33 Shows Later – Ian’s Fringe Roundup…

Wow, nearly four weeks and 33 shows later, the Fringe is drawing to a close.  My favourite show was East End Cabaret: Notoriously Kinky but we saw so much great stuff that the next tier is very hard to call.  The full list is below, and everything 4* and above is in bold as it was all excellent.  I’ve also listed my picks for 2013.  This is my note to myself for what I should be trying to book on previews at half price!

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Resident songstress CherryFox

I don’t always write up reviews for compilations shows, but this year we went to see Itsy’s Kabarett at the Voodoo Rooms (on the Free Fringe) no fewer than three times.  On each occasion the lineup was different, and excellent fun.  I would highly recommend it!Sat 11th Aug at 7:15 was our first visit.  Three of the acts were so good we went to see their full shows: Creative Martyrs (5*), The Mechanisms (4*)and Fat Kitten Improv (3*).  Juggler Florian Brooks was also outstanding (we would have seen his full show if time permitted).  Other acts included JollyBoat (jolly), Impressive Johnson (who wasn’t) and resident songstress CherryFox.

Thursday 23rd at 7:15  was our second visit.  The highlights for me this time was Lega Malone, but Candy Poison was also excellent (both burlesque).  The Great Aziz did some fairly spectacular magic and Magenta Lust (burlesque), Jayde Adams (musical comedy) and of course CherryFoxcompleted the line-up.

On Friday 24th we gave the midnight show a go.  It was hosted by Myra DuBois and Miss Annabel Sings – both of whom were amusingly tipsy at the start and “fall off the stage” drunk by the end!  The whole thing was getting a little de-mob happy.  Highlights were Wil Hodgson (very funny comedian – would have seen his show if time permitted) and Magenta Lust who did a different piece of her act that was much more my thing.  I may be just slightly in love with her now…  Anyway, the Creative Martyrs were back as well and I never get tired of them.  Jayde Adams was back, and Jospephine Shaker gave us some belly dancing.  Abigoliah was very funny, although a hint of (wine induced) fringe fatigue was apparent…  CherryFox also did a different act from the last times we saw her, one I preferred.

Overall the standard at Kabarett was very high and it was a good atmosphere every time we went.  We will definitely be back next year – and in fact we’ll be looking out to see if Dee Itsy runs events outside of the festival too!

Idiots of Ants ANThology (4.5*)

Ruth’s Review

I have been following Idiots of Ants for a number of years now and I was sad they were not doing a full Fringe run this time.  Just a few night with a ‘best of’ show.  As ever it was excellent, Idiots of Ants are such a slick act.  Very funny.  Easily the best sketch act I have seen.  Shame it wasn’t new material but was glad to see the wii fencing sketch again (and sorry they didn’t include the swingers party).

Ian’s Review

I agree with Ruth completely – I love IoA and it was great to see some material I haven’t seen for a couple of years (I saw last year’s show twice).  They continue to go from strenght to strength.  I only hope they will be back next year for a full run with a new show!

Facehunters (4*) [2012]

Ian’s Review

This is a visually stunning piece of musical theatre, and the band and chorus were of a very, very high standard.  Amongst the principles there were some real stars too – if the talent of those on stage were the only criteria, this would have scored an easy 5* for me.  The atmosphere, dancing and vocals were far better than many of the touring companies we’ve seen at the playhouse.   There are some really excellent songs in there, and the energy of everyone on stage really engaged me.

The plot is based loosely on The Picture of Dorian Gray, but there is a secondary subplot about a drug-death that doesn’t really sit comfortably with the main plot.  In fact, it’s almost like watching two shows interleaved.  I wonder if this was written as a full musical, and something has been lost in the edit down to 1-hour format?

