And so ends another Fringe

I’m happy to report that my Fringe did end well, though it did look doubtful for a while that I’d get to see one final show. I went up the Three (Free) Sisters a good twenty minutes early, a few folk were scattered around outside the gate, just a few seemed to be In a definite little queue, ah yes, they wanted to see Darius Davies: Don’t Be Shit but hadn’t got tickets either; I tagged on to them. The guardian at the gate, a woman not to be trifled with, yelled “Anyone with tickets for the next show? Anyone?” about half a dozen stepped forward, damn. Every three of four minutes she’d yell out again and more would realise she was meaning them and so got to enter, mind the queue was still growing all the time.

Ten past nine came and went but we all assumed it must be running late as there was no shout that no-one without a ticket was getting in, and none of us were walking away at this point, just on principle! Yes, just after quarter past nine we started to trickle in, the others in front were all heading to the the bar first but I made straight for the door at the back on the right as instructed. Yikes, there weren’t many seats left but I managed to nab one, which luckily had a shortarse in the seat in front, yay!

The lights dimmed and the star of the show announced himself before running on to the stage to great applause. Five minutes in, as he was telling us how bad Croydon is, I realised I had heard this spiel about Croydon before. Where? Ahha, Joke Thieves at the Counting House. Tonight’s show was apparently a Best Bits of what he’s done so far – apparently so far is over ten years!

It was a great show, very funny though at times not really my cup of tea; nothing bad, just maybe a bit antagonistic for me, hey ho. He is a good storyteller, the suited guy on the bus tale and later recall to it were well executed for maximum effect. A word of warning, trying to leave a Darius Davies show early unseen is impossible, no matter how sneaky you try to be, those piercing eyes will target you and his disapproval will be fierce! Oh, and his final punchline had me laughing most of my way home, nice one.

Good night, sweet dreams!

Just when it looked like the end, the cavalry arrived

Some shows finished up on Friday night, some yesterday, more will end today, just a few will carry on until the bitter end, tomorrow. Of course, the Free Festival actually added on a day to finish tomorrow! I know the Gilded Balloon finishes today, saw it on Facebook. I only went to one show there this year and I’m not sure if the Library Bar, a usual Fringe haunt of mine, was open as I never enquired.

Today, the final Sunday is the first time I’ll set hoof in the Pleasance Courtyard this Fringe! Usually I would have a casual wander through whenever I’m passing. Yes, today is the day Tim Fitzhigham is the Cabaret Bar (in fact it’s some years since I last saw a show in that particular room). Oo, I do hope he’s good, no, surely he won’t disappoint! He mustn’t! At least, I have the magnificent The Elvis Dead at quarter to midnight to end the night, and possibly my Fringe if there’s nothing I fancy tomorrow.

I know The Elvis Dead will be magnificent because one, I’ve seen it before, and two, Rob Kemp is awesome. I just saw his other show at the Monkey Barrel Comedy Club yesterday, Rob Kemp:Agenda (WIP) and thoroughly enjoyed it. Have I explained about WIP before? WIP is short for Work In Progress, ie don’t expect great things, the performer will probably be following their notes, losing their place, saying punchlines first,

《at that point my buzzer went, a fellow Tim Fan had arrived early to go to the show, so being a congenial host I paused in my writing…… so now it’s a few hours later》

Rob Kemp did all of the aforementioned, but, he was so likeable it just added to the charm of the show. It almost felt like a privilege to hear his words, his story was frank, funny and moving. And if you’ve seen Big Trouble In Little China it helps – he references it, oh, two or four times! In fact, just watch it if you can find it anyway, it’s a lot of fun, a very Eighties movie. Agenda was great and it would be good to see it again once he’s honed and polished it, but it’ll never be more honest than when I saw it as a WIP.

