Saturday 11th August
C Venues - C Too 11.45
The production closed informing the audience ‘they could’ve been anything that they wanted to be’, and whilst that may be a slight exaggeration for many, what the members of Portobello Youth Theatre proved capable of achieving was entertaining a generous audience with enthusiasm and energy.
On a stage no bigger than a snooker table, the Alan Parker classic was brought to life by a cast of thirty or so of various ages who sang, danced and splurged their way through 75 minutes of joy. This was done on a shoe-string budget, in spite of what the £10.50 entry fee suggests, but in truth the children were the real stars. In particular, the performers of ‘Fat Sam’, ‘Tallulah’ and ‘Fizzy’ displayed real star quality, though most minor roles were performed adequately.
It’s fair to say it wasn’t capable of blowing anyone away, but it it did exactly what it set out to do; bring smiles to audience and cast members alike. #’Come back tomorrow’? Sadly, we can’t. (PW)
Poe’s Last Night
Laughing Horse @ Espionage 13.15
In Darkchat’s opinion, it seemed odd that the namers of Espionage hadn’t managed to squeeze the letters ‘h’ and ‘t’ in there somewhere, as a four letter word beginning with ‘s’ could then have been extracted from the name to adequately describe the general standard of shows we have experienced there.
Still, in spite of previous midday encounters having struggled to reach the gallant height of single figures, the promise of an hour of horror theatre proved enticing enough for previous horror encounters to be ignored. Therefore, we headed to Espionage with a message written on the palms of our hands; ‘remember to wash afterwards’.
Thankfully, our descent into madness was rewarded by 45 minutes of stunning storytelling by American actor David Crawford who, as Poe himself, took us on a syllable-perfect ride through many of Poe’s most classic, spine-chilling tales.
Faultless delivery piloted us from catacombs to chamber doors as the atmosphere whizzed through the hairs on our heads, and envy kicked us up the backside; we really want one of those cool walking canes with the concealed knives, too.
So we leave you now, Espionage, and thank you for a wonderful visit to your vaults; you are forgiven, and we will return ‘never more’. (PW & L)
John Robertson – The Dark Room
Alternative Fringe @The Hive 17.00
You awake suddenly to find yourself in a dark room – what do you do next? Well, before you do anything, check with Mr Robertson, who presents you with this conundrum as he transforms himself into the control mechanism for a text-based adventure game from the days before Italian plumbers, blue hedgehogs, and adventuring heroines with pointy assets.
What seemed like an easy question proved a difficult one to answer; we czeched our pockets, headed north, and tried looking for a light switch, but failed miserably. Why? Well, for that you will have to check out the show itself, and we strongly suggest you do, for in spite of the wonderful gimmick, it is the Australian himself that is the real star of the show. As well as some a-list revised material, Robertson is able to interact and respond to the crowd that would turn the majority of Pleasance-stars green with envy. It is a combination of natural talent, and also a likeable quality so rarely found in the free fringe.
Though the show drags somewhat towards the end as answers repeat themselves far too often, this is still as good an hour as you’ll find in Edinburgh, and we are including the paid shows in that sentence. See him before, hopefully, he becomes a big Edinburgh name!! (PW & L)
Alexis Dubus – Cars & Girls
Assembly Roxy 18.45
The Darkchat favourite returns to the Fringe after a year absence with a series of tales that involve cars, girls and the occasional drop of humour.
After a ‘what ho’ outside, we join Mr Dubus in the company of a small audience for the aforementioned gentle tales and a preliminary warning that the show was not a full sixty minutes of belly laughs, and the warning proved to have sound footing. The stories, though entertaining, were indeed not as funny as we’d hoped, and delivered by a man with a lesser appeal than Dubus might have had us running to the exit door, but as usual he carries the show wonderfully.
We felt at home in Alexis’s presence, as though we’d known him for years. We wanted to know what happened in each story, and though it seemed likely that the tales of romance would end in heartbreak, we were still rooting for a happy ending, and mercifully we got one. We left…satisfied, though hardly overwhelmed. Thankfully, family is sometimes worth the effort. (PW, L, DC & AC)
Pappy’s Last Show Ever
Pleasance Dome 20.20
A vital component to any Edinburgh is a fully-interactive, tip-top sketch show, and the first group tasked with delivering were Pappy’s; the verdict, a pass with a variety of different shades of colours.
The performers return fifty years after their ‘last show ever’, and begin to reminisce about what it was that sealed the end of the illustrious comedy careers. Was it fame, fortune, or women? Well, we suggest you plump up the money to find out yourselves, because this show is indeed well worth it. Some parts we would refer to as ‘Comedy Platinum’; there are sketches in which the jokes build and build, and just when you think they’ve reached their peak, they throw something new and fresh in your direction and the waves of roaring laughter continue.
