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Andrew Doyle: Whatever it Takes
Just the Tonic at the Caves
Upon finding himself waist deep in mud and stuck with nothing but an approaching river tide for company, Andrew Doyle sourced the material for his anticipated return to the Fringe in the life that flashed before him. An entirely different beast to last year’s ‘Crash Course in Depravity’ this sophomore hour confirms him as one of the country’s most exciting comedic talents.
Last year’s show, a savage tipping and disemboweling of every sacred cow, admittedly caused some controversy. However those expecting the same are going to be pleasantly surprised. Unlike so many circuit regulars, Doyle is clearly unafraid of exploring a new approach to a new hour and in doing so heralds his versatility and unpredictability as a performer. Inviting his audience to fill out cards, the given topics form the crux of the show’s second half, Doyle’s advanced improvisational skills merging with material covering subjects ranging from his youth in a convent school to being attacked by a Milton Keynes mob. Although validating Doyle’s ability to engage his audience in the manner of a veteran, my only fear is that the improv set up relies too heavily on the willingness of his audience – no question Doyle’s distinctive wit could prove me wrong.
All that emanates is aware and well-crafted, his intelligence a refreshing jolt amidst the sea of televisual comedy vacuums.
Oliver Reed: Wild Thing
Oliver Reed is my all time crush. I can’t remember a night not spent dreaming playing Nancy to his Bill Sykes, or substituting Alan Bates in that naked fireside wrestle. Think Vanessa Redgrave in The Devils. That’s me. Except bearded, and maybe without the habit.
I’ll admit my infatuation had some sway in the purchase of a ticket, theatrical biopics in my experience usually providing more misses than hits. Bucking this trend, ‘Oliver Reed: Wild Thing’ provides an insightful and charming depiction of Britain’s favourite brute.
Rob Crouch’s performance is uncanny, Reed’s famed clipped speech and imposing physicality alive on stage. Guided through the actor’s life and work, what makes the piece refreshing is an extended focus on Reed beyond his sensationalised boozy image. Although this is included, reflections on his youth and the journey of his acting career were for me the more engaging moments. Despite slightly loosing momentum towards the end, the production is a solid and enjoyable appreciation.
David Mills is Smart Casual
Alternative Fringe @ The Hive (Free)
The Free Fringe is often derided for programming a high proportion of the comedy car-crashes in the festival, but if you think David Mills falls into that category, think again. After a series of successful collaborations with Scott Capurro, Mills' first solo Fringe venture is sure to turn the underground sequin of the circuit into a glittering all-round favourite.
Spearing pop culture with his deadly tongue, Mills owns his audience’s attention from the off. Camp and catty, but forever remaining clever, his targeted subjects flit from pop divas to political leaders. However what takes Mills' material to dizzying heights is his addictive persona – both your best friend and worst enemy, you want to share some classy cocktail with him but fear he’d smash the glass and slice a jugular.
With just slight more consideration of his hour as an entirety, David Mills is sure to blaze his way to the big time this Fringe – his sweetened sting is addictive, and I can’t wait to observe his next offering.
theSpaces on the Mile
Nggrfg, a one-man show by actor/writer Berend McKenzie, tells the story of Buddy, who grows up both black (n*gger) and gay (fag). Ultimately, he finds the power to face these two oppressive and wounding words and rise above them.
I never really had high hopes for a show whose blurb felt the need to bracket validation of its awful title.
Scenes of pre-teen bullying dominate a vast majority of the piece, the select moments our protagonist is an adult lacking in insight or explanation to extend initial sympathy. Sure, bullying ain’t pretty but it doesn’t exactly sustain interest on its own. It’s like watching Carrie but without the telekinesis, the psychotic mother and that bucket of pig blood.
It’s a shame because McKenzie’s performance has a peculiar magnetism about it. My advice; hand over the reigns of writing.
Book tickets from edfringe.com
Words: Henry Petrides