On to Tim Fitzhigham, yeah, his show Tim Fitzhigham: Here Now is not even at WIP stage really, more just at pre-planning, not like that would be a problem for this raconteur, anyway. He had his notes beside him and a watch to see how long he could keep going, being Tim he overran a tad but no-one, apart from a few that had a train to catch, minded. Plenty of us were obviously regulars to his shows, one group have been coming over from Portugal for ten years to see him at the Fringe; he had a great anecdote about meeting up with one of them in Portugal. Tim also recognised a chap at the end of the front row who had been his tech guy fifteen years ago, ah, he sucks us all in!

it was like Tim was a manic high from finally being back on an Edinburgh Fringe stage again. He had so much to share with us, his joie de vivre was infectious, there was new stuff and condensed classics, he even finished with his traditional final show party piece! One story we hadn’t heard before was about his Venezuelan adventure – I can’t believe he hasn’t done a whole show about it, he really should, I want to know more!!

Well, time is marching on, I could go have a drink at Stramash before heading to Monkey Barrel 4 for The Elvis Dead. I wonder what sort of music the band will be playing?

Toodle pip!

A fine final Friday

Friday morning I popped round to Mums for brunch – no, not all the way to Yorkshire, to Mums on Forrest Road, I’d noticed they do Eggs Benedict. Their full title is Mums Great Comfort Food, and it surely is. Like Luscious it was a no nonsense, no fancy twiddles, proper Eggs Benedict; perfect poached eggs on plenty of streaky bacon, atop a muffin and generous amounts of hollandaise sauce. It never looks like a big amount on a plate but, by God, it fills me up! I was all set to nip round to a PBH’s Free Fringe show at noon.

The venue was the Natural Food Kafe on Clerk Street, the show Van Gogh Find Yourself. Folk were already sat around various table sketching whilst waiting for the show to start (art materials supplied around the tables). Besides the people in the cafe, there was also an online audience, Vincent had two cameras set up so that he was seen and also the picture he was drawing as he spoke to us about his life. We were also encouraged to draw as we listened but it was very easy to become engrossed in his words and just sit back awhile. We started with a quick sketch each to kinda free ourselves up from our selfconciousness before he properly settled into telling his story. A fascinating and relaxing hour, well somewhere over it actually. It felt like we’d been in the actual presence of Van Gogh, I’m so, so glad I went – what did I create? See below.

As it was a gorgeous warm day I wandered up into the Park and dozed a bit. There were a couple of free shows that I could have made it to, but once I was settled in a wee sun spot I really couldn’t be bothered moving! Finally my tummy was rumbling so I headed to a large slice of lasagne for tea (made with hoggat mince from Annanwater at the Farmer’s Market, it works really well).

Last night I toddled back to Stramash to see a band called Moanin Bones, they were rather good, a rocky set and a tight sound. The crowd were well up for it, especially a large bunch of squawking hens; two rather drunk guys were highly entertaining, it looked like there could be murder on the dancefloor at one point. Had something previously happened before I arrived on the sidelines, or was it an ex who’d just come in with her friends? Whatever, the tension was palpable, eyes were throwing daggers at machine gun speed, thankfully (I think?!) he did the gracious thing and left, dignity drunken but not dented. People watching can be such a fun sport!

Mum’s Egg Benedict
Self portrait, Moose in the Park, well, I had to put a seat in there, come on!

As nightmares go, it was rather a fine one!

Yay! I finally made it in to see David Alnwick’s Nightmare Magic, it’s rather good. This show is as much about the storyline as the magic tricks, they’re all a part of the story as it unfolds. Towards the end I did lose the thread a bit, but there’s a good chance that was part of his plan to bamboozle us and wrest rational thoughts from our minds; it worked if it was! David Alnwick is a good storyteller with a quiet confidence in his tone, can I coin his talent as “sleight of voice”? He would ratchet up the tension and diffuse It effortlessly. And the ending was delivered as a throwaway, just brilliant!

I’ve noticed there’s a fair number of magic acts this year, maybe there’s always be this many but they’re more noticeable as there’s so much less of everything else. There’s certainly a demand, David is now doing Nightmare Magic twice a night now until the 29th.I have seen another production involving young actors at a theSpace venue, but as it suffers like other younger shows I’m not going to bother naming and shaming it.

