Humerus: St. George’s Medics Revue

***

3 Stars

Every year for the last few I have sworn off Student Revues. The reason? Basically I am not the demographic they are pitching at, so I’m wasting their time and mine by going. There is usually an exception to this rule and that is St. George’s Medics Revue ‘cause they just go for it with bad taste, witty, irreverent and more mainstream humour than others.

These trainee doctors, heaven help us in the future, seem to have a never ending conveyor belt of performers and writers to perform. I lost count how many were in this troupe of performers, I think 14 including 2 musicians,, shared the workload and most scenes were very short and snappy, and riddled with bad taste, just what the busy audience seemed to lap up.

This was their opening show of a short run, so I expected a few technical problems, forgotten lines or props, but nothing was evident throughout.

If laughter is the best medicine then these prospective doctors are keeping their options open.

***

Reviewed by Geoff

The Spaces on the Mile @ The Radisson V 39

23-28 August

17-00 to 18-00

Fringe Brochure P 70

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Bound

Five Stars

*****

Although a contemporary play reflecting the current economic uncertainties in the fishing industry, the use of snippets of folk songs and shanties at the beginning and during the course of the play give Bound a timeless quality. The interaction between the members of the crew and the dangers they face could have taken place at any time since men went to sea on fishing boats.

The play is the work of Jesse Briton who also appears as the captain of the trawler, Violet. The script has outstanding clarity and realism. There is humour, poignancy and a building of tension in the final climactic scene. The six men who make up the crew vary in ages and personality. As the action unfolds, the cast skilfully develop the characters of the men portrayed, revealing their individual strengths and weaknesses. Their conversations are so lifelike in the way they feud, wind each other up, but, in extreme circumstances, they come together.

The limited size of the Studio room has both disadvantages and advantages. It is a small area in which to convey all the physical action but we the audience are so close we could well be on board the boat. This proximity completely compels your attention.

Reviewed by Ben

Venue; Venue Number                  Zoo Southside; V82

Dates                                                  6 to 30 August 2010

Times                                                 15.45 to 16.45

Fringe Programme Page Number: 233

Mushy Ate My Credit Card

2 Stars

**

Mark Brailsford’s solo performance play portraying Sam, a Sussex County Cricket Club fanatic is heavy on facts but light on humour. The story follows Sam during the summer of 2003. Sussex, for over a century have been county cricket minnows but in this year they are making a strong challenge to win the County Championship. His wife’s pregnancy is the other event in his life at this time.

Leading the way towards success is Mushy, Mushtaq Ahmed, a highly successful Pakistani leg spin bowler. As the summer proceeds, Sam is prepared to spend hugely following his heroes all around the country using his credit card. Mixed in with the progress of Sussex during the 2003 season, there are made up clips of film projected on to screen to highlight the great players of old.

As far as cricket is concerned, people can be easily divided into two – cricket lovers and cricket loathers. Being a former cricketer, I am in the former category. There is one characteristic about cricket lovers. They are fascinated by statistics. Therefore, I did find the factual content of the show interesting on a personal level but it will have little meaning or appeal to those who have no interest in the game. Some of the characterisations do become repetitive and the humour will not be widely intelligible.

Reviewed by Ben

Venue; Venue Number                  Hill Street Theatre; V41

Dates  remaining                              22, 26 – 29 August 2010

Times                                                 21.00 to 21.50

Fringe Programme Page Number: 273

Pluck: Musical Arson Reignited

3 Stars

***

Pluck is a string trio of two male violinists and a female cellist. They play a selection of well known classical melodies from composers such as Vivaldi, Offenbach and Ravel.  Their comedy consists of visual gags and slapstick in time to the music. They play out a running feud between the two violinists, one being tall and overweening; the other is mischievous. Along with the cellist, they try to subvert his authority only to be met with a disdainful stare.

It is a show of two halves. The routines in the first half tend to be repetitive. The stare is used frequently. The visual gags, although well performed, are unsurprising. The best material is in the second half, beginning with the cellist singing the song ‘Fever’ during which one of the violinists takes over playing the cello in a well co-ordinated series of movements. Most of the best comedy now comes through her as she takes on a more provocative role in a couple of audience participation numbers.

Their finale is a rousing version of the 1812 overture with sound effects of the Heath Robinson type. A good, solid, safe, if undemanding, hour of entertainment for all ages.

