Posts Tagged ‘Edinburgh Fringe’

Review – Fascinating Aïda: Cheap Flights, Gilded Balloon Teviot, Edinburgh Fringe

Thursday 1 September 2011

[Yes, yes. Still Edinburgh. Sorry. Nearly over.]

A very late entry for this as the Whingers saw it on different nights.

We also have to declare something in our extensive (presumably surcharged) baggage: an interest.

Adèle Anderson has been saddled with an association with the Whingers for some time and has become quite adept at drawing raffles tickets at various West End Whingers’ parties. And unbeknownst to us at the time, we have also shared a stage with Sarah-Louise Young.

We can now add poor Dillie Keane to the mix as she too has also recently – and most patiently –  been on the receiving end of our bar room ramblings. Compassion, nay, pity must therefore be extended to all three of these talented songstresses.

So you can take what we say with a pinch of salt if you please. Their show Fascinating Aïda: Cheap Flights needs no assistance from us anyway, as despite the huge choice of entertainments (and playing in one of the larger venues) here, “house full” signs appeared outside every night. Quite rightly too.

“Cheap Flights” has made them an internet sensation having gone “fungal” as they describe it. If you’ve seen that YouTube video and appreciated it, then you will love this show as it indeed the tip of a very large entertainment iceberg. It jostles against stiff competition from “Dogging”and their Bulgarian song cycle which, updated regularly, still reigns supreme. Too say much more would spoil the cabaret trio’s box of delights which just seems to go from strength to strength.

An extended version of the show is arriving in London this December. Look out for it at the prosaically monikered Charing Cross Theatre, a venue that is almost far enough off the beaten track enough to be a suitable venue for Cheap Flights to land. Does Bishop’s Stortford have a theatre?

Rating

Rating score 5-5 our cups overfloweth

In the unlikely event you’ve not heard Cheap Flights:

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Review – Le Gateau Chocolat, Assembly George Square, Edinburgh Fringe

Wednesday 31 August 2011

Edinburgh may have finished but the Whingers haven’t.

The perfect recipe for Le Gateau Chocolat.

Ingredients:
1 large Nigerian 29 year old male trained in law
Make up
Several frocks
Red glittery lipstick
Lashings of Lycra
A penchant for Barbra Streisand numbers
A soupçon of audience participation*

Method:
Mix the ingredients together gently and simmer charmingly with a seasoning of good-natured, unapologetic, cheeky humour for one hour. Experiment with various toppings, decorations and accessories and sieve through Lycra for the most spectacular results.

Serving suggestion:
Place in a circus like tent, adding music and a justifiably appreciative audience.

The finished product may be slightly improved by turning the result out in a sound-proofed container so that the quieter, more introspective numbers are not drowned by the general cacophony of Fringe revellers outside. Although this is unnecessary for a magnificently emotional rendition of “Ol’ Man River”.

*Sadly not the Whingers on this occasion although each was most keen to see the other humiliated in Lycra.

Rating

Review – Somewhere Beneath It All, A Small Fire Burns Still, Gilded Balloon Teviot

Tuesday 30 August 2011

[Yes, Edinburgh is over but we’re all behind so just pretend.]

It is an all too too easy task to mess with the Whingers’ minds.

A stranger had managed it successfully only the night before when, much to Andrew’s amusement, he genuinely mistook Phil for Gok Wan. Which means Phil has been swiftly downgraded from being a Michael Grandage doppelgänger. Edinburgh just gets curiouser and curiouser.

But that particular head-f*** is nothing compared with those created in Somewhere Beneath It All, A Small Fire Burns Still. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Nina Conti: Talk to the Hand, Assembly George Square, Edinburgh Fringe

Tuesday 30 August 2011

“Isn’t she the daughter of someone famous?” asked Andrew (quite correctly) before ruining his apparently uncharacteristically thorough pre-show research by adding  “It’s John Conteh, isn’t it?”

The Whingers had cogitated that an hour of ventriloquism might be stretching things somewhat. But as they had pretty much covered all the Fringe bases of plays, stand-up, cabaret, puppetry, magic, beatbox and – heavens preserve them – even mime it seemed that (assuming contemporary dance was off the menu) it had to be done: Nina Conti: Talk to the Hand.  Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Dave Gorman’s Powerpoint Presentation, Assembly George Square, Edinburgh Fringe

Sunday 28 August 2011

“We should do some stand-up” mumbled Andrew.