Is it the effects of the last eighteen months that the younger contingent of the Fringe haven’t impressed me; or, in a normal Fringe year with much more choice would my fringedar have automatically picked better shows? Who can say? But bravo to all those who have come and given it a shot this year. I hope they get a chance to come back another year. Mind, I would be happy if the Fringe didn’t go back to how it was in 2019, way too big. There’s big and then there’s just too much! From selling out almost every show this year, the newbies could be sadly disillusioned by numbers from a return to 2019 levels in a second year here.

This is an odd year – as I keep mentioning! I went out late last night because The Kennedy’s Project were playing at Stramash again, this time after midnight. I went for a stroll about to revive myself (I could have easily just gone to bed), it looked like the Pleasance Courtyard were closing up, no throngs of people around the Teviot area, of course no Potterrow this year, just a few still sitting out in the Underbelly garden in Bristo Square. The Cowgate is sooo quiet compared previous Augusts. Stramash was fairly quiet too but it sure picked up when the band came on. Different lead guitarist this time, he didn’t do any singing so it all fell on the other guy. Another great night, the crowd loved them, I suspect they’ll now be regulars there. My, it’s been a while since I last got in at almost three in the morning!

I shall leave you with an Eggs Benedict update. I was going to go to Em’s Kitchen but there was a queue waiting to go in! Er, no, so I went up on the Royal Mile, left or right? I knew everything on offer left so I turned right and headed down the hill. Not far down on the left-hand side there’s a cafe called Luscious, some how it’s never caught my attention before, I crossed over to check out the menu, oh yay! Went in, no menu perusing necessary, thanks, Eggs Benedict and a latte, please. And here it is, pure and simple, just an slice of tomato with it. Perfection on a plate and in my tummy 💛

A win by a gnat’s crotchet

Remember how I thought Luke Rollason was my top show of this this year’s Fringe? Well, he’s not, only by the smidgiest of smidgens, mind, but Christian Brighty’s Playboy stole my heart. I reckoned it would be close, but that Luke’s show would tickle my funny bone more, it turns out Christian’s joie de vivre won through (call me odd, but I find Luke has a Moomin-like quality, there’s a strange underlying little sadness there). Seeing the three separately (Tom Curzon was in Extreme Nonsense) really did show their own directions and styles and how much they compliment each other.

Christian Brighty:Playboy was obviously going to be fun from the toy bows and arrows on many audience seats and softplay balls under others. Luke was there to lend a hand enticing folk to sit in the front rows and be an angry father just offstage. Our Playboy was a dandy and charming cad about town, even when calling us all munters. Enter Cupid with an arsenal of arrows, cue audience participation, half the front row were being offered undying love!

The show was a great romp! Good plot, clever and witty lines, a very fine performance by Christian and some brilliantly inventive ideas (scenes with the Duchess and Susan were so so funny) helped things along. This is an achingly funny show and while it’s very saucy, it has a sense of innocent, mischievous fun, all in the best possible taste! The particular performance that I saw did have the added pleasure of the front row audience members who really embraced on their guardians of the key roles. Hopefully this isn’t the last of this show, many more people need to see this!

In other news, there was a fire this morning at George IV Bridge, according to the BBC News website it is believed to have started in the Patisserie Valerie cafe. The Bridge, Candlemaker Row and part of Chambers Street were closed off and could remain so for quite a while. It had looked from a distance that it was Frankenstein’s as that’s next door, the other side has the now world-famous Elephant House cafe. Flats above the cafe were evacuated, apparently one person was taken to hospital, let’s hope they’re okay.

I’m off to Porty now, it’s a gloriously hot day out there, definitely time to just snooze on the beach awhile!

(BTW, I’ve put pictures of George IV Bridge on Facebook, check them out, Bruce T Moose)

Some bad news, sad news, good news and reviews

Godammit! I was too late to get a ticket to see The Flop: A Band of Idiots tonight! There’s now a highlighted note on my Fringe calendar to be outside the Banshee Labyrinth ten minutes before the hour before tomorrow evening. The sad news is Barry Ferns has cancelled his Arthur’s Seat shows, I was perusing what was on today as I breakfasted and spotted it; good to know, but as it was already it in my head that I’d be ascending the Seat I decided to head up anyway. It was a good day for it – warm but overcast with a pleasant breeze.

