Edinburgh Fringe 2016
The Really Good Show Hour
Three comedians, some singing. The writing is good, but this being one of their first shows highlighted some rough areas that needed practice. The best part is the song about hipsters, very entertaining performance.
Just Good Comedy
Midnight showing, and one that doesn't actually appear on the fringe listing, three comedians and a MC run through their sets. All decent performers, and all with their own shows to endorse with this taster session. Fun, but no real standouts.
A talented team, but hindered by a plot that is needlessly complex, with parodies of Trump that don't really go anywhere, racism and genocide of the English. If the extraneous plot was cut down, it would be a much more powerful work. The three cast members perform well, and there is a lot of energy to some of the scenes.
The Elephant Man
Performed by the team behind last years Of Mice and Men, it was excellent. The actor playing the Elephant Man does it without prosthetics, just with how he holds himself. It is hard to believe that the older doctor an east ender are the same person. The only downside in the whole piece is the brief appearance of Queen Alexandra, who is presented with an inexplicable indian accent rather than the Danish one. Small issue aside, The Elephant Man is a confident and provoking piece, showing the struggle and dignity of Joesph Merrick.
Angel by Henry Naylor
Absolutely incredible performance by Filipa Braganc. She owns the space, and the lighting alternating between warm Syria of her childhood and a pale cold light of despair gives both hope and menace. Angel tells the story of a young farm girl in Syria, with ambitions of law school shattered by Daish and the civil war. She seeks her father who has been fighting for freedom, and joins the Nationalists as a sniper, ending with 101 kills to her name. Remarkably powerful work and my pick of the Fringe.
The Improv Musical
For the third year running, we saw the Improv Musical, this time featuring Donald Trump and Buzz Lightyear who meet in a fish tank and Donald finds Cod after his wall to separate the goldfish from the star fish fails. Always fun, and they handled this particularly surreal subject with aplomb.
Mike Ward: Freedom of Speech isn't free
Canadian comedian, who has got into trouble for his comedy in Canada on several occasions, falling foul of their hate speech laws, his jokes are not for the easily offended. Or the moderately difficult to offend. If you find the idea of him murdering an imaginary child by drowning them whilst giving them a blow-job a step too far then this is definitely not the show for you. Funny, caustic and very very over lines most comedians won't go near, it is an experience, but sometimes you are uncomfortable at what you've just laughed at.
Oliver Reed: Wild Thing
Very solid biographic summary of Oliver Reed, Rob Crouch becomes the legend that is Oliver Reed. This show made me remember that I went to the pub in Malta where he died. Changes in costume, take us through Reed life, and the touches of audience participation make the whole thing feel like it is happening in Reed's favourite place in the world. Raise a glass to the Wild One.
Not a great show, a poor mans version of 8 out of 10 cats do countdown. But like many of these types of shows, it is as much the audience, where we had one or two annoyances, as the cast. Featuring an actual Countdown winner in the judges seat, it brings some laughs. The best moment is the final item where their 'Carol' performes a high paced rap to three words from the audience. Omniscient, Deforestation and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were ours.
All quiet on the western front
A play about young german soldeiers on the western front of World War 1. Impressive use of 5 wood crates to create a variety of props, and mannerisms to show changing characters, it is a bleak look at the Great War.
They built it. No one came
Entertaining comedy about a cult lead by leaders without charisma who really are just looking for acceptance. Funny and endearing.
How to become a poker millionaire (and still be a loser)
A famous French poker player talks honestly about her life and choices and the challenges of playing poker. Strong performance.
Axis of Awesome: Won't Ever Not Stop Giving Up
Always a profressional act, they dealt early on with the elephant in the room, the big change to one of their act. Lee's baldness. A collection of new material and favourites. Awesome as always.
Somewhat spoiled by the loud pop music coming from the room next door, this play about silence, stillness and trying to find someone is well written and performed.
Dolly wants to die
Extremely dark comedy about growing up and depression. Very good, very funny as long as you are open minded. Features a stuffed bear with a drug addiction and a vow of silence and a Doll, who just can't find a way to die.
Liz Miele: Mind over Melee
American comic who has travelled a great deal, talks about her experiences and past. In the vein of Sarah Silverman. Funny show.
Loyiso Gola: Dude, Where's my Lion?
Interesting South African comedian. Some really soft ball material, on airports and other observational work, nothing groundbreaking. Where he really shines is when he relates more personal experiences of growing up in apartheid South Africa.
Yeti's – Demon Dive Bar
Absolutely surreal. One of those shows where you know for a fact the actors are doing it because they find it hilarious and are not interested in the opinions of others. Totally worth watching for the audience lead eyeball spitting contest, the necrophilia and the sexy nuns.
Twins: Two Balls in a Bag
Third year running we've seen the twins, and they continue to become more polished in their act. The heart is the same, a mastery of just missing the expected beat for a joke to make it both funny and awkward and a talent for making rehearsed situations seem unexpected and unplanned.
Best of Teknicolour Smoof
A late night comedy show in a tent, a collection of comedians different every evening. Like anything in the free fringe, you get a mixture of skills, but a good way to end the evening.
Tells the story of two drug smugglers who were caught and imprisoned in Peru and their experience. Initially pitching them as innocent and forced into the role, it becomes clear they were paid smugglers and so the sympathy wanes. Good use of space and backdrops.
One of the more expensive shows, featuring a two level stage and some drones, Swivelhead skirts some powerful subject without really addressing them in the way you would hope. The main character is dealing with PTSD and change.
Horace: We are Family
Free comedy show, that has some similarity to the Twins. Still in the learning stage of finding their voice, certain elements of their show are extremely well done, in particular the re-written Mr. Men sketches.
The Best of Scottish Comedy
Always a safe bet, featured three comedians, one of whom we'd seen previously. All three were entertaining and engaging.
Predrinks | Afterparty
Unfortunately, we could only see the PreDrinks version of this play set both before and after the big opportunity performance by one of the characters (they are performed on alternating nights), and we'd seen the company previously at Get Your Shit Together the previous yeah. Big personalities, and a great script create a play worth seeing. I'd recommend making the effort to view them both.