I recently had the pleasure of spending a month at the Fringe reviewing a variety of acts: from the good, the bad to the downright bizarre. Fortunately for you, I sifted through the various shows I saw to tell you about five of the best acts and five of the worst.
The Best Five…
1) The Boy With Tape On His Face
The idea of a silent comedian sounds absurd, but this a show that is nothing short of spectacular. Aided only by props, backing music and an audience willing to participate, The Boy puts on a captivating and hilarious show that proves action speaks louder than words.
2) Trevor Noah
The only thing I have to say about Trevor Noah is that he’s going places. His show revolves around his experience of growing up as a mixed race person in the apartheid years in South Africa, and he is one of the funniest and charismatic comedians I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing – definitely one to watch!
3) The Improverts
The Improverts’ show is not planned in the strictest sense; it is improvised comedy that involves the performers playing games with the audience, so it’s very interactive and a lot of fun. They are a comedy troupe run by Edinburgh University Theatre Company and this is their 21st year at the Fringe and it’s not difficult to see why: they’re fantastic!
A lot of us dream of being the next Jay Z or Nicki Minaj but such fantasies are restricted to rapping into a hairbrush in our bedrooms. However, this Irish man is living out his dream by doing interactive, improvised raps with the audience. It’s as bonkers as it sounds but it’s nevertheless brilliant.
5) Lady Sings it Better
Six Australian women turn popular chauvinistic songs on their head and make them better from a Michael Jackson melody to a hilarious cover of Ginuwine’s ‘Pony’. It’s feminism with a fun and flirty twist.
The Worst Five…
The Fringe is a platform for lots of fantastic talent, and a lot of comedians, actors and journalists started out at the Fringe. However, for every great act you see, there is always one which is incredibly disappointing and here are five of the worst acts I saw at this year’s festival:
1) Peacock and Gamble
You may remember these two from Russell Howard’s Good News show. Unfortunately for Peacock and Gamble, I don’t find people acting like buffoons even vaguely amusing, so it was a painful hour for me. However, most people seem to like them so I imagine their career is going to go from strength to strength, but I can’t see their appeal I’m afraid.
2) Plastic Beach
A production put on by Exeter University which was one of the most confusing plays I’ve ever seen, and it didn’t help that there was minimal speech in it. I appreciate that they were trying to do something innovative but unfortunately it backfired.
3) Hansel and Gretel
I was made to see a children’s play during my stay in Edinburgh, and the result was this rather macabre production that involved a man crawling onto the stage with a pink disco stick. Children’s shows are meant to be entertaining, but there wasn’t enough laughs for them, or me.
4) Blind Mirth
An ‘improv’ group whose show started reasonably well even if the performers weren’t the funniest people in the world. However, one of the games lasted almost half the show and it became too obscure to follow. If you’re going to do improvised comedy, make sure your games don’t last longer than five to ten minutes, otherwise you risk losing your audience’s attention.
This was meant to be a humorous take on a tragedy, and such humour involved a Cher impersonation which was more underwhelming than watching the lady perform herself. The idea was good, but unfortunately the execution resulted in an absurd play that could have been great if they’d reined in the comedy.