DarkChat - Reviewing the Edinburgh Fringe since 2008

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Reviews 2011

Wednesday 17th August



101 – C Soco – 11am, Midday & 1pm - 8.5/10


2 DarkChatters attended this show, and the first thing we said to each other as we left were “Wow, our wives would have hated that!”  Quite possibly one of the best compliments we could have paid it, this really is a ‘Marmite’ show, with the audience spending the duration of the show in the performance space and directly involved in the show.  If you’re happy to immerse yourself in a show and are ready to take part then you’ll love it as it’s very well done.

I won’t give away too much about the show as if you think it might be your thing then it’s certainly worth the effort  going to see it with a completely open mind, suffice to say that it’s unnerving, it’s interesting, it’s fun and the young (well-directed) cast impressive.



How Steeple Sinderby Wanderers Won the FA Cup – Gilded Balloon Teviot – 1.15pm  - 8.75/10


A one man show (especially one that lasts over an hour) requires a performer that can connect, engage and hold an audience’s attention whilst entertaining at the same time, although when at the Fringe finding such a performer can be a rarity.  Pleasingly, we find one such performer in Mark Jardine who is outstanding in Paul Hodson’s adaptation of J L Carr’s short novel of the same name , transporting us back to a time when Bobby Charlton didn’t need a comb-over and when people tuned into a whistling wireless to listen to the FA Cup draw.


The faultless Jardine entertains primarily as team assistant

(and embrocation rubber) Joe, but also as a multitude of other

characters (in every sense of the word), from the gruff chairman

to the lady who wants to take the vicar away from the right-wing

so that he can officiate at her husband’s funeral.   As the story

unfolds we hear how the village team of the title complete the

ultimate triumph having beaten (amongst others) Leeds United

& Manchester United before dispatching the (then) mighty

Wolves in history’s greatest footballing upset .


Like a win against the odds by your own team the play seems to fly by without any thought of checking your watch Fergie style to demand that it comes to an end.  Anyone with an interest in good old fashioned football should take a look, you’ll be over the moon that you did.



Swamp Juice - Underbelly - 2pm - 7.83/10


If you want to remember what it was like as a child to be mesmerised by shadows and puppets, then go see Swamp Juice. This is a remarkable piece that rightly so is playing to packed audiences. After seeing Sticks, Stones and Broken Bones last year, I was wondering where puppeteer Jeff Achtem would go with his latest offering. Who’d have thought there was another level to shadow puppetry! Achtem uses what looks like bits and bobs of rubbish for his creations. The show follows the adventures of those in the swamp from snails, birds to the nasty man who is wrecking havoc in the swamp! The adventures enthral adults and children alike. And as for the 3D effects in the finale of the show.....if you’ve seen any film in 3D and felt cheated, then see this! Because you won’t be! Where millions of dollars have failed, this piece of theatre shows, in fact, revels in, how 3D should be done. It had audiences reaching out to touch what they were seeing! This is a lovely show that entertains children and reminds adults of the wonders of childhood. Go see this.



Tuesday at Tesco’s - Assembly Mound - 2pm - 7.25/10


This one man show, performed by Simon Callow, in less than flattering drag, is a French play ‘Le Mardi Monoprix’ in a translation commissioned by The Assembly for this year’s Festival.  


Reminiscent of an Alan Bennett ‘Talking Heads’ piece, this is an intimate study of a day spent caring for an elderly parent.  The difficulties faced by the central character are explored in an understated and often moving way, with moments of comedy and manic dancing used to relieve the tension, however, the unexpectedly abrupt ending, left Darkchat perplexed and a more than a little disappointed.  



Marc Burrows - The 90’s In Half An Hour - Three Sisters - 3pm - 7.5/10


When I tell you that I have seen a free show that suffered the largest walk-out in my Fringe show watching history you might be prepared for a terrible review.  The reality however is a little different.  When entering the show, the place was packed to the rafters which is always a good sign, however a large number of the audience seemed out of place in a ‘can’t quite put your finger on it’ sort of way.  It became clear why, when about 10 minutes in upon the word of their teacher around 20 Eastern European students walked out en masse, her chagrin raised it would seem by the use of the word ‘cunt’ to describe Jeremy Clarkson fans.  I was never aware of the lanky Top Gear tosspot’s popularity with Estonian female teachers that look like shot putters, but I have learnt to never be surprised by Edinburgh!


Even after they had left it remained standing room only and the crowd were kept entertained by the youthful looking Burrows who took us on a journey through the 90s using his experiences (failures) with girls and his pre-occupation with Sci-Fi and music.  At times his delivery wasn’t quite spot on although this may have been due to his being distracted by his newfound ability to smash bar taps with the power of his mind which had us and him amazed!  It may sound formulaic but Burrows obvious enthusiasm for the subject shines through and for anyone else of the era this a show that you should make the time to see (unless you’re a Princess Di fan!)



Mary Bourke - Mary, Mary Quite Contrary  - The Street - 4pm - 7.83/ 10


When a Scotsman, an Irishman and a Welshman walk into a gay bar it sounds like a recipe for comedy gold, however the reality was somewhat different as our Celtic triumvirate were dispatched from the show by the fierce host after taking a dislike to one of them, the first time I have ever seen punters thrown out by the comedian themself!   After such an interruption it would have been easy for this gig to go downhill but even though she mistook a woman for a man, engaged in discussion with a guitarist fresh from a funeral and insisted on calling me Craig all the way through (it’s Carl) Bourke managed to hold it together well, the small crowd with her throughout after the early interruption, and the expulsion almost forgotten by the end of the show.


