DarkChat - Reviewing the Edinburgh Fringe since 2008

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2009 Reviews


Saturday August 8th


1.05pm - Terrors of the Black Museum – Espionage

 In 2008 Phil lost his Edinburgh Festival virginity at the Comedy Bus starting with a very bad comedian.  Fast forward a year and it was the turn of Legs to break his Ed duck, and yes it was the same comedian as part of a trio in this rambling plot driven piece.


 “Awful venue, awful lines, awful.”





2.45pm Jack Offline – The Beehive Inn

 Funny, if complicated, free comedy “two dysfunctional brothers attempt to con wife new lover...ooh, I forgot to mention the dog!”


 Crude but amusing.





4pm - Comedy Manifesto – The Beehive Inn

 The 2nd DarkChat viewing of a topical panel quiz show, similar to Have I Got News for You?  Well controlled by host Kate Smuthwaite and provided the first sighting of this years “Ashley Frieze” Dan Thompson.  Oh and Legs came 3rd in this two team quiz.





6.20pm – Alexis Dubus, A R*ddy Brief History of Swearing – The Tron

 Basically, it did what it said on the tin, a history of swearing in different languages. Really just an excuse to swear a lot, again this was the first sighting of this likeable, naturally funny comedian in the first hot venue of this years Festival.





8.20pm – Ellis James, The Most Cautious Little Boy in Wales – GRV

 Extraordinary, almost life threateningly hot venue, however despite the surroundings this funny, likeable creative Welsh comedian won over the crowd with stories of his life growing up in South West Wales.  It helped if you recognised the Welsh references (Oakwood Theme Park etc.)  Since most of us had travelled up from Cardiff that morning we did!



9.50pm – Jessica Fosteqew and Dan Thompson, Pecker and Foof save the World – Dragonfly

 Two stand out comedians unveil how they would save the World. In case you wondered Pecker and Foof are there favourite names for their genitalia!  Second appearance for the impressive Dan Thompson today.  But avoid if you have a phobia of reptiles beginning with ‘S’!  Fortunately our reviewer who does wasn’t present!  What more could our reviewers ask to end their day than “a good laugh, free comedy and it was on the way back to the flat!



10.30pm – Rich Hall - Assembly Rooms

 “Elmer Fudd with huge hands meets James Cagney” and unexpectedly in your face rambling performance from this Edinburgh regular.  A lot of reacting with the audience and no theme, but the show is probably better for it.




Sunday August 9th


12.15pm – Leatherface – Underbelly

 An audience of 15 didn’t bode well but this was a surprisingly good play, balancing comedy and drama.  The lead actor – Jim Townsend – was impressive in this adaptation of a German play based on a true event “it wasn’t pants, it was good.”



 1.10pm – Ginger Nuts - Jekyll and Hyde  

A £10 pre-show quiz machine win for our reviewers put them in the mood for this basic stand-up debut Edinburgh show from Rory O’Hanlon.  The venue made the show which  - as expected - was mainly about Ginger Nuts.



2.20pm Ernest and the Pale Moon – Pleasance Courtyard

The winners of the DarkChat award for Best Entertainment 2008 return with a single themed production.  Darker then last years Terrible Infants, but over coming extraordinary heat to provide an enjoyable, moving mystery macabre tale.  A gothic thriller, with a nod to Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window’ that was never less than enjoyable with strong performances especially  from Grace Carter and Joe Woolmer with atmospheric music provided by the cast.  A highly recommended show, although a slightly rushed and confusing ending contrasted with the gentle pace that preceded it.




2.20pm - Demetris Deech Hypochondriac  - Jekyll and Hyde

Good but not hilarious, it grew tiresome even though reviewer, Legs, got on stage... to count his legs.




3.15 pm - Kingsley and I - Jekyll & Hyde

A free comedy show featuring compere Damien Kingsley and two standups of variable quality.  “Napalm” was a story too far.



 4pm - Ginger and Black – The Extraordinary Times of Harold – Pleasance Gardens

Recommended from last years Free Fringe, DarkChat appeared en masse to see this comedy duo.  All agreed they started strongly although opinions differ about whether her recently broken arm affected the show as there was limited musical impact.  Hawkman (misheard by 2 reviewers as ‘Hookman’ ) was an amusing character although the shrapnel victim with a plate and fork in his head provided the biggest laughs.



