Telling it like‘ it might be
Andrew Burnet tells tall tales of
storytelling on the Fringe.
Long before 1947, when the Fringe was not so much as a twinkle in the Festival’s unborn eye, fur-clad soothsayers would congregate in Edinburgh during August, and gather around a sacred campfire on the site of what is now the Fringe Office. Each would bring a story to tell, and from this cross-fertilisation sprang forth the
first shoots of World Culture.
Performance styles have come and gone since then, but the tradition survives. Among those sustaining it this year is Ken Campbell, whose Recollections Of A Furtive Nudist promises to be among the strangest - and funniest — shows on the Fringe. Based on his own reminiscences (‘it seemed a great story,‘ he says), the show
utterly taken with it.’
developed from an impromptu prototype after Campbell attended an ‘incredibly expensive‘ course at the International Forum last year, given by a man named McKee. ‘He was talking about what differentiates stories from noise. I’d never heard anything like it before,‘ he says, ‘and l was
Campbell describes the show as ‘a huge lark, a sort of grand saga which builds from small and disparate beginnings into a mighty climax. The ingredients are things like invisibility, teleportation and the strange affair of the Middlesex filter bed.’ Suffice it perhaps to say that the action centres on Campbell’s open-air office — a picnic bench in the middle of
The bizarre is no novelty to Campbell, however. Those old enough may remember The Warp, a 22-hour epic performed at the 1979 Fringe, written in collaboration with Neil Oram, who also makes a welcome return with Warped Tales From The Truth Pedlar.
Also basing his work on ‘how things are for me’, Oram started telling stories some twelve years ago, and began dramatising them after meeting Campbell. ‘I became disenchanted with theatre’, he says, ‘because I found it really claustrophobic
rehearsing in rooms with no windows. I’ve just come back to doing it.‘
The show‘s humour is derived largely from paranoia. ‘When somebody tells you a story,‘ he says, ‘about a situation where they thought they were in grave danger and actually it was paranoia but there was an element of truth in it — those stories seem very funny.’
But perhaps the strangest medium for storytelling is Channel 4’s Treasure Hunt programme. Theatre Seanachaidh, who present A Birl OfBlethers (a compendium of traditional Scottish tales) are a company of back-to-the-campfire storytellers based in Greenock. Last year, they found themselves the subject of a clue on the programme made famous by its helicopter and by Anneka Rice’s lurid tracksuit. Which only goes to prove the durability of folk culture.
I Recollections Of A Furtive Nudist (Fringe) See
I Warped Tales From The Truth Pettlar (Fringe) Neil Oram, Traverse Theatre (Venue 15) 226 2633. 15—20 Aug, 2pm, £5 (£3).
I A Dlrl OI Blethers (Fringe) Theatre Seanachaidh, Roxburghe Hotel (Venue 24), 14—19 Aug, 2.45pm and 3.45pm, £2.50 (£1 .50).
Doug Anthony Allstars. ‘She was a Californian hippie who went a bit crazy, did a streak and the audience were apoplectic for ten minutes. So were we for that matter. We ran back and forth screaming. We‘re trying to convince our manager to do it. He‘s
told them we didn‘t accept conditions, so with great misgivings they let us go on. We’d just been paid this huge amount of cash for a live show we did and Paul came on stage waving this huge wad of cash in front of the Tax Commissioner and said ,
to discuss their Creation, though he said Jesus was there too— in spirit. ‘l’m from Watford, and 50‘s Jesus. We’re brothers.’
And their real names? ‘God and Jesus. That‘s what our mother called us - she‘s a devout Christian.‘
abitofahippie.’ ‘You can‘t get farwith What does She thihkot Such dt‘splays of cold, hard cash, can you, their ShOW? ‘She doesn‘t
extreme behaviour are Trev - try tracing this!’ do mueh thinking at the
common at Allstars gigs. Then Tim got his car keys moment - She's on a life
They are of course happy out and said, ‘Hey this is support maChine.'
to encourage it. the key to my Porsche - What was 00d called at ‘We did a show for the owned by my dog!’ They SCh0017‘Wanker-
Australian tax office ,‘ paid us a fortune to abuse Bullying hardened 115- It
Fidler continues after I’ve them. I don’t think we‘ll sharpened our wits — and
brought him up to date be asked back.’ our fiStS-’
with Ken Dodd’s recent If you only see ﬁve HOW did the Show Start?
dealings. ‘Thcy‘d made
shows this Fringe, make
‘Pcoplc shouting at us in
this ﬁlm to send around sure four of them are Love the Street. and our deSire schools to show young Frenzy. (Mark Fisher). to Change the World. Our people how hip and I Love Frenzy (Fringe) ﬁrst public performance groovy it was to pay tax. It The Doug Anthony ended in Violence - we
was a farcical idea to begin with. We were supposed to play at the big launch for the ﬁlm.
‘We’d been warned early on not to say anything blasphemous or to criticise the Tax Ofﬁcer in the Department. We
Allstars, See Hitlist.
GOD AND JESUS
God and Jesus are ‘the hardest comedy act in England.‘ I managed to gain an audience with God I
attacked members of the audience. Some were in tears, others were stunned, and a large number were bored. We some terrible reviews. I think it was mainly the I violence that put them off.’
