As I promised in Day at the Fringe: Part 1!, I went back to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for another dose of arty comedic fun. I did intend to publish this earlier (before the Fringe ended) but as I’ve been so busy lately, I’m a little late. Anyway, here are my views on my second round of shows: Austentatious, Anna Morris, Mixed Doubles and Kieran Hodgson.
Austentatious, Underbelly, 13.30
Last year I glimpsed posters of Austentatious on practically every street, and was immediately intrigued. Housed in surely the most inventive venue on the Fringe – an auditorium hidden within a giant purple cow – this delicious slice of Jane Austen-themed improv was well worth the visit. ‘Barely Tolerable’, an apt title chosen at random from the audience, was simply golden. I was highly impressed by their professionalism, and although the show veered slightly off-course from the typical Regency-era chat depicted in Austen’s novels, the cast were so smooth and eloquent in their dialogue and plotting, something that shone through despite the fact that the casual audience member could clearly tell much of it was reeled off spontaneously. Of course, the characters weren’t from any of Austen’s works – an important caveat to keep in mind for any die-hard Austen fans – but equally, random Fringe-goers can easily appreciate the wit and hilarity: my boyfriend has never read a Jane Austen book in his life, and he completely loved it.
It’s Got to be Perfect, Voodoo Rooms, 3.55
Georgina: posh bridezilla, determined to make her wedding to Tory banker politician simply perfect. Anna Morris’ star turn at the Voodoo Rooms was tons of fun, characterised by hilarious audience involvement and lots of knowing political jokes (I would honestly feel sorry for Leave voters at this year’s Fringe if I wasn’t still so fuming). Between comparing her big day to Princess Diana’s funeral and recruiting members of the audience to play members of the wedding party – Kate Middleton masks and all – Morris captured the ultimately redeemable character of Georgina with a delightful mix of satire and straight-up comedy. And – considering the fear with which I regard audience participation – I still enjoyed it, despite the fact that she actually picked on me. Now that’s a testimonial.
Mixed Doubles, The Caves, 17.25
In a tiny, sweaty room in the Caves, the small provincial village of Little Comberton is hosting a fundraiser to build a new lawn pavilion. What better way to raise that much-needed money than with a sketch show, courtesy of a troupe of stunted village performers? The sketches got off to a rather slow start, but easily hit their stride as the show progressed, with enjoyable Jools Holland impressions galore. Each of the characters were engaging – with my especial favourite being the creepy librarian with the memorable hash-brown joke – and I left feeling thoroughly amused.
Maestro, Voodoo Rooms, 21.30
Third time lucky. After missing last year’s critically acclaimed Lance and last week’s performance of Maestro, we were determined to see Kieran Hodgson and learn whether he lived up to the considerable hype. After arriving to hang around outside the venue before the queue began at eight for tickets being released at half eight for the next queue at twenty past nine for show finally beginning at half nine (yes, it’s an exhausting process), we eventually secured tickets for Maestro. Was it worth it? Yes. Maestro follows Hodgson’s experiences in crafting a symphony – absorbing, funny, impeccably structured, seemingly effortless and generally heart-warming, Hodgson has a genuine skill in creating a narrative that goes beyond the understated comedy. But I don’t want to give too much away. Good luck getting tickets though.
Image: Underbelly at the University of Edinburgh