Thom Tuck Flips Out

*****

I should declare my biases before writing this review. I like my comedy intelligent, articulate and literate. Thom Tuck is my new favourite comedian. Short and stout and slightly dishevelled, Thom Tuck looks like a stereotypical student (though is probably too old to be an undergrad), one of the ones who divide their free time between the library and a pub. But given his obvious intelligence and the esoteric content of this show, the time in both was well spent.

He is, in his facial expressions, reminiscent of Mr Bean. I suspect that if he chose not to, he wouldn’t need to talk to be hilarious. In his disdain for idiocy and general incompetence his zeal is emphatic and persuasive. Some of his material is a little obscure, some is very obscure, and, as he says, some is rather niche. But it doesn’t matter if only one person in the audience is cackling away to themselves, because Thom’s reaction makes that funny too.

Take your brain along to this show; it’s not mindless easy laughs. Sometimes you have to work for it. Mr Tuck sets it up and then leaves you to work it out while he, grinning, watches the cogs turn and the bulb light up. It’s always, always worth it. The badge at the end given out by the man himself was a bonus.

Reviewed by Laura

Pleasance Dome

until 27 Aug, 20:10

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Good Grief

4 stars
****

A mix of nicely written music with good singing, interesting characters and a well-developed storyline make this a little gem of a show in the Fringe this year.

It starts off at a funeral but this is really just a device to bring all the characters together and works well enough. The characters, although slightly stereotypical, are fleshed out nicely and the acting and direction is really good in the main. The music fits in nicely and again is very good with excellent harmonies, helping to make a delightful show.

It was also nice to have a live band playing, it makes all the difference!

Review by Alan

C eca
12-27 August (not 20)
12:15-13:15

Bad Musical

4 stars
****

This is a great send-up of the musical genre though seems to be aimed more at comedy fans rather than musical fans – ‘Springtime for Hitler’ this isn’t.

Rather than extremely bad-taste Nazi jokes and the like, what we get are the classic stereotypical routines – people doing things out of time, singing the wrong words, doing the wrong dance moves, technical cues being wrong, lights not working, props/costumes going wrong and the likes.

The beginning and end of the show are very good although it does turn slighty into a ‘good musical’ in the middle before pulling everything together at the end in hilarious fashion.

All in all there’s nothing new here but it is very well done, the actors work their socks off, it is very funny and worth catching whether you love or hate musicals.

Review by Alan

Gilded Balloon Teviot
1-27 August (not 13)
17:00-18:00

The Ring of Stones

4 stars
****

Based on true events surrounding the North English village of Eyam, this powerful ensemble musical tells the story of when the bubonic plague came to the village and how they fought back at huge personal and human costs. The ‘ring of stones’ being set up to quarantine the village – “Nobody in, nobody out” until the end, literally.

Both musically and story-wise, this piece reminds me of Masada and is truly an emotional and powerfully engaging piece of theatre. The ensemble singing is excellent and it’s great to see all ages featured in a show – the mics helped a great deal although we did lose the odd un-miced lines and those of most of the children. There were also the odd pauses on stage while the cast waited for the music to finish but those were minor details.

The whole show is held together by the narration of Peter Robinson, one of the show’s creators. His storytelling is excellent and his voice strong and clear – a delight to listen to and very engaging.

All in all an impressive piece of work – I hope it comes back for a longer run in the future.

Review by Alan

theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall
13-18 Aug
14:10-15:50

Seussical

4 stars
****

This was a good, if cut-down, production of this family-friendly and fun musical.

Performed by an adult cast, the singing was generally excellent and it was good to have a cast using mics, although there were often sound issues and sometimes the recorded music was too loud. Also, as Seuss’ material isn’t nearly as popular over here as in the US, the opening storytelling and plot development wasn’t clear at all – all the strange character and place names really need to be told to the audience with more clarity as they often sounded like mis-heard words. And with so many made up words this would really help.

Overall though the cast performed an enjoyable show, the costuming was good and the director made good use of the limited space. Gertrude in particular was excellent.

Review by Alan

theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall
13-18 Aug
12:40-13:55

Carl Hutchison: Acceptable

4 Star

**** 

Carl Hutchison was a name I was unaware of until recently, but I’m sure it will be a name both I and everyone will be aware of in the near future. This Geordie is currently part of the thriving Manchester scene and this Edinburgh hour is causing a bit of a stir in some circles.

He is a youngster too, only 25, so hopefully he will have numerous years ahead of him and if what I have seen to date he will always in demand .

The space he is playing is less than ideal and it sure didn’t help him on the night that not one, not two but three mics failed during his set, forcing him, unplugged, to compete against other noisy venues blasting out, but persevere he did. The audience were with him from the off when the strong start hooked most in, and their ‘lurve’ increased and supported him through the techy issues.

Hutchison has plenty of stage presence and a pleasing delivery, the material although not exactly groundbreaking is solid comedy and I can imagine that he won’t struggle to build up a following, probably with a load of young girls to the fore.

Remember his name; you’ll be sure to see it again, and again and again.

Reviewed by Geoff

Just The Tonic The Caves

Until 26 August

18-20 to 19-20

Terry Alderton

3 Star

***   

Terry Alderton is what I guess could be classed as a ‘Marmite’ comedian, you either like him or loath him. He certainly puts bums on seats as his sell out shows will testify to, and he once was Perrier Nominated.

He is an interesting character on stage he prowls his arena, he doesn’t only break the fourth wall he shatters it, he doesn’t so much crowd people’s personal space he invades it, nobody is immune.

He is funny, often surreal, sometime just strange, but he is someone who can’t be ignored. Most people when they have an internal dialogue do so silently, not our Terry, he has several discussions with his ‘other self’ out loud with his back to the audience, he is known to rewind something that doesn’t go to his satisfaction, complete with authentic sound effects, in fact sound effects is something else that he is very good at, just him and his mic.

I don’t know why but he is not a comedian who I am comfortable seeing. I don’t mind the audience stuff; I don’t mind the randomness of what he does. I just find myself feeling awkward during his set. He certainly splits the room, some are in raptures others never raised a smile at the show I saw.

Reviewed by Geoff

Gilded Balloon Wine Bar

Until 26 August

2-30 to 23-30