Gary Delaney: Purist

****

4 Stars

Apparently Gary Delaney doesn’t think that comedy shows contain enough jokes and it his mission to address the problem with his Fringe 2010 show. And he does so in spades!!

He is not a narrative, long-winded comedian, hell no, Gary likes writing one liners and, if my arithmetic is correct, during the show include in excess of 175 jokes in a 55 minute set, shades of Tim Vine me thinks, except I found Delaney funnier!!

Some of his gags are silly, some are witty, some are clever, a lot are in a little bad taste. And some are pure bad taste. But generally all are funny some draw groans from the packet out audience, some belly laughs, but very few, if any, elicit no response.

A lot of Delaney’s material has found it’s way onto the internet vie Twitter and Facebook allegedly, and I suppose it is inevitable as clever one-liners are easier to repeat than stories, but he still seems to be able to come up with fresh ones.

This was the first time I saw Delaney perform and I certainly hope to catch him again. He is playing till the 29th so you still have chance to catch him this year, but be quick. The show I saw was sold out.

****

Reviewed by Geoff

Pleasance Cellar V 33

4 to 29 August

20-30 to 21-25

Fringe Brochure P66

Andrew Lawrence: The Too Ugly For Television Tour 2010

****

4 Stars

Andrew Lawrence could almost be the epitome of a ‘ginger winger’, that is if he wasn’t such a talented comedian. Boy does he get angry as he is only to happy to tell us on occasions throughout his hour.

A fairly quiet Tuesday night crowd had nothing to moan about though as he proceeded to entertain one and all with a whole host of his material, drawing laughter throughout.

Once Lawrence gets started on a subject, he will have his say without drawing breathe for what seems like ages, I was convinced he must be able to breathe through his ears at times. Rants on MOT’s, scones, Kellogg’s, Edinburgh Pleasance Courtyard, let’s call them self abusers, and his favourite species the Fringe reviewer all come under his microscope.

Lawrence seems to me to get grumpier each time I see him, and each time I see him I enjoy his show more, is that saying something about him or me? His material is funny, his style different and together they make for an entertaining hour of comedy that is always up to the mark.

He perhaps should think about changing his show title though, as I believe an appearance on a BBC Comedy Roadshow could well be in the offing. So get in first and check him out for yourselves.

****

Reviewed by Geoff

Pleasance Cabaret Bar V 33

4 to 29 August

21-20 to 22-20

Fringe Brochure P26

Touching the Blue

3 Stars

***

Clive Russell gives a powerful and poignant performance as Derek Rogers a fictional, veteran snooker player who, as a teenager many decades earlier, had been the youngest ever world champion. The play is an autobiographical account of a sports personality who has experienced fame and wealth at a young age followed by his descent into the doldrums.

Rogers as a young man was a charismatic character with a precocious snooker ability. His nickname was ‘The Thunderbolt Kid’. Born in a Glasgow tenement, he has the west of Scotland gallus humour.  He looks back over his life; his possessive mother, the failed marriages, and nervous breakdown. He is living on borrowed time due to alcoholism.

Miraculously, he has qualified for the World Championship Finals at the Crucible Theatre. He tells his story from a dingy dressing at this venue which didn’t quite ring true for me. However, giving authenticity, there is a TV monitor with clips of film showing famous commentators such as Dennis Taylor giving recollections of Rogers in his prime.

As the play draws to a climax, he reveals an outlandish secret which only he and his losing opponent in his winning of the world championship know about. As a story, it does have comparisons with real sporting legends that have experienced spectacular success at an early age only to squander their talent when they should have been at their prime.

Reviewed by Ben

Venue; Venue Number                  Assembly @ George Street; V3

Dates                                                  5 to 29 August 2010 (not 16)

Times                                                 15.30 to 16.30

Fringe Programme Page Number: 297

Ronna and Beverly: You’ll do a Little Better Next Time

4 Stars

****

Ronna and Beverly’s performance as two middle aged Jewish American mothers is marvellously funny with many surprises packed into an hour long imaginary TV chat show. They have several scripted routines about their self help book on relationships. Ronna is the more focussed and leads the presentations. Beverly follows but her butterfly mind goes all over the place. The addresses to the audience and their conversations have a natural feeling of spontaneity as they talk over each, agreeing or disagreeing.

