Aug 22, 2017

Fats at the Lowry: Off to the Edinburgh Fringe


I'm at the Edinburgh Fringe pouring culture down my face. I've decided to be poncy and give some kind of artistic reflection as I attend gubbins at this year's Fringe. Not reviews. Just (half) thoughts made of the mouldier bits of my brain.

I'm hoping to return from the Fringe with a vague mulch of inspiration for my #DevelopedWith commission for the Lowry. That means exiting shows and taking immediately to Twitter. What you're about to read over the next few days are those tweets mangled blog posts.

My first stop was John Luke Roberts's Look on My Works, Ye Mighty, and Despair! (All in Caps). Like many others, I returned to see Roberts following his previous show about a balloon-man monster. Yeah, I said it. A balloon-man monster.

This was one-man show with costumes and, er, non-costumes, and so well written. His Chaucer piece is perfection, every wayward syllable a joy as he acts out a kind of amphetamined Officer Crabtree. He's got super silly props (beard scroll) and very natural audience interaction: we easily come onside with him.

Boy, that lad can write. Not afraid of a corny punchline either: his confidence carries it. Lovely sense of the macabre too.

Next up was Graham Dixon Is The Narcissist, an exploration of a fictional Russian writer told through layers of personalities. It was silly but oddly heavy, which I put down not to the "Russian gulag" overtones of the subject matter but to the more theatrical set-up: raked seating, stark layout (a single chair) and unforgiving lighting. I wonder how that would feel in, say, The Stand.

Not a band thing but take out, say, half a dozen punchlines and it could be hard work. Thankfully, Dixon had some lovely monologues peppered with Pythonesque surreality, and a neat way of hurling an exercise book across the stage.

Turning my thoughts to my own show - which is what this Edinburgh trip is all about - the simplicity of his set confirmed in my mind that I'd want my show to have a lot to look at. Plenty of treats for the eyes. Throwaway visual gags everywhere.

Speaking of throwaway visual gags, I saw Sam Simmons too. Always a favourite. Far fewer props this time but plenty of delightful non-sequiturs. His badminton piece with an audience member is as good as anything he's done before. (No spoilers here, but it's so sharp and very Sam.)

Both him and Dixon played with voiceover: the extra voice as antagonist in Dixon's case or as reinforcement in Simmons' case as he takes against the audience. I liked that muchly, and is a device that is particularly useful for my show.

More to come - click here for my other Lowry prep tweeting.
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