Bill Bruce's performance transcends efficient professionalism and soars into areas only dreamt of by most jobbing stand-ups.

At the most  basic level, Bruce was able to smoothly incorporate the latest information on the London bombings and that very morning's unexpected headline news that cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed had fled the country. His ability to incorporate totally fresh material was impressive. But his anility to work a potentially very difficult audience was awe-inspiring.

With an apparent effortless ease, he was able to diverge completely from his prepared set into areas dictated by his audience and speak with knowledge and humour about current events, sailing into improvised yet totally smooth and well-shaped routines, then returning even more smoothly to his prepared set. To make this seem effortless and easy is the highest possible professional compliment.

One particularly difficult punter did not heckle but amiably interrupted Bruce's act repeatedly and dangerously. Rather than put him down, Bruce used interruptions by the punter - a postman by trade - as a diving board into unswum new waters. When the punter got up, went to the toilet and returned to find the venue entrance accidentally shut, he banged twice on the door a couple of times.

"So you see," Bruce said without pause, "It's true. The postman always knocks twice"

Towards the end, asked for a wild animal story by a punter, he spun into a tale about lions, spastic children and Loch Lomond with which he climaxed a show superbly delivered, superbly crafted, superbly shaped but largely improvided.

Massively talented. Breathtakingly good.


This is a 5-star script with a 4-star performance in a 3-star format.

It is not a show; it is a showcase... for the very considerable talents of Laura Solon. As it comprises 3 and 4 minute self-contained character monologues, it is impossible to tell if Laura can write a 60-minute or even 30-minute show. Writing brilliant short characterisations (which these are) is no guarantee for structuring longer pieces.

The Fringe brochure bafflingly describes this show as "One Man and His Incredible Mind" presented by a victim support group on the subject of living with a mental disability. In fact, Laura's solo comedy show is presented by Browneyedboy (TV producers of "3 Non Blondes" etc) at the increasingly important Holyrood Tavern venue (programmed by Brian Damage’s straight woman Vicky De Lacey). Both are very impressive at spotting new talent and they have scored another bullseye here.

Laura's characters range from an Australian in a wheelchair who thinks she is possessed by the ghost of Princess Diana to an excitable Rotherham girl to a deranged American motivational speaker. Her scripts verge on being a collection of mini-masterpieces with stand-out lines which remain in character: "You can have my yoghurt, if you like. It's got spit in. It'll be like kissing me" ... "There's only one thing worse than being talked about and that's Madrid" ...Anyone who can rival or even top a line by Oscar Wilde is a talent to watch.

Some beautifully crafted one-liners included my favourite, done as a throwaway in mid-sentence... "a dyslexic who fears the number 31"

Laura Solon is not an Alan Bennett or Victoria Wood, but she is young, within sight of them and might yet rival them. She is an immensely talented writer with performance skills to match.



Dan Nightingale? Standard stand-up set.

Drugs, babies, anti-racism, a bit of audience involvement. Very personable, proficient. Didn't make my jaw drop. Needs a unique selling proposition.

Josie Long? Much liked by all types of audiences; needs more edge.

Loveable West Country innocence persona. A joke about a mortuary delivered in too obviously pure Stewart Lee style. Whimsical amiability. The 28 minutes of separate bits-and-bobs almost but not quite smoothly enough linked together foir a 28-minute act.

"Yet again," says Josie on stage, "I cause some amusement but bewilderment in general."

No, not bewilderment, Josie. Just interest in which direction your act will develop. A well-deserved Chortle Best Newcomer Award 2005. Lots of potential. Direction not obvious,

Overall verdict on the show? Worth the price of admission. Efficient entertainment.


"Observational comedy from a blind guy?" the posters ask.

Yes and very good observational comedy from Jongleurs' Best Newcomer 2004.

Mainstream and cosy? Yes. Alternative? No way. But warm-voiced, warm-eyed Liverpudlian comic Chris McCausland succeeds in what he sets out to do.

It's not a hard-edged act. It's an old-fashioned world of family, telly, pubs and football. A world where TV is dominated by the A-Team, Colombo, Knightrider and Ironside.

There are well-crafted if unoriginal routines about disarming bombs in James Bond films, but with no reference whatever to the recent London bombings.

Chris, a blind man with warm eyes which focus on individual members of his audience as if he were not blind - pay attention TV producers - seems to have surreally spent most of his recent months watching the Discovery Channel and other cable channels. His observations are funny, comfortable, comforting and none the worse for that. He aims to make his audience happy, to be their friendly non-aggressive Northern comic and he succeeds.

