“Alasdair Beckett-King: The Interdimensional ABK” (Pleasance Dome, until AUG 26 : 18:50 : 60mins)

“Perhaps Alasdair Beckett-King, ABK’s, greatest quality and asset is that he dresses the part – he looks very much like Alasdair Beckett-King.”

Editorial Rating: 5 Stars: Nae Bad

Alasdair Beckett-King is clubbable. Firstly he has the large eyes expressive eyes of a baby seal as well as a fine red pelt that would look sensational as somebody’s sporran. He is also clubbable, in the less bloody, cruel, and senseless sense that, were his name to turn up in the book of candidates, the endorsements from existing club members would be so numerous that one would struggle to find space sufficient to signify one’s support. Perhaps Alasdair Beckett-King, ABK’s, greatest quality and asset is that he dresses the part – he looks very much like Alasdair Beckett-King.

And this is not a small or trifling thing. Slanted on the axis of space-time so that things tend to run from good to bad, from bad to worse, this dimension finds itself in eternal need of an ABK to put our self-destructive behaviours into whimsical perspective. The one we have is dressed in muted dandy splendour, as though he’s the moralising star of an ‘80s cartoon franchise who has popped round in-person to add a little gravity to an ungrounded world. Which he is. I wasn’t planning on seeing any standup this EdFringe, that was until I saw ABK’s trailer in his #Plus3 interview. Could the show possibly be as awesome? In a word, a word requiring no lengthy preamble or overly-wordy explanation, yes.

This show made me laugh. This show made me think. This show made me want to see ABK again. This show was perfectly timed. This show had nice visuals. This show had something to say and said it well. This show does not want to build a wall. This show does not want to eviscerate our trading relations with our nearest neighbours for the sake of the kind of nostalgia Sammy Johnson was talking about. This show had a beginning which was very good. This show had a middle which was also very good. This show had an end which was not so good in as much as it was an end and, like I say, I want to see more ABK.

nae bad_blue

Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)

Reviewer: Dan Lentell (Seen 17 August)

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THIS REVIEW HAS NOT BEEN SUBEDITED

How to Mend the World with a Student Play (TheSpace on the Mile: Aug 16-17, 19-24 : 21:55: 45 mins)

“Delivers on every comedic promise it makes.”

Editorial Rating: 5 Stars: Nae Bad 

It’s not much of an exaggeration to say I’ve spent a sizeable chunk of my time in the arts. From HSLC Stage School (Hi Karen!) to these years at Edinburgh49, it’s been at least a few hundred hours of devotion sunk into the discipline of playing pretend. And, like a new parent, whilst this longterm commitment has given me an unquenchable affection for the stage, it has also filled me with a deep, bitter disdain. Disdain for self-righteous, zeitgeist-y directing; disdain for “visionaries” who make a lot of noise yet do nothing new; and dark, roiling acidic disdain for shows made to be edgy for the sake of fashionability.

There are many, many reasons to like How To Mend The World With a Student Play. In the service of objectivity, I will go through all of them at gleeful length. But my greatest admiration of this play is entirely personal, and entirely biased: Hyde-like, it has given voice to my worst impulses, and done so beautifully.

The premise of the play is simple: four students try and put together a new, #groundbreaking production of The Crucible in the forty five minutes they have before a funding meeting. To say any more than that would ultimately be pointless: How To Mend The World is a masterclass in comedic farce. There is no great plot twist or consolatory ending. In truth, there’s barely even a plot at all. This is a show that relies entirely on the ability of its actors and the quality of its character writing to justify its existence, and does so in spades.

The show presents itself with gleeful scathingness from the moment its actors arrive onstage: characters Jonty (Francis Nunnery) Felicity (Matilda Price) and Christian (Liam Hurley) offer deliciously satirical yet lovingly realised portrayals of the variously smug, unstable and utterly pathological millieu of the student stage scene. This entire review could be a rote praise-list for the talent of these three actors. Price somehow combines pitch-perfect character work with machine gun delivery speed, bouncing from outburst to outburst like an anxious pinball. Hurley, a man very obviously at home in physical comedy, presents the emotionally unstable Christian as equal parts likable, pitiable, and utterly infuriating. And Nunnery, saddled with the hardest character to make standable, brings a precise yet cartoonish spark to Jonti Bailey-Higgins that somehow justifies every terrible, terrible thing he does.

Special praise must also be given to Ollie Tritton-Wheeler, portraying the piece’s straight man Ben Hackett. Foils in comedy walk a constant tightrope between obvious audience mouthpiece and smug know-it-all, yet Tritton-Wheeler is content doing cartwheels on the rope instead. He is aggressively relatable and damn funny in his own right, managing to take an essential part of the comedy formula and really make it his own.

