Meta-Reprogramming with Christopher Stewart (3.5*)

Ruth’s 3.5* review:

We didn’t particularly intend to go and see Christopher perform this spoken word session, but it was on at the right place at the right time.  Christopher gave us a lecture on metareprogramming to seduce the ladies.  I found it hilarious, I reminded me of Claudia O’Doherty’s lecture on soil erosion that I saw two years ago.  As soon as it started I wanted to text my friend E and tell her about it, she would have loved to have been there.  Well I laughed a lot, and enjoyed the audience participation.  I thought it was a clever idea and Christopher dealt well with the spontaneity required of the concept.  Afterwards, the session turned into a bit of a workshop where the audience chatted with Christopher about developing the idea.  What a nice, interesting guy he is.  We were then treated to a bit of original poetry.  This show was absolutely not polished, and it wasn’t the best thing I have seen so far, but 40 shows in it absolutely made my Fringe with its raw potential and the opportunity to get a bit involved.

2013-08-22 Fringe 0025Ian’s Review 3.5* 

This show It took place in a bizarre, mostly empty venue.  It started late.  This show was unscripted, unpolished and hastily rewritten.  It had all the hallmarks of disaster.  That’s OK with me.  I want to see different, interesting and experimental things on the Fringe, and frankly if you want to push the limits you’re going to see some crap.

I shouldn’t have worried.  Christopher was engaging from the outset, and the idea of an ironic lecture on meta-reprogramming is very clever.  The combination of slideshow and part-improvised audience interaction worked really well – so much so I had no idea he had rewritten the show in the hours beforehand!  Of course, if you go tomorrow you might see a completely different version, but I’m pretty sure it will still be good!  In complete contrast, he shared a haunting poem he had written about his grandfather.  The combination of poet, intellect, engaging manner and an eye for the absurd means and I think that as he becomes more confident in his material he could be truly dangerous!

I’ll definitely be looking out for Christopher Stewart next year, and if you’re looking for something exciting and different to round off your fringe, I’d really encourage you to look him up in the PBH Free Fringe programme!



Titty Bar Ha Ha (4* / 4.5*)

2013-08-13 Fringe 0010

Ruth’s 4* Review:

I saw an excerpt from this at The Distraction Club so thought I’d give it a go.  Hope and Gloria work in 1940s club Titty Bar Ha Ha, and in this show we are welcomed into their world.  This is mainly musical comedy with a storyline to hold it together, and quite a lot of filth thrown in.  The story is silly but works pretty well.  But it is the combination of costumes, accent, song and vulgarity that is hilarious and brings it all together magnificently. This show had quite a bit of audience participation and as I was one of the audience that participated this part was particularly awesome.  But the girls are so good I would have much preferred to skip this bit and just hear from them.  The singing was outstanding – lovely voices and lovely harmonies – and a real highlight for me was the mashup of Tainted Love and Bang Bang.  I also loved the kazoo section, and in particular the excerpt from Chess which was surprisingly beautiful.

Ian’s 4.5* Review:

Any show with a riotous kazoo duet of “I know him so well” from Chess (still humming it today) and a spectacular vocal  mash-up of “Bang Bang” and “Tainted Love” is going to be a winner in my book.  Set in a seedy club in WWII, Hope and Gloria mix smutty comic songs with entertaining audience interaction and exposition of their sordid back-stories.  They are likeable and engaging, and this was a nicely put together hour of light-hearted entertainment.  Some of the singing was really quite beautiful, and the characterisations are as charming as they are dark.

Captain Morgan and the Sands of Time (3*)

2013-08-04 Fringe 0022Ian’s 3* Review:

“Two actors. One musician. Forty-four characters. Captain Morgan and First Mate Hammond quest for the secrets of time travel in a rip-roaring pirate adventure comedy”

A silly romp which does exactly what it says on the tin.  The story has all the depth of a deflated paddling pool but it is enthusiastically presented with some good jokes, farcical physicality and plenty of pantomime style good fun.  The audience for the performance we saw went beyond “the seats are full” into “standing room only” and finally “sit on the floor at the front” (where we ended up) and everyone seemed to have a whale of a time.

