Edinburgh 2016 – Full rundown

posted in: acting | 0

Right, I’ve deleted the old blog posts and created this single post containing details of all the shows that I saw.

I had an amazing time – I got to hang out with some amazing people and generated lots of ideas for my own show next year.

Here’s the rundown:

Wednesday 10th August

Ed Aczel’s Foreign Policy – 4.20pm, Heroes @ The Hive

Ed Aczel has become something of a Fringe staple for me. This year’s show was very similar in structure to last year, but involved more audience interaction than I’ve seen from him before. Part of the fun is watching the reactions of people who haven’t seen him before, and as usual he didn’t disappoint. Not as strong as last year’s show for my money, but massively enjoyable all the same.

Aidan Goatley – Joys of Retail – 7.30pm, Sweet Grassmarket

I always enjoy Aiden’s shows. Felt like the wrong audience for him tonight, but his stories of working in the bullshit corporate environment are immediately relatable to anyone who has ever worked in the private sector. There’s no such thing as “too nice” in my book, but Edinburgh crowds apparently disagree with me. A strong performance given a lack of energy in the audience.

Boris and Sergey’s Preposterous Improvisation Experiment – 9pm, Assembly George Square Theatre

Really strong improv and puppetry from a very talented team. Full review on FringeReview. (Where I write far less colloquially than here, in case you’re wondering.)

Decide-A-Quest – 11.15pm, The Crag’s Bar

A live late-night choose your own adventure show. Fantastic concept, really strong performers and technically impressive. A few too many nob gags for my liking, but that didn’t take away my engagement in the quest, or detract from my enjoyment of the show.

Thursday 11th August

Medea Dream – 1.20pm, Silk

This was interesting. The venue (a nightclub) wasn’t the easiest to find, and once inside there was dearth of signs to direct me to the right room. The cast and crew did a good job in an unforgiving space. Some really nice songs, and the actor playing Medea had an amazing voice. It would definitely have benefited from live musicians, but hey, this is the Fringe!

Yolav and Graham’s Jovial Trauma: Refugee Stand-Up – 2.45pm, Laughing Horse @ Cabaret Voltaire

I really enjoyed this. An edgy show – Yolav is a refugee from a country that no longer exists, and Graham is the straight-faced interpreter. Despite being a one-gag show, there are plenty of diversions that make this a lot more interesting than it could be.

Laugh Train Home Comedy Showcase – 6pm, Laughing Horse @ Bar 50

Floundering to find anything I wanted to see, I was handed a flier for this. Felt like I hit the jackpot. A really strong line-up featuring John Robertson, Yianni Agisilaou and, erm, well, I can’t actually remember any other names, but I laughed all the way through, and that’s really all that matters here…

Pun-Man 2: Girls Just Wanna Hear Puns – 7.45pm, Laughing Horse @ Espionage

As a massive fan of pun-based comedians, I couldn’t resist this one. I have to say that Leo Kearse is one of the best that I’ve seen in this form. Improvving most of the show based on audience suggestions, his demeanour is warm and engaging. There were also a few more considered parts of his act, more typical stand-up material, and this helped keep the energy up.

Eurobeat – 9.45pm, Pleasance Courtyard

Very fun, but lacking in substance. In other words a bit too much like the actual thing. Here’s my full review for FringeReview.

Friday 12th August

Juliet Meyers – This Flipping Rescue Dog Has Ruined My Life – 2.30pm, Southside Social

Juliet is a writer for Sarah Millican and 8 Out of Ten Cats, and it’s easy to see why. She’s sharp and engaging, and with Homer, her dog, on stage with her, she charms the dog-loving audience. Homer pretty much slept through the show when I was there, but he did shake my hand beforehand.

Phil Mann: Nothingism – 4.45pm, Laughing Horse @ Bar 50

I went into this show with no idea what to expect. To my joy it was an hour long set of one-man improv using audience suggestions and music from an audience member’s phone. Very clever constructed, and delivered with high energy and confidence. Recommended for improv fans, but also has a wider appeal.

Stamp – 7.30pm, Zoo Southside

I was slightly trepidatious heading into this show. I knew it was a battle of the sexes game, and I was worried that it would be a bit preachy or massively cliched. Thankfully it was neither. It’s actually a really clever show that makes you think without even hinting that you should. Every show will be different too, as the games are created based on audience suggestions. Something very different and definitely worth checking out.

Brendon Burns and Colt Cabana Do Comedy and Commentary to Bad Wrestling Matches! – 10.45pm, Pleasance Dome

This is my Edinburgh staple. Every year I go along to see this show, but this year was slightly disappointing. The audience didn’t seem to know why they were there, and despite using different clips every night, I’d seen about 80% of it before. The guest comedian wasn’t particularly interesting either, so it felt a bit flat. I’ll still be back next year, though.

