DarkChat - Reviewing the Edinburgh Fringe since 2008

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Pre 2013 Reviews




Every now and again I see a show I know little about. Tonight I was expecting some 1950's rock and roll style music and tales of gruesome events. That was virtually all I needed to know as I walked into the venue and was immediately transported into a mid-West diner with a band perfectly re-creating the 1950's sound.


We soon meet Mary, our host for the evening to explain the events leading to her blood-spattered state joint we were now locked in. This show is not for the faint-hearted as we hear about her molestation as a child, see her beaten up, not to mention a variety of bloody murders.


This sounds heavy and depressing but thanks to the writing and performances it is hugely

entertaining and enjoyable. A question and answer session after the event emphazised how much impact

Lucy Rivers had in the show which explained her extraordinary ease in dealing with this tricky material.


It was her performance as Mary which drives the evening. She rapports effortlessly with the audience

drawing us into the events which otherwise would have left us cold and detached. She is strongly

supported by all the cast, especially Oliver Wood who moves seamlessly from the infatuated

lover to the cruel tormentor.


After watching this show in September 2012 we commented this should go to Edinburgh.

Now that it is, I suggest anyone who likes good music, drama and something different should

rush to The Bloody Ballad.



The Bloody Ballad runs Daily  from July 31st at 19.45 at The Assembly Roxy




The Bloody Ballad

Cardiff - June 2013


Here at DARKCHAT we have acquired various favourites over the years. Jeff Achtem (Mr Bunk)

has become one of our must see performers, winning the Best Entertainment award for

"Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones" in 2010, repeating that success and gaining the "Best Music"

award last year for "Swamp Juice".


DARKCHAT reviewer Legs will not be heading to Edinburgh this year so instead he settled for

Blackwood to see Achtem's new offering "Slapdash Galaxy". This is his report from the frontline:



As soon as this reviewer found out that the eccentric Mr Achtem was bringing his latest show to

various theatres across Britain he told all those that would listen to him that this wonderful

Edinburgh Act was coming and they had to watch him!


Now it’s never easy to tell people what to expect from a show such as this. It’s only through

watching it do you truly get the beauty and grandeur of something so simple in terms of plot,

which is possibly the only thing simple about the entire show. Throughout the show he uses

pieces of rubbish to astonishing effect to the point where a box is a weapon! Has to be seen

to believed!


So, as the oldest kid in the entire audience my family members and I sat down and I wondered why it looked nothing like Swamp Juice, the set laid out in a different way... my already heightened excitement now growing to girlish glee. I don't want to reveal what happened when the lights went out!  Being in an audience full of children it just made me realise how much fun they were about to have never having no doubt seen anything like it outside of a bunch of people dancing and creating shadows on TV. Sadly Mr Achtem will never get the mainstream acknowledgement he deserves but it is us lucky few that appreciate the work he puts forth that will spur him on to still be writing new adventures for hopefully years to come.


The Story is simple, and I'm allowed to give the premise of the play because he does so via his teaser on Youtube.  To quote Mr Achtem, it’s a story about a boy… in a box… in space. I’m not revealing more because the story is new and so are the characters. But what you don’t expect is the same feeling of wonder the second time around. I had already seen Swamp Juice and was absolutely staggered by the sheer patience he must have had to create something so hauntingly beautiful, and I’m pleased to report that he doesn’t disappoint this time around either.


A few minor niggles, having personally adored the music throughout Swamp Juice, it was a little disappointing that there was no band playing along with the beautifully crafted story.  There was pre-recorded music and one hopes that come Edinburgh he will have a full ensemble and the bits where he had classical pieces he will have his own band playing stuff that people have never heard before. It’s only a minor niggle but one that makes me envious of  those that will see the show in Edinburgh more than the actual show itself!


That was a minor niggle and there was another one… that I wasn’t a better bad guy!  For that I can only apologise Mr Achtem, your rubbish will never be thrown away by me.



Slapdash Galaxy 3D runs Daily  (except 14th) from 1st to 26th August at 16.15 at The Underbelly, Bristo Square


Slapdash Galaxy

Blackwood Miners Institute - June 2013

Lloyd Langford - Galoot

Cardiff - July 2013


If August is the month when comedy fans head to the Edinburgh festival (we are told that other forms

of entertainment are available) then July is when comedians stage the last of their gigs to try out any

new material.  The Cardiff comedy festival takes full advantage and previews can be seen throughout

this month.