At a free show at a (very) small venue, out of the way of the hustle and bustle I was ready to be disappointed; I wasn’t.   (Not sure if the semi-colon is in the right place but it seemed appropriate!)


With some strong material Bourke deserves to be playing a larger venue than a basement in a small bar being heckled by the hand-dryer from the nearby toilets!


“Brapp brapp” Mary, “Brapp, brapp!”  



A Betrayal Of Penguins: Endangered for a reason 8.75/10.


Finding good sketch comedy at the Fringe can be difficult and even then one man’s poison is another’s medicine.   As long as you’re not expecting a tight, highly polished performance then this is the medicine for you.  Our 3 smartly attired comedians (Ross Dungan, Aaron Heffernan and Matthew Smyth) crash their way through a number of sketches loosely tied together by a wedding , the Oscars and a Horse Racing meeting.  


The - perhaps unnecessary - link does maybe leave some

sketches seeming a bit forced (their own site tells you to

expect paper thin narrative!) but taken alone the majority of

them do their job and leave you roaring with laughter whether

it be at the cleverness of the sketch or (as is more likely) the

obvious infectious enthusiasm and enjoyment that the trio

are getting from performing them, all the time cheerfully

battling against the ‘terrible rap battle’ permeating the room

from an adjoining venue.


A thoroughly entertaining way to spend an hour as long as you like your medicine wacky, fast paced and a little out of control!



Jessica Fostekew: Luxury Tramp - Gilded Balloon - 7pm - 7.88/10


The Edinburgh Fringe festival is a magificent, huge, sprawling beast. But with over 2,400 shows (mostly comedy nowadays) how do you choose? Reviews, you-tube clips, awards, venues, cost etc? Well, this reviewer decided to go down the lesser used route of accompanying a friend to see the daughter of someone she works with. It may not work for everyone but it worked for me.


Venues this year finally seem to have discovered that not suffocating your audience in sweltering conditions helps to keep the laughs coming. But the unexpected appearance of a fan on my seat was a welcome bonus.


Jessica Fostekew then bounded on stage to explain why she had named

her show "Luxury Tramp". We are in familiar self-annecdotal territory though

she quickly pointed out this was not a show about lady parts and food,

nicely referencing but not naming this year's Queen of Edinburgh.


Instead we heard how her attempts to try & please all the people all the time

led her into therapy " not just for mental people". We got to meet more of her

family, literally as her Nana was in the audience, ensuring any potentially

raunchy material was whispered or mouthed. We learned about her

street-savvy young half-brother who would only get involved in the show

for £2000 and her mother who on discovering an unexpected teen-age

smoochy party had occurred in her house threw out the testosterone

fuelled youths while offering them lifts home.


This amusing show also contained my favourite line of the week

(impressive as I watched 41 shows) regarding a kebab. To hear it

complete you need to rush to buy a ticket.


It was good to see Jesscia Fostekew effortlessly fill an hour's material alone after seeing her with Dan Thompson in " Pecker and Foof save the world " as part of the Free Fringe in 2009.


Good fun and this hot reviewer got a free fan!



Little Shop Of Homos! 8/10


Essentially an accomplished male voice choir singing a selection of show and pop songs, woven into a story featuring acting of varying quality, lots of jokes and truly terrible double entendres.


‘Metrosexual’, a wry comment on the rise of the well groomed heterosexual male (to the tune of ‘Que Sera Sera’) was an undoubted high point and more customised songs would have been a treat – but the witty choice of songs, given a new slant (‘I Kissed A Girl’ being a memorable example), concluding with an uplifting version of the Mama Cass song ‘Make Your Own Kind of Music’, made this show a joy from start to finish.  Fabulous



Sodom 4.67/10


This year we welcomed a new DARKCHATTER, Chris to the Edinburgh festival. So, arriving in the Scottish capital on a Wednesday night at 10.00pm, what show best sums up what is on offer to a Fringe virgin? A comedian off the television or some late-night music, perhaps. No, I thought we would pick one of the weirder plays on offer, which explains why we headed to Zoo at 11.00pm. Here, Chris immediately heard two of the Fringes most common statements " oh, you want the venue, round the corner" and " it's running a little late".


Soon, we were seated (in the front row, naturally) for The Movement's production of "Sodom". This was never going to be a conventional show with the opening speeches drowned out by a trombone (which never re-appeared) and an Italian sounding musician, who when not performing, retreated into a small fridge.


The play revolved around Toby Parker-Rees's (also taking the lead role) re-working (in rhyming couplets of course) of The Earl of Rochester's story about the King and Queen of Sodom. Raunchy doesn't describe the language. Every speech seems to mention prick and the c word which gets boring once you get past the intial feeling of shock and amusement. You obviously couldn't produce the play any earlier but after a long day at the fringe (this was my 7th show of the day) my exhausted brain wasn't willing or capable of trying to untangle the sub-Shakespearean dialogue or the plot.


I was amused by the sight of two lads taken from the audience to stand (for quite a while) in a crude pose but generally I wanted the show to end so I could head to Pleasance courtyard for a much needed drink. Oddly, despite the subject matter (sex) and language, only the musician exposed any skin and that was presumably because the fridge was so hot. Overall, although this show polarised opinion Chris was happy to lose his Edinburgh cherry here. Result!


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