Edinburgh Festival - Part 1 The Review Show

Edinburgh Festival - Part 1

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This programme contains some strong For the next three weeks the Review


Show will bring you the best, the weirdest and rudiest of what the


festival has to offer. Live as usual, and joined by a studio who


couldn't get into any other show! On tonight's show, we explore three


fringe productions of experimental theatre. Two in unusual locations


and one which virtually does away with actors all together. We also


throw ourselves into the best of the Edinburgh Art Festival, with


new exhi bigs from Tony Cragg, Robert Rauschenberg and the force


of nature, David Mach. Put Mark Almond and Mark Ravenhill together


and the result is one of the hottest tickets of the week so far.


A song-cycle collaboration, Ten Plagues. With 941 comedy acts


jostling for attention, we ask if there are any tab boos left,


looking at four comics, whose acts are trying to push the boundaries.


Asian people don't have a lot of So, here we are in our new home for


the month, slap bang inside the castle. Joining me to discuss


everything are writer and Edinburgh resident Hannah McGill. Author and


critic Natalie Haynes and the novelist Hari Kunzru, whose latest


book is hot off the fress. Before we get going -- press. Before we


get going we thought we should give you a taste of the atmosphere. We


asked Tom Allen to lead us in. With 41,689 performances of 2,542


across 258 venues using 21,192 official performers, the figures


for Edinburgh continue to be as baffling as ever. The numbers are


up on last year. It is still the world's largest arts event. This


year the big four are closer together.


George square gardens has been taken over. The weather has


nominated the conversation. John Malkovich has his own show. The


Edinburgh International Festival, known to comedians like me, as the


posh one, draws inspiration from Asian culture. Shakespeare will be


performed in Korean and man da drin -- mandarin. Phil Glass,vy never


met him, we are all friends here. I he is making his debut sound


tracking films. Then, there's the art festival. I know! Taking to the


street with Martin, David Mach tackles the king James's bible. And


Robert Rauschenberg - the first works for 30 years T book festival


has welcomed a lot of book royalty. We hear about the new book, The Kid.


And the fringe. The venues continue to range from someone's front room


through to telecom mixs packing people in by the thousands. Last


year 2.74 million people visited the fringe. Stuart Leigh has sold


out previews at the stand. Joesy Long is more political than ever. I


have a chat show at the Gilded Balloon. And a stripper, through to


comedy for kids, showcasing comedians as young as 12. There is


something for everyone. Simon Callw has put on lipstick. -- Callow has


put on lipstick. Margaret Cho, we have not mentioned that picture of


the tattoo, the one at the castle. People love it so much, you cannot


get a ticket. I thought it was a bunch of soldiers mincing up and


down with bagpipes. It is just like Glastonbury but there is short


beard in the gift shop and you don't have to camp, not unless you


really want to! This is the see-through upon cho


festival. I have seen hundreds over -- poncho festival. I have seen


hundreds of them. I only own endless waterproof and thin layers


because of doing the show so many times. It is steamy.


All the comedy venues would say they are up. It is a good sign.


hope it is true. There are lots and lots of people who have been on


main-stream TV shows and they have massive venues, so the numbers go


up every year. I am not sure it is easy to be a new act here. You are


appearing here on the Review Show, but you are at the book show at the


festival? Looking at the international festival, it is


looking towards Asia this year? Fascinating. The range of stuff on


there is extraordinary. You get caught up with the fringe at the


beginning. You forget there is still the book festival, still the


international festival. Hopefully the rain will ease off.


International Festival, what has come up this year is the Art


Festival. There is lots to see. Masses and masses. We will review


some tonight. Let's dive head-long into the festival, starting the


fringe. Travelling minute strels, cameramen, there is no shortage of


weird and sometimes wonderful settings for the experience.


The Edinburgh Fringe has been the place to experiment. We asked our


three guests to try out some very different theatrical experiences.


Ranging from performances in a constructed child's bedroom to a


performance in their own living room. The Lounge Room are happy to


tell theiral tales. The thin air was lost. All of its passengers


were never seen again. The two are making their Edinburgh Fringe debut


after a sell-out tour in Australia, where they won two Adelaide Fringe


awards already. They are armed with a guitar and props. They weave


together Gothic stories, set everywhere from your lower intest


tins to an unusual morgue. I opened my eyes and I noticed I was back in


the morgue. She lies neck tot me. I am scared to touch her cold, dead


body. I notice she is breathing. I put my hand on her bottom. It's


warm. It's a warm bottom. It's a sexy one.


