I L A theatre - dance 0 comedy


Booze explosmn

Al Murray Pub Landlord serves character comedy with a good head. Seen at Battersea Arts Centre, London, Tue 28 Jul.


Al Murray is going to put you straight about a few things. In Keeper Of The Pint Cosmic, he takes a broad swipe at the late twentieth century malaise as viewed through the bottom of a pint glass; you know, the essential issues such as the spread of ghastly Irish theme pubs (why do they have old bicycles and manky bits of rope in the windows?), alcopops, mineral water and why modern jazz on the jukebox could spell the end of civilisation as we know it. His homespun home truths hit home with the authenticity of flock wallpaper and jellied eels. He’s a normal geezer, the sort to call a spade a spade, a student a ponce, and the English heritage built upon a pile of skulls.

This is character comedy at it's best. The Pub Landlord immediately evokes the warm beer and stale cigarette smoke of the backstreet boozer. The success of the character owes much to the fact that almost everybody's been in a pub and almost everybody's met an idiot, and so for most people this carries a double whammy of recognition. As with all the best comic creations the humour follows effortlessly from the character. While Murray would

deny charges of satire, the sharpness of his social observation takes vicious twists to the extent that you will not know whether you are laughing with him, at

him, or at yourself.

In recent years there have been those who have complained that the comedy has driven out the serious drama from the Fringe, but, on tonight's evidence,

Al Murray: lager. lager, lager and shouting

contemporary comedy at the moment seemingly has an ability to virtually constantly extend its pallette. So raise a pint of lager to AI Murray Pub Landlord, to a

diamond geezer with a heart of Guinness, to the joys of

punch-you-in-the-face comedy. C'mon you slags, don't be shy, have a good ol’ laff. (Ross Holloway) For details, see Hit list, right.

All Thai’d up: The lady Boys Of Bangkok


The Lady Boys Of Bangkok

Those With some global cultural awareness Will know that a lady boy IS not jUSl a cringeworthy cocktail dreamed up by top media buffoon Alan Partridge, but also a far eastern entertainment phenomenon boasting the world's most convincing female impersonators. Thailand's lady boys have been performing their sophisticated cabaret in Bangkok nightclubs like the Mambo for long enough to be a showbiz institution in their own country and Japan, while the western world has, until now, looked on voyeuristically Via sociologically- tinged television documentaries.

Phillip Gandey, executive producer of

the must-see Fringe oddity The Lady Boys Of Bangkok, first caught the show eighteen months ago in Thailand and has succeeded in bringing the cream of the queens to Britain for the first time.

The show features twenty performers, innumerable costume changes, modern pop numbers (including 'One Night In Bangkok', kitsch-lovers), traditional national dances and comedy, courtesy of an oven/veight geisha girl, all bound together in a not of sequms and feathers.

'In Bangkok they're not a backstreet attraction,’ says Gandey. 'One of the main performers was recently in Japan representing the Thai tourist board, so peOple should come along with an open mind. It’s one-and-a-half hours of top showbiz entertainment.‘

(Fiona Shepherd) 3 See Hit list, right.

Five safe bets in a Festival of long odds

Cool Heat Urban Beat Afro— American dance culture is celebrated in a show fusing hip hop, rap, Jazz and tap. A DJ and live percussion provides the music while performers breakdance in baggy Jeans and old skool trainers. See feature, page 19 and Freeloader offers Coo/ Heat Urban Beat, 78 Aug—5 Sep (not 24 8! 37 Aug, 7 Sep) times vary, [9. 50 (£8.50).

Gargantua Grid Iron, who gave us the acclaimed and atmospheric Bloody Chamber last year, return with a new site specific comedy which celebrates food, sensuality and indulgence. See reView, page 58. Gargantua, until 37 Aug (not 76, 23) 8pm, £5.

Dylan Moran - Poncing About He won the Perrier a couple of years back, but Dylan hasn’t been idle since then. He recently became a dad, his acting debut in sitcom How Do You Want Me? was surprisingly excellent, and he was heard heckling Ian Shuttleworth on Channel 4's Critical Condition. Chap. Dylan Moran Poncing About, 79—37 Aug (not 25) 9.40pm, [9/f8. 50

(f 8/f 7. 50).

Al Murray Pub Landlord - Keeper Of The Pint Cosmic See prevrew, left. Al Murray Pub Landlord Keeper Of The Pint Cosmic, 74—37 Aug (not 25) 9.25pm, prices vary.

The Lady Boys 0f Bangkok See preview, left. Lady Boys Of Bangkok, 14—29 Aug, 8.15pm, [USO/£70 (HO/£8).

13-20 Aug 1998 THE usr 55