Dragons and Mythical Beasts

By Ron Bingham

Packed house to see this show (probably 60:40 kids to adults ratio). Well it turned out to be very much created for children with not only a panto element, but an interactive roleplaying vibe. It’s a show for kids of nerds!

Our host/apprentice hero, Dave, explains that we are there to help him become a proper Hero and we will all be elevated to hero status as well, for our help. We have to complete six tasks, which include; obtaining a diamond from a Stone Troll – Emma from the audience volunteered to help with this and obtaining the horn from a unicorn – Ellie was determined to be chosen for this task, she was almost on stage before help was asked for and  she’ll have her own show at the fringe in ten years no doubt! Other tasks were collecting some gold from the griffin’s nest, taking a dream from a Japanese Dream Thief, Baku that looked like a cross between a gremlin and an elephant, making a deal with The Tooth Fairy, and taking a tooth from a dragon, who was the real showstopper.

Once these tasks have been completed, the deer spirit of the forest will come and confer hero status on us. Unless a disaster occurs right at the end. But that couldn’t happen, could it?

The audience were loud and shrieking with delight and laughter at the appearance of each magical creature and a marvellous time was had by all. The huge puppets really were jaw droppingly gorgeous and the visible puppeteers seemed to be having almost as much fun as the kids. The English have a proud panto tradition and are great at entertaining kids and adults alike.  Twas an excellent start to the day. Hussah!

Dragons and Mythical Beasts is on at Underbelly, Bristo Square

Erin Fowler: Egg

By Ron Bingham

There’s an egg on stage. Well, this is going to be interesting. Sure enough  Erin Fowler has a cracking show for us. A fascinating and funny look at those big life decisions, women, in particular, have to face, most notably of whether to “settle down” and “start a family”. This was  made all the more complicated when the coronavirus struck and saw people forced to re-evaluate their lives.

Egg is Erin’s personal and often moving story of trying to decide a future for herself through dance, physical comedy, some impressive costumes and a number of pretty cool songs (as well as one or two daggy ones – eg It’s Raining Men). The music can be overpowering at times for those in the front, thanks to the rock ‘n’ roll sound system, which does drown out Erin’s little headset mike occasionally.

She opens with an artistic dance showing conception to birth, followed by stories of Erin’s ambivalence over children, the pressure by friends to find the right man and companies to sign up for tests and egg freezing, fears that her eggs are “getting old” and the attendant stress that all of this induces. While there are a number of jokes and comic stories, much of the humour in the show comes through Erin’s dancing and clowning, which she’s very good at, in fact this show unsurprisingly won Best Weekly Dance Award at the 2021 Adelaide Fringe.

The all-ages audience (I spotted a couple of kids who had to be about ten) enjoyed themselves thoroughly. One for the whole family, as long as you’re not squeamish about discussing the birds and the bees with the kids. I get the feeling this might be banned in most states of the USA over it’s fact-based depictions of all matters sexual. Luckily Erin is at the Edinburgh Fringe where such things can be celebrated through shared laughter in a gorgeous room.

Egg is on at The House of Oz

The Weegie Boys: Weegie Hink Ae That?

By Ron Bingham

Scottish comedians performing at the Edinburgh Fringe? Why not! These three young unpolished lads (Gregor Mackay, Conor Hardie and Elliot Hanigan) sing songs and perform sketches that get more and more Scottish as the show goes on.

If you want to perfect your Glaswegian accent, or hear some original local Scots patois, this is the show for you. Unless, of course, you’re offended by copious amounts of swearing, people dropping their trousers for a punchline, some very dodgy jokes.

The Weegie Boys manage to surprise us with some very pleasant singing – about the poor timetabling skills of ScotRail, giant seagulls in Aberdeen and the Scotch Pie (a pack of which they have on stage, and which I noticed had some lovely green mould spots – come see the show at the end of the Fringe and I expect it’ll be the same pack filled with lovely green fungus).

An excellent show, most of which I was able to understand, and a pleasant change from all the London (or Australian) accents. The Weegie Boys are still a bit rough around the edges but the audience were having a wonderful time (apart from the young lad seated next to me, who was much too close to some sausage roll fallout from the stage). There is a LOT of swearing, but it’s in a Scottish accent, and therefore an essential component …. isn’t it?

