TUESDAY 16TH AUGUST
The Dead 3.75/10
After deciding to organise a show boasting a full Darkchat attendance, David Cox opts in favour of a long queue and leaves the rest of us to face the macabre music in the Jekyll & Hyde pub. A prank worthy of the late Jeremy Beadle? Well, you decide for yourselves. The premise; a couple, on their way home from an evening at a ball (or something posh, we weren’t sure) get attacked by man-eating zombies (what other type are there?) and have to use audience suggestions in order to survive with a host of other uninfected locals. The reality; thirty students perform a script straight out of a 1920s horror movie in a space equivalent to the inside of a phone booth, and spend the majority of the time eating one another. Dreamt up doing a student orgy? We think so too. Some found it charmingly amusing, others found it an outrage that a free show could be so expensive.
The End Of The World Show 5.5/10
Hosted by a cross between the Grim Reaper and a Jehovah’s witness, this entertaining PowerPoint presentation sold us the world’s religions as though they were insurance companies, weighing up the pros and cons of each, and asking us to choose or favourite at the end. Of course, we couldn’t be arsed to choose at the end, but as awful as it sounds we challenge you to find another show in which a) the host cluelessly tries selling Christianity to a small boy in the front row by arranging to kill his dog and send it to heaven, b) has John Travolta and Tony Blair eaten by a mad sofa, and c) ends with a bizarrely offensive Jewish clock.
Showstopper! The Improvised Musical - Gilded Balloon - 3.20pm - 8/10
A new musical is created at every performance, largely based on audience suggestions.
On the night that Darkchat attended, the cast created a Disney-style musical,
featuring a magical castle threatened by a dragon, using the minimum of props,
a piano and a great deal of talent. As if this wasn’t challenging enough,
the high point of the performance was the backwards sequence
inflicted on the cast by the narrator of the piece.
There was ample time for the story and songs to develop but it
might have been interesting to see two potted musicals, in
contrasting genres, during the time available, as the company
are capable of parodying so many styles. However, it is still the
perfect antidote for anyone who has ever sat through an overlong,
overpriced West End musical, written by an author with a rhyming
dictionary and no sense of the absurd.
Fat Kitten vs the World 5.83/10
A free improve show in which the host team of four performers challenge other improve teams around the festival to an improve face-off. Competing in various games, the winners would be decided by the appreciation of the audience for their efforts. Thankfully, there were laughs-a-plenty, albeit mainly for the far superior visiting team. Leaving the Kittens to lick their wounds, we departed the show thankful for our foray into the world of improvised comedy.
Five Step Guide To Being German 3.5/10
Or “5 Steps to Being English”, as one disgruntled Darkchatter fumed. Is there anything worse than a shit free show that overruns and leaves you hurtling desperately across Edinburgh to make it in time for a Penny Dreadful performer? Nope, we can’t think of one either. If you have a Humphrey Ker ticket and think you can see this show and make it to the Pleasance in time, then do yourself a favour and leave early. Or better yet, don’t bother going. In fact, regardless of whether you’ve got a Humphrey Ker ticket or not, don’t waste your time listening to someone moaning about the war, watch the 35 year old episode of Fawlty Towers instead.
Humphrey Ker is Dymock Watson: Nazi Smasher! 8.6/10
2 shows in 1; a show packed with visual comedy, wonderful energy and breathtaking facial expressions for those seated in the central tier, and a show packed with the back of someone’s head for those in either of the side stands. Either way though, an hour in the presence of Humphrey Kerr is and hour totally bereft of yawning, watch-checking and longing for a free show about being German. Humphrey Kerr’s one-man play, a tale of espionage and talking dogs, is a wonderfully hilarious tale told with extraordinary energy and enthusiasm. Go on, treat yourself.
Idiots of Ants – Model Citizen 7.88/10
Synonymous with Edinburgh (possibly), the Idiots once more put on the
complete show for their audience. Yes, at its heart it’s a series of sketches,
but their interaction with the audience and the sheer amount of fun they are
seen having sets it apart from most other things on offer. There were
moments of genius, from bees to swinging hand puppets, as well as
sugary treats thrown in the general direction of Phil’s groin. The Idiots
return to form, and we’d have been mad little fools not to have experienced it.
Lullabies Of Broadmoor – The Murder Club 8.75/10
A new play by a company which specialises in exploring mental health issues, this thought provoking piece explores the psychology of murder whilst also making some thoughtful observations on the contrast between the portrayal of murder on stage and screen with the sordid reality.
Set in Broadmoor in the 1920s, the simplicity of the set allowed the audience to focus on the fine performances and quality of the writing. Apart from the sound of the institution’s orchestra rehearsing, the only jarring note was the reference to events in the Middle East which, although linking the past to the present, didn’t seem to have any direct bearing on the plight of the central characters. Nonetheless, this is a powerful and well conceived piece that will linger in the memory.