Laufey Haralds: Nordic Noir

By Ron Bingham

Laufey (pronounced something like hlofay from what I could tell) is from Iceland but lived in the UK for a couple of years before moving back this year. The show starts with Laufey displaying all the Scandinavian stereotypes, most of which she then punctures. Nordic Noir is partly a parody of the Scandi Crime genre (lost on me, I’m afraid) which consisted of short bursts of moody music and Laufey striking a pose and staring into the middle distance. She creates a thrilling crime story on stage that is all fun and inoffensive. The rest of the show was criticism of her fellow Scandinavian countrymen/women, with the occasional erotic poem for Greenland.

There were a few quiet moments but for much of the show it was entertaining and educational. I loved the stories about the cod wars, but refrained from mentioning the Goodies episode which is my total knowledge of this period of UK-Icelandic history. The show takes place in the attic of the Rose Theatre, which is four flights of stairs up, at a venue which is at the Haymarket end of Rose st, and a very long way from the other Gilded Balloon venues. I do wonder why she decided to come and perform a show in Edinburgh after leaving the UK, but I am glad she did. A must for fans of Scandi-crime porn or lovers of Scandinavia in general.

Nordic Noir is on at Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre until August 25

Snjolaug Ludviksdottir: Let It Snow

By Ron Bingham

Poor Snjolaug Ludviksdottir. Living in Iceland, speaking three languages, carving out a career in comedy, and yet she is single and still looking for love (and/or a baby) at thirty-five. Let It Snow starts with Snjolaug explaining where her name came from and what it means (something along the lines of snow water/slush I believe), moving on to living in Paris until she was twelve, then moving back to Iceland to be bullied at school for the next couple of years. She talks about being a very late developer, how excrutiatingly long it took to lose her virginity, and the troubles with dating in Iceland, before moving on to Danish sperm banks and father figures.

I’m starting to think Icelanders really don’t like the Danes (well, not in the two shows I saw). So much for Scandinavian solidarity. Snjolaug is a well spoken and engaging comedian, who has a lot of very funny material and good comic timing. It does get a bit saucy when she starts talking about her body (especially her idea for a waste disposal redesign) and there may have been some swearing, but there was nothing really offensive. It is well worth the trek down to the Old Tollbooth to catch Snjolaug’s performance.

Let It Snow is on at Gilded Balloon at Old Tolbooth Market until August 25

Chris Betts: Dumb but Fair

By Ron Bingham

Dumb but Fair was a show in the Blundabus, that happened to be starting as I was walking past. I’m glad I took the chance as Canadian Chris Betts had some very funny stories about his youth and the indiscretions of his friends (in a downmarket strip club). He also gave us some juicy (but totally unsubstantiated) celebrity gossip. I’m not too sure I appreciated his story about the kinky animals on the horse stud farm, but that’s all a matter of taste. It was a very risque and adult show for someone performing quite loudly on the top deck of a bus in the middle of a major Fringe pedestrian intersection at 5pm but I don’t think Chris cares about the social niceties.

The seating on the bus is not the most comfortable, especially when it was jammed full of people with a couple of extras on the stairwell. I recommend buying a ticket, as I was the last one in before the cut-off, and you don’t want to be forced to listen to the show from down in the street. Chris also has another show at the Fringe, in which he argues the contrary position for any statement, which sounds fascinating.

Dumb but Fair is on at Heroes @ Bob’s BlundaBus until August 25

Samantha Pressdee: Covered

By Ron Bingham

Samantha Pressdee is crazy… and she has the paperwork to prove it. Samantha is also a passionate activist for social change (something which I think a few audience members missed when they bought tickets, judging from their expressions when Samantha started talking politics, austerity and the lack of mental health support services).

I’m not sure whether a proper non-UK person would understand some of this show (especially if they haven’t heard of Russell Brand), but I loved it. Samantha talks about occupying Sweets Way in 2015 (which was a social housing estate down the road from my place that had been earmarked for demolition and gentrification), describes some of her fellow activists and she tells all about her work for Free The Nipple. Samantha also gives us a detailed description of how she was sectioned, her long slow recovery process and the fight to get any support from the government. We also get a couple of flashes of her Granny Merkin, about which I shall say no more.

As the show progressed I started thinking this would get a much bettter reception at a later timeslot than 4PM. A slightly larger room, a bar and a more boisterous crowd is what the show needs for Samantha to really hit her stride. If you’re not a fan of the current UK government then you’re going to really enjoy this show.

Covered is on at PQA Venues @Riddle’s Court until August 26

Anna and Helen : Stuck In A Rat

By Ron Bingham

Stuck in a Rat was a fun and life-affirming show from two talented comedians. The theme of the show is all about trying to get people enjoying life once again.

Anna O’Grady and Helen Cripps go through survey responses about how enjoyment can be achieved, trying each option out (either on each other or an unsuspecting audience member) and assessing its worth. During the show they cut to video footage of themselves out and about trying out activities, and their playing with the screen/room intersection is a delight to behold. They have obviously done a lot of rehearsal practicing the interactions with their on-screen versions to make it seamless.

Anna & Helen also perform a couple of songs, one of which is worth the price of the ticket on its own (Who’s that tiny bitch?). The audience was having a great time, and we all sang along gustily to the closing number. This is definitely a show that will brighten up your spirits.

Stuck In A Rat is on at Pleasance Courtyard until August 26

Lucy Pearman: Baggage

By Ron Bingham

Looking for a show full of prop based craziness? Come along to Lucy Pearman’s show, get your bag checked by the security guard at the door, and prepare for take-off to a journey into hilarious surrealism.

There is a lot of audience participation, a little water may get sprayed, there is some simulated nudity (which goes a little too far) and by the end of the show, you will be wondering how Lucy survived in all those layers.

The plot of the show is that Lucy wants to get away but she is carrying too much baggage, so we see her removing layers of herself until she is just right. Possibly a metaphor or just a premise to wrap all those props around. It doesn’t matter as the show is hilarious and the audience was having a great time. Good luck getting a ticket as there may be only one or two left for the rest of Lucy’s run by now. An absolute cracker of a show.

Baggage is on at Monkey Barrel Comedy until August 25