Weegie Hink Ae That? is on at Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose

Gabbi Bolt: I Hope My Keyboard Doesn’t Break

By Ron Bingham

Excellent debut Fringe show from Gabbi Bolt, in which she did a little dancing, snazzy banter and a lot of very funny songs.

Gabbi is fresh from being the word of mouth break out star of festival season downunder and winning Best Newcomer at the 2022 Sydney Comedy Festival. Her keyboard songs and stories are whip smart, gaspingly funny and cover a vast amount of ground. From the angst of climate change, living in a small town (Bathurst, before she moved to Sydney), the danger of responding to crazy people on one’s webpage (what DO conspiracy nuts do if their parent’s house doesn’t have a basement?), to the joys of children, the audience loves it all. I have to say my favourite was the one about a certain breed of gentleman who has a tendency to carry an acoustic guitar to parties in order to impress the ladies with his “heartbreakingly original” songs.

The show ran for just over 50 minutes and the appreciative audience are comfortably seated in a cabaret style (to which they kept having to add more tables and chairs after I took my picture as the room filled – word of Gabbi’s talent is clearly already spreading!) It’s a spacious room with an awesome sound system, a bar at the back of the room, and a little courtyard out the back for post-show relaxing. All in all, an excellent afternoon show with lovely music and well crafted lyrics from a confident and assured performer.

I Hope My Keyboard Doesn’t Break by Gabbi Bolt is on at The House of Oz

Scottish Falsetto Socks: Eurovision Sock Contest

By Ron Bingham

The return of the Socks sees our noble heroes performing the Eurovision Sock Contest, in a truly rude and naughty manner. Before the show started, some of the songs from previous shows were being played as the audience arrived and, when that was turned off to allow the show to begin there was a lot of disappointed noises from punters who were merrily humming along. These socks have fans. Like me.

The Eurovision Sock Contest sees six countries vying for the top prize, France (so many stereotypes), Scandinavia (yes, ALL of Scandinavia as a time-saving measure), Germany (techno-Kraftwerkish), a mish-mash of all the Balkan states which I could never repeat, Ireland (a garden gnome as Graham Norton bitching about the conditions Eurovision commentators work under – sounding fairly true to life) and the UK (a filthy song about a political decision made by this country a few years ago).

A lot of swearing, bad jokes, terrible puns, dodgy accents, dubious political commentary, ridiculous costume changes and all the other things one has come to expect from The Socks down the years. Ridiculous, hilarious and totally silly, fun show. I still believe there must be a monkey hidden behind the curtain helping with some of the trickier costume changes. Instead it’s a very sweaty Kev Sutherland performing this insane marathon alone every night. May he have the stamina to keep it up for many years to come.

Eurovision Sock Contest is on at Gilded Balloon Teviot

Alice Fraser: Chronos

By Ron Bingham

As we file into our seats, Alice is sitting on the stage chatting to audience members and being very sociable. It certainly gives a captivating first impression of the comedian who exudes warmth and a cheery welcome.

To officially start the show, Alice sings a  delightful little song accompanied by her trusty banjo. After enchanting us with her musical comedy skills, she proceeds to impress us with her take on the ways in which the coronavirus and collapse of live comedy affected her (a very popular topic this year) and indeed this very show, which premiered in Glasgow in March 2020 before being locked down. She riffs on the limitations of Zoom comedy shows, and the dangers of a regular topical news comedy podcast (you may have heard her on The Bugle or The Gargle), which had me empathising strongly with her description of the horror of having to read all the newspapers all the time as a part of one’s job. Chronos is not all harrowing news though, Alice is a master at finding humour in the horrors of life.

Alice then takes us back in time and through the chaos and joy of the process of creation, of being inspired by the people on her train up to Glasgow from London, as she tries to write this very show in four hours while they distract her. We meet some really entertaining and hilarious characters that she describes in great detail. Alice works her way back further in time into more personal spheres describing the strength shown by her mum, the importance of connecting with other people and her struggles with whether she should help create the next generation of humans.

Alice is a seasoned performer with an assured professional delivery, genuine charm and some killer jokes. Mesmerising us with intelligent comedy that is gathering an appreciative following of fans, she also has a way of subtly giving the audience ideas to think about once they have stopped laughing.

Chronos is on at Gilded Balloon Teviot