Frisky and Mannish: The College Years

5 Stars

*****

Oh Frisky.  Oh Mannish.  Oh Frisky and Mannish.  Undoubtedly my personal highlight of Fringe 2009, I couldn’t grab a ticket fast enough for this follow up to the barnstorming, roof raising spectacle that was ‘School of Pop’.  And let me assure you, ticket grabbing is an absolute must.  This show is yet another triumph for the delightful duo.

‘Frisky and Mannish: The College Years’ takes their pop playfulness up a notch, introducing us to collision theory, where duets are performed by battling divas, grammatical inaccuracies in popular hits are taken to task and musical genres are twisted beautifully.   There’s a wonderful interaction between the pair as they cheerfully mock the critics, the audience and themselves. The pace is non-stop and the performances are slick, sexy and sparkling.

What I particularly admire about Frisky and Mannish is their dedication to the deconstruction of pop music, adding layers to what many view as lightweight and throwaway.  These are performers who demand their audience hold a vast knowledge of the genre, as they veer from album tracks by Florence and the Machine to the early 90s genius that was Paula Abdul’s pairing with MC Skat Kat.

it’s fair to say that I’m now a bit of a fan, but it’s hard to attend this show and not become one.  Therefore I insist that you do.  Immediately!

Reviewed by Di

Venue – Underbelly, Belly Dancer

21.00 – 22.00

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Bane 2

4 Stars

****

Joe Bone is highly adept at solo performance comedy theatre in his parodying of the films of a bygone Hollywood era. As in last year’s production of Bane, the central character is Bruce Bane, a low level gangster and hit man caught up in a gangland feud.

The story opens with Jones, a long time acquaintance of Bane, being threatened by Ivan, Bane’s bitter enemy; shoot down Bane or else.  His murder attempt fails. He is no match for the cool confidence which Bane exudes who coldly maims him when he has been disarmed.  From this point, scene upon scene follows with driving pace as Jones becomes transformed from a weakling into a grotesque monster after being dumped into toxic waste and left for dead by the furious Ivan. Thus, a duel to the death ensues between Bane and a revenge seeking Jones.

Heightening the action and giving atmosphere to the physicality of Bone’s performance is a live music soundtrack from acoustic guitarist Ben Roe. For those who enjoyed Bane last year, Bane 2 will be a further episode to savour. There is the same faultless timing as character after character appears, never mind the implausibility of the story and the corniness of some of the dialogue. Incidentally, Bane is being reprised at GRV – see page 229 in the Fringe Programme.

Reviewed by Ben

Venue; Venue Number – Pleasance Dome; V23

Dates – 4 to 29 August 2010 (not 23)

Times – 20.20 to 21.20

Fringe Programme Page Number: 229

While You Lie

4 Stars

****

Make no mistake; Sam Holcroft’s new play is a powerful and bold adult drama. There are numerous themes which she explores – obsession, lying, insecurity and sexual exploitation. The central character is Anna (Claire Lams) and it is the consequences of her decisions that drive the action forward.

The first two scenes define her background and personality. She originates from Eastern Europe. She is in her early 20’s, intelligent, scheming, attractive but insecure about her appearance and unable to fully give and receive love from her boyfriend Edward (Andrew Scott-Ramsay). At first, her insecurities can be amusing. However, when she offers sexual favours to her boss Chris (Steven McNicoll), married and in his forties,  in return for career advancement, the mood becomes darker as she triggers a whole of series of incidents affecting not only the two men bit also Chris’s wife, the heavily pregnant Helen (Pauline Knowles). Into the mix, Ike (Leo Wringer) appears. He is a smooth talking opportunistic plastic surgeon whose answer to female insecurity is cosmetic surgery.

In the sexual relationship between Chris and Anna, there are undoubtedly uncomfortable scenes where Chris changes from the bland to the violent. Having been seduced by Anna, he takes his pleasure by degrading her as a form of revenge.

The play builds to a dramatic conclusion, somewhat unexpected given everything that has gone before. The direction given by Zinnie Harris is imaginative and the whole cast are excellent. This is a play which I reckon will induce thoughts about the human persona long after witnessing the performance.

Reviewed by Ben

Venue; Venue Number – Traverse Theatre; V15

Dates – 5 to 29 August 2010 (not 9,23)

Times – Vary daily

Fringe Programme Page Number: 304

Cabaret Chordelia: Making a Song and Dance

3 Stars

***

The show centres round Damian Thantrey who has a fine, clear baritone voice. The songs selected reflect composers who penned romantic, often sad, lyrics with a strong story line such as Noel Coward, Rogers and Hart, Jerome Kern and Kurt Weill.