Phil, thinking that Andrew was finally coming round to his idea to bringing the Whingers’ own show to the Fringe next year, began to feel rather giddy.

Sadly, Andrew’s aspirations were no higher than watching some stand-up.

Given that the purple section of the Fringe brochure constitutes about half its hefty weight we had rather overlooked the genre.

But what were the chances of the Whingers spotting a star of tomorrow before audiences fork out huge amounts of money to watch them on screens in the O2? True we’d seen Sarah Millican, but this was playing safe, that was merely dipping toes into the vast pool of comedy with our water wings judiciously inflated. And what is stand up and what is cabaret anyway? Is Kev Orkian stand up or cabaret? Discuss.

So we plumped for author, presenter and Jewish* comedian Dave Gorman’s Powerpoint Presentation, an illustrated talk on various aspects of his life, his wife, his supposed lookalikes and Jim Davidson.

And (bear with us on this as we know it’s getting tedious), yet again, it’s a quite brilliant show.

But it’s the cleverness (without being clever-clever) of his absurdly detailed take on things that make his show stand out. Without giving a running gag away, his take on advertisements for clocks (no, we’re not making this up) is smart and hilarious.

Don’t – as many of the audience obviously did – drink too much before seeing the show (pot? kettle? black?) but if you do, make sure you squeeze out your bladder before going in. As one punter headed for the loo mid-show Gorman dropped his nice guy persona to berate the man in no uncertain terms: “It’s only an hour long, you shouldn’t have drunk four pints before you came in. You’re a grown up.” (It went on much longer than that; we’ve deleted  his string of expletives.)

The show goes on the road after Edinburgh but it was a delight to see Mister Gorman in a mere 500 seat venue as opposed to one of the barns he’ll be inhabiting on tour. Still, at least the Powerpoint presentation format means that there will be something to look should you catch it in an arena.

Another hit. If only London were like this.

Footnote

*Not actually true, but you’ll understand if you catch the show.

Rating

Rating score 5-5 our cups overfloweth

Review – Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh Fringe

Saturday 27 August 2011

Yet another recommendation: Ovid’s Metamorphoses by Pants on Fire (that’s the name of the theatre group, not what Phil is now calling the people making recommendations).

It’s a mythological dactylic hexameter poem (not another!) describing the history of the world from its creation within a loose mythico-historical framework. Goodness! Surely Phil has more sense than to listen to the two Johns who raved about it so much they went back for a second visit?

Secretly Phil felt it might be more Avoid than Ovid.

Peter Bramley’s version with original songs by Lucy Egger has been neatly updated to World War II, so expect Andrews Sisters style singers, men and women in uniforms, newsreel footage, people walking through cinema screens and some puppetry.

So far, so Kneehigh.

But Ovid waver between Shinhigh and Thighhigh: occasionally it is a bit scrappy, it needs a little tightening up and cutting but mostly it’s highly entertaining, inventively and wittily staged and has moments of considerable elegance. And what this cast can’t do with a set of reversible screens isn’t worth knowing.

The multi-tasking, multi-costume-changing actors are young, talented and maddeningly attractive which is just as well as one of them (Mike Slader) has to play Narcissus as a Hollywood heart throb falling in love with his own image on the cinema screen. Imagine the casting call for that.

Aside from a few minor cavils Phil was unusually grateful for the recommendation.

Rating

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 Thinking Drinker’s Guide to Alcohol, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh Fringe

Saturday 27 August 2011

There are no prizes for guessing what attracted Phil to The Thinking Drinker’s Guide to Alcohol. It certainly wasn’t the thinking.

Could it have been something in the show’s publicity: “There are going to be free drinks. They’ll be delicious drinks too”? Yes, yet another show which does exactly what it does on the tin.

In this case the tin was a can of Deuchars which just happens to be Phil’s ale of choice, handed out before the show even started. Ah if only London’s glittering West End were thus. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – High Jinks with the Hamiltons! Udderbelly’s Pasture, Edinburgh Fringe

Saturday 27 August 2011

Forgive us this one and indulge Phil for a moment.

Among the many double acts who have trodden the fringe stages this year – Paul and Debbie, Dan and Jeff and Andrew and Phil – there is one pairing that Phil’s curiosity would not allow him to overlook.

Whatever you may feel about Neil and Christine Hamilton you cannot deny a suspicion of interest. In High Jinks with the Hamiltons we find them ploughing the overdone Fringe chat show format although in fairness they have been doing it here for several years. Read the rest of this entry »

Review – The Boy With Tape On His Face, Pleasance Courtyard

Friday 26 August 2011

Mime?

