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NEWS & REVIEWS 2018

This page contains the news stories and reviews for The Free Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2018...  Check back on this page to find out what's happening, and which shows are the ones not-to-miss....

Click here to see the highest rated shows from the 2018 reviews

July 10, 2018 Buxton Fringe Website
Article about Phantasmagorical
Buxton Festival Review of Phantasmagorical

This show is true immersion into the shadowy world of Victorian gothic spiritualism with magical Spirit Guide, the impish and engaging Miss Sylvia Sceptre.
Wonderfully evocative storytelling prepares believer and sceptic alike for thrills and spine-tingling chills with dazzling magic, mind-reading and psychic demonstration.
Audience members don’t need to commune with the spirits to enjoy expertly performed magic and misdirection from a character created by one of the few female Magic Circle Members.
Trick or treat? Scene or séance? Magic or misdirection? Gift or curse? You decide. But whatever you do, challenge yourself to sit with the shadows in the company of Miss Sceptre before she heads to Edinburgh’s ghostly streets.

David Carlisle
Buxton Fringe, 9 July 2018
 Click Here

July 5, 2018 Deadline News
Article about Sabrina Chap: How to Be a Bad Girl
PREVIEW: Clean cut piano teacher’s descent into smoky-voiced burlesque queen
BREATHY burlesque tunes and a backstory to die for suggest that Sabrina Chap’s cabaret show could well be one of the standout hits of the Free Festival in 2018.

The provocatively titled How To Be A Bad Girl is less an attempt to shock and more a tongue-in-cheek description of how a clean-cut, classical piano teacher and wannabe choir teacher ended up singing in burlesque clubs instead.

Chap, the Illinois-born daughter of Bulgarian immigrants, insists she was a “good girl” while growing up. However, then she released Oompa!, her first album of ragtime-infused cabaret tunes.

The album proved a hit on the burlesque scene with performers stripping to her tunes across the world. As her promotional material puts it she was soon “singing filthy songs alongside world-famous burlesque acts, circus luminaries and cabaret starlets. Here, she learned that she had to be just as entertaining as a bouncing nipple tassel.”



Against that sort of competition she not only sharpened her songwriting and singing skills (she is described as the “love-child of Tom Waits and a whisky-soaked angel”) but also developed a razor sharp wit and sadistic humour.

With original tunes, story-telling, and a finely-honed stage presence, How to Be a Bad Girl chronicles Sabrina’s delightful descent from classical pianist into the world of smut, booze and burlesque in her own words. Click Here

July 3, 2018 FF News
Preview Season at the Three Sisters July 28th-31st
This year, we have a four day preview season of shows at the Three Sisters, every night July 28th to July 31st to give you an early taste of some Free Festival shows, and some shows from other venues around the Fringe before the main event kicks off.

All shows are Free with Donations - come along and check out this early taster of the Fringe!

Maggie Chamber


Sat 28th


6.30pm – Aiden Jones: 52 Days
http://freefestival.co.uk/show.asp?ShowID=5645
  (Comedy)


7.45pm – Sassy Von Sparkle: Tartan & Tassels
https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/tartan-and-tassels
(Burlesque)


9pm – Shaggers -
http://freefestival.co.uk/show.asp?ShowID=5891
(Comedy Showcase)


Sun 29th


6.30pm – Aiden Jones: 52 Days
http://freefestival.co.uk/show.asp?ShowID=5645
  (Comedy)


7.45pm –  Simon Caine: Sex, Drugs and other things I
Never Do

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/simon-caine-sex-drugs-and-other-things-i-never-do

(Comedy)


9pm – Shaggers -
http://freefestival.co.uk/show.asp?ShowID=5891
(Comedy Showcase)


Mon 30th 


6.30pm – James Nokise: Britain, Let’s talk about the
Golliwogs

http://freefestival.co.uk/show.asp?ShowID=5844
(Comedy)


7.45pm – Milo McCabe: 1001 Moments with Troy Hawke
http://freefestival.co.uk/show.asp?ShowID=5581
(Comedy)


9pm – Shaggers -
http://freefestival.co.uk/show.asp?ShowID=5891
(Comedy Showcase)


Tue 31st 


6.30pm –  Nathan Cassidy: If I Caused the Financial Crash
of 2008
https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/nathan-cassidy-if-i-caused-the-financial-crash-of-2008

(Comedy)


7.45pm – James Meehan: Gaz - https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/james-meehan-gaz (Comedy)


9pm – Shaggers -
http://freefestival.co.uk/show.asp?ShowID=5891
(Comedy Showcase)


 Click Here

June 29, 2018 The AM Show
Article about Welcome to Self Co
Ever had a boss you just don't get on with?
Ever had a boss you just don't seem to get along with?

Well, writer and producer, Hope Kennedy-Smith wants you to use that experience to better understand mental health..

She spoke to Duncan Garner. Click Here

June 25, 2018 GET TICKETS HERE
LONDON Free Festival showcase - 19 July Free Tickets available - Click Link below
A London showcase of some of the best comedians who will be performing at the Free Festival during Edinburgh Fringe 2018 - held at the Comedy Pub, and just like in Edinburgh the show is FREE ENTRY with a collection at the end. Save a train fare, and see some of the Fringe's best comedy in the capital!

The show features:

Daisy Earl
Scottish Comedian of the Year - “Impressive… an appealing vulnerability but awakening steeliness” - The Scotsman

Sunil Patel
Time Out's One to Watch, BBC New Comedy Awards finalist, Chortle Best Newcomer nominee

Russell Hicks
"A sharp wit. The pessimism of Jack Dee mixed with the deadpan aggression of Denis Leary.★★★★ " Broadway Baby

Masai Graham
Funniest Joke of the Edinburgh Fringe 2016 & UK Pun Champion
‘Flashes of proper genius’ - Chortle

Dave Chawner
'This is one comic you have to make the effort to see' - The Scottish Herald. As seen on BBC, ITV and Channel 4

LJ DA FUNK
"refreshingly bizarre beside the Fringe’s more down-to-earth comedians" - Three Weeks

and compere Nik Coppin
Charmingly hilarious host Nik Coppin’s comedy was effortless" Rip It Up, Adelaide Fringe

Free Tickets available in advance to guarantee entry. Click Here

June 18, 2018 Various
Article about Sabrina Chap: How to Be a Bad Girl
Collection of Reviews
 Click Here

June 8, 2018  Fringe Guru
Review of No Name Show
' A touching show. Comedy with a message.'
Stone is a multi-talented performer. She is engaging and confident in her stand-up; at home in a packed-out but intimate space, she builds instant connections with her audience.
The overall tone is of Radio 4 gone ever-so-slightly rogue.
Slipskin has its laugh-aloud moments, but it's also a gentle meditation, an appeal to remember the important things in life. It's an impressive hour from Stone – and a well-thought-through, subtle, salient example of comedy with a message. Click Here

June 7, 2018  Theater Jones
Review of Drunk Lion
Chris Davis' piece at the Dallas Solo Fest brilliantly dives deeper into humanity.
Chris Davis' piece at the Dallas Solo Fest brilliantly dives deeper into humanity.

by Teresa Marrero
published Thursday, June 7, 2018


Photo: John Pankratz
Chris Davis in Drunk Lion
Dallas — A celebration of solo performance is currently taking place at the Rosewood Center for Family Arts with a lineup of six artists in the fourth Dallas Solo Fest. One of these is Chris Davis, a Philadelphia native, who writes and performs his 55 minute solo piece, Drunk Lion, based on his three-year experience living with a Mexican host family in the lowlands city of Chiapa de Corzo, in the southernmost state of Chiapas.

He knew no Spanish upon arrival and his intent was to experience something vastly different from his hometown and to learn Spanish. And so this redheaded young gringo guy lands in one of the most remote areas of Mexico, bordering Guatemala. Chiapas is a state rich in natural resources but ranks among the poorest states in Mexico. It has had a long history of armed resistance to government corruption (take the neo Zapatista Movement of the 1990s) and abuse of indigenous Mayan peoples. Add to this a high incidence of machismo and alcoholism, and well, you get the picture.

Davis treads upon slippery ground in this piece, as his double personae, himself and the Mexican Drunken Lion, engage in a bilingual conversation in a lowdown cantina. (No worries, he repeats everything into English.) Playing a Mexican drunk (be he a metaphoric lion or not) can easily degenerate into unsavory cultural stereotypes, and to be honest, at first I cringed.

However, Davis does not fall into this pit, and the way he does it leads me to an analogy with another creature of the animal kingdom: the camel. While Chris begins portraying the Drunken Lion as, well, a drunken machista lion who says things like “a hole is a hole,” making an obvious reference to the female sexual orifice, he, as himself, then follows it with a sort of surreal deconstruction of the notion. That is chewed and regurgitated several times, each adding a more metaphysical layer of meaning until the hole becomes something that’s nothing short of an analogy for the meaning of life. In a hilarious twist of hyperbole, he does the same thing in the many Juanitas segments. Brilliant and hilarious. While the drunken lion is never anything more than this, Davis manages to not judge or moralize. He also frequently engages the audience in direct conversation.

Dressed down in a pair of torn jeans, gray high tops, and an orange T-shirt with “Jaguares” across his chest, his only props are a simple chair and three full bottles of Modelo beers, set up in a pyramid next to the chair. Directed by Mary Toumanen, a graduate of the Lecoq School of Movement Theatre in Paris, Davis’ economy of movement is one of the most interesting features of this performance. There is not a single clichéd movement in this piece, which is marked by high energy and wit. Click Here

June 2, 2018 City Beat Cincinnati
Article about Show Up
A tour-de-force of improvisation!
Marino’s sly introduction about having no idea what’s to come is the trope of this highly entertaining performance. Don’t be fooled: Marino knows exactly what he’s doing. He and those in attendance have fun, because it’s very much about audience participation as Marino assembles a laugh-out-loud solo performance. Remember “Mad Libs” in which a participant fills in blanks that result in a disjointed but amusing story? Marino has advanced this approach to a high art. Click Here

May 31, 2018  Broadway Baby
Review of Will Penswick: Dank Verse
Will Penswick: Dank Verse
he premise for Will Penswicks’ show is simple. Imagine the world’s most deluded poet, no doubt encouraged by his well meaning Granny, and a car wreck candidate at a Britain’s Got Talent audition and give them their own show. It works and it works well.

Laugh out loud funny

Will is already on stage as the room fills, apparently asleep. Audience interaction is almost instantaneous as he wakes up and ineptly propositions an attendee. Words tumble headlong from Will’s mouth. Obliquely connected, rhymes contrived and convoluted, the subjects bizarre, but the nonsense poems created are clever and humorous. But it’s the interruptions that bring the performance together. He creates a running commentary to his own show. A device that shows his character’s conceit, halting the poems stuttering flow to clarify or merely regroup before plunging back in. It could easily be tedious but we are seduced. We are invited to laugh with him and at him at the same time. It’s embarrassment humour without the cringe - no need to peek through fingertips. He interacts with almost everyone in the room (ok, not that hard today) as the blazing Bank Holiday weather has discouraged the masses, there are less than a dozen of us. When any of us are put in the spotlight a gentle teasing ensues, quickly turned around, with a shrug or a snort, to once again make himself the butt of the joke.

The poetry is the theme that gives the performance its raison d’etre but it’s the intrusions of his commentary, of audience participation and a series of highly contrived one-liners of dubious wit and wisdom that draw laughs and groans from us all. The topics for abuse centre on himself, an imaginary dissolute Tim Henman and the recent royal wedding. Many of the poems have a recurring theme. To me these mini tag lines feel like the leverage of the first successful joke at a relaxed dinner party which is returned to throughout the evening - it invites everyone to be an insider as well as being in on the joke. It’s intimate, we are no longer an audience but a gang. The treatment of these themes is so outlandish that no one could take offence, even Tim and the royal couple.

This is a lovely gentle show. The only jarring note is the unnecessary love hate relationship with a French maitre d’ penguin, not quite as bizarre as it’s sounds in the context of Will’s universe. Laugh out loud funny with many pleasing whimpers of approval throughout. Keep listening to all the encouragement of well meaning friends and relatives. Will has Got Talent. Click Here

May 31, 2018 Free Fest News
The 2018 Free Festial programme is launched!
Welcome to the 2018 free Fest programme! Our New programme of over 400 shows for the Edinburgh Fringe is now ready to view on this website Click Here

May 27, 2018  Broadway Baby
Review of LoveHard: Tales From The Elsewhere
LoveHard
The scene is set. It’s Christmas Eve at Drenchblood Heights, the home of the gentile Lady Titan (Genevieve-vieve!) and her rambunctious husband, Lord Titan, and they’re waiting for the invited guests of their murder mystery party to arrive. One by one, or sometimes two, the guests make their entrance and yet the stage, throughout this performance, is only ever occupied by two people...

