THRICE Bleak, black and banal ●●●●●

When sisters Sarah and Lizzie Daykin made their Fringe debut in 2010 as Toby, there was critical acclaim for their daring and unapologetic bleakness. Their almost too-realistic sketch narrative of sibling rivalry spilling over into utter desolation had some audience members visibly railing against the unravelling terror. It’s easy to imagine what those naysayers would make of new project, Thrice, as they crank up the misery several notches,with the far-from-benign assistance of absurdist clown and ‘prince of the poignantly perverse’, Nathan Dean Williams. A dank Underbelly bunker is the ideal setting for the trio’s malice-fuelled fantasies featuring characters without hope, joy or jokes. A discordant soundtrack accompanies each sketch (one sounds like a slowed-down Pinky and Perky destroying Aimee Mann), each costume change filled by pre-recorded ramblings spouted by blow-up dolls. Recurring set-ups soon lose any potency they may have vaguely achieved on their first outing: for instance, the anoraked couple mumbling platitudes in the rain, which has a whiff of the murderous banality of British black comedy Sightseers.

The opening scene sets the mood, a vision of domestic hell as an uncaring husband and father fends off the attention of his pregnant wife and needy young daughter, leading to a ‘punchline’ of self-harm and forced abortion. It goes downhill from there on in with a couple seeking family planning advice from a malevolent doctor and a Christmas scene resulting in a double suicide and a conflicted Santa.

Given that the best moments occur when the Daykins are alone on stage, a return to the more nuanced Toby should be their next move. (Brian Donaldson) Underbelly, Cowgate, 0844 545 8252, until 25 Aug, 7.50pm, £9.50–£10.50 (£8.50–£9.50).

ALFIE BROWN Underpowered attack on hypocrisy ●●●●● DARTS WIVES A Fringe show with an arrow focus ●●●●●

IVO GRAHAM An ingenious and keen debut hour ●●●●●

There’s every reason to believe that this particular night will turn out to be the worst of Alfie Brown’s 2013 Fringe run, but a star rating can’t project beyond the hour a reviewer witnesses. And for this performance, Brown fought with the demons of a seemingly apathetic audience. Forgetting that winning a tough crowd over is part of the job description (unless you’re Larry David who used to walk off within minutes of assessing his audience during his early days), Brown continually interrupts his flow to berate us for not responding as he expected. It’s a crying shame as there’s another powerful

and passionate show lurking within The Revolting Youth. He’s recently married, but don’t expect whimsical observations about honeymoons; instead Brown veers off into an attack on the crass language used when describing sex, a by-product of porn’s infiltration into mainstream culture. There are tirades about Facebook and the pointlessness of furthering the human race, and at his best, Brown is a passionate critic of hypocrisy and capitalist tyranny. This was not him at his best. (Brian Donaldson) Underbelly, Cowgate, 0844 545 8252, until 25 Aug, 9.10pm, £10–£11 (£9–£10).

46 THE LIST FESTIVAL 15–22 Aug 2013

On paper it’s probably a fairly good idea to move attention from the glitzy if vacuous lives of the footballers’ WAGs to the DWAG (the ‘D’ standing for the more ‘working men’s club’ world of darts). Brought to you by sister comedy double-act Gavin & Gavin, plus friends, we meet our betrothed women (ex-stalker Angel, the abusive Trina, competitive sisters Lorraine and Fay) at a press conference before following them to the World Darts final.

The main problem is that, in the main, they opt for easy gags. In the world of professional sports, darts is pretty much the least athletic, so jokes include the pre-match prep of having four pints and a fag and implementing an exercise routine which involves starting to walk to the chip shop. There are a few nice lines to be found here but, overall, the four are better when they momentarily step out of character: there’s a naturalistic drunk routine which sounds less scripted. While this doesn’t really work as a Fringe hour, the characters are ripe for expanding into a mid-evening TV vehicle on a mainstream channel. (Marissa Burgess) Assembly Roxy, 623 3030, until 26 Aug, 4.50pm, £10–£11.

Ivo Graham is a smart young chap. Blessed with a set of vocal chords that are posher than a corgi working the tills at Waitrose, he still succeeds in painting himself as the underdog. While his university mates are quaffing ale, he’s sitting in a corner eating yoghurt and when he goes to a drum & bass night, he ends up holding the door open for about an hour while the tough kids troop in.

And don’t get him started on matters with the opposite sex. He’s keen (as English mustard), but hasn’t quite developed the nous to follow through any of his intentions. But the education system has certainly done Graham good as he shows off some delightful turns of phrase and ingenious flights of fancy as his tales of semi- failure escalate.

Still, he’s nice to his gran. His funny closing

story concerns that relationship and discount tins of Ambrosia Rice. There are few comics doing routines about that particular product this Fringe, and even if someone dared to stomp on his manor, they are unlikely to carry it off with quite the aplomb of Ivo Graham. (Brian Donaldson) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 25 Aug, 6pm, £7.50–£10 (£6.50–£9).