Anna Nicholson – Woman of the Year

By Ron Bingham 

An idea for a reality show in a Fringe show that takes a character sketch show to a more interesting level.  Anna Nicholson is staging an entertaining competition to find the Woman of the Year where she  introduces and plays the four finalists in the competition and the audience get to pick the winner.

The characters are all memorable with distinctive regional accents which Anna pulls off brilliantly. Denise, the professional bra-fitter; Bianca, the Geordie Instagram star and Vlogger; Reverend Ruth, the pushily friendly vicar; and Shirley, the overly excitable geriatric from Yorkshire. Each is given two chances to influence the audience, to get their vote, and Anna also plays with a member of the audience as herself.

Also on stage, is piano player Bobby Goulder backing Anna admirably, as her various persona’s belt out their signature songs. Anna’s various costume changes were swift and theatrically interesting and there was hardly a pause in the flow of the show.

Anna is a charming comic performer who played all the characters superbly, the jokes were funny and well timed, the songs were well executed and the whole show was lively and family friendly. The audience joined in with the fun at the appropriate moments and a winner was chosen.

Woman of the Year is in Just the Spare Room at The Caves, which is very much the same size and shape of a railway carriage at peak hour, the only difference being nobody is standing up and there is no ventilation. Very hot and stifling, even for an Edinburgh Fringe venue. It was an enjoyable show that managed to help make you forget the discomfort, but I heartily recommend bringing a fan and some water.

Anna Nicholson performs Woman of the Year at Just the Tonic at The Caves til August 26.

Norris & Parker – Burn The Witch

By Ron Bingham 

The latest show from Katie Norris and Sinead Parker is filthy. The story they share is set in the little village of Phallus Ridge and it involves the evil influence of a coven of sex witches who lure men (and women and goats) up to the Penis Cliffs and perform unspeakable acts upon them. You get the gist.

Burn The Witch is a play in three parts, with the “intervals” being filled by each of our heroines recounting the tragic break-up they had this year. Katie sings a song about hers, which is called Voodoo Pussy, while Sinead belts out “Dirty Old Slut” to underscore her tragedy. Their on-stage musician, Huge Davies, also manages to sneak in a few musical asides (and attempts to score with audience members). They play a variety of characters from the village in the telling of their tale, from the pub landlord to a school librarian and a broken-down unemployed woodchopper.

The duo are keen to get the audience involved, with a little, though not scary, audience participation. It doesn’t matter where you sit, as they are not scared to roam the audience looking for the right victim.

There was a full house for the show I saw (although some had to be dragged away from the bars, meaning we started five minutes late), and we all certainly got our money’s worth in comedy, song and dirty dancing. If you are not easily offended, this is an excellent way to round off the day’s Festivaling, with two talented yet slightly crazy ladies and a disorganised back-up musician.

Norris & Parker perform Burn The Witch at The Pleasance Courtyard til August 26

Lauren Pattison – Peachy

By Ron Bingham 

I saw Lauren’s debut Edinburgh show last year and, while it was good, I have to say she has improved immensely since then. (Shall I be parochial and suggest that it may be her trip to Australia that helped?)

Lauren is a relaxed and entertaining storytelling comic, who tells tales based on her life as a Newcastle working class girl living and trying to survive in London. She sauntered onto the stage wearing a black T-shirt, silver sequin hot pants (quite distracting with all those spotlights on her – very much a disco ball effect) and socks, to recount how she has had a bloody good year this year. She describes the three brilliant things that have happened to her (five months doing comedy in Australia, a new boyfriend and a new special skill), but points out bemusedly that there is little comedy in happiness.

So we are presented with an hour of the worst aspects of each of these brilliant things, which include horrors encountered at some zoos, her family’s surprising reaction to something her boyfriend did, her family and their interesting dietary habits, scary stories about a AirB&B in Perth, dating/not dating, best friends and posh friends and a return gig in Newcastle, where she encounters an old adversary.

