In case you’re wondering where the pun is in this title, please see a previous project that Cammy and I made many years ago. There’s a movie coming out now called Sausage Party that looks VERY similar, albeit more professional, big budget and funny. I may sue.
Talking of all things professional, big budget and funny, the Fringe Festival (cue second part of said pun) is on and I’ve tried my hardest to avoid anything that can be attributed to those three notions. So far I’ve sat through five acts, which is roughly 0.04% of the total shows on offer this year (there are 15,000) but I’ve been privy to the full spectrum of quality, from 1 star head-shakers to 5 star spine-tinglers. So, like an Olympic camera man at the beach volley ball, I’ll start at the bottom and work my way up.
Suzanne Lea Shephard – Rapscallion (FREE)
She’s from New York, she’s in a tiny room that seats 18 people and she basically sweats for 45 minutes. I didn’t not like her, so to speak, she seemed quite affable and all, but her routine was more of a facebook profile scroll. She just went through her average American life, complete with average American anecdotes, in chronological order. Stuff got stuck in trees, she has pimples on her bum, she was an extra once – I felt like a bored psychologist, clock-watching as a patient who doesn’t need me wastes both our times on drivel. And sweat. Lots of sweat. She actually stopped one story to say how much she was sweating. Not for comedic purposes mind you, just to let us know. 1 STAR
Peter Dobbing – Armchair Futurologist Part 3 (FREE)
He loomed on to the Sneaky Pete’s stage with a lot of laid back bravado and big words. He began by defining what a futurologist is and then culled momentum by spending ten minutes asking if anyone wanted their phones charging. What seemed like a vaguely funny gimmick soon became pretty awkward and a pretty obvious attempt at winding down the clock so the hour slot could be filled. In amongst the memory lapses and missing props there were some genuinely interesting thoughts on passwords (we’re doing it wrong), education (that’s wrong too) and less interesting stuff on free-diving. He’s clearly very clever but appeared a bit jaded or hungover and no-one really laughed. I had a lovely pint of Innes and Gunn though. 2 STARS
Ellis and Rose – Obsolete (FREE)
A double act playing on the idea that Stewart Lee told them double acts were obsolete (hence the title), I laughed quite heartily at them, especially when they got surreal or tightly choreographed. One of them dressed up as a superhero, they both did awful Christopher Walken as Laurel and Hardy impressions and they were clearly having more fun than the majority of the audience, which was pretty infectious, even if my laughter wasn’t. They were on the verge of something properly funny, just a bit too indulgent and a bit too loose in too many places. By this point I was feeling like a comedy expert. 3 STARS
Sleeping Trees – Sci Fi? (£9 I think)
OK, I’m not an expert, these guys are. It was just three blokes in trekkie outfits with a drummer and a keyboard player behind them. By changing lighting, music and accents they managed to take us on a 60 minute voyage through every Sci Fi cliché imaginable, complete with robot karaoke, pig impressions and Ronan Keaton references. It started so sharply it was bound to blunt a bit by the end but it was hugely impressive, and the most quintessential ‘Fringey’ show you could imagine. Two pints for £11 though. 4 STARS.
Manual Cinema – Ava:Ada (£11.50)
The real deal. Properly, instantly mind-blowing. Its only problem is that it defies decent description. It’s a shadow puppet show with accompanying live music. That sounds shit doesn’t it? It’s a surreal horror movie constructed live in front of the audience with shadows, props and music. Sounds a little better. Probably the best thing I will see all year. Yeah, that will do. Complex, weird, beautiful and wait until you hear the singer! 5 STARS!