Saturday 13th August

Bilal Zafar: Cakes – 3.40pm, Just the Tonic @ The Mash House

My favourite show of the Fringe so far. A well-constructed true story of a comedian turning himself into a Muslim-only cakeshop, and the furore this caused within the racist elements of the internet. A fantastic young comedian with an engaging personality. Go see.

Every Wild Beast – 6pm, C Nova

First-class storytelling in an intimate space. A modern take on folk tales performed by three very talented actors. Another one definitely worth a look.

The Worst Things Ever – 9.45pm, Natural Food Kafe

Not the best show I’ve seen so far. A nice concept and a likeable presenter, but too many of the jokes and the material fell in the wrong place for my liking. The use of video for every item on the list also made this feel like it would be better suited to a screen format, rather than a stand-up show.

NB: I can’t seem to find this on the Fringe website, so it may not be an official Fringe event…

Sunday 14th August

Adam & Eve and Steve – 5.45pm, C

Fun, but no real depth. Disappointing as it had so much potential. Read my full review at FringeReview.

Comedians Against Humanity – 7.30pm, Just the Tonic @ The Mash House

Three comedians improvise material based on suggestions provided by the audience. The audience, of course, have been given three cards from Cards Against Humanity. Another really strong concept that failed somewhere in the execution. Too much time getting suggestions from the audience in my opinion, I felt it would have been better if the comedians had been left to it.

NB: This is another show I can’t find on the Fringe website.

Aidan Goatley: My Blue Sky – 10.15pm, Sweet Grassmarket

I’m starting to think I’m a bit of a jinx on Aidan. Another strong show with an audience that didn’t really get it. It didn’t help that a group of “lads” arrived a few minutes late, and no one seemed to want to engage in conversation with Aidan.

Monday 15th August

Ears on a Beatle – 11.30am, Greenside @ Infirmary Street

This was a real treat. A two-hander set in the offices of the FBI in the 1970s. Rather than just being a story of the government tracking of John Lennon until his assassination, this was a delicate story of two people thrown together and finding their own way in life. Gripping stuff.

Operation Love Story – 1pm, Zoo Southside

A one-woman show telling the story of an over-zealous matchmaker. A wonderfully engaging performance from Marie Rabe.

Casting Call Woe – 5pm, Gilded Balloon @ The Museum

I was really looking forward to this, having followed @ProResting’s Casting Call Woe blog since the start. It was entertaining, but felt like it could have been so much more. With guest comedians, each performer had script in hand, which made it feel like a rehearsed reading rather than a full show. It also felt a little under-rehearsed. I guess this is the nature of working with different guests each night, and it was still good fun, I just left feeling it could have been so much better…

Paper Hearts the Musical – 6.40pm, Underbelly Med Quad

I’ve raved about this in full at FringeReview. My only criticism is that it should have been a full two-act play. This is a must-see.

Paul Wady: Guerilla Aspies – 10.15pm, Laughing Horse @ Dropkick Murphys

I saw Paul in Brighton earlier this year, but the show has definitely developed since then. Both funny and informative, this is a refreshing take on the public perception of Autism.

Tuesday 16th August

2044 – 11.30am, Greenside @ Infirmary Street

Sadly this one didn’t live up to it’s billing. Credit to the cast for their commitment to their performances, but I’m afraid the script was rather heavy-handed and at times the dialogue was painful. That said, it was interesting to see this depiction of the future, and there were some nice moments in there, but I’m afraid it’s the only time this year that I have to admit that I was looking forward to the end. I hate criticising others’ work in public, especially when it’s clear that so much effort has gone into the production, so I’m just going to add here that if the cast see this, and they’re interested in my opinion, I’ll happily offer some constructive feedback if they want to email me.

Made in Cumbria – 1.10pm, Sweet Grassmarket

Jane Postlethwaite’s one-woman show took us on a journey through Cumbria, where we met lots interesting characters. Each scene was linked by a Radio Cumbrian presenter providing the latest news, a really clever touch that pulled the whole show together. Lots of very funny moments, and some clever audience interaction too.

John Robertson: Arena Spectacular – 3.40pm, The Stand Comedy Club 2

I fricking love John Robertson’s work. Even if that “work” appears to be him ripping into the audience for an hour, and occasionally heading back to some prepared material. As well as taking on the audience, he laid into British and American comedians, before telling us what a pervert he is. I bought the t-shirt. This man deserves a bigger audience.

John Gordillo: Love Capitalism – 4.50pm, The Stand Comedy Club 2

Another really well constructed show. Coming straight off the back of seeing John Robertson, this seemed like a bit of a comedown, but there was lots of gold in John Gordillo’s set. His rants on businesses and brands becoming too friendly were all too relatable, and the ending in particular was worth the wait.

Disagree with me? I’m on Twitter at @aguynamedguyuk if you want to have an unseemly public spat.