The other problem is the sound.  It was terrible, and as someone who has run sound for a lot of shows over the years I feel qualified to comment.  The Korg synth made some gorgeous sounds, but was far too loud most of the time.  The chorus weren’t miked up and didn’t need to be – they had plenty of vocal punch.  The pinciples were miked but either the mics were badly placed (I don’t know if they have changed design since I last handled this kit but they didn’t look right to me) or the mix was bad or both.  Half the time I could hear more of the principles direct (we were in the second row) than through the PA.  Of course the principles were expecting the PA to do some of the work for them and the ensemble were expecting to be competing with the PA, so at times the principles got a bit lost.  Other reviewers (from earlier in the run) have said the principles were hard to hear too, but I’m pretty sure that it’s a technical issue rather than a talent one.

The cast spent a fair bit of time playing so far forward on the stage they were out of the light, which was a little distracting.

A 5* company let down by 1* technical and a 3* script, but the energy and talent still gets it a 4* overall from me.

Ruth’s Review

Facehunters is a musical based around The Picture of Dorian Gray, that takes the piss out of pretentious arseholes and comments on the nature of youth, beauty, friendship and love.  The singing and dancing were excellent, at least as good as many of the touring professional musicals we get at the Edinburgh Playhouse.  It was extremely aesthetic, with lovely costumes and makeup.  Funny in places, and extremely dark in others.  The show had two sub-plots which never really came together, and it was let down by some dodgy sound management meaning you could not always hear the leads properly.  Overall very good though.

The Mysterious World Of Clovis Van Darkhelm (3.5* / 3*)

Ruth’s Review (3.5*)

A strange hour of a ‘lecture’ by an anthropologist and paranormal investigator who told us about some of his work.  It should have been painful and it was maybe not quite as excruciating as it could have been in places.  However, the random interjections from the dead war poets with their updated material was excellent, and the squirting Mongolian death worm that loved David Cameron was one of the funniest things I’ve seen.

Ian’s Review (3*)

Gently funny but unspectacular lecture on the life of a paranormal investigator.  I wasn’t quite as impressed with the death worm as Ruth was, so I’m giving this 3*.

Fat Kitten vs. the world (3*)

Ruth’s Review

Fat Kitten must have the best name in improv.  I love kittens.  In this show, Fat Kitten are up against another improv troop in a ‘who does the best improv?’ competition.  Fat kitten won, although on this occasion I preferred the other lot.  An amusing hour, not the best I’ve ever seen but fine.

Ian’s Review

The idea of a resident improv team competing with a visiting team seemes appealing, but in reality I think it mean that neither team ever really got into their stride, and they were both playing games they didn’t know well enough to be really slick at a good chunk of the time.  It was good fun, and there were clearly a lot of fans of both teams in the house as there was a fair bit of banter.  A good laugh, but there I’ve seen much better improv this year, most notably from The Noise Next Door.

East End Cabaret: Notoriously Kinky (5*)

Ian’s Review…

We’d heard good things about this show, there were some great reviews, and it was a runner up in the TO&ST award (the fringe Cabaret prize) along with Creative Martyrs and Lady Rizo, who we both loved.  So we bit the bullet and bought full-price tickets.  Expectations were high.

East End Cabaret did not disappoint.  A delightfully sinister and unnerving duo with a wonderful stage presence.  They are musically brilliant and while their songs are obscene, they are exceptionally clever too.  They are also very, very funny.  With themes including virginity, accidental necrophilia and the “danger wank”, they gleefully step beyond the edge of decency!  The relationship between the characters is exquisite and excruciating.

We grinned and laughed our way through the performance, and loved every minute of it.  We will be back next year (full price or not!) and the only reason we’re not going back tonight is that we already have tickets for something else.  It was that good, and that makes it my first 5* review of the year.

Quite simply brilliant.

Ruth’s Review…

I cannot speak more highly about this show, it was fantastic.  An easy five stars, the best one I have seen so far,  Brilliant. Essentially a singing act, the two performers have charisma, excellent voices and impeccable comic timing.  The songs are filthy but always have a clever spin.  It went far too quickly.