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The National Student Magazine - September 2009

The National Student Magazine - September 2009

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The entertainment and arts supplement of The National Student
The entertainment and arts supplement of The National Student

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Published by: The National Student on Sep 14, 2009
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SEPTEMBER 2009
Sponge Fest
and other highlightsfrom the Edinburgh Fringe
 
Anna + Katy
was @ Pleasance Courtyard
Yes it’s Magda the housekeeper off of ‘Lead Balloon’and Ianto’s sister out of Torchwood, as a double act…(previously known as Penny Spubs) ... and its all quiteexciting really. They’ve got a great range of excel-lent characters, some of which are relatively standardsketch show fare whilst other characters are just verysilly indeed.Brilliant moments of bizarre visual humour litteredtheir show; I could probably watch their peculiar SouthAfricans for hours and still be giggling away at their extraneously long limbs. In fact, I’m afraid I’m going tohave to do something slightly tiresome but easy to com-municate like suggest they’re like a female Vic ‘n’ Bob.The combination of Anna Crilly’s deceptive serious-ness and Katy Wix whose eyes seem to be perma-nently exuding mischief works brilliantly. They are bothexceedingly talented performers, very adept at charac-terisation and both with excellent vocal abilities.There is so much potential, the silliness just requires a
little more renement and then this pairing will be huge.
Simon Brodkin: Still Not Himself 
was @ Pleasance Courtyard
When Simon Brodkin nips off to become a different character he’ll change costume,alter his hair slightly, maybe put on a hat, glasses, a bit of make-up perhaps – notreally changing a great deal, no prosthetics or anything… but more often than not hecomes back on stage completely unrecognisable. You could actually introduce himas his characters to people out in the real world and they wouldn’t even consider that it was the same bloke. Although Brodkin’s doctor character may perhaps be anexception.
Brodkin is a very skilled and precise performer, his characters all have rm solid
foundations; their own little ticks, mannerisms and modes of speech are perfectlystyled and suited to each role. His interactions with the audience throughout theshow are clever and fun but never intrusive. Particularly in the case of Lee Nelson,who remains my favourite of his characters (with footballer Jason Bent a closesecond). You might expect the chavvy baseball capped rogue to be a bit intimidating when interacting with
the audience but Brodkin lls Nelson with so much love and fascination for other people that the despicable
character becomes benign and enormously charming.
This isn’t just a good comedy performance, this is a great acting performance. Simon Brodkin is denitely
one of the very best character comedians working today.
 
One Man Lord Of The Rings
was @ E4 Udderbelly
Just as in his previous hit show One Man Star Wars, Ross
throws himself uninchingly into the performance swiftly adopt
-ing character after character. Just as with One Man Star Warsor perhaps even more so this time, a degree of familiarity with
the lms seems important. As Ross launches himself energeti
-cally into portraying a crowd of battle-hungry Orcs or a seethingRing Wraith on the hunt for a Hobbit it really does help to have
a good recollection of the lms. Lovers of the books will not be
disappointed with a fair few comic asides thrown into the mix totickle their geekdom.Key sequences are recreated with deft (and slightly daft) ac-curacy as Ross rips slickly through memorable scenes blow-by-
blow. He lls the stage as he twists, spins, rolls, leaps and dives
his way through the cast list and his vocal abilities get a greatworkout through a selection of notable character impressionsand hundreds of sound effects. Of particular note of course isCharles Ross’s Gollum which even manages to put his Yodaimpression in the shade.One Man Lord Of The Rings is an accomplished and devotedrendition, a tightly hewn homage and a right proper fangasm for those in the know.
 
Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet TheatreGoes To Hollywood
was @ Gilded Balloon
Aren’t puppets great!! They break down social boundaries andcrush inhibitions in a moment. Some kind of internal safetymechanism just switches off and suddenly the least likely personin the audience to heckle is jabbering away at a sock like it’s anold friend.In this year’s show the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre
take us on a whistle-stop tour through the fabulous world of lms.If you’ve ever seen one of their popular YouTube videos you’ll already know that they do a ne line in TV and movie
pastiche, often fuelled by digression, misunderstandings and malapropisms – with a tasty sprinkling of fanboy refer-ences to top it off.A certain degree of geekery is evident in the socks’ movie knowledge and they are ready and willing to analyse thereactions of the crowd based on those that do or do not laugh at certain references.Whilst these are not the most sophisticated comedy puppets around, this is a whole lot more than just a couple of Scottish socks. Plus some of the costume changes are phenomenal!! Reassuringly puerile, full of laughs and packedwith punnery.
 
