Radical ramblings 0””

This Fringe you will see men putting orange buckets on their head, indulging themselves with slide shows and blowing balloons out of their coat hoods. But all you really need to see is one man, his brown suit, a microphone and a mind rammed full of innovative ideas, ready to spout ingenious

offshoots of reality.

Defining what makes Sean Lock so great is both tricky and something of an insult. You could say that on the most basic level, he has a ‘good sense of humour’; words, sentences and phrases are beautifully weighted, each spilling from him with thought, skill and an underplayed confidence. Don’t fall for his ‘I don’t deserve to be here’ subtext: Lock, and his audience, are fully aware of the power he wields.

He can ramble on about the genesis of Hundreds and Thousands, the times when it’s justified to have a right old swear, and why pubs are able to sell themselves on having an ‘atmosphere’, and not one punchline (though that’s to over-simplify the end of his sentences) can be predicted even halfway through its deliverance. Lock can even get away with doing one running joke which he performed two years ago, and it just feels like bumping into an old pal you’re actually pleased to see again.

No doubt the Perrier panel will once again overlook Sean Lock and hand their precious award to someone with more gimmicks and gadgetry. They’ll be utter fools to do so. (Brian Donaldson) I Assembly Rooms, 226 2428, until 26 Aug, 9.15pm, {310—5371 (EQ—E 7 O).

PLANET BANANA Roll up, roll up 0...

it's a nigh-on

task to create a riotous atmosphere when faced with an audience of

three techies. one

reviewer and his dog.

: but Clarke McFarlane

and Silvia Machete work

- their buff wee dowps off ' to get their

congregation whOOping in the aisles.

Planet Banana should have you swinging in the aisles

50 THE LIST FESTIVAL GUIDE 22 Aug-6 Sep 2002

Billed as 'comedy‘. Swinger 's Circus is an expertly mixed cocktail of inventive juggling. trapeze and acrobatics. with a dash of luscious jazz thrown in for extra zest. There is a narrative. involving a sleazy bar fly and leopard-skin clad bar singer. but this is secondary to the Virtuoso displays. So grab a martini and get down the 'Belly -- this party deserves a happy atmosphere.

(Allan Radcliffe)

I Underbelly 0870 74:3 3083. until 25 Aug,

1 l.4:3pm, {38—539 (5T7—ff8).


Deep and meaningful 0.0

Reginald D Hunter should really stick to what he does best. in an act as intelligent and deep as his. there should be no room for crowd- pleasnig preaching on the Cultural differences between us beer-soaked Brits and them hard-ass

Yanks. Still. these hackneyed taunts lure us unsuspectingly into his all-encompassing mind where the real comedy gems lurk.

It is his musings on relationships. his incredulity over emotional self-preservation and his philosophical pondering of stereotypes that hit the spot. Had it not been for a fair whack of posturing and erratic pacing. this chocolate- voiced giant could have delivered one of the most thoughtful. compelling shows you could expect to see at the festival. Instead. it's entertaining. but not earth-moving fare. (Maureen Ellis)

I Gilded Balloon, 226 2151, until 26 Aug, 9pm. 28—29 ($37—88).


Well-constructed, if a little lost .0.

This slightly weird array of well-constructed sketches mostly offers insights into worlds we're not allowed access: the home-life of

Father Christmas. what vampires do for idle kicks and the sex life of James Dean's memorial statue. The Black Sheep make sure everything's on a personal level by hosting an introductory question and answer session and presenting Mr Howdy-do's challenge to shake as many people's hands as possible (currently on a ratio of 1.4 people per second).

There's some poignant moments but everything eventually ends in a grin. and this is highlighted in the dirge- like party song which closes the set. A smooth and successful performance, if a bit throwaway.

(Jan F Zeschky) I C, 0870 707 5705,

' until 25 Aug, 9.30pm.

£8. 50 (£7. 50). NAVELGAZING

Amusement by-pass O. The premise is sound: a talented foursome assuming different roles in what is just another day at the disastrous historical amusement centre Cheddwang Park. But with such a variety of warped staff and visitors from a disgusting paedophile to a pair of murderous cowboy gardeners and an alcoholic falconer it appears the cast have bitten off more than they can chew. Consequently. even principal characters, like the park manager, are rather weak and not as funny as they could be. Navelgazing does score points in small asides like the brilliant animated waxwork ride featuring Henry VIII, but ultimately this just underlines the thin spread of laughs on offer. (Jan F Zeschky) I Pleasance, 556 6550. until 26 Aug. 6. 75pm,



JULIAN FOX Foxed by insipid pretension 00

Anyone who attempts something different to challenge the man- microphone formula of Fringe comedy deserves to be commended. Only Julian Fox's recognition is bewildering. Cutting a

pathetic figure. Fox's feckless stage persona in Goodbye Seattle

Coffee Company takes

you on a mind-numbing

virtual tour of the merits

of various coffee houses.The

globalisation thread is

paired with a narrative of Fox losing his job at the Barbican Theatre

and his search for a

suitable flatmate. This is like ‘performance comedy'.

where laughs are

gleaned from situationist pomposity and banal musical interludes. Fox's stage presence is noteworthy. but the smugness involved

makes this strictly for

Guardian aficionados

: only. (Maureen Ellis)

I Pleasance, 556 6550, until 26 Aug, 7 0.45pm.

£6—E7 (24—55).


Lame nutcracker 0

It's a shifty sight a 16 stone man dragged up as a ballerina. If this was a late show, it could be breaching on Eurotrash territory. However, this is a family show with a few camp innuendos

thrown in.

Madame Galina of Russia has come to teach us about the world of ballet. but. to be honest, who gives a shit. The jokes are sparse and lame. If you‘re into “ballet comedy' (whatever that is) and jokes about art council politics. you may

enjoy this show.

Otherwise wide load. steer clear. This is the festival eduivalent of Chinese water treatment.

(Carolyn Aiken)

I Pleasance Dome. 556 6550, until 26 Aug. 6.30pm, 29—870 (£849).

JACKIE CLUNE Big talent, short on

distance 000

Three shows ago. Jackie Clune was lesbian. Last year‘s offering charted her love affair with a gay man. This year she's heterosexual.

I suppose it means she can appeal to as wide an audience as possible. With her accompanist Al Collingwood. she's written about ten songs that she intersperses