Also embracing an experimental approach to performance is a


journey played out in an iPad within a child's bedroom. Each


person enters alone and the story unfolds on their hand-held screen.


Lasting 20 minutes. It offers a child's eye view of the world in an


unusual space. I'll sit on the bed. The viewer is encouraged to move


around the specially constructed white room, directed by the action


in the film. The fringe is the perfect place to


have a piece like this. There are a lot of audience members who are


really open to different experiences. They are not worrying


about exactly what it would be. They want to see something


different. Also offering something different


from the more traditional theatre is a Belgium company, who have


returned to the fringe this year w a piece that promised to celebrate


us, the audience. I guess there's nothing else I can


do. All the faces before me. I'm waiting to hear what you'll say


about me! Turning the cameras on to the seats, they take handbags and


ask about individuality. I want to create something which will make


people have an opinion and make people react to that. We all look


at each other and we adapt. What is wrong with that? It is beautiful!


Let's take you back to the Contrabulators. Did it fall into a


different kind of production, or do you feel you have seen this before?


I don't know if I have seen it before in the fringe. I am


essentially charmed by the idea these two guys will turn up and


make a space out of theatre. They bring a carpet. A very small carpet.


They unroll it. They kind of make a little space for themselves and all


their props are in a case. They - I found - you have lots of footage in


that package of me looking grumpy. That's my happy face. That is your


"I better not give away what I think face!" They are engaging


performers. It was a sweet show. was like travelling - kind of mis-


firing tales. It was not their fault we had them during the day,


with telly lighting on. I could have gone a little more horror. It


has a strange tonal clash that you get often with Australian comedy,


of having incredibly glory or gruesome and then really volume ger.


They smash into each other. No, -- vulgar. They smash into each other.


I kind of want to see the next one more than I wanted to see this one.


Underbelly, a huge sensation in Melbourne and in Adelaide. They are


charming. Do you agree with Natalie they are not dark enough? I could


have gone darker. What I had problems with, like Hari I liked


something coming to your house. When you have Fringe fatigue and


you are in venues too hot or too cold t idea of having someone come


to perform to you, it is like being spoilt. It had a child-like quality.


I mean, I can take a lot of flimsy, I liked the little characters.


had to say, the lighting, we had bright lights on them. They have a


shadow puppet we had to imagine really. The stories take on a life


of their own and change in the retailing. You can imagine it


happening every day as they do it differently. The nearest is the


village in India. The guy turns one the puppets and the back lights. It


is a traditional form of story telling. Moving on to the product


of bang new technology was the iPad experience of being in a little


white room. Were you disconcerted? I don't like interactive things.


This is the most I have spoken to other people in about a month. If I


am honest I am finding it disturbing now. It looks


interactive, but it isn't. For me, the fact it was in an enclosed


space is more harrowing. Did you think the child was going to come


through the window. When it did not happen, weirdly because I would


have skwarked had it happened, I was disappointed. There is a moment


you walk into this empty white room. You look at the empty white room on


the iPad. You are in there. And you look on the iPad and two pairs of


shoes had appeared. And the thing is that awesome thing does not come.


It is charming, but it is never thrilling. If I am honest! They


were all about narratives, a weaving narrative. This was about


imagination. What did you make of the way it was filmed The music and


cinema was gorgeous. There was some pretentious art-class cliches. I


didn't know what was going on. The same as Natalie. There is a


disconcerting n a lovely way, you walk in, you are holding the thing,


you can see the door and a real door. You want more of that to run


through it. You end up sitting on the edge of a bed thrsm is a bit n


the film she --. There is a bit in the film she looks under the bed


and finds something. I wish there had been more interactivity.


performance by the six-year-old, I thought was mesmerising. She's a


very compelling little girl, isn't she? She is the best thing about it.


