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

Simon Munnery: Trials and Tribulations

By Ron Bingham 

Simon’s show this year is a look back at some the momentous events from his past, most notably two trials (one a parking fine and one a minor affray), which spun out into long drawn-out stressful affairs in which the innocent party (ie Simon) lost a lot of money and time proving his innocence with no restitution. The affray story happened about 20 years ago at the Edinburgh Fringe during one of Arthur Smith’s Royal Mile tours which adds some local colour and interest for Festival goers.

The two main stories in Trials and Tribulations are interspersed with some jokes, poems, recitations of song lyrics, spicy stories of youthful indiscretions in Edinburgh (including one involving Steve Coogan, Patrick Marber, Stewart Lee and Richard Herring from many years ago) and an extended parody of an Archers radio script, where you don’t have to know The Archers (famously long running radio drama) to be laughing along.

Simon is a legendarily exceptional comedic storyteller and the hour just whizzed by. He is one of the Kings of Alternative Comedy in the UK and is still going strong.  The beloved Stand is an intimate venue and as usual, absolutely packed with appreciative and adoring punters. I highly recommend you buy a ticket ASAP to avoid disappointment. The show I attended also had Simon selling some excellent merch -mostly from previous years, including a book, Alan Parker tea towel (only 20 of these so be quick), postcard and DVD.

Trials and Tribulations is on at The Stand

Chelsea Birkby: No More Mr Nice

By Ron Bingham 

Chelsea claims has had the tag of “nice girl” for too long, possibly due to bearing a more than passing resemblance to Galadriel from the Lord Of The Rings, and she is determined to lose the tag and be one with the bad girls. Well, sort of. If you’re gonna be a bad girl, I don’t recommend a white blousy lacy dress, or apologising when you respond to a heckle from the audience.

Chelsea does try hard to convince us of her change of heart, telling us of her clubbing/saucy Instagram shot days, but I fear she is doomed to failure on the bad conversion front. The audience (a full house) enjoyed Chelsea’s tales of her youth, inadequate sex education lessons from the parents, her wild university days and mental health dramas. We were so enthralled, the hour zoomed by very quickly. She was relaxed, charming and confident, the stories were well constructed and cheekily disclosed with one or two little surprises in the tales.

There was a little audience interaction in the show, but it was all very polite. I was too old/alternative to understand some of the musical references, but they went down well with the youngsters in the audience. It’s probably best not to mention the Crazy Frog story…

No More Mr Nice is one of many “pay what you want” shows (book a ticket if you want to be sure of a seat as the room only fits about 40). If you want the chance to see one of the High Elves swearing like an Orc, then I can definitely recommend this show.

Chelsea Birkby is on at Just the Tonic at The Caves