There is a raw consistency present in How to Mend the World, which runs systematically through every component of production. Though its staging is simple and its theatrical techniques basic, they’re incorporated like gears in a pendulum clock. The intent behind even the smallest FX flourish is at once immediately apparent, and completely fulfilled. Every comedic swoop and dive, whether reliant on human or technical resources, stuck the landing. Despite appearances, this production is clearly one where the idea of theatre as craftsmanship has flourished.

With craftsmanship in mind, special dues must be given to the writing. Devised pieces are mercurial creatures, entirely made or broken in the rehearsal room and unfortunately prone to acute textual bloat. Here, not so. The script for this production is undeniably tight, unavoidably witty and – perhaps most importantly – unmistakeably written from a place of first hand knowledge. I’ve met every character in How to Mend the World in jaundiced dressing rooms and smoky back exits. The genuineness of director Joshua Silverlock’s work lends it a palpable solidity, and keeps the material fresh by nature. Creating work like that is hard enough to do alone, let alone by committee. And yet, it is so.

I savoured every moment of How to Mend the World with a Student Play. It is a precious thing: a theatrical product which delivers on every comedic promise it makes, and doesn’t stop until its subjects are wrung out husks. If that alone isn’t worth the price of admission, then I don’t know what is.

nae bad_blue

Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)

Reviewer: Jacob Close (Seen 14 August)

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+3 Interview: Patrick Monahan: Started from the Bottom, Now l’m Here

“If the Edinburgh Festival ever stopped, the world would stop too!”

WHO: Patrick Monahan: Comedian performer

WHAT: “Smart and funny observations on a new-found, middle-class lifestyle with ski holidays, through the prism of poor, immigrant, living-in-a-caravan roots. As seen on The One Show (BBC), Fake Reaction (ITV), Celebrity Squares (ITV). ‘Rip-roaringly funny… fun! Another hour would have suited everyone’ ***** (One4Review.co.uk). ‘Hilarious’ ***** (ThreeWeeks). ‘There isn’t a comic quite like him’ ***** (TheNewCurrent.co.uk). ‘Possesses the rare ability to be hilarious without being outrageous’ ***** (ThreeWeeks). ‘Patrick is a Fringe legend and it’s easy to see why’ **** (Daily Mirror).”

WHERE: Gilded Balloon Teviot – Nightclub (Venue 14) 

WHEN: 20:00 (60 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

I’ve been coming to Edinburgh for the last 15 years but it does feel like I’ve been coming since the 1960’s. I love it here, if the Edinburgh Festival ever stopped, the world would stop too!

What’s the biggest thing to have happened to you since Festivals ’18?

We’ve adopted a baby maltipoo puppy. This is the first year at the Edinburgh festival that me & my partner have a dog with us at the festival & it’s amazing. The dog is so small my partner sneaks him into shows under the inside of her jacket.

Tell us about your show.

This is a brand new hour of stand up, which is a very personal show. It has plenty of jokes and observations in it, but also a lot of stuff about my poor immigrant working-class background, about my life coming from Iran to the Uk in 1980 and about my modern-day life living with my posh middle-class partner. Something for everyone.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

You’ve got to see “modern Maori quartet: two worlds” what an amazing show full of talented performers, touching stories & their singing voices are in another world.


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+3 Interview: I’m Woman

“It has been an extremely heavy year emotional wise due to the content of the show.”

WHO: Vadim Turcanu: Producer

WHAT: “A true soul-bearing story of an immigrant girl who grew up without her parents and was sexually abused in childhood. This experience led to hard consequences and battles to overcome. In order to leave the past behind and begin a new life stronger then ever before, she needs to face her biggest fears. In a modern, technological world, where we often hide behind masks and feel alone in our personal battles, this show has a mission to connect people, to inspire and empower through vulnerability, sincerity and sharing, accepting ourselves with all our demons and angels.”

WHERE: Sweet Grassmarket – Grassmarket 1 (Venue 18) 

WHEN: Varies (60 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

This is our first Fringe and first time in Edinburgh. It is an awesome experience – lots of emotions, predominantly scary due to necessity of promotion face to face. Surely the experience is very beneficial in many terms.
Looking forward for a productive festival

What’s the biggest thing to have happened to you since Festivals ’18?

Since 2018, we wrote and produced the play, premiered it in London and Birmingham, we participated at the AvignonOff 2019 with surprisingly great results – award for the audience vote of choice of theatre and nominated for Prix Tournesol (similar to Sit-Up Award in UK).

It has been an extremely heavy year emotional wise due to the content of the show, which required revealing personal hidden experiences. Needed and was blessed for having the right support during that time – lots of breakdowns. But pushing forward

Tell us about your show.