Ironically, this blind man with the soft voice and the warm, friendly eyes could be very successful on television with mainstream audiences.


Very variable sketch show carried along on pure energy, pace and a fair smattering of very good writing and good perfmances. There is a failed attempt to link the separate sketches together with threads including a character called 'Steve Hitler'. This fails, but at least they tried to get round the 'bittyness' problem of sketch shows.

The only non-originality I spotted was nicking one line from W.C.Fields but - hey - OK - if you're going to steal, steal from the best.

The 5-person Los Albatross ensemble are Dublin-based and have spent the last three years performing in Ireland. The experience shows.

Two performers shine out.

James Walmsley as the party-loving Russian President and as an OTT Lionel Bart-style singing Cockney. And Shane O'Brien as a squeaky street urchin pulled from some schmaltzy 1930s Hollywood movie.


Before I saw it, I wondered why this show ran 80 minutes not 60 minutes. Having seen it, I still wonder.

American Brian Longwell says he is a non-motivational, non-inspirational speaker who thought about writing a book on the subject of not writing a book but hasn't got round to it.

He was born in the town of Horseheads, close to New York State's totally straight border with Pennsylvania. State borders are totally straight, he tells us, only when no-one gives a shit about that particular area.

"That's where I grew up - Right on the edge of not giving a shit."

With very funny overhead projector illustrations, this is a sophisticated, thoroughly enjoyable and irony-filled tongue-in-cheek antidote to all those American motivational speakers who charge a fortune. And it lasts an hour.

There is then a dull and totally pointless 20 minutes of additional material with two men and one woman perfming an office sketch; followed by Longwell and another man performing a second pointless office sketch.

This extraordinary misjudgement snatched failure from the jaws of success.

See the show. Walk out after 60 minutes. There is a pause to allow you to do this.

I'd like to say this is a good 60 minute show. And I can. I'd like to say this is a good 80 minute show. I'd like to.


Anton Pick's one-man show is not really comedy. It is more performance art pitched somewhere between John Hegley's poetry and Rowan Atkinson's reading of names in a school roll.

A rich, would-be sexy voice with lots of beautifully-timed pauses. It is more performance than content and it got plentiful laughs from an appreciative audience partly boosted by giggling students from Aberystwyth.

Because 'Anton Pick' is really Antony Pickthall, former marketing and fundraising man for varioius theatre companies, now working at the Centre for Performance Research in Aberystwyth, a town he hates.

But he likes cats. And cheese. And performing. And feels guilty for having had his sick cat put to sleep by the vet.

And that's the show, really.


With artistic pauses.

"Salami might (PAUSE) be your (PAUSE) thing. (PAUSE) But (PAUSE) for me (PAUSE) it's cheese (LONG PAUSE) There's morphine (PAUSE) in cheese."

It's a quirky performance. Like cheese, not to everyone's taste and with occasional holes in it. But at least original. And, as the success of comedy is in timing, new comedians would be well advised to see this show where the material is not inherently funny and where there are no gags... but which gets genuine laughs.

Anton only really 30 minutes of materiaL.

He pads...

For another 30 minutes.

But his pauses...

are so good...

it's still entertaining and...




The worst thing that could happen to female Circus of The Future duo Frog Stone and Lydia Aers is to get an immediate TV show. Their sketches and characterisations are mostly not quite sharp enough yet; the writing is fluent but can be inconsequential, like their Eastern bloc pop duo Lebianski.

There are some decent lines: "In cities, you call it incest; in Norfolk, we call it quality time. In our family, we call bedtime stories foreplay."

But their real potential is shown in a sketch involving the break-up of the relationship between a pair of slapstick clowns.

One finds on the other's collar not a strand of the new lover's hair but the remnants of another person's custard pie. The wayward clown has had her eyes opened to new worlds by a Comedia dell Arte performer whom she meets in Hoxton Square for afternoons of illicit mime. The swear words in this sketch are self-censored with the use of a Harpo Marx-style honking horn. It is their one fully-realised sketch but shows immense potential.

The format is that of two Circus of The Future performers who have come back to visit 2005 in a time machine, knowing what all our futures are. Their farewell line to the audience: "That was the most fun some of you will ever have."

My advice to TV executives: let them do one more Fringe but keep an eye on them.

