Archive for category Jodie Fleming-Stanley
Jodie’s favourite 2012 Fringe shows were:
Loretta Maine: Bipolar (review)
This wild and wanton beautiful creature had me spellbound within seconds, with a superior combination of scintillating stand-up and macabre melodies. One feels enriched after sharing this spectacular hour of decadent self-indulgence with Loretta Maine, the disturbed singer-songwriter creation of British comic Pippa Evans.
Hannah Gadsby: Mary. Contary. (review)
Hannah Gadsby has an intricate knowledge of religious icons, and showcases this awareness through countless images of Virgin Mary spanning the centuries. She shares her intelligence on perspective, background, symbolism, placement and style – all the while dropping razor-sharp one liners about unbroken hymens, piety and happy camels which all lighten the topic up to be both educational and very funny.
Rubies in the Attic (review)
An hour with four passionate, cultured and talented ladies who entertain us thoroughly with their adventures and misadventures, and the finale which is a mish-mash of the Suffragette song from Mary Poppins and ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ has the audience in an uproar.
In this 75-minute production, Rebecca Vaughan delivers an ethereal and macabre narration of three haunting tales of love and death. In each story, human defect is responsible for a grotesque series of events that result in love lost and eventual death. However death is not the end, and this gothic fiction flawlessly recounted by Vaughan is both unsettling and arousing.
Vaughan as sole actor does extremely well to speak for 75 whole minutes, impeccably delivering her stories of woe with a most expressive narrative, accompanied with music, wild gesticulation and mime. She maintains constant eye contact with the audience, which serves to keep us connected with Vaughan as she performs her long monologue, snuffing out the candle to indicate the end of one story and start of another. My only criticism of the show is that it is a very long time for the audience to sit in candlelight, with one lone voice as the single point of focus. Occasionally these conditions caused me to lose my way, but this was quickly gathered as I was eager to hear what Vaughan had to say.
Vaughan ends her performance with a message of caution, ‘take care ladies and gentlemen, there’s awfully strange things in this world’. A chilling end to a beautifully constructed triumph.
Matt Parker and Timandra Harkness bring us this consideration of human accomplishments compared to mother nature, featuring lots of technical wizardry, nerdy pilgrimages and fun facts. The material is very accessible to all, made clear to us via flow charts, voting pads and lego robots to ensure that no matter what your learning style, you will be both educated and entertained. Lots of funnies are interspersed throughout the essential conversations, which kick off with the big question of whether you can ‘outsource comedy to a robot’. Parker and Harkness have developed an algorithm that will allow a robot to know when something will be funny, and we witness a robot completing a rubiks cube in 53 twists.
There are double entendres a plenty in this robomatic sketch show, which examines 5 key elements to determine whether humans or nature are the overall winners in life. These include gravity; darkness; limited resources; weather and time and space. Where humans cannot defeat nature, can they overcome it? All will become clear in this whistlestop tour of engineering for dummies, which will ultimately convince you, as it did me, that ‘you can do anything with an engineer!’
The Ruby Dolls are four ladies who deliver an hour of theatre and song based around the family history of each doll. These ladies are real classy and sophisticated, with silky operatic style voices that resonate wonderfully in the Roxy Upstairs venue. The venue is laden with vintage luggage and props, with wonderfully choreographed dance routines.
The rich tapestry of geneology is explored in this show which has ‘ancestors scissor-kicking out the closets’. As each doll details her own individual heritage, we experience stories and songs from across the globe – including songs sung entirely in French and Italian. Audience interaction is also included as the Dolls ‘build an ancestor’, based on notes they have gathered from chatting with the audience before the show.
An hour with 4 passionate, cultured and talented ladies who entertain us thoroughly with their adventures and misadventures, and the finale which is a mish-mash of the Suffragette song from Mary Poppins and ‘Don’t Rain on My Parade’ has the audience in an uproar. My only criticism of this show is that the songs sung in other languages went on for a very long time, and as a non-speaker of those languages, my mind did tend to wander. And there was plenty for it to wander to, with the great stage paraphernalia the Dolls had engineered. This is an enjoyable and sophisticated hour of musical theatre with something for everyone.
