28 August 2006
27 August 2006
25 August 2006
24 August 2006
23 August 2006
22 August 2006
20 August 2006
12 August 2006
9 August 2006
7 August 2006
So Mel Smith is going to stand up to the might of the Nazis and flout the Smoking Ban during his play then? I think not. You see, when it came down to it, he was just talking big before hand, made a great deal of publicity, and then sensibly obeyed the law rather than trying ruin the lively-hood of so many people who work for and with the Assembly Rooms. Don't get me wrong, I like Mel Smith as a comic and I love what his directing of the original Mr Bean movie (sequel out in March 2007); but trying to force his own cigar guzzling preference on to us under the guise of art - I don't think so. 'Winston Churchill smoked heavily so I should too when portraying him' is a rough paraphrase of one main argument of this and similar events claiming it's harming their shows. It's not my retort, but I like it so here goes. Did they really inject heroin in their arms during Trainspotting? Do they have sex in reality when you see it 'acted' out. Oops, there's that key work. They act. Pretend. Make-believe. This is ignoring the whole 'Hitler would have been proud' comment he made (did I mention he's staring in a play about Churchill that costs £15 a ticket? I think there is some subtle reference to it somewhere in something he said). So just who do you think you are kidding Mr Smith If you Old Scotland's done? Just as you though the hysteria had died down and Mel can hang out of the window to proclaim "victory", he gets slapped with a £50 for smoking indoors - hanging out of a window doesn't get you around the ban! Surely that means that standing outside and hanging your arm in is okay, as so many people do as they creep millimetres outside the door of a bar and let great plumes of smoke be sucked inside the building while they are technical outside. But hey, that's an issue for another day.
6 August 2006
Now on to The Scotsman again. They really are becoming the bain of my life at the moment. Somehow, some nobody called Jay Richardson has just given this show a full five stars. Funny that, because one of the countries most respected comedy critics (his name escapes me for the moment) has just give him two out of five and said he was quite poor this year. Let's leave it open to the people to decide, oh, the current average if 3/5 with several 2 or lower reviews at edfringe.com. If I was paying £12 to see him I'd demand my money back.
Excellent. Thoroughly enjoyable, very funny and a cert to be back up for the Perrier (now If Comedies) Award this year. The five males who make up DEC play all the parts of this connected comic story about prison and an attempt to escape. It's kind of reminiscent of The Goodies where the stories weren't great but that didn't matter because they just kept you laughing all along. It is definitely not a comedy play. If it was it would get two stars as the dialogue is unbelievable and plot (intentionally) bad. As a character comedy story it is great, from the macho gay warden to the 6' 7" black gangster Furious P, played by smallest member of their all white cast. There are shockingly offensive accents, clever and funny songs and some great political humour. Within the first five minutes they'd ad-libbed, within the first ten minutes they'd broken the fourth wall and during a time passage segment they chatted about the other shows worth seeing in this year's Festival. In short, I was wrong. Jim, you and the journalist who praised you and nominated you last year are right. Four stars out of five and only my third "must see" of this year's Festival. Jim told me the next night that this show is better than last year's one so it's bound to be in the running for the top award this year. In DEC related news, I believe they are in discussion to make a television series and a radio version of last year's hit show too. The only downside is that they are unlikely to be back here next year as a group :-(
[As a final aside, it seems tonight is the night we find out that The Scotsman newspaper employs talentless hacks who wouldn't know good entertainment if it came up and bit them in their arse (a body part they are more used to kissing). Quoting Fiona Shepherd who only gave DEC 2 stars, "[they] explore these elements [of a prison break] through the medium of musical theatre". What utter rubbish! This is character / sketch comedy at its best and just because it uses a couple of songs (Furious P's raps mostly) does not make it musical theatre. The next review has a very interesting story about The Scotsman's inability to judge a show too.]
5 August 2006
4 August 2006
The show ranges from jumping to flipping, balancing to fighting, flying on cables to back-flipping into a small pool of water and a lot more. If you want a semi serious and always sexual (male and female participants) show then I would pick this over Jump. Make sure you turn up early to get a good central seat and be prepared to do a lot of clapping (not just because they are good, but the standard response is to applaud each feat much as you would laugh at a comic). Even at full price they are worth seeing, although you may not appreciate it fully during the performance as you will often be sitting their memorised and stunned. Four stars out of five and another "go see" badge awarded tonight.
The show is all about the final broadcast before they go national and the pressure, expectation and realisation of what his show, and more importantly himself, is really about. The play is very quick paced and with more than enough energy and variety to keep any easily-distracted viewer happy. When we saw the performance, right at the climax of the show, the most intense moment, someone in the audience started talking to his girlfriend (not I). In character, Phil really laid into him and despite it being improvised, no-one in the audience was sure whether he was off-script and yelling at this guy or simply delivering part of his key monologue. So convincingly in character was Phil Nichol that the audience member turned to his girlfriend *again*, probably to say something like, “didn't it feel like he was really shouting at me”. Phil returned back towards him and let the “pinhead” have it. Apparently the other producers and the cast had quite a heated discussion afterwards, some lining up on the “yeah, go off script if it feels right” and the others screaming out “don't abuse the audience – they won't come back”! How do I know this? I was chatting with Phil the next day and he was relieved to hear that we believed it was all scripted. Jim Lewis Smith (Dutch Elm Conservatoire) is starring with Mike McShane in Marlon Brando's Corset and he confirmed Mike was casually standing alongside Phil (from an actor's point of view rather than a producer).
Anyway, on to a conclusion. The show is pretty good and never bores you at any point. The callers to the radio programme are quite varied and I'm sure with about a week more performing behind him Phil will be back accepting another best actor awards (not bad for a stand up). Four stars out of five and the first “go see” badge awarded so far this year!
3 August 2006
Ed's whole show is vaguely themed around the Michael Douglas film Falling Down where he gets so frustrated with everything he takes his anger and stress out on everyone who frustrates him. This is one of the better shows I have seen in Edinburgh as it was pacey, the stories didn't drag on too long and where varied and I left with seven or eight really good jokes bouncing around my memory. The downsides where that he was never painfully funny but did make me leak salt water on a few occasions. He inevitably did a ten minute piece on music and I cringed when he then used the word ironic as one of his most famous pieces is ripping into Alanis Morrisette for her awful song and then correcting her to show what would be ironic. The only reason I squirmed because I got the feeling he's used up his entire life's allowance of that word and if he carries on using it he may come across as harking back to his stand up prime. I think Ed is the best we've seen so far although my companions did stress they though Russell Howard was better overall, as they conceded that Ed have more big laughs. A big performance for a big crowd but not a comic at his peak or in the flow – think 3½ stars out of 5 despite the name dropping and he's edging on the border of being reccomended at full price. Drop the price to £8 from £12 and he gets a full endorsement but I don't see that happening somehow...