot!
Following on from this we had Beasts – a three man sketch show, directed by Tom Parry. There’s nothing subtle about this show, but if you like your sketch funny, bawdy, loud, and with big hairy men not afraid to show a lot more than they need to; (AND WE DO!! – well I do ) this is the show for you. We laughed till it hurt!!
And then it was Dan Smith’s turn. A nice little stand-up hour with good ideas including train lines just for suicides (isn’t it inconvenient when they make you late??). Just one thing – I’m never going to a Murder Mystery Evening where Dan is on the guest list.
Our next show was Nish Kumar. We know Nish can deliver on all fronts and today was no different. His Ruminations on the Nature of Subjectivity is a good way to spend your Festival pennies. Nish has an ego (or has he?), even his girlfriend thinks he’s hard to be around… as for the rest – go buy a ticket and find out for yourself.
Chris Martin, who was up next, has hung his show around the four various criteria that MacDonalds demand of their staff – working on a star rating. Aside of that Chris lives in his parents’ garden shed and has just one major problem with his girlfriend. We saw a partial preview of some of this material several months ago in Bristol. It’s all so much more polished now. Chris had a heckler (in the form of David – a friend of Chris’s dad!), who caused a few pauses in the delivery but Chris soon had the show back on the rails.
Next up, and completely owning the room, was the ever wicked, absolutely at the top of his game, John Robins. From some very cleverly written ingratiating self confessions to the ladies at the beginning, to a good old going over of another comedian (no names mentioned, but if that self same comedian can hand it out, he’d better damned well be able to take it as well), John was a delight. A stand out stand up.
So we went towards the end of our evening at the Courtyard with Alfie Brown, bi-polar, with material dark and in places room splittingly controversial. Alfie is not afraid of harsh material or of asking squirmingly awkward questions of his audiences, in fact he positively enjoys making us wriggle. He can make for uncomfortable viewing but if anyone is guaranteed to provoke a few thoughts, Alfie is the man to do it.
One last show to end our day. Back down to the Free Sisters on the Cowgate for Wank The Dog. Hosted by Matt Wills, we had Come Heckle Christ doing a short stint (the questions hadn’t become any more intelligent than at our show), Gary Shaw (who was booed off!) and Ian Miller. Some of the crowd were in good heckling form and when Ian held up a very dubious poster of an old Superman Movie and asked the punters their opinion “Say What You See”, one wag shouted “A twat!!”. Unfortunately they weren’t talking about the poster – and so Ian too left us shortly afterwards.
Thankfully Anthony Dewson, comedy music maker was there at the end to bring the show back to some sort of success. Playing the piano and coming up with some fab and funny lyrics, including a darkly comedic song about necrophilia, Anthony soon had the crowd well onside once more and so we ended the evening on an up. Well played sir!
Once more, by the time we had walked back to Southside and got our heads down, 3am was coming up on the clock. How much longer can we keep this up?