Mae Martin is a sharp and sweet Canadian, who immediately warms her audience with an hour of self-deprecating and intimate revelations about her dreams and deepest fears. These include her quest for coolness, her fear that the world is ending and her dislike of Kesha. Martin’s stand-up is exemplary, and although she includes some songs in her show, the strength of her performance is her stand-up. The audience relates to her awkward anecdotes like crushing on her camp leader; sex as ‘a nice interlude in the horror of living’ and a dislike for olives – which personally resonates deeply with me!
Martin communicates confidently about her sexuality, although this doesn’t define her or her material which is refreshing. She effortlessly smashes straight stereotypes like lesbian relationships and who is the ‘man’, and also the illusion that once gay, always gay and vice versa. Martin delivers a charismatic and charming show that engages well with her audience, and the hour passes very quickly. I’d like to hear more of Martin’s escapades and anecdotes – one gets the impression she has a much vaster array of experiences than what the impression she portrays. An hour of rapier wit and cute charisma, combined to deliver this fascinating exploration into Martin’s mind.
Arney is a self-confessed ‘geek songstress’, aspiring to bridge the gap between science and music. She aims to do this by creating ‘one seamless work’ incorporating the two seemingly conflicting topics, and with this show she succeeds in this endeavour. Her material is a fantastic exploration into the world of maths and science, with highbrow humour, ven diagrams and song assisting her in her quest.
Arney reveals her ‘statistical analysis of parental pride’, which is revisited throughout the show. Other topics include the curiosity mission, quantum physics and the Cox effect – and we discover what pushed Arney in the direction of physics. ‘The odds are good, but the goods are odd’ is a legendary quote in this context. We become pupils in Arney’s ‘School of Sci-fidelity’, and engage in a sing-along. The latter though was irritatingly long, and Arney’s attempts at explaining the enormity of a googelplex became irksome. Similarly, continuous reference to her boyfriend in the corner and conversing with him via slide was both pointless and galling.
It appears that Arney believes her material is accessible to all, and for around 50% of the show this is accurate. However the other 50% includes countless specialist knowledge in-jokes, and I – with a good workable knowledge of the sciences – felt out of depth in places. It was not a comfortable feeling. Arney asked the scientists in the room to identify themselves, which I felt then created a distinct division in the audience. This was reinforced by the fact that the ‘in-the-know’ crowd laughed throughout, whilst us mere mortals could only look on enviously as the scientists and Arney communicated through their own secret language.
For anyone of the science persuasion, this is undoubtedly a 4-star show. And for those who aren’t, it’s still highly recommended. Arney has a good stage presence, and there are parts that are well explained. And you get a certificate at the end! A well-paced, humorous glimpse at a collision of art and science, delivered with a passionate and contagious enthusiasm by Arney.
Underbelly, Bristo Square 7.30pm (run ends 267h August)
Hill dazzles as always, expertly capturing his adoring audience immediately and holding them there as he explosively minces on stage like a butterfly on crack. Hyper-gyrating his groin toward the audience, he immediately launches into some cultural humour with gags about Glaswegians and Leithers. Hill’s show consists of 100% audience interaction, which we performs with such warmth and effortless ease that we could almost believe we’re on a night out at the pub with a friend – as opposed to a captive audience being entertained by a comedy phenomenon.
Peppered amongst the interaction, Hill drops in hilarious anecdotes of his own misadventures, ranging from speaking Spanish, to learning sign language, to a few risqué allusions to his sex life. The mainly middle class, heterosexual audience predictably lap up Hill’s comic campiness, daring him to step it up as he riles the straightest-looking men in the audience.