Randy’s Postcards from Purgatory
was @ Underbelly
Randy is pretty awesome, but forget Randy for a momentlet’s talk about Heath McIvor; the guy with his hand upRandy’s arse. McIvor is really bloody good at having hishand up thing’s arses and he can do loads of other thingswith his other hand at the same time!!There were times when I just wanted there to be a mirror at the back of the stage so I could see how McIvor wasdoing it, he’s such a great puppeteer that it really is easyto forget that there is someone beneath the desk, and hedidn’t even reveal himself to take a bow! What a tease.There are plenty of laughs, lots of silliness and brilliantartistry on show here. Randy is an excellent and very like-
able character, simply structured visually but eshed out to
the full by McIvor’s immense puppetry skills and devilishhumour.You can also catch Heath McIvor at work in Sammy J inthe Forest of Dreams.
Tommy and the Weeks: Wonderbang
was @ Pleasance Courtyard
There are some insanely brilliant ideas in this hour,sketches that start off being slightly random andthen grow into increasingly bizarre scenarios. Their 
tongues are rmly in their cheeks throughout whilst
also never allowing themselves to stray into self-absorbed territory despite their slightly deconstructedapproach.The show maintains a strong pace without ever sinking, sparks of genius litter the writing with someof the skits and sequences dazzling with sheer brilliance. Strong concepts are nurtured and tangen-tially grow to such an extent that they become mindwrenchingly obscure… but in a very good way.Tommy and the Weeks have a strong reputation
and it is totally justied. It’s no wonder they keep
coming back to the Fringe for more and it’s no won-der people keep coming back to see more of them.
 
Brian Gittins: Road-side Café Owner 
was @ Pleasance Courtyard
This really shouldn’t work, butit does. Brian Gittins is a greataddition to the world of character comedy. He is an awkward chap,brimming with eagerness andself-belief but massively lackingin material. David Earl however,the man who inhabits Brian Git-tins, has plenty of daftness up hissleeve and an obvious talent.Gittins does have a few jokes,but they’re not going to get other comedians quaking in their boots just yet, regardless of what hiscustomers or supportive wifeCheryl might have to say.There is plenty of interactionwith the audience and Gittinsventures into the crowd as far ashis microphone cable will allow.The interaction and audienceparticipation never strays too far into the realms of being intimidating or intrusive but you can surely expect a nervousenergy in the room as he teeters on the edge of picking on people.Any encroachment into people’s personal space or comfort is relatively excusableas the Gittins character is just there to have fun and entertain people, he may be alittle misguided in his approach but he’s entirely well meaning. Little chuckles slipthrough quite a lot during the act and at times it can be hard to tell who’s laughing; thecharacter or the comic, but it doesn’t seem out of place and it’s all part of the fun of it.
 
Rhod Gilbert And TheCat That Looked LikeNicholas Lyndhurst
was @ Pleasance Courtyard
Rhod Gilbert is a coiled spring, a sim-
mering pot, a balloon lled to optimum
tension. In fact he could be regardedas a bit of a risk, but only to himself. If he carries on like this he’s gonna dohimself a mischief, maybe even popa vein!Following on from last year’s awardwinning show he’s equally if not morefrustrated. His on-stage persona hasevolved into a self-contradicting timid
yet rabid beast, he’s t to burst with
all the antagonising commotion that’sclogging up his mental state. Whilehe may take issue with comparisonsbeing made to Basil Fawlty, they arevery fair comparisons to make. He isa tumultuous whirlwind of agonisingannoyance and its pretty much all of his own making.Whether he likes it or not, he’sembodying the quirks of a true Britishcomedy icon, and he is doing it verywell. The show sees Gilbert gradu-ally build to virtual eruption as he tellsof his troublesome year though the video at the end, despite making a pleasant conclusion,dampens what could have been a fantastic closing crescendo.
Rhod Gilbert returned to Edinburgh and totally justied his award winning status. His per 
-
formance is assured, ery and very funny.
 
Richard Herring – Hitler Moustache
was @ Underbelly
Contrary to what you might have read elsewhere in the dark dankcorners of the internet, or even in
the Guardian
; Richard Herring isnot a racist.They say that no publicity is bad publicity. ‘They’ have beenknown to talk a lot of bollocks from time to time but that particular phrase is often true and Richard Herring’s 2009 show, in his 25thyear at the Fringe, is a case in point.In case you somehow don’t already know, Herring has recentlytaken to sporting a toothbrush moustache in a quest to reclaim it for comedy… He hopes he doesn’t get misunderstood.Herring loves to test the water, although where most of us mightdip a toe in, he goesstraight in with his bigsize nines. There ismethod to his mad-ness however, and hehas a clear agendathis year.Whilst this may notbe Richard Herring’sfunniest show, it is boldand brave and brilliant.He argues with himself repeatedly, examin-ing and interrogatinghimself over his ownbehaviour and thoughtprocesses. Why did Ido that? Am I a racist?If I think like that doesthat make me as badas them?Hitler Moustache issuch a strong show,impassioned, emotiveand clever. One of theshows that this year’sFringe will be remem-bered for.
 
Sarah Millican – Typical Woman
was @ Pleasance Courtyard
There is a certain dichotomy in Millican’s material (although it has mel-lowed somewhat) in that much of her material carries a strong feministperspective and focuses strongly on gender politics whilst still allowing inthe occasional rape gag.What’s funny is funny,but I’ve always felt thatshe lets some of her bet-ter material down by in-cluding the cruder shockvalue stuff. The audienceclearly know what theywant though and there isa clear sense in the roomthat the agenda for theday is ‘let’s have a go atmen.’Millican holds theroom with a strong
condence these days
and has plenty of greatwell constructed mate-rial which is why in just afew short years she hasquickly risen to be one of the UK’s leading femalecomedians. As if sex hasanything to do with it!
Selected highlights from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and Edinburgh Comedy Festival...

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