Jacob Lovick and Tyler Harding (Edinburgh Fringe LST Sketch-Off Finalists, 2017) form the comedy writing and acting duo LoveHard and for the next 60 minutes in Murdered By Murder these gifted performers, alternately and continually, morph into ten (I may have lost count!) different characters without the help of any additional props, save for a waiting napkin draped over the butler’s forearm. Instead of costume changes, make-up, wigs or facial hair each new character is heralded by an uttered “whoosh”. There then follows a believable metamorphosis: a change to the accent or tone of their voice, an exaggerated facial expression (love the Butler’s gawp!) or a pretend prop, as per the cigarette à la Arabella Penne Arrabbiata (a vacuous, London ‘IT’ girl) and voilà! - a new character is formed.

The unfolding narrative is a pastiche of any Agatha Christie novel you’d care to mention (particularly the end reveal), with a hint of Priestley’s The Inspector Calls and a smattering of Cluedo thrown in for good measure. It’s also a send-up of English country life, with the vicarage inhabitants, the mayor and the aristocratic upper classes all taking a bashing from Lovick and Harding’s perceptive and insightful writing. Each character is caricatured to the max; Lord Titan, for example, strokes his rotund tummy, splutters and guffaws, and struggles to utter the word “purrr” (the poor) whilst sitting in his four-kitchened mansion with a lawn made out of Victorian children. He’s an odious country gent - each guest seems to have a reason to want him dead and, as the murder mystery game is about to begin, real life events take a sudden and dramatic turn. Drenchblood Heights is now no longer the setting for a Christmas Eve party, but a murder investigation. But who-done-it? Was it Shivers the Butler in the living room with the leaded pipe? Or Reverend Bell Sniff in the kitchen with the dagger? To solve the crime, we need to pay attention and follow the twists, turns, flashbacks and character reveals... it’s complicated stuff but very, very clever and highly entertaining!

This show is simply brilliant: in script, characterisation and delivery. These two young talents deserve all the praise they have had and will have. There’s a little bit of Fry and Laurie in their performance and, like their famous predecessors, Lovick and Harding’s partnership is comfortable, their writing intelligent and their timing impeccable. These actors seamlessly role-switch (it’s impressive), their memories are phenomenal (the script is complex and jam-packed) and their acting is, invariably, superb. A mention should also go to Nick Charleworth who ably provides appropriate background music that adds to the show’s drama and amusement. At the risk of repeating every other reviewer – this duo are a Fringe-watch-must and are surely destined for great, great things. Click Here

May 25, 2018  VOICE MAG Brighton
Review of Stealth Aspies - autistic people speak for the second year.
Stealth Aspies: Autistic people speak out.
Stealth Aspies: Autistic People Speak Out
by Sarah Hobden

Four brave adults stand for those who were afraid to.

Stealth Aspies: Autistic People Speak Out

Returning back to Werks Central, I was particularly excited to see this show. The name had caught my attention, but it also tackles a subject close to my heart as someone with autism.

Upon entering Studio 2, I noticed that the stage was occupied with the following: four actors, four chairs, a table with books & sealed CD’s on it, a clipboard, a microphone, and some corner speakers providing audio. The books & CDs were later sold as merchandise sales after the show.

The Stealth Aspies Company is the world’s first performance collective, and this show was comprised of Janine Booth, Alain English, Sarah Saeed and Paul Wady. Together, they told us the personal stories of autistic people, and how they received their diagnosis, how they lived their lives and how they eventually stopped pretending to be normal. Then the actors themselves shared their story.

The show provided humorous moments, poetry and spoken word that opened a window to these people’s lives.

To me, experiencing the show was a breath of fresh air, to know that I’m not alone in this world - that there are others out there like me. One of my personal goals is to raise awareness of my gift - and the actors here contributed to that goal. The audience was mostly quiet throughout the whole thing, but it was a good thing - that meant the audience listened and understood. Also, the stories and poems were told not just with speech, but with body language as well - further showing what life is like for those with the gift.

Overall, this was a great show to end my Fringe year and I recommend it to those who wish to understand more about my special gift. Click Here

May 24, 2018  The Reviews Hub
Review of Jon & Nath Like To Party
****½ Jon & Nath Like To Party @ Brighton Fringe
From the moment the duo leap on to the stage wearing white shirts and black trousers and ties, music blaring, the crowd know they are going to be in for a good time. Like an acid house version of the Blues Brothers, Jon Levene and Nathan Lang are going to teach us how to really live, for as the title of their show proclaims: Jon and Nath Like to Party.

Just as quickly as the party starts, it is halted by the comedian’s first character creations: the detectives (one senior and one junior as the superior ranked officer loves to point out). Here the audience are treated to some fabulous anarchically funny crowd interaction and a threat that they are all going to check all our ID’s to see if we are underage drinking.

As the night progresses the throng witness many more crazed personalities and sketches, each becoming more outrageous and gross. Crowd favourites include the creepy Scent of Jesus sketch (one of a trilogy), Lang’s impersonations of Hollywood legends and a pastiche of 1970’s horror film The Shining, with a fabulous, low budget, rivers of blood sequence. As well as a very interesting take on “trendy” deconstructed pizza that has the gathering howling with laughter and disgust.

Levene and Lang (one can’t help wondering why they didn’t call themselves this as it is much catchier) are great comedic performers with a willingness to do anything to produce a laugh. Lang’s strength is playing the put-upon whilst Levene turns up the heat. It is a combination that is hilariously stupid. If you like you humour cerebral this is not for you, but if you enjoy physical comedy and wanton silliness they are your men. Click Here

May 15, 2018 Brighton and Hove Independent
Article about No Name Show
Brighton Independent news - Sami Stone ponders nature and language...
 Click Here

May 14, 2018  Broadway Baby
Review of A Beginners Guide To Bondage
A Beginner's Guide to Bondage
Fifty Shades of Grey was the bestselling book that gripped the world with its stories about Mr Grey and his sexual appetite for pain and pleasure. I found no pleasure in the book and after several chapters gave up. So when I went to see the one-woman show A Beginners Guide to Bondage by Sara Mason I wondered if this would be more pleasurable.


Sara tells us of her real life experiences of her alter ego - the dominatrix Mistress Venetia

At the beginning, Sara tells us that the real life world of BDSM and bondage is nothing like the book Fifty Shades of Grey. She says you don’t have to be mentally damaged or rich, like the book's main character Mr Grey, to be into the lifestyle. Through PowerPoint and props, Sara tells us about the real life experiences of her alter ego - the dominatrix Mistress Venetia. Dressed in thigh high boots and PVC, she recreates the scenarios of her dungeon and talks about all kinds of clients she has encountered in a very amusing, but informative, style. One minute the audience are laughing and the next gasping with some of the things her clients like for sexual pleasure. Members of the audience volunteer to help Mistress Venetia and are led around like dogs on leads and others are spanked. This makes the rest of us roar with laughter. It’s all done safely and no one is really hurt. Via PowerPoint we learn about different types of sexual deviancy and the audience seemed to be listening intently and learning a lot.

Mistress Venetia is very high energy, but tells us spanking someone for hours can be exhausting.

The dark point of the show is when she tells us about a client who killed himself. This makes the atmosphere serious and silent, but quickly Mistress Venetia takes control again and makes us laugh with her ideas for new sex toys. Sara Mason has written a show that's informative, fun and a little bit naughty. She’s a natural storyteller.




Louisa Lord


By Louisa Lord
Joined 1969
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 Features 0
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 Reviews 6
 Readers 2,343

Louisa Lord has worked in the Entertainment business for over 20 years and has been seen on TV and Stage in Europe, UK and America. She is also a regular guest on talkRadio.

Reviews by Louisa Lord Click Here

May 6, 2018  Voice Magazine
Review of Struan Logan: Struan All Over the World
Struan Logan: Struan All Over the World Review by Isabella Colletta
Logan manages to quickly and smoothly segue from testing the comedic waters of the crowd into his main material on travel, which retains its bizarre and unique humour. From lamenting the troubles of sleeping in hostels as a snorer, to working in Australia and discovering the beauty of five-dollar domino’s pizza, he authentically captures the trials and triumphs of travelling and trying to expand as a comic in completely foreign countries. His travel anecdotes are particularly well prepared and structured. Every story, not matter how small, ties in seamlessly with his other material, and he manages to successfully incorporate audience interaction and improvise new anecdotes without losing direction or momentum. Whilst occasionally losing himself in commenting on audience reactions, for the most part he maintained his persona as a truly authentic comedian with a true passion for the stories he delivered.

A highly candid comedic voice, this newcomer to Brighton Fringe is certainly one to put on the list for a relaxed and entertaining hour of interesting and personalised comedy. Click Here

May 6, 2018 Chelsea Now
Article about Show Up, Kids!
His Show Will Only Go ‘Up’ If You Help
“I had this notion,” Marino recalled, “that ‘Show Up’ would be fun for kids, because, like the adult show, it puts them in charge of the content.” Marino noted that his own experience with social anxiety — a thematic undercurrent of the adult show, is also a component, albeit an age-appropriate one, of the family-friendly version. Youthful audience members, he said, will be contributing to the show’s content by sharing “things they are scared of.” The premise of the show, he told us, “is that the performer they came to see is not there, and I have to fill the time. To do that, I’m going to have to face my fear and create a show, using them as the inspiration for the settings and costumes and plot. So I get examples of their own issues. It starts off with things they’re afraid of or don’t like to do, and transforms into things they love or want to accomplish.” Click Here

May 5, 2018 Fringe Review
Article about No Name Show
Fringe Review's 'Top Ten Pick' at Brighton Fringe 2018
Comprising of that delightful balance of silly and clever.... Click Here

April 13, 2018 Love Midlands Theatre
Article about LoveHard: Tales From The Elsewhere
LoveHard: Tales From The Elsewhere review
Never before have I seen such a terrific parody of the classic 80’s sci-fi movie genre as comedy duo LoveHard have created in their new show Tales From The Elsewhere. Take all the classic examples such as E.T., The Goonies, Back To The Future, the recent phenomenon Stranger Things, strip them down to their nostalgic clichés and inject them with the energy, hilarity and genius of LoveHard; that is what this show is. And it is utterly, utterly brilliant.

Jacob Lovick and Tyler Harding look as if they have arrived at The Old Joint Stock by time travel, wearing funky 80’s jackets and headphones. And yes this duo consists of…well…two people, but they constantly and effortlessly swap through an entire suburban American town of individual characters in (literally) a whoosh. Distinctive voices and small mannerisms distinguish the cast members of this sci-fi story of a group of ordinary school kids, who discover some mysterious cassette tapes at a yard sale and inadvertently initiate a monster invasion putting their town in jeopardy. Jumping from the group of high school misfits, their crushes, bullies, moms, teachers as well as a pair of dim-witted undercover agents and cops to list but a few, the energy presented in this duo is so fast-paced and it is remarkable how they can remember each character’s certain aspects. Also their use of space around the small Old Joint Stock stage is effectively presented.

The humour relies on parodying the genre but also LoveHard parody themselves, especially at times breaking character and corpsing (particularly during a scene with a hunchbacked old man). Their one-liners and recurring gags are so clever, witty and to some extent reminiscent of the contrast of sarcasm and innocence of Rick and Morty as well as the humour of Leslie Neilson in Police Squad and Airplane!

What is also excellent about this show is that while lighting and sound effects are used, it is a very natural and organic form of theatre presented by this double act. It is simply the pure creative minds among two comedy geniuses that entertain and make us laugh for an evening. Wherever they are heading to next it is crucial that you grab yourself a ticket and witness LoveHard do what they so brilliantly do. I would rush to watch them parody any form of genre or tell any form of hilarious story as amazingly as they did in Tales From The Elsewhere. Click Here

March 26, 2018  Plays To See
Review of Will Penswick: Dank Verse
Dank Verse
Will Penswick bills himself as the worst performance poet in the world. Don’t believe him – this is a seriously funny show and he is a very sharp performer. As we enter the theatre, Penswick is already on stage, perched on a stool, looking worried – perhaps this is explained by the Newcastle Northern Rock football shirt he is wearing under his jacket. He begins with a classic bit of “haven’t we met somewhere before” flirting with a young woman in the front row who he returns to flirt with a couple of times later in the show. He then launches into the heart of his performance which is structured around a series of poems, some of them absurd and rambling, some of them very clever, all incorporating word play that deserves a second hearing. And the witty way the poems are linked completes the package.

