One-Liners: Edinburgh Fringe Festival Reviews

I’ve written more detailed reviews for The Norwich Radical on shows by the Kitten Killers, Luke Stephens, Kate Smurthwaite, Pole and Hannah Chutzpah. Here I’ve included some smaller reviews to give you a flavour of some of my other many highlights.

Megan Ford: Feminasty

Satirical, character sketches and comedic speeches on gender, Ford switches between characters to connect comedy to more serious issues. We get a cool, informative zine on the way out, and a badge.

Shazia Mirza: A Word In Progress

There were moments I wasn’t sure about: the mention of ‘political correctness’, jokes about fat people, and Jewish people, and the upset at the mention of the girls who left Bethnal Green Academy. I work at the school down the road, and it’s something that directly impacts on the students I teach, but perhaps the point was to create discomfort. The theory that they went “for dick” seemed sadly poignant once the laughter died down and we were told that “epilator, knickers and body lotion” were on the top of their packing list. This is a slightly longer review, because I’m interested to see where the show will go, because, although funny, the ending – a commentary on Islam and so-called “ISIS” was momentous and powerful.

Bridget Christie: A Book For Her

There were at least three acts who mentioned the tax on sanitary products, but Christie suggested the ingenious idea of sending bloody knickers with “END VAT’ on them to George Osborne. In this show, she gave an ironic definition of what being a Feminist means and turned to politics in the UK and USA, with an intersectional focus on race issues.

Katherine Ferns: Conscious Incompetent

I disagreed with points made about “manspreading”, which is simply indicative of patriarchy, and as much a part of it as anything else, I didn’t like jibes at Beyoncé, and I didn’t like the use of the word “retarded”. However, she also made the obligatory tampon tax joke, and her ability to touch on taboo subjects such as incest, rape and pedophilia was both clever and somehow funny (and not in an offensive way). She spoke frankly of what difficulties in her life, from depression to drugs, and weighed up whether decisions she’d made were brave or stupid. Well, I’d say the brave outweighs the stupid.

Jack Rooke: Good Grief

He probably won’t want his youth commenting on, but I left Rooke’s show in awe of what he is doing. Not only has he created this wonderful show, which has the perfect balance of comedy and more sombre moments, but he is symbolic of how the personal is political. What goes on with the government directly impacts on our lives, and through The Good Grief Project, he is challenging current changes to the Widowed Parent’s Allowance.

Harry Baker: The Sunshine Kid

You couldn’t help but smile throughout this show, as Baker took us through his life prior to university to now through his poetry, which can be found in the book of the same title by Burning Eye Books.

David Lee Morgan: Building God

An intense show about revolution and communism, Morgan’s voice kept audiences captivated through his ways with words and the beat of the music he played as a backdrop.

Stephanie Laing: Nincompoop

A show about shame that started with not letting an old lady sit down, and inevitably went on to talk about drunken behaviour, bad dreams and sexual antics. With songs and a flute, Chesney Hawks, and a serious note about shame and self-harm, what’s not to love?

Bryony Kimmings and Tim Grayburn: Fake It ‘Til You Make It

I gave this show a standing ovation. I’ve never been made to cry from watching dancing before this. I bought the play text, but I wish I could relive the experience as I read. Bryony Kimmings and her real-life partner Tim Grayburn use comedy, dance, and spoken word to speak about mental health more honestly than I’ve ever seen before. It was incredibly touching and I wanted to cry a lot more than I actually did.

Sophia Walker: Can’t Care, Won’t Care

An insight into the care industry through a legal battle between the state and the carer. This shows as in with such jobs, there is minimal pay and agency for those who truly care about the individuals they work for, the service users. It was honest and passionate, and so heartbreaking.

The Kagools

No words and a whole lot of audience participation. I was thankful to do no more than eat a Hula Hoop. The best part was their use of pre-recorded material on the screen, and that whilst it felt like each part was a random act, it tied neatly together by the end.

Elf Lyons: Being Barbarella

I loved the Feminist angle of wanting to be this confident person, and wanting to be empowered sexually and otherwise. Lyon’s mis-matching accents was especially funny, as well as her use of costume.

Ben Norris: The Hitchhikers Guide to the Family

Ben Norris explores his relationship with his father through a hitchhike through all the places his dad had lived, proving an interesting story that explored masculinity as a whole and was sure to connect with many men in the audience.

