By Ron Bingham
Gearoid Farrelly is from Ireland and he started Gearoid Less Travelled by explaining that he had chosen this title to help people from outside Ireland understand how to pronounce his name (for those still confused it rhymes with The Road and starts with a hard G). Unfortunately, this idea has turned out to be a dismal failure and he related to the audience some of the most offensive things that people had called him. Happily though his Fringe show is not a dismal failure at all.
With a gentle and friendly persona Gearoid finds humour in mostly very accessible places such as his family and day to day life, occasionally taking us close to some edgy areas but never goes too far. He demonstrated why he is not a fan of audience banter, spoke about his exciting day job in insurance and his being gay, which led to a lengthy explanation of why the recent referendum vote in support of gay marriage was not welcomed by all gay people. He shared with us how living with a new partner can be traumatic and the problems with adopting a rescue dog. The performance ended with a cautionary tale of the dangers of inserting inferior products (cotton buds) into orifices (ears) and how Casualty Staff are experts at embarrassing those people when it all goes slightly wrong.
A lovely hour of chat from a very entertaining young man presiding over a very happy full house. The room gets very hot (as most of the festival rooms do) and it is not a large venue – Gearoid disparaging referred to it as “A bloody tiny schoolroom”. Highly recommended if you’re looking for friendly banter from an up-and-coming comedian.
By Ron Bingham
Ed Eales-White and newcomer Jon Pointing, star in Bucket, an hour of very physical sketches starting with some pre-war preparation priming the audience for the imminent comedy onslaught. The pair battle valiantly through a wide range of topics including: a pair of South African gym junkies unhappy with their lot, a lovely fairy tale about a young boy with no fingers, a stage fight training school, a police serial killer case file and an elderly couple on a train to London. They tip their satirical comedy swords at physical theatre/mime, perform some improv and include a couple of breaks for the audience to catch their collective breaths for the next bombardment.
The lads work very hard and despite their different levels of experience make and excellent combative team. The sketches are mostly successful and flow smoothly. I wasn’t impressed with the failure to give a proper finish to a couple of the sketches, this can work in some sketch comedy but unfortunately they failed to pull it off here.
The overall performance by the duo is fun and energetic and well worth seeing. It was a full house on the evening I was there and the audience were very supportive and appreciative.
Ed and Jon perform at the Cellar at the Pleasance. The room has rows of (padded) bench seating with no backs, and you’ll be forced to scrunch up close to the people next to you so everyone can fit in, so pick your queue companions well.
By Ron Bingham
Lolly is Lolly Adefope’s impressive début solo festival show. It is a tour de force sketch show themed around a talent competition at a local club, hosted by the apparently well known local Wendy (who works in films). Wendy is the sort of person who loves to be the centre of attention while seeming to have no discernable skills or personality. She introduces the acts for the evening who are vying for the big prize (£1,000 in vouchers for vodka, lime and sodas from the club’s bar). The Audience gets to choose the winner so pay attention!
The first contestant is Gemma, a local comedian who spends her entire routine dishing the dirt on her best friend, then Lolly gives us a male contestant – Horald (not Harold) who claims he is the father of John Legend and is just looking for recognition (ie cash). Wendy’s daughter is forced to go on during the break (with her mum’s criticism of all the acts coming over the PA while she is trying to sing), and then Lolly as another stand-up with stage fright who manages to win the audience over with a tiny piece of physical theatre that had the audience in stitches. In the end the Big Winner is announced by the Mayor (who just happens to be in the audience) and then suddenly, the party is over.
This show has been finely crafted, with the combination of one person using a number of costumes to portray a variety of characters, with well thought out announcements during the costume changes either commenting on the acts, setting the scene for the next character or building up for a later joke. The fifty minutes just whizzes by and the audience which was a full house on lovely padded bench seats in a space not unlike a shipping container, were happy to come along on the journey. Not sure what would happen if we chose a different winner, though Lolly probably has alternate endings for each contingency. This is definitely worth adding to the list of shows to see at the festival.
By Ron Bingham
NewsRevue is a regular feature of the Edinburgh Fringe, excellent for those wishing to catch up with all the news from the last year set to a number of catchy songs and a few quick sketches. The performers for this year’s show are Naomi Bullock, Kieran Mortell, Katriona Perrett and Simon Prag, and their targets are pretty much what you would expect in a review of the past year.
