Seann Walsh: Ying and Yang

4 Stars ****

Seann Walsh first came to my attention back in 2008 when he almost won the Amused Moose Laugh Off and his career has really taken off since then with numerous TV appearance including Mock the Week for example.

Playing in a packed out sweatbox of a basement for this years show, Walsh comes across as a nice friendly guy in spite of the scary female latecomer who wanted to join in far too often.

As a young 25 year old a lot of his material is centred around technology, TV and some social networking observations and his well crafted set kept everyone included and there was no obvious weakness in any of his material. If I had a criticism perhaps some was perhaps a little too safe.

The section of TV cookery programmes was for me the highlight, especially his idea of a drunken late night cookery programme for those back from the pub.

Walsh is young, with bags of energy and oodles of personality. I look forward to seeing him for years to come.

Reviewed by Geoff

Pleasance Below V33

3 to 28 August

20:15 to 21:15

Fringe Brochure P 148

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Sara Pascoe vs The Apocalypse

3 Stars ***

Last years show called was almost uniformly rated as 2 ** Ms Pascoe tells us in the over self deprecating start to proceedings and she was dubbed arrogant.

So for this year she has set about the challenge how she was the only person to survive the Apocalypse, well she claims to be half cockroach,  and how she would change things when she ruled the world. Not arrogant at all this year then!!

Now Sara has a fair amount of good material through her set, but some strangely weird stuff too. The huge screen that dominated her stage to illustrate her points and rules did somewhat restricted her movements and the resolution was not the best from my position.

The show did slightly feel ‘preachy’ at times, genuinely funny at others and absolutely disturbing on occasions, but I felt there was probably far more in her locker than she brought to the show.  

Reviewed by Geoff

Pleasance 10 Dome

3 to 28 August

19:00 to 20:00

Fringe Brochure P 147

Flood: Flood Theatre

2 Star **

I have to admit that this wasn’t on my list of shows to see originally. But the persuasive crew persuaded me brave what is self-billed as a cruel comedy and a fusion of sketch show, detective story and tragedy.

This self devised piece certainly lived up to it’s billing, well I would possibly question the comedy part, to me it was more anti comedy, or being generous surreal to the nth degree.

The seven strong cast certainly put their hearts and soul into what they presumably believed in, just that I’m guessing 80% of the audience were at best confused, and a lot wanted to be elsewhere.

It was quick paced, it was totally different, there was an element of storyline, and they could always be heard, even if not always understood.

At one point one section of the audience is berated over some perceived misdemeanour, only to be then told but at least you are getting it not like that lot, being the majority of us. I guess you will either love this or totally hate it. As you may have gathered this production was not for me. And then some!!

But if you like the absurd, experimental style then it maybe it could be for you. Oh and beware of occasional nudity too.

Reviewed by Geoff

Spaces @ Surgeon’s Hall V

Until 27 August

22:50 to 23:50

The Rob Deering Experience

4 Stars ****

After a gap of a few years Rob Deering his trusty guitar and pedal bank return to the Fringe and are we pleased to see him back? You bet we are.

There is a lot less of him that before, having lost a lot of weight, but his comedy talent together with his playing and singing is there in abundance.

Deering is a very pleasant chap, always smiling and has a lovely set this year as always, and given his musical abilities it does tend to make up a fair proportion of his hour.

Something he has introduced since the last time I saw him is the mash up section where he plays one tune but sings a different song over this backing and of course it turns into a bit of an audience quiz. Okay this can be practiced but he then takes audience suggestions and instantly does them too. An excellent idea which went down well with one and all.

Creating music live is always a mainstay of his act. Armed with a few pedals and all manner of electronic gubbins, his multi-layering and live looping is as always a major talent he exhibits and just has to be seen. It’s just amazing.

Reviewed by Geoff

Pleasance Baby Grand V 33

3 to 28 August

21:30 to 22:30

Fringe Brochure P 142

Ovid’s Metamorphoses

5 Stars

*****

The work of an obscure ancient Roman poet as a title might be off-putting but Pants on Fire’s production is very funny, ingeniously presented and impressively performed. On entering the auditorium it does appear somewhat odd that the cast are dressed in World War 2 costumes. However, it quickly becomes apparent that the setting is very appropriate since Ovid’s stories emphasise chaos, heroes and monsters. Isn’t any time of war going to exhibit these concepts and World War 2 in particular? The play also does have its serious moments.

The show romps through the pantheon of Roman gods and goddesses with sketches, music, songs, choreographed movement, puppetry and film sequences. The set includes a series of movable panels, white on one side and black on the other. These are constantly on the move as each scene flows into the next, keeping the action continuous. It is amazing to realise that there is a cast of only 7 performers!

It is impossible to keep track of all the scenes and all the characters portrayed but here is a selection of just a few of my favourites. Jupiter and Juno are played as a quarrelsome upper class couple due to Jupiter’s repeated philandering; Cupid in puppet form is depicted as a mischievous schoolboy; and Narcissus as a movie star in a film trailer which catches the mood of the 1940’s.

With all that is going on, it can be confusing but I just sat back and enjoyed the journey. Director Peter Bramley must have had nightmares with the massive number of cues that are necessary but I didn’t detect one piece of missed timing which really is a triumph for all concerned. It really is a team effort and all the cast are excellent – Jonathan Davenport, Jo Dockery, Alex Packer, Hannah Pierce, Eloise Secker, Mike Slader and Samantha Sutherland.

One final point, a most informative programme is handed out before the play begins.

Reviewed by Ben

Pleasance Dome/King Dome: 23

19 to 29 August 2011

12.15 – 13.35

Fringe Programme Page Number: 287

The Sexual Awakening of Peter Mayo

4 Stars

****

Internet dating has become the theme for a number of productions in the past few years. Misshapen Theatre’s take on the subject is by far and away the funniest and most intelligent I have seen. Great credit is due to playwright Jonathan Brittain for a wonderful script and Natasha Nixon for her clear and focussed direction.

On stage throughout the proceedings, Michael Lyle gives an outstanding performance as the geeky and naïve Peter. He is well supported by Helen Duff as Thursday and Sam Donnelly as Dan. Thursday and Dan are experienced users of internet dating sites, basically to get a quick sexual fix.

The play’s structure is part Peter’s narrative and part individual scenes with Thursday and Dan. Peter, in his early twenties, has reached a stage in his life where he wants to discover the possibilities of internet dating. Thus, he encounters Thursday and is overwhelmed by her boldness. After receiving a misdirected text from Dan, they meet up and Dan becomes his mentor. The pacing of the dialogue varies from a crackling rapidity to some of the longest and most hilarious pauses I have ever witnessed.

The action reaches a marvellous conclusion when all three characters meet up by chance in Peter’s flat and the results are not what might be expected. This truly is a sex comedy for the 21st century.

Reviewed by Ben

Pleasance Courtyard/ Beside: 33

3 to 29 August 2011 (not 17)

14.45 – 15.45

Fringe Programme Page Number: 296