An evening with Hill will never disappoint. Humour oozes out of his every pore in rainbow-coloured droplets. Every night is different, as Hill adeptly teases his nightly audience – each one a fresh carcass for him to violate. My only disappointment with this show was that some of Hill’s gags were also present in last year’s show – the South African ‘mother’s cunt’ anecdote, and the conversation around shortening the name Richard – ‘it could be Dick, it could be hard – either is good with me’. I appreciate that where stand-up is completely interaction-based and not scripted, it’s easier for repetition to occur. However someone with Hill’s obvious aptitude should perhaps be more aware of this.
An hour of dazzling stand-up with the scintillating Pidsley, guiding us through an exploration of our emotionally turbulent relationship with our bodies. Pidsley describes herself as ‘the stand-up version of Gok Wan’, and I felt this was a huge assertion to make. But Pidsley certainly lives up to her claim, with this concise dissection of societal messages, learned behaviour and how to make a change. It’s not just another treacly-sweet-love-yourself diatribe; Pidsley is dynamic and funny whilst getting her point across in an unassuming manner.
With technical tomfoolery, political throw-aways and acid one-liners that are hit out like pellets out a bb gun, Pidsley is a natural on stage. She ad-libs and interacts with the audience with a manner as slick as Gok Wan’s fashion sense, and they all identify with her. Pidsley is self-deprecating to the extreme, and we eagerly absorb it all in, hoping that Pidsley’s ultimate journey of self-discovery will convey itself to us through atmosphere osmosis. She delves into her school photographs to identify the pinnacle of her descent into childhood obesity, and behind the gags this is where Pidsley has a real message to convey. That she does this through satirical parody compels us to take note in a way some of us normally never wood, and when she hands out ‘L-plate sized badges for learning to love yourself, even the most emotionally blunt granite hearts (ie. me) are eager to join the campaign. The self-abuse charity video is a comedy masterstroke, and I’ll be searching for that on YouTube later!
Pidsley is candidly compelling and risqué, with an avant-garde sexiness and confidence supporting her comedy that draws us in like middle aged lesbians around a litter of kittens.
As one approaches the gargantuan black latex shrouded box that Peep inhabits, we are overcome by a salacious sense of bawdy excitement. Each audience member is treated to an individual peep hatch, where we put on headphones and sit back and enjoy the show. Already a unique backdrop has been set, for a show that’s a little bit special.
3 different plays are each run 3 times a day, and at 20 minutes long these bite-sized gems are a tiny treat that isn’t cumbersome on your time. I was curious as to what could be accomplished in 20 minutes, but when ‘Sex Life’ was over I was in awe at the emotional journey that had been achieved in my short stay at Peep. Presenting the topic of how to revive a post-baby sex life, the script candidly confronts the real underlying issues – rivalry, jealousy and lust -v- functionality. Dan (Ifan Meredith) performs a beguiling rendition of ‘Sweet Transvestite’, complete with basque, suspenders and heels. This exhibition of vulnerability symbolises a link that allows Mia to explore hers, and the fractured relationship is en route to being repaired.
This plot is a feat of magic, unfurling like the tiniest origami that unfolds into a beautiful, sensuous creature that captures the audience immediately. Warning: Peep is addictive! Now that I’ve seen one, I have to see the rest!
Gemma Leads and Julia Stern commence their hour of sketch with a voice over answer message from the deceased third member of their crew. The constant referral to his passing, which is interweaved throughout the show, detracts from the comedy atmosphere that Leads and Stern work hard to build, as an emotional transition from comedy trio to duo is not in keeping with the tone surrounding these extraneous moments.
Leads and Sterns’ material is accessible, humorously ironic and contains a range of observational and circumstantial humour. It raises a fair few chuckles from the audience – but nothing that will have your sides aching for very long unless you’re a particular fan of slapstick stoicism. Skits include bank robbers, horse masks and speed dating – with the occasional risqué quip thrown in. A mass shoot-out completes the show, lifting the tone after some poor ‘memorial dedications’ sung to their absent third compadre tears down the good spirits gleaned from the rest of the performance.
