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 Festival 2006
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Musicals & Opera

(J) 5 out of 74
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Page number refers to the Fringe programme

Jim Jeffries - The Second Coming. (Page 46).
Drams full glass full glass full glass full glass.
Venue Underbelly. (Venue 61).
Address 56 Cowgate (entrances on Cowgate and Victoria Street).
Reviewer Edmund Gould.

Jim Jeffries certainly isn't everyone's cup of tea. His crude, profanity-laden tirades seek to trash every taboo in the book, which I suppose is rather daring. Nothing appears to be off-limits, including the disabled, suicide bombers and even molested children. Jeffries is hardly the first comedian to brave such tricky ground, but it is a tough act to pull off. If you're going to be offensive, you better damn well make sure you're funny. Back in Edinburgh with his grandiosely titled show The Second Coming, Jeffries causes plenty of offence, but fails to redeem himself with much in the way of genuine comedy.

It's a torrent of filth seemingly aimed squarely at his boozed-up, easily pleased 'lad' following, who greedily lap up his every word. Still, Jeffries strikes me as a bit of a fraud. Despite his self-promotion as a dangerous comedy cowboy, sticking two fingers up at polite society, he quickly loses his crucial element of surprise. Jokes about stingy hijackers flying Economy Class sound tired and well-worn, while a running gag about a rather unorthodox sexual practice is, for all its brazen vulgarity, totally devoid of wit. Unfortunately for Jeffries, his attempts to make forays into more unfamiliar territory feel grossly misjudged, such as the account of a traumatic burglary and assault he suffered a couple of years ago. It's a sobering story, but his attempt to wring laughter out of some rather sordid details causes plenty of squirming amongst a visibly uncomfortable audience. Even so, the show is not without its brighter moments, and Jeffries' father proves a fertile source of hilarity. Some hugely inappropriate remarks on a stuffy German train are amusingly recounted, and the disturbing tale of an abusive scoutmaster is capped with a killer punch-line.

Elsewhere, however, any decent gags are swiftly trampled on by Jeffries' insistence on retaining the uncouth tough guy act. A lot of the great comics are just as offensive as Jeffries - it's just that they choose to offend with some greater, more constructive aim in mind. Rather than actually dare to make his audience think, Jeffries feels content to merely move from one obscenity to the next, with no real goal other than a raised eyebrow here and a dropped jaw there. It's a shame, as he's clearly got a lot more talent than he cares to show. Rather, he's happy to settle for, in his own words, 'smut above intellect' - forgetting that one needn't necessarily preclude the other. Even the incongruous Judy Garland track that plays him out can't disguise the fact that for all his aspirations to notoriety, Jim Jeffries has very little to say. On the basis of this performance, that might just be a blessing in disguise.
©Edmund Gould 22 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com .
Runs to 27 August every day at 22:35.
Company - Jim Jeffries.
Company Website - www.jim-jeffries.com.


Jim Henson's Puppet Improv - Adults Only. (Page 46).
Dramsfull glass just to wet your appetite.
Venue Assembly Hall (Venue 35)
Address Mound Place.
Reviewer Lauren McKie.

Well, to begin with I was a bit dubious about the company using Jim Henson's name - synonymous with puppetry evolution - as he was one of the greatest people to come out of America (except he made his stuff here, hah!) but is sadly no longer with us. More importantly, with a certain greedy international company now on board and a suspected "Dark Crystal" sequel in the pipeline, I have mixed feelings about the present respectability of the company.

However, the team still has the irreverent sense of humour - and though now Frank Oz and Jerry Goelz-less - they still have the Henson blood amongst them - and it shows. Think back to the random comedy relief of the most famous variety show (with the frog and pig) ever produced for TV and particularly the even more random appearances of "Wayne and Wanda" or "Sweedums". With this and your own imagination, you have the basis of the "Puppet Up!" improvisation show - except think extremely rude.

One of the best things about a lot of the puppet theatre at the moment is that - apart from some traditional puppetry - no-one seems to be trying to hide the puppeteers anymore. It is wonderful to see how these puppets are operated - a lot of them very complex, but many very simple. The effect, as always with Henson Co. puppets is astounding. There are so many different ideas it is hard to imagine where they will all fit together but they do! We also are allowed to see it as a huge digital feed of the puppets, or we can choose to watch the puppeteers as they go about their work.

