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Wonder Woo-man, Fat, Letters, Boxes and Other Things That Shouldn’t Be Opened and Auntie Myra’s Fun Show


Jonny Woo: Wonder Woo-Man
 
CABARET
Assembly George Square
 
***

A staple in the first order of London’s alternative drag scene angels, Jonny Woo’s hour at this year’s festival is an eclectic showcase that perhaps just that little bit too eclectic. A display of song, spoken word and spoon playing, the production may glitter in parts but the much to be considered lack of editing is dulling a capability to fully shine.
 
Framing the show around his journey from retail reject to transvestite spectacle, the sketches presented are none alike, those successful in their execution worthy of acclaim. The spoken word performed oscillates between humour and horror, most notably in Woo’s tongue twister ‘Saucy Suzie’, a scene justly disturbing the younger audience members believing that this brand of alt-drag is about laughing at a man in heels. It is Woo’s adaptation of Nina Simone’s Gin House Blues that stands at the summit of the show, a performance not only demonstrating the power of this man’s lungs but one that I know any other cabaret offering this month will find hard to transcend.
 
The problem is I can’t decide whether the disparity of the performed vignettes is part of the show’s charm or its central shortcoming. Admittedly no other show on the Fringe can boast appearances from both Mary Portas and an East End Pearly Queen, but the intermittent chat offered by Woo in an attempt to make the show coherent as a whole results in a slowed pace destructive to the select triumphant moments. This would pass in the club environment in which Woo has rightly built his cult following however it doesn’t quite cut it in the more formal theatrical setting adopted. Perhaps I am being over critical over what was overall an enjoyable hour but it is when one knows something is on the brink of brilliance that the flaws become more apparent. I have a feeling that as the show runs its course over the coming month Woo’s obvious wit and fearlessness will take over in recognising what’s not working and transform the piece into a creation worthy of that fourth star.
 




Letters, Boxes and Other Things That Shouldn’t Be Opened

THEATRE
C venues - C nova
 
* (or possibly *****)
 
A trip to the Fringe is never complete without the sado-masochistic thrill of viewing some holocaustial student adaptation of Alice in Wonderland, or dire physical theatre about anorexia. If it is this ilk of show that turns you on, or provides relief from the stresses of your own production, I believe I have found the winner. Despite being the most disastrous thing I have viewed at the festival this year, this student show boarders unaware upon being labelled a masterpiece.
 
Multiple murders and miscarriages litter the first twenty minutes, and from this overblown examination of sexual and domestic violence (what else?) we are effortlessly introduced to a world reigned by a tyrannical lesbian flower presser (what else?).
 
The contrast is hilarious, especially with the transition from one story to the other unclear enough as to suggest it's one entire piece. Every line is shouted, every gesture extreme, and all with the earnest tone expected of performers who flyer in costume. I don’t care if they cut and reorder this review to promote their run, in fact I fully endorse it. I want as many people as possible to share in my experience.
 
It's terrible and I love it. 

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Fat
 
THEATRE
Pleasance Courtyard
 
**
 
Pete Edward’s multi-media production Fat is billed as ‘the journey of a gay disabled man in the search for his heart’s desire’. This I cannot dispute. Although what I can dispute is the show’s self-labeling as ‘innovative’ and ‘poignant'. It's a bit like stating Rose West practiced good parenting.
 
Diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, Edwards’ movement and speech is severely affected, and although Edwards himself has stated he does not wish to be defined by his disability there can be no denying this sits at the centre of the piece, the motifs presented aiming to confront the disregard of those with disability as sexual beings. However once this potentially engaging notion is established and considered, what remains in the form of the script and projected video is an unsuccessful and muddled experience far too close to a parody of bad art student musings.
 
Try-hard surreal anecdotes described over videos I sense are unironic in their adoption of amateur editing sit uncomfortably with the poetic descriptions of London’s South Bank, this contrast the culprit of the show’s confusion. It doesn’t help that the team sat aside to assist Edwards are laughing during portions of the script without any obvious humour, perhaps an attempt to push the rest of the audience towards an appropriate reaction, but most defiantly a signal that the script doesn’t translate to those uninvolved.
 
A baffling production crying to be stripped back and reassessed. That, or pulverised entirely.

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Auntie Myra’s Fun Show
 
CABARET
The Voodoo Rooms
 
****
 
 
Myra DuBois’s venomous manner confidently takes the tired format of a failed magic show beyond its predecessors, presenting us with a foul-mouthed Tommy Cooper in patent stilettos. Obvious comparisons to Lily Savage and mimics of David Hoyle reside here, however Auntie Myra’s Fun Show is its own monster with charm and potential.
 
A harpooner of light entertainment tropes, RVT regular and favourite Dubois is here to preview her first venture in to children’s entertainment. Botched illusions are carried by an engaging persona, however it is when Dubois ventures into more sinister material that the gags are truly delivered. An appearance from Edward, a disabled and mute ventriloquist dummy, and an invitation to expel an audience member’s inner demons are the moments that really harbour the laughs, that’s not to say the remainder of the show is without enjoyment.
 
Part of me feels ridiculous presenting any sort of critical review of this show when knowing its success is in its shambles, only really to be enjoyed after a few drinks.  However with a show on the edge of a five star success one hopes such comments will provide that final push.
 
A sharpening of Myra’s lacquered talons will ensure this peroxide creation an exciting future.  


Book tickets from edfringe.com

Words: Henry Petrides


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