He has some themes that he returns to – one of them being an unhealthy interest in the love lives of Tim Henman and Maria Sharapova. He has a very funny poem about inter-railing with some caustic comments about the cities he visited. He even manages to incorporate some sideways swipes at Harry and Meghan. And whenever his ego threatens to get the better of him, he always finds a way to puncture his own bubble. One of his most endearing qualities is the way he relates to the members of the audience he draws into his world – if he offers you a bell to ring, you should definitely take it.

The programme blurb tells us that Dank Verse is the result of Will playing around with silly poems that he has been writing since graduating from Trinity College, Dublin and performing around the London comedy scene. It also tells us that the show will be moving on to Brighton and Edinburgh – if you can see it at either of those festivals you will be in for a comic treat. Click Here

March 26, 2018  Plays To See
Review of Will Penswick: Dank Verse
Dank Verse
Will Penswick bills himself as the worst performance poet in the world. Don’t believe him – this is a seriously funny show and he is a very sharp performer. As we enter the theatre, Penswick is already on stage, perched on a stool, looking worried – perhaps this is explained by the Newcastle Northern Rock football shirt he is wearing under his jacket. He begins with a classic bit of “haven’t we met somewhere before” flirting with a young woman in the front row who he returns to flirt with a couple of times later in the show. He then launches into the heart of his performance which is structured around a series of poems, some of them absurd and rambling, some of them very clever, all incorporating word play that deserves a second hearing. And the witty way the poems are linked completes the package.

He has some themes that he returns to – one of them being an unhealthy interest in the love lives of Tim Henman and Maria Sharapova. He has a very funny poem about inter-railing with some caustic comments about the cities he visited. He even manages to incorporate some sideways swipes at Harry and Meghan. And whenever his ego threatens to get the better of him, he always finds a way to puncture his own bubble. One of his most endearing qualities is the way he relates to the members of the audience he draws into his world – if he offers you a bell to ring, you should definitely take it.

The programme blurb tells us that Dank Verse is the result of Will playing around with silly poems that he has been writing since graduating from Trinity College, Dublin and performing around the London comedy scene. It also tells us that the show will be moving on to Brighton and Edinburgh – if you can see it at either of those festivals you will be in for a comic treat. Click Here

March 26, 2018 Plays To See
Article about Will Penswick: Dank Verse
Dank Verse
Will Penswick bills himself as the worst performance poet in the world. Don’t believe him – this is a seriously funny show and he is a very sharp performer. As we enter the theatre, Penswick is already on stage, perched on a stool, looking worried – perhaps this is explained by the Newcastle Northern Rock football shirt he is wearing under his jacket. He begins with a classic bit of “haven’t we met somewhere before” flirting with a young woman in the front row who he returns to flirt with a couple of times later in the show. He then launches into the heart of his performance which is structured around a series of poems, some of them absurd and rambling, some of them very clever, all incorporating word play that deserves a second hearing. And the witty way the poems are linked completes the package.

He has some themes that he returns to – one of them being an unhealthy interest in the love lives of Tim Henman and Maria Sharapova. He has a very funny poem about inter-railing with some caustic comments about the cities he visited. He even manages to incorporate some sideways swipes at Harry and Meghan. And whenever his ego threatens to get the better of him, he always finds a way to puncture his own bubble. One of his most endearing qualities is the way he relates to the members of the audience he draws into his world – if he offers you a bell to ring, you should definitely take it.

The programme blurb tells us that Dank Verse is the result of Will playing around with silly poems that he has been writing since graduating from Trinity College, Dublin and performing around the London comedy scene. It also tells us that the show will be moving on to Brighton and Edinburgh – if you can see it at either of those festivals you will be in for a comic treat. Click Here

March 26, 2018  Plays To See
Review of Will Penswick: Dank Verse
Dank Verse
Will Penswick bills himself as the worst performance poet in the world. Don’t believe him – this is a seriously funny show and he is a very sharp performer. As we enter the theatre, Penswick is already on stage, perched on a stool, looking worried – perhaps this is explained by the Newcastle Northern Rock football shirt he is wearing under his jacket. He begins with a classic bit of “haven’t we met somewhere before” flirting with a young woman in the front row who he returns to flirt with a couple of times later in the show. He then launches into the heart of his performance which is structured around a series of poems, some of them absurd and rambling, some of them very clever, all incorporating word play that deserves a second hearing. And the witty way the poems are linked completes the package.

He has some themes that he returns to – one of them being an unhealthy interest in the love lives of Tim Henman and Maria Sharapova. He has a very funny poem about inter-railing with some caustic comments about the cities he visited. He even manages to incorporate some sideways swipes at Harry and Meghan. And whenever his ego threatens to get the better of him, he always finds a way to puncture his own bubble. One of his most endearing qualities is the way he relates to the members of the audience he draws into his world – if he offers you a bell to ring, you should definitely take it.

The programme blurb tells us that Dank Verse is the result of Will playing around with silly poems that he has been writing since graduating from Trinity College, Dublin and performing around the London comedy scene. It also tells us that the show will be moving on to Brighton and Edinburgh – if you can see it at either of those festivals you will be in for a comic treat. Click Here

March 20, 2018 The Dominion Post
Article about Charmian Hughes - Bra Trek
NZ Fringe Festival: Bra Trek, The Race: Must-see tales of bras and homelessness
Charmian Hughes – Bra Trek
Created and performed by Charmian Hughes
The Race
The Hobson Street Theatre Company, directors Bronwyn Bent and Borni Te Rongopai Tukiwhaho
NZ Fringe Festival, Bats Theatre, until March 21.
Another stand-up comedian, Charmian Hughes, performs at Bats this week, fortunately somewhat unique and different from the normal run-of-the mill comedians usually seen on stage these days.
Having successfully entertained Wellington audiences last year with Charmian Hughes – Soixante Mirth, her return show this year – Bra Trek continues with witty, insightful stories about herself that also shine a light on many social issues of today.
Beginning with reference to our own iconic fence of bras down in Cardrona, Hughes continues on a trek of how we as humans are having more and more trouble "fitting in" and, on a personal level, finding a bra that fits.
READ MORE: Wellington's NZ Fringe Festival: The Top 10 acts you need to see this year
She then proceeds to relate stories about herself growing up, dealing with family and friends, not too dissimilar to her stories last year, yet from completely different angles.
And the uniqueness of her stories is that they offer intelligent, pithy comments that often have an underlying ring of truth to them, but always with a very funny, upbeat, punchline.
A confident performer, Hughes works her audience with ease, making her well worth watching. Click Here

March 20, 2018 The Dominion Post
Article about Charmian Hughes - Bra Trek
Big Bra Hit Down Under
Another stand-up comedian, Charmian Hughes, performs at Bats this week, fortunately somewhat unique and different from the normal run-of-the mill comedians usually seen on stage these days.
Having successfully entertained Wellington audiences last year with Charmian Hughes – Soixante Mirth, her return show this year – Bra Trek continues with witty, insightful stories about herself that also shine a light on many social issues of today.
Beginning with reference to our own iconic fence of bras down in Cardrona, Hughes continues on a trek of how we as humans are having more and more trouble "fitting in" and, on a personal level, finding a bra that fits.
READ MORE: Wellington's NZ Fringe Festival: The Top 10 acts you need to see this year
She then proceeds to relate stories about herself growing up, dealing with family and friends, not too dissimilar to her stories last year, yet from completely different angles.
And the uniqueness of her stories is that they offer intelligent, pithy comments that often have an underlying ring of truth to them, but always with a very funny, upbeat, punchline.
A confident performer, Hughes works her audience with ease, making her well worth watching. Click Here

March 13, 2018  The Music
Review of Struan Logan: Struan All Over the World
The Music Review Roundup 4: Fringe World
Although Struan All Over The World is Struan Logan’s debut at Perth Fringe, this Scottish comedian is no stranger to Australia, having travelled across the country on a working holiday visa a couple of years ago. He relays his backpacker experiences, like staying in hostels and working in hospitality and gives us an outsider’s perspective on things we take for granted. His also tells us about hilarious interactions with different cultures and religions while performing in Malaysia, Singapore and Hong Kong. Despite the less than optimal conditions in a sauna of a room, Logan keeps the audience engaged and laughing throughout. Logan is adorably goofy and his story relatable and light-hearted. If this show doesn’t make you want to go backpacking, you’re probably dead inside. Click Here

March 8, 2018  The Clothesline
Review of The Travellin' Man Showcase
Aidan Jones – The Abersham Flat: Living With A Con Man For A Flat Mate – Adelaide Fringe Review
 Click Here

March 8, 2018  Adelaide Advertiser
Review of Struan Logan: Struan All Over the World
Adelaide Fringe Review 2018: Struan All Over The World
TRAVELLING through various countries means you need to do your research on different cultures, but for comedian Struan Logan it meant he had to make sure his comedy was actually relatable without just being ignorantly offensive and stereotypical.

A humble Scotsman, he's not afraid to talk about comedy shows that have gone terribly and self-righteous hipster comedians he's encountered during his travels.

This honest account of the highs and lows of being a comedian will have you cackling and his relaxed demeanour makes for a highly enjoyable show. Click Here

March 5, 2018 Craccum University of Auckland Student Magazine
Article about Welcome to Self Co
Welcome to Self Co. THEATRE REVIEW BY MILLY SHEED
Welcome to Self Co.
THEATRE REVIEW BY MILLY SHEED
Mental illness is an intricately difficult subject
to broach when devising a performance. Even
more so, when introducing comedy onto the
stage. Hope Kennedy-Smith smartly manages
both in her production of Welcome to Self Co.
This play expresses the brutal rigidity of
mental illness. It presents the monotonous
reality of the corporate workplace, balanced
cleverly with the agility of comedy. We see
protagonist, Louise, willingly plunge into the
servitude of mental instability, and come to
true defiance of its grip over her life.
The play provides a fresh perspective of
mental illness and its function. Kennedy-Smith
does an incredible job of subverting
our ‘standard’ perception of mental illness
as a black-and-white issue, and muses
that mental illness is more a societal burden,
much like a job, rather than a “choice”.
By personifying Louise’s struggle with mental
illness as a “shitty office job”, the reality
of mental illness, from a seed to a raging
fire, is laid bear. I was forced to recognise
the impact of mental illness, in a way both
relatable and highly intriguing. Boldly, the
play establishes mental illness, and our
ability to carry on daily life as best we can,
are inextricable concepts.
Comedy not only made this play attractive
and, lets face it, light-hearted in the face of
extremely heavy undertones, but created an
intelligent irony. Millennials are not unknown
for the ability to mask traumatisation with
laughter. This play magnifies this ideology,
tenfold. A stark juxtaposition throughout,
between gags and brazen theatricality, and
mental disease; made this play sobering
relatable; a slight nod towards a societal need
for the responsibility of mental illness.
Kennedy-Smith was not ashamed to be
vulnerable in the presence of onlookers.
Capturing my attention whole-heartedly,
she beautifully presented the layers and
complexities of mental illness. With very few
props or set design: Kennedy-Smith creates
some serious belly-laughs, as well as confronts
us with the reality of mental illness, in a
society fraught with mental labour.
Enjoy your “on-boarding.” Click Here

March 5, 2018  Broadway Baby
Review of Justin Matson: Fatter Than You Think
Justin Matson: Fatter Than You Think
Justin Matson: Fatter Than You Think: 4 star review by Frodo Allan

Many stand-up comedians like to be super punchy in their comedy. It’s all about the laughs per minute and working the audience to hone their wit and establish their prowess as masters of comedy. Justin Matson has a different approach. His comedy is paced a little slower with an almost storytelling vibe that doesn’t bring as many big laughs, but keeps you smiling and chuckling throughout this very enjoyable hour of purposefully awkward self-deprecation and confessional with a few great one-liners.

