Just as he has a child-like joy of the cheap pun and the gloriously incongrous. so in his serious poetry does Spike Milligan display an unabashed openness that borders on the naive. Sensitivity. individuality and humour are charcteristics of all his work both comic and straight, and after an evening in his presence you‘re left convinced that the man is nothing ifnot genuine.

The blend of the surreal and the profound is reminiscent of lvor Cutler. though despite his 72 years and insistence that this is a poetry reading. Milligan is inevitably more animated than the dry-witted Scot. At turns hilarious and touching. VLsiting District Milligan is worth stealing a ticket for. (Mark Fisher) I Visiting District Millioan (Fringe) Spike Milligan. Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428. until 25 Aug. 9. 15pm. £7.50 (£6).


With the comic timing of Eric Morecombc and the skill to cause hysteria with the simplest of ideas. Jim Tavarc throws away gems. creates innovative humour with his double bass and all with a gloriously dead-pan expression.

His silent stoogc complements him

beautifully by facially resembling a perplexed Harpo Marx and playing the guitar and harmonica excellently.

The guest comic Stuart Hill is original and ifhe leaves the political stuff out. he‘ll be really funny. But the show is definitely the polished Tavare‘s with his refreshingly inoffensive humour.

A wonderful evening where you laugh so much you get a buzz and don‘t want the show to end. (Melissa Nathan)

I Jim Tavarc -The Early Years (Fringe) Pleasance Upstairs (Venue 33) 556 6550. until 1 Sept (not30 Aug) 10.30pm.£4 (£3).


The Kashubian Tapes is a one-woman show. that jumps around more than a Jean-Luc Godard film on a badly tuned in television set and leaves one with the distinct impression that its author and actress have about as much idea of what it is about asits audience.

Its performer. who sustains long periods of eye contact with each member ofthe audience. does her darnedest to make everyone feel uncomfortable. eliciting occasional laughs of unease with and sympathy for a play that goes down with all the grace of a lead balloon.

The actress is convincing in her role ofa paranoiac on anti-depressants clinging to conspiracy theories. but the writing lealves a lot to



be desired.

Miss it. even ifyoujust happen to be passing the venue when the heavens break and torrential rains downpour. (Paul Maverick)

I The Kashublan Tapes (Fringe) Eagle Mountain Productions. Marco‘s Leisure Centre (Venue 98) 229 8830. until 1 Sept (not 19) 2.45pm.£4 (£3.50).

, ‘l .' l7, -’ figth' ' I‘ I ' f” a“ ' . , ’;

He‘s back from the outback. . . the kingof crimplene . . . the high priest of hairspray. . . the something-beginning- with-bof beige . . .Bob Downe!

Why should a man dressed up like a showroom dummy crooning hits from the 50s and 60s and cracking a few old jokes be so funny? Why does he inspire such devotion in the audience? Who knows. But he does.

He‘s so outrageous he gets away with it (and with the ticket prices which at £5.50for 50 minutes must be more per minute than the Bolshoi). The audience love him anyway. Let's face it. the man must be a genius. (Frances (‘ornford)

I The Bob Downe Show (Fringe). Pleasance (Venue 33) 5566550. until 1 Sept. 8. 15pm.£5.50 (£4.50).


Mr Brown sidles on stage. intense expression on his face. eyes searching out friendly faces in the audience. and begins.

He tiptoes round the stage. puzzling cerebrally over issues such as Thatcher. the Royals. pornography and the Environment.

Resembling a gentle doctor. he purports to be the respectable alternative comedian. This comes across as a guilty liberal. which seems the common denominator of his audience.

His ideas are beautifully constructed. such as the Macdonald ‘regime‘. but

the painfully slow delivery means that the laughs are few and far between. Predictably. they come when he swears or is risque.

This is the stuff good literature is made of. But when done in one hour doses for which one pays £6, one expects more than to smile and respect his intellectual musing which is never really carried through to a satisfying conclusion. (Melissa Nathan)

I Arnold Brown (Fringe). Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, until Aug 25. 10.15pm. £6(£5).


