James Campbell’s Comedy 4 Kids

****

This was a guy who knew how to work the kids, there were children laughing so hard that they were struggling to sit up straight! While some of the jokes were a bit close to the acceptable for the grown ups, the kids absolutely lapped them up, and that is after all why we were there. This was proper ‘grown up’ stand up for the kids and they seemed to love every minute of it. James involved as many of the children into his act as possible resulting in much excitement and an eagerness to be spoken to once again!

The show moved with the audience and I got the impression that James needed to change tack a couple of times on account of the audience response, but he did this seamlessly and the audience danced along with him from joke to joke. A thoroughly enjoyable afternoon.

Assembly George Square, George Square, EH8 9LH

August 9-12 14.00pm £7.50

Reviewed by Kath.

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Dr Seuss I Love You

****

This show is brought to you by The American High School Theatre Festival. It centres around a shy student who rarely speaks but who has her head forever within the pages of her beloved Dr Seuss books. The characters in the books are her only friends and when she misses the chance to stand up for these characters when her strict teachers dismisses them as rubbish, her friends appear and help her to spread the word about Dr Seuss. The characters are easily identifiable if you know your Seuss, and if you miss one you’ll be able to hear other members of the audience spot them.

This is a really enjoyable musical, it has been put together well and it was obvious that the cast were enjoying themselves also. The songs are catchy and easy to follow, the costumes and choreography were very well executed too.

All in all, a bright and hugely entertaing show, really worth a visit.

Cheurc Hill Theatre, 33 Morningside Road, EH10 4DR

August 7,11 18.30pm £5.00

August 10 10.30am £5.00

Reviewed by Kath

AAA Stand Up

3 Stars

***   

I have been attending this Fringe show over the years to see what is in essence a small showcase of up and coming comics, three traditionally in the hour.

This gives these guys a chance to experience the Fringe life and yet not have the pressure of an hours show, hence giving more time to develop.

A lot of comics have used this route so it is a good chance to see someone before they are famous.

The three in residence this year are Tom Toal, Rhys James and Joe Wells.

A fairly healthy crowd were there, but it was not an easy bunch for these guys to deal with, so initially it was down to Tom Toal, who was the compere to set the standard, something he managed pretty well given the circumstances, delivering some good material, warming up everyone prior to giving way to Rhys James. Now he is 21 but looks about 12, and really was not given much of an opportunity to shine. His slightly upper class set, which did contain some good stuff, didn’t seem to hit the right note.

Toal tried again with his stuff, supporting his fellow comics and made some headway prior to introducing Joe Wells to close.

His upperclass accent coupled with leftie leanings and to me anyway some pretty decent material just didn’t seem to sit well, and when a heckler ruined his set up for a well constructed gag, well, let’s say he didn’t handle it well loosing his way briefly, but all credit, picked himself up and got back on track to finish his routine.

Toal closed it out and guys, this was not a great gig, put it down to experience and move on, I’m sure on another night all will be good.

Reviewed by Geoff

1-27 August

19-15 to 20-15

Bat Boy

4 stars
****

I really wasn’t looking forward to this as how can you cut Bay Boy down to one hour? Mercifully this is the full show at two hours long – the programme and posters are in error although it’s been fixed on the Fringe web site. I hope it hasn’t put too many people off going to see this.

Anyway, is it any good? Yes! Excellent in fact. However it is really let down by the lack of mics. All too often, especially at the start, we miss important exposition of the story and so many of the jokes and clever writing is just not heard which is such a shame. Too much of dialogue/singing is directed into the wings and just lost (or anything behind the pros arch for that matter). Sit down the front if you can.

Good points – the cast are very good and the main principals a joy, with a special mention to Bat Boy himself for a superbly developed character. The simple set ideas also work really well.

Lastly I have to mention the band – fantastic work up there folks. Tight and nicely balanced if a tad fast at times for some of the more wordy songs but otherwise nicely played.

Review by Alan

C
1-27 August (not 13)
21:05-23:05

Music of Les Miserables and West End Musicals

3 stars
***

This production is staged as ten people auditioning for a Les Mis casting session – so each person has a number and has to sing a song each (followed by 30 mins of Les Mis songs). Reasonable enough I suppose to add a twist to what is essentially a concert but as nothing is done to develop this concept I really don’t see the point.

For example, if you’re auditioning individually, why start why an ensemble number? I feel it would work so much better as a straightforward concert – “Let’s sing some great songs from great shows”! Then you’re not tied to a theme or trying to be clever when there’s no need.

When we get down to it the singing is actually very good on the whole although there could be a lot of tweaking done technically. The men in particular are good – the whole show lifts when we get to Bui Doi, very well done (although again if it’s an ‘audition’ why do your competitors suddenly join in with backings?).

On the whole there is little acting in the songs (with a couple of notable exceptions), it’s a just a stand-and-sing job. And other than a song from Shrek the material is all standard fayre – perhaps aimed at the casual musical-liker as opposed to the fans of genre.

Backing is by a small live band containing some really ham-fisted keyboard playing and while often being too loud it does the job.

Disappointing overall, lets have some lights, glamour, fancy outfits and more varied songs please? The audience loved it though and if they keep going in droves that can’t be a bad thing in the end.

Review by Alan

theSpace @ Symposium Hall
3-25August
16:15-17:15

A Little Night Music

2 stars
**

Unfortunately this whole production is let down by the simple fact that you can’t hear a lot of it. It desperately needs mics and not only for the singing but for most of the dialogue too. There is a live orchestra doing a competent job and they’re not actually too loud, the cast simply need to project more.

Although the gist of the story came across there were so many details either missed or not understood and that’s such a shame as ALNM is a wonderful piece of theatre. This is Sondheim, nothing is there by chance. I do have to commend a couple of people though, Count Malcolm on his singing and Charlotte for her lovely dry wit. And nice to get some live cello playing by Henrik too.

A brave attempt but I’m afraid too much of a challenge overall.

Review by Alan

C too
5-11 August
18:00-19:20

Blues & Burlesque – B ‘n’ B Group

4 Stars

**** 

This mid afternoon slot is definitely not the normal time slot for a show of this genre, one would normally expect this to be around midnight, but then this is Edinburgh when anything goes.

Welcoming the healthy crowd to the Counting House club was the delightful Vicious Delicious while keyboard wizard Pete Saunders played up a storm keeping everyone well entertained.

The pacey show was a selection of Blues, burlesque, cabaret and dance as the afore mentioned pair were joined by ‘Bouncy’ Hunter to complete the lineup.

All performers are obviously quality seasoned pros and the are totally at one with their show, employing all the devices one would normally expect from this genre and using them with style.

The hour was a quick one, which is indicative of a good show and then it was out into the night, except given the time it was a sunny afternoon.

This is part of The Laughing Horse Free Festival so entry is free but a donate is welcome on leaving and for a show like this a folding one would be in order.

Reviewed by Geoff

Counting House

Until August 17

14-45 to 15-45