His likeable persona makes it even funnier

Telling us tales of being shamed at the gym, working as an intern, and his on-going problems with rollercoasters, Matson is very easy to warm to and an hour in his company goes by pretty fast. His demeanour makes him easy to listen to and the confessional element of his comedy never feels maudlin or self-serving; he’s just telling us of his experiences and making it funny whilst doing so. Indeed, his likeable persona makes it even funnier when he occasionally lets the jokes go to a dark place before shutting himself down and getting back on track. Click Here

March 1, 2018 Internal eBulletin Mental Health Foundation New Zealand
Article about Welcome to Self Co
Review: Welcome to Self Co. Nicola Corner, Mental Health Foundation
In my experience, some of the best plays are the ones that are open to interpretation. They move us beyond the theatre to the discussion afterwards, and to new perspectives.
I found Welcome to Self Co to be one of those shows. Inventive, witty and satirical, the play centres on Louise, a young woman who, after being hounded by an inner voice telling her she “must be productive”, finds herself a new office job. As the audience soon discovers, however, this is not just any job. The job interview swears a commitment to a life of stress and Louise’s first assigned task is to give herself a panic attack. Induction then involves practicing selling “existential dread” to a client. The positions description, condescendingly narrated by her manager, reads:
Do you have what it takes to become our next DEPRESSION SUPERSTAR? We are looking for a super inefficient, dedicated team member to join our established brand. Our ideal candidate will be an anxious, stressed out individual with excellent self-loathing and low motivational skills, pays high attention to the negative details and a willingness to waste their time and give up on their dreams and goals.
In brilliantly sardonic fashion, the play then follows Louise as she sells depression packages to “Welcome to Self Co clients”, all while dealing with an overbearing manager whose entire job appears to be predicated on tearing down any feelings of enjoyment, confidence or self-worth. Though this sounds heavy, the play stays away from being overly serious, revealing its depth through entertaining, over the top characters and clever satire.
Yet, as anyone that has had a draconian boss or felt consumed by the pressures of working life can relate to, the extreme scenario at Welcome to Self Co could easily be read as a caricature of the strain that working life can sometimes exert over our mental health. Louise loses touch with her friends, obsesses over work after hours and is called in for menial tasks over the weekend. When her manager suggests Louise take a break and go on holiday, she is told to fill it with drugs and alcohol. In a context of growing workplace stress, it’s incisive commentary.
Yet, another closely linked interpretation that a friend and I discussed after the show explored the notion of mental illness as the full-time job in and of itself. Phrases like “the daily grind” and the “treadmill” have a traditional workplace association, yet the metaphors could easily carry across to the work that is put into managing a condition like depression. Just like a treadmill, there can be the feeling of being trapped on a plane that you can’t seem to get off, of being sapped of your physical and mental energy, of constantly pushing to regain control. And the experience of having to do this, day after day, can feel exactly like a “daily grind”. In this sense, the play could be read as an exploration into the “work” of mental illness, with the packages that Louise is selling to clients day in and day out really being sold to herself. A striking example of this in the play was reflected in a scene where Louise is asked to sort through files, grouped according to their particular affliction: self- loathing, existential dread, self-destructive behaviour. Through the mundane symbolism of sorting files, the scene felt like a poignant reflection of how mental illness is not always punctuated by dramatic events, but rather can also manifest in the same thoughts and habits circulating day by day, to the point of almost numbing routine.
It’s these complexities that make Welcome to Self Co so important. It’s funny for sure, and it’s superbly acted, but more importantly it opens up dialogue on a much needed conversation. It’s worth seeing - whatever your interpretation may be. Click Here

February 25, 2018  GLAM Adelaide
Review of Justin Matson: Fatter Than You Think
Fringe Review: Justin Matson – Fatter Than You Think
Fringe Review: Justin Matson – Fatter Than You Think
Brian Godfrey | February 25, 2018

Presented by Justin Matson
Reviewed 24 Feb 2018

This is American comedian Justin Matson’s first visit to Australia and the Adelaide Fringe – hopefully, it’s not the last.

Matson is a mild-mannered comic who can still deliver big laughs as well as any of the more gritty in-your-face comedians. But his is a nice, pleasant persona. As soon as he walks out, you know that this is a guy you are going to like – and he doesn’t disappoint. Think Ray Romano, but with a smile.

Subjects such as suicide, temping and being Gay are all covered, with a huge emphasis on being fat (although we Aussies would probably call him ‘cuddly’). But Matson has a beautiful self-deprecating sense of humour about it all that seems to make it all light, bright and very funny. Don’t worry, there is a happy ending.

This is a very funny and pleasant way to finish up a night of frantic Fringeing.

Reviewed by Brian Godfrey
Twitter: @briangods

Rating out of 5: 4.5

Venue: Basem3nt Studio at Basem3nt

Season: Wed to Sat 28 Feb – 17 March

Duration: 50 min

Tickets: Full Price: $25.00 Concession: $22.00 BankSA Customer: $19.50 Group 6+: $20.00

Bookings: https://adelaidefringe.com.au/fringetix/justin-matson-fatter-than-you-think-af2018 Click Here

February 22, 2018  Theatrey Stuff
Review of Welcome to Self Co
Review: Welcome to Self Co (Tiny Theatre Garnet Station)
Corporate humour is, for the most part, fairly safe ground. It is an area to which most people can drag up unpleasant memories about being a mouse in a wheel to relate to the jokes about them. The only risk when making a sketch show of corporate humour is to play it too safe and tell jokes and create scenarios we have seen a million times before, or else don't deliver on the physical comedy as much as necessary to truly mock the office work place., for example see "Enterprise" at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2017. "Welcome to Self Co." introduces us to Louise, who has just landed her "dream job" working for Self Co., working hard to produce and sell depression and poor life choices to herself and others.

The sketches comprise of fast and sharp comedy where Louise's life gets more and more down hill as she is gradually lumbered with being over worked, underpaid, and underappreciated, all delivered in painful corporate lingo. In doing so the show spoke about a serious issue without being too serious in delivery, coming across almost as forgiving for anyone in the audience going through similar emotions caused by similar reasons.



Written by and starring Hope Kennedy-Smith, each joke isolated is only as good as its delivery. Some jokes go on for long stretches of time, for example when being interviewed for her new job Louise is asked if she is willing to "binge eat", "work long hours", give up on her "hopes, dreams and aspirations", the list goes on and on. Even so, jokes like this remain funny throughout on the back of the performances of Kennedy-Smith and the supporting cast - Michaela Spratt as the Boss and Titiana Daniels as Louise's friend and co-worker. Spratt is especially entertaining through her incredibly expressive face portraying her eternal disgust.



There is not a great deal of variety in the performance - most jokes are one liners ("Then go down to the paranoia department - don't ask anyone anything I don't trust them") and are delivered at one hundred miles per hour, but it has a satisfyingly consistent pace and it thoroughly entertaining for it. You will most likely recognise some aspect of Louise's predicament in your own life, so whether you're looking for a little relief in the black comedy of office-induced depression, or just a chuckle at the lunacy of the corporate world, "Welcome to Self Co." is definitely worth seeing. Four stars.



Whispers from the crowd:

"I thought it was really good - it's a challenging subject, but it could apply to anyone, which is really cool." Click Here

February 21, 2018 Seriously Journal
Article about Welcome to Self Co
Laughing in the Dark
Writer and actor Hope Kennedy-Smith insists that her play Welcome to Self Co. is relatively light-hearted, considering it focuses entirely on the most suffocating aspects of dealing with depression and anxiety.

Desperate for work, two women (played by Hope and first-time performer Tatiana Daniels) take jobs at Self Co., where their boss (Michaela Spratt) is a nightmarish, Miss Trunchbull-esque embodiment of the worst aspects of both mental illness and office life.

Directed by Patrick Graham, the play draws on the absurdism of Eugène Ionesco’s Rhinoceros and is heavily influenced by the work of controversial writer Johann Hari. His book Lost Connections makes a case that there needs to be far more of a focus on the social causes of mental illness — letting people gain a sense of meaning and belonging, for example.

“He was quoting these stats from America in a recent Gallup poll that said only 13 percent of people in America love their jobs, 24 percent of people absolutely hate it, and the other 63 percent of people are just doing it because they have to,” Hope says.

“If you think about that, the majority of people’s waking life is spent at work, rather than something you really enjoy, and most jobs are about making someone else money at the end of the day so they can have more luxuries.”

This makes Hope’s own political leanings fairly clear, but she’s worked hard to make the play challenging for even the most liberal audiences.

“You always want to make the audience think for themselves,” she says. “You always want to make it subtle and get both sides as well.”

“It’s always good to make the audience a bit uncomfortable.”

The confronting play moves at lightning speed, and is based on the idea that having depression and anxiety to having a full-time job, while also delving into “how workplaces can be quite toxic”.

Hope says that even if the audience hasn’t experienced mental illness themselves, it remains relatable as “everyone’s had a boss they hate”.

“You can be really lucky with certain jobs where people are really good about mental health things and you can talk about your problems and your work is like, ‘It’s fine, you’re depressed, you need to take time off’. But I think the majority of people don’t work in workplaces where they can do that,” she says.

“It’s quite often that, depending on how high up you get, you get infantilised a lot and people who have shifts that are very very stringent — you only get fifteen minutes for a break and you have no control over your work either. That causes people so much stress and can be really dehumanising.”

“It also seems to be a thing that people who are bullies seem to be quite perfect for management roles.”

While the laughs flowed throughout the show at Garnet Station, as we left the theatre, I heard people saying it felt strange to laugh at, and therefore identify with, the play's darkest humour in the company of strangers, or even friends.

My friend pointed out it’s exactly the kind of jokes you'd usually give a quiet like to on social media: you can know that others have felt the same sense of self-loathing, or "existential dread", but you don't actually have to discuss it with anyone.

Hope says she finds shows and podcasts that deal with mental illness through comedy to be “empowering” and loves hearing creative people share experiences she can identify with.

She cites US podcast The Hilarious World of Depression as an influence, as well as the 90s comedy Office Space for its portrayal of menial work.

“When you’re down and depressed or anxious being able to laugh at your own misery is completely sometimes the only thing that can get you through,” she says.

“I have a really great best friend and we do that all the time. We send each other 15 minute updates on our mental health all day long and they’re always funny and it’s good having someone to laugh with about the absurdity of the situation.”

“I think laughing at depression is a really good way of addressing it: I’ve had lots of people who have seen the show and said it’s an insight into what it’s like for people, even if they haven’t experienced depression or anxiety,” she says.

“But it’s in a comedic way because nobody wants to go and be depressed in a theatre.”

Hope says there’s a potential it will go on to be used as a resource in schools and she’s also applied for the Edinburgh Free Fringe.

Personally, she says the process of creating and acting in Welcome to Self Co. has been incredibly cathartic and that she’s been “so much healthier since doing it”.

“I’ve been finding it’s a really great process being able to somehow capitalise on my mental health to beat it in a way.”

“It’s a way in my head to be able to manage it and control it, writing it all down and forming it into something has worked really, really well… I wish lots of other people could find ways to do things like that.” Click Here

February 4, 2018 Redbrick
Article about Wings
Happenchance Theatre’s ‘Wings’ at the Old Joint Stock Theatre
Happenchance Theatre Company is a small body of actors, improvisers and comedians, extending their graduate days at the University of Birmingham together in their experimental theatre company based in Birmingham. Currently consisting of 12 members, and seeking to grow more, the young company are testing the waters with new spaces, genres and new twists every night in their performance. Nothing is ever done exactly the same way twice.

‘Wings’ is a charming short play injected with comedy, the subtleties of romance and just generally the intention to have a good night with the audience. Although smaller-budget, Happenchance utilise the bare minimum and the crucial aspect of audience attentiveness to unfold the story of two comedic writers in a relationship, Eva and James. The seamless two-man show/sketch toys with the boundaries of human vulnerability in the arts and using oneself or others as a muse for ridicule, yet the most progressive element of the play’s narrative are the peaks and troughs in the two comedians’ relationship, challenging gendered dynamics, humility and sacrifice, all within the confines of this hour-long comedy sketch.

What makes this short-play innovative and witty is the lack of distinction between the sketches the character Eva directed at her audience, and her intentional interaction with the present audience and James. At the beginning of the play, Eva’s breaking of the fourth wall to go into the tech box was hard to distinguish as either intentional or improvised, due to the nature of Vita Fox’s performance and the black box theatre; however, this may be part of the ambiguity and improvised nature of Happenchance that the audience learn to love. The unpredictability of the company and its production make Happenchance an exciting company to watch for future creations.