Starting the ball rolling was Lloyd Langford with "Galoot", apparently someone who is strange or foolish

which perfectly describes Langford's strange appearance (see picture on right!)


Immediately the audience starts laughing and doesn't stop throughout the set. We discover why he

hates Jessie J (I'm sure you will too by the end, he is very persuasive), hear about other idiotic events

and and why he has decided to take more chances with his life.


This is gentle humour although occcasionally he does unsettle you with an unexepectedly caustic

remark.  After building up the show well he slightly falters at the end with a sexual anecdote

I don't think fits into this particular show.


As he himself stressed this is work in progress so there is plenty if time to tighten this material before Edinburgh. Even so, this is still a highly enjoyable hour in its present form and can only get better.


So, if you get a chance to see Lloyd Langford on tour ,go.


If you get a chance to see Lloyd Langford in Edinburgh, go.


If you get a chance to see any other preview shows (generally a lot cheaper than the finished product) go.


You won't be sorry.


Lloyd Langford: Galoot is at The Gilded Balloon Teviot daily from 1-26 August (not 12th or 19th)



Langford bloody-ballad slapdash-galaxy-3d_32524

Nat Luurtsema - Here She Be

Cardiff - July 2013


Romesh Ranganathan - Rom Com

Cardiff - July 2013


Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre - Space

Cardiff - July 2013


Every year I make one mistake in booking over 100 tickets for the Edinburgh festival and in 2012 I

booked two tickets to see The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet theatre forgetting I was now

double-booked. Today, however, on a sticky, hot Cardiff Saturday  I was happy to embrace

the air conditioning of Chapter Arts Centre and finally catch up with the Sox.


The premise is simple,the show is two high pitched talking socks from a country  whose capital

is Edinburgh. Who knew?


July is a month where most performers hone their material in readiness for the Edinburgh festival

in August. Some acts need it more than others and tonight's show fell into that category.

This year's show is In Space although a lot of time is spent exploring other genres, horror

in particular. When we did head towards the astral plain the references were fairly generic.


But, what ultimatlely does an audience want? An hour of average comedy or a couple of moments of

sheer brilliance. There is a lot (perhaps too much) music but their parodies of David Bowie's "Starman" and Michael Jackson's " Earth Song" (apparently his biggest hit, which I thought was Billie Jean) caused hysteria with DARKCHAT David and Anne (the latter hasn't stopped singing the former's song about a group of birds ever since).


The first 2013 DARKCHAT meeting after the show caused a heated debate. One member called it "dull and boring" whilst two revelled in the 2 highspots. There is obviously plenty of work to be done but if they can tighten some of the more self-indulgent moments this can be another triumph for The Scottish Falsetto Sock Company.


The Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Thetare - in Space runs daily at the Gilded Balloon Teviot from July  31st




Joe Lycett - If Joe Lycett Then You Should've Put a Ring On It

Cardiff - July 2013


Originally this Edinburgh preview should have featured Nick Helm. Sickness meant

he was unable to attend and he was replaced by Joe Lycett. I suggest they couldn't

have found a more opposite comedian if they had tried.


Whilst Helm is noisy, hairy, sweaty and in your face Lycett is calm, collected and

friendliness personified. Most Edinburgh shows have to have a pun title but for once

" If Joe Lycett Then You Should've Put a Ring On It" actually fits the bill.


This is a series of stories about how his life has changed by wearing a "Walrus ring"

after being advised to harness his inner animal. Armed with this alter ego he has

turned into a serial complainer (when justified) by email. Some of these tales are

hysterical especially when large organisations get the joke and join in the fun. (Who

knew employees of the Sun had a sense of humour).


We are bordering on Tom Wrigglesworth campaigning territory here but Joe Lycett's indidivuality shines through and we can see why he has been nominated for Fosters Edinburgh Comedy Award Best Newcomer 2012.



This is still work in progress in readiness for next month's festival but on this evidence he is definitely worth finding a place in your schedule for. If you're looking for him he'll be the one wearing the Walrus ring and driving the cream Yaris.



If Joe Lycett  Then You Should Have Put a Ring On It runs daily  at Pleasance Courtyard from 31st July