Good news, the lovely Tim Fitzhigham is doing a show (a as in just one) at the Pleasance Courtyard Cabaret Bar and I have a ticket for it, huzzah! It’s not listed in the Fringe programme (well, not as yet), I happened to be looking at something else on the Pleasance website, then of course, I fell down the rabbit hole, at least it wasn’t another waste of time!

This year’s Fringe has been odd for trying to keep up with all the updates, no doubt at some point I’ll find out that I missed something I would have dearly loved to have seen. The Free Festival announced today that they have added a significant number of extra shows, extended the run a day to end on the 30th and earlier this week added a new venue at Bar 50. Things are obviously going very well for them, yay! And speaking of updates, there’s four shows I’ve seen but not mentioned yet, so, in chronological order this time (it would be hard to call between three of them).

I saw A Highly Suspect Murder Mystery in theSpace @ Symposium Hall. Umm, it was fun but the interactive part of it worked better for some than others. They had printed sheets for audience members who couldn’t access the clues and stuff that were online (new phone, me, I joined up with two ladies next to me). There were a few questions to ponder and solve, and plenty of interacting with the characters between their set pieces. Interestingly, the set-up had Dr Watson, a few years after the death of his wife and Holmes (almost deja vu!), he’s moved back into Baker Street; Mrs Hudson, Inspector Lestrade and Mycroft Holmes are with him trying to solve the mystery – but could one of them be a killer?!

We had to figure out the how & why for not one but two murders! I was very impressed when one of the ladies next to me seemed to quite easily spot one of the how’s, it really was not obvious at all. I did enjoy the show, the actors stayed in character well. They could have had something telling us where to go online before the show began to save some time (many folk had turned their phones off what with being in a theatre!)

Next up, Joke Thieves at the Counting House, so a PWYC show, I’d already done that online to get a ticket. This year a lot of folk are booking and paying in advance for PWYC shows (Pay What You Can), there haven’t been many seats left for walk-in’s at the shows I’ve been to, so booking is a good idea (there are usually a few different prices you can choose from, just like you would choose what to give at the end of a free show).

Joke Thieves is an interesting concept hosted by Will Mars, four comedians perform their own jokes, then each others’. Will asked a member of the audience to pair up the comedians to show that nothing could have been rehearsed for the second part. Obviously every show will be completely different; some comedians may be meaner than others with the material they set their pairing up with; the second two of the second of the pairs (are you still with me here?) may want to retaliate somewhat for how the first two pairings of the second half have retold their jokes. I hadn’t really thought about it much before I went in, other than thinking it could be fun. It was! As I said every night will be different but its worth a punt.

Last night I saw Nathan Cassidy: Bumblebee in Bar 50. He’s been around the Fringe a number of years but I’ve never seen him before. Okay, so with the shortage of In Person shows, I decided to give him a shot and am pleased I did, he was really rather good; I would go and see him again next year. The pacing of the narrative was good, I enjoyed his delivery, and I would agree, Idris Elba is way hotter than Bradley Cooper.

So I didn’t see Barry Ferns today, but I did see Adele Cliff at 32 Below. She seems to be doing very well, extra shows added on for her. She’s rather sweet and so young! I did worry a bit if I’d just not be on the same level as her, like, what common areas could we possibly share? Well, there’s mothers who want to know everything, I feel her pain there. It was a light, entertaining hour in which she managed to confound many of my expectations. Nice one!

That’s it for another evening, I must away to my bed. If you’ve enjoyed reading this and would like to catch more reviews and other tales, I always post a link on Facebook, look up Bruce T Moose.

Toodle pip!

On top of the world! Well, Edinburgh.