Leads and Stern undoubtedly have talent. However this performance appeared cobbled together and chaotic in places, with some total downers that destroyed the feel-good factor. I think the due need to figure out what it is they actually want to achieve and write a show around that. Still an enjoyable watch though, and a good show to ease you into evening shows.
Posted by Martin in 3 stars, Graters: Julian Ignores His Friend and Talks to a Pretty Girl, Jodie Fleming-Stanley, Underbelly on August 12, 2012
A bipolar mish-mash of comedy sketch and theatre plot, which places Julian and his friend in a bar. As the title suggests, Julian abandons his friend to chat up two pretty ya’s, to whom he conceitedly shares his ‘flowing ideas’ for comedy sketches. As the trio sit at a bar table on one side of the stage, on the other side the sketches are acted out.
The sketches aren’t terribly funny, but they contain flashes of brilliance and enough humour to muster laughs from the audience. There’s a spoof pirate impression, a psychic medium channeling an unwilling spirit and a scene of police brutality which are amongst the funniest. Several are icky and cringe-worthy though, like the cannibal licking mustard and ketchup from someone’s bare feet, and a crass song about a mother’s ‘pink, warm womb’ and ‘creamy breast milk’.
In trying to do too much, I fear this performance does neither to its full potential. The producers need to decide if this is sketch or theatre, as the combination of both is a juxtaposition which in this instance is not successful. The performance is enthusiastically acted though, well rehearsed with a character dynamism emanating from the large cast that save the day. Interesting and fresh material in a show that will definitely appeal to the average fringe demographic.
When I initially sat down for this performance, for a moment I thought I’d walked into the wrong show. From what had been advertised on the poster, the two comedians who presented themselves to us in the Assembly Hall were as far removed from their PR images as possible. Both appeared on stage wearing food-encrusted black trousers, with crumpled, stained, grey-but-once-white shirts – one with a button missing. This vagrant-chic didn’t appear to have any bearing to the content of their performance, so it puzzled me.
What we were presented with throughout Beard was fast and fleeting situational sketches, which were more ‘scenarios’ than comedy sketches. Scenarios with a bit of hyperbole thrown in, if you like. There was the family portraits sketch, in which Matilda Wnek held an empty picture frame up to the cross-eyed Rosa Robson, who pulled some faces as Mattie reeled out a few family names. Stalker girl, ignored by the object of her affections as he was on stage. A vibrating alarm clock created when a truck of vibrators collided with a truck of alarm clocks. An engagement, but – oh, how funny – the wedding’s in an hour! And by the point that Robson inelegantly stuffed a banana into her mouth and spat it back out on stage, I had zoned out.
I was left pondering how this duo had garnered the 4 star ratings on their flyers. I was bored from the beginning, as the highlight of the whole show was a one-liner from a funeral eulogy sketch which referred to the deceased as ‘alpen of our lives – oaty and in a box’. I found this show unremarkable, which was probably why I focused on the missing button and dirty clothes.
This fringe institution returns with another manic merging of Shakespeare and pop culture. Glee-esque, upbeat power ballads are the backdrop to the show, which is Romeo and Julie populated by chavs, ya’s and geeks. As an avid lover of the Bard, the Shakespeare/pop culture ratio felt rather unbalanced – but I applaud this attempt to modernise a classic and pull it into the context of today’s society.
Hashtag, siri, facebook and 50 Shades of Grey all make appearances in this upbeat parody of the Shakespearean classic tragedy. Quotes like ‘I know you’re only 14 so it’s a bit creepy’ got lots of laughs from the audience, as did the ‘Saturday Night’ dance and a rendition of ‘Kiss the Girl’ from the Little Mermaid. The Lion King was showcased in the wedding scene, and references to sunbeds and ‘naive smoothies’ garnished further audience approval.
