Posts Tagged ‘ JUST THE TONIC ’


Just an Observation Saturday 25th August


So the last weekend of the Fringe 2012 is upon us –rather swiftly I must add-and as it will probably not be the one remembered as producing the greatest or most innovative art it may be more fondly remembered as the one where it didn’t rain everyday. In fact it has hardly rained at all and has been unseasonably warm and pleasant. It may also be the year referred to as the one where the whole thing never actually kicked in.

Several factors are being blamed for this not least the Olympics but personally I feel that people have had enough of half arsed shows at full scale prices. Comedy ,in particular, has had a hard year of it-many of the big names played to half full auditoriums and I was offered review tickets, usually refused, with a plus one if I wanted which I never bothered taking- and it is not before time in my opinion. Many of these names can be seen on television on an average weekend peddling the same tired act and stretching it out for an hour is usually beyond most of their capabilities. Therefore twenty quid for a ticket plus about a fiver each drink is just an unnecessary expense not many can afford at the moment. Also I may be old fashioned but I actually like my comedy to be funny and make me laugh rather than just wonder why everyone else finds it all so hysterically funny. Usually I find myself dismissing it as Pinot Grigio comedy for people who really need to get out more.

On the other hand there has been some outstanding dram on offer, Razing Eddie, Big Sean, Mikey and Me, Glory Dazed and Half a Person, My Life as Told by the Smiths are all worthy of your attention if you have time to spare and want to see a show this last weekend. If dance or physical theatre is more your bag then the new production of A Clockwork Orange or Knee Deep are simply stunning pieces of work. My personal favourite act of the Fringe has to be Andy and the Prostitutes who are playing their last two nights in the Phoenix bar in Broughton Street tonight and tomorrow plus an extra show at the Institute in Marchmont tonight at 10pm. Last weeks visit to the Institute precipitated one of the most brilliantly bonkers nights out I have had in ages and captured the true spirit of the Fringe.

Tomorrow the much discussed and controversial OWWO exhibition at Summerhall has an opening to which all are welcome. The exhibition has previously only open to women and due to this fact has been the subject of much debate. I won’t enter into that debate until after I have seen the work but even though I originally had my own misgivings about such a project but having seen the reaction-mostly hostile- I feel that the curator Sarah Wilson made a brave decision by forging ahead with it and it is an interesting concept.

Back to the Fringe then and other things I have noticed including the rudeness which seems to overtake most people’s personalities at this busy time of year. I have been pushed, shoved and moved out of the way by people who-mistakenly- thought they were more important. I have sat in front of someone who answered their phone during a show, carried on a conversation and then turned around to their neighbour and related the contents of that conversation to them. And if this year is to be remembered as the ‘Death of Comedy’ then I only hope next year will be the ‘Death of the Flyer’.

Why in this day and age are we still bombarded with these useless bits of cardboard so relentlessly? I was waiting in the Pleasance one afternoon-queuing seemed to consume at least one third of my time in August- when I was approached and offered a flyer which I refused but was then told they would just put it on the table in case I changed my mind. Within thirty seconds another employee came up with a binbag and asked if I wanted the flyer I had just refused. When I responded that no I didn’t she picked it up along with all the others which had been left lying and shoved it onto her refuse sack. A pretty pointless exercise-and total waste of money- to have someone follow someone else around clearing away flyers which people have already said they didn’t want.

Now that the Fringe is over and Edinburgh settles back into being itself there are still some worthwhile things going on. The Picasso exhibition at the Scottish Nationa Gallery is a definite must see and so much more enjoyable now that a large proportion of tourists have departed. Also this week there is the last Neu! Reekie night at the Scottish Book Trust and after this it will relocate to a new base in the burgeoning Summerhall complex. It is sure to be an emotional night as it is an event which has grown over its duration mainly through word of mouth and by attracting a coterie of individual and like minded souls.

As for my last weekend of the Fringe I have the Andy and The Prostitutes gig tonight followed by a showing of The Audition-both at The Institute. Then tomorrow the OWWO exhibition at Summerhall followed by two parties is on the agenda. After that it is a couple of days of decompression before preparing for the Autumn round of events. There is also the return of the X-Crutiating factor for me to express my weekly disgust and disdain for the lowest form of human life known to man in the entertainment industry. Bring it on!



Loretta Maine:Bipolar Just The Tonic at The Caves 6pm until August 26th


Taking to the stage the trailer trash country and western Courtney Love is resplendent in her raggedy, deshabille style. All black panda eyes, dragged through a hedge several times hair, and an expression which somehow incorporates a smile, grimace, scowl, sneer and stare all at the same time Pippa Evans’s alter ego makes a commanding stage presence. Accompanied by her band, Penis Envy, Maine launches into her opening number Bipolar withgusto andverve offering it up as a statement of intent. It is an impressive opening and as one of my favourite acts from the Fringe in 2010 all bodes well, on initial inspection, for this show.

Unfortunately the show does not maintain this momentum and is nowhere as nearly coherent as her last offering. It is still highly entertaining nevertheless and Evans knows how to hold the audience in her enthral. Usually by scaring the shit out of them but at other times by simply having a commanding stage presence and it is her presence which this show hinges on as occasionally her material does not meet the high bar she has set herself.

The usual subjects are grist for the mill however and these include her drinking, family issues, failed relationships and of course being bipolar which Maine suffered from long before it became trendy in celebrity circles. It is perhaps because she is treading water from her last show here that the material does not measure up as it has not evolved. Not that the trailer trash diva she is portraying was ever likely to evolve and those seeing her act for the first time can hardly fail to be impressed. Unfortunately anyone who saw her act before may be a little disappointed-as I was- as it seems a little tired in format. Loretta is still the same cheap white wine swilling foul mouthed vixen she always was but I can’t help feeling Evans could have dome more with the character rather than allow her to fall into cliché and repetition.

The songs are great however and ,as before, brilliantly titled’ ‘I am Sixteen if You Want Me to be’ and ‘White Wine Witches’ are just two such titles and a dance track about Barbie was a  welcome addition to the show. Evans has created a great character in Loretta Maine and if you have not seen her before then I recommend you catch the act. If you have seen her before then it is highly probable that you may be let down by this years model.