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)

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!

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!