Two guests appeared to be grilled about their relationships, much to our and their amusement and maybe embarrassment. First up was Ali Cook, the comedy magician, who also performed a couple of impressive tricks. He was followed by Guy Pratt, base player turned comedian, who has performed with the likes of Pink Floyd and Madonna. On these occasions, Ronna and Beverly’s spontaneity was for real as the improvised on the answers they received. Not once did they falter as they sustained the quick paced, complex timing throughout.

Reviewed by Ben

Venue; Venue Number                  Pleasance Courtyard; V33

Dates                                                  4 to 29 August 2010 (not 16)

Times                                                 17.45 to 18.45

Fringe Programme Page Number: 117

Miles Jupp: Fibber in the Heat (A Cricket Tale)

4 Stars

****

Miles Jupp’s cricketing tale is gripping and endearing storytelling with lashings of humour thrown in. Using no props or frills, he uses the power of word and gesture to create the mental pictures of a highly unusual journey to India.

His story has its origins in the heady summer of 2005 when England were triumphing over the Aussies to win the Ashes. He suddenly took a notion to go on England’s tour to India in February 2006 as a cricketing journalist. What could be better than seeing his cricketing heroes from the best seats and being paid for the privilege? Just one problem, he had no experience of being a cricket journalist. Using a couple of tenuous links, he conned his way into getting a press pass for England’s three test match series, or so he thought.

Off to India he goes with the press corps. His account tells of his daily fear of being found out by the real journalists as an impostor, his experiences with officialdom to ensure accreditation and meeting up with his cricketing heroes.

What makes his story so funny to a general audience and not simply to cricket followers is the way he focuses on the situation of telling ingenious fibs without realising all the ramifications. If we are honest, this has probably happened to most of us at some time.

Reviewed by Ben

Venue; Venue Number                  Gilded Balloon Teviot; V14

Dates                                                  4 to 29 August 2010 (not 16)

Times                                                 18.00 to 19.00

Fringe Programme Page Number: 99

Memory Cells

4 Stars

****

Louise Welch in her new psychological drama, directed by Hannah Eidenow, deals with a sensitive and difficult subject which is the entrapment, imprisonment and abuse of a woman by a man. As a piece of theatre, it grips totally from first entering the auditorium to the final seconds of the action. Straightaway, an eerie mood is created with a long opening scene without words.

When the dialogue begins, the early impression is that the woman is deranged. She doesn’t want food, then she does. It is clear the couple know each other. He is Barry and she is Cora. It becomes chilling when it is apparent she is imprisoned in a cellar by Barry who reveals by degrees, a violent schizophrenia. He expresses his love for Cora but will twist her words and abuse her mentally, physically and sexually.

Cora is an enigma. She expresses both love and intense loathing for Barry. However, Barry has chosen his victim well because nobody will question Cora’s sudden disappearance. Barry is her only human contact. What would happen to her if something were to happen to him?

The play does contain harrowing and shocking scenes. Nevertheless, the supreme quality of writing and the intense acting of John Stahl and Emily Taafe, backed up by the effective use of sound and lighting give credible insight into the nature of the worst kind of relationship between a man and a woman.

Reviewed by Ben

Venue; Venue Number                  Pleasance Dome; V23

Dates                                                  4 to 30 August 2010 (not 17, 24)

Times                                                 17.20 to 18.40

Fringe Programme Page Number: 271

Eirlys Bellin: Unaccustomed As I Am

2 Stars

**

Eirlys Bellin bounces on stage, totally confident in addressing the audience. She introduces herself as Hayley, a Lancashire lass, who has become an instructional expert on public speaking. This is the linking character for a series of further characters who give their first public speech after taking Hayley’s advice.

