Another Fucking Variety Show with Lili la Scala
The Pleasance Dome, Edinburgh Fringe Festival
21 August 2012 

We’ve sent Willow Colios to catch the last week of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and he’ll be reporting back on all the shows he catches between now and Saturday. He kicks us off with a modern twist on the variety show format.

Billed as best of the best of the fringe, Lili la Scala is our host and warms things up early on picking on 18 year old jack in the front row who joins the rest of the audience in complying with her every command. This skilled compere and cabaret singer ties things together with ease and keeps us entertained with some sweet and suggestive vocals throughout the evening.

Abigail Collins (as Miss Peggy Psued) carries on where Lili left us but her sassy crudeness is too much for a straight and sober audience.

They do get going however with some unorthodox stripping and contortionism, with help from some strapping young lads whom she has handpicked from the front row. Sounding like she’s from the deep south but really hailing from Dagenham Abigail Collins ruffles some feathers and doesn’t take herself or the audience to seriously, bringing things to a euphoric and liberated crescendo. She gets even more liberated as the evening wears on ”“ getting completely naked and returning to the stage during a later act!

Pete Heat (Pete Hathaway) is a strange \’magician’ using some Derren Brown style misdirection and suggestion techniques to get a member of the audience to colour in a flip chart the exact same colours as his underwear which is then revealed. A cute trick fairly well executed but not on the same level as some of the acts here this evening.

From Glasgow and threatening lesbian burlesque in the style of Peggy Psued, Susan Carman is bold and unabashed. This isn’t an improv show but Susan takes some risks, and you get the feeling she is running with new ideas even if they may be semi-well rehearsed skits. A bit stranger than a standard 10 minute variety spot, it brings all the rest of the acts out of the dressing room to watch, adding weight to the theory that this is off-the-cuff, hamming things up with a member of the audience in a faux-sexy dance routine.

Mat Ricardo, juggler is more Ken Dodd than Jerry Sadowitz which is a shame, going for a very standard remove the tablecloth from a table laden with a full tea set trick. Some less standard machete and butchers knife juggling is suggested but not undertaken due to a combination of low ceilings and the fact that this is slapstick, not juggling. Vaudeville Schmuck is the title of his main show, which may, in a venue with higher ceilings, showcase more of Mat’s promise.

Josephine Shaker is next and takes a very standard tap dancing show to a slightly higher level. It seems very average at first until some hip-hop comes in and things move up a notch.

The centrepiece of tonight and main draw is a very short but very impressive bit from The Boy With Tape On His Face. He doesn’t talk, obviously, but this is a performance of real subtlety and skill and it’s no wonder that the second year of his solo show, featuring what I can only describe as a deft-contemporary-mime is regularly a sell out. Contemporary mime sounds really, really shit doesn’t it? But seriously ”“ it’s original and very entertaining – See him at the Pleasance while you can!

Asher Treleaven comes onto stage reading from a book that he claims makes 50 shades of Grey seem as sexy as a limp wet flannel on the bath of comedy. He’s not wrong and it’s certainly a lot funnier. This Aussie has the audience with him the whole way through. Dressed like a private eye he is just as adept at using his facial expressions to bring roars of laughter from the audience as he is at corrupting this Mills and Boon type novel to hilarious effect.

To close the show we have some serious talent. Using multiple hula hoops (the toys not the crisps) Lisa Lottie does some great tricks, but this isn’t the school playground – these are some serious circus skills that leave the crowd whooping. Turning ten hulas into a human slinky is the climax to a fast paced and exciting end to the evening ”“ this lady you gotta see!

Overall tonight’s show has been a mixed bag but containing some real gems. With a more packed and less sober crowd it would have been a riot.

A rotating bill with something for everyone, Another Fucking Variety Show continues at the Pleasance Dome at 11pm each evening until August 26th.

All words by Willow Colios. You can read more from Willow on LTW here.

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