Fringe Comedy

Lorraine Wilson

Rodney Bewes – Whatever Happened to the Likely Lad Part Two

Assembly Checkpoint


Randy Writes A Novel

Underbelly Potterrow


Tom Neenan – Vaudeville

Underbelly Med Quad


HE IS here when we arrive, looking much more relaxed than the Bob Ferris character we know. Hands behind his back, Rodney Bewes paces confidently in a lightweight cream suit, black T-shirt, snazzy red braces, and training shoes.

The room is suitably showbiz with a backdrop of twinkly lights, but the show is more lo-fi, with a portable CD player all that’s required to play music that adds extra colour to his tale.

While it’s true that the bulk of the audience will know him from The Likely Lads and its 1970s sequel, it was strange that the show itself was given the top of the story before double-backing into his own life and how, eventually, he was cast in the role that put him in front of 26 million viewers, making him a household name before the internet did that for scowling cats.

Bewes was a contemporary of Courtenay and Finney and the anecdotes detailing the mischief of young men fresh from the north in swinging London of the 1960s are quite enthralling.

It’s a charming slice of nostalgia from a man with a bigger story to tell than a sitcom.

Run ends August 29

THERE were fleeting moments when Randy seemed real. He’s a purple puppet with minimal facial features and a philosophical world view, but at a few points a quick shake was required as a reminder that there was someone under the desk feeding him his lines.

The combined skills of stand-up and puppetry are what makes this a captivating hour. Expressive delivery of the well-crafted script means that, at times, it’s possible to see nuances in the face that aren’t there. They can’t be.

Randy has been to the Fringe before and says his enforced break has been necessary to write a novel that he will read excerpts from. Before he begins, however, there are tales of Hemingway and Harper Lee.

The hour straddles the highbrow and highly unsuitable to repeat in print. Once you’ve heard Randy deliver quotes from Alain de Botton, you’ll realise that Kermit wasn’t the great thinker in the puppet word after all.

There’s a moment when it loses some sparkle with a vegan lecture – all true but not amusing. However, in the main he does what the best storytellers do – hold an audience’s attention with a good yarn.

One story that, from his gaping mouth, seems absolutely plausible turns out to be all that it seems.

So what’s the book like? There’s only one way to find out.

Run ends August 29

ONE MAN and an empty vaudeville theatre. Well, it should be. The security guard wonders how this audience has managed to be seated on a night when the theatre is dark.

What follows is a well-paced, beautifully structured one-man portmanteau offering tales of performers that have trodden these boards - and how they met their end.

It’s a welcome crossover between comedy and horror, but this isn’t new to Neenan whose previous shows have explored the dark side and sci-fi.

Vaudeville is more ambitious however, and calls on every part of Neenan’s acting ability to create several casts of characters, from decades before to the present day. To create the right atmosphere for this in a temporary venue requires a deftness of touch.

Much of the writing is original. However, one segment has some scarily close echoes of Magic, the 1970s film in which Anthony Hopkins was driven to deadly deeds by Fats, his partner in ventriloquism.

It’s rare to find such an equal balance between writer and performer, particularly when both are delivered to such a high standard.

Run ends August 28