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 Festival 2006
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Musicals & Opera

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

Tim Fitzhigham: Untitled.(Page 75).
Drams .
Venue Pleasance Court (Venue 33).
Address 60 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Chris Mounsey.

As Tim Fitzhigham assures us, the title of his show is a pun, not laziness. For this is one man's quest - inspired by Don Quixote - to become a mediaeval knight of yore and win the heart of the lady that he loves from afar, the "lovely, bouncy Claire Sweeney". And an enthralling tale it is.

Tim Fitzhigham is one of those quintessentially English eccentrics who seem to get a kick from doing completely crazy things: in 2003 he rowed a paper boat 160 miles up the Thames - in 2005 he became the first person to row a bath across the Channel (and 200 miles around Kent); and this year he is after a knighthood.

Fitzhigham is an absolute delight, his orotund tones and expressive eyes conveying beautifully his obvious passion for his cause. He tells the tale of his yearlong quest -- which includes an exploding chemical toilet, a cheese-rolling injury, attempted bribery of Tony Blair with a book token and, finally, his hermit-like existence (wearing a suit of armour) in a cave in La Mancha -- with a vim and vigour that never fails to entertain and amuse.

Despite the very occasional longeur, such is Fitzhigham's enthusiasm and charisma that this show makes for a hilarious and arresting hour. I won't reveal whether Fitzhigham achieves his aim because it's almost irrelevant - it is the journey that is so wonderfully lunatic.

But then, tilting at windmills has always been - with the exception of Don Quixote himself -- such a wonderfully English thing.
Runs every day till August 28 at 18.00.
Company - Tim Fitzhigham.


Tim Minchin - So Rock. (Page 75).
Drams .
Venue Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14).
Address 13 Bristo Square.
Reviewer Leanna Rance.

If last year's Perrier Newcomer, Tim Minchin, feels any weight on his slight shoulders having executed such a successful Fringe debut, he seems unperturbed. For some performers a Perrier award is manna from heaven, for others it can eventually become a cross to bear, but Minchin seems so genuinely grounded in, and enamoured of what he does, there seems little left to prove.

Minchin is an interesting creature to dissect. He is certainly multi-faceted. Impish, sweet, intelligent - part Artful Dodger, part Edward Scissorhands - opening the show with an exuberant, clever display of rock excess, worthy of Justin Hawkins of The Darkness - and closing with a dark, bitter (rather than bittersweet) love-song parody, examining the idea of 'affection as cancerous growth'. And in-between we're treated to virtuoso musical performance, and heaps of sinister yet strangely entertaining social discourse, concerning obese children, ecological waste and sexual taboos (mainly involving 'wee').

The seduction of Minchin's performance (aside from his indisputable musical talent and facility with words), lies in his ability to deliver unpalatable, uncomfortable material in a disingenuously sweet and nonchalant way (rather like a baby-faced killer). Minchin is the Ted Bundy of comedy - a charmer with a malevolent agenda. But that's no bad thing, because it marks him out as unique in a climate which currently offers rather too much bland, identikit comedy fare.

Minchin even treats us to a poem, "I think poetry is the new dot.com" he beams, "there's going to be a boom, so I'm getting in now….". The heavily tattooed Glaswegian man in front of me seems less sure. Yet at the end of Minchin's show, he is yelling and whooping for an encore, just like everyone else.

Although Minchin is clearly and openly sensitive to reviewers who put his talent under the microscope (if you took his piano away, would he just be a bog-standard stand-up…? If you took the stand-up away, would he just be a pianist playing some late-night jazz bar…?) The temptation is nevertheless there to deconstruct the whole. Because the Minchin 'phenomenon' is in all honesty, possibly greater than the sum of its parts.

But ultimately it doesn't matter one iota. Because his captivating, slightly disjointed talent is formidable. And Minchin possesses the alluring beauty of the bonafide eccentric - will-o-the-wisp in stature yet somehow infinitely larger than life.

Oh yeah, and he is sooooo f***ing rock.
© Leanna Rance - 8 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 28th August at 21.30 every day, excepting 15, 24.
Company - Gilded Balloon Productions.