A barrelful of funny

Today I saw my top show of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, oh yeah! I really doubt I’ll enjoy any show more, mind there is still time for some late arrival to come and sweep me off my feet. Luke Rollason: Bowerbird (WIP) in Monkey Barrel 1 on Blair Street, so so brilliant!! Okay, the guy has an immediate headstart on being surreal just from how he looks (that may sound bad but I bet he’d agree) and the bright orange attire seems to me a choice to keep jarring on our senses.

I only rolled up five minutes before the show show due to start, well, I had a ticket, but the room was nearly full and Luke was on stage with a large lampshade covering his head, like a standard lamp from the early 70’s (when I was young most homes had a standard lamp in the front room, usually with a tassled shade, I was so jealous when a sibling inherited our grandfather’s standard lamp – it had a little book case at the bottom), I wondered how long he’d been up there. He spent the first while of the show with it still on his head too. Then he took it off and we could see his eyes.

Luke Rollason’s eyes, well; I think he was a dog in a few former lives, his eyes are so expressive, from pure unadulterated glee to proper puppy sorrowfulness. The mind behind those eyes is inventive and sharp; the humour is absurd, surreal, just plain silly but never mean or cruel, there’s a joyous innocence to it. The show was maybe a reflection of how he spent his time in lockdown and I don’t mean writing the show, I mean having long conversations with kitchen utensils and dreaming up other uses for household items – didn’t we all? Most of us don’t have the ability or temerity to follow our amusements further.

There wasn’t a wasted moment in the show while it quietly built up to such an end that my chuckles were like waves on a beach, never actually stopping, with louder guffaws bursting out suddenly. I came out of the show feeling so chilled but warm with happy and giddy with joy.

Outside the venue was the third Private, Christian Brighty, handing out flyers for his show Playboy which will be on in Monkey Barrel 4 from 20th to 22nd (I have my ticket!). I’m looking forward to his solo offering; this is like the year Bud and I saw all three of the Penny Dreadfuls do solo shows, it really showed what each of them brought to the mix. No pressure, Christian, but Luke has set the bar very high!

A duo of monologues

I’m counting this morning’s show as my Shakespeare foray for this Fringe! It wasn’t one of his plays but there were plenty of his lines quoted and it was called Shakespeare’s Fool, so yes, it counts. I was back for a second time in the Main Theatre at theSpace @ Symposium Hall, the bar was set pretty low after the last production I saw here. No worries, it was a superb performance! The audience were hung on to his every word (which we could hear clearly whether he spoke loudly or softly).

This was Will Kempe recounting his life story to a mouse called Maurice (who performed his part admirable) in one final performance before passing away with the name of his first love on his lips. Who he? William Kempe was one of the most famous clown actors towards the end of the sixteenth century, a contemporary of William Shakespeare, his buddy, he brought to life Shakespeare’s characters, some they say written just for him; then they fell out. This one man play tells a tale of what might have happened with plenty of the historical facts around it. Fascinating stuff! Robin Leetham plays the part so well; it always astounds me how actors can stuff so many lines in their heads and bring them all back out in the right order, especially monologues (and this one was seventy five minutes long!). He also looked rather splendid in his fool’s garb, top marks for wardrobe.

One thought did pop into my head from time to time – much as I was enjoying Robin Leetham’s performance, I would love to see Thom Tuck have a shot at it. I think he’d make a fine Will Kempe, well, he’s not dissimilar in character! Perhaps it was also that Shakespeare’s Fool reminded me of Scaramouche Jones that Thom played so well (four years til the next time if he keeps to his plan).

Can I rewind a bit to yesterday now, please? That show I was heading to, another brilliant example of how to deliver a monologue and keep your audience mesmerised, was Watson: The Final Problem playing in Assembly Roxy (I do like the Roxy, it’s a fine old building, originally a church). The setting is three years after Holmes’ death at Reichenbach Falls, Dr Watson recounts his life (yes, another life story!) right from being a young soldier wounded in Afghanistan. It’s a cracking tale, of action, intrigue and poignancy, but ultimately at the end, after a full account of the past Watson looks forward to the future (unlike Will Kempe dying broken on a street corner).