My advice to the talented duo: you are almost there, something that few performers are. But think of adding in pathos to gain more depth; it was almost there in the clown sketch. And don't grab for the glittering prize too soon. Next year. Next year.


With professional jingle-writer Tom Hodge at the oigan-piano and leaping around selling his life-experiences with the use of computer drawings and sound & video recordings, this is a very entertaining hour of anecdote and insight into a hack tunesmith's heart.

Young, bright-eyed and Jetson-hairstyled, Tom is a great salesman who starts off demonstrating how to play music to a Charlie Chaplin clip, then demystifies ad jingles and 'soundscapes' past and present with copious autobiographical snippets revealing the art of his composition and the farts of his commissioners.

Justin of The Darkness, he tells us, wrote "Washing machines last longer with Calgon" and Lou Reed wrote soundalike songs for 'production music' publishers.

It is a fascinating and entertaining hour-long show. You couldn't claim it was comedy as such. You couldn't say it was a well-structured script building to a massive climactic pay-off. But fascinating and entertaining will do to justify the price of admission.


The Holyrood Tavern consolidates its reputation for providing shows at the bizarre end of the Fringe spectrum with this ramshackle two-stand-up show featuring Danny Worthington and Johnny Sorrow.

In automotive terms, most productions aspire to be a gleaming stretch limo. This one is an equivalent of the Beverley Hillbillies' car or Del Boy's three-wheeler on a bad day.

Held together by the slender conceit of a newspaper small ad - 'Desperately Seeking Sorrow' - bringing them together, the two stand-ups perform two sets each separately.

Man With The Beard lookalike Worthington's first set is an apparently true routine about coming out as gay. There is a well-written and interesting routine hidden in here trying to get out but frustrated by a nervous and unselfconfident delivery which scuppers the performance with odd pauses in mid-sentence and occasional complete forgetfulness of the script.

His second set was not as good.

A standard stand-up routine, it showed glimpses of surrealism in which he plays badminton with live budgies and in which his mother gives the name 'Shep' not just to their dog but to the chair, table and much else. Worthington has potential, but he will have to suffer hostile audiences, walkouts and much heartache for at least two more years to get there. I hope he perseveres.

Johnny 'Showaddywaddy' Sorrow, on the other hand, gives a very self-assured character performance as a comic allegedly once big in West Midlands showbiz but now reduced to professional life as a cobbler. You can't dislike any act which includes the self-critical word word cobblers and has a song whose lyrics solely comprise the names of Crossroads Motel characters.

This show deserves two stars or possibly one. It gets three for its sheer ramshackle perversity.It will never play the Palladium, but it is one for comedy connoisseurs and is in the true spirit of the Fringe: My old pal Malcolm Hardee would have loved it. If you went to Oxbridge and buy Bang & Olufsen stereo systems, avoid it like the plague. For lovers of the bizarre, though, it is an event to savour.


This show is critic-proof. It would be possible to describe it as amateurishly-staged and presented with a piano, cello, violin and accordian accompaniment that remind you a little of a tea-dance circa 1933. But that would be to miss the point.

This is a labour of love billed as "a poignant tribute" by his daughter Annabelle to one of Britain's few solid gold comic geniuses.

With walls lined by Moss Empires posters, photos and letters from the BBC plus copious television and radio clips of Chic performing, this is a unique sampler from a man now mostly forgotten by English audiences but regarded as a "comedians' comedian" by such disparate people as Billy Connolly, Malcolm Hardee, Spike Milligan and Robbie Coltrane. He was one of the few massively successful Scottish comedy stars to make any significant impact in England.

His daughter rightly says Chic could not only say funny lines but could say lines funny. He scattered razor-sharp one-liners amid gently-meandering stories and had a mastery of timing second to none.

With Tommy Cooper, he is possible the greatest "comedians' comedian" of the 20th century and this show, with personal reminiscences, is a template for a fascinating TV documentary.


Bald Bruce Fummey calls himself Afro-Celtic but has the looks of James Bond's Oddjob and the voice of Billy Connolly. He works as a Physics teacher and this show is about what the title says: the work of Aristotle, Newton and Einstein, with a bit of Galileo thrown in for free.