The proxemics of the Old Joint Stock Theatre’s auditorium, seating approximately 50 people, instantly creates an intimacy and relaxed dynamic between audience and actors. This stage set-up coincides perfectly with the improvised and relaxed nature of the comedy play, physically asking the audience to be patient and cooperative with whatever innovation the actors decide to pursue on the night. The comedic and touching relationship, portrayed with the bare minimum of a stand-up mic and a mock bottle of wine, is so charming and humble that one cannot help but smile at the slowly disintegrating yet hilarious relationship of James and Eva. There is a brief touching on the role of feminism and gender in comedy and the creative industry, which is very fitting to the narrative of a successful female comedian and the sensitivities of a male performer also. The highlighting of masculine vulnerability was a relevant social comment on our predominantly male comedic landscape today.

Happenchance, despite being new and slightly unpolished in the extent of their improvisation, have created an innovative and charming piece that guarantees the audience laughs and silliness, which is sometimes exactly what the doctor ordered. Click Here

February 4, 2018 

January 22, 2018 Metro
Article about Milo McCabe: 1001 Moments with Troy Hawke!
Comedian helps catch 'thief' during street performance
 Click Here

January 22, 2018 Metro
Article about Milo McCabe: 1001 Moments with Troy Hawke!
Comedian helps catch 'thief' during street performance
 Click Here

November 17, 2017 PragueBarsClubs
Article about It's a Joke Life
Joke Life in Prague - Interview
James and Kirthy will not deny the universal fact that ‘Life is hard’. These two comedians have dealt with tough situations in love life, thug life, high life, street life, married life, corporate life and cultural life but have now finally found some form of redemption in ‘Joke Life’. It’s this mockery of their lives that forges the uncanny alliance which creates this unique stand-up comedy show.

Crappy late night dinners, cheap hotels, and complicated relationships are some of the key perks/punishments of living the ‘Joke Life’, all worth it as long as you guys are laughing.

Ahead of their gig Velvet Comedy Presents: Joke Life tomorrow at The ACT Prague we caught up with stand up comedians James Rankin & Kirthy Iyer to find out a little bit more about them and their project.

So… A very open question… Tell us about yourselves?

James: Well I’m the son of a painter, named Peter who…

Kirthy: …can’t answer simple questions.

James: And hates being interrupted.

Kirthy: By a foreigner.

James: Who can’t pronounce the words ‘wealthy’ or ‘water’ properly.

Kirthy: Try again!

James: I’m Australian, I’m 32 years old. I now live in Berlin, I love Europe! I’ve done different studies and projects in my life but comedy has always been that thing I was really good at you know? That I felt at home with. Even as a kid, I loved making people laugh. There’s magic in that moment. I would get out of trouble with it. Meet girls with it, avoid bullies with it. Now, I’m traveling around Europe with it, seeing new places and meeting new people. Talking with you Andrew, you know, what more do you want from life? 🙂

Kirthy: I’m an Indian born, Germany-resident, English-speaking comedian. So, my life is a joke! Really! What else can I tell you? Well, from childhood, I have been a creative individual. OK, that sounded pretentious. Let me rephrase. Maybe we are all born creative. That sounded equally pretentious. Anyways, as a kid, I loved comics and did drawing most of the time. I transitioned to animation early on and got into the video-games industry. I have been doing Stand-up comedy for the last 7 years, I love storytelling, it doesn’t matter what medium. And I love food. Most people, when they get super-rich, they want a Ferrari. Not me. When I get that wealthy, I want a personal chef, trained in all sorts of cuisines. Just thinking about it makes me hungry!

Kirthy. How did you end up in Frankfurt via Canada?

Kirthy: I did a diploma in 3D Animation and Visual Effects at Vancouver Film School. Then, after graduating, I got a job offer from one of the biggest computer games companies in Germany – Crytek. I had never heard of them either, but my brother had. So, he convinced me to take the job, immediately!

What can you tell us about the German sense of humour?

Kirthy: Being married to a German, and slowly being devoured by the German lifestyle, I have started to understand their sense of humor. It is dark and mostly hidden deep within the souls of German folk.

James: Not the only thing.

Kirthy: They find non-functioning foreigners funny but the minute they see a German not operating within reasonable German standards, they press the panic button.

James: Also, young German audiences are definitely sharing the same sense of humor as the rest of the world. A lot of the audiences we play to are from everywhere so it’s always a mixed crowd with a great vibe.

What’s the English comedy scene like in Germany?

Kirthy: The English comedy scene is thriving in Germany. You get the opportunity to learn the ropes of the trade from the bottom and this also gives you a safe platform to build your comedy. In established scenes outside Germany, you don’t get that many chances to take a lot of risks and discover what works best for you.

James: That’s true. I live in Berlin and the scene is quite good there. I mean it was one of the deciding factors in choosing Berlin, over other European cities… that and the hard drugs and sex clubs. No, I had performed there in the past and spoke to a few people in the Berlin scene who said it was thriving. They were right. There are nearly two English shows per night at the moment. And the mixed expat crowds are so up for the shows, it’s a real treat.

James. Where have you performed in Europe and where did you find the best audience?

James: I’ve been lucky to perform in a lot of different places actually. I mean as an Australian, everything is so close and within reach in Europe. I’ve performed in Spain, London, Amsterdam, and the Czech Republic. Kirthy and I also did our show in Poland and in Edinburgh as part of the festival.

Have you performed in the Czech Republic before?

Kirthy: Sexually, yes. Comedy-wise, no, this is my first time.

James: Good answer. I’ve performed in Prague once before actually, as part of the Berlin show Cosmic Comedy, who did a showcase at the Czech Inn. It was a lot of fun actually so I’m looking forward to getting on stage again.

What is JokeWorks and how did it come about?

James: Well I was producing shows in Berlin under the banner Rankin Comedy and Kirthy was producing shows under SUP Comedy. As we begin to work together more we realised it was a pain to market both of us separately so we created JokeWorks for all our joint projects, such as the shows we are doing now.

SUP Comedy still operates and Rankin Comedy still produces shows in Berlin.

What’s the story behind SUP Comedy?

Kirthy: Well, I wanted to try stand-up comedy in Frankfurt but there were no open-mic nights or anything. So, I started an open-mic out of necessity. This way I could perform and build my own comedy. Slowly, it grew into a community and then it became a very popular show. Over the last 2 years, Sup Comedy has been providing amazing and entertaining shows in which local and international comedians from all over the world delight the audience with quality performances.

Who’s your favourite comedian?

James: Well besides the favourites, Louis CK, Bill Burr, and Seinfeld. I always loved Bill Hicks, for just saying it like it is. Not only do you laugh but you learn and become ‘woke’ as the hip kids call it. It’s such a fine balance to get right and only the best comics can do that; teach you something and keep you laughing.

Kirthy: My top favourites are Bill Burr, Dave Chappelle and Norm MacDonald. They definitely crack me up easily. I generally have a huge list of favourites and I am inspired by any comic who is doing something original and funny. Recently, I have been listening to a lot of Owen Benjamin, that dude is funny.

How do you define ‘funny’?

James: Haha! Great question, but why would you want to define ‘funny’? That’s the beauty of it, it’s intangible!

Kirthy: ‘Funny’ is subjective. But I always have sort of narrowed down funny as an ‘innovative truth’. It’s like when you hear a joke, you hear an idea of a world that is believable yet completely out of the ordinary. This idea gives you this A-ha moment in your head and you can’t help just laughing.

How do you deal with hecklers?

James: I was always quick witted, even on the playground in school. I got out of a lot of trouble like that. So I just trust that I’m funnier and faster. But it’s not always the case and can be tough. If they’re real dicks, the crowd will turn on them on also, so one clever line and you’ll shut them up!

Kirthy: I have been hosting shows for almost 7 years, have dealt with my fair share of heckles. It trains you well. Besides, most heckles are harmless or just a ‘call for attention’.

What can people expect from your gig in Prague?

James: If you pay me 4.7654 euro I’ll tell you it all, mate!

Kirthy: That’s what James thinks we’re going to get per ticket, haha.

James: No, this is going to be a good show. We have a local host, Kristyna Haklova, who is doing really good things for English Comedy in Prague, with Velvet Comedy. She’ll be hosting the night and we’ll just be sharing our stories and jokes from our joke lives, really. We’ve toured together a lot, we’ve worked hard on shaping this show and we can’t wait to get out there and meet everybody.

Obviously we can’t wait for the Prague show but what’s next for you guys?

Kirthy: Well we have a few more stops on this tour first – Brno, Bratislava, Frankfurt, Mannheim. Then we’ll be working together on a few other projects before touring again next year. But you could see us anywhere, so stayed tuned!

How can we purchase tickets for your Prague gig?

Tickets are available from:

https://jokelifepra.eventbrite.com/

Where can we follow you on social media?

JokeWorks – www.facebook.com/Jokeworks/
SUP Comedy – www.facebook.com/SUPComedyNights/
James Rankin – www.facebook.com/rankincomedy/
Kirthy Iyer – www.facebook.com/kiComedy/ Click Here

November 15, 2017 
Article about It's a Joke Life
Two traveling comedians bringing the laughs to Prague.
 Click Here

November 15, 2017 
Article about It's a Joke Life
Two Travelling Comedians Bringing The Laughs To Prague
Take a tough teenage life, mix it with weird family situations and mysterious growing up feelings, then season all this with strict religious heritages, the discovery of sexuality, a complicated adult life and even having your own children … The result? JokeLife!

JokeLife is a new amazing comedy show that is currently touring through Europe. The show was conceived and is performed by two fellow comedians James Rankin and Kirthy Iyer, whose intent is to make fun of their own life and experiences as they go through memories and perceptions of their past and present lives. During this journey, they don’t just deride their experiences, but also life in its entirety.

James Rankin
One half of the show is James Rankin, an Australian stand-up comedian who currently performs all over Europe. He left his hometown off the back of a successful run at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, performing his hit show ‘Be A Man’ who thrilled audiences in 2016. James's brave and hilarious story-telling performances also earned him a television appearance as the feature-artist of the Australian television show ‘The KK Factor'. He has spent two years as a writer and presenter on the Australian comedy radio program ‘Retreating Laughs’. Having hit the stage on three different continents, James has now become a leading figure in the ever-expanding Berlin Comedy Scene, where he can be found performing, hosting, and producing popular shows.

Kirthy Iyer
“Born and raised in India, studied in Canada and surviving in Germany” is the perfect summary of Kirthy Iyer’s life, the other half of JokeLife. After having moved to Frankfurt am Main, Kirthy noticed quickly that an English comedy scene Click Here

October 28, 2017 Theatreview
Article about Welcome to Self Co
MOSTLY SEEN AS AN EXISTENTIALIST NIGHTMARE
Hope Kennedy Smith has written a show as a contribution to the Atawhai Festival that evokes the dull squirm of mental illness as it might sit in the corporate workplace. This carries an uneasy reflection on the universal state of unwellness that might pervade the isolated existence of any young person who finds themselves trying to do the right thing by taking a job in an office – whether as a Customer Service rep for a large company on the phones, or at a computer desk – and questioning the time they give away to the corporate world.

The Atawhai Festival, created by Borni Te Rongopai Tukiwaho, has centred mostly at Te Pou theatre in New Lynn, but the Tiny Theatre at Garnet Station is well purposed to host small theatrical works, and works in development, as an ‘off-off-off-Broadway' kind of space.

With a very simple set, and support from director Patrick Graham, Kennedy Smith puts words in the air that reflect the meaningless oppression of the workforce without creativity, without solution and without escape.

On the wall behind her are the many tasks she is set to achieve. In this corporation, the nature of the work is to suffer and any real-world context of what exactly the job is, is ignored amid a sea of manila folders: Shame; Under Achieving; Irrational Fears; Wasting Time; Insomnia ...

The show is demure and linear, taking the almost stupefied protagonist to the brink of despair, but even the despair is couched in a banality that falls short of any emotive turmoil.

I would suggest that it is a difficult task to make theatre about mental health. The jury is still out on the meanings and impetus of the words we use in discussing mental health issues, because the whole gamut of mental health has not been a regular discourse – and that will be evident in the reasoning behind making a festival of this nature. Atawhai means to show kindness, caring, and the Festival succeeds in its community and its willingness. I hope very much it becomes a regular occurrence.

