Dirty Laundry by Rachel Hirons

By Ron Bingham 

This is a dark comic play featuring a mad old (she’s 38, apparently) woman who is running a launderette, and her teenage nephew who comes to keep her company. Busybody Esther (played by Hayley Jane Standing) is rather dim and credulous but, as we find out through the course of the show, also very cunning. Young Tristan (Matthew Floyd Jones) is a bit naive and has had a bit of bother with a previous girlfriend. Now, the girl across the road has gone missing, the police are camped out there and Esther is convinced Tristan has had something to do with her disappearance.

When the show started I was worried that it was going to be a soapie about life up north, but things gradually developed into a very icky tale of an old woman’s lust and a young man’s nightmare. Other characters come and go in the launderette, helping to develop the story (mostly played by the impressive third cast member Lizzie Daykin, who must have been a master of the quick change) leading to the show ending on a very dark note as we find out just how far some people are prepared to go.

So, without giving a brilliant plot twist away, this is a very well written, splendidly acted and wickedly funny play about the dangers of leaving single women alone too long with loud machines and access to Jeremy Kyle. The story will keep your interest until the end, but the downside is that you’ll probably never trust a launderette with your smalls again.

Dirty Laundry is playing at Underbelly Cowgate at 9.25pm

For info and bookings: https://www.edfringe.com/whats-on/theatre/dirty-laundry

Alfie Brown – The Revolting Youth

By Ron Bingham

I had heard some good reports about Alfie’s stand-up before the show. Sadly, the evening was a bit of a let down as Alfie harangued the audience throughout the show and there was no cohesion to his material.

I can understand the picking on latecomers, as they are fair game for any comic, but the point in the show where he tried to start a debate on the government’s benefit changes and then told us to shut up so he could get back to the show was where he lost me. He also kept blaming us for not laughing enough at his jokes and constantly lost the thread of his conversation He veered from ranty, ill formed political statements, to how our lives are wasted and we’re all going to die pointlessly, to whining about his recent marriage and how crap sex is, to jumping into the audience and trying to make us uncomfortable with the empty stage.

He did say at one point that he was criticised last year for being too clever and not funny enough. Well, he’s lost the clever part. I can only hope it was a bad night for him and that his humour is not found solely through picking on the very people who have paid to see him (yes, I know Jason Byrne and Brendon Burns have made careers out of audience abuse but that doesn’t always make it funny). I would be interested to see what the other reviewer in the room (who sat next to me with a notepad) writes about this show, as she gave up writing anything at about the twenty minute mark and just sat there with her arms folded).

The Revolting Youth is on at Underbelly, Cowgate at 9.10pm

For Bookings https://www.edfringe.com/whats-on/comedy/alfie-brown-the-revolting-youth

Tumi Morake – HerStory

By Ron Bingham 

Tumi Morake is a big girl, she’s black and this is her first time performing out of South Africa. She starts off explaining this, talking about being overweight and the horror of arriving in Edinburgh to find a city of stairs, fried food and people who don’t speak English in the way the missionaries taught her. Other topics Tumi riffs around include her husband and two children (plus number three in her belly), race, South Africa, racism, Nelson Mandela, parenting, dieting, eating and religion. She says the segment on Mr Mandela and racism/nationalism may change, depending on whether he makes it through the month.

She was relaxed and confident on stage and wasn’t afraid to pick on the audience when we failed to understand some of the words she used. She also picked on the English pronunciation of a number of words for being spelt differently to how they are said, but most of the words she chose were originally French. Though I wasn’t going to put my hand up!

The small audience were giving out loud laughs throughout the show, although I got the impression that it was often more entertaining for the ladies, as men were often the butt of her jokes. I think that Tumi’s performance will develop over the next few weeks as she works out which jokes the audience understands (ie how well they know South African culture) and more local references are worked into her routine.

There is an explanation of the Michael Jackson referenced title and poster, but you should see the show to find out. This is worth seeing if you are looking for a comedian who is a little out of the ordinary and is able  to have a laugh at herself. A good solid hour of entertainment.

Tumi Morake performs HerStory at the Assembly Hall at 9pm

For Info and Bookings https://www.edfringe.com/whats-on/comedy/tumi-morake-in-herstory

Birthday Girls 2053

By Ron Bingham

Birthday Girls 2053 is performed by Beattie Edmondson, Rose Johnson and Camille Ucan, who are former members of sketch group Lady Garden (last seen in sketches in the first series of BBC3’s Live at the Electric). Lady Garden had been favourites of the Edinburgh Fringe for the last few years (apart from last year) and I think that on the evidence presented in this show these three are the maddest ones from that group.

This new show, in a very crowded small room, is set in the year 2053 when everything good has been banned, including comedy. The girls are rebels against the oppressive regime and are performing a secret gig to fellow comedy lovers in a secret (surprise surprise) very crowded small room. The outside world in so polluted that everyone has to wear oxygen masks and full body decontamination suits (or as I was calling them – white summer onesies).

