Theatre 0 0 Dance

COMEDY REVIEW Dave Fulton ****

Despite bearing more than a passing resemblance to an unclipped cocker spaniel dressed for a wake, Dave Fulton contradicts his dour pseudo- rock star image in a number of ways.

For starters, he smiles - a lot - and has a drawling voice which, when excited makes him sound like Darlene from Roseanne. Secondly, instead of torturing us with soft-rock balladry or throwing some Bon Jovi- style air guitar shapes, he makes us laugh, and not just the odd titter, mind, but big, meaty guffaws, something which is all too often missing in the Fringe's comedic free- for-all.

The death of Bill Hicks, like that other stand-up revolutionary Lenny Bruce, has left an incredibly hard gap for our American laughmongerers to fill. Those without a gimmick or a comic character have found topical comedy treacherous ground to gain any real credibility without constant reference and comparison back to the hallowed work of Hicks.

Vic Henley comes up with yet another spin on oral pleasure and Bill Clinton, while Greg Proops too often relies on off- colour Leary-isms. With Rich Hall’s full conversion to character comedy, Fulton is left as a sole crusader for US topical comedy.

The Edinburgh Festival is perhaps the last place someone would deem it fit to attempt this; the battle for audiences in this annual comedy trade show all too often means resorting to compromise.

The quest for the stand-up's unholy grail - a TV contract - is something that can lead to artistic soul- ditching in the hope of being suitable for broadcast. It can also frequently kill the creativity in comics who buckle under the pressure of attempting to make the transition from stage to small screen.

Dave Fulton seems to care not a jot about such folly, preferring to plough a less preachy and more introspective - but still upbeat - furrow. For the first


Drawl order: Dave Fulton

time this year, a North American comic has played the 'isn't this country quaint?’ card and come up trumps.

A notable portion of Fulton’s set is dedicated to his experiences over the last three weeks and previous visits to the UK, but he takes care with his subject matter so as not to confuse or patronise. Thankfully there are no poor quality Glesga' accents or deep-fried Mars Bar gags.

Okay, so drugs, sex, relationships, food and cars might not spring to mind as new, undeveloped, experimental topics for comedy material, but Fulton’s whiplash delivery and relentless pace mean there is little time to grumble if you've heard it before. And, almost miraculously, he single-handedly proves there is still some mileage in the subject of the capital‘s cab drivers. (Mark Robertson)

I For details, see Hit list, right.

THEATRE REVIEW Fanny Hill *****

It would be wrong, though, to mistake Fanny Hill for being some sort of cheap thrill theatre. Philipa Hammond, who besides playing the

(literary adaptation: Fanny Hill

For those of you unaware of the book, Fanny Hill is a scandalous piece of Georgian erotic fiction that falls into the British tradition of bawdiness somewhere between Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones and Joan Collins’ The Stud.

Like Tom Jones, it is an odyssey from innocence and into the high fashion, sophisticated tastes and debauchery of the London of Hogarth and Dr Johnson. The Madames, rakes, fops and sailors of this time are wonderfully evoked and the erotic adventures and encounters of our heroine vividly realised. That Philipa Hammond, in the role of Fanny, can narrate at the same time as simulating a good back-alley rogering is remarkable.

lead is the driving force behind the production, realises the piece in some style. To adapt such a notorious work of fiction as this cannot have been an easy task. But it is one that the ensemble cast uniformly rise to. In this they are aided by an admirable collection of period costumes of West End standard.

This is a genuinely good production. It is adult and includes a good deal of nudity though nothing too explicit; it’s very rude, often funny, but without ever descending into bad taste. Fringe drama doesn't come any more stimulating than this. (Ross Holloway) I For details, see Hit list, right.

I I h ltl l st \

Sweet dreams are made of these late night treats. Fanny Hill See review, left. Fanny Hill (Fringe) Afterthought Productions, Hill Street Theatre (Venue 4 7) 226 6522, until 30 Aug, 77.45pm, £7 (£5). Ed Byrne: On The Road Beds, toilets, hotel rooms and airports may not make for the most original source material ever until they are given the genial spin of the finest Irish stand-up ever to attend Strathclyde Uni. Ed Byrne: On The Road (Fringe) Ed Byrne, Queen's Hall (Venue 72) 668 2079, 27 Aug, 8.30pm, £70.

Buster Keaton With The Blue Grassy Knoll Music, movies and moustaches are the secret ingredients to one of this year's surprise hits as the zydeco/ bluegrass/gypsy band merge with silent cinema’s king of comedy. Buster Keaton With The Blue Grassy Knoll (Fringe) Observer Assembly (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 27 Aug, 70pm, £9/E8 (£8/E 7).

Phil Kay You can't keep a good maniac down as the country‘s finest solo improv machine surfs the subconscious to devastating effect. Phil Kay (Fringe) Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 226 275 7, until 28 Aug. 70pm, £9 (E8); the alternative bus tour of Edinburgh, 26 Aug, 3.30pm, Waverley Bridge, £8.

Mojo Mickybo Owen McCafferty’s Dublin Fringe award-winner centres on two childhood pals with an unhealthy obsession for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Text and physical theatre combine to glorious effect. Mojo Mickybo (Fringe) Kabosh, Traverse Theatre (Venue 75) 228 7404, until 4 Sep (not 30 Aug) 70pm, £9 (£6). See Freeloaders, page 23.

Dave Fulton See review, left. Dave Fulton (Fringe) Observer Assembly (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 29 Aug, 77.30pm, £10/£9 (£9/E8).

26 Aug-9 Sep 1999 THE UST 45