It looks great. The set that they have built for you to have this


experience in is also great. Then The mother becomes a ginger bread


woman. I'm not convinced it's ginger bread. The dough can't make


that baked item. This is not Masterchef. Let's move to a


performance group who have been here before and they ultimately


have said right, OK, it's down to the audience, but except it's not


because we're going to turn ourselves on you and make you do


things. Never hand over your coat and bag to an actor when you walk


into a show. Did you do that? Is it the whole idea is that they


take very kindly your coat, bag, whatever you have and then what


they do is reveal it on stage. Of course none of us were stupid


enough. I live with an actor. I'm not an idiot. Then they train the


camera on the audience. You get voices going "Oh, I'm so self-


conscious." That's sweet for a while. Then it becomes nasty.


the message? Their trouble is they've co-flaited the idea of an


audience with the idea of a crowd. By the end of it they're flowing


everything at the wall like the Nuremberg rallies and vi a dream.


We know a lot of things about being in crowds and being in an audience


is a specific thing. They started to play with that. I felt it was an


undercooked show. It was like if they'd really focused on what they


wanted to tell us a bit more, it could have been good. Of course,


what they had was this scene where, well, the moment where they abuse a


member of the audience, because everyone is savvy, you don't know


whether it's a member of the audience or the cast. Yes and


they're doing this thing in the wrong town. What you get is people


going, here's the things, we as actors have realised that the


audience, like you, are not completely passive. We can interact


with them. Yeah you're in a mate with nearly a thousand stand-up


comedians. Even the ones doing a free show have thought more about


going through a fourth wall than you have, honestly. What about the


whole idea of immersion, not you because I know you're in hives


already, what about being involved? You like it or you don't? Generally


I hate it. I think it's nice if it's a connection, it's nice if


they're nice to you. I like the fact the performers are making


contact with you. What the audience show did that was offensive was


kind of going, you're all so passive sitting there judging us.


It's like you came to your show. That's what you want. I don't see


where this big ref latory thing about the bad audience. You pay


your audience to be entertained. have a lot of time for beingents


taind after a hard day's work. their job. When anyone welcomes the


Nazis as a retorical point, we should be able to go home. The idea


that the crowd goes to a nightclub with the Mexican wave at a football


match, With fascism. If you want details on that, you can find them


on our website. From staink theatrical experiences to the more


recognisable setting of the art gallery and our selection of three


big exhibition that's are very hard to miss.


This year's Edinburgh Art Festival is the most ambitious yet, with


major work from world renowned artists and sculpt Tors. Robert


Rauschenberg is at Inverleith House, a posthumous exhibition of his work,


Botanical Vaudeville focuses on work from the latter part of his


career, from large-scale scuppure to intricate painting. Turner Prize


winner Cragg considering's first museum show for more than a decade


is at the Scottish modern gallery of modern art. At the City Art


Centre, Professor of sculpture at the Royal Academy David Mach has


taken up residence. This is his biggest solo show and perhaps his


most important ever. It is absolutely massive, spread over


four storeys of the City Art Centre, everything from colossal kolaudges


to soaring sculpture, it's all inspired bit King James version of


the Bible. What Mach has done is take biblical stories and set them


in a modern context. I had thought about the King James Bible maybe


ten, 12 years ago. There's the place where all the stories are,


all the love and pest lens, the heat, famine, sex, jealousy. It's


got everything you know. When you have people standing in front of


judgment day, it means different things to different people but what


do you want people to think when they're looking at this? I want you


to look. I want you to feel. I want you to use this. I want you to use


that. I want you to use your stomach, all the thing that's


you've got to figure out what it is that you're looking at. You want to


suck people in. When you move to the sculptures you have golgopha.


needed to tease the hooks for spikes. The hairs on your body


standing on end. It's a coat hanger. It sounds naff. But when you see it,


it's a powerful thing. There's an insulation, which is essentially


your studio. A kolage has a mood. It has a feeling, a message, a


story, it has colour, size, shape. You're busy using those things. I


mean thousands of those things together, you're weaving them


through and trying to get some kind of collective idea of a story.


construction of the satan's head to be burnt, tell me, how did you go


about doing all that? The devil took about three-and-a-half, four


months to work. It's mad work. they're going to be burned? Yeah,


in a couple of days we will burn the devil. What you get is a 30


second, 40 second ludicrously powerful performance, where this


thing flares up. Stand back, if you do it inside, it would burn the


house down. Of all the stars on this year's art festival stellar


programme, who lives up to their illustrious billing?