Have the Whingers lost their minds?

Is Edinburgh a portal into a strange parallel universe that will see them embrace sung-through-musicals, on stage park benches and balloons-as-metaphors too?

The Boy With Tape On His Face is yet another show that sets out its stall in the clearest of manners.

On stage is a boy who indeed has a piece of gaffer tape stuck across his mouth. So he can’t speak, so, yes, this indeed technically a mime show; “the boy” even wears a stripey T shirt under his jacket.

Yet instead of the usual walking into a strong wind or trapped in a small box kind of mime this is a highly interactive show in which the boy wordlessly persuades audience members to perform all kinds of comedy turns on his behalf.

It feels highly original, is wildly funny and seems like a rather risky venture, relying as it does on the ability of audience members to cotton on to what’s being asked of them.

Sit on an aisle or the front row if you’re brave and you’ll probably end up in the show. The Whingers were over-looked on this occasion but we were due a night off from doing other people’s shows for them. Seek him out: www.theboywithtapeonhisface.com

Rating

Rating score 5-5 our cups overfloweth

Review – Cabaret Whore: More! More! More! Underbelly, Cowgate, Edinburgh Fringe

Friday 26 August 2011

Ironically, it appears to be the Whingers who are becoming the real cabaret whores.

Rather than taking a chance on potentially dreary plays we have been judiciously selecting shows on the basis of our “Likely Fun Index”, a rather complicated algorithm devised and patented by the Whingers to take the risk out of theatre-going.

And it seems that our new tool for seeking out entertainments and being, well, entertained is paying off.

We are indeed being well entertained by entertaining entertainments and having fun.

Sarah-Louise Young, who is currently 33.3 (recurring) % of the fabulous Fascinating Aida is certainly working her arse off on the fringe. This hour long show Cabaret Whore: More! More! More! sees her playing a series of four divas (some generic, others cheekily based closely on real-life ones) before shooting off to join FA at another venue a mere 45 minutes later.

With barely a night off and a month of two shows to perform you really do wonder why some performers in the West End who may only have a few big numbers per show can’t manage eight shows a week.  You know who you are.

We enter the auditorium and are individually and hilariously greeted by Young in character as Bernie St. Claire (blonde but not a lisping stone’s throw from Liza) before seeing her set succeeded by the the other characters including her final one – a fabulously gloomy knife-wielding bitter French chanteuse called La Poule Plombée (the frumpy pigeon).

What’s even more impressive is that Young has written the material herself and not only is her performance remarkable but the material is laugh-out-loud funny. The pastiches of musical styles are spot on (composer Michael Roulston) while the show cleverly and subversively deconstructs the whole performer/audience relationship.

Rather brilliant.

Rating

Review – Adam Kay’s Smutty Songs, Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh Fringe

Thursday 25 August 2011

The Edinburgh Fringe has more repetitions than a radish and pepper salad, q.v.  3 Nunsenses, 2 Oedipusses (or is that Oedipie?), 2 Metamorphoses, 2 Macbeths, 2 Othellos, and 2 (at least) magicians doing the same guillotine trick – you can’t say that a lot of the shows here don’t do what’s on other people’s tins.

But it’s unlikely we’ll see another Adam Kay’s Smutty Songs which sees the dourly likeable Adam Kay sitting at a piano playing pop songs but replacing the lyrics with his own hilarious and occasionally smutty inventions and punchline puns.

He chases through the numbers, frequently ending a song abruptly on the punchline before moving straight onto the next. It’s almost stand-up with the gags set to music. It’s difficult to explain without giving away the jokes but believe us that it’s very rewarding. We were guffawing all over the shop at rewrites such as (SPOILER) “My (Gordon) Brown Eyed Girl”.

Knocking back a bottle of white wine in the process, Mister Kay tells us that the show ends when the bottle’s empty (though we presume this is watered down apple juice or something) but he then proceeds to get through a bottle of red and we can attest that this was indeed the real thing as a glass was offered to (and needless to say accepted by) Andrew. Either way, the drinking is either impressive or very worrying depending on your take.

A running gag involving audience participation, with a take on annoyingly insistent and much-covered Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is so daftly ingenious you’ll never hear the song in the same way again.

There are only a couple of mis-fires and one moment of weirdness when the early heterosexually inclined songs are undermined by the news that Kay is actually gay. But this really is a most entertaining show and everyone should go see it.

