Tom Craine – Choirboy to Addict & Back Again

***

3 Stars

This is Tom Craine’s second solo show at the Fringe and having seen his debut last year, I can confirm that 12 months have definitely produced a more accomplished and confident performer in this young comic. This second hour from Craine deals with his childhood as the lead chorister of Bath Abbey Choir (including a solo on the 1990 Songs of Praise Christmas Special no less), to his issues during his university years and, as the title suggests, the current place singing now takes in his life.

No-one would suggest that this is edgy, or challenging comedy (although a few lines do reveal that perhaps Craine has some darker material lurking within), but the virtually sold out audience in the small, and unsurprisingly hot Pleasance Hut, clearly found Craine’s amiable character and easy rapport endearing, with plenty of chuckles, giggles and some genuine laugh out loud moments.

Tom Craine now presents his own show on Radio Bristol, and if the difference between his 2009 and this year’s shows are anything to go by,  this has contributed to his confidence and performance which are going from strength to strength. However, I can’t see that there is much more mileage from material based on his sheltered childhood as a talented young chorister (last year’s show also covered similar material), so perhaps he will have to look elsewhere. I’ll certainly be interested to see what he comes up with for next year’s Fringe.

Tom Craine is definitely a name to keep an eye on.  

18:00-19:00

4th – 30th (not 11th, 18th)

Pleasance Courtyard – Pleasance Hut

Sarah

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Ava Vidal Lessons: I Should Have Learned

****

4 Stars

 I first became aware of Ava Vidal, was it really 2004, and saw her Fringe show in 2005 following her TV performance in C4’s Kings of Comedy, and have watched her progress with great interest.

Her media exposure on the likes of Michael McIntyre’s Roadshow and on Brighton Fringe Comedy Hour will certainly not have done her profile any harm.

Ms Vidal is never afraid to tackle, shall we say issues, in her performances and as a single black mother with two kids is used to being judged. Thus, when she elected to talk about her recent life, in particular a HIV test, a relationship break-up and Israel and South Africa you can see she doesn’t play it safe.

She had a sell out for the show I attended and I’m sure it will not be the last. A few techy problems slightly delayed the start of her show and although slightly upset by these I feel she didn’t let it affect her performance. She was confident in her material, has stage presence  magnificent comic timing and although often self-deprecating, usually hits home with a killer punch line with some VT to entertain as well, the hour passed all too soon for most.

I, amongst many others, certainly a large number of the people who saw her show with me, I’m sure are already looking forward to seeing much more of her be it either on stage or TV, so grab you opportunity now.

Reviewed by Geoff

 ****

Stand IV Venue 12

5th to 29th August

15-20 to 16-20

Fringe Programme P 30

Tiffany Stevenson – Dictators

****

4 Stars

Before I first saw Tiffany Stevenson some eighteen months ago, I had been informed by some in the know that she was a talent to watch out for, and having seen her perform a few times since I can wholeheartedly agree.

Dictators is the title for this years Edinburgh show where she elects her ‘Top Five’  dictators of recent times and outlines their virtues and otherwise that led her to her conclusions.

Opening banter with the audience and the selection of the crowds General for the day preceded the body of performance her top dictators, with pictures them and another of her ‘carbon offset’, her cat Bumble. There is no way I am going to reveal the list, but fair to say there are some usual suspects and maybe a wild-card or two thrown in for good company.

For the remainder of her time, Tiffany outlines some of the case for the prosecution, a little maybe for the defence, all interspersed with a few details of her life and family.

She is an engaging comic I find, with bags of stage presence and a good line of material and gags, easy to see why quite a number in the comedy world advised me to see her back then.

The space she is playing is not the largest on the Fringe, but tickets are selling well, so let me spread the word and then go and see for yourselves.

 Reviewed by Geoff

****

Stand IV Venue 12

4 to 29 August

14-05 to 15-05

Fringe Brochure page 132

Camille O’Sullivan – Chameleon

*****

5 Stars (only because I can’t give six)

 I have been attending Fringe performances from this superbly talented Franco- Irish performer for a number of years now, and each time I see her it is in a bigger space and each time it is sold out. Not altogether surprising really, ‘cause the lady is a legend.

Nobody I know give the performance she does, she is sultry, sleazy, sexy, ballsy, very theatrical in the performance and boy can she sell a song, be it rock, jazz, blues or ballad she has the voice to excel at so many levels.

With the brand new show ‘Chameleon’ Ms O’Sullivan has rested a lot of her more established, well loved songs and replaced them with, for me anyway, less familiar numbers, but what is constant is the quality of performance of her and her extremely tight and virtuoso band.

From the onset, with a stage dressed in so many props, not least of all a functioning swing, to the end an hour or so later the packed Music Hall were hooked on her every movement, every word, every nuance of the experience and her stage presence was barely contained in the vast arena.

She had a shocking problem with a live mic that would have thrown many, but although visibly shaken, soldiered on with the show as if nothing had occurred.

Highlights? Too many really, but if pressed, the return of Brel’s Amsterdam and a Leonard Cohen finale would maybe just edge it me.

There is only one thing that worries me though. Is there a bigger Fringe space available in Edinburgh that will be able to cope with the ticket demands for next year’s extravaganza?

*****

Reviewed by Geoff

Assembly Music Hall Venue 3

5 – 30 August

22.25 to 23.35

Fringe Programme P 178

Jo Caulfield: – Cruel To Be Kind

*****

5 Stars

I have a lot of respect for Jo Caulfield as a performer whether the performance medium is TV, Radio, or for me where she really excels live on stage doing stand-up and have had the good fortune to see her a number of times.

As usual playing to busy houses in Stand III, Jo hits the stage running immediately interacting with the audience, asking questions to get her reference points, and then off we go, buckle in for the ride.

Ms Caulfield has a variety of material in her locker on wide and diverse subjects, some she involves the audience with, others she relates, but as always with her show, it is well observed, excellently written and impeccably delivered. The crowd were with her from the off, and remained with her throughout the hour, a lot too short for most I feel.

Annoying friends, perfumes, and her very own Fairy Tale were just three of the subjects I felt were highlights, but in reality there were no lows

Finishing in a similar way to the start an audience poll was taken in order to assist in an article she is writing and then it’s all over for another night.

I feel this is probably the best show I have ever seen her deliver and thoroughly recommend that check it out for yourselves.

*****

Reviewed by Geoff

Stand III V12

5 to 29 August

19-50 to 20-50

Fringe Programme P 78