The Mikado

*****

Usually for a production of an established work, say Shakespeare or Gilbert and Sullivan, an abbreviated version is devised for the Fringe. This is not the case with Happy Go Lucky’s production of The Mikado. Here we have a full 140 minutes version with a short interval between Acts 1 and 2. This results in a very satisfying experience.

There is an intimate feel to the production. The musical accompaniment is provided by a lone female on keyboards placed at the side of the stage and what a fabulous performance she gives. Thus, there isn’t the barrier of a small orchestra between the audience and the performers. The set is minimal and there is no large chorus, the nine principals taking on this role. The men’s costumes are what are expected but the three maids’ dresses show more leg than normal.

The singing is very clear and of a uniformly high standard, no mikes being necessary, and is sustained all the way through. The comedy is very funny. Being close to the stage, every word, action and facial gesture could be heard and seen. The updated version of ‘The List’ song is a huge highlight, a satire on modern personalities whom we could do without.

Leaving the auditorium, it was noticeable seeing the smiles on the audience’s faces and hearing the many favourable comments.

Reviewed by Ben

theSpace@ Surgeon’s Hall: 53

19 to 25 August 2012

15.40 – 17.50

Fringe Programme Page Number: 243

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A Compas Flamenco

****

Ricardo Garcia’s A Compas Flamenco is a workshop session explaining the Flamenco style of guitar music and dance. He has with him two dancers, one female and one male, to help with the explanations and to perform various dance styles.

He explains by explaining the title which describes a particular rhythmic and percussive style from Andalucia. He begins with the guitar and he demonstrates the use of the fingers, particularly on the strumming hand. He has total mastery of the guitar.

We then move onto the dancers, their appearance, the special shoes, the percussive sounds they make with their feet, fingers and hands, and the use of the arms. Between each of the explanations the two highly skilled and graceful dancers perform to different types of music.

I found it a fascinating hour, part educational, part entertainment. I came away with a much deeper insight into the technique required over many years of training to perform this form of dance to a high level.

Reviewed by Ben

theSpace@Symposium Hall: 43

20 to 25 August 2012 (not 21 )

17.30 – 18.30

Fringe Programme Page Number: 177

Elis James – Speaking as a Mother

4 Star

**** 

Eis James is definitely on the move as a comic in what is his 4th solo Edinburgh show, really(?) and the sell-out signs for this strangely entitled show in a port-a-cabin are very much in evidence. His style is long form story telling, but he is thinking of changing as he wants to buy a house!!

Although in his early thirties he hasn’t grown up, and although living with his partner refuses to do so,

His material is well constructed and funny, he tells stories against himself last years show interruptions by Glasgow Rangers stag night, being dissed on a train by two girls, being mugged in Cardiff and his cash conscious father are a few examples, but in truth there are a full hours worth of good material.

It is a sure bet that James’s career is definitely on the up. Already numerous TV appearances have raised his profile and I’m sure next year the trend will continue. I would be really surprised to see him in a port-a-cabin next year!!

Reviewed by Geoff

Pleasance Baby Grand

Until 27 August

19-00 to 20-00

Nish Kumar – Who is Nish Kumar?

4 Star

****

Nish Kumar was a new name to nearly all of the near capacity audience at the performance I witnessed but once seen I’m sure most will not forget him.

Kumar hails from Croydon and is a Brit of Indian origins.

There is a myriad of different subjects that make up his set list, a list that majors on his earlier life, the family relationships including a cinema visit with his father particularly amusing and the issues including racism he encountered in his earlier life, illustrated with a couple of hilarious anecdotes that brought the house down.

Kumar is an engaging comic, often self deprecating in style, and a self confessed Buffy The Vampire Slayer addict who is totally frightened of women has a no gimmick style but an all inclusive appeal, an appeal that will see him doing rather well in the future I’m sure.

In what is his debut Fringe solo show Kumar runs through a list of rejected show titles, mostly clever puns as is the vogue, and I feel he will certainly need one or most for the next few years as I reckon he will be a feature for the foreseeable future.

Reviewed by Geoff

Underbelly Daisy

Until 27 August

20-20 to 21-20

David Trent – Spontaneous Comedian.

3 Star

***

If ever there was a misnomer of a show title to describe the content then his has to be up with the best.

Spontaneous is certainly not a word that can be applied without irony to this tech heavy comic, PowerPointed to the gunnels and screens liberally strewn around the hot Pleasance Attic, liberal use of Youtube style clips to illustrate points are also there along the way.

But Trent, a school teacher by day job, has the comedy world really talking about him and has been achieving a lot of industry praise along the way. He has also been nominated in the Best Newcomer category for the Fosters comedy award in 2012.

His late night show is well attended the night I saw him and I have to say the reaction from them was patchy. Some stuff they really went with, other segments less so. I felt myself that much of the time the repetition of some of his footage was overdone, the call-backs used too often and impact lost in the process, but there was some genuinely funny and different stuff in there too. It is obvious that he is going places, and I look forward to seeing how he progresses. Could we have a new star in the comedy firmament?  Time will tell.

Reviewed by Geoff

Pleasance Attic

Until 27 August

22-45 to 23-45

Newland

4 stars
****

A western musical for modern times by a professional cast, this is great fun. The story is typical western-fayre (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) and moves along at pace, although sometimes it gets slightly confusing by the actors playing multiple roles without much differentiation in costume or scenery.

Musically it is an excellent mix of styles, the catchy yee-hah ensemble numbers working particularly well. I did feel however that some of the solo numbers weren’t that tuneful although they were all well sung. Occassionally there was also a song where there didn’t seem to be a need for one.

Backing is by a small band, the piano is excellent and the drums tightly played if too loud sometimes, despite mics being used.

An enjoyable romp overall, it would be good to see a more developed version with more fleshing out of the characters and subplots but certainly a show with a promising future.

Review by Alan

theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall
3-25 Aug
20:15-21:50

Zambezi Express

4 stars
****

I’m not really sure what this was about but it was brilliant! Essentially a tale of a boy’s dream of becoming a professional footballer with something about trains and mining at the start and gangsters later on. With some lines in English but mostly not, things were a bit confusing and the plot really seemed to be there to tie together the set pieces.

So what we have here is an african group of singers, dancers and drummers and they are absolutely outstanding. The voices are amazing, the harmonies beautiful and the energy and precision of, well everything, is a joy to watch. Often the drumming drowned out the singing but the whole show was a display of sheer talent, energy and enthusiasm and a joy to witness. Very loud but highly recommended.

Review by Alan

C eca
Until 27 Aug
15:45-16:55