Fringe diary, day four: Burnt toast and pregnant men

Daft and delightful: stand-up Bec Hill
Ian ColeIan J Cole checks out a York stand-up and a new production of George Orwell’s 1984 as he enters the fourth day of Fringe fun


I managed to get a bit of a lie in this morning as my first booked show isn’t until 1pm, so it was a shower then out to a café bar Ryan’s for breakfast at the end of Princes Street. The waitress is grumpy and doesn’t seem to understand when I ask for plain toast without butter: she seems to think I want it burnt. Anyway the burnt cold toast arrives after about a 15 minute wait.

Today is the first really wet day so it’s a fight through the streets full of plastic macs and umbrellas. I make it to the Gilded Balloon looking for free tickets for shows as I’ve only three planned shows today. I’m offered a lot of free tickets but they’re all for 1pm, which is the exact time I’m going to the Louis Durra Trio.

It is while I’m wandering around the Gilded Balloon area that I bump into one of the actors from A Clockwork Orange (see Fringe blog day 2), he’s handing out flyers trying to get people to come and see the show (this is a Fringe gauntlet that every visitor has to endure).

I tell him how good I thought the show was and that I’ve been telling everyone I meet, he tells me that their first review is out and its five stars. It seems that this is becoming one of the shows to see at the Fringe.

1pm Louis Durra Trio at the Jazz Bar

I was attracted to this show because it is electronica played on acoustic instruments. The acclaimed Los Angeles jazz pianist Louis Durra uses the standard piano/bass/drums trio to deliver brilliant, stimulating and enjoyable deconstructions of jazz and pop tunes.

The band, bassist Brian Shiels and drummer Doug Hough, are magnificent. Louis is the typical cool jazz dude and it seems as though time stands still. This could be 3am and the only thing missing is the smoky atmosphere and after an hour, which seem too short, I stumble back upstairs into the afternoon daylight.

2.45pm Bec Hill Is More Afraid Of You Than You Are Of Her

I went back to the Gilded Balloon looking for free tickets when I met a girl handing out flyers for this show. Bec Hill is an Australian comedian in her mid-twenties and she has a BIG problem: she is afraid of audiences!

This one-woman show is very very funny, daft and delightful and her own homemade movable paper puppetry has to be seen to be believed. I loved it!

Considering she is afraid of us, she does a fantastic job of hiding it and she asked us not to give the end of the show away – so I won’t. Go see it for yourself.

5.30pm James Christopher – Bring Me the Head of Russell Kane

The next show on the agenda is by York comedian James Christopher. James is performing at PHB’s free fringe and also blogging in YorkMix about what it’s like coming to the Fringe from a performer’s perspective.

I arrived early for James show because I couldn’t stay until the end (as I had tickets for another show that was a trek across town). I want to tell James that I was leaving early because of that show and not because I thought his show was rubbish (well at this point I was hoping he wasn’t rubbish).

And he wasn’t, because James show is great. I laughed at most of his jokes. As is always the case, some material works better than others. I think James’s real strength is how he interacts with the audience; he’s really good at talking to individuals in a non-threatening way which is very funny, so more of this please!

6.40pm 1984 by EmpathEyes Theatre

The story of George Orwell’s 1984 is well known. Winston Smith has had enough of being watched by Big Brother, the Thought Police and the Doublespeak and breaks the rules by starting an affair with Julia and that’s when things start to go so wrong.

This production of the play has live music, multimedia projections and an amazing pulsating physicality from a brilliant young cast.

The set is minimal with just the actors and some orange boxes as we enter the dark and oppressive world of Oceania where every movement and emotion is captured, recorded and tracked. The highlight of the piece when Winston meets his fears in room 101 is terrifying.

This is another must see production and remember: Big Brother is watching you.

10.30pm Johnny O’Callaghan – Who’s Your Daddy?

This was a free ticket that I was given by a young lady handing out flyers for the show. We’d been swapping what we thought were really good shows at this year’s Fringe. She made a note on her phone of all the shows I’d recommended Boat Factory, Clockwork Orange, My Half Life and today’s suggestions.

I said to her that I wasn’t convinced about this show. The poster of the pregnant Johnny O’Callaghan is terrible and the true story is about his adventure to adopt a Ugandan orphan filled me with dread.

This was at one of the larger venues at the Fringe, seating about 200 people and when the audience filed in, I counted ten of us (I later found out that one was the director and another was a member of staff). But this was brilliant.

Johnny O’Callaghan’s storytelling ability is amazing; he took me back with him to Ugandan and the nine-month odyssey to adopt this boy. It’s a passionate and infectious story that as it unfolds I found myself having to keep saying that this is all true.

The only thing missing was a question and answer session with Johnny at the end because there was so much I wanted to ask.


One thought on “Fringe diary, day four: Burnt toast and pregnant men

  1. Glad you enjoyed the sounds! cheers, Louis. Disappointed to miss Bec Hill; really like her videos etc. Her show’s opposite mine!

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