107 posts categorized "Comedy" Feed

Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Review: Josh Glanc, Underbelly - good character comedy fun

Good fun with enough laughs to carry it through.

2018JOSHGLA_BLNAt the beginning of Australian comedian Josh Glanc's show Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma Chamedian I was reminded a little bit of a Green Day gig I went to at the Brixton Academy when the band invited members of the audience up on stage to play.

Here it's only miming to a backing track and the audience members are plucked with that embarrassed awkwardness from the front row but they did throw themselves into it much to everyone's delight, giving Glanc the TV game show host style entrance he was presumably aiming for. 

The audience plays quite a big part throughout the 60 minutes which is a series of sketches rather than stand up.

It is a lively show with music and Glanc plays different characters from different countries - an American football player, René from Europop band Aqua, an Australian cyclist and a Marcel Marceau-style mime artist.

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Edinburgh Fringe interview: Director Madelaine Moore on bloody unlikeable female characters in play Ladykiller

Director Madelaine Moore talks about Ladykiller, its charmingly murderous female lead, preparing for the Fringe and what she's looking forward to seeing. And writer Madeline Gould pops in to talk about creating murderous characters.

Madelaine MooreWhy is Ladykiller a must see at this year's Edinburgh Fringe?

Ladykiller really is unlike any character you have seen on stage before. She is unlikeable. She says and does all the things you might fantasise about doing when someone wrongs you, but wouldn't dare... mainly because they would mostly be illegal.

She's a character who toes the line between victim and perpetrator with such saucy alacrity.

She manages to charm the pants off you while covered in blood up to her elbows, and with a dead body at her feet.

At previews as well as loud guffaws we've had a woman mime a tiny fist pump while quietly hissing "YESSSS!" and another who would not (could not) look at Hannah (McClean who plays 'Her') throughout the show.

My favourite audience quote so far has been, "so dark it was like a beautiful black hole."

With that darkness, we wanted to push the boundaries, because for us it was really about answering the question, how much is too much? It's going to be very interesting to see how audiences answer that! 

Writer Madeline Gould is described as having a knowledge of serial killers, women in crime and all things generally gruesome which is 'second to none’ - dare we ask how come?

So Maddie, and me to a certain extent, both have a fascination with people who kill; serial killers in particular.

I used to have a collection of books about serial killers that lived next to my bed until I realised it might look a bit weird to anyone who made it in that far, so I got rid of them. But Maddie is a voracious reader, podcast fan and researcher so she's really gone in. 

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Review: End of the Pier, Park Theatre - not the sum of all its parts

Danny Robins new play End of the Pier is at times very funny, it touches on some important issues but I'm not sure it fully does them justice and here's why.

Les Dennis & Blake Harrison (l-r) in End of the Pier at Park Theatre. Photo by Simon Annand 0216
Les Dennis & Blake Harrison (l-r) in End of the Pier at Park Theatre. Photo by Simon Annand

First a bit about the play. It's set in Blackpool where former 80s comic and household name Bobby (Les Dennis) gets by on pantomimes and summer seasons having fallen spectacularly from grace.

His son Mike (Blake Harrison) is a successful comedian and about to record a second TV series. His fiancé Jenna (Tala Gouveia) is high up in the BBC and expecting their first child.

Mike turns up on father's doorstep looking for help after an incident at his stag do threatens his career.

The play explores changing attitudes to comedy, what is cruel and discriminatory and what is a joke.

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Review: Blood, dead cats and very (very) dark humour. Lieutenant of Inishmore, Noel Coward

The Lieutenant of Inishmore is a deliciously dark, satirical comedy.

Cards on the table: I'm a huge Martin McDonagh fan. I like the way he makes you laugh about stuff that shouldn't be funny. 

IMG_9487He takes something gruesome, cruel or amoral and pokes fun at it by making it matter of fact, part of the domestic landscape.

And in that respect The Lieutenant of Inishmore is akin to a kitchen sink drama; the everyday life of a family living in rural Ireland but one of them, 'Mad Padraic' (Aidan Turner), just happens to be a violent terrorist, too violent for the IRA who won't let him among their ranks.

