Donald Robertson Is Not A Stand-Up Comedian

Donald Robertson Is Not A Stand-Up Comedian

Traverse Theatre

TRAVERSE 2 is reconfigured as an up close and personal brick wall club complete with cabaret tables for Gary McNair's pithy and personal deconstruction of comedy.

First seen in work-in-progress form at the Arches in Glasgow, McNair dons the fantasy-wish-fulfilment mantle of the sort of cheeky chappie act who you could see any night of the week in Edinburgh in August. Using this device, McNair unravels a shaggy dog story about a wise-cracking kid he meets on the bus before risking being upstaged by the show's post-modern finale.

It is a fascinating shtick that nods to everything from Trevor Griffiths's exposure of the comedy of hate in Comedians to the relationship between stand-up and live art bridged by the likes of Lenny Bruce and Eric Bogosian. McNair cuts an altogether more chipper dash than all of those, however, in a knowing study of one of the Fringe's most popular artforms that has a punchline to die for.


Gilded Balloon

A ROW of see-through plastic stools are lined up across the stage at the start of Matthew Baldwin and Thomas Hescott's compendium of true stories from gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and trans-gender men and women and their experience of coming out.

As a troupe of five performers lift scripts from a pin-board of newspaper cuttings, the implication in David Grindley's production is nothing is hidden in a piece that does not pretend.

Knitted together from a set of first-hand testimonies, things open with tales of awkward adolescents finding out who they are or want to be, before opening out to look at how assorted religions and races view homosexuality today.

Performed by Rob Deering, Andrew Doyle, Zoe Lyons and Camille Duncan, plus an under-used daily guest star (Rob Crouch from the Pleasance production of Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas the day The Herald is in), its nearest relative is Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues, in that its power comes from giving voice to what is still too often hidden from view, while it remains vital they are heard.

Blind Hamlet

Assembly Roxy

THERE are no actors at all on stage in White Rabbit Red Rabbit writer Nassim Soleimanpour's painfully personal coming to terms with losing his sight.

Instead, Ramin Gray's production for ATC opens with a stage manager putting a microphone close to a mobile phone placed on the spotlight-illuminated stage floor. When the stage manager presses play, what we hear are effectively the Iranian-born writer's final dramatic gift to the world, as his disembodied voice engages the audience in assorted theatre games that involve us closing and opening our eyes as a process of elimination weeds out a pair of make-believe killers from volunteers.

At the heart of all this is Soleimanpour's love affair with Hamlet, a play he has never read but which his eyes are now too dimmed to finish it. As poignant as all this is, there is a playfulness as the audience effectively create a new play with every show.

The fact Soleimanpour's work stems initially from an empty stage and a phone is a powerful statement on what is and is not required to play the Dane.