Highlights include an opening number about the economic crisis in Greece, pointing out the fact that many people have been forced to downgrade their supermarket, sharing the joys of the conservative party and the despair of all the other parties (especially UKIP), a few scenes involving various members of the royal family, delighted mentions of One Direction splitting up, and celebrating gay marriage being legalised in the US. Then there was Andy Murray making an important announcement and Nicola Sturgeon with her plans for world domination and much more.
There are good harmonies in the singing and the dancing is well choreographed, much of the mimicry is spot on and the backing piano is excellent (although I don’t think that every song needs the 20 second play off). The team worked well and the jokes were mostly well received (one or two were a bit too dark for the audience). It’s a good (mostly) fun hour of entertainment featuring pretty much every celebrity and politician in the news for the last year. Toe tapping, informative comedy.
By Ron Bingham
This is a one woman comedy sketch show about science, rationality, logic and clear thinking, and why humans are so bad at it.
Gemma Arrowsmith is clearly very angry about all that she deems wrong with the world, and it is hard not to agree. Her sketch comedy attacks a wide range of hot topic issues likely to make most people’s blood boil, including; homoeopathy, plastic surgery, religion, astrology, Dragons Den and Edinburgh Festival reviewers. Hmmm….I wonder if the last one is only included when a reviewer is in the room?
On a more positive note she also entertains us with some readings from her fabulous fan fiction writing, which are a treat but I’m not going to spoil the surprise of her passions here. The show is well crafted and her interactions with the recorded material work very well. Her characters from goofy to vicious using wigs and variety of accents demonstrated her impressive range and she proves to be quite a talented comedy actress.
An entertaining hour of very professional acting, with some excellent sharp and incisive comedy writing and I love many of the targets in her show and how she skewers them. This is the perfect afternoon show for those with a slightly cynical or skeptical nature.
By Ron Binghmam
A free Fringe show with a difference, a venue with the best view in Edinburgh. Matthew Fearns has been dragging audiences and equipment up to the top of Arthurs Seat for his show This Arthur’s Seat Belongs to Lionel Richie since 2007 (when he had to change his name to Lionel Richie to get away with the show’s title). This year, instead of performing every day of the fringe rain, hail or shine Matthew is only doing it once, and slightly lower down, rain, hail or shine. The acts who gathered on a flat bit just down from the top of Arthur’s Seat were Phil Kay, Joel Dommett, Eleanor Tiernan, Jonny Awesum and of course host Matthew Fearns/Lionel Richie, who also improvised some pre-show musical mash-ups on the portable speaker system he had lugged up the hill, which then broke just before the first act took to the “stage”.
But before the show was officially allowed to start we all had to enter the venue, via a free standing door frame, also specially lugged up the hill. Then everyone was permitted to go back to their picnics and prepare for a great afternoon. Act one was Joel who sang a couple of songs and shouted a bit of banter. Then we had Phil Kay, who also sang a few songs while wandering through the crowd like a demented minstrel and teasing some of the dogs who had joined the party, before ending his set by skipping merrily over the hill and out of sight (towards the car park) still playing the guitar. Next was Eleanor who did a funny bit of stand-up about the recent Irish referendum and the Scottish referendum as well as a little bit about being single. Finally we had Jonny, who sang a lovely little song (to fool us into thinking he was friendly) before dragging two couples out of the audience to perform a square dance called by him, which was titled ‘Lets all go dogging’. After he had finished, we all had to exit through the door frame, donating a nominal sum for expenses.
This was an excellent hour of fun, with the added bonus of the regular joggers and hikers and dog walkers walking straight through the middle of the stage area ignoring all us tourists and the acts. My one recommendation for next year (and it will return no doubt) is; if you’re an unfit or “tired” comedy lover, try and start the walk up the hill early (or do like the acts and many in the audience did, and drive round to the car park at the back and saunter up the easy side). At a good pace, going up the city facing (or vertical) side will take around half an hour, but it’s a great location for comedy and sightseeing and sending bragging pictures to friends and family.
This show is over for 2015, but look out for it in 2016.