Let's start with Precious Light on the anniversary of the King James


Bible. Do you think this was simply a vehicle for David Mach, I don't


mean that disparagingly or is it something more epic, not in a


religious way, but epic as the stories in the Bible are.


certainly has captured a stale in these pieces. They're enormous


pieces. They're busy. You can dive into them, all these tiny figures


doing them. They are a lot of them very powerful. The one that's work


less well for me shade into the weird aesthetic of Jehovah's


Witness literature, where you get pandas and multiethnic people happy


in a garden. I would split the show down the middle. The works are by


and large fantastic. The sculpture is awful. Really, the tank traps?


The weird horror movie Christ thing I got nothing from it. And the


strange pop Jesus and pop devil as well. It didn't relate very well to


the other work. It made it slightly unbalanced show for me. Natalie,


what did you think? I quite liked the sculpture. I liked the scary


devil. I didn't realise, I had a catalogue, but I was so wet, I


couldn't view it. When I saw the devil's head, it's burned now. I


thought how smart the devil is burned out. And look, lovely Jesus


who is lovely matches. It was one of those things going, I see that


the subtitle of this exhibition is the celebration of the King James


Bible and I wonder if that stopped people who really like the Bible


from really hating you, because vi to admit there were moments when I


was going, these sculptures are properly horrifying. This is a cues


fix... He looks like he was made out of cake. He's going to be


burned as well at the end. crucified Jesus is, it reminds you


that the crucifix is an instrument of torture. I'm blanking on the


horror movie when the guy has... Hell raiser. The idea that David


Mach moved his entire studio up here. What the audience can do when


they go there is they can watch everybody working, cutting out


commando comics, cutting out woman and homes, cutting all these things


and there are stacks of moxs of things like women kneeling, frogs


jumping that have been collected over the years. The idea that it's


like Victoriana. I love that there's a huge exhibition, over


five floors. A lot of them, I mean, some of them I found compelling and


some of them I thought it's more of the same, there's so much material


on the walls. But when you get up to a certain level and you see him


doing it, that's wonderful. That's moving and it reminds you that this


is a real craftsman and actually, one of the things that's nice about


it... With assistance. Yes! Cutting out parrots all day. It's been


built by hands, it's not photo shop. It's been layered. If these scraps


are incredibly fine, Tony Cragg has got the completely material, this


is massive stuff, working with a lot of assistance as well, created


a bronze, muscular stuff, but feeling very fluid wha. Due make of


that? It's the solidity and fluidity that's beautiful. The


scale of it is great. It's just something that you can wonder


around and gaze upon. It doesn't have forceful meanings. It's


beautiful images of mofl caught. You want to touch them and you


can't. You'll not damage a bronze to stand and stroke it. Really


properly passive aggressive. Even clean hands can cause damage.


though. I know it's true. I take it all back. I didn't touch anything


and I walk round with my hands like that. The wooden ones look so


tactile and they are just, I really loved them. They are slightly more


than opt cull illusions I think. You walk round them and suddenly


these things which look like random collections of discs on top of each


other, suddenly a face appears. You walk past and it disappears. It's


there from one side or both. There's lots of space to walk round


things. He's a Turner Prize winner, but this show is his biggest in a


decade. And a lot of this work has never been seen in this country.


Did you feel that you were kind of, in the presence of something


masterful? He's a serious modernist sculptor. He's making references to


thradigs. These fluid movement works are nods to futurist


sculpture and he's also making gestures towards St Ives, Barbara


Hepworth and Garbo. He's into his Chinese scholars rocks, the natural


form that's he's copying in some of these things. There's earlier work


where, which is completely different. It's odd to see it in


this show, next to the fin shalled, polished sculpture on plinths.