Ana Daud co-wrote the show with director Dmitry Akrish (one of the ten best contemporary Russian directors), it is her autobiographical play that touches subject we think about but not talk about – relationships, genders, abortion, human traffic.

It is our first Edinburgh appearance but looking forward to coming tours in UK and abroad.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

There are beautiful shows carrying similar social issues and topics that are worth visiting.
Not many artists can handle the pressure of this type of shows because of the emotionally heavy aspect of the subject. So we would love to recommend some of the similar ones:

– The Phoenix Bitch
– TABOO
– The Endless Second
– On the Other Hand, we’re happy
– Brandy Alexander


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“Too Pretty to Punch” (Zoo Southside, until AUG 26 : 13:25 : 60mins)

“This is a tech-heavy, content-rich show, delivered with a light and graceful touch.”

Editorial Rating: 5 Stars: Outstanding

Walking from EH10 to Zoo venues is a very pleasant experience. For once this rainy auld EdFringe the sun is shining. The people smile and say good morning. The mood music is what would happen if you were to shut Sir Harry Lauder and Ronnie Hazlehurst up together in a telephone booth and not let them out until they’d written something smile-inducingly pleasant. The gentrification wave that swept through EH9 before and after the crash has receded somewhat, but the shops and eateries are busy as well as interesting. Amble further down towards Northbridge and you start feeling as though you’ve arrived in EH91. Friends on the terrace at 86 Princes’ Street have their views, as do pals browsing the shelves at Lighthouse books. If there’s any agreement between them, which is doubtful, they might all conceded that people are less in their own space and more in your face the further from villadom one travels.

In their deeply personal, moving, and thought-provoking polemic, the poet and banjo wielder, Edalia Day, spends the hour describing what it is like to live day-to-day constantly menaced with aggression from randoms, both online and in the street. A lot has gone into this show. A lot of heartache and soul searching, a lot of personal discovery and revelation. “I didn’t escape from one box only to be forced into another.” You come for the social commentary, which is lucid and insightful, you stay for the video-projection, which is (as promised) kickass as well as for the finely tuned performance which shows no sign of flagging as EdFringe enters the home stretch. This is a tech-heavy, content-rich show, delivered with a light and graceful touch.

At a time when transgender voices are finally starting to be heard, it seems amiss to attempt to filter or dilute Edalia Day’s message for them. What I can describe is the effect this show had on this particular cis white male determined to be a strong ally in this generation’s fight for inclusivity, understanding, and respect. I came away having been thoroughly entertained. This is a performer who knows their craft and that, as with all great polemics, it’s not just about the message or the messenger, it’s about the recipient as well.

outstanding

StarStarStarStarStar

Reviewer: Dan Lentell (Seen 16 August)

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THIS REVIEW HAS NOT BEEN SUBEDITED

The Showstoppers’ Kids Show (Pleasance Courtyard: Aug 15-18: 12:00 : 1hr)

” A polished, properly silly, properly funny children’s show”

Editorial Rating: 5 Stars: Outstanding

There are two sorts of shows that genuinely fascinate me. Magic shows and improvisation shows. I mean, every form of show has something interesting or funny or something to love, but those are the two that really get me thinking.

I think it is because deep down we all want to know how it is done. How does the magician saw the lady in half? Where is the bunny hidden in the hat? How do they make up songs about ‘’elderly children’ in London’s sewer system before being transported to a castle by way of a kiss from a unicorn on a pipe-smoking, gin-swilling child called Platypus? How do they not burst out laughing? How do they appear to make the difficult so ridiculously smooth?

With some of these thoughts in my mind (although I only met Platypus later), I set off with my dreadful duo (aged 5 and 2) for the lunchtime Showstoppers’ Kids Show. Neither of them had come across improv before so it was a bit of a suck it and see affair. Would they get the point of it all? Would they get involved? Would they spot the ice cream shop directly next to the buggy park and ask me about it relentlessly throughout the show?

Showstoppers are well-kent faces. They routinely sell-out here in Edinburgh and their show for grown-ups in the West End has won Olivier Awards. Many performers who appear year after year in Edinburgh become jaded or dial it in knowing that they’ll sell out regardless.

For the team in colourful dungarees nothing could be further from the truth – they were anarchic and buzzing from ten minutes before the show started! I walked in and saw them performing, assuming the show had started, and that somehow we’d managed to get the timings wrong. One of the Showstoppers gleefully revealed they were just playing to get into the mood before the show started but got the busy crowd going. This was clever: it got the kids used to the idea of getting involved. If any of the Showstoppers read this, I’d be keen to know who you thought was a better Renaissance painter than Caravaggio. 