Bruce must inspire the laziest and thickest pupils in the roughest schools into reading serious Science books because he is, in style, one of those mad TV experts in the David Bellamy mode. He has four selling points:

- He knows hisa subject backwards

- He is wildly and entertainingly enthusiastic

- He can explain difficult concepts clearly (though I've heard Relativity better explained twice before)

- He has a shit-hot stand-up comedy brain

Thumpingly well-delivered, this superbly-crafted script explains complex theories in easy-to-understand similes and tops off each explanation with beautifully-times comic punchlines.

His successful intention is to enthuse, entertain and awe. Explaining the speed of light, he says:

"When you look at the night sky, your eyes are seeing events that happened at different times in history."

This show - a serious lecture so integrated and impregnated with comedy that it is impossible to separate the two - and Bruce's performance - get 4 stars. Whether or not he can replicate his performance on another subject or other subjects is another matter.

The other rival 'Physics lecture' in Edinburgh this year - "The Albert Einstein Experience" at the Gilded Balloon - is entertaining too, though it is not really a comedy show, more Theatre in Education.

Bruce Fummey is a considerably talented comedian. BBC Science Features should snap him up.


Excellent Scots comedienne Jojo Sutherland appeared in RDF-produced reality TV show "Wife Swap" on Channel 4 and experienced first hand both the unreality of reality TV - "It's not what they show that worries you, it's what they cut out" - and the resultant publicity - "It's amazing the shite the papers come up with".

This two-hander is billed as Theatre, written and performed by Jojo and Jackie Callan and directed by Gowan Calder, collectively calling themselves One Handed Women. It is both funny and enlightening, though not earth-shattering in its revelation that reality TV is not and Fleet Street is shite.

It centres on Jojo's variable experiences on "Wife Swap" intercut with her swapee's imagined experiences and, in the middle, includes ten minutes of interactive game show with the two actresses trying to find the 'cleanest' members of the audience by question-and-hand-ups.

This all seems unecessarily complicated.

I would have been perfectly happy just listening to the very funny Jojo as stand-up comedienne or as herself, monologuing about her experiences. The addition of a scripted extra character and the game show sequence add nothing. It's as if they were incorporated and it was turned into a 'production' because One Handed Women exist rather than because the material itself merits the format.

There are serious points in here - about how perceptions and assumptions swamp facts and reality, how cutting 240 hours of tape down to one hour of TV enabled the press to call Jojo a "lazy wife swap slob". And she gives the best advice I've ever heard for people appearing in TV documentaries: keep changing the tops of what you wear so the editors can't intercut scenes shot at different times.

But Jojo has now appeared in three Theatre presentations at the Fringe and never appeared there in a pure solo stand-up show. She should do.



Last year, this show got a rather good review. It's worth reading.

This year, it is potentially still a 3-star show but has been utterly destroyed by the insertion of a planted male 'laughter leader' in the middle of the back row. It was not just distracting; it was more destructive than a loud, perpetual heckler interrupting almost every sentence.

It prevented what would have been 'real' audience laughter developing and finding its own balance.

This staggering directorial misjudgement - which was crass and obvious - does the performers themselves no favours. It means they can never learn which parts of their script or performances do or do not work; it means their performances can never be improved by reacting to real audience reaction.

The inserted 'laughter man' did not help by going straight backstage after the show, his job done. And, although his loud collection of titters, guffaws, belly-laughs, snorts, sniggers, howls and even theatrical he-he-hes were impressively wide-ranging, they were also too sudden to start and ended too sharply. He needs direction on his laughter.

This review has been dominated by the insertion of fake laughter by the production because the show was dominated and destroyed by it.

The show is a pastiche Victorian sideshow energetically performed with some good touches - the Victorian equivalent of telephone sex was 'telegram sex' - "It sometimes took seven years to have an orgasm".

Potentially, what we have here is a quirky and very British show (though do dump the uncomfortable use of the word "fuck", girls).

It was destroyed by a ghastly directorial decision. I also suggest the fake laughter maker does not know the script so well that, on occasions, he starts laughing before the laughter cue is given.

A ghastly and horrible experience to sit through.


Tony Soprano lookalike Craig Ricci Shaynack is, indeed, fat, bald and loud: an American actor/improvisor who was last at the Fringe in a comedy troupe 16 years ago and who will return next year in a David Mamet play.

This show is a bit of a mish-mash of his three areas of interest: acting, improvising, comedy.

It is a good showcase of his acting skills: Japanese, children, Russian, black female hairdressing salon and even a passable Glasgow gangster accent....all leading up to a would-be climactic 'wheel of fortune' section where he improvises subjects suggested by the audience in all 24 accents and styles written on the wheel.