Rating

Review – Potted Potter: The Unauthorised Harry Experience – A Parody by Dan and Jeff, Pleasance Courtyard Theatre, Edindurgh Fringe

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Try, if you please, to picture this improbable scenario.

A hot auditorium that accommodates (we would say seats – but more of that later) 750 people packed to the rafters 95% of the crowd is made up by families with children presumably tripping on “E” numbers, toddlers and babies that are just starting to crawl.

CBBC’s Dan and Jeff are the only thing that will keep them vaguely quiet by ripping through all seven Harry Potter books in 70 minutes. Yet in the midst of this sit the Whingers (who have heard of the books and the films) smiling beatifically and (almost) oblivious to the mayhem that surrounds them. Yes, quite impossible to imagine isn’t it? Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Morgan & West: Crime Solving Magicians, Gilded Ballroom Teviot, Edinburgh Fringe

Thursday 18 August 2011

You wait for years for a Whinger to be plucked from an audience to assist a magician in a trick and then, when the occasion comes along, well, you know the rest.

With so much to choose from it’s very handy for the busy festival goer when a show sets out its stall clearly in the title. Morgan & West: Crime Solving Magicians are time-travellers with a Sherlock Holmes twist investigating a somewhat contrived murder storyline. It’s just a couple of posts to hand a washing line of tricks between really, but it’s different, we suppose.

The tricks are likeable enough, although one did go slightly awry when they somehow “predict” what an audience member will write on a blackboard. When invited to chalk up the name of a supermarket she wrote “Lidl” whereas Morgan (or was it West?) had already written “Waitrose” on his, but at least (for the woman in question) it wasn’t the other way around. Still, the two other “predictions” were extremely discombobulating.

But in some situations all the faffing around with the story line has the unintended consequence of giving the audience enough time and insufficient distractions to do some solving of their own. But it’s amiable enough.

Phil, who it seems can’t be kept off a stage in Edinburgh, was invited on stage with three others to provide an alibi for himself. These had previously been written on cards by the magicians and his happened to be “at the theatre”. Spooky when you think that one of the other alibis was “in the shower”. If Phil spent as long in the shower as he does in the theatre Andrew would be adding the wrinkled result to his breakfast muesli to “help himself along” in the mornings.

The linking patter is a bit rough round the edges at times and needs some polishing if you compare it to other magic acts we’ve seen. Still, top marks to them for handing out flyers on the street for their own show in period character, ensuring a full house in their small overheated venue. The Whingers even spotted them in a bar well into the evening (their hour long show is at 3.30pm) still in full costume. They deserve to go far.

Rating

Review – Tom Lenk: Nerdgasm, Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh Fringe

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Think of this posting as the Whingers’ version of the iconic children’s TV show Vision On.

Think of Buffy the Vampire Slayer star Tom Lenk‘s show Tom Lenk: Nergasm*as an art heist.

Think of the Whingers on the floor of a busy bar (that bit is not tricky, we accept), not with drinks in their hands but with crayons (ok that’s not strictly true we did have wine too), attempting to draw images for the show (this they were invited to do but the whys and wherefores are too taxing to go into).

Think of Andrew opting, from a list of nine rather complicated descriptions available, to draw bare feet (Andrew can’t abide bare feet).

Think of Phil choosing to draw Michael Jackson from memory and Mr Lenk himself, even though he’d previously never heard of him (let alone seen him) and asking around for a flyer so he had some idea what he looks like. Asking? Yes, asking for a flyer at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, when you spend most of the day trying to avoid being given them. Now that must be a first.

Think of the Whingers called up on stage (yet again) to reveal their drawings during one of Mr Lenk’s songs and him deciding to keep Phil’s drawing without even the courtesy of asking.


Think of Andrew’s chagrin on realising that Mr Lenk had no interest in retaining the artistic fruits of his labours.

Think why Phil warmed to Lenk’s albeit patchy stand-up show and why Andrew didn’t so much. But both agreed that the autobiographical bits – particularly his run through his photo album and his childhood dream board  illustrating his geekiness and gayness – had potential.

The show was only originally intended to play one date. We saw an extra late night performance starting at 11pm which was way past Andrew’s bedtime and may be yet another reason why he was so choleric.

Time to hum the Vision On gallery tune.

Footnote (according to the publicity)

*Nerdgasm [n]: The excitement of one’s nerdy or geeky tendencies causing a sensory overload.

Rating