A humourous but poignant musical that explores the lives ofthrce men. who. on losingtheir jobs. decide to stay at home and look after their babies. while their wives work.

Charles. an ex-executive. sees this as an intellectual challenge in which he is eminently superior. yet ends up ordering designer dinners and faking orgasms.

Kirk. an amateur athelete and laid off factory worker. becomes so sensitised that he cannot bear to leave his daughter.

And Joey. a haggard and neurotic Latin teacher. spends his time interspersing sexual fantasies with vitamin taking.

Meeting at the local community centre. they form a group and share identity crisis and role reversal.

The dialogue. which provides most ofthe humour. includes some real gems and is clearly enjoyed by the audience. as are the songs. which include ‘The Tcstosorone Tango'. There is also some puppetry of Spitting Image calibre. Check it out. (Paul Maverick)

I Dads in Bondage (Fringe) Lunchbox Theatre Company. The Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 226 2151. until 1 Sept (excluding Mons). 1pm. £5 (£4).


Like Ben Elton on speed. Mark Hurst can‘t shut up. Observations. anecdotes. impressions spill out of his mouth at an incredible rate of knots. Pace is the name of his game.

This raises two problems for the man with two surnames. One is

coherence he‘s in such a hurry to verbalise his thoughts that his words trip over each other before they connect with the audience's chuckle-button. The other is that when he does lose his train of thought it's patently obvious. llis delivery flounders. his mind casts around for inspiration. Put him in front of a hostile crowd and he'd be struggling. These criticisms would be feeble quibbles if Ilurst‘s material was

i stronger. As erstwhile ‘Tubc' regular he was

loved for his satiric putdowns. the direct way he lunged at histargets. but these days his vitriol has been diluted by generalisation. He‘s content to operate the same-old-subjects treadmill drugs. holidays. domestic trauma without injecting fresh vision.

It‘s not that he‘s not funny. it‘s just that he's not very funny. For a comedian with an assured

audiencethat‘snot disastrous. but it does

frustrate high expectations. (Fiona Shepherd)

I Mark Hurst aka Miwunlz (Fringe).The Gilded

i BalloonTheatre and

. Studio(Venue 38)226

I 2lSl.until 1 Sept.7pm.£5 j (£4).


The first ten minutes of this show are taken up with Steve Coogan showing his prowess at character acting. llis role is that ofan unfunny. nervous comic who forgets his lines. Curiously enough. this requires very little acting talent: Coogan. when he returns as himself (and a plethora of his Spitting Image voices). is seriously out of his depth in front of a live audience.

Frank Skinner is the complete opposite. You will not know him from TV but he is totally at ease in front ofthe hecklers and seems able to adapt his material to suit the audience. Almost invariably. of course. this leads to very. very near the knuckle sexual gags which you pause before responding to. Ultimately. though. the response is a greatdeal more than Coogan could hope for. (Philip Parr)

I Steve Coogan and Frank Skinner (Fringe) The

Pleasance Upstairs (Venue 33). 556 6550.


()n my way to see the Cambridge Women‘s Footlights I was invited to remove my underwear by a couple of sixteen year-olds I passed on Victoria Street. It's not an unusual request. even for a Monday night. but it put me in a mood for the w ry laugh I felt Iwas guaranteed in Amazons And there are plentyof wry laughs in the show. there are jokes about sex. politics and. inevitably. the environment. but above all Amazons is just funny. A full house and a very responsive. very mixed audience helped no end. In fact. no sooner had the lights gone down than somebody shouted arriha.’ and the row in front ofme collapsed laughing. I was not so quickly won over. but I enjoyed it. (Miranda France) I Amazons! (I-i inge ) The Cambridge Women‘s l‘ootlights. (‘eltic Lodge (Venue 6) 225 7097. until 25 Aug. 9. l()pm.£3.5(l (£2.50).


This is the place tosee comics in their natural habitat. The Late ‘n‘ Live show returns with more comics in the bar than on stage.

Ronnie Golden isthe

multi-faccted frontman who begins by exercising his own spontaneous wit. IIe feeds mainly offthc audience before introducing the nightly guest comedy spot.

