Tag Archives: FRINGE 2015

100 WORD REVIEWS: Gad Elmaleh – Pleasance King Dome, Edinburgh

French film and comedy superstar, Gad Elmaleh landed in Edinburgh for one night only to present his first ever English language stand-up show.

Brave? – Yes. Madness – Probably. Worth it? – Definitely. Funny? – Absolutely.

The truly international audience (French, Morrocan, Canadian, Ecuadorean, Scottish, Eddy Izzard!) warmed to France’s premier comedian instantly. A fine storyteller with an utterly engaging personality, it’s hard not to love him, and his hugely relatable jokes about modern life hit the spot perfectly (the sequences about his fellow countrymen being particularly hysterical).

A rare opportunity to see a man who sells out arenas the size of Wembley Stadium in his home country, this was an utter privilege to be in a 100 seat auditorium up close and personal with such a comedy giant. Simply brilliant.

REVIEW: The Man Called Monkhouse – Assembly Hall, Edinburgh

A comedian equally revered and reviled, Bob Monkhouse is a difficult subject to tackle: the unique cadence to the voice, the perma-tan, the very individual delivery. Alex Lowe’s play The Man Called Monkhouse attempts to address some of the misunderstandings and un-truths that dogged the much-maligned man throughout his life.

The show begins in 1995 at a point when Monkhouse was taking advantage of a career resurgence after years in the wilderness. A notorious collector and documenter of jokes, TV shows and movies, two of his beloved joke books have been stolen (an event documented in the TV news of the day) and Monkhouse frustratedly tries to get the help of the police to ensure their return. Meanwhile he is called upon to write a eulogy for his former comedy writing partner Denis Goodwin and it is here that we are given a glimpse into Monkhouse’s path to fame, his notorious womanising and his treatment at the hands of the media.

It is impossible not to sympathise, especially at the tabloid’s exploitation of his son Gary’s wedding (Gary had cerebral palsy) and in his revelations about his mother who showed up to his wedding in head to toe black. There’s also reflection about the constant accusations of insincerity levelled at him throughout his career – where he confides that he often felt detached from others and pretended to have feelings just to fit in. The play never explicitly says that Monkhouse had a personality disorder but the hints are dropped pretty heavily.

Actor Simon Cartwright’s unsettlingly accurate portrayal of Monkhouse raises goosebumps the moment he opens his mouth and is deserving of the highest praise. A fascinating insight into the man behind the mask and a stellar performance from the leading man.

Runs until 31 August 2015

Originally published at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/the-man-called-monkhouse-assembly-hall-edinburgh/

100 WORD REVIEWS: The Titanic Orchestra – Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh

Billed as “a madcap comedy of illusion” this Easter European existential examination of loneliness and existence is certainly not that.

Bulgarian absurdist playwright Hristo Boytchev’s incomprehensible play ruins the long-awaited return of film and TV star John Hannah to the Fringe. Hannah’s acting is faultless and his sleight of hand tricks thoroughly impressive, but the soul-searching avant-garde script isn’t enough to keep the interest levels high for the 70 minute running time.

It is a pity as Hannah is a fine actor with a great stage presence – one can’t help think that this is a huge opportunity lost.

100 WORD REVIEWS: Urinetown – Assembly Hall, Edinburgh

There’s a world water shortage and you can only pee if you pay, that is the premise of Greg Kotis and Mark Hollman’s Urinetown.

Presented by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, this is a high quality production with a talented cast of a, quite frankly, meh! musical. In trying to be clever (it parodies the musical theatre form and many hit shows) it just isn’t as clever as it likes to think it is.

Too many pee-related puns which get thin quickly and an instantly forgettable soundtrack save the glorious “Run, Freedom Run” render it a pleasant way to kill a few hours but little more.

3 ***

REVIEW: There’s a Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis – Momentum Playhouse @ St Stephens, Edinburgh

On paper the subject matter of this “new play with music” couldn’t get any better: set initially against the backdrop of Elvis’ one and only visit to the UK on Thursday March 3rd 1960, when he stepped onto the Tarmac of Prestwick Airport in Scotland, it tells a hugely relatable relationship tale of how teenage dreams can turn into adult nightmares. Add to this a smattering of classic tunes: “All I Have To Do Is Dream”, “The Wonder of You” and the barnstorming title track to name a few, and a (relatively) local setting and you’d think you’d have a sure fire hit on your hands: Jennifer Selway’s There’s a Guy Works Down The Chipshop Swears He’s Elvis is bursting with promise, but it’s not without it’s faults.

The surprise visit from ‘The King’ to Scottish shores has the Kilmarnock branch of the Elvis Presley Fan Club in a tizzy. It’s four members are firm friends but lies and deceit abound and 20 years on, the consequences of those lies, and the truth of that night in 1960, threaten to tear them apart forever.

There’s a fair potion of grit served up in Selway’s play amongst the teenage swooning and crooning but there’s an overwhelming feeling that it could have given so much more. Some of the fault lies in the dialogue which at times feels artificial and at other points has clearly has been used to pad the work out to the nearly one and three quarter hour running time: some judicious editing would have tightened the focus, made the piece harder hitting and left room for more of the thing that the cast truly excel at: singing. The glorious sound they make both individually and collectively is stunningly good – leaving you begging for more.

More a work in progress than the finished article, but the potential is all there for this to be a sure-fire hit.

Runs until 30 August 2015 This review was originally written for and published at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/theres-a-guy-works-down-the-chip-shop-swears-hes-elvis-momentum-playhouse-st-stephens-edinburgh/