mon 17/12/2018

Edinburgh Fringe 2018 reviews: Alex Edelman/ Jayde Adams/ Kieran Hodgson | reviews, news & interviews

Edinburgh Fringe 2018 reviews: Alex Edelman/ Jayde Adams/ Kieran Hodgson

Edinburgh Fringe 2018 reviews: Alex Edelman/ Jayde Adams/ Kieran Hodgson

More from the world’s biggest and best arts festival

Alex Edelman returns to the Fringe with a personal story that wears its politics lightly

 

Alex Edelman ★★★★

When Alex Edelman first appeared at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2014 he walked off with the Edinburgh Comedy Award for best newcomer. Now in his third stand-up show, Just For Us, he delivers a beautifully constructed hour of narrative comedy.

He starts with Koko the sign-language-speaking gorilla and ends with how Nazis are hiding in plain sight. That he gets from one to the other in an hour that includes anecdotes about meeting Prince William, receiving anti-Semitic abuse online, his brother who competed in the Winter Olympics for Israel (“or Schul Runnings as I call it”) and English middle-class condescension, among many other things, is a joy to behold.

The central story is about his encounter with a New York Nazi group. He blames his need to be liked - surely that’s going too far - as he attended a meeting just to learn what drives people who see him as an inferior species when they are as thick as bricks. 

The story throws up some surprises, not least that he discovered Nazis liked pastries and jigsaw puzzles, before they discovered he was Jewish, but the broader political points Edelman makes - despite saying he doesn’t do political material - may surprise you too.

Edelman’s style is laidback, gentle even, but the show has a lot of big laughs, and its  payoff is a beauty, wrapping up a finely wrought hour of intelligent comedy.

Jayde Adams at the Edinburgh Fringe Jayde Adams ★★★★

Lots of female performers take their cue from Beyoncé - why wouldn’t they - but it takes a particular kind of sass to both pay homage to the singer while questioning how she expresses her feminist self. But in The Divine Ms Jayde, Jayde Adams, with co-writer Richard Thomas (Jerry Springer: The Opera) at the piano, does just that. She combines full-throttle show tunes with dispensing homespun wisdom, and there’s some great comedy for good measure.

Adams, dressed in a glittery gown, is wheeled onto the stage by her “husband”, Pudding, in a gimp suit. He is the Jay-Z to her Bey, but he knows his place. The diva is in charge here. 

Between songs she talks about her childhood, her drama school days and her love for large bars of Toblerone, by now dressed in a pink tutu or rhinestone-covered Spandex. Adams doesn’t take herself too seriously, and her Bristolian tones lend some snark to the proceedings.

The songs are catchy and the lyrics clever - “I want to weep for you/ I want to burst a spot and seep over you” about performers who over-emote - and she gives them some welly. But Adams neatly segues into a more serious message when she talks about seeing Mr and Mrs Carter on stage  recently, and what she took away from Beyoncé’s latest album, Lemonade.

Glam, glitter and a deconstruction of feminism? Now that’s divine.

Kieran Hodgson ★★★★

Kieran Hodgson’s ‘75, which draws a direct line between the 2016 EU referendum and the vote in 1975 that took Britain into the Common Market, continues in his collection of shows melding personal truths with fantastical storytelling.

He says the 2016 referendum result caused a schism in his family but that 2016 was merely “the cover version” of 1975, when Britons voted - by a much clearer margin - to join the European Economic Community. Why were we so keen to join then, but so divided by it now?

In order to understand our Brexit predicament now, we have to understand 1975, he says. So Hodgson tells us how he took himself off to a library and, helped by a kindly German librarian, read up about the arguments made for and against joining the EEC. Funnily enough, both Labour and the Conservatives were divided on Europe then, too. Plus ça change.

What follows is often more like a witty university lecture than a comedy show, but the laughs are plenty, and Hodgson here has the chance to run through his considerable mimicry skills, as a range of British politicians of the era - Ted Heath, Harold Wilson, Enoch Powell and many more - are brought to life.

Hodgson brings recent history alive as he imagines The Beatles advising Harold Macmillan on British foreign policy, and French President Charles De Gaulle reincarnated as RuPaul. Labour Party internal strife is played out as a Jets versus Sharks modern ballet from West Side Story.

There’s no big finish and no real emotional danger in the show’s framing device, but the laughs keep coming.

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