KGB agents in full-dress cloaks train strobelights. spotlights. and footli hts (OK. flashlights. it's’g fringe) on performers whose minimal English is put to effective use. The compcre watches you as much as you watch him: he trains the audience to applaud humour which depends mainly on the lack of pace. but generates huge amounts of silliness. Now that it‘s not necessary. you can make fun ofthe KGB. but I wish I could have seen the show at the group‘s home venue. under the walls of the Kremlin. (Wes Shrum) I Blue Knights of the KGB (Fringe) Moscow University Students Theatre. St Columba's (Venue 4) 220 0541 . 9 Aug—l Sept. 8pm. £6 (£5).


Playing your first Edinburgh gig at the Fringe Club isn’t usually the best career move, but The Dear Johns achieved the nigh impossible by getting a stroppy audience bopping and screaming for more. The band are actually up here in a more thespian capacity (performing with the Cambridge Footlights and in Arrivederci Millwall), but it seems they are more at home bashing out their very 90s blend of post-J am social satire type rock. Songs like Armitage Shanks and the instant singalong Intercity have the ability to make you grin at the lyrics and tap your foot to the tunes at the same time. Call me old-fashioned but that‘s my idea ofa decent band. The Dear Johns will linger in the memory long after this year‘s Cambridge Footlights have faded

away. (Tom Lappin)

I The Dear John: (Fringe) The Fringe Club (Venue 2) Information: Day 226 5257. Night 667 2091. Free with Fringe Club Membership.


As the audience take their places in what is probably the most comfortable and intimate venue at the Fringe. Johnny Immaterial pops round offering everyone crisps and lemonade before

going on to hand round his i

holiday snaps.

Chatting with his guests. Y

he succeeds in creating a brilliant rapport before even starting the show. which begins with a hilarious routine about the audience talking to each other. that has everyone in stitches. Likening himselfto

‘Ronnie Corbett on acid‘. hisstyle is very chattyand

includes so much improvisation that he finishes late. with twenty minutes ofmaterial to spare.

Heckling himselfevery now and again. in a show that is extremely surreal. Johnny Immaterial succeeds in evoking hilarity from his audience on a regular basis and is definitely worth seeing. (Paul Maverick)

I Johnny lmmaterlal's 1958 (Fringe) Johnny Immaterial. Greyfriars Kirkhouse (Venue 28) 225 3626. until 1 Sept (not 20. 27. 30). 7.30pm. £3.50 (£3).


Fay Presto opens the show on the stairs leading to the theatre. Her warm-up is intimate. unique and entertaining and provides a tantalising glimpse of illusions to come. Billed as a magic cabaret of ‘hi jinx and lo trix'. the Presto Pack is a strange

combination of the

excellent Ms Presto. a near zany American manipulator. two women trapeze artists and a musical duet. Some deck!

Clearly. Presto is not the usual magician. She ‘likes to suffer‘ and that‘s

why she does cabaret. Her steady nervous patter and somewhat camp presentation of tricks and illusions are built on solid skills. Presto is worth watching anywhere. She is orginal and fun. The show is worth catching just for her card tricks and friend Harvey.

While the rest ofthe Pack try hard enough. they aren‘t on Presto‘s level. Gerry Hart. the American. doesn’t get weird enough to maintain the show's feel. The Knot Enough Rope duo is oddly placed and needs to be more magical. Ms Presto would be advised to reshuffle her deck and come up with a better deal. such as the one unveiled at Traquair Fair. (Kerry Napuk)

I The Presto Pack (Fringe). Richard Demarco Gallery (Venue 22). 557 0707. until 1 Sept (not Suns). 11.45pm.£5 (£3.50).


With a full house - and it will be Miles and Millner start cracking quick and never flag. In theirthird year on the Fringe. this piano-pimping pair are quite simply hard to beat for timing. technical perfection. or audience favour. Pick your favourite musical era and you‘ll not be disappointed by these head-slamming. coat-tail-flopping. back-riding. pint-slanging maestros. Their pageturning routine has every gag in the book. their Beerhunter and synchronised swimming bits are belters. and they never avoid the cheap laugh. Fortunately. (Wes Shrum)

I Complete History of Music (Fringe) Miles and Millner. Pleasance (Venue 33) 5566550. 9 Aug— 1 Sept. 8.45pm. £5.50 (£4.50).

30 The List 24 30 August 1990