Sarah Millican – Chatterbox

*****
5 Stars

Delightful Geordie Sarah Millican returns to the Fringe for another sell out year, this time in the main space at The Stand. The show isn’t really about anything in particular, Sarah explains she chose the title Chatterbox because it’s the only thing she was told off for at school.

Discussing everything from how she tries to relax after coming in from gigs late at night, to giving blood (Sarah is probably spot on with her comment that would be a lot more donors if the advertising campaigns focused on the opportunity for a sit down and the availability of tea and biscuits than the altruistic notion of saving an unknown life), being stranded in Australia by the volcanic ash cloud, and her boyfriend’s inability to follow simple present buying instructions.

Sarah is charming in spades and creates a delightful friendly atmosphere, really making the audience feel like they are included in the show, and all this only serves to make the dirty jokes and filthy language that come out of her mouth in her unmistakeable Geordie accent all the funnier.

I couldn’t ask for anything more from a show than a whole hour of tummy hurting laughs and that’s exactly what Sarah provides. We’ve seen a lot more of Millican on our TV screens this year and I can’t help but think we’ll be seeing a lot more of this talented lady in the future.

Reviewed by Sarah

The Stand – Stand 1

20:20 – 21:20

Advertisements

The Penny Dreadfuls

***
3 Stars

The Penny Dreadfuls (Thom Tuck, David Reed and Humphrey Ker) are regulars of the Fringe, that said this is the first time I have managed to catch their show. With a yellow and black themed set and costumes and minimal props they provide an delightfully silly hour of sketch comedy.

With a wide variety of characters (and accents) The Penny Dreadfuls clearly have acting talent to spare and there are several belly laugh moments during the hour. From sketches about wrestling, game shows, and street car races, to a dysfunctional family or the Dreadfuls’ take on the teen favourite the Twilight saga there are plenty of clever ideas on show.

My only slight criticism would be that some of the sketches are a little over stretched, carrying on for a few minutes longer than the laughs, but nevertheless this was a very enjoyable show from the talented trio. And now I’m looking forward to seeing them as a part of their other Fringe outing this year; Gutted- the Revenger’s Musical.

Reviewed by Sarah

Pleasance Courtyard – Pleasance One
18:00 – 19:00

Loretta Maine – I’m Not Drunk, I Just Need to Talk to You

****
4 Stars

Loretta Maine is the latest creation of character comedian Pippa Evans, an alcoholic American redneck with a penchant for white wine and a voice that wouldn’t be out of place in the rock charts.

I’ve seen Loretta Maine before and was mightily impressed, and although this time I was surprised to see her joined on stage by a bassist and drummer, these additions only added to the music and laughter count.

As Maine sings about her life growing up in a dysfunctional family and her subsequent problems the laughs come thick and fast and the character is maintained steadfastly throughout. The musical talent and clever lyrics on display allow the comedy to shine through, and if you’re looking for something a little bit different from your musical comedy then Loretta Maine is the gal for you.

Reviewed by Sarah

The Caves

18:35 – 19:30

Fordy’s Morning Hangover Show

5 stars

*****

There are a lot of shows who cater to the late-night, alcohol consuming, ‘up-for-it’ Fringe attendee.  It’s surely a given that at some point in your Fringe viewing you attend a show that finishes in the early hours of the morning and then totter home over the Edinburgh cobbles, grabbing a bag of chips (“salt ‘n’ sauce”) on the way.  However, there are fewer shows who cater to that self-same punter the next morning in their hour of need.  Where can a bleary-eyed, slightly fragile fan of good comedy go as they emerge, Bambi-like, into the morning air?  Well, it appears that Matt Forde has an idea.

Employing a similar format to his Lock-In, that of a group of mates sitting about having a chat, Forde has struck upon a clever concept to cater to his audience.  Attend the Lock-In the night before for some lager fuelled, no holds barred conversation and then the next morning stumble back for a slightly gentler version of the same.  The pints of lager are replaced by steaming cups of coffee and the barman replaced by the morning papers.

