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Edinburgh Fringe 2017 reviews: Kiri Pritchard-McLean / Dad's Army Radio Hour / Elliot Steel | reviews, news & interviews

Edinburgh Fringe 2017 reviews: Kiri Pritchard-McLean / Dad's Army Radio Hour / Elliot Steel

Edinburgh Fringe 2017 reviews: Kiri Pritchard-McLean / Dad's Army Radio Hour / Elliot Steel

Unlikely subject matter for gags, an old favourite revived, and one for the millennials

Kiri Pritchard-McLean talks about her work with vulnerable teenagersSteve Ullathorne


Kiri Pritchard-McLean ★★★★

Appropriate Adult has an unlikely subject for comedy – Kiri Pritchard-McLean's work with vulnerable teenagers. But it proves rich territory as she recounts her relationship with one in particular, 15-year-old “Harriet”. Don't worry, it doesn't pose an ethical issue, as the comic, rather than the child, is the butt of the jokes – of which there are plenty.

Pritchard-McLean, hugely likeable and energetic, is disarmingly honest about her motivations for doing such work. It's not entirely selfless, she tells us; it gives her an excuse to feel smug, and she can act out her fantasy of being "cool mum" when she relates to Harriet, as well as being "good mum" when she dispenses sound advice for problems the troubled girl lands on her.

There's nothing worthy or prissy in this show, as Pritchard-McLean – a sometime member of sketch group Gein's Family Giftshop – also talks about body image, a recent break-up, how wearing the wrong size menstrual cup can make you walk like John Wayne, and the single circumstance in which she would encourage the audience to watch online porn.

The feel-good finale we're expecting doesn't come, nor indeed is there any proper closure for the individuals Pritchard-McLean talks about, but it's a laugh-filled hour that uplifts nonetheless.

  • Kiri Pritchard-McLean at Pleasance Courtyard until 28 August

Dad’s Army Radio Hour ★★★

Fringe favourite David Benson (left in picture) has teamed up with Jack Lane to recreate scripts from this much loved show, currently undergoing a renaissance of interest among fans not born when the television series – written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft – ran from 1968 to 1977 on BBC One, and was adapted for radio by Harold Snoad and Michael Knowles.

There is a rotating pair of Walmington-on-Sea classics - Brain vs Brawn and The Deadly Attachment (which has the immortal line “Don't tell him, Pike!”), and The Day the Balloon Went Up and My British Buddy. I saw the first pairing; the former is about an exercise in which Sergeant Wilson effortlessly outmanoeuvres the puffed-up Captain Mainwaring, and the latter is an about an encounter between the platoon and some Germans.

The duo play multiple roles, Benson moving seamlessly from laid-back Sergeant Wilson to wide-boy Private Walker, the black marketeer, while Lane switches from self-important Captain Mainwaring to whinging Private Pike without missing a beat.

This could be a very static experience, watching actors read from their scripts, but Owen Lewis's direction and Tom Lishman's sound design give real light and shade in which the two versatile performers shine.

  • Dad’s Army Radio Hour at Pleasance Dome until 28 August

Elliot Steel ★★

Normally I wouldn't mention who someone's dad is, but as Elliot Steel talks about him in Near Life Experience, a frank account of his life, I think it's OK. Pater is Mark Steel who, with Steel junior's mum, brought him up in a liberal, free-thinking household.

Having, therefore, nothing to rebel against explains his lack of achievement, the 19-year-old says. He's a college drop-out – Croydon community college, he tells us, so there's no danger he'll be inventing Facebook like Harvard drop-out Mark Zuckerberg – and he details his lazy, unambitious, stoner life. Despite his assertion that he's uneducated and not interested in gaining knowledge, I suspect that Steel has a much cannier brain that he admits.

Maybe you have to be a millennial to enjoy tales of "being a lad”, why he didn't bother to vote in the EU referendum (it meant an uphill walk) and the emotions Steel went through when he thought he had got his girlfriend pregnant. I'm afraid I didn't.

  • Elliot Steel at Gilded Balloon until 27 August

 More reviews from the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe on theartsdesk

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