The Boss in Our Lives is very honest in its approach and its message, effectively reminding us that the main tonality of mental health issues, as they are suffered by a majority, is of suffocating and disabling rigidity. It may lead to desperation and awful demanding choices, but the apparent aspects of mental health are often quiet.

Quiet. ‘Not waving but drowning' is the main social message I receive as a reminder from this show. In fact drowning is a great analogy for this warning because it also happens silently, and often when we least expect it.

Between the worlds of anxiety as it exists in the personal and the corporate worlds, we may see a multitude of people who are suffering from mental health issues. But when issues are compounded, or when the supportive aspects of life – as in friends, family, creative endeavours – are missing, the protagonist turns inward rather than outward and a kind of push-me pull-you thought process invades her head.

A simple show to a simple purpose, it nevertheless provides some hefty food for thought. I will refrain from critiquing the stagecraft, except to say that Jaqui Whall and Sarah Mules host a great presence on the edge of the stage and their further involvement in the dynamic of the show would probably enhance Hope Kennedy-Smith's performance. Conversely it's possible the show could mould itself into a one-woman show.

However I mostly see it as an existentialist nightmare, linear in context and absurd in its entrapment. And in the tradition of great existential constructs, it would be good to see further development in character and character relationships, even if they are unsolvable and open-ended. A counterpart of joy does emerge very briefly, in the curtain call.

One tenacious aspect of this work is the theme of greater society's responsibility in mental health. A prominent theme that is bound to come out of a mental health festival of arts (which has included seminars, workshops and poetry performances as well as theatre) is a closer look at the membranes of responsibility and accountability between those suffering, the organizations designed to help them, and the wider community.

This is a large topic but it's important to get those conversations happening. To extend the ‘corporation as psychopath' theme – read Joel Bakan, The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power, or watch the movie – there's a powerful and important discourse to be had in New Zealand in direct relation to our political structures as they have unfolded over recent years.

It's been thrilling in the last couple of weeks to see so many New Zealanders at all financial levels and walks of life acting with a determination to have and continue those conversations. Government certainly cannot be run as a corporation without a devastating effect on its people. And people cannot run as a cog in the machine without mental health ramping up into a national disaster that rings bells for international watchdogs. One thing that has been evident from Government in New Zealand over the last nine years is an attack on intellectual thinking, critical thinking in education and on the arts and performance industry.

Borni Te Rongopai Tukiwaho's Atawhai Festival puts a case for more drama in the theatre and a little less, perhaps, in the police cells, the jails, the overflowing hospital emergency wards, the funeral parlours, and the busting-at-the-seams mental health organisations of our country.

The Boss in Our Lives runs for one more evening at the Garnet Station Little Theatre, at 8pm tonight (Saturday the 28th October). Click Here

September 19, 2017  What did she think?
Review of Twenty Minutes To Nine
Twenty Minutes To Nine - Theatre Review
Every so often I come across a show which is so simple and so honest it is positively magnificent. Twenty Minutes To Nine is that moment, that show. Playing (so very appropriately) in the smallest room in the world you can only catch this show - if there is room - for two more nights in The Dock at the Courthouse Hotel.

The Dock is a bedroom in the hotel, and whilst there is no bed in there at the moment, the ambience is perfectly suited to the intimate and honest story telling Santuccione is about to share. Santuccione is here to tell us the story of loss, the story of love.

It may be fair to say she has experienced more than the average Joe and especially more suicide than you might think possible. Rather than raging and blaming though, Santuccione talks about experiencing death in such an honest and adult fashion.

It is her experiences. She does not project onto any else. She does not talk about things she does not know or has not experienced. More importantly, she opens up her inner self and shows us what is real for her - the things that resonate and why, the things she remembers and why, the things she has forgotten although she doesn't know why.

Twenty Minutes To Nine is not just a reminiscence. Having been touched by the unspeakable death, suicide, Santuccione says in her press release "I am wanting to make it ok, I am starting the conversation because it is important to talk about it." She achieves her goal with beauty, pain, and pathos.

Santuccione is not just a great story teller. She is also a beat poet and intersperses the monologue with spoken word art. Her pieces on feeling feminine and what ifs resonate deep in the soul and left me breathless. I was also especially astounded with how seamlessly they merged in and out of the monologue. All of sudden we find ourselves in a rhythmic arrow pointing directly at the point she is making, the pain she is feeling, and the wisdom of sages as she processes her world.

People talk all the time about how great theatre does not need bells and whistles. Rarely do pared back shows actually exemplify this truth, but Santuccione does it. It is the raw honest, openness and garnered wisdom which makes this show phenomenal. There is not much time left, but don't miss it.

4 Stars Click Here

August 26, 2017  
Review of Need(y)
 Click Here

August 26, 2017  The Scotsman
 Click Here

August 18, 2017  Fringe Guru
Review of Show Up
Well worth showing up to
"Show Up" stands out! Marino's ultimate message is that even when we're not ready for what the world throws at us, the first step is just to carry on. Click Here

August 16, 2017  Bunburry Magazine
Review of First World Problems
Andy Quirk's Got First World Problems
Bunbury Magazine: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Bunbury Award: Best Use of A Mic Stand 🏆

From the start, this show was different to any I’ve seen so far. Aimed at audiences ages 14+, it is a clean break from many shows in the Fringe that have more adult content. Interaction with the crowd is excellently handled and used to great effect. A great level of showmanship is instantly apparent and the performance spaces is used in an awesome wayin this highly relatable show. The writing is of a very high standard and it translates perfectly from page to stage with superb timing and an ability to switch music genre with ease.

In the relaxed atmosphere of this show, the audience are at ease with the interaction kept at a fun, encouraging and friendly level.

Andy’s partner and on-stage support (Andy’s ‘Crew’) was perfect, not only providing a classic R&B feel but managed the audience effortlessly.
Covering topics from Social Media to DIY, this energetic show may be a little different from other shows you’ll see at the fringe but it is excellent and we thoroughly recommend. Click Here

August 15, 2017  BroadwayBaby
Review of The Burning Gadulka
The Burning Gadulka – Review
This hour-long dramatic and comedic monologue is a persistent exploration of why the existence of the gadulka – a traditional Bulgarian folk instrument – is the worst thing that ever happened to a gadulka player. The three-stringed instrument is constantly berated and insulted by sole actor Miro Kokenov throughout this fascinating stream of consciousness. It is ugly and depressing, and fits into Bulgarian folk songs only when drowned out by the tupan drum and bagpipes.
The script of this play, written by Rayko Baychev and translated into English by Angela Rodel, is an oddly enthralling glimpse into Bulgarian folklore and traditions. Kokenov is the perfect fit for this part: energetic and engaging, he is seen screaming and wailing at the instrument, encapsulating self-indulgence, mania and heartbreak with skill. He perfectly captures the typically Bulgarian self-flagellating humour, and there are many laugh-out-loud moments throughout the performance. A particularly memorable scene is where Kokenov, lying seductively on his side, tries (unsuccessfully) to avoid telling an imaginary lover that he is a gadulka player. He also goes on to recount the Bulgarian folk orchestra’s madcap adventures on tour in France, and a lot of the comic delivery is achieved by how the obsessions of the Bulgarians are totally out of step with any of the musicians from anywhere else in the world.
It is a shame that we did not get to hear Kokenov play the gadulka for a more extended period, treated only briefly to an intentionally terrible rendition of Für Elise. Then again, giving the gadulka its own space and time to shine would defeat the very point of this one-sided polemic. At once a nostalgic ode to the traditions that are being killed off by the mechanisation of music, and a screaming good riddance.


At once a nostalgic ode to the traditions that are being killed off by the mechanisation of music, and a screaming good riddance.
 Click Here

August 15, 2017 One4Review
Article about Malaysian Sensation
The Comedy Reserve
Nigel NG 5*****
Nigel is from Malaysia. We join him on a voyage of discovery as he observes our western ways. He likes the water, particularly the Scottish water. He is not so keen on the fast food. His story of a retired sushi chef touring our high streets is reason enough to see this show. Click Here

August 11, 2017  Broadway Baby
Review of Show Up
Marino has created a unique hour of entertainment
Hilarious! Marino has created a unique hour of entertainment by taking the overplayed solo show format and fashioning an improvised comedy routine that works all the better for the audience’s connection to the source material. Click Here

August 8, 2017  The Wee Review
Review of Show Up
Peter Michael Marino turns one-man show on its head and makes it all about you
Subverts the clichés and tropes you might expect from a solo performance. A compelling actor, drawing us in with moments that are funny, ridiculous and even poignant at times. Click Here

July 14, 2017 My Entertainment World
Article about Songs for a New World Order
Songs For a New World Order - Show Review
I loved Anesti Danelis’ solo show. Alone on stage with just his natural presence, a handful of funny stories, a guitar and a great voice, Danelis is goofily charming and self-deprecatingly hilarious as he works his way through a series of comedic songs that skewer both the state of the world and those who are freaking out about it (“Where Did the Love Go?” he asks in both the opener and closer, listing ways in which people acted totally normally towards their fellow man). If musical comedies are your thing, Songs for a New World Order will surely delight you as it did me. Click Here

July 6, 2017 Mooney On Theatre
Article about Songs for a New World Order
Songs For a New World Order - Show Review
If you know a friend that loves Flight of the Concords and maybe has a smart sense of humour, tell them to check out “Songs For A New World Order” at the 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival. They will LOVE you for it. Click Here

July 6, 2017 Mooney On Theatre
Article about Songs for a New World Order
Songs For a New World Order - Show Review
Anesti Danelis is just a boy with a guitar who wants to find the love that’s gone missing in this topsy-turvy world. In his show, “Songs For A New World Order” produced by his own company, Third Wheel; the audience is taken through a series of clever songs about everything from slow walkers on the TTC to accidentally kidnapping babies all tied up in an optimistic bow.

Much like the musician/comedian hybrids who have come before him (like Bo Burnham and Tim Minchin), Anesti Daniels delivers the funny with a hefty side of heart. Not only were his songs expertly composed, the lyrics we’re freaking hilarious. Let’s just say, if there were albums available, I would have definitely bought one.

Although the show had very minimal lighting and little to no props, we didn’t need anything more than Anesti and his guitar. His songs had that quality where you swear you’ve heard it before, yet it’s totally original. That’s how good he is…

As for content, he covered everything from wearing pyjamas at a funeral to role-playing in the bedroom using the Meisner Technique. My favorite song out of the bunch was the final song “We’re All Human”. It made me go “d’awww” inside while still being as clever and witty as the songs that preceded it.

This boy had enough light in his heart to fill the whole stage. If that sounded cheesy, it’s because I’m still running on the love fumes I picked up from his final song.

Songs For A New World Order isn’t trying to be some flashy show and that’s why it’s so great. It’s built on a solid foundation of great jokes and awesome writing so it’s really a no-fail. If you know a friend that loves Flight of the Concords and maybe has a smart sense of humour, tell them to check out “Songs For A New World Order” at the 2017 Toronto Fringe Festival. They will LOVE you for it. Click Here

June 22, 2017 The Guardian
The Outsiders: Some of the UK's more unexpected candidates
 Click Here

June 21, 2017 The Blog of Theatre Things
Article about Social Media Suicide
HerStory Feminist Theatre Festival 2017
Social Media Suicide by Clare McCall showed us the behind-the-scenes of a very special, perfectly set up, live streamed 27th birthday party, at which she – for the benefit of you lucky viewers – was going to kill herself after much cam-girl style foreplay. The show goes out, quite literally, with a bang as the likes come rolling in. Click Here

May 24, 2017 Brum Radio
Article about Wings
Review of Wings at The Victoria
As much as I love spending all my time at Brum Radio, it’s occasionally refreshing to get out from behind the mixing desk* to soak up some of Birmingham’s culture, and on Tuesday the 15th of May I was able to do just that: I was invited to review a play performed by fledgling theatre company Happenchance Theatre: Wings

The play was staged upstairs at fine Birmingham venue The Victoria which provided for an intimate setting that enhanced the cramped feeling of two performers whose personal and professional lives were spilling over into each other.

