P H O T O :



JOHN PENDAL: INTERNATIONAL MAN OF LEATHER An engaging story about transgression ●●●●● SARAH KENDALL: SHAKEN Comedy as therapy ●●●●●

COLIN HOULT / ANNA MANN: A SKETCH SHOW FOR DEPRESSIVES An amusingly daft character show ●●●●●

It’s certainly an intriguing premise for a show. A ‘shy Baptist boy’ from Watford with ‘the most conservative upbringing ever’ goes for a drink with a man, starts a relationship and finds liberation in the world of leather (not the sofa business). Not only does it help him come to terms with a path he’d been told led to damnation, it leads him, through the kind of unlikely events Hollywood movies are based on, to winning the 25th annual International Mr Leather contest. It takes him around the world and opens his eyes further to the spectrum of fetishes, but his focus on how consent is essential throughout gives the show a surprisingly wholesome twist. As well as showing photos of the outfits that won him the title, he also says his victory was judged mostly on personality, and it’s clear, from introducing himself to every audience member and his self-deprecating one-liners, how the judges would have been swayed.

He’s also a confident performer, saying ‘when I do something, I really commit’. Part of a selection of shows this year focusing on religious upbringings, this is an often-amusing take on a highly improbable tale. (Emma Newlands) The Stand 4, 558 9005, until 28 Aug, 4.45pm, £8 (£7).

A storytelling show about the power of telling stories, Sarah Kendall’s latest long-form hour never fails to grip its audience. The Australian has truly found her comedy calling after initially thriving as a regular straight-down-the-line stand-up and it wouldn’t be an over-the-top notion to suggest that she may be in the frame for an Edinburgh Comedy Award nomination once again. Can Anna Mann cure depression? It’s not much of a spoiler to say she definitely can’t. She's not even clear on what it is, but there’s something charming and uplifting about this silly show that ought to cheer anyone up. Colin Hoult, who has a long Fringe history, is a talented actor, here playing a not-particularly capable actress playing character comedy parts.

The title of Shaken references the time she told Or is she? It’s a rendition of amateurishness

a whopping great lie at school in order to make herself less unpopular and, more importantly, have her voice heard. Naturally her fib gets wildly out of control, dragging in the local press, a suspicious cop and the entire community: it’s effectively all Ferris Bueller’s fault.

Kendall’s hour features a catalogue of excellent ‘characters’, from her faeces-obsessed mother to an alcoholic librarian. Most tellingly, we meet her therapist, fed up being spun exaggerations by a patient who appears to be trying out new material in their sessions. Thankfully, Kendall has found a far more appreciative audience. (Brian Donaldson). Assembly George Square Studios, 623 3030, until 28 Aug, 6.45pm, £10.50–£12.50 (£9.50– £11.50).

portrayed with lightly worn skill. Are we laughing at the characters or the portrayal of easily-recognised archetypes? Both, probably. It would be easy to get lost down a rabbit hole of layers of meaning, but sometimes a bloke in a dress being amusing and daft is just a bloke in a dress being amusing and daft. Hoult enjoys playing with language as he very carefully gets audience names just the right kind of wrong, messes around with ‘Willy Shakes’ Much Ado’, and delivers great snippets of showtunes from Anna’s roles in such lost classics as Aliens: The Musical. Andrew Bridge and Tom Greaves act as drama student assistants who are very much part of the whole silliness and seem to be having as much fun as Hoult is. (Craig Naples) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 28 Aug, 7pm, £7–£10 (£6.50–£9).

RICHARD GADD: MONKEY SEE MONKEY DO A potent and personal hour that is compelling and brave ●●●●●

If feminism was the major theme for comedians at recent Fringes, the floodgates have truly opened for 2016 to be the year of mental health. It might be easier to find shows where depression is not tackled: and this willingness to discuss some dark areas is, undoubtedly, a positive thing. For Richard Gadd’s Monkey See Monkey Do, an appalling

incident that he had buried deep inside is now being dredged up for release on stage in this wonderful multimedia hour that is part comedy, part theatre and full-on therapy. His analyst does indeed make an appearance (voiced by Justin ‘Jeremy Lion’ Edwards) with both patient and doctor as upside-down painted chins, while Gadd plays out his internal dramas by running on a treadmill for the vast majority of the show. Seasoned Fringe-watchers might think of Kim Noble due to his previous fitness-inducing antics in painfully confessional work, as will the repeated footage of Gadd throwing up (still, at least he’s aware of the link, having referred to himself in last year’s triumphant Waiting for Gaddot as ‘the shit Kim Noble’).

Gadd’s early publicity shots featured ‘blood’ on his clothes or on a baseball bat. In this new set, the wounds he’s opened up are less visually apparent but run much further into his psyche as he wrestles with his own maleness. Turning to running because of a typically insensitive tweet about depression from Katie Hopkins, he’s training (with pink accessories) for the Man’s Man Final in Mansfield (hosted by Jason Manford) all the while on the run from his internal ‘monkey’ who seeks to hijack him in every social situation.

This potent hour is compelling and, yes, courageous. Whether it helps Richard Gadd ease his personal trauma is one thing, but it should certainly get him in peak physical shape by the time his August run is over. (Brian Donaldson) Banshee Labyrinth, 226 0000, until 28 Aug, 9.45pm, free.

18–29 Aug 2016 THE LIST FESTIVAL 47