Tim Marriott is excellent as Dr Watson, fans of Sherlock Holmes will not be disappointed at this story angle; Watson deserves more limelight! The show is only on until Sunday 22nd at 12:45 in the afternoon. Shakespeare’s Fool is on at 11:20am right up to Saturday 28th. Definitely my top two theatre shows this Fringe (sorry, Guy!)

Some nonsense is good, some is just nonsense.

Yesterday I caught three more shows, a lot of sitting around in darkened rooms, so I had a brisk walk around the Park and a strong coffee beforehand. Ah, I haven’t had a coffee yet, excuse me. That’s better, I’ll crack on. The third show I saw and am gonna give third place in ranking was Drown Your Sorrows in theSpace @ Symphony Hall. It wasn’t a good start when the music was too loud for the actors to be heard! Luckily the music wasn’t on long but even then some of the lines seemed a tad gabbled; what ever happened to enunciation and projection?! Mind, this was their first night so hopefully some director’s notes will steer them right.

Sorry, but much as I wanted to enjoy it, I did find it a bit lame. Oh, some in the audience, one area in particular, found it immensely funny – maybe they were in the sweet acoustic spot! Oh, it wasn’t all bad, the plot was okay and a few great moments and ideas. I bet in a normal Fringe year they’d be out flyering in the dinghy on the Royal Mile, oh they should do that anyway, grab any attention they can!

In second place I’ll put Kate Smurthwaite: The Last Mayor of Fihalhohi. She was in the Cinema Room at the Banshee Labyrinth, a small but sweet venue with well tiered, comfy seats. Having been pre-warned about the Banshee Labyrinth’s system, I turned up very early so that I could collect a “ticket” and head back into the sunshine awhile. It’s a PBH’s Free Fringe venue but the bar room and nooks and crannies, especially this year, are too small for the amount of people who might be wanting to hang around to catch a show (the shows here are always very popular). “Tickets” are available for each show up to an hour in advance from the man at the door, that way they can say when there’s no seats left (sometimes within five minutes the tickets being up for grabs), a much more civilised way than an arm across the venue doorway just after your friends have all got in and you’re left out!

That’s a great surname Smurthwaite! What with that and Fihalhohi in the show title, I had to go check it out, plus the blurb, “the most mind-blowing lockdown story you’ll ever hear”. It’s certainly a lockdown story that’ll be very hard to beat, it’s almost like a Bond movie – exotic islands, dramatic action, intrigue, a villain, a go-to guy, and, of course, some saucy shenanigans. It is good tale but one little niggle – as the time went by the narration became a bit clunky, like a slide projector clunking between slides. It may well have just been me that noticed it, but I suddenly had a vivid recollection of a teacher telling me that while my story was good, I should come up with other ways to say “and then”, funny the things that come back to you! Niggle aside, I did enjoy it, she is quite a lady!

My top spot for yesterday goes to Rob Duncan and Dan Lees: Extreme Nonsense. I was looking forward to this show – Dan Lees is one half of The Establishment, an absurdist duo who’ve been entertaining/disturbing me for a few years now. You’ll spot the title has just two names in it but there was another on stage with them, one third of Privates! Oh yay! These three gents are all very tall which added to the comedy as there was a large beam across the ceiling just above the front area of the stage – rather lower than all of them! Dave Alnwick must not be as tall as them, that or he kept well back from it! Once again I was in the cellar bar at the Canon’s Gait, in the same seat too (do other folk also tend to gravitate to seats they’ve sat in before?).

A seriously silly show! Not to everyone’s taste, these guys really know their absurdities. Some of it can almost come across as sinister and creepy, it doesn’t help knowing you have no clue what they might do next, well, maybe another refrain of “Call me Daddy”? Dan plays guitar for the songs, then Tom joined in on violin, he was rather good, I won’t say what he pulled out of the Gents loo at the side of the stage but he was rather good on that too! To be fair to the other shows I’ve reviewed, there were a few misses in this for me – they were too absurd?!

