Posts Tagged ‘Edinburgh Festival Fringe’

Review – The Pajama Men: In the Middle of No One, Assembly Hall, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Saturday 3 September 2011

Our very last Edinburgh post. Honest.

Two men, two chairs, two pairs of pajamas and a musician. Two Whingers in the audience, one who swears by the snugglement of his flannelette PJs and one who eschews them, preferring to go “au buffo”. In all probability that’s more than you might care to think about.

The images conjured up by The Pajama Men are not quite so horribly graphic but in their own way almost as unimaginable. Perky, quirky Albuquerque (try saying that after a few libations) comedy duo Shenoah Allen and Mark Chavez produce surreal, clever, multi-character comedy woven into a story “about” time-travel, aliens, explorers and the funniest South American bird ever to grace a bar.

This has been one of the big hits of the fringe and had been overlooked by the Whingers in its various earlier appearances at the Soho Theatre. So, with the news that it’s coming to the West End, we  felt it was only polite to pop our heads round the door of the mysteriously named Rainy Hall at the Assembly Hall.

Perhaps Fringe fatigue was finally catching up with the Whingers as we were initially mildly baffled and irritated at their overdone “corpsing”. But with a gradual stealth, the pajama men  seduced us into a stage of quiet amusement. All around the audience was howling with laughter but for some reason the mouths of the Whingers – despite being permanently turned upwards at the edges, remained as tightly closed as The Pajama Men’s sewn up flies.

And yet and yet… we did find some moments very funny. There were moments of comedic brilliance and indeed we are still quoting one line tirelessly.

Eventually as the strange, apparently unrelated, comedy sketches drew together to a vaguely coherent conclusion we were pulled in like the drawstring of a jim-jam’s waistband.

Perhaps this may have been the Whingers’ subconcious vested interest. The dismissive definition of a blogger by CNN president Jonathan Klein was of “a guy sitting in his living room in his pyjamas.” Proving him, in the Whingers’ case, 50% accurate.

Notwithstanding the Whingers’ initial resistance, Phil declared he would be happy to see them again another time.

A shame that The PJ Men are unlikely to return the compliment.

Rating

Review – Kev Orkian The Guilty Pianist – The Closed Venues Tour, SpaceCabaret@54, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Sunday 28 August 2011

The Whingers have dodged so many bullets at Edinburgh that they are thinking of taking it up professionally.

Indeed, Andrew has already submitted Phil’s name to the organisers of several Russian Roulette tournaments.

Proof positive of their powers: just when the Whingers were at the stage when Dame Probability couldn’t possibly serve up another “win”, along came Kev Orkian.

Who he? Well that’s what we said initially but this younger Nathan Lane lookalike really knows how to work a room. Even when that room is the SpaceCabaret@54 which sounds really glamorous, doesn’t it, but is actually unprepossessing and potentially unworkable.

Anyway, here’s the pitch: KO is a real-life gifted Armenian concert pianist from Essex. His stage persona is an exaggerated comedy Armenian which only someone who is genuinely Armenian could get away with, or even contemplate trying.

The result is a winning combination of musical and character comedy.

His examination of the parallel development of pop music and Armenian music is side-splitting. But can anyone explain why Andrew was laughing so much when he pointed to Phil as he danced to “YMCA”? Or why Phil howled at KO’s gestures towards his own crutch then pointed at Andrew during his MC Hammer “Don’t Touch It”?

There was also a marvellous routine involving  musical requests supposedly left by members of the audience in the form of sheet music.

The Guilty Pianist feels like a guilty pleasure thanks to the peculiar dynamic at work by which the audience is invited to laugh at the funny foreigner by the funny foreigner. But it seemed rude to turn down an invitation and Mister Orkian does it with a knowing charm that we quickly gave way to the scenario. The result: we found ourselves in such stitches that Kev is well on his way to making the WEW list of all-time favourite comedy character creations from Bob Downe to Dame Edna. And the v. exciting news is he’s appearing with the latter in this year’s Wimbledon panto. The Dame is going to have strong competition.

kev-orkian.com

Rating

Review – Dust, New Town Theatre, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Saturday 27 August 2011

Someone said this was really good.

Can’t remember who.

Bought tickets.

Andrew slept through most of it.

Even Phil slept through some of it and would have slept through more had there not been a very shouty man on stage.

The rest of the audience applauded wildly but there was nothing in it that could dislodge this from our heads:

Rating

Two out of Five: slightly corked or vinegary

Review – Silence in Court, New Town Theatre, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Saturday 27 August 2011

Let it never be said that the Whingers overlook an opportunity to pass judgement.

Which made Silence in Court irresistible.

The show takes place in Edinburgh’s  Freemasons Hall  in a very court-like room which apparently boasts listed wallpaper and thus is the only venue in town into which you can’t take drinks. Rocky start.

Anyway, as the audience enters the courtroom they are given the option of sitting on the jury, an opportunity which the Whingers naturally grasped with both glass-free hands.

Then the trial begins. A man is accused of raping a woman in a club. He pleads not guilty and both are questioned and cross-examined by the lawyers.

The court adjourns leaving the jury and audience to debate the pros and cons of the case before being given the opportunity to cross examine the witnesses.

Of course it is simplified: there are 13 on the jury so that it can never be hung (however well), there is no allowance for “beyond reasonable doubt” or the Scottish “not proven” verdict and there is no evidence nor any witnesses. So what it boils down to is one person’s word against the other and hilarity ensues as the highly skilled moderator – the court usher played by Paul Murray – struggles to keep the jury on track with the rules of the game.

The only fly in the ointment  is the decision to make it a sexual assault case; if this is to try and stop the evening descending into chaotic laughter it fails.

That aside, Silence in Court – more “game” than “theatre” – makes for a ridiculous but hugely enjoyable hour which could be titled: Thirteen Overexcited Men And Women, Two Of Them Clearly A Bit Tiddly.

Rating

Rating score 4-5 full-bodied

Review – The Table, Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Friday 26 August 2011

Ha! Well, with mime under out belts, there was  no stopping us branching out further into formerly cold-shouldered forms of entertainment.

Next up: puppets.

But in a low risk way. For Blind Summit Theatre’s The Table  has been almost universally feted with four and five stars from all over the shop.

If only we had read the flyer instead of just counting the stars:

The loosely connected triptych that makes up The Table was inspired by the writing of Samuel Beckett, the style of Yves Klein and ideas of Sartre. This may or may not be apparent.

Despite the throwaway tongue-in-cheekiness of that last sentence this was just not going to be our cup of tea.

The first part is a  three-man Japanese bunraku-style puppet on a table. It’s very clever. The second part is some disembodied heads in picture frames which made Phil very nostalgic for The Black Light Theatre of Prague. Very clever. The third part is a crime story told through drawings on hundreds of pieces of A4 paper. It’s all very clever.

Full marks for cleverness.

Any references to Klein, Sartre and Beckett went over our bodied heads.

But we’re awarding points for engagement. Perhaps we were too far back. Perhaps it was too late.  Perhaps we just don’t like puppets.

Like we thought we didn’t.

Rating