Things are on the floor, with humble materials, raw. It's the


phase he was in in the 70s and 80s. It's odd to show the two things up


against each other. The third thing in the show, which I think is


beautiful, are wonderful, delicate water colours that, you know, I


haven't seen these water colours of his at all. And some of these


wonderful drawings, intimate drawings with zeros and ones.


drawings are quite strange. There's something obsessive about the


doodles. There's metal work transforming form. You mention the


Italian movement using cheap material. Robert Rauschenberg


followed that tradition as well when he moved into pop art. His


show is a late show at Botanical Vaudeville. Did you like it or did


you think you were at the fag end of a career? A little bit of the


latter. If you put it in the botanic gardens you already get


three stars from me. It is gorgeous. Even though it was pouring with


rain when I went, it's still beautiful. So the Rauschenberg


there's a video down stairs on a 60 minute loop, which is really


interesting. I was glad I went to that, because otherwise I'm not


sure I would have enjoyed the exhibition as much. I think the


found object pieces of roadsides I liked much less than the strange


metal etching pieces. Beautiful fossil with the lace. Incredible


silver, aluminium. You look at it from one side and you go this is


pretty. Then you see a peacock or Egyptian king appear out of it.


Things like idle speed no wake, is like Ian Hamilton Finlay. Those as


found objects were wonderful. Harked to a depression era in


America, which we are in again almost. This is my problem with it.


This is isn't the Rauschenberg of the 50s and 60s which transformed


American art, who made the combines out of these kind of materials.


This is him being asked to dot same thing by wealthy collectors going


again and again and again. They are works made in the 80s but they have


a look of stuff that's 30 years previously. The whole thing has


been faked up to look like his earlier work the -- work. The newer


style, the shiny stuff, makes a vague go at saying something about


luxury and the shininess of the 80s, but he's trailing in the wake of


other people by that point. It was a sad show for me. If any of those


have taken your fancy, find details on the website or tweet us and


we'll let you know. Now before we come to the


seriousness of the new muedsical from Marc Almond and Mark Ravenhill,


something light hearted. Joining us now the YouTube hit that has set


them stratfeerk, the one and only fascinating aida. # We received an


invitation in the post one Monday morn,


# To attend our cousins wedding in the town where we were born,


# The do was back in Kerry, so wishing to be frugal


# We trawled the net to find some decent travel deals on Goole


# Cheap flights, cheap flights as cheap as they can be,


# Bedad we found an airline selling flights for 50p.


# Diddly aiden daidin daidin dai # Well, we clicked onto the website


# And were mightily surprised, # To find the actual cost


# Wasn't quite as advertised # We'd forgotten airport taxes, had


also to be billed # But a bargain is a bargain and


begorrah we were thrilled # Cheap flights, cheap flights


# Stansted to Trelee # Ah, it isn't every airline offers


flights for 50p. # Diddly aiden daidin daidin dai


# After studying the website we decided it was best


# To pay priority boarding so that we'd sit three abreast


# Three abreast, that's the best # And of course we'd all have


luggage so that's an extra cost # And then we paid insurance in


case our cases might get lost # Our cheap flights, chips flights


# It's obvious to see # There must be extra charges when


the flights are 50p # Minya, minya, minya, key change


# At last the flight was booked, with all of the additions


# We'd read the reams of small print of terms and conditions,


# And then picked up the charge for using visa which was drastic '# Cos


how the feck are you supposed to pay if not with fecking plastic?