He is a good actor, an entertaining improvisor and an amiable comic performer, but the show lacks focus. It takes 16 minutes of Craig as a 'Security Man' ushering the audience into the venue room before it even starts. Then we have a section about his (not really very unusual) upbringing and parents, but he is no raconteur merely an actor with comedic experience.

And then a long section to showcase his improvisational skills.

However, the whole raconteur/improv/acting showcase area is full to overflowing in Edinburgh during the Fringe and, frankly, I think Craig's considerable charm and considerable talent would be better concentrated on his actring.

It was an enjoyable comedy show, but it will never be an exceptional comedy show. Craig might well become a successful actor and I hope in years to come he will spit at me in the street for this review then laugh all the way to the


A bit of a Belfast dog's dinner. It is very difficult to hold together a series of would-be TV sketches on stage with a team whose acting ability varies so widely and which, it seems, includes no stand-up comics.

The show occasionally feels a bit like acting exercises interrupted as compere by a would-be moderator in an improvisation show (which this is not). Amiable but ambling aimlessly is my best stab at describing it.

The Ulster Troubles are occasionally referred to but do not dominate and the scripts, though variable, are tightly-written and edited. The most promising idea was a fantasy in which the Maze Prison had become a nudist camp but with the same old sectarian divisions. Nude Orangemen retained their bowler hats and the slogan "What we have we hold".

Sketch revues were what made the Fringe famous but are now notoriously difficult to pull off successfully. I'm afraid, in this case, Ulster was not right. Like the Peace Process, I'm afraid I have no constructive suggestions to the team except keep trying.


The former Gaz Top turned Gareth Jones and, after 15 years, is still happily fronting bite-sized science items on "How". He is terribly cheery and enthusiastic in that children's presentery way.

This seems to be a stage pilot for a TV show, complete with animated title sequence and a video camera recording the show.

What's it about?

What it says in the title.

Churchill didn't make some of his radio speeches. Actor Norman Shelley did.

You are not expected to belch with politeness after an Arab meal.

Lots of things we 'know' are actually wrong.

And several are demonstrated visually and entertainingly.

Gareth seems an amiable chap and keen to please. At school, he was taught Physics in Welsh and dreamt of presenting "Tomorrow's World" on BBC TV.

The barest bones of his autobiography are inserted into what would, if presented by a woman, be a jolly hockey sticks kinda show. I half expected Joyce Grenfell to leap out in a gymslip.

A pleasant entertainment. Does what it sets out to do. The world still turns.


The danger with some titles is that they do only too clearly describe the show itself.

HAND RELIEF is, indeed, a wank and only avoids getting one star out of a feeling of pity towards anyone staging a show at the Fringe.

This show gives new meaning to the word puerile - the new meaning being somewhere in the derivitive, Third Form, pointless and depressingly old fashioned area.

This is almost 60 whole minutes of Third Form knob jokes, voices copied from Terry Jones playing a woman in Monty Python, Victoria Wood's Coronation Street voices and much less besides.

I perked up when a voice announced the arrival of 'The Mime Minister'. Something witty linking a voiceless Blair to some original comedy? Alas no.. One of the cast miming the actions of a man opening an umbrella in the rain. Later, he comes back and - with no tongue in no cheek - mimes a sheet of glass.

My advice when sitting down to write a Fringe show is not to think, "How do we do become funny? What did we see when we were at school and at college that we thought was funny?" and then copy it.

My advice is to think, "What have we seen before that was funny?" and then think "We must not do the same things and certainly not in the same way. We must change, twist, turn and re-envisage those things or - hey - we could even do our own thing created in our own minds."

The elements of this show were barely funny on 1934 radio and in the 1956 school playground. They are certainly painlessly unfunny in 2005. A lot of blood, sweat, tears and hard hard work was, I'm sure, put into this show. Hitler also put a lot of work into the invasion of Russia but got more laughs.


"Following their Carnegie Hall sell-out," the flyers screamed, "And UK tour with Scissor Sisters..."

The audience loved this raucous character act. I did not.

Herb is a gay Jewish pianist. Kiki is a drag singer. Lots of presentation. Lots of noise. Not much content. Probably seems a work of genius if you're drunk, but none of it holds together. Kiki was allegedly born in 1930, which would make her 75; she is clearly not. Same with Herb.

