Don’t Trust Salmon – Fin

3 stars ***

In a small stuffy basement theatre space a small audience gathered to giggle at a series of sketches unlinked to each other and mostly not about salmon (or fins). Highlights, for me, included the one about Tolstoy and the very hungry caterpillar, the one about the visiting Christians and (my favourite) the one about the voices in one’s head.

With minimal props and no set, this troupe managed to create, and draw the audience into, each new scenario, using only voices, expressions and body language. The variety of characters was impressive, as were the verisimilitude of the accents – even though you know they had a different one thirty seconds ago. Creative use of off-stage space and music and sound (including a particularly nice interpretation of the opening of the Carmina Burana) complemented well the sketches themselves.

A good show, with some inventive and very ingenious ideas.

Reviewed by Laura

Zoo Roxy, 16:00 (50 mins)

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Chris Mayo’s Panic Attack

4 stars ****

This gentleman describes himself as a forty-year old man in the body of a twelve year old gymnast, but the thing which really struck me as I watched his gestures emphasise his words, is that he has extraordinarily long fingers. And he’s really funny.

I wasn’t going to see this show, but I’m really glad I did. ‘Six people in a cave’ (eight if you include Mr Mayo and the technician at the back) were thoroughly entertained by an energetic exploration of the things which get Chris really stressed (noises, death, aubergines…) and why, in reality, it’s all quite ridiculous.

Audience interaction was encouraged at various points, and because we were only six, we all got a go – making it reminiscent of a group therapy session. If it was therapy though, it was laughter therapy of the best kind, where life’s silly problems were put into perspective by a genuinely lovely bloke with an effervescent charm.

Just the thing for a soggy August.

Reviewed by Laura

Just the Tonic at the Caves

11 – 28 Aug, 18:00 (1 hour)

 

Matt Green:-Too Much Information

4 Stars ****

I have been watching Matt Green perform since 1999, yes 12 years so how come he doesn’t look a day older than then?

What ever the reason he is still turning out funny and entertaining shows and still packing out venues where ever he appears.

The world is full of methods of getting information these days and is there too much out there? Too many gadgets? And is the information we receive filtered and tailored to our history rather than being all embracing.

These topics, together with London 2012 Olympics, the world of banking from a inside point of view, celebrity culture, Heat magazine and some what exotic gigs are just a few of the points of call on this journey.

Green is always a well prepared comic, his show well structured, written and performed and his audience interaction is funny yet not really intrusive.

In a room resembling a sauna on the night I attended he remained cool and in command, regaling one and all with his insight on his theme and everybody was laughing along throughout.

Everybody is saying we need to be more green these days, well why not start here?

Reviewed by Geoff

Pleasance Upstairs V 33

3 to 28 August ( not 15)

20:30 to 21:30

Fringe Brochure P 115

Cul-De-Sac

4 Stars

****

Dictatorship can exist in many settings but in a quiet, seemingly respectable, English upper-middle class cul-de-sac? Unlikely would be the answer. However, where there is expected conformity and for those unwilling to conform, any resulting intimidation can have the emergence of a dictator as a possible outcome.

These are the themes which are explored in this comedy drama. Tom has newly arrived in the cul-de-sac with his wife and teenage daughter. Over the garden fence he exchanges humorous pleasantries and shared prejudices with his neighbour, Nigel, a long standing resident. Casually Nigel mentions the charismatic Tony, another cul-de-sac resident. At this early stage, Tom takes the view that Tony is something of an interfering busybody.

Scenes between Tom and Nigel alternate with scenes between Nigel and the enigmatic family doctor. As the play develops, the mood becomes more uneasy. This is enhanced by the gentle pacing of the dialogue. It becomes apparent that Tony, whom we never meet, exercises total control of the cul-de-sacs residents through the sheer force of his personality. Those who play to his rules are favoured, those who cross him suffer.

In the end it is more psychology drama than comedy and what is frightening in a general sense is how a dictator can surround himself with willing accomplices.