The plot of the play went thus: James and Eva are two comedians with a reasonable degree of success who have found a chasm of different between their philosophies in the form of how much their personal lives should be shared with their audiences.
James is petrified Eva is sharing too much of their relationship on stage to the detriment of not only his social standing, but his career, while Eva has noticed her shows have been much better received and reviewed since she has started sharing details of her personal life, especially her relationship with James.
The fundamental disagreement between them provides the meat and drink of the plot as the two debate back and forth how much of their personal lives should be shared with an audience.

While the future doesn’t look bright for our protagonists on stage, the fun of the play is the fact that the plot is also just a device to service some spectacularly hilarious improvisation between the two performers. It seemed there was as much laughter on stage as in the audience as they tried to get each other to break character and burst into giggles, which was a delight to behold.
Even better was a scene were the audience were made to represent party guests and the performers ran around doling out wine in a need to keep their guests lubricated, ensuring I received 2 whole glasses of wine, which in no way should be seen as a bribe to ensure a good review.

The wine was adequate.

After the play, I was told this was the first full-length performance in front of an audience of Wings, but if that is true, it didn’t show. The actors, Jacob and Vita were naturally at home in the comedic moments but also showed real depth in the more emotional parts of the piece, and this will only become more apparent as they keep performing it.

Go see this play whenever and wherever it is performed. As good as they all are now, they’re only going to get better with experience. Click Here

March 10, 2017  BgBen
Review of The Burning Gadulka
The Burning Gadulka – Review
The Performance The Burning Gadulka by Rajko Baichev presented by Miro Kokenov is an extremely exciting journey that reveals universal problems through the prism of folklore traditions and music.

The protagonist in this story is a Gadulka player (Miro Kokenov) with years of experience in the folklore ensemble. The Gadulka player from the outset clearly indicates the source of his distresses – the Gadulka (his own musical instrument) and the problems the gadulka has caused him. Problems like – fear of taking responsibility, self-pity, his inability to keep pace with the modern times and his inability relationship of the other gender. The Gadulka player persistently blamed the gadulka for his shortcomings and failures. He may as well have chosen a chair or a pen to lash out his inmost anger, dissatisfaction, and interpersonal inadequacy. The gadulka is a mere symbol that brings out all our hidden personal issues and fears.

The Burning Gadulka also reveals the issue with technology reducing the demand for unique craftsmanship and crashing traditions into pixels. The Gadulka player is extinguishing and computers play forever finer tunes. The folklore ensembles breathing their last breaths with last standing members who have no one to hand their skills over to. Some get by from one concert to another, making ends meet, just! Others, however, leave the ensemble and abandon their instruments. I never had the perseverance it takes to master an instrument, but I know it takes years of excruciating labour. It’s like a child that you have brought up with so much care, such efforts and pain. Now seeing it’s all been in vain, must be heart breaking!

Finally, the Gadulka player finds his strength and smashes the gadulka into pieces. Then we see him alone, waiting for the change that will never come, with all his personal issues still unresolved.

After the show I asked myself what is my ‘Gadulka’. For me it was my parents. Only if they’d not argued so much, if they’d not split up, if they’d not sent me to live and study alone at 13 years of age… I would blame them for all my struggles, all my miseries. Then I grew up and met people with perfect families, who were going through the same struggles and so I snapped out of the blame game and managed to get a grip of my life. But not many manage to do so. I wonder what’s your ‘Gadulka’? Do you also use alcohol to run away from it all? Do you use all sorts of excuses, outside of your control or buried into the past, for your failures today? People have a unique way to see beyond the cover and pierce into the depths the others’ self-worth.

On the one hand I'm familiar with technological advancements and I can’t help but favour it, but on the other hand I think of the performance I saw where the symbols of one nation - its folklore and traditions are slowly disappearing due to upcoming technological development. A sinking realisation dawned on me that this loss is irreversible. And I cherished ever more this consuming and purifying hour I spent watching The Burning Gadulka performed by Miro Kokenov. I hope the audience will take this chance to enjoy Bulgarian folklore and as well as The Balkan’s culture.
 Click Here

January 29, 2017  London Theatre 1
Review of The Burning Gadulka
“It turns out that while you’re supposedly a musician, you can’t play anything nice by yourself. This, in turn, weighs badly on your self-esteem and throughout your whole life you can never shake the feeling that you’re a total zero without the others, and that you constantly need their help.”

The gadulka in The Burning Gadulka, or indeed anywhere in Bulgarian society, for those as uninitiated as I was before seeing this show, is a string instrument, held vertically, with three strings. Miroslav Kokenov, the sole actor in this intense production, sets about explaining the place of the gadulka at an individual, local, national and international level. I’m still undecided as to whether it genuinely does sound awful (yes, the audience is treated to some gadulka playing) or if I was conditioned to think so beforehand by a long and depressing preamble, in which it is explained, in some detail, and with examples, how the gadulka has led to unhappiness in this professional gadulka player’s life.

At least twice, the musician barks directly at his instrument: initially I thought this ranting at an inanimate object is surely a sign of some form of madness. But I’ve called my computer a ‘stupid machine’ before, and sworn at a self-service checkout at the supermarket – and, on one of my first occasions to use one, said ‘thank you’ to an ATM. Anyway, I mention this being a solo performance as the show draws attention to the gadulka really being an orchestral instrument. On its own it sounds terrible. As part of a Bulgarian folk orchestra, along with everyone else, it blends into the overall sound.

“I steadfastly believe in the ensemble,” the musician tells the audience. I steadfastly believe in them, too (take them out of musicals and the live theatrical experience is much diminished), but in a solo show, it only begs the question: where are they?

There’s a whole backstory as to how this musician ended up a gadulka player – the long and the short of it seemed to be that somebody had to be. But as the complaints stack up, the line of argument seems a little like the violin player who felt the brass section in the orchestra he plays in should get paid less – that is, musicians should be paid by the note (whatever that means – some notes are longer than others, and so on and so forth). I do, however, have some sympathy with Mr Gadulka (as I shall call him), particularly when he talks about the computerisation of music, whereby the technology now exists for software to ‘play’ any instrument. It could, taken to its logical conclusion, spell the death knell for orchestras everywhere.

It’s a sparse set, with few props, one of which is a giant panda, for quite charming reasons, or rather a charming reason, which is explained during the course of the evening’s proceedings. Mr Gadulka tells his story by thinking out loud, as opposed to relentlessly sticking to the subject of the gadulka. It’s like a stream of consciousness that comes across as though improvised, or at least semi-structured (the play is, in fact, fully scripted in the conventional manner). In that regard, it’s not so much the gadulka that’s literally ‘burning’ as the gadulka player, figuratively speaking.

As times are a-changing, the play asserts that the Bulgarian folk orchestras are worthy, if such a thing were possible, of being placed on an equivalent list to WWF’s ‘endangered species’ directory. I don’t think the play will change anyone’s minds, at either a micro or a macro level. The modernists will continue to think we should move with the times and embrace the twenty-first century. The traditionalists will insist that hundreds of years’ worth of folk music can and should continue. For my part, if his instrument is seriously as dreadful as Mr Gadulka says it is, perhaps it is best consigned to history after all. To put it another way, I wasn’t sold on the old gadulka.

Still, it’s easier said than done to embrace change. The play does provide an intriguing insight into Bulgarian living, delivered at an appropriately brisk pace. Albeit mostly of a sarcastic and slightly bitter variety, there’s humour to be found in this touching production. A worthwhile experience.
 Click Here

November 11, 2016 Fringe Review
Article about Guerilla Aspies - fourth revolutionary year.
Fringe Review 2016 (Brighton) Highly Recommended Show
Paul Wady directs and projects his one-man show Guerilla Aspies at the Dukebox Brighton. Guy Wah and the Sweetvenues team were on hand to curate and photograph the show, in the Dukebox small space.



Ever felt normal, or wanted as a neurotypical to make pointless small talk, get mutually emotional, wrote Barbara Cartland novels, use expressive faces? Wait for someone else to finish because they’re obviously more interesting than you or you’d be talking, work I open pan offices, go out socialising…? Welcome to the terminally depressive world of neurotypicals as seen from the point of an Aspergers conditioned (like cask conditioned) man, Paul Wady whose show this is, whose film you can watch and whose book you can buy.



You’ll be subjected anyway to Newton, Spock, eventually Vladimir Putin and his inexpressive face, the heroine of the bridge (or hero of The Code for that matter) and so many other scientists from Newton Einstein and Curie to well it might e libellous to name them.



And there’s the point, the world of the diagnosed and undiagnosed. Aspergers’ or high-functioning autism is a condition, a gift beyond the number-crunching savant of the Rain Man, inflecting not infecting a range of behaviours from extreme non-involvement to uncontrollable emotions in a flash sometimes, but otherwise a to more ‘normal’ than the attempts at branding and cure. The tortures with ECT and far more dare one say shocking treatment that children in America are being subjected to is humans rights abuse on an unimaginable scale, with parents of the Ayn Rand disposition subjecting their children to a tripled kind of electronic torture in specialy directed schools or in one horrific application, a douche to wash out the parasitic worms some imagine to be the cause. We’re into the casting out of demons here, though it’s not notably Christian fringe individuals who perpetrate this.



There’s humour too, the how-to of socialising even going with a prostitute (I asked about the how-to of CIA hacking without being caught). And in contrast to Cartland who might have enjoyd issues of her own with a formulaic repeated novel 723 times, various factually rich correctives from the OIU or Sven Hassall novels are raised as comic alternatives.



Wady’s incredibly interactive, asking us to wave our hands share our obsessions (giant guinea-pigs in drams anyone?) and when the screen projector crashed (did it really?) it allowed him to walk round the audience with a series of slides on his Mac. These swing from a variety of directives to more quizzes. Wady refers to his stalking, which he’s never in fact enacted, the subject being an old friend of over 26 year standing. but confronting obsessions labelling and then un-labelling them is another Wady sleight, as is the discombobulating manner of naming say Spike Milligan as an Aspie with bipolar combo, and asking what this means perceptually.



Rifted in here is an extremely serious programme dressed as comedy that both savages and caresses prejudice so prejudice whirls about confused and can’t find its way out.



This is an absolutely necessary and enagaging show we need to see back. The audience was packed, and exhilarated, Wady making contact with nearly everyone but in a creative and – yes – neutrotypical way. ‘And when were you diagnosed?’ he asked me.

Published November 11, 2016 by Simon Jenner Click Here

September 19, 2016  The Reviews Hub
Review of Bullingdon Revisited
Review - Bullingdon Revisited
It’s that classic tale boy meets pigs-head, boy makes love to pigs-head, and boy becomes Prime Minister! You’d have to have been living under a rock to escape the allegations made by Lord Ashcroft that, while at university, former Prime Minister David Cameron slipped his right honourable member into the mouth of a dead pigs-head. Despite ferocious denials that this event took place, these allegations made Cameron a laughing stock which saw him the butt of satirical jokes across the land and may define his legacy more so than Brexit!

Writer Tess Humphrey takes Cameron’s alleged penchant for pork to form the basis of her new satirical play Bullingdon Revisited: Looking at the moment when Dave, a wet behind-the-ear, first year Oxford student, first encounters Boris: a charismatic third year student and president of the Union, but more importantly a member of the notorious Bullingdon Club which Dave desperately wants to be a part of. The two share an awful lot in common: both are extremely wealthy, both show complete and utter contempt for the working class, and both loath foreigners and the disabled.

A series of events lead the new chums to embark on an adventure to London, a quest to meet their ultimate pin-up girl: Margret Thatcher. Along the way there’s a police chase, the opportunity to abuse a disabled person, and of course the now infamous pig-gate.

Humphrey’s script is razor-sharp: it pulls no punches and is all the better for doing so. It’s hugely entertaining and hilarious from start to finish, however, it doesn’t shy away from addressing the social divide that now plagues this country, highlighting the rise of food banks and poverty that is rife in Britain. The cast are superb, Elliot Lloyd and Tom Sidney are clearly having a ball playing David Cameron and Boris Johnson and both throw themselves into the roles with gusto.

These two are aided and abetted by Harriet Forgan who plays all the other characters which include a down trodden bar maid, train passenger and the iron lady herself. Her scene-stealing turn as Margret Thatcher is comic-gold. Her mannerisms and facial expressions are worth the price of admission alone. All three clearly have a gift for comedy and their performances superbly work in conjunction with a fantastic script.

