Monday, 20 August 2012

Charlie Albuery’s Pick of the Fringe 2012

by Charlie Albuery
I’ve spent the last week submerged in the cultural cacophony that is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. If you have never heard of the fringe festival before, there are two things you need to know:
A – In our current economic climate, housing prices are plummeting. You really can afford to be living somewhere nicer than under a rock.
B – The Fringe is a theatre and arts festival featuring thousands of short, often non-traditional plays, musicals, comedians and concert acts.
I tried to see a diverse range of shows in my time in Edinburgh and experienced 27 in total. Therefore  without further ado I will begin with my fifth-favourite show and work upwards. So onward, dear cousins, to the realm of Mantua! Number 5…
5 – Shakespeare for Breakfast
Being roused at 7am to see a production of Romeo and Juliet is very rarely a good thing; as a result, my hopes were not high for this particular fringe show. I am by no means a Bardophobe; on the contrary, I often cringe at modern-day and ‘street’ adaptations of Shakespeare tragedies, but this one, unlike so many, was --- well, this one was --- well --- good.
The Shakespeare was mixed in among a parody of the ‘TOWIE’ craze currently (to the detriment of all that lives and breathes) seeming to sweep the UK, and some excellent comedy. The fourth wall was broken, but it was done in an intelligent and intriguing way. The acting was also excellent.
NB : If you’re an unwavering Shakespeare fanatic, then this probably isn’t for you; however, a basic-to- moderate knowledge of (and affection for) The Playwright of Avon is a must. And this is a must-see.
4 – Rhod Gilbert: The Man with the Flaming Battenberg Tattoo
Anyone who has seen or heard of Rhod Gilbert will know that he rants. That’s his ‘thing’; he rants. He rants to the level that the FOH staff were handing out ponchos to the front row to avoid droplets of his vehemence-induced sweat and spittle ruining their experience as he charges up and down the stage screaming in his terrific Welsh accent and pulling faces that never fail to draw laughter from the crowd.
This show contained three rants, each of which was completely unrelated to the others and absolutely hilarious.And while we don’t go and write comedy shows about our pain, we’ve all seethed at not being able to buy a single baked potato, being given a toothbrush for Christmas or being refused the final sandwich on a catering trolley for display purposes.
3 – Baby Wants Candy
Baby Wants Candy is the best of the improvised musical groups and stopped off at the Fringe on their world tour before returning to their native New York City. If you read that sentence and did a double-take at the phrase ‘improvised musical’, so did I at first. The fact of it is: it works.
A randomly selected member of the audience calls out a title of a musical that does not yet exist, the cast then go on to improvise the entire show complete with dialogue, songs and dance numbers.
Simply has to be seen to be believed.
2 – Jon Richardson: Funny Magnet
For those of you who don’t know Jon Richardson, he is a team captain on the Channel 4 show 8 out of 10 Cats, and a man after my own heart: a passive-aggressive, OCD, snappy, whining, self-absorbed irritant (come to think of it, we must be related).
This show is basically him moaning about life. Top notch.
1 – Reggie D Hunter: Work in Progress

I cannot explain the genius of Reggie D Hunter, instead I offer you this clip. You may judge him for yourself.


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