Stand Up Tragedy

Sat 2nd – Sun 24th August 2014

reviews

Rachel Mfon

at 04:49 on 15th Aug 2014

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Prelude: The following review will seem negative, very negative at first but, please do reserve your final judgement until the very end.

I understand the concept of Stand Up Tragedy. It's supposed to present you with something so pathetic, so miserable, so painful that you burst into tears and laughter simultaneously. I don't mean to patronize you, I know its not a difficult idea to grasp but it seems that even some of the performers might have skimmed through the definition of Stand Up Tragedy and missed two key words. Reread the first few sentences, can you spot the key words? You can't find it, keep looking. Still can't find it? Come on, I'll give you another go. You still can't- seriously! My introduction is already too long. Come on, its right there, "AND LAUGHTER".

Tears and laughter, that's was the deal on the package. I read the small print, we were promised both, simultaneously. I open the package and it consists of five performers but only two out of the five were even remotely funny. Fringe Festivalgoers, please, I urge you to check your leaflets carefully people, be cautious of false advertisement. The performance by Jay Foreman delivered what was expected. His fusion of music and story telling took us to the dark and glum recesses of the world with pit-stops at some witty and innovative gags.

With some stand out performances, namely Mawaan Rizwan you will find yourself crying with laughter and at the time not exactly understanding why. From start to finish I was enthralled by how much laughter he induced with so few words. His remarkably tragic persona is both bizzare, hilarious and memorable. So memorable in fact, that it never left my head and I discovered on my way home, that I was still laughing to myself.

Not all of the acts made me laugh, and for a comedy show I think a chuckle here and there is pretty essential. However, all of the acts are worth watching. From music to poetry to folkloric tales, there were some truly creative and enthralling stories told by incredible performance writers. They may not make you respond with laughter every time but you will respond in so many other ways. Saddening, uplifting, inspiring and charming; The Stand Up Tragedy is one of the only shows at the Fringe that will drive you through such a wide range of emotions.

Postlude: Go watch it.

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Freya Judd

at 10:43 on 15th Aug 2014

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I still can’t quite work out what The Stand Up Tragedy is meant to be. Ostensibly, it’s a sort of showcase of a range of performers (all of whom seemed to be plugging their own Edinburgh shows). The theme of ‘tragedy’ slightly threw a spanner into the works of this showcase, however. I’m not sure that each of the separate performances were particularly ‘tragic’.

From what the female compère said, this wasn’t her normal gig. That was a shame, because I actually thought she was one of the best moments of the night, keeping all of the audience bubbling along and introducing each act with zeal.

Tim Ralphs, our first performer of the evening, is a storyteller focusing on folk tales about the devil. It did not sound particularly appealing, and as Ralphs got up on stage I felt my heart sink. It was nicely surprising, therefore, to find myself getting quite involved in his narrative about a mother who makes a pact with Satan. Was it tragic? Not really. Was it skilfully told and very engaging? Well, yes, yes it was.

Ralphs was followed by Mawaan Rizwan, who did a slightly bizarre piece of physical comedy involving dancing round the room with someone else’s glasses in a skirt and a binbag. Some members of the audience were laughing nigh-on hysterically. I thought it was quite entertaining in a ‘okay-now-do-something-else’ sort of way. It wasn’t tragic though.

Anil Godigamuwe’s section really was tragic. He spoke about battling depression whilst at university, and read some of his poems. The poems I found to be quite beautiful, but I wish I could have read them myself rather than heard them spoken aloud. Tragic, yes, entertaining – no.

Lisa Findley was the stand-out act, mostly because she was neither tragic nor entertaining. Her story about getting run over in Vietnam didn’t really grab my attention, probably because I spent most of it wishing I was in Vietnam.

On the other hand, the final performer Jay Foreman was by far and away the best moment of the night. His original songs were a little bit tragic, but were also funny and very catchy. I was transfixed by the speed of his hands as they ran up and down his guitar.

Ultimately, the evening didn’t work. It wasn’t because each performer wasn’t talented – most of them were quite good, with a few exceptional moments. It was more because their acts weren’t cohesive. Having said that, the line-up does supposedly change each night, so maybe another evening might be more successful.

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