McNeil and Pamphilon

3 Star

***

Steve McNeil and Sam Pamphilon are male sketch comedy duo  who have been around for a year or two now and obviously are confident in their approach to this medium.

Unlike a lot of their genre they do not over burden themselves with props, of course there are the odd one or two in evidence naturally, but they rely on their comedic skills to see them through.

Opening with a song and some banter these ‘down with the kids’ duo do a pre decimal sketch, which kinda hit a note with us older members. Followed by a routine of how they live their lives out with Edinburgh, nice gentle stuff, but setting the parameters of Sam the funny wacky one and Steve the safe boring one, and mutual points scoring ensues.

The pace of the show never faltered, and they delivered some unusual material, a lot of the better stuff involving ‘The Machine.’

Now while there was a lot of pretty decent content, I felt the guys sort of fell between stools at times, with comedy songs, and quasi stand up included in their 55 minutes.

I am sure these guys will never be short of work however and look to see their next offering with interest.

Reviewed by Geoff

Pleasance Baby Grand

Until 27 August

16-30 to 17-25

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Activism is Fun

****

This is not standard political comedy, where politicians are lampooned for ill-thought and highly publicised remarks or generally-disliked policies are picked over in finer detail. This is activism for beginners: learn about a subject, question it and get involved. Through a series of stories about his own and others’ experiences in various instances of activism, Chris Coltrane shows that politics doesn’t have to be boring, and is often quite funny.

He is, unashamedly, a tory-basher, and this would be my one criticism: not enough awareness of alternative viewpoints. But it’s a comedy show, not a political science essay, so it doesn’t matter. He also makes unashamedly political points: in equal parts attempting to entertain and to energise. You might not agree with some of his politics or the methods he supports, and you might even wonder if he is as guilty of selective information provision as the politicians. But he will definitely make you think, and as he points out, at least those stunts got people talking.

Chris is an engaging character, and if politics had more like him, we might be a bit more interested. If the show piques your interest, he’s got a beginner’s factsheet you can have at the end.

Reviewed by Laura

PBH’s Free Fringe @ The Globe

until 25 Aug, 14:15

One Night Stand:- West Avenue Theatre Company

3 Star

***   

Alice and Brian are work colleagues. No more, no less in spite of Alice’s hopes. Then one drunken work night out the dynamic is changed. Or has it.

Brian wakes up hung-over so badly you can feel his pain only to discover Alice’s presence in his new flat. He can’t remember her being there or what may have happened. Alice thinks they are now a couple, but there is a twist or two yet to play out.

A pregnant Megan, a farcical internet gut Ross, Sam, Brian’s significant other and Carole, Sam’s mother are all added to the mix as the comedy turns to elements of farce.

This play is fun but is not earth shatteringly hilarious. The devices have all been seen many times before, but the characterisation was good, the pace didn’t let up throughout, but maybe all the blame landing on one character in the end was a little unfair.

Reviewed by Geoff

The Space on The Mile

2 to 18 August

14-05 to 14-50

Punch: Little Dog Productions

4 Star

****

Initially set in The Cock Tavern Covent Garden where John a comedian ‘with no material’ is playing an offensive set, where he is later arrested.

Cut to a cell and Anne the harassed social worker sets about trying to get answers as to why things were said, why things were tweeted where is the child’s mother and how did the child get injured.

This play although very well written by Steven Bloomer and the acting skills of Matthew Jones and Kirsty Mann are spot on did not make for easy viewing. It was a very dark piece at times and the occasional Punch and Judy links really failed in me anyway to lighten the mood, I guess it wasn’t meant to anyway.

The questions as to what was acceptable to say as a stand up a la Lenny Bruce, Frankie Boyle et al will always be up for debate, and production really will not answer them. However as a ready well performed piece of new writing and fine acting it is certainly a play to check out.

Reviewed by Geoff

Underbelly Cowgate

Until 26 August

15-40 to 16-40

Coalition

4 Star

****

The concept of politics and comedy can be a successful one as a number of explorations have taken place over the years and in this new production by Robert Khan and Tom Salinsky all the players are established comics.

Set in 2014, Deputy PM Lib-Dem leader Matt Cooper played by Thom Tuck, is struggling to keep his party together with the threat of defections failure to be able to talk to PM and has additional family problems.

He has to contend with Tory Minister Sir Francis Whitford, Phill Jupitus , plays the role with panache, meddling in his affairs, Chief Whip Angela Honrby, Jo Caulfield, true Lib-Dem minister Geoffrey Webb, Alistair Barrie, whose principals are an issue with Cooper, also his protégé Eddie Frackowiak, Phil Mulryne is growing up and the poor put upon Claudia Hood his special Advisor played by Jessica Reagan is getting exasperated with the situation.

Over the 90 minutes running time the comedy values exhibited do not disguise the messages. There are some glorious lines, exceptional performances and even the cameo role of PM Richard Macintosh, Simon Evans, who only appears at the end highlight the almost contempt that the junior partner are held in.

A thoroughly entertaining production, one that is selling vast numbers of tickets also so you better be quick

Reviewed by Geoff

Pleasance Queen Dome

Until 26 August

14-00 to 15-30

Love All

****

Performers and co-writers Aideen Wylde and Tadhg Hickey recount a true tale, but with some artistic licence, of tennis and murder set more than a century ago. The action centres on Vere St Ledger Goold, form Cork and of Anglo-Irish landed gentry. Goold was a gifted tennis player and was a losing finalist in the Men’s Championship at Wimbledon. Had he not had such a fondness for the ladies and drink, he might have been a Wimbledon champion.

After his tennis career had ended, Goold married the twice widowed French dressmaker Marie Violet Giordin, but they fell upon hard times. They eventually ended up in Monte Carlo and became implicated in the murder of a rich Swedish widow.

The play’s comedy style is very much that of a Victorian melodrama with many exaggerated actions. There is a further intentional twist in that the two performers have some issues in how the performance should proceed. At one point, their disagreement became so intense it seemed the play would not be completed.

The play entertains throughout under the direction of Donal Gallagher. Wilde and Hickey give strong, lively performances and their comic timing is impeccable.

Reviewed by Ben

Assembly Roxy: 139

2 to 26 August 2012 (not 13 & 20)

14.20 – 15.25

Fringe Programme Page Number: 293

The Lonely One

****

Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine is the inspiration for this suspense drama. It is set in 1928, in Midwest America in summer time when the days are hot and the nights are dark and cloudless.

A good suspense has a building of tension by degrees but with some humour as a contrast to the underlying menace. This production has all these qualities and more. The opening scenes may depict mundane activity but there is a serial killer on the loose. The action unfolds to a final scene where a young woman is making her way home late at night. By the use of very creative lighting effects and a powerful script, the experience is totally gripping.

The Lonely One is a splendid success for Rachel Warr who, as well as playing the lead role, is also the director and wrote what is a beautifully descriptive script. She is supported well by cast members, Jennie Fox, Gilbert Taylor and Sophie Steel.

Reviewed by Ben

Underbelly Cowgate: 61

2 to 26 August 2012 (not 14)

18.50 – 19.50

Fringe Programme Page Number: 293