For the third year in a row, I’ve made a pilgrimage to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It’s such a vibrant, hectic time for the city of Edinburgh, and the sheer breadth of comedy, theatre, cabaret, readings and gigs happening all across the city is truly staggering. There was so much more that I wanted to see (some of which I’ll be reviewing next week… watch this space!) but here I’ve reviewed the five shows that I visited during my day at the Fringe: The Simpsons Taught Me Everything I Know, The Adventures of the Improvised Sherlock Holmes, Evil, Elf Lyons and Yeti’s Demon Dive Bar.
The Simpsons Taught Me Everything I Know, Voodoo Rooms, 13.30.
Note: probably only suitable for fans of The Simpsons. I’m fairly au fait with the iconic cartoon programme that is now, somewhat astonishingly, into its 28th series. My boyfriend is the true aficionado – and the one who suggested the show – but don’t worry, those of you who aren’t die-hard Simpsons fans are still able to appreciate Yianni’s Simpsons-themed humour. It’s essentially stand-up peppered with impressions (some of which are strikingly like), fun facts and video clips, with suitable Simpsons comparisons to make the show’s material relatable to its title. It was enjoyable, and a great starter to our Fringe-filled day, but I left the Voodoo Rooms feeling like the set could have been more smoothly structured and more overtly relatable to the premise.
Adventures of the Improvised Sherlock Holmes, The Community Project, 15.00
As we took our seats in the sold-out venue, my excitement was tempered with a small dose of trepidation. Being unfamiliar with improv, I was possessed with urgent questions. What if they flailed? What if they lacked inspiration? I needn’t have worried. After randomly selecting a stoutly uninspiring title from a pile of suggestions provided by the audience – I mean, what is the mystery The Lemon Posset actually supposed to mean? – the cast succeeded in combining hilarity and creativity, wackiness and genuine spontaneous inspiration. With enough Sherlock Holmes references to appease the stalwart fan (I’ve read all the stories) and enough silliness to appeal to anyone who loves a good laugh, the show was my favourite of the day and I would highly recommend!
Evil, Spotlites, 17.00
A one-man play based on Jan Guillou’s bestselling novel, Evil follows a Swedish teenager as he deals with abuse from both his father and menacing bullies at a prestigious boarding school. I’m always highly impressed by anyone who has the memory and the durability to perform plays which demand so much of the actor – the lines and the blocking and the ability to portray multiple characters so effortlessly – and this play was no exception. Engaging and subtle, Jesper Arin’s acting is mesmerising at times: his storytelling was vivid and stood out more obviously when contrasted with the stark minimalism of the set. An engrossing, disturbing musing on the evil that lurks inside all of us.
Elf Lyons: Pelican, the Voodoo Rooms, 19.50
The beginning of Elf Lyons’ stand-up routine pretty much sets the bar for the rest of the show. She enters, bedecked in feathers and fringes; theatrical and outlandish and immediately demanding attention. Her consistently funny set focused on the influence that her overbearing mother has on her life – dodgy accents and all. Although perhaps not laugh-a-minute – and occasionally shadowed with moments of fitting seriousness, such as when Elf’s feminist credentials shine through – she is an energetic, loud and absorbing performer, with a vivid and entertaining outlook on life.
Yeti’s – Demon Dive Bar, Pleasance Courtyard, 21.50
Not sure if I should perhaps admit this in a review, but we only found our way to possibly the scariest fictional bar in existence because another show was sold out. Oops. A spur-of-the-moment decision certainly, but one that I don’t regret, if only to glimpse the vaguely terrifying possibilities of comedy. This hugely popular sketch show involved a hilarious yeti (dressed in what can only be described as a mega-mop) crawling over audience members in one of the funniest audience involvement comedy routines I’ve ever seen and some straight-up bizarre sequences, including groin banana mashing and a head making techno. You have to see it to believe it.
Image: St Andrew’s Square in all its fairylit glory