Went to see The Referendum Review Show yesterday at the Free Sisters. With – even by Fringe standards – an inauspicious setting (basically a cupboard) and a difficult remit: a non-partisan view and revue of the Referendum debate so far – my expectations weren’t that high. For a start – could it possibly be completely neutral and secondly – could it be funny? Well, they managed to tick-box the first requirement by ripping the p*** out of both sides; and funny? OMG! Yes, yes, yes!! I’ve seen a fair amount of comedy in my time so I’m not that easily impressed but this had me almost incapacitated with laughter. Very much in the Only an Excuse vein with razor-sharp political comment. You know – razor-sharp but done in that gallus way that’s not above wringing every last ounce (or should that be stone?) of comic potential re Alex Salmond‘s girth; but the No side get it tight too with the Brown/Darling pairing being described as the Un-Chuckle Brothers. Ah yes! They’re all there – The Krankies, John Barrowman and the unnamed ‘bawbags’ (you know who they are) who wax lyrical about the old country from their Hollywood poolside. There were a few people in the audience for whom, I suspect, English wasn’t their first language – with Scots probably being a wee bit further down their curriculum – which I think explained the puzzled looks on some faces. That along with exploring the whole Scottish psyche thing (‘we’re s**** and we know we are’) must have made them think they’d wandered onto another planet. However personally speaking – being Scottish and politically aware but pretty much fed up with both sides – this was right up my close! From the jaw-dropping vox-pop video footage of Rangers fans giving their ripe appraisal of Alex Salmond to a sing-a-long Referendum version of D.I.V.O.R.C.E the whole thing is hilarious and insightful in equal measure. Go see even if only for a crash course in what it’s like being a Scot, and if you are one – prepare to have some oxygen and maybe a fresh pair of pants on standby. To the guys – loved it, loved it, loved it!! We may be back before the end of the run, just to pick up on the jokes we may have missed by laughing too much – so be warned! The Free Sisters (Staff Room) @ 20.30 every night until 24th Aug.
After that experience there was no way anything else would be able to register on my radar so called it it night. I saw a couple of other shows – both with a political slant – earlier in the day and while there’s no way in hell they could compare in my book I must give them a mention. First off was Austerity Pleasures (Espionage, Kasbar Room @ 13.05, until 24th Aug). It was actually very good and on a normal day would have been outstanding. Hosted by Robyn Perkins; from New Hampshire so she did the whole being able to pretend she was from Canada when abroad thing, but the new slant of ‘we Americans don’t realise we’re not liked, we just have a positive attitude’ was funny, fresh and prejudice-challenging. Assured, confident (what else?) delivery – Mock the Week producers should be getting her phone number – that’s if she’d want to appear on such a tired piece of crap that is! Another woman who could most probably wipe the floor with some of the autocue-numpties from MtheW is the force of nature that is Daphna Baram. The tiny Kasbar space on a Sunday lunch-time did well to contain Miss D’s huge personality and her rich and ripe collection of (mainly) one-liners which veered from the political (serving in the Israeli army) to the sexual (‘how many of you guys lost your erection when you heard my accent?’). Stunning – like a politically aware, pre-Hollywood Bette Midler. I will most definitely be checking out her full show. Also on the bill was Paul Ricketts – his main show is called West End Boy and he did remind me a bit of Mickey Flanagan. Paul did go to university though – a while ago, and to do media studies – so there is plenty of comic potential there: ‘it was more difficult in them days – there were only four channels’. Likeable and easy going with tales of being a union rep and having to deal with ineptitude on both sides. Kate Smurthwaite also stopped by to do ten minutes – will be going to see her full show later.
Had high hopes for The Michael Gove Expose but it didn’t have that much about Michael Gove and it wasn’t that much of an expose. Well – unless you regard ‘Ed Balls is quite a nice guy and Gove is a bit of a tosser’ earth shattering pieces of insight. To explain: Gareth Morinan is a former civil service statistician who worked in the department for Education and with that as a show premise I was expecting all kinds of intrigue and Official Secrets Act implications, but it turns out Gareth is no Edward Snowden and the subject matter certainly ain’t Watergate! I’m not sure what I was actually expecting – maybe more puerile comments re Gove’s appearance and personality – there was a bit of that, but for the most part it was more like an office-drone’s Friday afternoon moan. Fair enough, but when it became a two way moan between him and an ex-social worker audience member it really did feel like being stuck with the two people you would least like to be stuck with at the office do. If you find spreadsheets and databases and the discussion of their misapplication fascinating – go see. Until 24th Aug, Canon’s Gait pub @ 15.40.