The humour in each speech varies. The best material was contained in the final two characters; the tipsy bridesmaid who embarrassingly reveals secrets at the wedding reception; the Venezuelan cleaner giving the eulogy in halting English at the funeral of her former sex obsessed employer.

Eirlys Bellin has undoubted acting talent slipping into each character convincingly but the script is lightweight and the jokes tend to be obvious. The audience smiled rather than broke out in spontaneous belly laughs.

Reviewed by Ben

Venue; Venue Number                  Pleasance Courtyard; V33

Dates                                                  4 to 30 August 2010 (not 16)

Times                                                 15.30 to 16.20

Fringe Programme Page Number: 58

It is Rocket Science! V2 – Helen Keen

***

3 Stars

Is Helen Keen a geek? I don’t know but she announces that the show is a stand-up lecture on Rocket Science and she collects stamps!!  Specifically space stamps!! Well I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

What I will tell you that this bubbly lady is certainly entertaining and I’m sure the near capacity audience would agree with me.

She sought a volunteer to play Patrick Moore and a rather too eager punter played up the role, the audience was divided as per the cold war days and we were off, blasting away as with simple shadow puppetry a few illustrations on an easel, Ms keen doesn’t waste her budget on technology, we do more or less get a well researched lecture on her passion of space and rockets.

Now I’m no space freak, in any shape or size, and yet I found myself dragged into this show and reacting as others more subject material literate than I were.

I don’t think there is any doubt Ms Keen can entertain, her humour is gentle and non-confrontational and this show, V2, suggests there was a V1 which I missed, is soon to be launched into a Radio 4 series.

So for the chance to see it ‘live’ before blast off, the Balcony at The Gilded Balloon is the place to be.

***

Reviewed by Geoff

Gilded Balloon Balcony V 14

6 to 30 August

13-15 to 14-15

Fringe Brochure P 73

Jeremy Lion Goes Green

****

4 Stars

Was it really 5 years ago that Justin Edwards last performed his creation Jeremy Lion at the Fringe, and got Perrier nominated if memory serves me correct.

Lion is back. The boozed up children’s entertainer has fallen on hard times and advised to go back on the road. In his trademark too tight outfit of clashing colours and ably assisted by keyboard playing Hilary Cox, who occasionally assists in the show itself Jeremy Lion is visited by a polar bear in a dream and with the aid of his shed is transported to a few locations to see the effect that greenhouse gasses are having on the environment.

But is the hard drinking, bumbling, larger than life character moved enough to change his ways?

There is a delicious surreal feel to this show that seems to have almost universal appeal. There was a wide age range at the show I saw, but it was a pretty general reaction of enjoyment throughout.

Although Lions plays the role of a children’s entertainer, this would not be suitable show for the youngsters given the content, however those young at heart should sign up now.

****

Reviewed by Geoff

Pleasance Queen Dome V23

4 to 30 August

20-20 to 21-20

Fringe Brochure P 77

Ali Cook: Pieces of Strange

*****

5 Stars

I have to admit that magic shows are not normally my bag, however I was persuaded by a friend that I should check out Ali Cook as he was amazing, and I have to admit that in spite of my preconceptions I had to agree.

Cook is a personable entertainer and a red hot magician to boot.

Throughout the hour he demonstrated slight of hand, close up magic, mind reading, card trick made thing disappear and reappear almost at will, in fact seemed to do the impossible more often than not.

There was plenty of audience participation through out his set, a set that just went way too fast for all.

I was fortunate to be sitting in the front row during his performance, yet try as I might I have no idea how these tricks and illusions, were done.

As a finale Cook and his team have redesigned a Houdini escapology routine aiming to beat the master’s time. And that is probably worth the admission money alone.

I have to admit my friend was right, Cook was excellent throughout and just maybe I’ll have to re-think my previous opinion on magic shows in the future.

*****

Reviewed by Geoff

Gilded Balloon Billiard Room V 14

4 to 30 August

21-45 to 22-45

Fringe Brochure P24

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