Tuesday, 6 August 2013

The Chocolate Ocelot’s 2013 Fringe - Day Four

No beetle powers. Evening spent thinking up superhero names wasted.

Also, a revelation in the shower this morning (easy there). Reason for lank hair largely down to my travel shampoo actually being conditioner. Don’t tell her, but I stole a sneaky squirt of Herself’s precious T-Gel stash this morning. Ssshhh.

Again with the abbreviated reviews. Seven shows today: six scheduled, plus one extra recommended by Dr Foot and Mitchell.

Death Ship 666
Free Sisters

Up early and march down Cowgate to get in the queue early. There are chalk markings all over the area directing us to Death Ship 666. Brief period of panic and annoyance when it transpires that we could have actually booked tickets for this after all, and are now relegated to the pikey unticketed pleb queue. Curse you, low-paid and ill-informed casual Three Sisters bar staff from yesterday!

But we do all manage to squeeze into the venue behind the bar. And a bloody entertaining show from Box Step Productions ensues, combining Titanic, Poseidon Adventure and a brilliant Les Mis medley spoof which is my highlight of the show. Also there are marauding bears. On a ship.

Very pleased that none of the half dozen cast members hit their head on the low ceiling stage right. Excellent quick changes, funny dialogue, good physical acting and easy to keep track of character-archetype names. And it’s free! Do go and see and give ‘em some money, you tight fisted so and so.


Over to the yellow Fringopolis that is the Pleasance for most of the rest of the day. No tramping back and forth across the city. Rah!

In the programme, XY is described as a series of gender-nonspecific plays. As it turns out that is the case for the first (and possibly second) of the four short plays we see in this hour. The others are very much gendered (sperm recipes, lady lovebots and so forth), but are all decent offerings. I like the first one about the couple, the wheelchair and the Olivia Newton John song best. The one about the three characters in the onesies sat round a table slightly mystified me, perhaps because of the odd character names (Normal, Egg etc).; I thought they were variously mythic archetypes, cats and tellytubbies. Herself informs me they were playing children. I’m a fool. Nice work from Papercut Theatre.

The Ghost Hunter

One man show about a modern ghost tour guide telling us stories about his life and the ghost stories he presents. Refreshing for us to see an actor over 30 – you can easily find yourself seeing youth production after youth production at the Fringe. Fine naturalistic and atmospheric storytelling from Tom Richards and the Theatre of the Damned. Probably even better if staged at night.

Sandi Toksvig

Big crowd, largely greying and probably Radio Four friendly. A perfectly pleasant and positive hour spent in the presence of the host of the News Quiz, though I still think of her as Ethel from Number 73. Anecdotes from her career, tales of her Danish father, love of all things British, and climaxing in a full audience participation conductoration of the Ode To Joy. Though borrowing other people’s funny material at times (Alan Coren, trad Jewish grandmother jokes), very full of life and love both for and by La Toksvig.

Colin Hoult: Characthorse

Somewhat different to the previous shows we’ve seen from Colin: no other cast members snuck into the audience, less props, and no sly Doctor Who reference in the show title (shame!). Characthorse is a faux memoir of his youth in and around Snottingham, with a variety of bizarre characters. This has a running narrative, rather than the sketch format of previous shows. Some heroic stripping down to his pants at one point, and a bit of audience participation as usual. Feels like a Gaiman / Gilliam / Del Toro adventure, full of modern fairy tale characters and wonderment. Less dark than his other shows. Give this man a TV show, for Grade’s sake.

Richard Herring: We’re All Going to Die

Herring still on form, still funny, touching and despite the show title, feel-good and positive. Also still in need of a decent haircut. But we do get a free DVD of his show highlights, which some people turn down – the fools! Packed crowd appreciative of his ruminations on death, the afterlife, Hamlet and wanking. It’s not a Herring show without some wanking material, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Snakes! The Musical
Just The Tonic At The Caves

Final (Seventh!) show of the day, and am starting to hallucinate. As the day began with Death Ship 666’s disaster movie spoof, so it ends with this three-person musical version of Snakes On A M***** F****** Plane – Flight 666 as it happens. Damn good song and dance performances from Will and Marina as the entire cast; really powerful and versatile projection and big showbiz beams for the audience, though reckon Marina’s lovely but softer voice could do with turning up a notch on the mike.

Our second Les Mis medley spoof of the day and great linking pieces from writer/director Tom (I think that’s his name – as I say, I’m hallucinating somewhat in this seventh hour of Fringeshow today) with his over-ambitious West End aspirations, designs on ‘I’m actually not gay’ leading man Will and casual denigration of Marina (‘obviously we’re aiming for Sheridan Smith when it transfers’). Brilliant stuff from Quite Nice Theatre – see this or their other show This was Your life.

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