Ronnie's six-piece band are capable ofmusical improvisation. Requests are played in alien styles and we are promised comics performing their favourite songs.

For the final hour they get down to business belting out classics that are difficult to resist dancing to. This should prove to be one of the best late night hang outs. (Konrad Manning).

I Bonnie And The Rex (Fringe) The Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 226 2151.until l Scpt(not Suns). l2.3()am.£5.5() (£4.50).


The Lovely Plays Promotion Concern presents good straighforward comedy in a short show ofsketches. songs and stand-up.

Unsophisticated. and sometimes more nervous than they need to be. the performers are nevertheless lively and well able to rely on their jokes.

False mystics. an overtaxed Royal Family. and. yes. you‘ve guessed it. the Iraqis. are treated with wit. Look out for the poems on domestic items which are beautifully timed.

Definitely for the family. (IIarriet Swain) I The Friends of Sheopey Sheep (Fringe) Ilill Street Theatre (Venue 41) 225 7294. until 18 Aug. 6.05pm. £2.50. (£2).


Julian Clary. the man who elevated bitchiness into an art form. is back with a new show and a new sidekick to replace Fanny the Wonder Dog: Dobbin the horse on wheels.

As he strolls about in a series of outfits each more resplendently tacky than the last. Clary muses delicately on life. love. venereal disease. and 12

year- old boys in the front row. Ilis ability to inject a double entendre into the unlikcliest of phrases with the merest twitch ofan eyebrow or flicker ofa smile is truly astonishing. In keeping with the cowboy theme. songs include Rhinestone Cowboy and Wandrin' Star. which Clary performs in an impressive booming bass.

Ably assisted by regular straight man Russell Churny. musiciansJungr and Parker. with a guest appearance by Hugh ‘Sticky Moments‘ Jelly (and a Sticky Moments contest involving two hapless audience members). Clary swans through his inimitable combination ofvulgarity delivered with consummate wit and poise. A cool. professional and very i funny show. (Sue Wilson) I Julian Clary Wandrin’ Star Tour(Fringe) Assembly Rooms (Venue ; 3) run ended.


i Atfirstthisone-mandtag 5 act is amusing - even very i funny—butfurtherinto the act the humour grows ; repetitive and ; uninspiring. i Lunchtime with Margot is not so much a show asa one-sided gossipthat glimpsesat the life and times of the eccentric. ‘darling' actress herself. As she bumbles her way through the show. hamming up extracts from melodramas and histrionieally re-cnacting moments from her life. it is typical of her to stop suddenly because she has wind. because the phone rings or simply because the moment ‘is not right'. ()versuse of these anti climactic momentsis

part of the problem with this act. Too often I found myselfgazing at the pattern on the sofa. asthe absurdness ofseeing the star of the show rummage in her bag for her diary. or write out a shopping list. began to wearoff.

The performance itself is convincing enough. but there is just too little variation of mood. and too little depth in the satire and humour to recommend the show. (Robert Alstead)

I Margot Sessions (Fringe). Gilded ballon Theatre. (Venue 38) 556 9579. until 1 Sept (not2(). 28). 12.30pm. £4(£3).


Imagine my surprise when the ‘guest‘ turned out to be the ubiquitous Stu Who'.’ There's a lot of things Stu is unafraidof and overexposure is clearly one ofthem. Though his set ain‘t finely honed he does a good line in vitriol against the City of Culture mentality. Ilard on his heels came that irrepressible live-wire. Norman l.ovett. Mr Who‘.’ had done a fine job in warming the small first night audience and Norm soon had ‘em eating out of the palm ofhis tiltra-prolessional hand. He’s like a deranged relation who pops up every now and then to amuse you with harmless anecdotes about things in his pockets. The two. him and Who'.’ make for a well-balanced hour of comedy but the price for this. and indeed many othcrone-hour comedy sets on the Fringe. isa shocker at six quid. ( Russ Parsons) I Norman lovett and Guest The I’leasance ( Venue 33) 556 655i). 10pm. until 22 Aug(not l‘)).£6(£5).

The List 17— 23 August 199035