The day I attended Forde was joined by comedian Seann Walsh for a look at what was going on in the world.  As the host of a show on TalkSport, Forde has the natural ability to keep a conversation flowing.  However, the real skill lies beyond simply sustaining the chat, with both managing to find humour in any topic they settled upon.  Walsh’s bemused lackadaisical approach to the subjects played off perfectly against Forde’s more strident political viewpoint.  There was also a nice little glimpse into the camaraderie that exists behind the public face of performing at the Fringe, with tales of late night exploits and anecdotes about some well-known names.

This is a consistently entertaining hour of unplanned chatter and although it might appear to be a bit ‘blokey’ I have to say that as a ‘girly’ I heartily enjoyed it.

Reviewed by Di

Venue – Just the Tonic @ the Caves

11.35 – 12.35

Nathan Caton: Breakfast at Stephanie’s

****

4 Stars

I saw Nathan Caton perform his first Edinburgh show last year and was impressed with the comic ability, stage presence and material that this well educated Londoner of Caribbean stock delivered so was keen to see how the difficult second show held up.

I need not have worried. Caton has as strong a show this year as he had last and this qualified architect certainly doesn’t need to go back to the drawing board if he can maintain this standard.

In some respects this is a follow on show from last years. His hard working family do not approve of his career choice and in order to convince them Nathan ran the show back home, invited his family to prove to them that he was right to pursue his goal.

What happened upto and post this even is the basis of the plot as he proves to us that he is a very good and funny comedian.

The material is wider based than just that though, he opines on a number of subjects, has some good non-threatening banter with the audience and generally elicits laughs with all that he offers. His style is non abrasive, often self-depricating and he comes across a genuine person, and I’m sure his physique and looks will not be lost on the young women in the crowd.

Caton is surely here to stay. I’m already looking forward to his next offering.

****

Reviewed by Geoff

Pleasance Beneath V 33

4 – 30 August

21-30 to 22-30

Jarlath Regan: Not So Common Sense

4 Stars

****

In his fourth year at the Fringe, Jarlath Regan’s brand of conversational and intelligent humour is a popular attraction from the evidence of a packed house. This is not surprising for the audience is provided with an hour of sustained humour.

He admitted that his 30th birthday is looming up and it is a time to take stock of his life.  He gave his take on the useful, the ‘not useful’ and the profound. This varies from good advice to the bizarre. He engaged the audience with some good natured banter. Finding by chance an employee of BP sitting near to couple of Americans was too good an opportunity not to exploit.

Continuing on the reflective theme, he moved on to his experiences in his first year of marriage. This, for me, is when he excelled in the variety of his comedy; snappy one liners, the facial expressions of partners and his story of attending a compulsory pre–marriage course in his native Ireland along with his wife to be.

His show might be titled ‘Not So Common Sense’ but he does impart much common sense with an easy charm and a sharp wit.

Reviewed by Ben

Venue; Venue Number – Gilded Balloon Teviot; V14

Dates – 4 to 30 August 2010 (not 16)

Times – 18.45 to 19.45

Fringe Programme Page Number: 75

Swing!

4 Stars

****

Lauren Benstead’s musical comedy bounces along with a pile of toe tapping songs and saucy humour. Set in the apparently mundane middle class village of Wafthead, the tennis club is the centre of village social life offering gentle exercise and quiche. However, beneath the genteel surface, there is back biting and win at all costs ambition.

With a cast of 12 performers, the storyline is convoluted, but the essential elements of musical comedy are present. The teenage love interest is in the capable hands and voices of Matthew Ferdenzi and Meg Powell-Chandler. The villains of the piece are played by Amy Anzel, a sultry divorcee, and Tom Lyle, her arrogant son.

The songs, backed by a five piece band, are a mix of styles ranging from jazz to tango. A couple of numbers especially caught my attention. The opening song features Marcia Brown, Dolly Alderton and Rebekka Bowling as tennis addicted tennis mums and the closing song is a risqué duet featuring Neil Canfer as Willy Straddlebottom, the hunky coach, and Calum Melville, as a TV presenter, expressing their coming  out as gay partners.

Lauren Benstead, as writer and director, has served up a slick, fast paced and entertaining production

Reviewed by Ben

Venue; Venue Number – Gilded Balloon Teviot; V14

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

Times – 16.00 to 17.15

Fringe Programme Page Number: 220