The show was entirely constructed by the children. The Showstoppers built a series of songs and dances around the themes, plot ideas and names that were called out. The children did their best to corpse the stars. At one point we were asked to come up with three wishes for a genie to grant. The first two were generic enough. The third – wonderfully –  was ‘have a barbecue’ which just for a moment just about stumped them.

Arguably the stars of the show aren’t the five bouncing about endlessly on stage but the two musicians in the corner who are having to keep up with the hilarity and as you’d expect from West End stars, there are some jokes that fly above the heads of children but make the adults titter.

I spent much of my time mesmerised by the sheer talent of all it all. The cynics will say there are audience plants but I balk at that suggestion: just about every child suggested something after all. It has to be down to months and months of hard practice. It is all seamless and there are enough moments where it nearly spins out of control for you to really understand the hard work they are putting in: this is high-quality, funny stuff in real-time. Imagine how sick you’d be if you are a comic who spent hours trying to write gags and turned up to see an audience of children roaring along to this?

My kids enjoyed it and it was clear from seeing arms shoot up or things called out that other kids loved the outright silliness of it all. I’d guess the ideal ages are 4-9.

I came away with a new found respect for improvisation shows. I’d guess improv in front of adults is easier – it is easy to nod to a political theme or to rudeness or vulgarity. Children’s imaginations are much more fertile than our own and I’d guess the spectrum of possibilities is much wider.

Apropos of anything else, I’d note how generally lovely the Showstoppers were. From their getting us involved in their warm-up through to one of them asking at the end if my littlest one was ok (she’d got a little bit upset when she went up on stage with the other kids and I had to run on and grab her). They threw out large rolls of paper for all the kids to come up and colour in at the end of the show on the stage whilst going round handing out stickers to everyone. None of these things need to happen but it shows the stars know their audience. They don’t make the fundamentals of the show any better but all were appreciated.

This is a polished, properly silly, properly funny children’s show. I want to see the grown up one now.

outstanding

StarStarStarStarStar

Reviewer: Rob Marrs (Seen 14 August)

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Megazoid (Scottish Comedy Festival @ Nightcap: Aug 15-18, 20-26 : 20:30: 45 mins)

“An extremely charismatic, likeable performer.”

Editorial Rating: 3 Stars: Outstanding

There’s a joy to ridiculousness. It’s like Sudocrem for the general psychic onslaught of existing. Innately, I think there’s something worth celebrating in the ridiculous, and Megan Shandley’s Megazoid is certainly evidence of that fact.

A homegrown Edinburgh talent, Shandley’s approach to comedy is that of a temperamental muscle car: smooth riding for the most part, with occasional and unexpected jolts to high speed. It’s easy to be lured into a false sense of security by her sheer laidback-ness, but there’s a wonderful weirdness hiding just underneath, waiting to express itself in an unexpected punchline.

The material is, as you might expect, varied. Shandley embraces the tried-and-tested “scattershot topics, barely-there theme” approach carved out in comedy clubs since before time, and it works. This isn’t a show that needs to be slick or tightly woven together. It’s hanging out with a cool mate who drinks wine from a bag, and has a lot of thoughts on the Lion King – and honestly? That’s all it needs to be. The comedy is relatable enough to keep you anchored and odd enough to keep you guessing, but never volatile or needlessly edgy. Shandley is unabashedly a feelgood comic, even if she doesn’t set out to be.

But even good works are not without fault. It’s a bittersweet criticism in that this was a show which left me wanting more. Though fantastically relatable, Shandley’s easygoing demeanour sometimes meant otherwise excellent jokes were let down by a lack of pointedness in their delivery. Constantly, Shandley gives teases of over the top physicality, high-energy and clownish expressiveness, but pulls back before things can reach their most pleasing apex. Fringe slots are tight but nevertheless, this is material in want of greater variance in pace.

Perhaps my disappointment was amplified by the quality of what was one display, and wondering what it could be. Shandley has some fantastic material at her disposal: unexpected, bright and even surprisingly intricate. Arcs and connected punchlines surface with joyful abandon, constantly layering and re-layering.

It’s clear that there’s a wealth of material bouncing around Shandley’s brain – even the explanation of the show’s title suggests as-of-yet unseen country, full of unexpected turns and left-field observations, waits somewhere underneath her blonde bob, and ultimately I found myself wishing I could’ve taken a longer safari. This is, as before, bittersweet: for although it limits how much I can rate the show, there’s no limit to how much I liked this show. Shandley is an extremely charismatic, likeable performer, and with revisions this is an act that could really seriously turn heads.

Megazoid is a wonderful 45 minutes of staring through the world through slanted binoculars. Despite the shortcomings of her act, Megan Shandley is undeniably one to watch – in person, as well as in the long span of time.

outstanding

StarStarStar

Reviewer: Jacob Close (Seen 13 August)

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