Cat murder

Think Father Ted with an unstable terrorist living in the parochial house. And the terrorist is a cat lover. And his cat gets killed.

Local teen Davey (Chris Walley) is in the frame for the killing - but more likely framed - and he, together with Padraic's father Donny (Denis Conway), hatch a plan to cover up the gruesome crime.

There plan is one that wouldn't look out of place in a Saturday night TV sit-com and it becomes a race against time to hide the evidence before torture-loving, bomb-maker Padraic returns home.

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Comedy for the weekend: Funny and philosophical - Sarah Kendall, One-Seventeen, Soho Theatre

It is a show that rolls along with laughs but leaves you with a warm fuzzy glow and a feeling that everything will be OK.

Australian Sarah Kendall (Writers' Guild Best Radio Comedy 2018) is a storyteller, a philosopher and very funny. Or to put it another way, she made me laugh and she made me think... and she made me think about Hamlet.

Sarah Kendall5 - credit Rosalind Furlong
Photo by Rosalind Furlong

You see, in Shakespeare’s play the Prince Hamlet says: “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Which is pretty much her dad’s way of looking at life. Her mother is the opposite and sees danger everywhere. Everywhere.

Aussie self-deprecation

Kendall’s routine explores this idea of glass half full/glass half empty thinking using stories from her life - growing up, being grown up, her family and friends.

Of course, it is served up with the familiar Aussie self-deprecation, sarcasm and dark humour.

She is one of those comedians that can cleverly tell one longer story while peeling off shorter stories at the same time.

They are ordinary stories and anecdotes that demonstrate the silliness and absurdity of human behaviour.

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Review: Napoleon Disrobed, Arcola Theatre - riotous, surreal and silly fun

What if Napoleon hadn't died in exile but had escaped using a body double? This is the opening premise of Napoleon Disrobed which has been adapted by Told By An Idiot from the novel The Death of Napoleon by Simon Leys.

Napoleon disrobed arcola manuel Harlan
Ayesha Antoine and Paul Hunter in Napoleon Disrobed, Arcola Theatre. Photo Manuel Harlan

In what is a fun, silly, surreal and quirky piece we see the historical figure, played with brilliant Englishness by Paul Hunter, navigating modern-day Europe, trying to live the life of an ordinary person and not get spotted.

Until, that is, he wants people to know who he really is and that is where his problems really start and where the themes of the play start to bubble to the surface.

His story becomes a series of connected sketches that get more and more random - playing tennis with a frying pan and an inflatable fruit random.

Living in Paris with a melon seller 'Ostrich' (Ayesha Antoine), his friends grow concerned by his increasing insistence that he is indeed Napoleon.

So, they take him to a hospital and, in a nice piece of audience interaction, he is shown all the other people who insist they too are the French statesman.

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Review: My Mum's A Twat, Royal Court - my first five star play of 2018?

Patsy Ferran’s ‘girl’ is sat in the corner playing a mini Casio keyboard. She says ‘hello’ to me and I go and sit on a red bean bag on the turquoise coloured carpet.

Helen murray-My-Mums-A-Twat-patsy ferran royal court
Patsy Ferran in My Mum's A Twat, Royal Court. Photo: Helen Murray.

We are in a kids bedroom - not a surreal dream but the set of Anoushka Warden's play My Mum's A Twat.  The furniture has glittery stickers on it, there's a shelf of Troll dolls, photos and pictures stuck to the walls.

This room, ironically, becomes a marker for the end of innocent childhood a time before the divorce and marriage to ‘moron’ lead her Mum into a ‘healing’ cult and a journey of estrangement and conflict between mother and daughter.

Patsy Ferran’s girl tells the story bubbling with defiance, resourcefulness and sassiness. You can imagine the pursed lips of the adults in her life.

Her tale unfolds through the prism of child then teen logic but while there is no abuse or great cruelty the perceived emotional abandonment by her Mum smacks hard and there are hints of the pain it causes.

We are transported swiftly from the ‘healing centre’ of her mother’s cult to Canada and back again with effervescent energy, colour and wit but in the still moments the hurt that ripples to the surface is all the more powerful.