I felt there was a slapdash and chaotic element to the performance, with a few fluffed lines and some wobbly acting in places. Particularly notable for flawlessly exuberant performances were Friar Tuck, Romeo and Tybalt who shone like post-storm sunbeams. There was good reference to the play in question, and without being told which play the performance was depicting, it would still have been clear. I feel the fundamental themes of the play – which are essential to Shakespeare – were however overlooked. And whilst I admired the attempts at sticking to Shakespearean tradition and cross-gender roleing the actors, in this instance the large-breasted bimbo depictions were rather irksome.
This show is selling out daily, and with free coffee and croissants this is a fantastic way to commence your festival day. Just don’t go expecting the Royal Shakespeare Company as this is not what this company is about. It’s about accessability, which is more than provided in this quickly-passing ensemble. Recommended!
Slice by Mel Giedroyc
1pm (run ends 27th August)
This is a slice of dysfunctional family life, as 3 sisters are reunited in a thunderous fusion. All is not as it seems, and their lives unravel as refletions and confessions resonate over the buttercream icing. We are introduced firstly to Victoria, living a life of servitude as her mother’s carer. Next is Madeleine, a glamorous Los Angeles inhabitant who doesn’t believe in dirty carbs and has a grudge or two to reveal. Finally there is Charlotte, a stable Mother Earth type who has life all figured out.
Throughout the performance, a husky Nigella-esque voice-over booms out the recipe and method of baking victoria sponge. The cake topic doesn’t have any particular context to the play, and without is the carcass of a story which is really not very original. Fractured family relationships repaired at a reunion where they work for a common goal – which in this instance is the again-cliched cruel and over-bearing mother who is on her deathbed. I felt the unravelling of ‘Charlotte’ was particularly unconvincing, who in one scene was a strong, empowered woman with everything she ever wanted – however a couple of acid comments from her sister later is now a defeated and crushed spirit. The actress playing ‘Madeleine’ shone in this performance, who inhabited her character so well that I could believe it had been written around her actual personality. Swigging whiskey, she had all the best lines and performed them with a biting address that was both poignant and entertaining.
This is an interesting show, and although a bit clichéd I would still recommend viewing it. It’s a brief little play about envy, anger and stolen lovers, and anyone who has experienced any form of family dynamic will draw something from the performance.
Assembly, Roxy 5.30pm (run ends 27th August)
This Californian comic with a PhD is suave and sophisticated, with his harp dress sense and announcer voice. He delivers an hour of intellectual humour, resulting in us feeling simultaneously entertained and educated.
We are enlightened as Lee transforms complex theories into simplified allegories that we are familiar with – ideal for anyone who enjoys geek humour. Making science accessible, Lee compares Marx’s Value Theory to the difference between Pamela Anderson and Joan Rivers; Scalars and Vectors are explored via Lindsey Lohan’s drug stash, Louis Walsh and a bomb; and Enzyme Cascade is explained as a bad date which results in an accumulation of bad references. The creationism -v- evolution rap raises many laughs, and constant references to social media also resonate with the audience.
Lee is a natural on stage with his scripted comedy, however I’d like to see him challenge himself to more audience interaction. Lee has achieved an excellent show in this pop-culture-meets-science performance, however the funniest parts were when he ad libbed from his script (or feigned this) and we actually heard about Lee, about his neuroses and thoughts and anecdotes. More personalisation from Lee and from the audience would easily lift this show to a 5-star performance. A polished, well-executed, sharp celebration of intellectual funny that will make you truly believe that science can be fun. Lee is electric on stage as he captures his audience immediately, with diagrams, graphs, screen presentations and props that you will remember long after the Fest is over.
A family-friendly interactive comedy that examines whether we can make cards into viable weapons! Javier Jarquin has returned to the Fringe after huge success last year, and this show is quite simply astounding. Jarquin achieves feats of wonderment that will have you so spellbound that you start to turn blue, as you’ve been holding your breath in sheer anticipation of whether he will complete the many challenges he sets for himself.