If you’ve had your fill of high-brow stand-up and pretentious student theatre “re-imagings” this might be just the antidote you need!

Ruth’s 3* Review:

Captain Morgan is a pirate searching for the sands of time and the gift of time travel. This comedy play was acted by two young guys with no set, and a musician on the side. It was well done and the actors put a lot of energy into the performance – they were very physical which led to some entertaining moments. The place was packed out and we had to sit on the floor, and most of the people there were in hysterics. It was extremely well received. Overall I thought it was alright. It was pretty good, if a bit silly, but that’s fine.

Creative Martyrs: After the Apocalypse (4* / 4.5*)

2013-08-03 Fringe 0049

Ruth’s 4.5* Review:

The Creative Martyrs are involved with a post-apocalyptic cabaret show.  Things need to be taken in hand.  This mainly involves singing and playing the cello.  Not my first time at the Creative Martyrs, I enjoyed them very much last year.  These guys have a lot of presence and a genuine musical talent.  Basically they are weird.  Something about the combination of their look and their music and their subject matter.  It is amusing, but that’s not the appeal.  They are quirky and odd and it works brilliantly.  Liked the bit about the goat.

Ian’s 4.5* Review:

Another brilliant performance from an act with so much stage presence it’s almost scary!  The Creative Martyrs offer a really dark, sinister cabaret of funny songs interspersed with entertaining audience participation.

After last year’s excellent show from the Creative Martyrs: An Hour Long Sinister Wink (4.5* / 5*), I was really looking forward to seeing what they had to offer this year and it lived up to my expectations.  Once again this is one of my  picks for anyone looking for something thoroughly different on the Fringe!

I will probably be back to see it again before the festival season is over…

East End Cabaret: Dirty Talk (4*)

2013-08-02 Fringe 0003Ian’s 4* Review:

East End Cabaret was one of the highlights of the Fringe for us last year, so we were really looking forward to seeing this year’s show.  It was a good performance and entertained throughout.  For me however, it was ultimately a big let down.  There were very few of the songs that made last year’s show so great, and at least two of the songs were recycled.  Instead we got more comic interplay between Bernadette Byrne and Victor Victoria, which was amusing but lacked the sharp, gut-wrenching pathos of the previous show.  My expectations may have been too high and certainly the friends we were with enjoyed it, but for me it just didn’t have the magic.  A solid 4*

Ruth’s 4* Review:

My favourite act of last year, Bernie and Victy put on a cabaret show with filthy songs and banter. Most amusing and clever and a very high musical standard. I love the characters – Bernie with her sensual confidence and Victy with her sweetness and likeability and creepy stalkerish adoration of Bernie. Good, but I would have liked to see more songs.

Claudia O’Doherty: Pioneer (4*)

2013-08-01 Fringe 0003Ian’s 4* Review:

Ruth saw Claudia last year and loved the show, but this was my first time.  I wasn’t disappointed.  Claudia has a rather wonderful energy and presence, which she combines with a slightly surreal approach to comedy…  I’m not going to spoiler the show, but it has a really creative theme and I loved it.  It’s great to see something completely different from any format I’ve seen before!

Ruth’s 4* Review:

Completely coincidentally I’d scored free tickets to see Claudia O’Doherty the last two years and enjoyed her stuff, although it has been very very weird character comedy before. Last year Claudia was nominated for a big an award and (I suspect as a consequence) she’s packed out a fairly big venue. I was a bit unsure how that might go down as I really did not think her show would have a broad appeal. Well, this year Claudia’s show was a narrative about herself (or a character of herself) which I think made it much more accessible whilst retaining the integrity of the original with the same confident / awkward delivery. It had a wonderful sadness and desperation running though it, it was pathetic and complicated. Painful to watch. Dry. Funny. It was very very well done. With great SFX.

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*.