Lauren’s storytelling skills are so strong, I look forward to seeing Lauren filling a much larger room next year (she is selling out). A maturing comedian with a great future ahead of her.

Lauren Pattison performs Peachy at the Pleasance Courtyard til August 26

Felicity Ward – Busting a Nut

By Ron Bingham 

Felicity comes on stage like a firestorm and keeps up the pace and intensity of her show for the entire hour. The enthralled audience was right there with the engaging and vivacious Aussie.

The packed (large) venue loved every minute of the show, in which we heard about Appisodes, her new BBC Radio show (which aired just after her show last night) which deals with mental health issues. This comes up in Busting a Nut but not as much as previous shows.

Felicity has been married since her last appearance at Edinburgh and she has a lot to unpack about the joys associated with getting married, living with the in-laws, in what I can only describe as a survival bunker, finding the right wedding dress, choosing appropriate music for the occasion and having a nice honeymoon (in a windy locale). We learn about her mum’s trip to Italy and that Felicity is an impressively, hilarious, physical comedian.

Busting a Nut is a dizzying theme park ride of a show, which will leave you breathless at the end from all the laughing.  There was a hint in the show that Felicity may be going back to Australia at some point (something about visas, the UK Home Office and Brexit), so if you live in the UK you don’t want to miss the opportunity of seeing her live and local.

The show is selling out, so if there are any seats left before she finishes her Edinburgh run, buy them.

Felicity Ward performs Busting a Nut at The Pleasance Courtyard until August 26th

Ashley Storrie – Adulting

By Ron Bingham

The venue is the ballroom of the Counting House, a lovely elegant venue with large teardrop chandeliers and a skylight dome above the centre of the room, and seats around 120 people. The performer is Ashley Storrie, a vivaciously hilarious Glaswegian lass who looks much younger than her actual age, and who swears like an, ummm  Glaswegian.

Ashley,the daughter of Scottish comedy goddess Janey Godley, was the creator of the If Harry Potter was Scottish video, which has over 30 million views on YouTube. This might be why at least one couple brought their 12 year old son along. Ashley spent a while trying to find the rudest word he knew, as the rest of the capacity audience were being seated. I learned a number of new Scottish swear words which is always fun.

The show itself saw Ashley talking at length about the frustrations of trying to buy cigarettes, a tad about her notorious family and performing her first gig to an English audience (in Milton Keynes).  She got somewhat serious for a bit about smear tests which would have been useful information for the younger audience members. Ashley really knows how to tell a story and the audience were riotous in their appreciation of all of her material.

Adulting was brilliant from start to finish and, as long as you don’t turn up late or heckle, you will be safe. You will definitely learn something from the show, even if it’s just a couple of new swear words (what she called Dame Cleo Laine… is still a complete mystery!).

The room was full on day two of the Fringe so get there early.

Adulting is on at Laughing Horse @ The Counting House until August 26

Roisin & Chiara – Back to Back

By Ron Bingham

As the audience enters they are greeted by the hosts and offered sweeties. Roisin O’Mahony and Chiara Goldsmith then perform a show which I can only describe as crazy, silly and ridiculously funny. The bribery is unnecessary, because this is an awesome show.

There is an underlying intelligence to the sketch show, which added to the enjoyment. What I did miss were many of the musical call and response shout-outs from modern mainstream culture, but then I’m a grumpy old curmudgeon, and everyone else enjoyed them (knowing something about Bo Selecta would have been handy). They did do a version of Roxanne, and I know that one.

Roisin acted slightly more crazy than Chiara (a fine line) and wore some cool masks in a couple of sketches. They did interact with a couple of audience members as part of their act, so be careful where you sit. There is a bit of swearing, but nothing too extreme and it should be fine for teenagers and older. It can get a bit wild, but if you’re up for an inspired hour of silly sketches from a pair of energetic and frantic comedians, while witnessing some really gross marshmallow eating, then add this to your list.

Note: It’s free but this is filling up fast, so pre-book to ensure a seat.

Back To Back is on at Heroes @ Boteco until August 26