theatre - dance 0 comedy

COMEDY REVIEW Ben 'n' Arn's Big Top ****

Fresh from a successful stint on lTV's Comedy Cafe, Ben and Arn are joined by their very special friend Bernard for an hour of sketches, arguments, sulking and government warnings.

All the sketches hit the mark, but the highlight of Ben ’n’Arn's Big Top is when the boys appear as Parisian avant-garde rap duo Priorité a Gauche. So convincing in their French 'cool' are the duo that they would undoubtedly make it big in Europe if they ever decided to release a single. Viva la Big Top. (Kirsty Knaggs)

I Ben 'n' Arn's Big Top (Fringe) Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 30 Aug (not 23) 11pm, £5.


Sex And Sequins


Cocking a snook at decency, stand-up Deb Percy talks sex. Or more precisely, the size of the male member. Cocks a word she insists on repeating over and over. In a tartan-trimmed, faux- antique cellar bar, Percy picks on the males in her audience and encourages revelations, offering her own handy- tips on measuring up the vitals.

The trouble is the supposed shock tactics fall flat. Without the necessary quota of quick wit or sharp material, Percy’s routine lurches from cheesy comment to serious cringe. With Percy, sex is still a dirty word and sequins have lost their shine.

(Susanna Beaumont)

I Sex And Sequins (Fringe) Deb Percy, Canon’s Gait Cellar Bar (Venue 762) 226 5138, until 29 Aug. 11pm, £2 (£1).

THEATRE REVIEW Box The Pony *****

From the outset of this funny, often harrowing, but ultimately uplifting piece, performer Leah Purcell captivates. lssues like racial identity and poverty are gently explored as Purcell's life unfolds through a rich blend of stories, songs and vivid characterisations.

Dazzling us with her versatility, Purcell

slips effortlessly in and out of these roles, from innocent dynamo to abused lover to drink-sodden matriarch. But it's the warmth and energy of Purcell's own character that impresses.

When, at the end of the show, she invites her delighted audience to join her for tea and ‘a yarn', the idea is completely appealing - as if coming from an old and valued friend. (Allan Radcliffe) I Box The Pony (Fringe) Performing Lines, Observer Assembly (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 30 Aug (not 23) times vary, £10/£9 (£9/£8).

COMEDY REVIEW Scotland 2010: An Independent Country!


Since its inauguration, the Scottish Parliament has been begging to have the piss taken out of it. And where better to satirise the inadequacies of our politicians than at the Fringe.

In a fast-moving sketch show, four quick-witted comedy performers take us ten years into the future of Scottish politics, where not very much has changed.

All our favourites are still there, Alex Salmond is still losing and Gordon Brown is still single. Scottish television personalities also get a pasting, Carol Smillie hosts the first Scottish National Lottery and Kirsty Young’s still getting a sore arse perched on the corner of that newsdesk. (Catherine Bromley) I Scotland 2010: An Independent Country! (Fringe) Independent Country Productions, Old St Paul’s Church (Venue 45) 556 0476, until 28 Aug (not 22) 70pm, £5.50 (£4.50).

THEATRE REVIEW Stones In His Pockets ****

C unningly parodying the cinematic invasion of Ireland, the show's implausibly versatile pair of actors play not only a couple of local extras, but an entire cast and crew.

While the material is sharply observed and hilariously dealt with, it is also slightly undeserving of its assured direction and capable co-stars, with morals that are hammered out with rather less sensitivity than the Evil Hollywood colonisation it portrays.

Parody on: Lyric Theatre



In 1993, prompted by articles penned by an anti-Milosovic Serbian author tired of the atrocities being perpetrated in his people's name, actor and writer John Graham Davies travelled 2000 miles as part of an aid convoy to Tuzla in Bosnia. Taking Sides is the result of his experiences in the multi-ethnic enclave which was ravaged by Balkans' apartheid.

in the one-man show, Davies plays eight characters such as a Kosovan miner, a Serb, a Dutch soldier, an alcoholic burglar and an unemployed ex-car thief from Yorkshire. The employment of these characters allows the cultural diversity of the area to be displayed, and their stories provide

Multi storyteller: John Graham Davies

perspectives on the conflict which were downgraded or ignored by the

western media.

Despite its inherently political content, the play is not, as Davies puts it, ‘a political tract.’ He sees its primary aim as being 'to tell these human stories in as humorous and vivid a way as possible.’ That said, it is not simply a jovial overview of the civil conflict. ‘One of the main problems about writing the piece is over-egging the character and incident,’ he states. 'You try to avoid just having a series of comic stories or anecdotes, and I think I’ve done this. I hope that it's interesting and entertaining, but at the same time says something very clear about the situation and what I think about it.’ (Dawn


I Taking Sides (Fringe) John Graham Davies, Theatre Workshop (Venue 20) 226

5425, 24—29 Aug, 10.15pm, £5.50 (£4).

However, its deft character changes, delivering the wincingly funny spectacle of a tweedy Oirish labourer as a female lust icon, make this anti- tourist ticket well worth the trip. (Judith Ho)

I Stones In His Pockets (Fringe) Lyric Theatre, Traverse Theatre (Venue 15) 228 1404, until 22 Aug, 10pm, £9 (£6).


Enticingly titled, but revealing no more than a dire two years of divorce, sagging and table dancing, this is obviously an excuse for Peta Lily to get a lot off her chest.

Borden‘i‘aglé Lodge venue @ 2 Johnston Terrace

0131 225 7207 daily at lzqspm

Uneasy, curiously desperate stage presence and an uncomfortable blend of song, scripted stand-up and manic mime add up to an hour of torturous attempts at titillation. Punctuating somewhat self-indulgent rantings with frantic facial expressions, Lily substitutes her audience's lack of response by augmenting her own.

Despite her self proclaimed 34DD chest, and a nice pair of well- constructed twists, Peta Lily's Topless not only sags, but falls surprisingly flat. (Judith Ho)

I Topless (Fringe) Peta Lily, Komedia @ Southside (Venue 82) 667 2212, until 29 Aug, 11.25pm, £7 (£5).

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19—26 Aug 1999 THE LIST 59