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Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews: Josie Long / Snort / Sara Barron | reviews, news & interviews

Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews: Josie Long / Snort / Sara Barron

Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews: Josie Long / Snort / Sara Barron

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Josie Long has had a baby since she last performed at the Edinburgh FringeGiles Smith

Josie Long The Stand ★★★★

It has been five years since Josie Long performed a full run at the Fringe, and in the meantime she has experienced a momentous event. 

She has had a daughter – whom she welcomed into the world, she tells us, with an impassioned speech about how it’s all gone to hell in a handcart, with a Tory Prime Minister and the climate-change emergency threatening to end the world before the wee one reaches adulthood.

Of course she didn’t, but such are Long’s woke left-wing credentials that you could believe that she would.

Her new show, Tender, is largely about pregnancy and becoming a mum. I have to say that, normally, parents – of either sex – extolling the virtues of nappy-changing can be a turn-off for a lot of audiences, but Long makes no apology here, and has some acute and touching insights into the process of a couple becoming a family. And she examines the conflict of bringing someone into the world while when so much about it is bad and dangerous.

She’s happy despite the chronic tiredness; women should be hailed as heroes for coping with it, Long avows. The pregnancy was an unplanned delight – although Long may not want to share the cracking story of how she become pregnant with her daughter when she’s older, involving as it does a period-tracking app.

Long has long been known for her fey reveries, and there’s the occasional one here, but put to good use. She used a technique called hypnobirthing, but had to bin the CD because the woman’s voice was “too posh”. Yes, Long brings her politics even into giving birth; rather fetchingly she named her contractions “Michael Gove”.

When the pregnancy/birth material is spent, the comic moves on to climate change, and she admits she is a fan girl of Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, but worries that the world may be past saving. Long ends on a positive note, though, and her relentless cheeriness would win over even the most cynical of hearts.

  • Until 25 August 

 

Snort Pleasance Courtyard ★★

Snort are New Zealand’s premier improv crew, making their debut at the Edinburgh Fringe. Their best-known member, Rose Matafeo, won the Edinburgh Comedy Award for best show last year, and the troupe performing here is completed by Alice Snedden, Eli Mathewson, Chris Parker and Guy Montgomery.

The group’s USP is that members, who enter and exit scenes as if playing tag, improvise scenes based on the stories guest comics tell, which are in turn prompted by a word shouted out by the audience. The night I saw the show, it produced uneven results. 

Anna Drezen gave a detailed, funny and unexpected story about a summer camp she attended as a teenager, and Jack Barry mustered a decent anecdote, but Ray Badran did embarrassingply little when given the word “curtains”. 

The improv itself was, as so often with the form, both inspired and insipid. Snedden worked hard at mining the comedy and Matafeo made some decent interventions, while Montgomery looked permanently confused. The others looked as if they’d never met before.

The audience also missed a lot of the asides, as the comics were not using head mics. But I suspect – on the night I saw it, at least – they weren’t missing too many crackers.

  • Until 25 August

 

Sara Barron Pleasance Courtyard ★★★★

The American comic burst in the scene last year with her debut show, for which she was nominated for an Edinburgh Comedy Award. Her follow-up, Enemies Closer, is in the same rich vein of acerbic comedy laced with a large dose of British cynicism.

The latter characteristic comes from living in the UK for the past seven years with her British husband, and she loves that nobody whoops when she tells UK audiences that.

She’s deliciously mean and judgemental – or “honest and perceptive”, as she has it – and plays a game of “hero or cunt?” with the audience as we work out which we are when presented with various scenarios. 

Hipsters and their pop-ups, designer weddings and yoga teachers are among those who get it in the neck, and her James Corden material is a hoot.

Barron doesn’t like a lot of people – including some of her friends – but one of them is a gem, a single woman through whom Barron can have a more interesting, if vicarious, sex life now that she has been married for eight years and didn’t get to scratch that seven-year itch in time. One anecdote she shares is particularly gruesome.

Barron is a very physical performer, prowling around the stage, working herself up into operatic outrage, never more than so than when describing how she has been proven right about a former associate who was caught out in the #MeToo movement. So what if she is mean – its an exhilarating ride.

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A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
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Direct from a sold-out season at Kiln Theatre the five star, hit play, The Son, is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited season.

 

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Written by the internationally acclaimed Florian Zeller (The Father, The Mother), lauded by The Guardian as ‘the most exciting playwright of our time’, The Son is directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst.

 

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