Posts Tagged ‘Edinburgh Festival’

Review – Liberace: Live From Heaven, Assembly George Square, Edinburgh Fringe

Monday 15 August 2011

You can’t say the Whingers aren’t taking risks on the Fringe.

Bobby Crush in Liberace: Live From Heaven (the place people supposedly go after death, not the 80s nightclub you understand), now you really wouldn’t have expected us to take a punt on that now would you?

Well the clues in the title. Liberace is poised at the gates of heaven and has to convince St Peter (voiced by Stephen Fry) and God (voiced by Victoria Wood) why he should be admitted through the Pearly Gates or take the elevator to hell. And then we the audience ultimately vote to seal his fate.

But the big mystery for the Whingers was why a party of about 10 people walked out 15 minutes into the show. Didn’t they know what they were coming to? L:LFH does exactly what it says on the tin.

We get a potted biography as he takes us through his life, arguing his case and of course plenty of delightful piano playing from Crush’s Liberace and that’s when the show is at its best. Crush has the twinkling mannerisms down to a “T” and they’re hilarious to watch even if he did remind Phil of a brunette Pat Butcher (now Pat Evans previously Harris, Beale and Wicks) at times.

But the highlight comes towards the end when he plays a medley of six songs which Crush invites his audience to shout out.

This should have been the Whingers’ moment, but our minds went even blanker than usual. All Phil could think of was “Jesus Christ Superstar” without realising how appropriate that would have been.

The show is good fun but at 75 minutes it is rather overextended on what is, after all, something of a chestnut of a device.

For the record we voted Liberace into heaven.


Review – Oedipus, Pleasance Courtyard Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe

Monday 15 August 2011

“Sh*t” moaned the woman heading the queue at the Pleasance Courtyard.

“He’s the reason we booked,” the He being Steven Berkoff, who would not be offering his Creon at Saturday afternoon’s performance.

But she needn’t have worried. Mr Matthew Cullum covered the indisposition splendidly and since this is Oedipus by Steven Berkoff (after Sophocles) the auteur’s presence could be felt throughout it like the letters running through a stick of (Sisyphean?) rock.

We need not concern you overly with the plot. Oedipus married his mother Jocasta (“Where he exits he enters”) which of course leads to..well that would need a spoiler alert.

Simon Merrells who so impressed the Whingers in Berkoff’s On the Waterfront does so again in the title role. Anita Dobson as his mother/wife is strangely mesmerising as she wafts through the proceedings done up like a sixties cocktail party hostess wiggling her fingers constantly as though she’s having trouble getting her nails to dry.

It’s all stunningly staged and lit (Mike Robertson) with the excellent Greek chorus forming typically Berkoffian Last Supper style tableaux against a Dali-esque background (Design by Michael Vale). If it goes on just a little longer than necessary there’s a bit of traditional Greek dancing to help you through. Less Greek chorus, more chorus boys.

Note to the producers: Get Miss Dobson some quick-drying nail varnish so she can stop waving her hands about for the hour and 40 minutes.


Review – Paul Daniels: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow, Assembly George Square, Edinburgh Fringe

Saturday 13 August 2011

Be careful what you wish for.

Phil was beginning to regret his fantasy of revisiting Pete Firman’s magic show in the slight chance that he might see Andrew with his head in a guillotine.

Bad karma indeed. Less than 24 hours later and there was Phil, on his knees in front of Paul Daniels with his head locked in a guillotine for that very same trick. And all this with not only Andrew, but Mark Shenton in the audience too. You really couldn’t make it up.

Phil was on stage for what seemed like half the show having already had his £20 ripped in two by Mr Daniels.

Andrew, feeling distinctly snubbed and green with envy at Phil’s undeserved temporary stardom, refused to buy Phil the post-show drink he deseprately needed to calm down leading to a frantic Sellotaping session by Phil.

This was Paul Daniels: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow in which the veteran magician proves why he’s lasted so long in the business. He’s got the tricks and the patter, although there is perhaps a  little too much chat before he actually gets down to business of magic and a trick involving in a magic box with a couple of ropes seemed somewhat over-elaborate.

But you really do have to see these seasoned old pros live. There is also a live rabbit and – of course – the lovely Debbie McGee.

Of course you are unlikely to be treated to a Whinger under the blade but you can’t have it all can you?

And yes, Phil still has no idea how the trick was done.

Highly recommended.


Rating score 4-5 full-bodied

Would almost certainly have been five had Phil’s head come off.

A postcard from Edinburgh

Thursday 19 August 2010

Dear Phil

I see that your new sideline selling jokes to postcard manufacturers has taken off. I recognised the work as yours instantly. Very amusing.

Anyway, as it happens you were right to turn down my suggestion that we get away from it all for a few days. I arrived in Edinburgh to find that they are running an entire festival of fringe for the whole of August. Read the rest of this entry »