# Cheap flights, cheap flights # We paid the fecking fee


# Because by now we were committed to the flights for 50p


# Diddly aiden daidin daidin dai # Ochone, ochone aah


# Now I don't if you've tried locating


# Stansted on a map # But checking in at 5am is a load


of fecking crap, # You's are banjaxed if you tried


to catch a train or underground # So a taxi to the arse of the


world was more than �100s. # Cheap flights, cheap flights, we


should have gone by sea # There's no such fecking thing as


a fecking flight for 50p # Feckity, feckity, feckity,


feckity, feck, feck, feck # Feckity, feckity, feckity,


feckity, feck, feck, feck # Then at last we reached the


airport where we had to pay a fine, # The fecking feckers charged us


'cos we hadn't checked in online # And finally aboard the flight


there's an extra charge of tax # 'Cos the fecking, fecking,


feckers charge to use the jacks. # Cheap flights, cheap flights,


# I think you must agree # That only fecking gobshites think


there's flights for 50p # Feck, shite, feck, shite, feck,


shite, arse # Feck, shite, shite, feck, feck,


arse Sad verse, # Well finally we landed and tried


to shuffle up the aisle # But the steward sent us down to


the back # With never a hint of a smile


# And as we heard this announcement # Our hearts gave a terrible thump


# If you haven't prepaid to use the steps


# You'll have to fecking jump # Cheap flights, cheap flights


# Your harking onto me # You're an eejit if you think a


Fascinating Aida there with a look into the world of low-cost travel


or not. Now to as dark as it gets. Mark Almond, the eighties synth pop


supremo has delved into history 30 years on from his hit song


Tainted Love, Mark Almond has swapped pop music for a song cycle,


with an emotionally and musically challenged score. It tells a tale


of one man's journey through plague-ridden London. Now I am


getting into the swing of it, I find the whole piece is like a


rollercoaster,. Once you start it the words and music take you from


one place to another. Working a fantastic director like Stewart


Laing. It was strange for me. I only worked with directors on a


small scale. He has guided me through the whole piece. Made me


see it in different ways. It brought things out of me that I


never realised I could do. That is interesting. I think of Mark as a


bigger project, playing rock concerts. I was looking to see what


Mark could bring to the project. I see what Mark is, he's a fantastic


storyteller, through song. Mark Ravenhill, better known for his


plays, wrote Ten Plagues especially for Mark Almond, along with


composer Conor Mitchell. balance is writing something that


Mark as a performer can log into, without it being out of his range,


and also to hand over a mellodic line to Mark and see what he --


melodic line to Mark and see what he does with it. This whole piece


has been emotional for me. I cried a few times when I performed it. I


kind of felt the songs like Farewell and Seeing You, where he


sees his dead lover in the pit and sees the bodies.


Obviously I have feelings to mind like grieving and loss. I can bring


so many of my own experiences, thingsvy been through through my


life, so I have lots of experience to draw on. One week in, and


reviews have been favourable. However, on opening night, there


was one voice of dissent. We did get booed. I work a lot in opera.


Booing is big in opera. It is like you feel like you have not done


your job properly unless you get booed. If we wanted to please


everybody we would be doing Mamma Mia!.


You know it was a big ask, it was, I know he has done rock concerts,


out on stage, on his own with a pinnist. Did he have this --


pianist? Did he have this? One of the problems with it is his voice


is not there. You feel a bit pained. He has to keep singing and keep


singing. I feel conflicked about it. I admire the fact they did


something deliberately divisive and different. It does feel original


and it is very creative. We were talking about reading this thing on


the page, which is a different experience. The text is interesting.


Having it presented in such a stark way with one person's voice the


entire way through is moments of comedy I felt were miss judged. I


felt it didn't quite connect how they wanted it to. There were many


different things there. It is moving about the plague. You get


all senses of different plagues, including AIDS. There is the thing


about survivor guilt. Did you feel he invested enough of himself in


that? I did. I know an opera singer would sing better. His voice may be


radleed by the end of this -- radled by the end of this run. I


found him the most compelling. There are moments he stands on


stage and the lighting falls on him, suddenly you can see 30 years ago


Mark Almond. The light changes and he looks haggarded and the idea of


this man becoming more and more raddled by his survival as people


around him drop, I found him absolutely astonishing. It did


mirror what happened during the plague, Defoe and Pepys, the ones


who stayed and survived. The others fled and came back. There was a


huge division. That comes out in this? Mark Ravenhill knows his 18th


century. He has worked with that used that plague-ridden city - he's


made a very claust introduce phobic world. I would say it is -- class


tro phobic world. He has guided Britain through AIDS


until now. This is a piece about AIDS.


Mark Almond, as this di va figure, and the way that he performs is


very very important in the atmosphere of this. What do you


feel about how he inhabited that stage? It is difficult when you


don't have furniture. Instead of furniture what they have is music


stands. Then they have this wonderful projection. How did you


feel about the music stands and him having to weave around them? They


needed something for him to do physically, so he can move around a


bit and you have something to look at. The set is beautiful. I think


the use of projection is very clever and elegant. It gives him


someone to interact with. I am interested to know if you connected


with the character or not. I didn't know who he was at all. He was a


void to me. I felt he was Mark, basically. This was a piece for a


star and it was a piece which worked because of this background


that he brings into it. If another unknown singer had walked on to


that stage and performed in the same way it would have felt


extremely flat. If they were not so well known I


think they would have had to perform in a better singing way. I


think that was the problem. He's not hitting the notes. He's


straining a lot doing that. There is an aesthetic failure in this.