Does this violence know no bounds? ‘We don‘t attack lunatics — generally. But we attack other acts backstage.‘
What‘s the show about? ‘Failure, death, abnormality, disability — and women.‘
And how will audiences
Morton. ‘And I was a professional and signing on the dole,’ reveals Meuros. ‘Ken Dodd,’ he adds, ‘is a personal friend’.
‘Edinburgh is an exhausting experience,’ says Meuros. Its main problems are: ‘keeping
come away? .Wiser’ awake during the day‘ stronger — and in awe.‘ (Mew-0.5% and ‘keepmg (William Cook) the audience awake I God And Jesus (Fringe) dunng the Show Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 (“WP”)- , 6550. 10 Aug—l 1 Sept (not “‘6',” '5 a Spec'a' “and 14 or 24)’ midnight £4 of musrcal pastiche and (£3). rI-v stand-up comedy. Country and western is - v ' their forte, and they‘re P visit to Edinburgh with Often likehed t0 the their ﬁrst headlining Everly Brothers. Have
BROTHERS HOLD THEIR OWN
‘It was always our ambition to be Blue Peter
show. ‘The Fringe Club is a bear pit,’ says his partner Reg Meuros, ‘but we insult and abuse them— and they love it.‘
there been any disasters so far? ‘We‘ve written a song about the recent spate of air disasters,’ says Morton, ‘called The
presenters,’ says Richard Where did they ﬁnd Unbearable Lightne” 0f Morton of Panic Brothers, their inspiration? ‘From 306tn8-' Cateh them if
a unique music and anywhere we could steal you eah- (Witham COOK)
humour double act. jokes and chords,‘ I Panic Brother: (Fringe)
However, they‘ve found their niche not on the box, but on the Fringet where they celebrate their third
confesses Morton. Their roots are in music: ‘I was very unprofessional, and signing on the dole’ says
Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550. 10 Aug-2 Sept (not 14, 24 Aug) 7.05pm, £4.50 (£3.50).
Some of the performer: who won’t be out hosting or shoving handhills at you along the High Street.
I ARNOLD BROWN Laid-back Glaswegian ex-accountant, winner of 1987 Perrier Award and semi-permanent fixture at the Gilded Balloon. Own Radio 4 programme starts soon. Not the brashcr type of comedian, but very off-the-wall.
Arnold Brown (Fringe) Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 226 2151. ll Aug-2 Sept, 8.15pm, £4 (£3.50).
I JULIAN CLARY Founder member of the Joan Collins Fan Club (‘we have the same bone structure‘), master of Fanny The Wonder Dog and mentor of the Lovely Russell, back in a spectacular new (if not spectacularly new) show.
Julian Clary (Fringe) Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428. 20—29 Aug, 9.30pm. £7 (£6).
I PAUL B.DAVIES AND FRIENDS— AONE MAN SNOW Those familiar with Davies’ shows won’t be surprised by the title. Hilarious, hectic and highly imaginative. Paul B.Davies (Fringe) Marco‘s Leisure Centre (Venue 98) 229 2898. 12—27 Aug (not 20 Aug), 9pm,£4.50.
I A DAYDREAM IN THE LIFE OF HATTIE HAYRIDGE A picture of vague, wispy innocence, but don‘t let appearances deceive. A barbed sense of humour lurks behind the blank gaze.
Hattie Hayridge (Fringe) Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428. 11 Aug—2 Sept, midnight, £5 (£4).
I SIMON FANSHAWE'S SPECIAL EDITION
Back on familiar territory after a rough
ride on the Renfrew Ferry at Mayfest. Sharp, gay, likeable and very topical ex-Edinburgh boy.
Simon Fanshawe (Fringe) Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428. llAug—2 Sept, 10.15pm,£5.50 (£4.50).
I JEREMY HARDY Last year‘s Perrier Award winner is relaxed, inventive, politically sharp and generally genial. A real charmer.
Jeremy Hardy (Fringe) Assembly Rooms
(Venue 3) 226 2428.20 Aug—2 Sept. 10pm.
I KIT AND THE WIDOW Elegant and eloquent, this musical double act is among the funniest. slickest, most topical acts on the Fringe. A must.
Kit And The Widow (Fringe) Cafe Royal Bistro Theatre (Venue 78) 557 4792. 21 Aug—2 Sept, 6.15pm and 8.15pm.
I GERRY SADOWITZ The notorious Glaswegian returns, with his foul mouth, his dodgy conjuring tricks and his contempt for liberal sentiments. Love him or hate him, you’ve got to respect the guy‘s determination.
Gerry Sadowitz (Fringe) Heriot Hall (Venue 26) 667 3704. 10—23 Aug, 11.15pm, £6(£4).
I SUPERHORNY/AFTERNOON CRUMPET WITH TRUMPET With Earl Okin, the suave and silk-voiced gentleman whose mouth becomes a wind instrument at the purse of a pair of lips. An abiding favourite.
Earl Okin in Superhorny (Fringe) Fringe Club (Venue 2) 226 5257/9. 11 Aug—2 Sept, 8. 15pm, £4.50 (£4); in Afternoon Crumpet (Fringe) Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550. Various dates 12 Aug—2 Sept. 3.35pm, £4 (£3).
The List ll— 17 August 198919