The trouble was a constant shouted  delivery into over-amplified microphones with the result that many of the lyrics were unitelligible. The amplification was clearly artistically intentional.

Kiki intersperses autobiographical anecdotes with songs such as "You're Ugly: What The Fuck Gave Birth To You?" and "I'm Tired of Crying For the Underprivileged". But the best songs were "Total Eclipse of The Sun" and an OTT version of David Bowie's "Space Oddity".

I'm all for gay, raucous kitch, but not for over-loud acts performed mostly at the same level throughout and at a samey pace. I got tired listening to this show after 15 minutes. The audience, though, loved it.

Variety allegedly called them "blackly hilarious". I'd just call them loud.

A second-rate Friend of Dorothy act which I would have preferred to be a Friend of Dolby act.

If you go, take several stiff drinks and a pair of ear muffs.


As a joke... "They say you are what you eat. It can't be strictly true or John Prescott would be Chinese."... is not good enough.

Miles Jupp's Anglo-Scottish patrician persona always risks being over-cold and alienating audiences but here his character is also adrift in a script that floats around from joke to joke routine with no structural threads and, worse, has no climax. It just stops. It is a series of unlinked bits-n-bobs not a unitary show.

The Jupp character is straight-faced, faster-talking Stephen Fry with a dash of Prince Charles thrown in and the worrying influence of Stephen Fry extends to Miles sitting in a chair reading to the audience from a book - in this case an alleged biography of Robbie Burns. The book-reading routine is one Fry occasionally still does and it stretches back to his own student show at the Edinburgh Fringe (which I saw).

Much of Stephen Fry's humour comes from a very precisely-timed and lingering emphasis on syllables. Miles gallops and occasionally gabbles through his script as if a bit weary of saying it every night.

Miles is capable of much much better than this going-through-the-motions performance if only he can throw off the influence of Le Fry. Perhaps it is time to dump this patrician character for something else - it works slightly better in its softer Balamory version, anyway, so more Jupp less Fry please.


Pete Monaghan is that rare thing - a slightly nervous Australian - whose definition of a good life is "It's free... It's fun... It doesn't hurt anyone..."

That slogan pretty much describes his show which, though not free, is worth the price of admission if there's nothing better on.

His is one of a new breed of internet-researched shows, a genre which has its good and bad points. He basically decided to write a show about making wishes and looked up the background on Google.

This has come up with such gems as GOOD LUCK... CHIMNEY SWEEPS... Chimney sweeping as a profession expanded in Slovakia after the fall of Communism and the Bratislava Institute of Chimney Sweeps burnt down due to a blocked chimney.

However, he has come a cropper on WISHES... THREE WISHES... GENIES. An entire section of the show falls flat because he found out Genies originate in Persia and Peter has read somewhere that Persia is now called Iraq. Presumably some website editor pressed the Q button instead of the N button. So Pete's section on American foreign policy in the country that used to be Persia is a little odd to say the least.

The show headed into Dave Gorman/Danny Wallace territory when Pete suggested a religion for wishful thinkers called Wish-tianity but, basically, this is one of those workmanlike, perfectly competent, professional shows that gets by on the amiability of the performer rather than anything actively original you can put your finger on.


Peter is a left-over from a half-forgotten generational netherworld of comedy.

Between the post-Goons Spike Milligan and the point when Monty Python was lionised (which was well after the series finished) there was a world of anarcho-surrealism epitomised by acts like sadly-forgotten duo The Alberts, the early Greatest Show on Legs, Marcel Steiner and the Sir Henry elements of The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.

Peter Buckley-Hill is an anarchic showman firmly in the mould of this free-wheeling era of post Spike Milligan surrealist entertainers who knew their comedy roots.

"What's yellow and dangerous? - Genghis Khan."

"What's black and white and red all over? - Othello and Desdemona after a particularly bloody final scene."

Sections of the show involve 'Great Books In Sheep' - classic literature dramatised by Peter with the use of two toy sheep - 'Wuthering Heights', 'Pride & Prejudice' performed by toy sheep.

This is a show where audience participation is called 'joining in' and one song is entitled "My Great Uncle Thinks He's An Anorak".

Peter Buckley-Hill left his full house audience smiling, warm and happy but, really, as I'm sure Peter would readily admit, this is the same old cobblers that has been peddled for the last 30 years. Malcolm Hardee peddled cobblers too, but he managed to keep it feeling fresh.

Admittedly shambolic and freewheeling, this show is also - as you might expect - free to attend and it is well worth that admission price.