The sketches are hilarious but insane and include some extremely terrible puns and some hideous mental images. There is also a recurring soap opera which involves some of the worst Scottish accents to grace the Fringe stage (if there was a Scottish Tourist Police, the show would be shut down). There are some inadvisable dating tips from Rose and a few embarrassing revelations about Camille and Beattie throughout. The Finale recaptures elements of many of the preceding sketches in an explosive culminating sequence.

The three performers are all seasoned professionals, but that doesn’t stop them breaking out of character occasionally to pick on one another, which gave the show an refreshing spontenaiety. The show as a whole, was very much laugh out loud (to the point of tears rolling down the face) funny which had a storyline which almost made sense and wasn’t just used as a weak linking device for a bunch of sketches. If you enjoyed their previous work in Lady Garden or you are looking for something hilarious but surreal, then you can’t go past this show. As the room was full for a weekday at the start of the festival, I can predict that you will need to book early for your tickets,

Birthday Girls 2053 is on at Pleasance Courtyard at 6pm

Bookings though https://www.edfringe.com/whats-on/comedy/birthday-girls-2053


Mark Olver – dancing about architecture (Comedians talking about Comedy)

By Ron Bingham

This was not your normal chat show. Starting with the news that advertised guest Dan Antopolski had gone missing, it then meandered around how the comedians on the stage; Josh Widdicombe, John Robins and Eric Lampaert, had started their day. John confessed to breaking his egg yolk and throwing a bowl of soup at the wall, then had to spend five minutes explaining how these two facts were not directly related. He did give the tip that to spice up any vegetarian meal, you should just crush up salt & vinegar crisps into it (how about the meaty flavours? there’s no real meat….). At this point three young Chinese people in the audience apologised, haltingly explained they don’t understand English, and left. Mark Olver, the host, criticised his flyer crew, but I think if you can sell a chat show to people who don’t understand the language, you probably deserve a medal.

Mark then steered the conversation deftly towards the comedians on stage and their feelings about the state of their careers. Eric (who the UK viewers will know from the Sky broadband ad, where he is picked on by Bruce Willis) gave a lot of good tips about how to approach casting calls and told a few scary stories about bad gigs. Josh tried to explain that, although he is famous off the telly and stuff now, he is still working on his career and trying not to be confused with Jon Richardson (by name or voice rather than in looks, I’m guessing). John did some excellent impressions of the others on stage and got in some very funny interjections on his fellow comics.

At one point of the show, when Eric started talking about Bruce Willis, the comics and audience were asked who was the most famous person they’d met, and the girl in front of me said Alan Rickman, as she’d been one of the schoolchildren in the Harry Potter films. Doesn’t that make her famous too? I suppose half of Edinburgh featured in the films at some point.

The hour went by very quickly and the intimate show was more inviting to it’s small audience than usual to become involved in what might have been a private conversation about the comedians, than the usual chat show with a given a scripted set of jokes or simply PR about shows to see. If you love comedy and the people who perform it, this is an excellent show to see. Mark is a very relaxed and unobtrusive host, allowing the comedians full rein to explain their views and letting the conversation flow. The guests (who are listed on the flyer) for the next few weeks are quite impressive and if I didn’t have to leave, I would becoming back to see it again.

Dancing About Architecture is on at the Assembly Checkpoint on Mon-Thu ​at 1.45pm

For info and Bookings: https://www.edfringe.com/whats-on/comedy/mark-olver-dancing-about-architecture

How to make a killing in Bollywood – NLP Theatre Company

By Ron Bingham

This is a play billed as comedy and, while the first half is a fun filled romp with dancing and singing, the second half of the show is much darker as the dreams turn sour. The play concerns two Scottish Indians (Raza and Gurjit) who are childhood friends. They had dreams of being actors but are now stuck working in the fast food shop owned by the Gurjit’s family. One day Raza decides he has to give his dream one last chance and persuades Gurjit to come with him to Mumbai to try out in a Bollywood movie. There are entertaining scenes at the fast food parlour, the visa office and the airport, which include some energetic dancing and some naked male torso’s.

When they arrive in India, they experience culture shock, meet a couple of people who may be able to help them fulfil the dream, and eventually find that sometimes friends aren’t all they are meant to be. Raza loses his temper at what he thinks is the ultimate betrayal and the play ends in a surprisingly bloody fashion.

There are four actors (three male and one female), with the other two having the responsibility of playing all the other parts in the play. At various points in the production I could see strands that could have brought the show to a happier conclusion but I suppose life sometimes doesn’t work like that.

I’m still unsure whether the two halves worked for me as I was enjoying the first half for the comedy and the dancing, and the second half was a well acted drama about love, friendship and betrayal but they seemed like two different plays. Perhaps if I had known that it wasn’t going to have a Bollywood ending (although there was a final dance number), I may have been more prepared for what happened (I was calling it a spiral into darkness when describing it to people afterwards). It is a thought provoking and well acted show which asks what one is prepared to pay to pursue ones dreams.

So see this show if you enjoy Bollywood, comedy and dark drama all mixed into one show. There is swearing and violence, so definitely not one for the younger audience members. It’s in the huge and very dusty Debating Hall.

How to make a killing in Bollywood is on at Gilded Balloon Teviot at 3.00pm

For Bookings https://www.edfringe.com/whats-on/comedy/how-to-make-a-killing-in-bollywood