Sadly for us wineaholics the Fringe press launch season has finished, marking the beginning of an infinite run of shows. Here is my picking from the few that were showcased at the various venue galas.
Underbelly: you know, the massive tent in the shape of an upside-down/dead cow. The unashamedly camp Australian presenter of this round of acts was funnier than some of the acts themselves, and I’ve recommended him to my female friend who has always wanted a gay best friend. Sassy but not annoyingly so, check out Rhys Nicholson.
Other than him, the only acts worth mentioning are The Raunch, which sent over its trapeze artist wearing a cowboy hat, because why not. Also because his body muscle ratio is as aesthetically pleasing as his trapeze act. Closer by Circa’s performance was energetic and fun, and also included a whopping time of my life lift two people high. Shaky, but I assume they know what they’re doing.
Assembly: that place on the Mound with horrific memories for me of never-ending school prizegivings. Presented by the fantastic Irish comedian Jason Byrne, who I’ve seen twice before in previous years at the Fringe. The least-scripted comedian I’ve watched, audience interaction skills and knowledge of the local area making him unmissable for Edinburgh residents.
The Glasgow girls singers kicked off the event with a powerful chorus which shivered my timbers.Then there’s the acrobat group from Casus Circus, which performed an absolutely heart-attack inducing feat of three people standing on each other’s shoulders and walking slowly towards the audience. Everyone was imagining the carnage if they fell from the heights, or I was at least. More acrobat antics certainly not to be tried at home.
For David Bowie fans singer Sven Ratzke paid tribute to the star with a song from his show entitled Starman, while Michaela Burger performed excerpts from her show Exposing Edith, a gorgeous voice you don’t have to be an avid Piaf fan to enjoy. None of the raspy raw-meat Festival wannabes often found at the Fringe.
The Tap Pack clattered onto the stage in a very American Singin’ in the Rain I’m-off-to-find-a-dapper-dancing-husband style and Korean group CHEF made all my wildest kitchen dreams come true with an advert for their cooking show absolutely saturated with dance and beatboxing. I didn’t even realise they were a cooking group until I looked at their website in preparation for this article.
Finally there was a fantastically Fringe male stripper from the show Briefs, prancing around on a trapeze above a human-sized gilded birdbath, which he wallowed about in sensually and kicked water all over the front few rows. He was thoughtful enough to provide a towel for them too. To conclude, pretty much everything at the Assembly is worth paying up for.
Gilded Balloon: the head of this venue, Karen Koren, is an act in herself, with a voice as big as her personality, taking to the stage to reluctantly announce the passing on of her job to daughter Katy. She also managed to procure us free cups from Russian Standard Vodka to take home after we finished the cocktails, another point in her favour.
A variety of stand-up comedians of whom Nath Valvo was most memorable, a cute wee Australian, very likeable and first time at the Fringe so a fairly impressive gig for him considering. The main hype was for Irish stand-up comedian Tommy Tiernan but his appearance was undermined by his topic choice of gay jokes. Unfortunate Powerpoint technical problems for Edinburgh local comedian Grant Stott, who I saw in the bar afterwards and had to resist the urge to fangirlishly introduce myself, having been to the Edinburgh panto which he headlines with Andy Gray almost every year since birth. Interesting science type thing from Kevin Quantum, I imagine good for the kids and is showing at the National Museum of Scotland, a new venue this year. Then a finishing funky laser light show from Sirqus Alfon, very niche but probably enjoyable if you like that kind of thing.
So all in all, the usual random lot from the Fringe, a handful of bizarre things I’d recommend purely for the experience and the rest for genuine enjoyment and performance genius. Definitely take advantage of the annual performance pilgrimage to the capital.
Image credit: © Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society
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