Eight other shows we saw at the Fringe
Andrew Mickel28 August 2013
Short takes on some of the festival’s most interesting shows…
Let’s start with something truly awesome: the late-night interactive fun of Tom Webb’s Mega Games. That ‘interactive’ tag will probably have many potential audience members running for the hills, but this is almost Tim Vine-like in terms of levels of niceness. That’s where the comparison is bound to end, as the rest is a riotous runthrough games that get audience members to compete against each other. It is, in short, amazing. Now, here’s a tricky dilemma: the night we saw in the Banshee Labyrinth could ideally use scaling up (despite not being in the festival brochure the shows have been packing out). The obvious ones are where similar funtime shows work in Edinburgh - the Ten Dome springs to mind, or in London, the Soho Theatre basement. But get much bigger than that, and a lot of the air would almost certainly be let out of the show, taking away from the intimacy of Webb’s wit and charm. Fingers crossed they pick wisely.
There was a one-night reprisal of Thom Tuck’s Straight to DVD on the last Sunday in place of Tom Bell’s show at the Canons’ Gait. Yes, we know – hello, 2011 is calling and wants its shows back – but the show is ageing rather beautifully. The end of the Fringe was the perfect place for this: nothing too challenging, just time-tested, finely-balanced stand-up.
Talking of special one-offs, Austentatious dragged up for Waverley Care in Crosstentatious on 21 August. While the improv actors started off seeming occasionally wrong-footed by having to act through a different gender’s tropes, the tale of Emma being sent to Australia – with Graham Dixon looking ravishing in a ballgown in the title role – soon found a rich seam of humour in harried women with more than a little chest hair. It’s improv you can take your mum to that’s actually funny.
You probably won’t be taking your mum to see David Quirk’s Shaking Hands With Danger, given that its biggest turning point is set in an STD clinic. It’s an often intense hour of candid storytelling on Guns N Roses and a woman. The show comes across as a man who has had to hit the pause button on life and start raking over his actions to find out how he’s got to where he is. It could well be this year’s most quietly responsible show.
We found more than a few punters during August who named Luke Toulson as a comedian they were really keen to see, which would explain why his first show on the Free Fringe, I Don’t Know How I Feel About My Kids, has been packing out. It covers some of the oft-heard anecdotes about Toulson’s kids over a competent hour of stand-up and he’s a welcome addition to the free side of August.
Sticking with the Free Fringe, Matt Lacey is working out where to go after his Gap Yah character made it big. Classroom Warrior sees him run through several teachers running a failing public school. From the overexuberant drama teacher – a great device for some audience interaction – to a waspish Australian deputy, Lacey brings his warm comedy persona to bear on several outlandish characters. Gap Yah’s appearance remains the big draw, but this is how testing the water should be done.
While much of the programme at Bob’s Bookshop ferried through taboos and counter-culture, the venue’s moral compass was provided by friend of SSP Tommy Holgate in Good Spirits. In theory this was supposed to be a look back at how Holgate stopped drinking, but the show spent more time getting the audience up on their feet to test out eastern breathing techniques and body popping. Learning to body pop with John Fleming in the back of a bookshop is just the sort of one-off event that the Fringe is built on. There aren’t many shows you get to leave genuinely feeling refreshed: it’s more effective than a visit to the Pie Maker.
And once you’re refreshed and ready for a big night out, there’s only been one truly hot ticket in Edinburgh this August: Hot Dub Time Machine, a YouTube megamix of 50 years of music. DJ Tom ended up on crutches for the last night – touchingly renamed Hop Dub – but the show is still coming down to London this weekend. Get your tickets now…
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