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 Festival 2006
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Musicals & Opera

(M) 4 out of 74
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= Unwatchable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme

Magic at Cafe Royal. (Page 53).
Drams .
Venue Café Royal Fringe Theatre. (Venue 47).
Address 17 West Register Street.
Reviewer Garry Platt.

I love magic and for the last couple of years the Café Royal have put on a magic show. This year a new magician is rotated round every week, so you could see three different magicians over the course of the festival. I saw Scott Sullivan, a young polite American who opened the first week of the run. His avuncular style is immediately noticeable even before the show starts as he meets and greets everyone as they walk into the room.

Magic is a fascinating subject and often draws audiences who just want to be bemused and fuddled about how a trick was performed or a conjure achieved. Rarely is the delivery of magic and the performance of tricks successfully coupled to a comedic delivery, Jerry Sadowtiz manages it and so does Scott Sullivan though not to the same degree. Scott’s American, for which he constantly apologises. He is also a competent performer of a fairly standard range of conjures, card tricks and vanishes, this is coupled to some good one liners, a couple of funny sight gags and a constant delivery of amusing banter.

It’s a good show, but it’s still not quite top of the range, the tricks are good but not amazing, the chatter is amusing but not side splitting the impression he leaves is positive but not stupendous. Scott’s a competent magician and if you want to see a good magic show I would recommend his, I hope he sticks with it, I’d go and see him again next year.
©Garry Platt 6 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 27 August at 17:20 every day.
Company – Ian Kendall and Friends.
Company Website - www.virtualmagicshow.com.


Maria Bamford - Plan B. (Page 54).
Drams .
Venue Assembly Rooms (Venue 3).
54 George Street.
Ritchie Smith.

American, yes. A female, very much so. Her theme - 'disappointment'. The largely female audience largely laughed. This quirky-faced stand-up may be an acquired taste. Her squeaky imitations of a pet pug dog, her annoying Mother (with walk-on part for Dad), her annoying sister, and her annoying female rival from high school didn't exactly make me split my sides.

But there are some good quips, e.g. from Mother to daughter: 'When you don't wear make-up, you look mentally ill!' There are also some genuinely surreal moments, and the diet of families, shopping, and diets entertained the core audience (i.e. not me). If you are female, intelligent and secretly worried about it, and old enough to remember when you thought 'Friends' was wonderful, Maria Bamford will very likely be perfect for you - and that's praise. Me? I remain impressed, if not overwhelmed.
©Ritchie Smith 10 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com .
Runs to August 28 at 19:30 every day, not 14 or 21.
Company Assembly Theatre and Marshall Cordell.


Mark Watson: I'm Worried That I'm Starting To Hate Almost Everyone In The World. (Page 54).

Drams None.
Venue Pleasance Courtyard.
Address 60 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Edmund Gould.

Mark Watson has swiftly acquired cult status in Edinburgh. He's a comedian prepared to go the extra mile, and he arrives on stage apologising for his jaded appearance - he's just completed a record-breaking thirty-six hour stand-up show. Under the circumstances, you'd expect a lesser comedian to have an off-day. After all, following an such an epic marathon of joke-telling, surely there can't be anything left in the tank?

Fortunately for Watson's crowd, he still offers plenty to laugh about. His bumbling demeanour and faltering Welsh delivery (part of the act, I'm told) conceals a comedian able to unearth hilarity amid the most unlikely scenarios. Any ill-feeling that the title of his show might suggest is soon overcome by the warmth of his personality and his shy, amusingly polite banter with an enraptured audience. A while ago, Watson tells us, he was mugged by a thirteen-year old, whom he quaintly dubs the 'Theo Walcott' of the petty crime industry. Watson just about emerged unscathed, after his emergency poncho, to his disappointment, had offered little in the way of protection. Still, the incident did at least have one silver-lining, in providing Watson with the inspiration for his misanthropically-named show.

Watson's routine is built around his 'Sack of Sin', a ridiculous giant stocking which he gleefully invites his audience to probe. Each of the objects produced loosely correspond to one of the Seven Deadly Sins, albeit via the most gloriously tenuous of links. The comic targets of Watson's ire are in fact relatively traditional (Mick Hucknall, T-shirts, plumbers etc). It is Watson's unique spin on events, however, that transforms an everyday anecdote into something joyously ludicrous. His trick is to interpret commonplace phrases entirely at face value, relentlessly pushing their implications towards their literal, faintly preposterous conclusion - his absurd definition of a mini-bar being a case in point.

For all his skill, Watson admits that a comedian can only provide so much entertainment; the audience are therefore warned of the traditional 'Lull' at the forty-minute mark. Even so, the pause in proceedings only serves to prompt some more hilarious ramblings from Watson's mind, thus turning a potential obstacle into one of the show's comic highlights. It's a masterful hour of comedy, and will surely garner Watson the acclaim that his Herculean contributions to the Fringe so richly deserve. Let's hope he manages to catch up on some sleep as well. It seems he's earned it.
©Edmund Gould 19 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August every day at 21:45.
Company - Goldman King & CKP by arrangement with Karushi management.


My Family and Other Alcoholics - Free. (Page 16).
Drams .
Venue Laughing Horse at Canon's Gait. (Venue 78).
Address 232 Canongate.
Reviewer Anna Kay.

The concept of the Free Fringe was launched in earnest last year, with 22 shows playing at two different venues. This is a refreshing break from the common concept of a drain pipe attachment to the Fringe visitor's wallet. I was therefore disappointed last year when my experience of these shows found 'free' to equate with 'not worth paying for'. This year, however, Free Fringe has twice as many venues, three times as many shows and, if My Family and Other Alcoholics is anything to go by, at least four times as many laughs.

Lewis Bryan's one-man show covers the subject of alcoholism and its changing effects and treatments. Unfortunately, treading the line between comedy and tragedy with a subject this serious is a tricky business, and I think that a little more preparation would have made this show tighter and more consistent. Bryan needs to be sure of himself and his material and not shy away when he is uncertain of the audience reaction.

However, this is mainly overcome by his immense likeability as a performer - we were on his side, so happily forgave any lapses in his confidence. Overall, this is a show I would pay to see, and a credit to the Free Fringe.
©Anna Kay 10 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 13 at 16:55 every day.
Company - Lewis Bryan Comedy/PBH Free Fringe.
Company Website - www.freefringe.com .

(M) 4 out of 74
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