Hey, this means that though Privates have not brought their new show up to the Fringe, I will get to see all three of them! The other two thirds of Privates are up with their solo shows, yes, of course I have tickets. Anyway, must dash, I have a show to go to!

I’ve seen some things, you know!

Since I last tapped out a post to you I’ve seen six shows in six different venues. I could go through them in chronological order, nope, gonna go least favourite first; that would be Embassy Stomp at theSpace Triplex (yes, one of the tickets I was having problems booking, which irks me now that maybe I should have taken the hint!). Oh, it wasn’t all bad, it just could have been so much better. The plot was fine, pacy and silly, the car chase scene was great, but I wished two of the actors had dialled it back a bit. They were too much for me, made me think of a show I saw a few years ago same problems, shouting is not projecting and less mugging can be a lot funnier (it didn’t help that the room acoustics were not good for shouty voices and made them slightly incoherent). I do think though that there was potential, there were some good ideas; given a few years the two I had problems with may well become fine comic actors.

From a group of young enthusiastic actors to the other side of the business, two experienced older actors playing Holmes and Watson in The Return of Sherlock Holmes. Oh it was fine, maybe I would have enjoyed it more if I’d been sat further back, I felt a tad blasted by the performance of Holmes (very Jeremy Brett, I thought) but I can see that’s definitely a way to play him, just a teensy bit hammy for me. Another thing was, a whole conversation piece at the end of the play, it felt like it should have happened near the start but they’d somehow missed it out and decided to tag it on at the end to keep the time right; it just seemed odd to me. It’s on in the Dining Room at the Gilded Balloon until the 29th; Sherlock Holmes fans should go see it and most likely they will.

Next up, another theSpace venue, this time Surgeon’s Hall, I’ve seen plenty of shows here usually pretty good ones, so no pressure. I’d forgotten that Theatre 19 Presents: John was down as an absurdist comedy, now it makes more sense, or at least, what seemed absurd was meant to absurd, and some elements were delightfully so. Again, the room was not the best acoustically when volume overtook projection, but hey, another bunch of young, enthusiastic performers (with those dials up to 11 at times, again, come on directors!) Some of the characters seemed like they were borrowed from bad Radio 4 “comedies” but the plot was fine and the ending, somehow it took me by surprise, well played!

This afternoon I was in the Ballroom at The Counting House for Stand-Up Philosophy. An hour of four comedians (one host, three guests) being funny and philosophical on the topic of the day, which today was rationality. I like these types of shows as the stand-ups can’t just rely on their rehearsed material, we get to see more of their mettle, especially when our host would open the floor for questions! And if you go more than once it’ll be a different show each time. It’s on until the 29th but it was full today, so that bodes well for the run. The Counting House is part of the Laughing Horse family and so operates on Pay What You Can to guarantee entry or risk turning up and donating at the end; today looked like most had booked in advance, you have been warned.

Our genial host of Stand-Up Philosophy, Alex Farrow is next on my list with his own show Alex Farrow: Philosophy Pig. No, I didn’t go to his other show because I was impressed by his solo show, I actually bought that ticket first, but if I hadn’t, I would have bought one! Alex Farrow is an engaging chap with a quietly confident air. I bet he was a great teacher, easy-going but in control; he gave up teaching philosophy to do stand-up about it instead. Yes, an hour with Alex is informative and well as entertaining, plenty to muse on as well as chuckle over. The Pig bit? Humans are animals too and have a base piggy side. He also has a lot to say about bats and is a bat-watcher, good man! This show is next door to The Counting House at 32 Below, (also a Laughing Horse venue) best book in advance as it’s quite a small room and he’s filling it already!

Top show so far? John-Luke Roberts: It Is Better – Live! The man is a genius! Bonkers, but a genius. This show wasn’t in the Fringe programme but I heard about it from Monkey Barrel and quickly got a ticket as it was only on for a few nights, so so glad I did – for me it was the best show of his that I’ve seen. He was so charmingly engaging, (I think he may have mellowed a bit from the first time I saw him) and looked quite debonair with his long mane of hair and beard to match. It will take something very special to knock It Is Better – Live! off my top spot!