Reviewed by Ben

Venue; Venue Number                  Gilded Balloon Teviot ; V14

Dates                                                  19 to 29 August 2010

Times                                                 17.00 to 18.00

Fringe Programme Page Number:110

The Leonardo Question

3 Stars

***

Caroline Wiseman’s play is an entertaining, satirical romp through the world of modern art over the past century. The major artists are represented in short sketches from Picasso and Duchamp, through to Pollack and Warhol and finally, Hirst and Emin. The script uses their actual words as one ‘ism’ was rejected and a new ‘ism’ came into fashion.

The linking figure in the sketches is Peggy Guggenheim, the wealthy art patron. She is played by Clemmie Reynolds who gives a shining performance as the flirtatious and promiscuous Peggy. She is ably supported by Kyle Ross and Patrick Rogers who share out the male artists between them.

The theme of the play is the question. What makes good art? Is it the skill of the artist or is it just a question of money and the economics of supply and demand or is it catching the mood of the times? The final sketch, featuring Hurst and Emin, is the most extended. This focuses on contemporary society’s obsession with the cult of celebrity. For example, Emin is now a media personality. Is her art now driven by a need to be the centre of attention?

At the end, the question is posed who will be the next big name in art and how will their recognition be decided?

The quick fire nature of the sketches can only show the artists as caricatures. Perhaps the key theme is laboured. Nevertheless, the piece has wit and charm.

Reviewed by Ben

Venue; Venue Number                  Zoo Roxy; V115

Dates                                                  22 to 30 August 2010

Times                                                 14.45 to15.35

Fringe Programme Page Number: 266

At Home with Mrs Moneypenny

4 Stars

****

This is one of the most unusual and distinctive shows on the Fringe. On first arriving at the AGA Showroom venue, a glass of champagne is on offer. We then make our way down a staircase to the showroom kitchen. Without doubt, this is the most expensive set of props on the Fringe.

Mrs Moneypenny welcomes us in to her packed out kitchen. She is the ideal hostess promising us food which will be cooked and served with the help of Richard who was the man from AGA, an audience volunteer and two of her three sons. She is as good as her word with everybody receiving several delightful morsels of food.

Her show consists of sharing her thoughts with us. She is a naturally witty raconteur with a stream of humorous anecdotes which reveal a very clear, pragmatic outlook on life. Families, for example, should be run on business lines but without a grievance procedure.

She is certainly a driven woman having a wide range of achievements, including being an entrepreneur, writer and most recently the holder of a private pilot licence. The most difficult part of this last accomplishment was fitting her 48 year old, body mass index 37 frame into the cockpit. There was one hilarious moment when it became apparent that a young man in the front row thought that HRT stood for High Resolution Television when she was talking about advancing middle age.

She admitted at the beginning that her purpose in doing a Fringe show was to pay for a holiday to Scotland. Sounds arrogant, but this is a woman with very can do attitude. However, she does make the concession. To achieve, you need the assistance of good people around you. Team Moneypenny have crafted a successful show for she is a genuine sell out and thus no financial loss on the holiday.

Reviewed by Ben

Venue; Venue Number                  Assembly @ AGA Showroom; V223

Dates  & Times vary

Fringe Programme Page Number: 228

Paul Sinha: Extreme Anti-White Vitriol

*****

5 Stars

Although Paul Sinha has been doing stand-up comedy for fifteen years it was only as recently as last year that I saw him for the first time and I was impressed. I was therefore looking forward to seeing his 2010 offering and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

As soon as he hit the stage Sinha was straight into his set, often self-deprecating, always cleverly written and superbly enunciated. Although he packs a whole host of material and subjects into his hour and he hardly seemed to pause for breath, each section was clearly delivered and I found him riveting.

The title of the show comes from a comment levelled at him during a radio interview with Simon Darby, the deputy leader of the BNP, when he was ‘labelled a racist by a racist’.

Sinha relates examples of how Britain has changed from his youth, gives examples as his previous life as a doctor, as a comedian and how people sometimes have preconceived ideas, including himself.

A story of a toilet queue gives an insight as to how these preconceived perceptions are not always right and the underlying message is that people should just talk to each other.

His hour just evaporated, and it was a quality performance from the off. Do take the chance to see him if you can and you will not be disappointed.

*****

Reviewed by Geoff

Stand III V 12

4 to 29 August

22-40 to 23-40

Fringe Brochure P 108