Reviewed by Ben (no cast list supplied and thus I can’t put actor’s names to characters)

Pleasance Courtyard – Beneath: 33

3 to 29 August 2011 (not 15, 22)

15.15 – 16.15

Fringe Programme Page Number: 252

Free Run

5 Stars

*****

The ensemble 3RUN come to the Fringe with much hype and expectation – millions of YouTube hits, world records and the first staging of this street art form in the UK. There is also the promise of ‘spectacular entertainment’. Is that promise delivered? The answer is emphatically yes.

Eight performers, 7 guys and 1 girl, combine gymnastics, acrobatics and martial arts as they hurtle onto the stage which is set up with equipment based on those that feature in competitive gymnastics. Around the walls at the sides and back feature further performance areas. The gangways between aisles are used to inject speed as they sprint onto the stage.

Accompanying the action is a huge back projection screen showing film sequences The feats of agility and strength are timed to the driving sound tracks to maintain the fast pace of the co-ordinated movements. The intensity of the performance builds and builds. Prior to the finale, there is a chase sequence involving all eight performers which is bold and dramatic in conception.

The finale sees each of the performers doing their individual specialities encouraged by the clapping of the audience. Word must have got out that this is a show to see because even on a damp Wednesday in week 1, it was a sell-out.

Reviewed by Ben

Udderbelly’s Pasture: 300

3 to 29 August 2011 (not 16, 22)

18.20 – 19.20

Fringe Programme Page Number: 264

Roar

4 Stars

****

Part hilarious farce, part historical costume drama, part drawing on the tradition of Greek tragedy and part musical theatre, the whole mix of styles in Roar works wonderfully well. Set in the 17th Century London, the basic story is the conflict between the pleasure-seeking Moll Cutpurse who is leading a revolt against the austerity imposed by John Popham, the Lord High Chancellor.

In the first of many twists and turns, unknown to Popham, he and Moll are brother and sister. Moll seeks revenge for being abandoned at birth by their rogue of a father. Her brother received all the privileges of wealth whilst she and her mother were left without any support.

All the cast are splendid; Moll played by Fiona Hampton as the raunchy and devious young woman, Ed Hancock as the pompous Popham and Lucy Pearman as Popham’s love stricken wife. The three principals are given strong support by Lotte Allan, Hester Bond, Nicola Cutcher and Jack Cole who had a hand in writing the play along with sound man Jack Howson and Oliver Bennett. The four supporting performers provide much of the humour as they alternate between Moll’s debauched followers and Popham’s ineffectual judges.

Director Michael Bryher and the technical crew deserve mention for giving clarity to the fast paced, continuous action, and also not forgetting Rollo Clarke for his musical input. This is the first time I have seen a Dumbshow Company production and I applaud their values in staging good, clear storytelling theatre.

Reviewed by Ben

C+1, Chambers Street: 34

3 to 29 August 2011 (not 16)

20.45 – 22.00

Fringe Programme Page Number: 293

Carey Marx: Laziness and Stuff

5 Stars *****

I’m willing to bet that if a straw poll was taken amongst his peers for the funniest comedian Carey Marx would come out very near the top, so why is it that he is not a household name? He won the major award, Best International Show inNew Zealandin 2009 and repeated this achievement in 2011 also. He is a star there and he bloody well should be one here too.

To a packed house late on a wet Fringe night Marx takes to the stage and owns the room from the opening seconds.

His material is superbly crafted and honed to razor sharpness, his delivery style precise, occasionally slightly edgy, and he goes with stuff that some lesser comic may baulk at. Yet,  like a naughty schoolboy, he has this disarmingly cheeky grin that somehow salves any excursions into the insalubrious.

As a craftsman of his art, he despairs on others using hack material, the tried and tested route to laughs, but judging once again on the night he was never short of laughs himself with yet another quality performance.

So do yourselves a favour, go and see him for yourself and see what you have been missing. It is a small room and tickets could well be hard to come by.

Reviewed by Geoff

Gilded Balloon Turret V 14

3 to 28 August ( not 15)

22:15 to 23:15

Fringe Brochure P 53