The puppeteers are very versatile and during the performance I see there is a slight tip of the hat to British puppet sensation "Spitting Image" when the Royal Family get involved with home brain surgery. Among other sketches are a caveman being interviewed for a job managing a boyband of sausages, a love tiff over an incident with a strawberry insertion and a first date in a high security prison. Now I - and seemingly everyone else too - laughed an awful lot which is very worrying.

For years now we've had no "adult comedy puppetry" on screen or stage - yet constant visits to the Playhouse by the childish spin-offs. It's about time the adults claimed this medium back! After all, how much of Henson's stuff was exclusively aimed at kids? Now that I've seen it for myself I am happy that the Henson Co. are still paying tribute to the man who started the revolution by having his name always associated with standard-bearing puppetry.
©Lauren McKie 10 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs till August 20th at 20:40 (1hr).
Company The Jim Henson Company and Marshall Cordell.
Company Website http://www.henson.com .


Juliet Meyers:A Life, A Fantasy. (Page 47).
Venue  Laughing Horse at Lindsay’s. (Venue 56).
Address   15 Brunswick St .
Reviewer   Anna Kay .

I like the premise of this show – when dissatisfied with life, we all create dreams, fantasies and alter egos.  Juliet Meyers has gone one further; she has an elaborate history, made-up friends and relatives, yet even these seem to disappoint.  This doesn’t phase her, though, as she recounts her ‘life’ with detail and enthusiasm. 

The downstairs room at Lindsay’s has a friendly, cosy atmosphere and Meyers works well with this, with strong audience interaction skills.  Perhaps these are a bit too good, and there are times when she allows the more irritating audience members too much of her time and energy, causing the show to be a little disjointed at some points.  She is also easily distracted by the outside noise, which though irritating, is more easily ignored when not constantly drawn attention to.

Meyers is overall a confident performer and a lovely woman with a rare talent for making comedy comfortable, despite this show lacking some focus and structure. ©Anna Kay 23 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Run ended.
Company – Juliet Meyers – PBH Free Fringe.
Company Website - www.freefringe.com


Jump – Martial Arts Comedy. (Page 47).
Drams .
Venue Assembly at Assembly Hall. (Venue 35).
Address Mound Place.
Reviewer Garry Platt.

I am always a little suspicious of shows that return to the Edinburgh Fringe following a previous years successful run. It doesn't seem in keeping with the spirit of the Fringe and smacks more of corporate greed than creative and artistic drive. Last year Jump, which followed closely on the heels of 2004's 'Cookin' martial arts comedic extravaganza had a sell out run and has returned once again to the Assembly Hall with presumably the intention of reaping the same harvest. Based on last night's performance they will doubtless succeed.

The show is a martial arts based comedy, with slapstick humour of the silent movies variety. There is a large cast of stereotypical characters and a profundity of farcical props. There is barely any story line, but there are a huge range of 'set pieces'. These are fight scenes and arrangements which draw from and parody the kung fu movies which were churned out in their thousands from the Studios of Run Run Shaw and Hong Kong in the 70's, 80's and 90's.Some brilliantly executed slow motion scenes performed on the stage are a joy to watch and the basic but chuckle inducing humour is present throughout the 60 minutes of the show.

The performers are clearly skilled acrobats and martial artists and deliver the nearest thing I have seen in terms of visual impact and ludicrous scenarios to a children's TV cartoon on a stage. That's no bad thing and must take hours of training and discipline to maintain this level of physical achievement. I would recommend this show to anyone who enjoys physical comedy and isn't too concerned about the sophistication of the humour they encounter. The audiences certainly enjoyed the show on the night I watched it, and no wonder, every move and scene has been honed to get a laugh or a giggle.
©Garry Platt 4 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 28 August at 17:00 every day.
Company – YEGAM Inc. Korea.
Company Website - http://www.hijump.co.kr.


Just Another Sunday. (Page 47).
Drams .
Venue Holyrood Tavern. (Venue 84).
Address 9a Holyrood Road.
Reviewer Anna Kay.

I'm not sure if Lucy Lott is worse as a writer or performer. A better actor may have made a passable show of this half hour flop, but then a strong script may have raised a few laughs despite Lott's best efforts to obscure all the punchlines in fluff and a 'funny voice'.

I will give her the benefit of the doubt and suggest some overly long pauses were down to dramatic effect and not bad memory. I am still left wondering, however, whether or not the ending was the edgy twist I longed for. Meateaters with a strong stomach and a love of obvious sexual innuendo may find this passable entertainment, but it really wasn't for me.
©Anna Kay 11 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to August 26 (not 14).
Company Juicy Slot Productions.

(J) 5 out of 74
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