Josie Long: – Romance & Adventure

4 Star

**** 

Josie Long is always a hot ticket come any Fringe so much so that I haven’t really been able to see her as often as I wanted too, but this year I made it.

Josie is very much a non-pretentious comic. No star struck diva her. She is on stage welcoming one and all as we file into the Pleasance One chatting away, posing for pictures what ever people wanted, the off stage , the lights dim and wham she is off and barely pauses for breath for the next hour.

The essence of the show is the last twelve months of her hectic life, climbing mountains, moving house, a new relationship and how although a social justice lover has developed a taste for some of the ‘good things in life.’

Josie has just turned 30 and a section reflecting on this poses a few questions and answers from her and how some values have changed, but her roots are still more than evident. Playing less salubrious areas with her friends, in public but privately owned places and her philosophy of staying silly are still very much to the fore.

Ms Long is a quality comedian who is engaging and very funny. She has across the board appeal and it is little surprise her  name is usually up there when awards are being dished out.

Reviewed by Geoff

Pleasance One

Until 27 August (not 18,19)

18-00 to 19-00

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Sajeela Kershi – Regret- Me- Nots

4 Star

****

Since the first time I saw her perform a few years ago now I have been keen to see the progress of this very likeable comic and the development has been very significant.

She comes across as supremely confident, happy to go to he audience for input, but with a full set of material as well.

Now this is fair enough when there are huge numbers to ‘play’ with but to be able to sustain the high level of presentation to a smaller audience is less easy, and the crowd I saw the show with were not so giving either.

But that didn’t matter to Ms Kerchi. She had a full hour of extremely funny and entertaining stuff, a lot very personal as she exposed some of her regrets in life; some of the material was almost tear jerking too.

Hilarious stories of dating, her first kiss, bitchy friends and a whole raft of family stuff leading on to her major regret were delivered openly and honestly, yet in a way to make you laugh. This is by far the strongest set I have seen her deliver by far.

Now we all have regrets, but do yourself a favour, go check out her show or there will be another thing in your life to regret if you don’t.

Reviewed by Geoff

Espionage

Until 26 August (not 13, 20)

18-15 to 19-15

Gordon Southern’s a Brief History of History

****

I love a show with a strong theme, as it feels like a one-fringe-only experience, rather than being their catch-it-anywhere club set. On this, Southern didn’t disappoint. I also enjoy learning new things, so this was definitely the show to come to.

Of course, the complete history of history is an impressive feat in its own right, but in the one hour, he also managed a passing nod to pre-history, as well as getting bang up to date with his own life.

Southern delivers all this mixed up comedy and fact in varied ways, from the pretend TV historian stance, to a sketch with an audience member, to quick-fire raps, with varied sound effects and sound-bites to play with at the touch of a button.

Sometimes when a performer appears to really enjoy themselves it can be wearing. Not in this case; if anything, it helped set the upbeat mood, brought everyone on board responding, and got across Southern’s genuine passion for his topic. Much as schools need teachers like this, comedy would be worse off without him.

Reviewed by Gill Smith

Educating Rita

****

Willy Russell’s Educating Rita began as a stage comedy in the early 1980’s but it is the film starring Michael Caine as Open University English Literature tutor Frank and Julie Walters as Rita, his mature student, that is best remembered. My recollection of the film was that the character of Rita was the more interesting of the two personalities. Although Michael Caine was the star name in the film, it was the performance of the then little-known Julie Walters that gave the film the success it achieved.

Thus, Claire Sweeney’s performance as the Liverpudlian hairdresser from a working class background in her early 30’s seeking intellectual improvement is crucial. This she does splendidly. She brings out the feistiness in Rita’s character and her determined optimism. The Matthew Kelly role is more of a stereotype. He is played as an aging, long white haired cynic who, in his younger days, had aspirations of becoming an acclaimed poet. Without any recognition, he has turned to alcohol and had to settle for the drudgery of getting students through exams.

Both performers work well together to bring out and sustain the humour in the script. The play succeeds in depicting the transformation of Rita achieving what she wants for herself and Frank’s decline as really the weaker personality despite all his learning and knowledge.

Reviewed by Ben

Assembly George Square Theatre: 3

1 to 27 August 2012 (not 13)

17.40 – 19.10

Fringe Programme Page Number: 275

Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus

***

Based on John Gray’s best-selling self-help book, Ian Houghton’s witty discourse brings out the essential differences in the mental characteristics between men and women in long standing relationships. Located in a university lecture theatre, this is entirely in keeping with the power point, seminar approach.

Although married couples and partners may love each other, they do not read the signs either in mood or words to understand what is fully going in each other’s minds. Loads of examples and situations are used to highlight the differences with reference to caves and waves for example. The sexual politics in the simple act of hoovering is a humorous highlight. The differences in approach to sexual needs are kept for the final section.

As a piece of theatre, it could have worked better with the female thoughts and feelings being expressed by a woman rather than through a male solo performance, despite Ian Houghton’s clarity of expression. Nevertheless, couples embarking on a long term relationship, or a few years into a relationship would gain helpful insight from this show.

Reviewed by Ben

Underbelly Bristo Square/Ermintrude; 300

1 to 27 August 2012 (not 13)

15.30 – 16.30

Fringe Programme Page Number: 298

As Ye Sow

***

Stewart Pringle’s play will leave the viewer with more questions than answers. It is set in a home for the elderly where Clifford (Jeffrey Mayhew), a retired farmer, is a resident. The action takes place in his room.

The opening sequence has a soap opera feel about it. Clifford is being visited by his daughter Susan (Scarlett Sweeney), a young mother under stress, made more stressful by her father’s failing mental faculties. The electrics in the room are malfunctioning and enter Robert (John Garfield-Roberts), a ceramics art student and the home’s general handy man. He is followed by a nurse (Stephanie Walls).

When Susan leaves, the mood becomes more sinister. Robert and the nurse appear to have a connection with a mysterious event in Clifford’s past. Are they as friendly and helpful as they look? Or, is this part of Clifford’s imaginings?

Billed as a horror, it does have a few chilling moments but it does not go deep or dark enough.

Reviewed by Ben

Pleasance Dome;

1 to 27 August 2012 (not 13)

12.00 – 13.00

Fringe Programme Page Number: 257