8.15pm – Idiots of Ants “This is War”  - Pleasance Courtyard

 Sketch Comedy at it’s best.  Having enjoyed last years show (twice) we returned with some trepidation.  The opening sketch where they discovered they weren’t really in the Second World War proved they were back and at the top of their game.  No need for them to write a themed show as they are confident in their material, performances and charisma to win over an audience in a venue larger than last year.  The pursuit of World Comedy domination continues.



9.40pm – Foil, Arms and Hog – The Caves

Good sketch comedy, although the performances were better than the quick-fire sketches.  Good use of recurring themes, strongest material “Paedophile, Driving Instructor and Courtroom.”



 10.20pm – Marcel Lucont, Sexual Metro- The Underbelly  

Chosen by one of our group as “he looks like Jose Mourinho this French alter ego of Alexis Dubis showed the comedian to be a master of words in whichever language or style he chose.  His theme – Why the French are better than the English – is hardly new but he made it sound original, especially his unprovoked attack on Plymouth where “Everything is a Pound!”



 11.05pm – the FKN News – Espionage

Our teams’ idea of catching good late night comedy on the way home went disastrously wrong tonight “I expected it to be bad, but not that bad!”  One guy offering unfunny conspiracy theories, at least 100 people saw at least one minute of the show. – An oscillating audience.




Monday August 10th


13.55 Richard Sandling’s Perfect Movie – Canon’s Gait

A show with a theme, always nice. Special guest star, the vibrating Nick Helm. Not just fun but informative. Learn how to annoy kids when working at a cinema , how to organise your video collection and best of all , what Phil,s favourite film is.


Interesting , funny and relaxing.



14.25 - A Big Egg --Canon’s Gait  

Following immediately on from the previous show at the same venue this is impressive and original sketch comedy from a talented quintet. Over 10 sketches, all funny and free well recommended.



Mild Mayhem on the Mile

 Beware Dan Mckee, he’s like the dog crap you can’t wipe from the side of your shoe after you’ve trodden in a big steaming pile. The terror of the Black Museum terrorised Phil and Legs “once more we have suffered!”  Avoid!!



 4pm – Me and Jezobel – Gilded Balloon

Fantastic and not just Katie Manning’s invisible arse!  A one woman show portraying the larger than life Bette Davis who invited herself to stay with the mild mannered Elizabeth Fuller for an unforgettable month.  Beautifully acted and extremely well written this 75 minute play flew by. Moving and emotional, this deserves a bigger audience.



7.10pm – Murder Mystery Musical – George Square

Miss Marple meets musical, detection does a somersault.  Actors excel as musicians, good new songs, silly but well done.  Lots of laugh out loud moments, very impressive stuff.



 7.15pm - Paul Zerdin in Spongefest – Underbelly

“Wonderfully wonderful”.  Brilliantly varied show combining ventriloquism, stand up and rude puppets.  At times ingenious, a true gem.  What other show turns a member of the audience into a ventriloquist’s dummy?  Brilliant x 7!



  9.20pm – Russel Kane’s Human Dressage – Plesance Courtyard

The comedian without a punchline.  Entusiastic but rambling from one topic to another with no real purpose, one for Russell Kane enthusiasts only.



  9.45pm – Nick Doody, Schizo – Pleasance Courtyard

A chance remark randomly from a 3 year old encouraged us to see this increasingly successful scriptwriter for other comedians. Ranting is fine, but picking subjects like the Royals, Tory MPs expenses, the Russell Brand controversy are easy and lazy.  If only we had sat nearer the exit!



10.45pm – Opening Night of the Living Dead- C Cubed

If only it had been well directed, written and acted it would have stood a chance.  Zombies, shit and more pants zombies.  A waste of an hour but at least it ended.



Tuesday August 11th


10.15am – Orphans – Traverse Theatre

 Fortunately we are staying literally around the corner from the venue so when my alarm failed to sound I still managed to take my seat 25 minutes after waking up!  Luckily the quality of the writing and acting kept me enthralled and awake for the 2 and quarter hours of this thought provoking play.  A disturbing thriller with a perfect balance of comedy and drama to keep the audience laughing and connected to the characters and wanting to know what would happen next.  If you only see one play this festival see this!



