+3 Interview: Knock Knock

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“I decided to do my Penniless Tour for Shelter from Land’s End to Edinburgh (120 gigs with no money or transport).”

WHO: Damian Kingsley – Comedian

WHAT: “A story about identity and pretentiousness for anyone with a friend or partner who’s become a bit of prick. All donations go to Shelter as part of the penniless tour from Lands’ End. No admission after start.”

WHERE: Laughing Horse @ Bar 50 (Venue 151)

WHEN: 15:30 (60 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

It’s my first solo, one hour show but, like most comics, I came up doing compilation shows, two handers and then a work in progress show – building up material over the years.

Tell us about your show.

My show’s about how life can unravel and spiral into crisis and it’s the reason behind why I decided to do my Penniless Tour for Shelter from Land’s End to Edinburgh (120 gigs with no money or transport). It’s about trust, identity and the people that are there to pick up the pieces of your life when it goes wrong.

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

I don’t really see any point in them seeing other stuff but, if they have to, I’d recommend Aidan Killian, John Hastings, Athena Kugblenu and Paul McMullan.


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+3 Review: The Free Association – Jacuzzi (Pleasance: 4-21 Aug: 23.00 : 1hr)

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 “Wild, witty and wickedly funny”

Editorial Rating: 4 Stars Nae Bad

I always approach live improv shows with a degree of trepidation: though a lot of the fun lies in its often wild unpredictability, it’s easy for a forced joke or sudden case of comedian’s block to sour an entire set. However, from the moment the Free Association players arrived on stage, I felt as if the audience was in very safe hands.

Basing scenes from improvised monologues by “special guests”, it’s a streamlined one-two punch of comedy flavours. The changeover from stand-up style presentation to off-the-wall improv is smooth, sharp and very crisp, handily overcoming the transitional inertia that would threaten less cohesive groups. From start to finish, it’s this veneer of professionalism that really brings the Free Association together; very seldom is improv so akin to a well-oiled machine.

But far from it to say the comedy is mechanical: I’d almost recommend a helmet to protect against the ideas bouncing off the walls. From Blue Peter themed suicide pacts to rad skateboarding private-school bait-and-switches (it somehow made sense at the time), you’d be hard pressed to try and follow the cognitive bead of sense for more than ten minutes – and this show is all the better for it. Despite a few jokes which fell flat or dampened the usually excellent energy, when the material’s good, it’s hysterical.

This unpredictability was aided by the novel way in which the Free Association goes about its work. They tout themselves as being “based on the American style of long-form improv but with [their] own unique spin”, and the latter is pointedly true. Jacuzzi often blurs the line between short form and long form improv, with overarching plots and characters weaving in and out of the utter chaos on stage at breakneck pace.

For a more amateur company, this may have been a tall order, but the talent driving this show can’t be denied. Despite the extreme difficulty in discerning a favourite from such a strong cast,  Comedy MVP inevitably must go to Alison Thea-Skot: I’ve never seen such a wide comedic range – it’s a hard job to make an audience really believe they’re watching a heavily-scottish football coach who’s forcibly making their players fat to win games  – again, plenty of sense at the time – but I’ll be damned if I didn’t expect a true-life biopic about it to be in the works by the time the set ended.

The Free Association is certainly deserving of its acclaim. Wild, witty and wickedly funny, “Jacuzzi” is a classic example of improv comedy done right.

 

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

Reviewer: Jacob Close (Seen 17 August)

Visit the  Pleasance, Potterrow & Teviot archive.

THIS REVIEW HAS NOT BEEN SUBEDITED

+3 Interview: Children Are Stinky

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“We wrote the show very quickly and literally threw it on stage at the Melbourne Fringe after 8 rehearsals.”

WHO: Malia Walsh & Chris Carlos – Writers and Performers

WHAT: “With a rocking soundtrack, high calibre circus, hilarity and a five-star sell-out Australian debut, Children are Stinky is a show to be seen. Expect daredevil stunts, incredible acrobatics, lightning fast hula hoops, fun and loads of laughs leaving both adults and children with their jaws on the floor wanting more.”

WHERE: Assembly George Square Gardens (Venue 3)

WHEN: Times Vary (45 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

Malia performed/produced a show 6 years ago in Edinburgh with Circus Trick Tease – a trio circus show (more for grown ups). The experience was wonderful, delightful and terrifying! But we are delighted to be back again.

Tell us about your show.

Tell us about your show; who wrote it; who’s producing it; how did the company come together; did this production premier before Edinburgh; where are you taking it after?