Half-latin, half-chinese Jarquin talks humorously about how his obsession with cards began, and this combined with his love of extreme martial arts birthed this show in which he performs astounding feats. We witness him bouncing cards off walls, throwing a card that curves round the entire audience, spin them in mid air, juggle with them, have them hover and boomerang, and he beats a world record also in having 147 cards thrown over a 12 foot distance in one minute. Jarquin also treats us to the sight of him throwing martial art moves whilst simultaneously bursting a balloon with a playing card, doing one-handed hand-stands whilst spinning a card in the air and also performing kill-shots by piercing a polystyrene robot with cards in all its vital organs. Jarquin is beyond talented, and it’s not just his slight of hand and muscled, martial arts physique that has us hypnotized. Jarquin has a stage presence which infatuates every audience member, with his upbeat humour and smooth audience interaction.
Jarquin is a personable, likeable performer who draws the audience in like an industrial magnet. We are enchanted by his skills; enthalled with his interactive games and transfixed by his humour which hits us in the head like a massive boomerang falling out of the sky and back into the back pocket of Jarquin’s trousers. This show sits in an ideal, early time slot which will be a fantastically upbeat start to your festival day.
Gadsby tackles the hot-topic of the moment in this exploration of gay marriage, gender stereotypes and sexuality through the medium of art. With her very own unique combination of intellect and edgy humour, Gadsby dissects a painting she admires which has been used on an anti-gay flyer. This allows Gadsby to explore her own motivations for wanting to marry, which she claims is ‘to make it more difficult for someone to leave her’. Behind the facade of humour, it’s evident that this is a matter close to Gadsby’s heart, and this commences a journey into the history of society’s relationship with women.
Gadsy analyses many different images from across the ages, from religious to contemporary, as she discusses time travelling lesbians and what the best era to live in would be. There’s a hint of self deprecation from Gadsby, as she refers to herself as ‘fat with glasses’, though this makes the audience warm to her as she confides to us her fear of an apocalypse, which motivated her to get a motorbike. We delve into the history of how women have been treated in society, from being burnt at the stake to being muzzled to the first vibrator, which was created as an anti-hysteria device.
As always, Gadsby dazzles with her enthralling stage presence, her beguiling manner and her ability to throw out acid one liners and then pull the audience back with boomerangs of humour so sharp that she should have a first aider standing by. A super hot and intelligent performance that everyone should see at least once.
Gadsby treats us to a whistlestop tour of 2000 years of religious art, drawing on her skills as a qualified art historian. The show opens with the upbeat ‘Like a Prayer’, and continues with a detailed exploration of the many different ways that the Virgin Mary is pictured, photographed, tattooed, carved and animated. The sheer volume of different kinds of images supplied here is remarkable, with my personal favourites being the Super Marie superhero Mary, and the Banksy graffiti art.
Gadsby has an intricate knowledge of religious icons, and showcases this awareness through countless images of Virgin Mary spanning the centuries. She shares her intelligence on perspective, background, symbolism, placement and style – all the while dropping razor-sharp one liners about unbroken hymens, piety and happy camels which all lighten the topic up to be both educational and very funny.
This is the first of two shows that Gadsby is performing, and in every aspect this is a fluent and confident delivery. I didn’t stop laughing the whole way through, and Gadsby’s constant eye contact with the audience enabled us to connect with her immediately. A charmingly intelligent performance that will dazzle you with its details and delivery.
The Big Bite-Sized Breakfast Show is back with another 3 different shows, each one consisting of 4 or 5 small performances. The day I visited, we were treated to Menu 1, which had a 1940′s theme throughout. The first thing that struck me was how true to form everything about this polished performance was. From the props, to the amazing questions, to the hairstyles and characteristics, this production oozed 1940′s to the extent that I felt like I’d been physically removed to the era.