His imperfection makes it very human.


That is true because his physical and vocal performance, he walks


around the flights of stairs with such caution. You remember that he


had a terrible motorbike accident. He was crippled and he has to --


had to learn how to walk again. It is compelling to watch. The music


is fantastic. And the piano player is extraordinary and wearing a kilt.


Ten Plagues is playing throughout the festival. If Ten Plagues was


not a bundle of laughs we should send you into the wokend on a


lighter note. The most famous fringe, the comedy. Be ware some of


what you see contains extremely strong language.


We can rely on comedians to push the envelope, to try and shock and


court controversial with provocative material. This year is


no exception. Torchwood actor Tom Price reveals intimate tales of his


mother's alcoholism and cerebral palsy. We arrive at the chemist. He


gives her medication. It is one of those bottles where you have to


squeeze. She cannot do that. She only has one hand. She is shaking


it, going "I may be a locking ...." Ending racism in about an hour,


part stand-up, part social comedy, it proves that de-- despite


electing its first black President, racism is still there. There is a


black President. I saw a woman cry. I was like, "Wow, first of all you


should never play Scrabble, because there's no U in America." Radical


comedian and recording artist Margaret Cho is back in the cap


follow for the first time in a decade with her show. I know that a


lot of Asian people don't have a lot of bush. I have all of their


bush. I carry the burden of my race!


Based on the recent Grammy nominated album of the same name t


by sexual American aims to shock with her treatment of sexuality,


which one critic said would make Richard Prior blush. They turn


around and their T-shirt says "Number one grandma." Almost a


quarter of a century since she first appeared on the Fringe, Ruby


Wax is back on stage, supported by singer-songwriter and close friend,


Judith Owen. I said if you have a disability, use it. I said "Get out


of bed." Losing It is an autoby og graphal story of her mental illness.


It is one in four. It is one, two, three, four. Actually that whole


row is not well! Do these shows prove there are plenty of taboos to


be busted through comedy? Does comedy have the shower to shock,


provoke and challenge an audience? Let's begin with Ruby Wax, which is


a combination of stand-up comedy and personal pain. Does that give


it an added kick? It does and it doesn't. I have to be honest. I


think Ruby Wax is a massively inspirational figure to my


generation of comedians. It's no exaggeration to say I worshipped


her as a teenager, of course. My expectations were too high for this


show. I kind of assumed it would be a brutal unpicking of her nervous


breakdown, her time in The Priory. Strangely it feels like she has


backed off from writing that show. There are 40 minutes of


observational stuff about American people may not like English people,


English people might not like Scottish people. You think, OK, you


are better than this. Why are you here? When it comes to her


depression it is much more raw and much more painful. I am not sure


the first half of the show really needs to be there. Isn't it the


case to welcome the audience in you have to soften them up. Isn't that


the structure of the show? There are blows. I think what she was


celebrated for when she was.... She was kind of brutal.


She's been busy. She's been in The Priory. I forgive her! What I was


looking for was more of an attack. There is this kind of, some middle


of the road stuff in there. Maybe she did back off from revealing too


much about her -- herself. There are instrumental singer-songwriter


stuff about sadness. Do you think Judith Owen was there


to have a foil for her to have I didn't think it fitted together.


Judith Owen starts talking seriously about tragic events in


her life. You're like, I don't this. It's weird to have suddenly


gone there. That was one taboo. Let's move on to Tom Price, who


talk abouts his own embarrassing story. He's referring to his mother


several times as a plastic and revealing a bit about her. I think


again it's a similar thing. Most of the show is very nice and you know


he's a very charming man. It's nice, friendly stand-up guy you want to


go for a drink with. The stuff about his mum, it was like you use


the word plastic when you're little. It didn't seem he dug deeply as to


whether what he was saying it true seasoned if it's what he felt about


it. His mother as cerebral palsy, she's a single mother and alcoholic.


