Thursday 13th August 2015
Right, time to bring this bitch of a blog to heel. Let's see if I can do this one in under 30 minutes.
Shit. Fringe website still loading. My speedblog falters at the very first hurdle. C'mon you toss- ah. There.
The Blind Poet and The Counting House next door are the heart of the Free Fringe. This is our first visit there this year. We manage to miss CJ's set - not on purpose, honest! - but do catch MC Gary 'from Harlow' Shaw introducing Harry U Eldritch.
The well-dressed Harry looks and sounds a little like Will Self in a skinny suit. His material's pretty full-on; he was notably followed out of the late night Wrong Comedy gig earlier in the week by irate fellows incensed by his Jesus/gay material. We joined him, Gary and the others for a cuppa at the Mosque Kitchen afterwards and he seemed perfectly human though. Certainly not worthy of beating up for making a joke.
09:45 shit shit shit.
Went in to the notorious Dead Head Comics, now just two doors down from the Poet. Bought nothing as it doesn't really seem to sell new comics, just back issues and selected collections. Same misanthrope is running the place though.
CJ and I ate jam doughnuts for lunch. I only wanted one, honest. But Herlelf had ducked into a Sainsbury's on the walk into town... and you can guess the rest.
Better. Go go go
Blind Poet, West Nicholson Street
The other reason for me hanging around the Blind Poet was to see the lady who devised Voices in Your Head (reviewed the last two years). This year I'm trying to catch her stand-up, about her relationship with gay men.
Like many acts here, she first asks the audience who came here as a result of flyering. Not many. Which is the usual answer in my experience. Sadly I don't get the chance to show just how very Planned Months In Advance my booking of her show was.
Given the subject matter, he does a quick straw poll of the audience to see who's L, who's G, who's B and who's T. I am a two-fer. Yay me. Usually I keep schtumm but I figure this is a safe environment, and indeed it is.
failure imminent, failure imminent
Now, I have just half an hour between the end of the D F-W gig and that start of the Hancock show all the way across town at the Assembly Rooms. D F-W overruns horribly; a faulty clock behind the bar the cause, and ultimately of me injuring myself in The Ocelot's Mad Dash thereafter.
More on this law of unintended consequences in another blog. Suffice to say I now have some interesting indentations on my palms (stop that) where I violently interfaced with the pavement outside the Pleasance Dome.
Apparently they found the scripts for four long-lost episodes of Hancock's Half-Hour. This show recreates two of them on stage, as if it were the original live recording. We get there just in time (see above) to see The Winter Holiday and New Year Resolutions.
Dire warning team...
Kevin McNally is a spot-on Hancock, as is Robin Sebastian as Kenneth Williams (appropriately milking his part for the audience), Susy Kane as Andree Melly (perfectly capturing that bizarre cut-glass heroine voice you only hear from Hancock's Andree or Paul Temple's Steve), and Alex Lowe does a cracking Bill Kerr. Simon Greenall (him off of I'm Alan Partridge) isn't a very good Sid James though - when everyone else in the cast is spot-on vocally, he is merely passable. Even Herself does a better Sid-laugh than him.
FAIL FAIL FAIL FAIL
Tch. Ah well. Might as well finish now.
Clearly inspired by the excellent Fitzrovia Radio Hour, capturing the golden era of British radio drama, this is an entertaining pastiche of a 1940s serial, with a small cast (the Misfits of London) appropriately clad in formal wear covering all the roles.
Luke Lamont as Hugbacon - the chap on the foley (sound effects) desk - does a cracking job throughout, and I rather liked Helen Foster as go-getting housemaid Doris Golightly, capturing that peculiar 'classically trained actress tries to do working class' accent that you used to hear on 1940s and 1950s drama. Find that black and white Catherine Tate spoof on Life On Mars to see what I mean.
A jolly good show.
Oh, I should also mention that it's held in an actual working church! St Mark's is a Unitarian church staffed by very nice people who have been at the forefront of LGBT rights, same-sex marriage and so forth for years. Well done them.
Tea and Cakes
Honourable mention here to Madamoiselle Macaron on Grindlay Street, where we killed a pleasant 20 minutes before the Gin Chronicles. Herself and I reclined on chaises longues, sipping hot beverages and nibbling tiny wee meringuey things called macarons. I tried to read a bit of the first Harry Potter book which had been translated into French. I think Ron's pet rat Scabber's name in French is Croutard, which I guess translates as Crusty.
Time to catch some folk music in the Wee Room (and it is very wee) downstairs at the Royal Oak. As ever, it is pot luck who you see on any given night, as we book long before the performers are announced. Tonight it is husband and wife Carol and Alan Prior, she with guitar, he with a nice kinda-Josef Locke voice.
It's very nice as far as it goes, but this particular sort of folk is not entirely my cuppa, being a bit slow and wistful, not having any jolly twiddly dee dee fiddle and being largely sung in near-impenetrable Rabbie Burns Scots - a pidgin tongue I swear was invented and maintained purely to baffle the English.
An honourable mention to the lady who came on first to do a couple of songs. One of her own, about the local No. 37 bus, was very good, and funny. The locals seemed to know it and were all singing along.
We nip out at half time for our next show...
Finally get to see this after a couple of years trying to find the time.
Hosted by John-Luke Roberts and Thom Tuck, there's something of the Vic & Bob's Big Night Out about it, with the permitted heckles ('I drew you a cat!' 'A noble failure!') and the air of manic glee with which the hosts cavort around, especially Tuck with his table tennis paddles of grammar (don't ask), looking like David Mitchell playing the Penguin.
Lots of good bonkers acts on show here, including the Hoover Woman (Mary Godden) and weird guru Dan Lees, but for my money, the prize has to go to the young man who did a straight 15-minute monologue before the show properly started, rambling on about growing up in his village, with its kite festival and haystacks. His name is apparently Jos Norris, but that could just be the character. I'll try to find him and post a link here.
It's Joz Norris. Thanks to Matt Langley for that.
Oh, and a surprise final-minute rant from supposedly retired-from-comedy Robin Ince at the end. Always a pleasure to see him hunched over and shouting.