The content of the bite-sized plays I watched were all extremely varied, with the first being about a couple who had adopted the 1940′s lifestyle to a damaging degree. An interesting concept, and the message being that living in the present like it’s the past is always going to bring problems. The second was about a war wife, left empty when her husband returns from war a changed man. The third was a liaison with a stranger in a bomb shelter, with saucy consequences – and the last was about a performer who invented a tornado using radio control.
The same set of actors starred in all the performances, with songs interspersed throughout that showcased the full extent of the actors’ abilities. Each of them inhabited their characters so well that I couldn’t imagine these people living in the 21st century, so convincing was their portrayal of their roles. This is an hour of fast paced, sophisticated entertainment with a real sparkle. Croissants, coffee and strawberries are also provided, meaning this show sets you up for an upbeat and happy day both physically and mentally.
McDonnell erupts on stage in a flurry as he shakes his white locks and swings his body round in a pseudo-dance, grabbing our attention as his broad Dublin accent booms down the microphone. He makes some small talk about the air conditioning, reassuring the audience that ‘other shows may be more fun, but none of them will be as comfortable’. He then goes on to regale us about his near-death experience and gives us some background to his rad name. He explains that people go through ‘the 5 stages of grief’ when they hear his name, which all creates a fantastically energetic start to the show.
McDonnell doesn’t stop talking for the full hour, and with little audience interaction this is an hour of some of the finest stand-up in the Fringe. It’s clear that McDonnell is a veteran comic, and the lack of massive audience interaction is not something which detracts from the show. McDonnell has us thoroughly ensnared in what he has to say that we find ourselves hanging on his every syllable, relaxed as every sentence produces mass applause from the audience. He explains why paedophiles get better insurance rates than comedians, discusses the Manchester riots and commends the fear that the rest of Europe hold about British drinkers. McDonnell becomes particularly animated about both the riots and about a badger he gets into a fight with, although the badger story did seem to go on for a long time.
McDonnell claims to not be into ‘cheap humour’, and this hour is packed full of fresh and funny material that opens us up to his vulnerabilities. For someone who has written a show based on his apparent lack of people skills or ability to interact on a basic level with others, he does a fantastic job of disguising that. McDonnell is the epitome of astonished exuberance, and this hour will have you on your knees with laughter.
A flawlessly delivered performance by Sarah Bennetto and friends, in this glimpse into the world of office temps. Anyone who’s ever worked in an office will identify with all the dynamics here – the office bitch; the aloof CEO; the sleazy Exec and the goofy janitor and of course, the temps. Although this show is based around what is essentially a stereotype, it all resonates so truly and is presented in such a palpable manner that the audience are laughing and nodding their heads for the full hour.
The two main characters are temps at a multi-national company, and the new temp is given a thorough induction into the lifestyle by a more experienced temp. He teaches her the golden rules of temping – ‘don’t get caught, don’t get attached!’ and together they explore the highs and lows of life without a permanent contract. The show is lifted to another level as a sub-plot develops, spinning the whole stereotype on its head and leaving only positives for the disillusioned temps.
Each cast member convincingly adopts their given characters, and the audience connects with them all immediately. I particularly enjoyed the performance of the CEO. A very talented group of people who have brought this idea to life with their energy, humour and likeability. Highly recommended to anyone who’s ever worked in an office!
The concept behind this show is brilliant, and it’s orchestrated to such a high standard that it works phenomenally! What the audience get in Seeing Double: Vision is the showcase of an amateur dramatics company, struggling to put on a performance of MacBeth with an inexperienced director and a shoe string budget. What we don’t discover until later is that simultaneously there is another group of people watching our show as it happens, Seeing Double: Figures, where our footage is transmitted and they experience the behind-the-scenes antics of the players in our performance.