I felt she was more interesting than him. That's extremely


ungenerous. But for a show, I think it's incredibly charming. He's a


massively likeable performer. And the clunky direction in ruby's show


is not in his at all. There's so much narrative distance to make


sure you don't think he's being offensive. The word plastic is only


used in the context of my mother calls herself a plastic and other


people are upset by it. He goes, I would never say that, you go yes I


know that. He's shy ago way from taboo to bust it. Now let's move on


to WpsKamau Bell. What lovely is that he opens up with a clip of


himself on American television saying how much he loves Obama, but


Obama will never be President. Very good to fess up on his own mistake.


He's a very charming performer. He giveles us a tour of the current


state of race relations in the States. You know, I'm living in the


US, at the moment. A lot of that material is very familiar. I didn't


have a sense how it would play to the Edinburgh audience who aren't


quite engaged in the cultural wars in the same way as they are in the


States. There's something exciting about him. When you get stand ups


here from the US, they are bullet- proof. If the building caught fire


they would have a line. It's incredibly impressive but not


remotely scary. For somebody so competent, he was surprisingly


nervey the night we saw him. It made me like him so much more. At


one point he says smoking a fag that means something different here


from in America. You know, why I know, that joke needs cards and a


cake. Please don't do it. It is beneath you. What he had which


helped, is he had some furniture. He had the US census and UK census


and they're such a joke in themselves the way they address


race. I thought it was good. It gave shape to his show. What he did


say was white people have to re- examine the way they behave.


think that is interesting. You write a bit of research and a bit


of Powerpoint is right. He was partly nervous because there was


rioting going on. He was nervous about whether his material would be


more incendiary than it was. It was quite the opposite. It would have


been great if he had gone there. We were seeing it. What we've seen is


a lot of comedians going I'm shocking you, aren't I? Well


actually no. They were shocking and not really. Margaret Cho. Margaret


Cho did shock me. Margaret Cho there's nowhere Margaret Cho won't


go. That's part of the whole thing. She wants to overturn the idea.


Were you upset the fact she told you everywhere she's been. It's not


that the fact that the jokes are that funny, but it's that she's


actually saying these things. was really funny. She was the only


one who really got the laughs out of me. I couldn't tell when I was


laughing out of sheer shock and when I thought it was funny. That's


great. You can't believe she's doing that and the actions. There's


a lot of mime, yeah. She has wonderful confidence as a performer.


It's very funny, when she does her own parents... That's wonderful.


She takes the Michael out of her Korean parents, it's funny, but


it's like we're laughing at her parents. I felt fine about laughing


at her parents. They aren't, you can see them as individuals. She


also does her grandfather as well. There's a whole interesting family


dynamic. She has this thing that a lot of Asian women have of being,


as children being very, very talked down to, you're ugly, you're bad,


you're wrong by her mother and grandfather, seems to have been the


person who saved her, saying it's fine, I'm ugly too. I felt the Cho


familiar will were real to by the end of the show. Was that taboo


busting or just a really fine show? A fine show, but in a way retro and


therefore taboo busting. Jenny Eclair won the Perrier in 95 with


such a show of mind numbing vulgarity. It was I long time


before she was talking about, I can't even say it. It's like going


back in time. Wow remember when standups weren't all desperate to


be on the comedy road show and they were prepared to take a risk of


upsetting everybody in the building. She was thrilling in that reguard


and she mentioned Dancing With The Stars. It's not just The Review


Show which has taken up residence here for a movement you'll be able


to hear more of what's going on in the Culture Show Edinburgh special.


Here's Sue Perkins to give us a taster of what they have coming up.


On the Culture Show next week, Alastair Sooke meets Tony Cragg.


Book Festival regular, Ian Rankin investigates art theft. And we look


at the art of the comedy song. I'll be talking to American huem arist


David Sodarist. And the theatrical take of Murakami's cult novel of


the international festival. That's Thursday, 7pm on BBC Two. Thanks to


my guests, Natalie Haynes, Hannah McGill and Hari Kunzru and fatly


for putting herself through the trauma ever audience participation


again. Full details are on the website and a few added extras.


We'll tweet updates on the festival every day. Do tweet us back. We


have thick skins. Next we're week we discuss the winners of the James


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