Fringe Comedy

Sam Simmons: Not A People Person

Underbelly Potterrow

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FOUR STARS

Katia Kvinge: Squirrel

Gilded Balloon at Counting House

THREE STARS

Alice Marshall: Vicious

Just The Tonic

FOUR STARS

HANDLING a microphone with kangaroo paws is tricky. It’s also extremely entertaining to watch.

When Sam Simmons appears with said paws in place, he’s already been among us, ushering the audience in and providing helpful piggybacks to punters struggling with the auditorium stairs.

Following last year’s Fosters Edinburgh Comedy Award, for Spaghetti for Breakfast, expectations are high. A stage strewn with props signals that as much care has been taken with the spectacle.

However, Not A People Person is heavily dependent on additional audio, and when the cues start going badly wrong in this preview show, it’s difficult to judge whether this is part of the narrative or not. Whatever, Simmons makes the best of it, the only niggle being an overlong consultation at the rear of the auditorium with the technician. So maybe the gremlins were for real. Or maybe not.

With subjects from Brian Wilson’s problems during the heavily medicated years, to cherry tomatoes on a train station platform, to junkie seagulls, there’s little in the way of a narrative but, somehow, there’s a proper denouement.

He advises any reviewers present that the performance is worth a cheeky three stars. The laughometer said higher.

Penis count: one

Run ends August 28

THE PROOF that creating something as unstructured takes clever planning comes with Katia Kvinge’s Squirrel.

She finds out pretty quickly that her venue isn’t ideal for rhythmic gymnastics, one part of what she calls the fun part of the show.

Kvinge is sparky and energetic and likeable, in the vein of Aisling Bea when she gathered a load of five-star reviews a couple of years back in an even smaller room. Unlike Bea, Kvinge hasn’t matched that level of charm with material.

The actor/stand-up hybrid is becoming more commonplace – they need to eat, that’s fine – but often there’s a lack of understanding that delivery alone won’t carry the hour.

She makes the mistake of saying that she had sewn two shows together, then alternates between the two. The fun part has some good daft moments and a showcase for her impressive ear for characters and talent for accents. The other is more confessional about how performing released her from shyness. Even if she hadn’t told us, it wouldn’t be difficult to see the joins.

Add a writer and a director to shape her ideas and Kvinge could be a welcome addition to the circuit.

Penis count: two (she had help).

Run ends August 29

WHERE the actor/stand-up hybrid works best is in an hour of full-on character comedy that has an underlying theme.

In Vicious, Alice Marshall presents a range of diverse characters, from the most terrifying relationship guru in Greta Medina to Unity De la Touche, an aristocratic old soak. We also meet Cheryl many names (the one from Girls Aloud) – a pinpoint impersonation, but taken to a level of absurdity and egomania that sees her stabilising the Middle East with a quick squirt of hairspray.

The only creation that doesn’t connect is a good-looking young male actor who has decided to diversify into stand-up. It’s great observation but the concept and writing are flimsier.

Several costume changes are handled deftly, with filmed interludes featuring Greta and well-chosen vox pops introducing the next theme.

Marshall is a superb physical comedian – one segment used mainly voiceover to showcase her range of expression. She also has an ear for the ludicrous, however, and it wasn’t a stretch to see her as an ideal foil for the likes of Matt Berry. One to watch.

And no penises.

Run ends August 28.

Lorraine Wilson