August 18 2016
This annual jamboree is billed as the world’s largest multi-arts festival with a whole city taken over by comedians, dancers, and actors – our reporter gets stuck in and lives to tell a tale…
By Dimple Pau
PLANNING an Edinburgh Fringe itinerary can be safely put up there with getting married and moving house on the stress ‘o’ meter. A rapid transformation occurs from mature adult to toddler in a toy shop, where you want to see everything before home time.
From the hundreds of shows available, I chose to watch performances that included a suicidal doll, a man wearing nothing but his briefs for an hour and a very funny woman singing Rhianna’s ‘work’ through chicken noises and in amongst all this were three shows that were very memorable: Ahir Shah’s “Machines“, Sunil Patel’s “Juicer” and Joe Sellman-Leava’s “Labels“. . .
Ahir Shah – Machines
If you have had your rose tinted glasses smashed this year by simply sitting down and watching the news, then this is the show for you. Shah’s raw passion and incredibly articulate performance is something that will resonate will each and every one of us, as we together realise the hard reality of life isn’t all we thought it was. Baring his soul to a packed out room, Shah delivers a wonderful balance of raw life and comedy tackling light-hearted topics of family, his ‘Pesahwar nan’, and the hype around anything handmade. The balance is brought by his heartfelt recollection of his Paris stay in 2015 where he found himself gigging two doors down away from where the tragic attacks took place. Throughout the show, Shah takes us through a journey which will make you think and reflect on the one hand and laugh uncontrollably on the other.
ACV Rating: **** (out of five)
Ahir Shah – ‘Machines’, Laughing Horse @ Cabaret Voltaire (Venue 338) – 36 Blair Street, Edinburgh, UK, EH1 1QR. Free (non ticketed). August 6-28 1.30pm, http://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/ahir-shah-machines
Sunil Patel – Juicer
Sunil Patel is Time Out’s One to Watch, a BBC New Comedy Awards finalist and Chortle’s Best Newcomer nominee and this – is his debut show. Despite the gig being held quite a walk away from the Fringe zone, and being one of nine audience members – this was still a personal highlight. None of the above seemed to faze Patel at all as he dissected quotes from his female friends after asking them to describe his flaws. Brilliantly self-deprecating, he confidently tells story after story of what makes each quote a perfect analysis. The sound of laughter in this room may not be a big noise, but he has all nine laughing out loud which technically is a 100 per cent success rate. The quality of writing comes through as he mentions that he is Asian, telling the audience that if not mentioned, he can be left with a bit of a tense audience. All in all this is a strong debut which needs bums on seats, a central location and a little tidying up to get the bounce it deserves. He will almost definitely be performing to a packed room next year.
ACV Rating: ***
Sunil Patel – ‘Juicer’, Laughing Horse @ the Cellar Monkey (Venue 293), Edinburgh, (downstairs from the Argyle Bar), 15–17 Argyle Place, Edinburgh, EH9 1J. Free (non ticketed). August 6-28 2.30pm, http://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/sunil-patel-juicer
Joe Sellman-Leava – Labels
You will all know someone in your life that needs to watch ‘Labels’. A touching, captivating and stunning performance which really breaks down the notion of political correctness and opens every eye to the power of labels. Beginning with spot on impressions of the likes of Nigel Farage, Katie Hopkins and Idi Amin among others, Sellman-Leava starts the show with a shocking bang and with THAT 1964 Conservative’s quote which some audience members didn’t even know existed (the one about the black person next door). We then learn of the hardships Sellman-Leava and his family faced and despite being British, being asked the question: “No, where are you really from?”
Why does it matter and what’s in a label? Sellman-Leava uses actual physical labels to symbolise the extent of labelling and how some words seen to be more shocking written out and stuck on someone. If there is a show at the Fringe to bring an audience to tears, this is it. Polished to perfection, it’s the one that will resonate the next day, week, month and year. Explored is the reason his father changed the family name just to get employment, why all of a sudden it’s ‘cool’ to be shockingly un-PC, and why behind the fad of ‘good immigration’ and ‘bad immigration’ – there are real people. This should be a compulsory watch for every single person in the world.
ACV Rating: *****
‘Labels’ – Theatre Performance/Solo Show, Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33), 60 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ. Tickets £10. August 17-29, 2.15pm, http://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/labels
*When it comes to the female comics, this year’s fringe has set the tone for a potentially very exciting Fringe 2017. We have a couple of comics worth keeping an eye on ….After performing at the BBC Radio New Comedy Award 2016 finals, just a couple of days ago, Sindhu Vee is our big tip for great things. We reviewed her at the Alchemy Festival and since then she has expanded and finessed her repertoire. Another Alchemy performer, Sameena Zed/Zehra, has a few bits and pieces happening at the fringe but a hour show is well overdue – maybe 2017 will be her year! You can see both in Edinburgh.
Sindhu Vee and Eshaan Akbar (Piccadilly Comedy Club New Comedian of the Tear 2016) in ‘V&A Exhibition’, 10.45pm, August 16-28, Gilded Balloon, (Above the Blind Poet) 38 West Nicholson Street, EH8 9DD. http://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/eshaan-akbar-and-friends
Sameena Zed at’The Cult of Comedy Presents’, 6.15pm, alongside others, Sweet Grassmarket, Apex Grassmarket Hotel EH1 2HS. http://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/cult-of-comedy-presents
Edinburgh Fringe Festival August 5-29: http://www.edfringe.com/
Edinburgh International Festival August 5-29: http://www.eif.co.uk/
Edinburgh International Book Festival (August 13-29) here: http://www.edbookfest.co.uk/