For someone who said they didn’t have time or energy to do much Fringe this year, I’ve, erm, done quite a bit. So I thought I’d write some wee reviews, in case you’re at a loose end and you’ve miraculously managed to run the Royal Mile gauntlet without being handed a single flyer.
Titus Andronicus: An All-female Production
As a first show to see, this was diving in at the (harrowing, gory) deep end. The last time I saw this play, it was unabridged and dry, but Smooth Faced Gentlemen have kicked it up the backside, trimmed it down to just over an hour and reminded me that Shakespeare is basically fantastic. The a cappella singing and paintbrush-based gore were great touches, and they injected a lot of humour into what is, let’s be honest, a grim tale of rape, murder, and dubious meat pies. Aaron really stole the show, as did a very grim-faced Titus. Go and see it, if you don’t mind a spot of light-hearted mutilation and paper plane shenanigans in your evening.
Pleasance Dome, 19th, 21-31 Aug, 5:00
If you can’t decide what to see, why not have a nice variety show where acts get 5 minutes tops to persuade you to see their show? The lineup changes daily, but we had the excellent Ed Gamble as compere, along with a former choirboy who mixed classical singing with jokes, the terrifying Seymour Stiffs, The Two Stupids, comedy musician Yve Blake and Markus Birdman. If you don’t like an act, there’s not long to wait until the next one.
Pleasance Dome, 19-29 Aug, 18:40
Promise and Promiscuity
I was forced to study Jane Austen so I’m painfully familiar with her work, but even if you’re not this show will raise a chuckle. Plenty of pop culture references are woven in along with lines from Ms. Austen herself, with Penny Ashton playing every part with plummy enthusiasm. The songs were brilliant, as was the poor bloke plucked out to dance at the (massive, sweaty) ball. Yes, it satisfied my innuendo cravings too.
Assembly George Square Studios, 19-23, 25-31 Aug, 14:40
We saw Go 8-Bit a few years back, and it really did evoke memories of the glory days of Gamesmaster, when watching other people play games was elevated to an art form. This time, one half of McNeil and Pamphilon presented an idea developed for a Royal Institute lecture, where the audience took part in games on their mobiles for FABULOUS PRIZES like a box of Scottish Blend teabags. I’d like to personally apologise to the red team, Deffy/King, for being the last one standing on the number memorising game then typoing at the last minute and ruining everything. Ah well, I redeemed myself in the copyright-violating Blockbusters during the bonus lock-in. It was one of the friendliest shows I’ve been to: the audience were well up for ‘doing a gaming’ and Twitter was kept busy afterwards, since most folk seemed to use their usernames for the games. Good times.
Sadly, they only did one night at the Fringe but I’m led to believe WiFi Wars popped up in Milton Keynes recently so it may be touring secretly. Keep your eyes peeled.
Becoming something of an annual tradition, Phill Jupitus of Never Mind The Buzzcocks fame sits in the art galleries of Edinburgh and draws something on his iPad with the Paper app. Once a week, he also has an evening chat with another stand-up comic about all things arty. We rocked up at the Portrait Gallery, in a lovely wee room full of old books and busts, and Phill was in the middle of getting folk sorted with spare tablets. While he got started on drawing deathly busts of Burke and Hare, I found a wistful/knowing Romanesque bust and fired up Fresh Paint. This was the result:
It was very relaxing. Phill was signing people’s drawings and responding to requests for arty advice with the excellently self-effacing ‘I dunno, I’m not really an artist’. He came round inspecting our efforts and I got a raised eyebrow of approval, which was lovely. He had to dash off early for another show he’s in, but do go along to a session if you can. The midweek ones are child-friendly, and all pictures will feature on the National Galleries website and Facebook page. A lovely oasis of calm in the Fringe madness.
Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 20 Aug; Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, 21-27 Aug, 10:00
The Falcon’s Malteser
I’m a big Anthony Horowitz fan, so I was pleased that this show from down south had made it up here. The Diamond Brothers books are great if you love sending up detective novels, a heap of puns that would put Police Squad to shame and general slapstick tomfoolery. It works really well on stage, performed by New Old Friends, a cast of four swapping between a large roster of characters and cunningly transforming the set into a police station, a nightclub, a dubious butcher and a graveyard with a few well-placed props and signs. There’s even original songs, one of which features a didgeridoo, so don’t say I didn’t warn you. The room was packed on a rainy Tuesday, which should give you some indication of how well this is selling. Go on, cheer yourself up with some chocolate-themed murder.
Pleasance Courtyard 19-23, 25-31 Aug, 14:00