12.10pm – Four Sad Faces – Pith and Vinegar – Canon’s Gate

 This varied sketch show would’ve been good value for money as part of the five-pound fringe, let alone the free fringe. Good performances coupled with original ideas and snappy writing made this one of the highlights of the week. Particular favourites include Tetris soldiers being parachuted into battle, and a war between the Burger King and Ronald McDonald. Started poorly with a weak take on a Blackadder scene, but flew from there and never looked back.



12.35pm – The Gravediggers – Royal College of Surgeons

Boring, very dull.  Think of a bad word and multiply it by the highest number you can think of.  3 Gravediggers, 3 ambitions, 3 boring chunks of twenty minutes.



 1.40pm  Delete the Banjax – White Horse

 The impressive Bishop and Douche (from last years Free Fringe) may have been absent this year but they did recommend this sketch group.



3.40pm – The Moroccan Disco Spokeman – The Argyle

As one of our team had recently returned from a few enjoyable days in Morocco this seems to be a good show to choose to recreate that trip – Wrong, wrong, wrong!!  We hoped this show would provide the unexpected joy of last years Bavarian Tradition Show – WRONG, WRONG, WRONG!  To attend this embarrassing shambles we traipsed in pouring rain to a pub on the far side of The Meadows which tried its best to conceal the venue, now we know why!  The walk itself was longer than the show as a variety of props had been forgotten.  The intrepid and likeable Tommy Holgate had cycled to Morocco to raise funds for Great Ormond Street and for Phil Abett to dance in Marrakesh.  Unfortunately the only money raised was the pittance given at the end of the show and it was probably the sight of his “dancing” that caused Michael Jackson to have a heart attack!  On the plus side what a nice afro, displayed worse IT skills handling his laptop than our reviewer and the show was a lot shorter than billed.  “I didn’t even have time to finish a half glass of wine.”


 1610 - G3 - The Ginge, the Geordie and The Geek -The Caves.

Yes, this was the 3rd Ginger based show chosen by one of our team who,yes, you guessed it is ginger.The three performers listed above become Superheroes with the power to bring comedy to the world (although they pretty much only went as far as the audience) in this wonderful themed sketch show that proved to be the pick of the bunch. The sketches were hilarious and varied – a particular highlight being the forbidden love between a scarecrow and a crow – and the performances equally so. One to watch in the future!



1730 - Bertie Haddock - Nicol Edwards.

The room was packed for this American sketch show, which was ideal as it made it far easier to escape unnoticed. The ten minutes we stayed for were instantly forgettable – noisy ramblings about…something or other. Laughs were few and far between, and the audience in the show next door clearly had a much better time than we did. At least the bottles of Carlsberg we bought were cheap.



1800 - Luke Wright - The Petty concerns of - Underbelly.

Fame and celebrity are not the obvious callings of the poet. But the realisation and acceptance that this was unlikely to be his lot was the premise of this year's Luke Wright show.


Touring means hotel rooms, spare time and googling your own name until you realise that

a) you are not as popular as the English cricketer of the same name.

b) you are described as a foppish buffoon, although a variety of photos show why this was a fair description.


Not only were his poems impressively delivered but his links were as funny as most stand-ups.



20:00 Dylan Moran - Playhouse Theatre

Each year the debate rages about how big business is ruining the essence of the Fringe, especially in comedy. This year that argument seemed to be embodied in the two day appearance of Dylan Moran.


Billed as a two and a half hour show for £20, three of our group embarked on their humour expedition with a hopeful jauntiness in their step. When we saw them several hours later they were merry and full of high spirits in all senses of the word. Basically the shambolic Irishman provided an hour's top notch comedy leaving plenty of time for post-show drinking.


A good show but not good value for money.



22:05 Patti Plinko and her Boy - Assembly Rooms

Two cancelled shows due to illness and a thirty minute delay was not a promising start. An opening ground writhing performance of 'Sway' was disturbing but quickly her individual, mesmerising style coupled with two excellent musicians won over (most of) the audience. An unexpected treasure.