Pretending To Be: Cultural Reporter- Live At The Edinburgh Fringe (part IIa)

And the coverage of the Edinburgh Fringe festival continues. We go now to our outside broadcast team…

Mervyn Stutter has been performing at The Fringe for 26 years. For 21 of these, he’s been hosting The Pick Of The Fringe- a daily ‘best-of’, with a mixture of whatever he feels is good enough to give a glimpse to his audience. The 90 minute shows whizzes along at good speed, with no delay between the variety of acts.
Mervyn, clad in a bright pink suit à la Miami Vice/Barry Venison (delete as appropriate) makes a good compere, reminding me in tone and style of Chris Tarrant, if he decided to keep up the comedy instead of getting into gameshows.

The six shows given previews today are a mix of comedy, musical, serious theatre and circus skills. First up is Bad Musical, who self-advertised as ‘theatrical cack’ create a musical where anything and everything WILL go wrong. And in a case of life imitating art, the sound system for the backing track fails. So instead, the team bring on the back-up: The Two Nevilles- a duo of old school humour who are so reliable, they know their act backwards. So they do it. With chaotic results. If this is what Bad Musical can create when things go wrong, I’ll be impressed when things work right. 9/10.

Next is circus graduate Asher Treleavan, with his ‘sexy diablo’/’macho diablo’ skills. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Complete with slighty off-the-wall gags, he’s weird at times near-unsettling, but brilliant. Even when mistakes were made, he could recover and make the show even stronger. 10/10.

Third on the bill is an extract from Hot– a cabaret about narcissism. And not wanting to do a cabaret. Singing Someone Like You, Damsel Sofie lacks context with this, but curiosities are aroused- in all, the best way to advertise a show- lure people in. 7/10

The variety takes the turn for the more serious. An Evening With Dementia is a one-man show with Trevor T. Smith portaying an elderly actor who HAS dementia, but NOT suffering from it. Moments of dark humour perforate a poignant, thoughtful piece (although Smith’s acting reminded me of the MacPhisto character Bono created during the ZOO TV tour in the early 1990s). Powerful stuff. 9/10.

The winner of the 2011 International Playwright Competition, Annie McCourt and under the direction of Tom Foster, Moth To The Flame, a one-act two-person play is a cross between a ‘first love’ story and a tale of betrayal, moving subtly and cleverly between the two. The young actorss are truly fantastic here, and the audience are brought into the story via inner monologues and flashbacks. Worth seeing. 6/10.

‘Things We Did Before Reality’ is the new show by Will Franken. Surreal. Oddball impersonations and continuity annoucements create a truly strange, but hilarious, show. 8/10.

Last but by no means least is some music- Lady Sings It Better is a brilliant premise: Musical gender-swapping. Suddenly a ‘manly’ power ballad becomes a feminist anthem. Including Queen, AC/DC, Nine Inch Nails (beat them to the punchline with that one!) and Meat Loaf, brilliantly modern thought into pop music. Try and catch it. 9/10.

Mervyn Stutter does his job well- a testament to his 26 years working here. Therefore, you can trust his choices. They’re different everyday, and give good ideas if you’ve got space in your festival schedules.

Pick Of The Fringe is on at the Pleasance Courtyard. Individual shows are advertised.

(Dial Tone)

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