Aisling Bea: Plan Bea

I loved this and was laughing constantly. She had good accents and I liked the reclaiming of ‘girl’ as a word of complexities, and there were slight political points, but worked in a subtle way. Again, this was about confidence and owning your own “shame” (her being in this heavy metal pirate video)

Mark Watson: Flaws

A show about flaws, obviously, and lacking self-esteem, mental health issues and turning to alcohol. Watson is such a warm character that you can’t help but warm to him (unless you were one of the three women who left after fifteen minutes).

Paula Varjack: How I Became Myself (By Becoming Someone Else)

A really interesting piece, as well as in terms of subject matter – the idea of changing your identity – but also in terms of how this was done visually – mixing front performance, through the camera and on screen. 

So It Goes

Another show with no words spoken aloud, but written on white boards, using props and dance to illustrate the story of Hannah’s dad, dealing with his death, and her friend David helping her to tell this story. There was laughter, and many, many tears.

Sara Hirsch: How Was It For You?

‘I can’t rhyme you,’ Hirsch proclaims, asserting why she can’t write a poem for her then-boyfriend, in the middle of what is almost a long love poem to the ex in question. But it was also a love poem to herself, and for everyone out there searching for love and the meaning of life.

Jemima Foxtrot: Melody

Beautifully intricate language, so poetic and mixed in, as the title would suggest, with a’cappella song. Foxtrot plays with humour and the unexpected in this wonderfully crafted piece.

Kirsten MacGregor: Hello Cruel World

I couldn’t believe this comedian was just 18 years old. It wasn’t only her grumpy persona that made her seem mature, but her confidence and comic timing.

Michael Burdett: Strange Face – Adventures with a Lost Nick Drake Recording

Really interesting true story of… well, it does what it says on the tin. There’s a book with lots of people, including well-known people, photographed whilst listening to the a rare recording of ‘Cello Song’ with their stories.

Mark Stephenson: Amsterdam

A hilarious story about an absent father, a beautiful marriage and selective mutism. Or it is? Very much recommend.

Izzy Tennyson: Brute

I find it difficult to create characters that exist beyond binaries of good and bad, yet Izzy Tennyson managed to do this in the creation of ‘Brute’. In the classic conversational style of Tennyson, she embodies a teenage girl to tell a story that is familiar in the sense of going to a single-sex state school, but looking into why girls can be bullies, exploring the complexities of a psyche so often dismissed.

Dan Simpson: Nerdsmith

Reading poems from his Burning Eye Book, Applied Mathematics, Simpson attempts and admittedly fails to get to the heart of an emotional provocation. But at the end, it’s okay, as the audience enjoy his playing with language, from puns to extended metaphors. I bought his book in hope of some poetic inspiration!

Tim Renkow: Kim Jong-Un, Mohammed, Jesus and Other Power-Hungry Maniacs

Renkow was knowingly provocative in his comedy from the onset, warning the audience that his record number of walk-outs is nine people. However, I was most offended by the implication that, in telling an anecdote to illustrate negative attitudes to disability, his erection was due to the woman’s “fear”. There were certainly other moments where I questioned where he was going, but you didn’t have to wait for long to see that he was mocking injustices he sees in society.

So, it was pretty much all amazing…

There were some I enjoyed more than others, but the only show I was completely disappointed by was Tony Law. I’d seen him before, but a majority of this improvised show I didn’t find funny, and on top of that I was worried about him, especially when he started to drink a pint after telling the audience he’s quit drinking. I hope he’s okay…

My itinerary for Edinburgh Fringe (aka recommendations):

Wednesday 26th August

Arrive: 12.40pm at Edinburgh Airport

Sophia Walker: Can’t Care, Won’t Care
Megan Ford: Feminasty
Kitten Killers: Woolf
Competing in the BBC Fringe Slam
Shazia Mirza
Gabriel Ebulue: Armchair Anarchist

Thursday 27th August

Bridget Christie: A Book For Her
Tony Law: Frillemorphesis
Harry Baker: The Sunshine Kid
David Lee Morgan: Building God
Jacke Rooke: Good Grief
Katherine Ferns: Conscious Incompetent
Stand Up & Slam
Kate Smurthwaite: The Wrong Sort of Feminist
Stephanie Laing: Nincompoop
Pole

Friday 28th August

Bryony Kimmings & Tim Grayburn: Fake It til You Make It
John Osborne: Most People Aren’t That Happy Anyway
The Kagools
Ben Norris: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Family
Elf Lyons: Being Barbarella
Aisling Bea: Plan Bea
Mark Watson: Flaws

