August 11, 2007

Showdown

Andrew's Fringe continues…

Tom Tom Club. This is an hour of hip-hop related fun by a group of Australians who do a combination of ridiculously impressive things: acrobatics, human beat-boxing, and Stomp-like percussion. I'd recommend it, even if you don't like hip hop particularly; it's just nice seeing people do things at which they are obviously extremely talented (though boy!, do they know it! I think they must all have egos even larger and better-defined than their almost perpetually shirtless torsos). Four and a half pundigrions.

Mouse. An extremely restrained and fabulously acted one-man play about a creepily smitten system administrator who gets himself so tangled up in the strands of an email relationship that he ends up with the life of a suicidal co-worker in his hands. The whole thing is snappily written and compelling from the start, notwithstanding some pretty shoddy miming and a few plot points that defied even my well-suspended disbelief. Four pundigrions.

Greedy. Offbeat and ridiculous sketches from another long-standing Underbelly powerhouse. Unlike last year they've crammed a lot of new material into the show, and considering most of it was written in the last few months it flies pretty well (a recurring gag about 'Whistling Martin' is paced beautifully). The group's sketches are often pretty obviously written to accommodate a punchline, though – which is fine when the punchlines are strong enough to justify it, but in a few cases they aren't, quite. Still, it's a well-rehearsed and high-energy show by a group of veteran sketch actors who seem to understand the format better than most. Four pundigrions.

Pete Firman. Pete's show, "Hokum", is magic for the proletariat. He's a loveable Geordie and his act endearingly low budget, and the whole thing is carried off with a laid back attitude that is pretty impossible to dislike. He has a great banter with the audience and though many of his tricks are designed to shock (sticking needles in his arm, putting a mouse in a blender), you never really feel anything except safe in his capable hands. My biggest qualm with this particular incarnation of the show is the venue: it's a long, narrow room that squeezes one hundred and thirty people into about fifteen rows – none of them raked – so that much of the audience couldn't actually see what was going on. This is obviously a big problem for a magic show and I'm surprised it wasn't given more thought; but, other than that, a fun hour. Four pundigrions.

Hattie Hayridge. Hattie rose to fame as bone-headed computer Holly on the British sci-fi comedy hybrid Red Dwarf. She has a very slow and considered manner that makes her seen affably ingenuous, and she's been a pleasure to talk to on the nights that she's hanging around the box office. On stage, though, it comes across as an under-preparedness that makes the audience palpably uneasy. No matter how many long, meandering sentences end up at fantastically hilarious punchlines, the crowd never quite seemed to believe that Hattie was anything more than a slightly confused eccentric who had accidentally stumbled on to a stage. So while the jokes were sharp, there wasn't enough momentum to generate anything more than a few chuckles. Shame, really. Three pundigrions.

Ian Stone. Ian Stone was one of the hidden gems in Underbelly's line up last year, and I was looking forward to seeing his new show. His material is a quirky blend of fairly innocuous jokes and wordplay, and much edgier religio-political stuff. But it never offends anyone, mostly because he is ridiculously charming (the publicity for his show mainly consists of him standing outside the Fringe office on the Royal Mile and chatting to people who are queuing to buy tickets – by the time they get to the front of the line, they buy a ticket for him in addition to/instead of whatever they were originally planning to buy). This year's show didn't disappoint and I was happily giggling to myself for the entire hour. Five pundigrions.

1 comment:

Mariana said...

Still waiting for a glowing review of the Walsh Brothers.

I sent a postcard to the venue addressed to them but c/o you and the Underbelly. I don't know when they're leaving Edinburgh, though. I'm falling behind in my creepy fangirl duties...

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