Fringe diary, day five: Heavy breathers and live socks

The Eric and Ernie of the sock world
Ian ColePorn addiction and the Eric and Ernie of the sock drawer? Strange but true for Ian J Cole on his fifth festival fringe day


Up at 8:30 this morning as my first show is at 10.30 so I need to get a move on to have breakfast and then hike over to the Pleasance Dome to see Big Bite-Size Breakfast Show.

10.30am Big Bite-Size Breakfast Show

I shouldn’t have bothered with breakfast as the title of this show gives it away. I arrived 20 minutes before the show started, only to find a massive queue worming its way in to the venue. To be let in this early was unheard of! What’s going on?

The reason we were being let in was we were being handed a choice of tea, coffee, croissant and strawberries and so our bite-size breakfast. The show was sold out and what we were served up was five fantastic 10-15 minute playlets from an excellent five person cast, it was very funny well-crafted theatre.

What the White Room Theatre group are doing is giving the audience three different sets of playlets on different days. Today’s menu was ‘Forces of Nature’. Tomorrow was going to be the ‘Vintage 1940s’ menu but that was already sold out and the menu after that was ‘Life, Sex & Death’. Each menu contains a mix of drama, comedy and eccentricity. Fantastic.

12.45pm Uncoupled

As I came out from the Big Bite-Size Breakfast Show, I got talking to one of the guys for Uncoupled, a one-woman play about her husband’s addiction to porn. This became disconcerting when the chap sat at the side of me started heavy breathing.

But this was no dodgy sex show disguised as a play, but a touching tail of a mid-50s woman’s relationship with her partner as she tries to keep her family together, and how she deals with his sex addiction.

The chap at the side of me wasn’t a member of the dirty mac brigade he just had breathing problems.

Louise Templeton played Suzanne brilliantly in this humorous and heart-breaking story.

2.20pm Eric’s Tales of the Sea – A Submariner’s Yarn

Next up was an award-winning show, the true-life tales of Eric the submariner. This was in a rabbit warren of a building full of thin passages and odd staircases, we were told to go upstairs and keep going but we got lost as there wasn’t any signage.

When I say WE got lost I mean all of the audience got lost as our caterpillar snaked its way around, bursting in on a already running play. A member of staff was sent for to guide us to our room that looks surprisingly like a submarine – it was certainly wet enough but this venue was called ‘Just the Tonic at The Caves’.

Eric tells us stories of life on-board a nuclear submarine and what could be described as a lecture with PowerPoint is fantastically funny and brilliantly told. Eric plays with the audience’s every emotion. He has a selection of incredible images that reinforce the realism and tells us stories involving his soul mate and best friend Dick.
Truly unique and not to be missed.

5.05pm The Complete History of the BBC in 60 Minutes

It was after seeing Eric that I hit the first duff show of the day. The Complete History of the BBC in 60 Minutes missed on so many levels.

The show was delivered in the bedroom of a hotel in GrassMarket which is fine as a venue if a little small. But I was expecting something closer to the Brilliant Reduced Shakespeare Company’s ‘Complete Works of William Shakespeare’ that I saw several years ago or Lip Service, Withering Looks – but this had few laughs and a cringeworthy ending that was just embarrassing.

7.30pm Cabaret Whore – Her Finest Hour

Cabaret Whore is described as ‘brilliant character comedy, sparkling original songs featuring favourite characters and music from three sell-out Fringes’.

This one woman show by Sarah-Louise Young has three very different characters, an American white trash prostitute, a drunk and a bitter French cabaret singer. But this is not her finest hour. The comedy is wide of the mark and sex and drugs aren’t funny on their own without strong material.

Sarah-Louise’s strengths are in her singing ability and the quality of the lyrical ability of the song-writing team, but that’s not enough to make a good show.

9pm Chris Difford and Norman Lovett: It’s All About Me!

This was a show I was really looking forward to as I am a huge Squeeze fan. Chris Difford tells his life story in Squeeze by playing a selection of hits with his guitar and a backing singer. We are encouraged to sing along and it’s a very intimate affair.

After about 20 minutes Chris is joined on stage by Red Dwarf star and stand-up comedian Norman Lovett who is there to tell tall tales and make us (and Chris) laugh.

In fact as I was sat on the front row Norman stood up so that I didn’t have to crick my neck while he was telling one of his stories, which was nice of him.

Chris on the other hand is very candid when it comes to telling the story of his musical life; he covers everything from the 50p advert in a newsagent window that was the start of Squeeze to some amazing band video that has never been shown before. It was all over far too soon and was great fun to be part of.

10.40pm Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre – Boo Lingerie

I wanted to see the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre two years ago when I was last at the Fringe but they were sold out. I was socked to find out that the show was delivered by one person in a brilliant Punch and Judy way but using sock puppets of course. It’s classic Eric and Ernie as our two puppet heroes bicker and argue their way through the show.

This is a brand new Socky Horror Show with songs, sketches, socks and violence and even a bit of Thriller. Tonight’s show had so many adlibs that it over-ran a lot and a song had to be cut but that didn’t matter as it was absolutely fantastic and incredibly funny.