Rhod Gilbert – The Man With The Flaming Battenberg Tattoo

Well the Edinburgh Fringe has been over at least two days now, so time to get back to seeing comedy again, it’s been too long a break.

And where better to start that at Dunfermline’s Alhambra Theatre for the full 2 hours plus of Rhod Gilbert’s outstanding new touring show.

It doesn’t seem so long ago that I first saw him in Edinburgh, playing to a not so full room but my goodness times have changed. Gilbert is all over TV and radio and when it comes to live shows well the biggest venue cannot keep up with the demand for tickets, so it was no surprise that this show was packed out.

Rhod admits that his show is always a story of his life and that he is an argumentative chappie, and boy does he love a rant!! Yeah Rhod and we the audience love it when you go off on one too. This articulate Welshman is a total pleasure to see perform. He plays the massive Alhambra like a small room, his stage presence is as vast as the auditorium and his wickedly crafted set is an example of how great stand-up should be delivered. For a non-jokey comic I lost count of the belly laughs he elicited from the crowd who where hanging on his every word as he related episodes of his last few months in his troubled relationship. He doesn’t big himself up, usually quite the reverse but has a way of telling a story like few others could even dream of achieving.

Letters of complaint, a train journey, a house renovation and of course the eponymous tattoo are just a few of the excellent tales he relates and even has a closing video section that used so many call-backs, it was worthy of the entrance money alone.

Rhod is setting off on a marathon tour for mostly the rest of the year. Do yourselves a favour; check out his website, www.rhodgilbertcomedian.com for dates in your vicinity. It is not a tour to be missed in my opinion.

For future events at Dunfermline’s Alhambra then www.alhambradunfermline.com is the place to be.

Reviewed by Geoff

A Final Day Fringe Selection

Camille Claudel (Theatre) ****

Oliver Reed: Wild Thing (Theatre) ****

Bad Musical (Comedy) ****

Celia Pacquola – Delayed (Comedy) ****

On this the final day of the Fringe and having completed my reviewing schedule a few days ago, on something of a whim, I shed my reviewer’s lanyard and bought a bundle of tickets, some from the Half Price Hut.

I began at the Pleasance Courtyard with Gael Le Cornec’s portrayal of artist and model Camille Claudel – a beautiful and moving performance capturing the mood of the Parisian art world during the final years of the 19th century.

Then, it was off to the Gilded Balloon for the remainder of the day. Rob Crouch as Oliver Reed is spot on as the hard drinking, charismatic actor. The next two shows have been fully reviewed elsewhere on this site. Bad Musical is a delightfully silly and very funny send up of Musicals. Finally, Celia Pacquola is a comedienne whom I have seen before and I thoroughly enjoy her style of warm ‘feel good’, conversational humour.

Four contrasting shows to round off a most enjoyable Fringe.

Reviewed by Ben

Midnight Paranormal Haunted Underground Experience

3 stars

This was a very interesting tour, starting with a look at some torture instruments and detailed accounts of how they were used. Morbid and cringey but fascinating.

This was followed by a look at some vaults and a short bit of underground street, what they were used for, who lived (and died) there etc. Add in some tales of ghosts and banshees and other spiritsa and you get the idea. All very interesting but not scary if you’re sober or just sensible!

My main issue with the tour was that it was very short, both in distance travelled (a few vaults) and the time – under an hour long yet advertised at 90 minutes. I would have assumed, reading the description, that it would have been more in-depth so that was a bit disappointing.

Still, a very interesting hour although definitely aimed at the tourists.

Review by Alan

Auld Reekie Tours
3 Aug-1 Sep

Berlin Cabaret

4 stars

If you imagine the setting where Sally Bowles performs in ‘Cabaret’ then you get the premise of this decadent German club scenario.

Tales of debauchery, androgenous characters, scantily clad women and men abounded, interspersed with some basic songs (there was no live band as was advertised though). Although sometimes uncomfortable in subject matter, it never quite went over the line which kept the audience feeling ‘safe’, despite a lot of audience interaction!

It was all nicely done and while the singing was not great with few harmonies, it was perfectly adequate and worked well. It was just great fun and a good end to the evening.

Review by Alan

theSpace on the Mile
20-25 August

Revolution! The Musical

3 stars

This was billed as “Britain’s next big musical” – unfortunately it isn’t.

Set in Bosnia over a number of years we were told stories of revolution, romance and war. But it all got confusing – there was projected video at the back but often it wasn’t noticed and when you were aware of it it was too small to work out what was going on (the bridge blowing up for example). This lead to us watching people with names we were unsure of talking about and doing other things which weren’t clear or just seemed completely random (e.g. the diving).

