Clive Anderson: Me, Macbeth, and I – Edinburgh Fringe

In some ways Clive Anderson feels like part of the furniture in Edinburgh, having been part of Cambridge Footlight revues, solo ventures, and live versions of Whose Line Is It Anyway? amongst other things. To put it in perspective, he has been coming to the festival as a performer since before either of my parents were born. That being said, there is still a palpable level of excitement in the auditorium for this living legend.

This show, loosely (very, very, loosely) based around Macbeth, is billed as stand-up, but feels so much gentler than that. This feels more like a gently amusing monologue, composed mostly of theatrical anecdotes, embarrassments from Anderson’s own career, and some low hanging fruit political jabs. There are some nods to the Shakespearean play; a history of how it came to find itself with a reputation of such bad luck is fascinating but not massively funny.

This is how most of the show goes, with the name-dropping stories interesting in a celebrity-autobiography sort of way, eliciting chuckles and cheers from the audience more than true laughs. This is pleasant enough however, carried by Anderson’s natural charisma and genuine goodwill in the room, and by the time the show concludes with a monologue from the Bard’s play, there is a feeling of satisfaction in the audience. There is something of the palate cleanser with this show, a laid-back good time amongst the more challenging and innovative shows at the festival. 

If you are a fan of Anderson’s, or of that general ilk of Cambridge intellectuals (Stephen Fry, David Mitchel et al) then this show will certainly not disappoint, and will provide genuine thrills for followers of the man’s career. However, if you are looking for a true analysis of that great tragedy, you may be left to look elsewhere. 

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