The script in itself is sensational. The cast of the prospective play fall apart and descend into chaos, inadvertently starring in their very own Shakespearean tragedy that contains all the essential elements of the bard – mistaken identity; betrayal; lies; love and ultimate justice. By manipulating the audience and creating this alternate reality which is run as a separate-but-inseparable show, the performance is lifted to an entirely new level of outstanding.
Convincingly acted by a large cast, this performance is sensational and as the plot line descends into riotous disorder, the audience is suitably emotionally invested to truly appreciate the ingenious double aspect of the show. The Bard himself would be proud of this accolade, and it’s an invigorating way to start the day.
A passionately delivered ensemble that presents three delectable gents quarrelling their way through an hour of upbeat, jocular sketch.
Gravel Comedy bring us sixty minutes of absurd buffoonery, with skits featuring celebrity impressions, book publishers and script writing. There was a magnetic dynamic between the 3 performers, which juxtaposed nicely with the pseudo-squabbling that infiltrated every scene.
There is a child-like quality about several of the sketches, as they feature the Easter bunny, spot the dog, pirate maps, dragon slaying and force-feeding of baked goods. I enjoyed the last scene in particular which drew to a conclusion all the loose ends left by the sketches. It was very well done! I personally found the perpetual altercating in every scene wearisome after the second or third sketch, and it would be good to mix this up a bit.
The finale with the classical dance was legendary, and overall this shows works well. An hour of light-hearted tomfoolery that will leave you with a hunger for pastries!
Keen is back on top form with her unique style of geeky humour, DIY props and shadow puppetry. In this exceptional hour you will laugh so hard your abs will feel like they’ve been beaten to within an inch of your life, and you will come away wiser and educated. There are several science-based shows on this year, but none of them manage to pull it off quite like Keen – and she was doing it years before the Big Bang Theory ever did! Here we have our very own sexy scientist, along with the Enormo-Maiden to illuminate us about a variety of topics from futurist female role models, to the inventor of photocopiers and how much we reveal of ourselves online.
Keen draws the audience in with a slightly self deprecating glimpse of her crushed dreams, failed relationship and high expectations. She talks of a sheltered childhood shrouded in sci-fi, and educates us on the fascinating topic of fan fiction. Keen plays us a video of the world’s first sex robot, and ponders how this fits into the context of society and the emotional responses this would receive.
Once again Keen has produced a show that’s fresh, upbeat and proves that science really can be sexy. There were many Keen fans in the queue to this show, excitedly anticipating what she’d pull out of the bag this year. Keen stayed behind at the end to chat to fans, and this humility all adds to her charm. A mid-afternoon show that will make you laugh, make you think and most of all make you glad that you picked this exquisite little number to pass the afternoon.
Kathryn Bond and Lorna Shaw star in this song and stand-up sketch show, and there is no shortage of flesh on show as they are draped in silky garb throughout. The show is structured around Bond and Shaw’s ‘pop-up shop’, which sells everything from bespoke sketches to magnets and photos of their dads and grand-dads. There are props a-plenty used throughout the performance, and costume changes for each sketch.
Highlights of the show include the chavvy Durham work-out dance and Shaw’s continual references to her ex’s which was intentionally threaded in a creative and humorous way. The audience interaction was rather bizarre … dead silence fell upon the venue several times as it appeared that Bond and Shaw were waiting for us to say something. But unfortunately a lack of direction met none of us actually knew what was expected. This was particularly apparent in the auction sketch.
Scattered throughout the slapstick sketches were the most incredible vocals from both Bond and Shaw, who really should showcase this talent a bit more. I wanted to hear more of their vocals, and I felt sad when these were cut short and in their place was sketches which were of a lower quality. Also bringing the standard of the show down was a rather sudden and random appearance from another comedian, doing a 5-minute plug of his show on at another venue. The guest comedian was of a much lower standard than Bond and Shaw, and I did not enjoy his interjection.
The Silky Pair is a worthy show for afternoon viewing, and will certainly bring a smile to your face to help you avoid the mid-afternoon slump. No trailblazer, but it’s certainly one to see.