Tallulah May or may not be a former nun at the ancient Order of St Kathryn the Martyr in Memphis, Tennessee, but she is now that endangered species on the Fringe - a traditional gag-telling stand-up comedian. Thankfully, though, she doesn't do the standard menstruation and all-men-are-bastards female stand-up act. Instead, she majors on coming from Weston-super-Mare and living without a man (the latter more original than it sounds).

I liked this act tremendously, but it was only ever going to get two stars, even before the 50-minute show ended after 30-minutes.

Ironically, her delivery was nervous and too fast. If she had halved her speech-speed, she would have had a better 60-minute show.

There is a helluva lot of well-written material packed in. When she describes old-fashioned housework, she says:

"It was like getting a tea stain out of your carpet with a lawnmower."

In order to pretend she is not a woman living without a man, she deliberately drives the wrong way up one-way streets so men will wave at her and "I buy lacey underwear in the wrong size".

She has a very funny song about candles into which she manages to lyrically weave Roy Kinnear and a dildo bought in Budapest.

In another song, "Granny's Ulcerated Leg", sung unintentionally off-key, she manages to rhyme the smell of peaches with leeches and to bring in both no-legged wartime air ace Douglas Baader and Ulster comedian Patrick Keilty.

There is a lot of writing talent demonstrated in this act. Loads of potential. Needs work on the presentation, possibly by caricaturing her own personality so that a stronger stage character is developed behind which she can hide her slight nervousness.

Or she could develop that nun story. I'd pay to hear it.



A very endearing show which, sadly, has to be reviewed as part of the highly professional shows on the Fringe.

It has the feel of a Women's Institute or Church 'do' about it (and none the worse for that) though it has developed from the Edinburgh Storytelling Forum, part of the Scottish Storytelling Centre whose members get together to do exactly what it says in the organisation's name.

Amiable grey-haired Scot Millie Gray tells humorous (and rather long) stories thought up by herself and by Jack Martin of the Storytelling Forum, whether true or totally made up or a little of both is unclear. I suspect the latter.

Tanned and very, very amiable Rose Starkey, formerly of Staleybridge, now living an expat English life in Spain, tells monologues which aspire to Stanley Holloway status but lack their finely-edited edges (and sometimes their very exact metre) plus occasional straight gags going the rounds in Middle England.

It's all very amiable, very cosy (not a criticism) and very leisurely and gentle.

But you couldn't call it a professional show. For that, I'm afraid, you either have to be a force of Nature and/or you have to do years on the Circuit, honing your performance, material and on-stage persona.

Most shows on the Fringe aspire to have the Guardian and Private Eye's cutting edge. This show, perfectly happily and totally successfully, is the equivalent of Women's Weekly with knitting patterns.

Provided you know what to expect going in, you may very well enjoy it.


Oh dear. Where to start?

As much hard work was put into this show as putting rivets into the hull of the Titanic and with as little success.

It aspires to be offensive. It succeeds in being drearily repetitive. It attempts to be Rik Mayall and Ade Edmondson in 'Bottom'. It succeeds in being a weather forecaster predicting a fifth week of average temperatures.

Sally Swallows is a roving reporter for the CUN-TV channel. That's as inventive as it gets. We are in the creative area here of 14-year-olds who think repeating swear words, smearing shaving cream on fingers to pretend it's semen and talking about bodily functions are each, in themselves funny and who have no idea why some sentences are titter-making and others are not.

The humour is so mis-judged that the painted backcloth has a London Transport tube station sign which says ACNE. This audio pun would barely work when spoken out loud; it certainly doesn't work when written down.

The show gets one star for a pre-recorded sound-track which, at least, is professional. And for Sarah Kirkland, who manages to act despite the script. The two males in the 4-person cast - I will be generous and not name them - were last year in the humour-free zone that was called "An Audience With Dominguez". I did not think they could possibly ever be in anything worse. They have proved me wrong.

Frankly, lads, I don't know about you, but I am looking at next year's Fringe with an increasing sense of doom.



The first rule of Fringe Club is: never cancel the show.

The second rule of Fringe Club is: never cancel the show.

Charlie Chuck once played to an audience of three at the Fringe. Unknown to him, two were from the Reeves & Mortimer TV show. He got cast in the new series.

Stan & Justin cancelled their show. I was there. A BBC TV producer was there.

The third rule of Fringe Club is: never cancel the show.

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