We wrote the show very quickly and literally threw it on stage at the Melbourne Fringe after 8 rehearsals. The response was huge so we did the Adelaide Fringe and now we are here. The show is still so fresh, new and young. We are quite amazed wight the response here in Edinburgh, and the award has totally blown us away.

We have done absolutely everything ourselves on a shoe string, Malia produced, made the costumes and remixed the sound tracks, Chris is a master of tricks and choreography. The whole production is actually family affair, Malia’s partner made the set and their son drew the image for the posters. Chris mum took care of the merchandise and his bestie did the lighting design. Thank goodness for family right.

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

It’s totally bias but we are immensely proud of all the Australian theatre here…. Tink Tank (bunk puppets), How to be a Rock Star and Trash Test Dummies are top notch family shows. Strong Female Character, Betty Grumble (but only for the grown ups) and Zoe Coombs Marr are incredible solo shows pushing art in amazing directions… And Briefs and Hot Brown Honey will actually blow your top off!!!


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+3 Interview: Alex Kealy Is An Idea Whose Time Has Come

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“This is my first full hour of comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe.”

WHO: Alex Kealy – Comedian

WHAT: “So You Think You’re Funny finalist and land mammal Alex Kealy presents his debut show. Rejected titles include Kealing Me Softly and Touchy Kealy.”

WHERE:  Underbelly Med Quad, Daisy Room (Venue 296)

WHEN: 21:50 (60 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

An answer in two parts; this is my first full hour of comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe but I’ve been coming up over the last few years to split hours and perform half hour sets. It’s been really fun this year, it’s a much more exciting prospect to be doing a full show and I’m enjoying the whole experience a lot.

Tell us about your show.

My show is stand-up comedy, and it’s split between self-deprecating gags about my own appalling romantic life and political comedy about the US election, Brexit and privilege.

I also wrote it because I’m a renaissance man (if a renaissance man meant “performing and writing stand-up comedy”, which it doesn’t).

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

Well, I’m typing this at The Scottish Parliament building near Holyrood as there’s the Festival of Politics on so there’s your Not A Comedy Thing recommendation from ol’ Keals.

I’m about to watch a speechwriter with the highly improbable name Barton Swaim give a talk – he wrote a great book about his time working for South Carolina Governor Mark Sandford, a charismatic man who spoke in mangled sentences and whose promising political career was brought down by a sex scandal. It’s gonna be great.

Other than that, go see Goose’s show Hydroberserker at Assembly George Square Gardens; it had me laughing the whole way through and is a fantastically bold comedy show which uses music, video and audience interaction in consistently innovative ways.


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+3 Interview: Barbarians

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“I’m a battle-scarred veteran.”

WHO: Ben Van der Velde – Performer

WHAT: “Thanks to Genghis Khan’s friskiness we’re all 8% barbarian, but were we ever that civilised in the first place? A pretty sobering thought as you play on your iPhone whilst sipping a skinny mocha-latte. Big questions require big answers, and so long as you don’t equate big with accurate, you’re in for a treat!”

WHERE: Laughing Horse @ The White Horse (Venue 296)

WHEN: 17:30 (55 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

I’m a battle-scarred veteran. I first came up with the Oxford Imps and larked around doing daft improv for 4 four years. I then performed in a bunch of gang shows with great acts like James Acaster and Andrew Doyle, hosted the Big Value Showcase and have done two previous solo shows: Chain Letter and Strudelhead.

Tell us about your show.

Barbarians is my third solo show and I think and hope, my best one. It’s about how human being’s fight or flight response is not calibrated for the modern world and can lead us to make terrible spur of the moment decisions. Obviously it’s not as dry as that sounds – hopefully the show doesn’t descend into an anthropology lecture and I’ve managed to cram in jokes about Sweden, lions and Islamic fundamentalism.

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

They should absolutely go and see a play called Every Brilliant Thing at Summerhall. It is warm, bittersweet, hilarious, inclusive and devastating. It was the best thing I saw last year and I’m off to see it again today!


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+3 Review: Guy Masterson: Love and Canine Integration (Assembly Roxy: until 28th Aug: 17.40: 1hr)

“Masterson is a great gift to the stage”

Editorial Rating: 4 Stars

When Guy Masterson punched above his weight and married the beautiful Paris-based model Brigitta, he forgot the first rule of life: no person is an island. Brigitta’s personal little slice of Alcatraz comes in the form of her oh-so-cute German Spitz: Nelson. Never in the course of human history has one man fought so hard against one dog for the heart of a beautiful woman.

