Magicians Do Exist, 12:10, Pleasance Dome (***)
“This show is about moments.” Moments of audience participation, moments of clever interactions and moments of mime. At the heart of this piece lies a fascination with Jacques Tati; when Chris Cresswell indulges in his adoration of this man and his work it’s like a fascinating history lesson. Acting out scenes from his films didn’t quite work for me; the mimetic clowning goes on too long at too slow a pace, dragging a little. Perhaps more use of and reference to The Illusionist throughout the show would offer more drive to the piece. A good show, but with a few missed “moments”.
Coffin Up 13:30, Pleasance Dome (****)
Fantastic non-verbal comedy; expertly directed and performed. A 3 hander, this show moves with pace through a storyline concocted of well-conceived ideas. Designed like a watercolour illustration, the set and characters add a flavour of juxtaposition to the dark storyline. Very clever. Very Cool.
The Man Who Planted Trees, 15:00, Scottish Storytelling Centre (*****)
A gorgeous and beautifully designed family show. Richard Medrington and Rick Conte magically bring their small cast of puppets to life with masterful storytelling skill. Telling a story of intricate details and keeping the audience of children (and adults) captivated is an art form in itself; these two are great at it, aided by the rapport between Medrington and Conte’s Dog, who in my mind is the best puppet dog since John Hurt’s dog in The Storyteller. Conte’s quick witted jokes and banter give Dog a personality rivalled only by Rolf. Designed and co-directed by Ailie Cohen (who also worked on Cloud Man), this wonderful show delivers on all levels: endearing, funny, educational and topical. Take the family, young and old.
Little Howard’s Big Show , 16:40, Assemble George Sq Theatre (***)
The human and cartoon comedy duo present a fun show with funny bits, gory bits, cute bits, audience bits, musical bits and technical bits. Howard Read operates a near perfect show; the mistimed moments are part of the charm in a way. Little Howard is an animated 2D cartoon and Big Howard stumbles about the stage like a lovable, clumsy kidult. This is an enjoyable show, but it really needs more oomph and a much bigger audience – or a smaller venue to create the right atmosphere for the show. Both Howard’s interactions with the audience are great, but they would definitely benefit from more people to interact with to lift the show out of ‘hmmm, that was alright’ to ‘Woah, that was really cool’.
Fascinating Aida: Cheap Flights, 18:45, Gilded Balloon (****)
Fringe veterans Dilly Keane and Adele Anderson bring their new recruit, Sarah Louise Young, into the fold of Fascinating Aida in this musical romp. The songs, played and written by the Jedi of piano and lyrics Dilly Keane, are riddled with wit and social anecdotes, and they are mainly about how the world has gone to the dogs. Slightly too clever at times with too modern a topic, some jokes went over the heads of the majority of the older fans. The content would appeal mainly more to the generation turning 30. If that’s what they are aiming for then they have achieved it, but they should be careful that they don’t alienate the fans that got them to where they are.
Leo , 20:30, St George's West (*****)
This show is so simple it’s awesome. The physical control, timing and use of perspective is awe-inspiring; I haven’t seen moves like this since Fred Astaire danced around the room in Royal Wedding. Totally inspiring of a bigger audience, Leo is a joyous and clever way to spend an hour.
Men of War, 23:00, Pleasance Courtyard (****)
A comedy sketch show full of characters and scenes that you’d find in Little Britain or Not the Nine o’clock News. Four comedic actors with great timing and physical humour bring the scenes bounding onto the stage with blasts of energy delivering the punch lines with well-aimed hits. Very very funny.