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(N) 2 out of 91
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= Unwatchable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme

Nicholas Parsons' Happy Hour. (Page 46).

Drams - None.
Venue Pleasance Courtyard. (Venue 33).
Address 60 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Guy Woodward.

God bless Nicholas Parsons. He may be 106, but has more energy and enthusiasm than many men a fifth of his age. Like a beautifully tailored cashmere cardigan, he envelops us in an indecently warm glow as soon as he takes to the stage at the Pleasance Courtyard for the fifth consecutive year of Nicholas Parsons' Happy Hour, wearing a deckchair and cravate of somewhat dubious vintage and taste.

Parsons creates an immediate rapport with his audience, fielding and asking questions with consummate and urbane ease and good humour, and if you sit near the front there's a near certain chance of being offered Smarties. This is a comedy chat show in form, and inevitably will be completely different each evening, as a variety of other comics currently performing at the Fringe join Parsons on stage to offer us a taster of their shows and discuss their careers. There is no way of knowing what will come up, and audiences must thus take their chances, but such is Parsons' stature that there is little possibility of any real stinkers turning up. This time, he is joined by deadpan rambling Irish Australian stand up Jimeoin and hyperactive workaholic Canadian Phil Nichol, currently appearing in over seventeen thousand fringe shows.

Although Parsons is old enough to be these people's grandfather, he clearly has an acute awareness of new discoveries and an overwhelming love of the Fringe atmosphere, and is - after over half a century in the business - better than anyone at holding a show like this together. He will not let you down.
©Guy Woodward 14 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 27 August at 17.10.
Company - Pleasance Theatre.
Website - www.nicholasparsons.co.uk

Not the Footlights. (Page 47).

Drams full glassfull glass.
Venue Sweet on the Grassmarket .
Address Apex City Hotel, 61 The Grassmarket.
Reviewer Juliet Morrish .

The title of this show is misleading. One expects a traditional student comedy revue, with sketches written, directed and performed by university students. However, the four cast members of this show are actually A-Level students from Manchester Grammar School and the writer of the sketches featured is Richard Kelly , a politics lecturer and freelance contributor to The Spectator and Private Eye.

The benefits of having an experienced satirist as the show's writer can be seen from the outset. The mix of songs and short scenes are all humourous comments upon political and social issues of the day, ranging from the shameless corporate ambitions of Disney to the irritating relentlessness of telesalesmen. The writing is very slick and, whilst some of the jokes are rather ordinary, there are some real flashes of ingenuity. For example, the Anglovision Song Contest, set in a time when the British Isles has been separated into numerous independent states. The Contest closes with the winning song, a number about budget supermarkets - 'Stuck in the Lidl with You'.

The direction of the four young performers lends them an air of professionalism often lacking from traditionally slapdash student revues. They are energetic and their range of accents and character expressions is very impressive. There is a strong whiff of the rigid and the over- rehearsed in their performances however, particularly from the two female cast members, who deliver their lines staring straight ahead as if reading from an autocue. The shining star of the show is the charismatic Tom Rawlins who consistently steals the audience's attention with his animated expressions and excellent comic timing.

Although mis-marketed as a student revue in the vein of The Cambridge Footlights and The Oxford Revue, this is a well-written, well-performed show. All four cast members show considerable talent, despite lacking some natural comedic flair. This show is worth seeing if only for the sketch entitled Battle of the Day; a historical spoof of Match of the Day, featuring Alan Hansen's commentary on the Battle of Hastings.
©Juliet Morrish 16 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 20 (not 14) at 11.45
Company Northern Youth Theatre.
Company Website www.northernyouththeatre.com

(N) 2 out of 91
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