In this show, Masterston relates the autobiographical story of how first he met his (now) wife Brigitta and her “other man”, Nelson.  Only one of the matches here are made in heaven. Masterson uses the entirety of the small stage to reveal the darkest recesses of this epic battle of wills between man and dog. Plots are hatched. Fantasies are spun. Opportunities taken. It is a sign of character that Nelson is able to rise above these foolish webs laid at his feet by a mere human. Nelson is channelled through his rival, with Masterson performing every snarl, growl and sniff of contempt.  In suitable tones, he explains Nelson’s stratagems: exploring the options that could lead to victory over the new would-be Alpha male.

As an award-winning actor and story teller, Masterson is a great gift to the stage. Extensive experience of one-man shows means that the audience is in the hands of a consummate professional. That is, once the story gets going. I think the preamble, where he explains the genesis of the show, while “enjoying” a cold jacuzzi in a bargain four star spa retreat with his wife, does not work so well. Hearing Masterson relating Brigitta’s question “Why can’t you be more funny?” led me to think, at that time, she may have a point mate. Fortunately once the main course is delivered, it is no dog’s dinner. The story is taut: Masterson’s exasperation palpable as failure is piled upon defeat.

As to the overall effect though, I have to ask the question: is it funny enough?  The material is all there.  The delivery is flawless.  I think the basic issue is that Masterson is an honest man.  This is his first foray into standup and I suspect he has stuck too closely to the truth and, in doing so, has sacrificed some laughs for the sake of integrity.  A more experienced comic may well have hanged truth from the nearest lamppost and had the audience rolling in the aisles.

A certain truth is this: Masterson has a problem. He thinks it is all over but it isn’t. Guy Masterson is suffering from PTPS: post traumatic pet syndrome.

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

Reviewer: Martin Veart (Seen 17th August)

Visit the Assembly Roxy archive.

THIS REVIEW HAS NOT BEEN SUBEDITED

+3 Review: Care Takers (C, 3-29 Aug: 18.35: 55 mins)

“Astonishingly powerful”

Editorial Rating: 5 Stars

They say good things come in threes. To me, good theatre must have three essential ingredients: good concept, good script, good actors. Many shows have one or two of these, but this show has all three – and then some – making it very good indeed.

Care Takers analyses a simple conflict between a secondary school teacher who suspects one of her pupils is being bullied and the Deputy Head who will do nothing about it unless there is hard evidence. The tension is palpable, but a complex relationship between the pair unravels during four private meetings on the subject over a period of several weeks. What makes this show so engaging is the balance of how both sides of the story are played out – I found myself agreeing with both perspectives on more than one occasion, and power shifts from one to the other throughout to keep suspense all the way through.

From the opening phone calls she takes in her office, it’s immediately obvious that Deputy Head Mrs Rutter (Penelope McDonald) is busy: juggling budgets, workloads, staff, curriculum, and of course, her own career. She has experience and authority, and doesn’t suffer fools gladly. Cue the entry of Ms Lawson (Emma Romy-Jones) a newly qualified teacher: great at her job and genuinely concerned about the children in her care. The conflict that follows goes beyond what is best for an individual child, scraping away at personal prejudices, and questioning the very nature of what is best, and for whom.

McDonald and Romy-Jones both deserve awards for this performance, portraying characters so real that it’s easy to forget you’re watching a play. McDonald is infuriatingly powerful and charismatic as Mrs Rutter, giving the most compelling acting performance I’ve seen at the Fringe so far this year, while Romy-Jones creates a perfect balance as underdog Ms Lawson, with a more subtle approach to her character.

The acting is superb, but the script is also first class – seamlessly and succinctly giving the titbits of information needed to develop the story and create a situation that makes you want to jump on stage and sort it yourself. The dialogue is very natural, with each interaction sounding like a genuine conversation that tries hard to keep professional though personal tensions clearly want to take it elsewhere. Narrative development is a bit on the slow side, though I wouldn’t sacrifice this for the amount of depth we get to see from each character.

When things turn more dramatic towards the end of the play, the question arises – who’s to blame? Did the individuals involved really do all they could? It’s the kind of production where everyone will have an opinion that makes for a very lively discussion in the bar afterwards – and that’s exactly what makes this a five star show.

It’s a tense and gripping piece of theatre, which, although occasionally verges on being a little bit samey, has the potential (moreso than many of the shows I’ve seen this year) to make a big impact in the commercial market. I’d love to see it picked up by the Traverse or another producing theatre to take it further and watch it soar. With a few small tweaks it really could be very special indeed.

Care Takers is astonishingly powerful – a must-see for anyone working in secondary education or with responsibility for children of that age.

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

Reviewer: Steve Griffin (Seen 17 August)

THIS REVIEW HAS NOT BEEN SUBEDITED