Ciarán Dowd: King Rodolfo

By Ron Bingham

King Rodolfo is a sick and twisted dictator, who became king of an alternate 16th century England by killing his way to the top and, when we meet him, he is throwing a 20th anniversary party to announce his heir to the throne. as he only has one son, you would think that was an simple task. Sadly, things never end well for a narcissistic, licentious, bloodthirsty autocrat who delights in boasting of his misdeeds.

Ciarán Dowd won the 2018 Edinburgh Comedy Award for Best Newcomer with his character Don Rodolfo and this is a sequel of sorts. The charismatic swashbuckler takes us on his journey from low life scum to seizing the throne, which includes a ten minute description of how he managed to sneak into the castle in the most gross and disgusting manner. We meet his son and possible heir, a revolution breaks out, sword fights, murder, mayhem, very sick jokes, completely over-the-top acting, and so much more. The big finale is sure to surprise everyone.

Not a show for the easily offended, this was a crackingly good hour with a crazy megalomaniac and his friends as they weave a medieval tale of horror and degradation, with heads on pikes, dragons (sort of), violence, farting and some of the sickest imagery I have encountered so far this festival. Recommended, especially after a drink or two

King Rodolfo is on at Pleasance Dome

Sarah Keyworth: Lost Boy

By Ron Bingham

Lost Boy” is about love, loss, lockdown and losing it. The fusion of the sad stories with comedy is done effortlessly and stylishly.

Sarah Keyworth has the capacity crowd enthralled by her journey through (financially draining) therapy sessions, falling in love with a long time friend, being repeatedly mistaken for a teenage boy, and losing a close friend and comedy muse. There are some brilliant, soaring jokes as well as a couple of gratifying groaners and a little chat with the audience about the habits of long-term couples. She revealed her original plans for a big opening which were scuppered by Covid, and gave us a truly rock and roll ending to the show.

Sarah may look like a weedy teenager but she is in actuality a seasoned and confident, powerful performer at the top of her game who should be seen and enjoyed by every comedy lover.

Lost Boy is on at Pleasance Courtyard

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World

By Ron Bingham

A feminist, educational musical comedy aimed at young people produced by the same people who brought us the incredibly successful SIX, Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World has been created by some very talented people and is unsurprisingly a very polished performance that is heaps of fun.

A young schoolgirl called Jade is left behind next to a closed off section of a museum, before being enticed to go behind the curtain and meet some famous women from history, who tell her the stories behind the school history book summary of their lives. These characters include Amelia Earhard, Jane Austen, Frida Kahlo, Sacagawewa, Rosa Parks, Marie Curie, Mary Anning and Emmaline Pankhurst. They give Jade advice on self-belief, perseverance, determination, respect and community spirit in word and song (and a little dance), all while surreptitiously teaching the audience as well.

There is no programme or information about the cast online, (it seems that the young lead character Jade is performed by a rotating group of four actresses) but if the actress playing Jade on the night I went really is only twelve years old, she must be a child prodigy, as it was an extraordinary performance!

The other cast members play a number of parts, which involve some very quick changes off-stage, and the show flowed quickly and without a hitch from start to finish (ninety minutes). The three piece band sit in little cubicles at the rear top of the stage and were excellent.

This show is full of positive messages for young (and old) people, rarely gets bogged down or preachy, is bright and colourful, and will leave the audience with a happy glow by the end, and may even have you humming/downloading some of the songs afterwards. The show I attended saw the audience (probably about 200 people) give a rousing standing ovation at the end. One for the whole family.

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World is on at Pleasance Courtyard

Tony Law: A Now Begin in Again

By Ron Bingham

The planned shambles of the opening of this show became a real shambles when the audio kept cutting in and out of various music tracks, which played over the top of a video of Secretariat (Who’s At the Door!!) winning triple crown races from back in the 70s. (The video of the great racehorse sort of made sense by the end of the show).

Tony Law is a crazy man, who claims he wants to get rid of all those losers who only come to see his shows once or twice “because he was on TV once”, as he tries to whittle his audience down to a few hard-core fans. During the show I attended (and I’m obviously only considered a semi-fan having seen just the four or five of his shows down the years), Tony was able to spot people who’d been to all his shows including some who first came as children with their parents a decade or so ago.

The actual content of A Now Begin in Again was sort of about the lockdown and loss, language and accents (so many accents), sport, travel, family and deadlines. His teenage son makes a couple of appearances, acting more adult than his dad, and we hear about the joys of living in a caravan with a teenager during the Edinburgh Festival. I get the feeling his son’s stories of living in a caravan with a mad dad would probably be just as interesting.

The show is on at lunchtime and an hour of craziness which will have tears of laughter rolling down your face is possibly the best way I can recommend to start your day at the Edinburgh Fringe. If you’ve never seen Tony before, I heartily encourage you to come and sit in the front rows, just so he gets confused when he can’t spot any regulars.

A Now Begin in Again is on at Monkey Barrel Comedy

Hannah Fairweather: Just a Normal Girl Who Enjoys Revenge!

By Ron Bingham

This is a tale of revenge, or the tale of someone who has listened to Taylor Swift a bit too often.

Apparently there is a TayTay song about writing the names of those who have done you wrong in a diary. Which is sort of the inspiration for this show, but it is really more of a look back at the fascinating life of Hannah, who travelled the world as a child with her parents, got a golf scholarship to a South Carolina Christian university, despite being an atheist, then studied engineering, before working as an accountant, so unsurprisingly she ends up in standup comedy. I’m still trying to work out how all of that is possible in one so young.

We heard stories of the people who crossed her and her battles with religious instruction, along with a number of rather dodgy jokes about her brother (which are pretty unrepeatable). I agreed with her about housemates who don’t bother to buy toilet paper, as did it seems, most of the rest of the audience in the full house.

About the only criticism of the show was that Hannah was speaking too fast and stumbling in her rush to get the words out. I’m sure she’ll be much more relaxed as the Fringe progresses, and I predict she has a bright future in comedy.

Just a Normal Girl Who Enjoys Revenge! is on at Just the Tonic at The Caves

Phil Ellis: Hedgehog!

By Ron Bingham

Will a hedgehog turn up to justify the title of the show? There weren’t quite as many disasters as I have seen in previous shows, but there was enough comedic chaos to keep the audience enthralled.

Phil is the master of the carefully constructed awkward comedy show, where every disaster that happens might just possibly be a tightly scripted part of the act. This became a problem during our performance when three drunk Scotsmen sat at the back of the room chatting loudly and drinking during the first half, as we couldn’t tell if they were really just a bunch of annoying gits or part of the act?

If you enjoy embarrassing routines about surprise families, extremely dodgy post-lockdown gigs with decrepit sheep, the lyrics of a classic song from the 60s or dodgy circus acts, then Hedgehog! is the perfect show for you. It’s not for everyone, but if you enjoy watching people who’ve just hit forty explain how their dreams and expectations plummeted as they aged to a truly appalling level, I can recommend.

Hedgehog is on at Just the Tonic at The Caves