Tom Stade: And Relax. (Page 75).
Drams .
Venue The Stand Comedy Club II (Venue 5).
Address 16 North St Andrew Street.
Reviewer Nathan Witts.

This laid back American won me over from the off. Performing to a full Stand II Tom Stade takes his audience from Wolverhampton to Kansas City via Africa, Israel and China and is entertaining throughout the journey.

His set moves steadily without any noticeable dips, although some of his material has been heard in one form or another before, most is original, astute and hilarious. At times Stade is quite controversial and somewhat rude. However he possesses a truck full of charisma that allows him to get away with more than most. After dropping numerous bombshells Stade coolly gazes into his audience, sips his beer and moves nonchalantly onto new material. I gave up biting my lip in favour of laughing out loud - he is a naturally funny individual.

The just before midnight time slot might put some off but I wouldn't let it, drinks in the pub before hand and an allnighter in the watering hole of your choice can easily sandwich a thoroughly amusing hour of comedy. Stay away if offended by quadriplegic jokes. otherwise definitely worth a late night visit.
©Nathan Witts 6 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 27th August at 23:55 every day apart from 14 August.
Company - The Stand Comedy Club.
Company Website - www.thestand.co.uk.

Tony Law - The Dog of Time. (Page 75).
Drams .
Venue Gilded Balloon Teviot . (Venue 14).
Address 13 Bristo Square.
Reviewer Felicity King-Evans.

Tony Law is appealing for being appealing, really. If that sounds facetious, let me try to explain. His comedy varies drastically in pace, sense and humour but succeeds in being mostly brilliant as a result of his persona - a very amiable and slightly perplexed weirdo. Often his jokes make very little sense and he seems as confused as his audience but that's often his charm. His twinkling dejection when his jokes ramble off into nothing can be funny, but, sometimes it appears staged and that's annoying.

Accompanied only by a picture of a very sweet sausage dog, Tony Law also touches on genius. His letters to the future actually gave me a stitch from laughing and his random earnestness carries even weaker jokes. Occasionally he loses it while the recurring 'message from my sponsor' becomes tedious very quickly.

Overall this is a memorable and immensely funny performance which has something to appeal to nearly everyone.
©Felicity King-Evans 7 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 28 at 19:30 every day, not 15.
Company -Ask Entertainment.


Toulson and Harvey.(Page 76).
Drams .
Venue Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33).
Address 60 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Edmund Gould.

Luke Toulson and Stephen Harvey made quite an impression on their Edinburgh debut last year, and this show sees their attempt to build on that initial success. In truth, like any marriage, the pair have their ups and downs, but they nevertheless offer one of the most inventive, bizarre hours of comedy available on the Fringe. Bringing together a host of influences, from Brass Eye to Green Wing, Toulson and Harvey have crafted an entertaining (if slightly shapeless) comic tale that lampoons British and American attitudes to the outside world.

The show begins neatly enough, as Harvey welcomes his audience into the stuffy Pleasance Attic in the guise of a right-wing Lancashire schoolmistress. The classroom setting swiftly gives way to something altogether less familiar, as Toulson, playing Soviet cosmonaut Goran Goranovic, tells us of eleven years spent stranded in space with the All-American Buddy Johnson (Harvey). The men return to Earth to find very different fates. Goran's country no longer exists due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, forcing him to seek counselling at an ingeniously titled 'Empires Anonymous' meeting. Meanwhile Buddy, a dim- witted Dubya clone, is greeted as a hero and swiftly elected President, even fronting his own talk show.

The two actors complement each other's stories with a panoply of entertaining supporting roles, and a few sketches really hit a nerve - notably the episodes involving an Islamic nativity play and a grimly hilarious track entitled 'We're Winning the War on Terror'. That said, some of the sketches do rely on rather well-worn national stereotypes, and Goran's accent certainly seems somewhat indebted to Borat. The sketches run together seamlessly, linked by a sort of slow-mo fade between skits as the actors slip into their new roles. It all looks a bit made-for-TV, though, and as clever as it is, one can't escape the feeling that these guys are gunning for a bigger audience on BBC Three. Even so, it's far more intelligent than your average sketch show. See it before it goes digital.
©Edmund Gould 15 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August at 17.45.
Company – Toulson and Harvey.

(T) 5 out of 74
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