Top marks to director Sam Hart, who certainly knows how to get the best out of his cast. Stand out scenes include: a set photographs showing the debauchery and carnage of Cameron and Johnson’s night out, a sprint to Parliament which had the audience in stitches. That being said the production does have its flaws: there were a few opening night nerves which were minor. My only real gripe was a scene involving an attack on a disabled lady, which is out of place and misjudged in comparison to the tone of the rest of the production.

The play also has a fantastic soundtrack which includes The Smiths – This Charming Man and VIM – Maggie’s Last Party, which adds to the general ‘piss taking’ at the heart of the of the play.

This is fantastic production by the Grand Dame Theatre Company and if this is the quality of its output, then it is certainly exciting times ahead for the Manchester based Production Company. I would also like to give special praise to the 3 Minute Theatre: it’s a cracking unique venue, and a little gem to be found on Oldham Street.

This is a suitably silly, fun and highly entertaining production, which has something, for everyone: greed, power and bestiality. Bullingdon Revisited wouldn’t be out of place doing the rounds at Edinburgh Fringe in years to come. Click Here

February 4, 2015  Australian Stage
Review of 2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick: A Dirk Darrow Investigation
2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick: A Dirk Darrow Investigation
It was a dark and stormy night.

Well actually it was.

Lightening flashed, rain splattered and came and went in torrents. The canvas of the Teatro 1 tent flapped and moaned in the wind.

Enter a seedy P.I. Stubbled chin, obligatory trench coat, burning cigarette and a rather becoming slouch hat. It was none other than that jaded dick, Dirk Darrow.

The scene was set. It was 1932, the height of the U.S. depression. With it came prohibition and a healthy sub culture of criminal activity.

The 30 something souls who had braved the elements at a quarter to midnight on a Monday were amply rewarded for their trouble. Tim Motley gave a tour de force performance. It is easy to see why he has won Awards in London, Winnipeg and Victoria Fringe Festivals.

The audience was spellbound.

His Damon Runyon-esque monologue was cleverly drawn and tongue in cheek wit peppered the gritty noir tales. I will resist quoting any of the multitudinous puns and quips. The joy is in the corny punchlines and they belong to Motley.

This solo performance was seamlessly delivered with a flawlessly held drawl throughout. Amazing card tricks, illusions, comedy mind-reading, graphology (the reading of handwriting) thrilled and stunned the crowd.

Motley was confident enough to work in some ad-libs and his charm coerced “volunteers” to participate on and off stage with little reticence and no ill will. No mean feat in such a small crowd.

His casual, rather shambolic stance belied the enormous amount of skill that went into these illusions and the crafting of the busy but extremely well written script.

I joined with other Fringe audiences in awarding him 5 stars and a standing ovation!


Tim Motley presents
2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick: A Dirk Darrow Investigation

Venue: Teatro 1, Perth Cultural Centre Click Here

August 19, 2014  Edmonton Journal
Review of 2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick: A Dirk Darrow Investigation
Fringe review: 2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick: A Dirk Darrow Investigation
“It’s tough being a jaded private dick,” our hard-boiled host laments in that deep, husky, slow-talking detective voice.

Dirk Darrow is a cynical dick but one helluva funny dick too, with no shortage of phallic puns, giggly catchphrases and long-winded analogies. “Your groans just make me stronger!” he says after each corny joke with a sideways grin, eyes hidden under the brim of his fedora.

The one-man show blends comedy with audience participation and first-rate illusions, including mindreading, card tricks and disappearing-reappearing acts. You won’t just be wondering whodunit, but howdhedunit.

Tim Motley of Australia plays the world-weary, rude, highly likable jokester in this film noir parody, set in the height of the genre. Chain-smoking, check. Femme fatale, check. Sax music, thugs, a defective dollar-store cap gun, check, check, check. We missed the Venetian blind silhouette, but our charming dick makes up for it with all the magic and quips. “There’s danger around every corner. That’s why I only ever live in round houses!”

No mystery about it: 2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick is an excellent show. Don’t be shy about helping our world-weary dick catch the bad guy; it may be lucrative for you.

— Elizabeth Withey

Runtime: 60 min Genre: Comedy Click Here

August 7, 2014 The Circus Diaries
‘The Little Big Show’, by Laughter House Productions
Inside the Spiegeltent’s light and child-friendly younger cousin, the Kazador, we enter to sit around the tiny stage to an upbeat Elvis soundtrack, welcomed at the door by genial smiling host Mr Vita.

We are a tiny audience, but he invests as much energy and warmth on us as he would a full house, gently getting us going, and explaining the nature of his ‘mostly silent show’. Who needs words when you have a face – and eyebrows – as expressive as his?

The morning version of The Little Big Show is a half-hour solo spot, followed later in the day by a 45 minute mini-cabaret of four various artists. If they are all as engaging as Mr Vita, I wouldn’t hesitate to book.

His generous and warm-hearted clowning doesn’t falter for a minute when confronted by two very shy children of the three in attendance, and he gently coaches them to become the next generation of volunteer superstars – whilst cheekily involving the ‘Mummy’s too.
IMG_2935
‘The Little Big Show’ at the Kazador

His object manipulation generates an awed ‘It’s floating!’ from in front of me as he smoothly rolls a large crystal contact ball over his fingertips, arms and chest; a cigar-box style manoevre with three big red balls is fun, and he loves our appreciation so much that we love giving it to him.

He balances objects on his face, launches forks that emerge from his creaking box of props into a dartboard, and is a strong and funny communicator through his mime and few words, faux-preening and showers of confetti.

Mr Vita is a consumate professional and charismatic performer who can entertain the whole family. A big personality on a little stage. Click Here

August 7, 2014 The Circus Diaries
Article about Grumpy Pants
‘The Little Big Show’,
Inside the Spiegeltent’s light and child-friendly younger cousin, the Kazador, we enter to sit around the tiny stage to an upbeat Elvis soundtrack, welcomed at the door by genial smiling host Mr Vita.

We are a tiny audience, but he invests as much energy and warmth on us as he would a full house, gently getting us going, and explaining the nature of his ‘mostly silent show’. Who needs words when you have a face – and eyebrows – as expressive as his?

The morning version of The Little Big Show is a half-hour solo spot, followed later in the day by a 45 minute mini-cabaret of four various artists. If they are all as engaging as Mr Vita, I wouldn’t hesitate to book.

His generous and warm-hearted clowning doesn’t falter for a minute when confronted by two very shy children of the three in attendance, and he gently coaches them to become the next generation of volunteer superstars – whilst cheekily involving the ‘Mummy’s too.

His object manipulation generates an awed ‘It’s floating!’ from in front of me as he smoothly rolls a large crystal contact ball over his fingertips, arms and chest; a cigar-box style manoevre with three big red balls is fun, and he loves our appreciation so much that we love giving it to him.

He balances objects on his face, launches forks that emerge from his creaking box of props into a dartboard, and is a strong and funny communicator through his mime and few words, faux-preening and showers of confetti.

Mr Vita is a consumate professional and charismatic performer who can entertain the whole family. A big personality on a little stage. Click Here

June 13, 2014  London Free Press
Review of 2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick: A Dirk Darrow Investigation
Gumshoe comedy a tour de force
Dirk Darrow is a throwback, the kind of private detective some will recall from noir movies set in the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s.

But in the hands of his creator, Tim Motley, he’s one funny guy for a modern audience at the Spriet Family Theatre, where 2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick is being performed for the 2014 London Fringe Festival. This is a new show featuring an old character created by Motley, who is based in Melbourne, Australia and has seen wide success with his shows around the world.

Motley’s may well be the best performance at this year’s Fringe, as he fuses stand-up comedy with magic and story­telling, all of it supported by a lightning fast wit, confidence and commanding stage presence.

The show opens with Darrow walking into a spotlight to run off a string of “It’s tough being a jaded dick . . .” jokes that get the audience laughing and sets them up for a few surprises.


Dressed in fedora, rumpled overcoat, loosened tie and pants with a sling holster and temperamental handgun (cap gun), and puffing on a cigarette (one of those pretend varieties), he’s got the voice and speech pattern of a tough, gritty detective nailed.

“She was deader than a doe-eyed donkey, doppelganger in Deadman’s gulch in December,” he says at one point.

In addition to the character, Motley tells the story of an investigation using not only words but the magic of a mentalist, cards, cash and casino chips. They are too good to spoil. You just have to see and experience them.

Not all the tricks were perfect, but any hiccups in the show were beautifully covered by Motley’s quick wit, that makes you feel like the flaw was intended. It was a surprise to learn he’d performed the show less than 10 times, considering he delivers such a tight, well-paced performance.

The only surprise was I’d hadn’t heard more buzz about a show that’s among my top five for pure entertainment and comedy, perhaps only slightly less entertaining than God is a Scottish Drag Queen and High Tea: Life and Depth.

2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick is a slick, fun, brilliantly performed show — a must-see for the London Fringe crowd.

– – –

IF YOU GO

What: 2 Ruby Knockers, 1 Jaded Dick, created and performed by Tim Motley.

Where: Spriet Family Theatre, Covent Garden Market.

When: Saturday 7:30 p.m. Click Here

August 7, 2012  ThreeWeeks
Review of 101 Comedy Club
101 Comedy Club – Free (Laughing Horse Free Festival)
'Funny. Fast. Free' ★★★★ (ThreeWeeks) Click Here

December 31, 2011 Las Vegas Informer
Brad Tassell
(From previous one man show in Vegas, Comic-therapy)
If you want to spend an afternoon feeling good and feeling happy, then head out to the Royal House in Las Vegas to see the comedy of Brad Tassell. Brad headlines his show, called “Comic Therapy” that makes the audience feel good. It is very evident of how much he loves his wife and daughter as he talks about family and about life. www.bradtassell.com As you enter the showroom you will see Brad Tassell mingling and talking with everyone, putting them at ease and making a connection with the audience before the show starts. He asks everyone to get a Thera-cookie and paint a picture on it with colored icings, which he later will analyze and interpret and tell them about themselves from the artistry. I would pay attention to what Brad is saying because not only is he a gifted author and comedian, he is finishing up a Masters in Counseling and Gifted Education at Western Kentucky University. He brings all this knowledge into his show which is funny and enlightening at the same time. His singing and guitar playing is very good and he holds the audience’s attention the entire 60 minutes of the show.
Brad has been a stand up comedian for 23 years and eight of those years he was a favorite on the Carnival Cruise Lines. He said by working with Carnival all those years, he was able to be a stay at home dad which he loved and it made a big difference in his life with his family.

Brad has been seen with Jay Leno, Tim Allen, Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy, to name a few. Brad is known as the clean comedian and puts on a great show for children. He loves children and has visited over 100 schools and spoke to them about his award winning best selling novel “Don’t Feed the Bully.” The book teaches important lessons about bullying and at the same time it is very funny and entertaining. It is the story of Hannibal Greatneck III who must deal with the bully problem at the elementary school he is enrolled in. The information in the book helps students to use their intelligence in dealing with and overpowering the bullies.
I recommend you go to see Brad Tassell at the Royal House on Convention Center Drive for an afternoon of sheer joy and laughter. His show starts at 2:00 p.m. everyday. Click Here

August 8, 2010 London Evening Standard
Article about John Lenahan: Up Close
Be Amazed By Lenahan
Is someone playing tricks on me? Last time I attempted to review magician John Lenahan, he pulled out due to a double booking. Last night he was present, but the audience did the disappearing act.

The box office's loss was his loyal followers' gain though, as a small circle of devotees was treated to a truly intimate hour of exceptional close-up magic.

If there is a better sleight-of-hand merchant than this politely sardonic Philadelphian, apart from the impolitely sardonic Jerry Sadowitz, I've yet to encounter them.

Lenahan spent the first half making a deck of cards dance to his every whim as if on invisible strings. And there definitely were no strings attached. I was so near I could see every hair on his forearms.

A witty history lesson added context. Making four aces switch places is called Doc Daley's Last Trick and Arthur Daley never pulled off a better stunt. If familiar card cons did not tickle one's fancy, the second half dealt out more varied fare.

Tying knots in un-knottable ropes and predicting a random number of casino chips, known as The Trick That Fooled Einstein, were two of many feats executed with seamless aplomb.

In the Nineties, Lenahan was the first magician to be expelled from the Magic Circle for revealing trade secrets. These days one can probably discover his quickfire techniques on Google, but please resist. Pack out the Etcetera instead and be amazed. Click Here

 

 

      

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