Three female dancers Kimberly Lawrie, Kally Lloyd-Jones and Kirsty Pollock provide sensitive interpretations of the emotions contained in the songs. The highlight for me was the final song, Kirsty McCall’s ‘In these Shoes’ which was given lively and humorous treatment.

Cabaret Chordelia is pleasant and enjoyable late afternoon entertainment.

Reviewed by Ben

Venue; Venue Number – Pleasance at Ghillie Dhu; V236

Dates – 4 to 22 August 2010 (not 11, 16)

Times – 16.15 to 17.15

Fringe Programme Page Number: 144

WitTank

4 Stars

****

WitTank is a group of three guys who perform a bundle of rapid fire, well crafted, basically silly sketches. They have the stage presence and comic timing to make the content work as the laughs from a pretty packed audience just kept flowing.

The running order is cleverly constructed as the guys take centre stage either singly or in pairs or altogether. Thus, there is an unpredictability and plenty of variety to sustain the humour throughout. There are plenty of highlights to select. Being an outdoors person, I enjoyed the running gag of Lord Brinsley-Dresden, the buffoon explorer. Also, the notion of treating a Formula 1 Ferrari racing car as a beautiful female in a red dress to the soundtrack of Chris de Berg’s ‘Lady in Red’ is hilarious.

Highly entertaining from a team who are in top form and know how to put over surreal humour with conviction.

Reviewed by Ben

Venue; Venue Number – Just The Tonic at the Caves; V88

Dates – 5 to 29 August 2010 (not 17)

Times – 18.15 to 19.15

Fringe Programme Page Number: 140

Kai Humphries – Evolution

**** 4 Stars

It’s useful at times to visit showcase type shows as occasionally you pick up gems that would otherwise have passed you by. Such a case in point is young Geordie comic Kai Humphries, who I saw doing ten minutes last year. He was not performing his own show then, but was a finalist in ‘So You Think You are Funny.’ This year however the lad is here with his first Fringe show and is handling it with aplomb.

There is something about the Geordie accent that I find appealing and that together with a wicked sense of humour that most I have met seem to be blessed with and already I am well desposed to them. Kai is more gifted than most though.

His set plays fairly heavily on his background and upbringing, but the well crafted and extremely funny writing, combined with the chatting to mates in a bar delivery style soon had the crowded venue with him and laughing from the off.

The title Evolution is referred to occasionally as he expounds his visions of the future, but he goes to many places with his material. He does stuff on his relationship, the preconceived idea that Geordies are thick, arguments as well as his future predictions for the human race. He is often the butt of his own stories and finishes off with a couple of stories that are probably worth the admission money alone.

Humphries will be a big star in the future playing spaces far bigger than he is currently, so to catch an emerging superstar early grab the chance while you can.

Reviewed by Geoff

****

Underbelly Delhi Belly V 61

5 to 29 August

17-25 to 18-15

Rule of Three : The Sketch-Com

**** 4 Star

As a rule I don’t really count myself a huge fan of sketch comedy, but when I came across Rule of Three a couple of years ago I was really impressed with the company and their show as they had a certain something different. I was therefore keen to see what they were up to this year with their offering The Sketch-Com.

Brooks Livermore, Roisin Rae and James Card are the three performers and they have expanded their sketch show format into a full hour of what is in essence a sit-com, with the versatile actors playing a whole myriad of characters that are in the lives of Ben and Ruth a modern couple and Ruth’s uncharismatic brother Simon who doesn’t want a party for his birthday. But the others do and he tries to arrange one.

Peripheral characters such as co-workers, acquaintances, dating agency staff, a pizza delivery boys and even the most unlikely stripper  are just a few of the creations that flit in and out of the story as with just a few costume changes and the occasional prop the yarn runs its course.

Now the story line does get a little contrived at times, but in doing so gives the intrepid trio an excellent vehicle to showcase their comic character work and no mean skills in writing. The show is pacey and well directed, and their acting performances are certainly uplifting.

With a mid afternoon slot it is an ideal way to warm up the chuckle muscles for the long Fringe day ahead, so why not give this a chance.

****

Reviewed by Geoff

Underbelly Delhi Belly V 6

25 to 29 August

14-55 – 15-55

Brochure page 118