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Fringe review: Do opposites attract in Lobster, Theatre503

The gold, helium-filled, party balloon letters at the back of the stage spell out 'Happy Fucking Whatever' which forms an appropriate back drop to this relationship comedy drama in which J (Alexandra Reynolds) seems to represent the 'Happy' part and K (Louise Beresford) the 'Whatever'.

They bump into each other at a party several months after they have split up which becomes the starting point for a journey looking at how they met, fell in love and fell out of it again.

Lobster - Ali Wright-9
L-R Louise Beresford and Alexandra Reynolds in Lobster. Photo Ali Wright

J is one of those naturally happy people. Always cheerful, excited, agreeable and eager to please. She is also traditional wants to get married and have a family.

K has a dry wit and can be sarcastic to the point of coming across like she doesn't care. She's doesn't really know what she wants.

As they recall the details of their first date, they correct and contradict each other. It is charming, and amusing - snappily written and performed - but also perhaps an early sign of how their differences might actually shape their relationship.

At first the light and dark in their personalities complement and it is what they love about each other but life, dreams and experience start to mould things differently.

Lucy Foster's play isn't just a funny drama about the quirks of love and being a couple, it is also a keenly observed look at the complexity of relationships made more so by the complexity of human nature.

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Fringe theatre interview: Playwright Lucy Foster on her new play Lobster and writing comedy

Lucy Foster's new play Lobster opens this week at Theatre503, here she talks about the play and writing comedy.

Tell us about Lobster - no spoilers please

Lobster opens at a party in January, where a bubbly and bright J is introduced to a hungover K. The only problem being: these two Lobster500only just broke up a few months before. As J and K run through their relationship we see the love and heartbreak of these two women, who are trying so hard to love each other - and realising that love isn't always enough. 

I imagine that writing comedy is no joke - just how challenging is it? 

For years I didn't touch comedy as it really scared me. I think when you're sat alone at your laptop it's so hard to know if something is actually funny. It's only been in the last few years that I have started putting humour into my work, and realising - oh, this works! I often find that the funniest lines come straight from real life - in the same way that you'll laugh the hardest with your friends, the best comedy is completely relatable. 

What I've found to be the most important thing about writing comedy into my plays is finding the balance between the funny and the dramatic. My favourite plays are ones that really contrast that light and dark, as the heartbreak is always sadder when it's set against the humour of the characters. I'm hoping I've been able to do the same with Lobster. 

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The new play, new theatre experience - Young Marx at the Bridge Theatre

IMG_5152The benefits of being a brand new theatre is that you can address a lot of the niggles people have with older theatres: uncomfortable seats, lack of space for refreshments, bad sight-lines and not enough ladies loos etc. Nicholas Hytner and Nick Starr's Bridge Theatre beautifully situated on the opposite bank of the Thames to the Tower of London seems to have made a pretty good job of it.

Walking in, it is light and airy without feeling stark and impersonal and I imagine the spacious cafe/bar area will double as a nice daytime hangout. The seats are comfortable (a bit like those at the Royal Court) but sight-lines will have to be an ongoing test as the configuration is going to change. For this production we sat in the middle of front row and although the stage is reasonable high, I've sat closer to higher stages, so it was perfectly fine.

And as for the ladies loos, there are lots of them and there is even an 'in' and 'out' door to the main facilities similar to The Globe which means a better flow if you'll excuse the pun. Only one minor quibble is that the coat/bag hooks on the back of cubicle doors are really high - I had to stand on tip toes to reach it. I know I'm short but even so it was the primary topic of conversation as people were washing their hands.

And what about the play? It would have been easy to open with a relatively safe classic but Hytner and Starr are setting out their stall by choosing a new play by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman. Obviously they aren't strangers, Hytner having directed Bean's plays England People Very Nice, One Man, Two Guv'nors and Great Britain and this has the potential to be a crowd pleaser.

It's a bit of a romp in fact, telling the story of the time, the 30-something Karl Marx's (Rory Kinnear) lived in exile with his family in Soho. The central narrative is his journey from disillusioned genius, thinking of jacking it all in to work on the railways, back to the writer, thinker and activist he is famed for.

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