I have to say that the singing was generally excellent, especially from the men who had some really high full-voice requirements. What let the show down though was a lot of really bad, amateur acting – it seems strange to have well-trained singers who don’t know how to even stand still. Some scenes got slightly slow unfortunately and Adela’s clothing seemed completely out of place (sexy jeans/busty top).

Musically there was nothing memorable or even that tuneful; I have to say though that the violinst was excellent and a joy to listen to.

Perhaps this show has a future but it needs a lot of reshaping and development work.

Review by Alan

Paradise in Augustine’s
4-27 August (not 13, 20)

Bereavement: The Musical

4 stars

This song cycle gave us a variety of scenes based around bereavement and grieving and the different ways of coping.

There was nothing morbid here though, just a collection of clever and witty writing which put a nice spin on the whole subject matter without being cliched or offensive.

The excellent music was interesting and tuneful and played by the composer on a grand piano – a grand in C+3, has to be a first! The simple setting and lighting also worked well and overall the performance was delightful.

Review by Alan

1-27 August (not 13)

Dr Quimpugh’s Compendium of Peculiar Afflictions

4 stars

Very interesting to see a professional opera on the Fringe and such a change from the usual musical fayre.

The three singers were excellent and played a multitude of roles. They coped very well with their parts although I did lose quite a few words – the diction is spot on but sometimes the over-articulations meant I had to lip-read a lot.

The three musicians were quite superb, annoyingly gorgeous and performed impeccably. The actual music I found quite random though and when there was a tune it seemed to go on just a bit too long – The Alien Hand for example.

But overall a very interesting show, an unusual subject matter and professionally produced.

Review by Alan
3-26 August (not7, 14, 21)

The Trench – Les Enfants Terrible

5 Star


One can always be assured with every production staged by Les Enfants Terrible and that is that the performance will be spot on, well written, brilliantly staged and their inventive use of multi-mediums will be exploited to the full. And of course this years offering is of the same high standard.

Set in the trenches of World War I initially Bert, a miner determined to serve his country no matter what, and is played by writer and co-director Oliver Lansley. He loses far more than he could ever imagined and grief leads him to make a pact with the supernatural. This excursion allows plenty of scope for the creative juices inherent in this company to come to the fore and their spectacular use of this latitude is just amazing,

As always the blending of puppetry, shadow puppets, delightful music which is totally atmospheric and such a mesmerising, versatile set that’s wonderfully lit, together with tight direction really make this a production to be savoured.

Even though the Fringe is rapidly winding down for 2012 this show is still selling out and as there is only one more chance to see it you better be quick.

Reviewed by Geoff

Pleasance Two

Until 27 August

13-10 to 14-10

News at Kate 2012 – Kate Smurthwaite

4 Star


Kate Smurthwaite is an atheist leftie feminist comedian, but that is no reason why she should not be taken seriously. In spite of a venue with a Mussolini quote on the wall, hardly conducive to her show, she regularly attracts a mixed gender crowd, and one of all ages too.

And so she should. She is opinionated but in a good way, and is an engaging personality and an eloquent speaker, it is little wonder that she is much in demand in the media for opinions and discussions.

Don’t expect an all out assault on men, far from it she is just a passionate performer who has no problem in dealing with those she sees as villains be they Daily Mail writers, politicians both British and American, radio presenters or even her mother-in-law, but none of these make the nomination of villain of the show.

It is however totally ‘safe’ to sit in the front row of her shows, even if you work in the financial sector, or even a PR in the defence industry. Any argument she may have is with others not in the room.

Reviewed by Geoff

Ciao Roma

Until 25 August

20-20 to 21-20

Big Sean, Mikey and Me


Ruiraidh Murray’s solo play contains a brilliant re-enactment of growing up in the working class suburbs of Edinburgh well away from the posh areas and the central commercial and tourist areas.

There are effectively three characters in the play. There is the 36 year-old Ruiraidh as himself now living in London; there is the voice of Sean Connery who inhabits his mind and there is Mikey Anderson, Ruiraidh’s best mate and charismatic hard man.

Ruiraidh tells his story flashing backwards and forwards in time as he remembers his schooldays and his scrapes with Mikey. There is much humour in these incidents as they vividly and realistically catch the language and culture of Scottish working class youth.

Also worked into his story are his relationships with the opposite sex and here his alter ego Sean Connery becomes his sex adviser. Contrasting with the humour are dramatic moments of mental turmoil and sadness. There are many admirable qualities in Ruiraidh Murray’s performance. The two I would select above all are energy and sincerity.

Reviewed by Ben

Gilded Balloon Teviot: 14

1 to 27 August 2012

13.30 – 14.30

Fringe Programme Page Number: 260