Saturday 29th August

Paula Varjack: How I Became Myself (By Becoming Someone Else)
So It Goes
Sara Hirsch: How Was It For You?
Jemima Foxtrot: Melody
Hannah Chutzpah: Asking Nicely
BBC Fringe Slam Final
Chris Betts: Social Animal

Sunday 30th August

Dave Pickering: What about the Men? Mansplaining Masculinity
Laurence Owen: Cinemusical
Izzy Tennyson: Brute
Phil Jupitus: Apologist Now!
Tim Renkow: Kim Jong-Un, Muhammad, Jesus and Other Power Hungry Maniacs

10.45pm – Megabus Gold home

I’m seeing like 35 shows in five days. Wish me luck!

Hammer & Tongue

Before I get onto my first experience of Hammer & Tongue, I have some exciting neeeewss!!  Me and Matty D are offishhh, like Facebook official, you get meee?!!  We had an amazing weekend, and after posting this picture, I’ll try to remain focused and professional and just write about poetry and shizzle like that.

Pouting Competition at Pride, London

I’ve been applying for loads of jobs and funding and stuff today, so am going to try to be as quick as possible about this and see if I can finish in under half an hour!  Friday, me and Matt when to Future Vintage, with a jazz band and poet, Tiffany Anne Tondut.  Matt had a bit of trouble working his way from Victoria to Waterloo, so we missed a bit, but it was good.  Bumped into Tim Wells, who told me about this event, it’s gonna be snazzy. My Gran’s visiting from France for her birthday, so I can’t make it.

We went to the Tate Modern for a bit and chilled on the grass near Udderbelly, before going to Poejazzi’s Festival Tonic.  Joshua Idehen was hosting and four amazing acts took the stage.  First, Harry Baker, who I am hoping will be hosting my gig at The Tea Box this Friday (8th July).  Next was Fiona Bevan, a singer who was probably my favourite performer of the day – a bit like Regina Spektor meets Shingai Shoniwa (The Noisettes) with a pinch of Ellie Golding.  Next was Ray Antrobus, who I’ve now probably mentioned a few times – Matt could particularly relate to the sober-guy-at-the-party poem after his sober months.  Lastly, another musical act Belle Moore-Benham with an incredibly powerful voice.

Oh yeah, and we saw this fox. Urban Fox. Pretty cool… if slightly scary.

Saturday, we went to see Sexing The Cherry, again, around Southbank.  It sounded cool, as it combined spoken word, animation and music.  At first I felt pretty tired and unimpressed, but towards the middle it picked up and there were some really good lines and ideas expressed, a great musical section, and beautiful acrobatics.

We went to Soho to check out Pride festivities… I was a terrible Londoner and couldn’t find Trafalgar Square so we missed some reality TV stars, but it was fun just walking around and I’m cracked open a couple of cans and we had a little dance and listened to some live music where we could find it.  We didn’t see the parade so I defos wanna check it out next year.  I saw Romy from The XX passing by in the opposite direction but it was pretty packed and we’re both pretty shy people, I guess, so we just moved with the crowd.  I think it was the first time I’ve seen her since the band got all big as well, so it’s pretty weird after seeing loads of pictures everywhere and music everywhere.

Anyway, Monday, Matt went back to Norwich (long distance gaaah) and I went to Hammer & Tongue with my mate Elliot Snook… he’s putting on a clubnight, which I hope to go to, so YOU should defos go as well.

Angry Sam was hosting but he didn’t seem to remember me from Glam Slam – I guess he’s a busy man.  Chester P and Mungo were the feature and they were on for about an hour.  It was really interesting and very different form when I saw CP support Jamie T in Norwich.  Some of it went a bit over my head, and then some of it made me unsure if it was bullshit or genius… there were probably a few too many drug references but ah well, do what you know and all that.  The Slam was afterwards and I was on penultimatly which had my nerves going a bit, but I was pleased with how it went and I came third place, which I didn’t expect and it’s pretty  cool to get a position even without winning.  I can always try again.  What was amazing was that, amongst a couple of compliments, one guy said I was his favourite of the night, and said the rhythm and delivery were particularly good.  In hindsight, I should have given him my business card, but I feel a bit cringe doing it without actually being asked… a bit too pushy? Or am I being silly?

Peter Hayhoe won, who I saw at Tooting Market, and he was cool. Ahhh. Gonna have to wrap up, I’ve gone way overboard.

xxx