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Reviews 2011

Saturday 13th August

 

 

The Unbelievable Truth  - BBC Potterow - 12.15pm - 8.75/ 10 – Review to follow.

 

Getting up at 3.00am in Cardiff to catch a flight from Bristol may not be the Coxes

ideal way to start the festival. Still we could ultimately rejoice in the knowledge

that hours after leaving Wales we were sitting in the BBC’s new studios at

Potterow to see a recording of one of our favourite radio shows.

 

Obviously we knew “The Unbelievable Truth” was hosted by David Mitchell

but we and the audience gasped when they announced the panellists were

Henning Wehn, my wife’s favourite German comedian (if you think there is

only one see our Tuesday review for “ 5 Steps to being German”), Mark Watson,

 Ed Byrne and Phil Jupitus. We had truly pulled 3 Cherries on our imaginary

comedy slot machine ( the old-fashioned ones not these new-fangled Hold and

Nudges which will never catch on).

 

An hour in the company of these comedy maestros certainly gave us the adrenalin boost to fire us up for the rest of the day & the week ahead.

 

Highlights include Henning Wehn’s new radio catch-phrase “ Choo, Choo”, David Mitchell’s announcement that his Vampire references are more Christopher Lee than Twilight. Ed Byrne revealed an unexpected competitive element when he realised Phil Jupitus may have had his subject (Bees) in a previous recording. Being radio the listeners will miss Mr Jupitus’s unique dress sense & seeing him laugh at most of the material as if he was in the audience himself.

A true joy.

 

 

A Clockwork Orange  - C - 7.15pm - 9.75/10

 

A week at the Edinburgh Fringe festival is not for the faint-hearted. How organised should you be? As there are 9 DARKCHATTERs this year I always favour the Spreadsheet and although some shows are booked I left some gaps for spur of the moment choices.

 

So, whilst relaxing with a cup of coffee in the morning we decided to drop “Sex, Lies and Eurovision” and pick a far more dramatic show “ A Clockwork Orange”. Despite it being one of the most (in) famous pieces ( either literary or cinematic) of the second half of the 20th Century neither of us had seen/read it before.

 

Although we expected ( and received) a literally “ in your face” piece we chose to take our first ( but not the last ) front row seats of the week. This was a good move as not only did I feel in the middle of the action but you could see how meticulously the breath-taking fight sequences were choreographed as often we were only inches away from the performers.

 

Great art is timeless and this play was certainly prophetic in view of recent events in England. Dis-enfranchised youth is not a new problem but the political expediency trying to resolve the issues is relevant and the discovery that Anthony Burgess had foreseen young men creating their own street talk was impressive.

 

The ending was also shocking by being unexpectedly undramatic yet believable. Often these muscular testosterone fulled dramas exist at the expense of good acting. This, however, was the exception that proved the rule. All performers were exemplary but credit must go to Martin McCreadie in the lead role of Alex who made this grotesque real and sympathetic. Despite his deeds if you don’t care about his plight you can’t follow the play to it’s conclusion.

 

Good for us for selecting this play at short notice but compliments most go to all involved in this production for allowing us to see a 5 star show so early in our week.

 

 

Bob Downe 20 Golden Greats - Gilded Balloon Teviot - 8pm -  5.5/10

 

 

I never realised that Bob Downe would have such a hardcore set of fans,

and that so many would be in the room tonight. And they weren’t disappointed.

In fact, some were even dancing in the aisles. This show is fun, light

entertainment that can reach all demographics. Nothing too racy, the

jokes are enough to make us all knowingly chuckle. But it’s warm hearted

and an inoffensive way to spend an hour at the festival. Having that said,

Downe is really a one trick pony. He’s just a guy singing and dancing in

a comedic style for laughs. Nothing has changed much since he was last

at Edinburgh. But there are worst shows to see at the festival.

 

 

 

Arthur Smith’s Pissed Up Show - Pleasance Dome - 9.40pm - 8.33/10

 

A few years ago Edinburgh legend Arthur Smith nearly died from pancreatitis. His price for survival was to give up drink completely. He touched on this part on his life in his previous show here “ Dante’s Inferno” but this year he spends an hour discussing what effects drinking has on people.

 

This premise is turned on its head by encouraging 3 guests to appear on stage as drunk as possible. To check how drunk they were he invites one of Edinburgh’s licensing authority to breathalyse the guests and an audience member.

 

Checking the list of guests on the way in I spotted one person I really like, one I quite like & one I detest for no real reason, I leave you to decide from Clive Mantle, Hardeep Singh Kohli and Luke Wright who is who. Needless to say by the end of the show none of my opinions had changed.

 

As usual our host was impeccable and always watchable. He is naturally funny, charming, intelligent, never boring and shows a real interest in what his guests are saying.

 

However, even he was up-staged by his alcohol controller Derek but the highlight of the show came at the end. As any drunk knows an evening should end with a good sing-song. I won’t give the end away but this climax is worth the price of admission alone.

 

The perfect end to a great first day.    

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