In a way, by displaying such quality, they are perhaps shooting themselves in the foot, as it only makes the overly repetitive ‘penis’ gags seem lazier than they probably were. But that minor gripe aside, we were glad we went, and grateful we left our notebooks behind. (PW, L, DC & AC)
Dead Cat Bounce - Howl of The She-Leopard
Pleasance Courtyard 22.30
Garlic bread? Cheesey chips? Comedy rock? These are combinations that shouldn't work, but, fortunately Dead Cat Bounce proved that this premise can work if you are talented musicians and wordsmiths. Oddly enough, though, the evening wouldn't have been such a success but for excellent sound. Clever and funny lyrics are pointless unless you hear them all and the sound crew ensured this was not a problem.
All three musicians possess the rock god status many of us aspire to but few achieve. This was our third show of this year's festival and they had the disadvantage of following Pappy's Last Show Ever ( 5 stars) but after their opening number "Border Control" we realised we were in surreal yet funny territory. The songs were often laugh out loud funny ( an increasingly rare talent) and impressively the link between songs were just as amusing.
As each year passes I feel the music aspect of the festival weakens but "Dead Cat Bounce" helps to rectify the balance. If you like the music and laughing, go. "Howl Of The She-Leopard" is truly a two for one show. (DC & AC)
The Beta Males Midnight Movie
Pleasance Courtyard 00:20
The Beta Males leapt to prominence at the Edinburgh festival last year with "The Train Job" a success with critics and public like, They return with their latest comedy play " The Space Race" but in true fringe fashion they have an additional show running. For four performances only they show a truly horrific film with comedic inserts so hopefully we can literally die laughing.
A late start ( actually Sunday morning) allows other performers to join them (after their own shows end) in a variety of unexpected guises. One well known sketch group's sole contribution was a silent impression of a large static insect at about 1.30am, ( I would have loved to have listened to that particular sales pitch).
There is no doubting that these comedy inserts were internded to liven up proceedings and stop you from thinking you are just watching a film. Unfortunately, they were generally under-written or repetitive , though I enjoyed the concept of the director's commentary gradually petering out as he became increasingly involved reading an Agatha Christie novel.
Thnis evening would have been disappointing if the film hadn't been absolutely hysterical in its own right. Badly written, horrendously acted, poorly directed with a special effects budget not exceeding £5 this was perfect late night cult viewing. Sadly, technical problems ensured we never saw the ending and even sadder is the fact that we are tempted to track down the original and its (unnecessary and unwanted) sequel.
Having been critical of the additional material this is an Edinburgh event that you won't see elsewhere, surely the reason the festival exists. So,if you fancy being part of something unique and watch a truly awful film on a big screen head to one of the last two performances this week-end. (DC)
MICK FOLEY - PRISONER OF RAW
Assembly Rooms 22.25
By now you would’ve thought that DarkChatters would’ve learnt not to go and see big names at the fringe, not that Mick Foley is a big name in stand-up Comedy, however something still drew our reviewer to this performer. Maybe it was just youthful idealism having once watched this hard-core wrestling legend throw himself from pillar to post, in a form of a soap opera in lycra, maybe he thought there’d be some storytelling from his years in the WWE…. Maybe some background stories that we had never heard??? After all given that Foley has written two best sellers in the form of Tietam Brown and Scooter one might think that he would be at least entertaining… But no.
That’s not to say that when he walked on stage to his old music I didn’t giggle like a 14yo child again. Foley opens up with a warning towards any hecklers and follows with a plug for another show... apologies for I forget the other performer's name, as this was the first of many plugs during this show. Then a warning that anyone heckling Mr Foley will be introduced to his weapon, one of which seems to be a plastic machete and a then more believable dildo.
After this we are encouraged to join in with many chants - almost as if we were in a wrestling arena, fun for five minutes, but quickly it becomes repetitive and boring. It seemed that I wasn’t the only one getting a bit agitated as about half way through he ejected two hecklers giving the security guard £40 to “get these ****s out of my show”, trying to get the audience onside by chanting “you suck” to music. He explains that people come up to the fringe to perform or view shows and don’t expect to be heckled. To which I say buck up, there’s plenty of audience participation up in Edinburgh almost more here than anywhere else. If you can’t deal with heckling when you used to be a wrestler and booed and jeered at every opportunity like a half-naked pantomime then why are you attempting to become a comedian?
I would like to say there were some redeeming factors during this show, but I’d be lying if I could find one. He mentioned the hard work he does for charity, supporting the charity RAIN which elicits a giggle from a few people unknowing of his next line which highlights the severity of this charities work. You can guess what happened next, yep another ejection and more money spilled from his pockets as if there were paper shaped holes inside them. 15 minutes later and more plugs (which he has written down on a piece of paper in case he forgot them) and the show was thankfully over.
Throughout the show he mentioned that he postponed back surgery to alleviate the pain in his back to be “Right here in Edinburgh, UK”. Now aside of the dreadful lack of knowledge in geography, I was left thinking if only he had the surgery to save me the pain of watching this joke of a show.
Mick Foley, be A Star, don’t Be A Comedian (L)