Leaving the Fringe behind...
Leaving Pleasance on Sunday night.
Well it's been quite an (extended) weekend since blipping the First Night of Pleasance, taking in 9 shows encompassing nearly 20 acts and the (also blipped) Pleasance Press Launch.
For those of you who are interested, here is my mini review of the shows we've seen, in chronological order complete with my own star ratings... 1 is pretty darned bad, 3 is enjoyable, 4 is pretty good and 5 for excellent).
We started out on Thursday with Tim Minchin **** who had a rather entertaining selection of satirical songs and was a great opener. Later the same evening we went to see Brendon Burns *** who was nowhere near as good as previous years, and is best described as Australian and shouty.
The entertainment on Friday started with Nina Conti ***** must see, ventriloquist and comedian. We've seen her perform a number of times over the last 5 or so years, and she just keeps getting better. She is definitely my must see show recommendation so far. Having opened with a diet of Pleasance, we headed off to the Assembly Rooms for Best of the Fest. Hal Cruttendon *** was our MC and was entertaining enough, but the first act Rhod Gilbert **** brought the real funny to the show. Matt Kirsten **, Des Bishop ** and David O'Doherty ** were all disappointing (no site links for them!)
Saturday starts for me with the Pleasance Press Launch. This is hosted by Stephen K Amos **** who was very funny although he seemed confused by the running order... The first excerpt was from the play On the Waterfront (a stage version of the Marlon Brando film. It was very dramatic - looked promising. There were a number of sketch artists after this including Pappy's Fun Club ****, Will & Greg ***, Black Stuff ** and Girl & Dean **. Philip Escoffey *** next gave us a brief glimpse of his psychic which was OK, but he's no Derren Brown! The press launch finished with a piece from Aluminium **** which looked pretty good - see my Pleasance Press Launch blip! It's sort of a dance/physical theatre/puppet/robot thing with a theme of Aluminium...
The afternoons free-ticket blagging (well done mrs cyclops) got us in to Because It's There *****, a really very good one-man play based on the story of a climber. There is some impressive work on a miniature climbing wall too, taking the piece into the realm of physical theatre towards the end. Highly recommended. Our other (nearly) freebie was Bridget Christie****, with a bizarre comedy show in the true spirit of the fringe. We ended up sitting in the front row because the seats at the back were wet (it's staged in a damp cellar venue), and the highlight for me was mrs cyclops being taken on stage while the whole audience shouted "Burn the witch, burn the witch!". Never have I felt such emotional support for my cause from an audience... Definitely worth going to see if you're looking for something a bit on the raw and undiscovered side!
This is nearly over, I promise. Just Sunday night to go. Russell Kane ** had a show with all the right ingredients. He seemed like a nice guy, he had some good material, but somehow it just didn't come together for me and I only really got a couple of laughs. Andrew Lawrence ****+ on the other hand was really very good. I can't quite see my way to 5 stars, but a definite 4.5! Cynical and twisted comedy from a weedy ferrety ginger - I think that's the (sanitised) version of how he described himself, and I'm not arguing with him!
So there it is, my festival mini-review. Except it got a bit out of hand and turned big... Oh well!