Guilt having finally managed to get me out for a running session around the Meadows – four miles of intervals – it had been FOUR DAYS since my last run, I got myself down to the Pleasance Courtyard’s One venue (bearing food) to meet up with my husband “Dave the Festival Machine” just in time for our first communal show at 1.05pm, The Reduced Shakespeare Company’s Complete History of Comedy (Abridged). The queue was around the block so he had plenty of time to eat his steak bake before we went in.
The RSC guys are always good value and this was no different. They covered various comedy genres and included mime, slapstick, scary clowns and funny costumes. All extremely slickly presented. Well worth an hour of anyone’s time.
Before he had met up with me, and while I was running etc, Dave (who still has his eyes on the prize) had been down to the Summerhall venue just around the corner from our B and B in Newington for two productions. The first one had been Duck, Death and the Tulip – a mostly puppet show around, yes, you’ve guessed it, a duck and Death (who turned out not to be such a bad guy after all!)
The second production, named Nothing, was a theatrical production. Dave said they went into a large space with chairs set out randomly. The actors were amongst the audience and their lines were delivered according to a random set of co-ordinates. There was obviously a message behind all of this and Dave said some of it was quite raw, but it wasn’t quite his thing.
Dave then got himself down the the PC “One” where, just before I’d arrived he’d been in to see The Cat In The Hat, based on the poem by Dr Seuss, aimed at fairly young kids. Dave reported back to me that it was a full house and the kids were loving it.
After we’d seen the RSC’s History of Comedy, we were back into the PC One for Potted Sherlock. Dan, Jeff and Lizzie solved 60 Sherlock cases in just one hour and ten minutes! Fab hour plus with fast costume and wig changes, faster scene changes and some really clever moves with each actor playing all the roles several times in quick succession. Any mistakes and corpsing just added to the fun – British audiences just love it when the actors f*ck things up!
Next up was what Dave thought was a kids’ show – Ernest and the Pale Moon. Well, was he mistaken! EATPM turned out to be quite the lurid gothic horror story. Presented by Les Enfants Terribles, this borrows from lots of influences, most obviously Edgar Allan Poe and Hitchcock. Starting off quite slowly, this got enough going to pique our interest and I jumped noticeably several times with the loud sound effects – cheap frights, but effective!
Then we had a musical hour with Peter Straker: Black Magic. Neither of us knew of Peter before this but we sat back and tapped our feet and sang along to his own light rock and several covers of well known songs performed by him and his five piece backing band. It was a very quiet room but they put plenty of energy into the performance.
The we split up with Dave staying at the same room for his beloved master of the pun, Tim Vine, and me taking myself off to The Hive for Paul Currie – the surreal man of mime and masterful mania.
While outside the room waiting to be shown in, I had a quick conversation about Dave’s record attempt and why I wasn’t seeing Lewis Schaffer, with Lewis Schaffer. Also a few words with the fabulous Tim Renkow about his filling in for Phil Kay at yesterday’s gig in Bob Slayer’s Bookshop.
Once we were finally shown into Currie’s gig, several of his audience members were forceably rearranged, then we had to learn to mime the panpipes, we had Kermit trying to hump a pineapple, a wee plastic hand on a long fishing type pole thumping audience members on the head, including yours truly (ouch, it actually kind of HURT!). There’s a lot of other stuff going on, including a new way of drumming to the beat to a Buddy Holly hit. I’m not giving anything else away – oh, but I also got to assault people with a brown sliced loaf!
Paul ran about ten minutes over so I had a very quick “comfort break” and then had to get straight back up to rejoin with Dave at the PC for Mark Watson’s “Flaws’.
Mark was already on stage “warming up” on his treadmill – physical exercise having been recommended by his therapist. This show is about Mark’s mental health and covers his previous anxieties, insecurities and heavy drinking. He was confessing all of this to a packed house and told us of how’ after waking up after a heavy night on the booze, to find that under the influence, he had donated 180 quid to a bird charity, he had decided that enough was enough and that he needed to get help. He spoke to Dave, acknowledging the record attempt, and at the end, as we left, he was back on the treadmill for his second lot of ten minutes running. Mark is a really funny guy – I’d recommend as a go see but his show has actually sold out for the rest of the Fringe so you’ll have to try and catch him elsewhere.
Next up we had Chris Ramsay – survivor of the B-Bar Theatre incident as diarised on this blog elsewhere. (Search for his name on here). His show this year is called The Most Dangerous Man on Saturday Morning Television. It is about how he got banned from Sky’s Soccer AM show. Chris is a very funny guy, non pretentious sort who comes across as completely natural on stage. What you see is what you get – so go and see him if you get the chance.
Last on our list for the day was Tomorrow with Ron Lynch down at the Just the Tonic Caves. Well, Dave was banking on a later show as well but as it turned out TWRL ran on till coming up for 2am (which is why I’m finishing off and publishing this blog the following evening in a 50 min gap between shows and not at some ungodly hour this morning).
Dave had booked these tickets months ago, so it was just by some sad co-incidence that this show was to have acts on it talking about Robin Williams as well as doing their own thing.
Amongst others we had Will Mars, the wonderful Glenn Wool, Eddie Peppitone and Will Franken. Ron Lynch did a wondeful animatron type laughter lesson skit, dragged me up on stage to help him out with a spoof magician/hypnotist piece and there were some nice words said about Robin with the comedians telling us about having met him at various times and the lovely memories they had from those meetings.
RIP Robin Williams. Nanu nanu.