sun 03/03/2024

Edinburgh Fringe 2023 reviews: Rob Auton / Laura Davis / Matt Forde | reviews, news & interviews

Edinburgh Fringe 2023 reviews: Rob Auton / Laura Davis / Matt Forde

Edinburgh Fringe 2023 reviews: Rob Auton / Laura Davis / Matt Forde

Storytelling magic, a fantastical journey, and political satire

Rob Auton creates word pictures of the world he inhabitsDavid Monteith-Hodge

Rob Auton, Assembly @Roxy 

Rob Auton has previously done shows around a theme – the colour yellow, hair, the sky, to name a few - because, he says, he can become a little bit obsessed with a subject. Now, though, he wants to do his most personal show yet, hence The Rob Auton Show.

It’s a lovely hour of storytelling as he decribes how he came to this point in his life. He talks about his childhood, his early career as a graphic artist, his swerve into comedy, his marriage last year. It’s gentle and heartfelt but packs some very big laughs.

Auton, a laidback performer, isn’t a stand-up as such. The Yorkshireman weaves tales, and reads his stories and notes and poems, creating lovely pictures of how he sees the world. Talking about his long hair and full beard, he muses: “My hair is getting so long that dogs are starting to look at me dubiously,” before mimicking a canine side-eye.

He recalls how his parents wanted him to be sporty, but he never scored a run in three years for his teeange cricket team – although he had a champion moment as a bowler. His foray into the world of advertising was always going to be short-lived as he shows us some of his more, er, leftfield suggestions for products.

He also describes a teenage job – recalled with fondness – and tells of the camaraderie and bants that straddle the border of bullying, and his blushing moment in the spotlight as “the crabcake king”.

This is a finely crafted show, with great callbacks, and his last routine – delivered with passion – acts as a reminder that we all here for the human experience.

Laura Davis, Monkey Barrel

You won’t forget being at a Laura Davis show; the comic is a real physical presence in the room, delivering much of it from among the audience, without a microphone and at several miles an hour. “I’m not light relief, “ the Australian tells us, just in case we hadn’t got the message.

Well Don’t Just Stand There Dancing is a sort of tribute to the comic’s friend Paul (Byrne, the comedy director who died last year) and is a show that hopefullay he would have been proud of.

It’s seemingly a collection of randomness and whimsy – Davis talks about having had a lucrative sideline in catching spiders after moving to London – but then more prosaically  describes suffering from  social awkwardness, or the happy hours spent in Paul’s company.

The material covers a lot territory, from the awfulness of Naked Attraction on Channel 4 to Davis’s manifesto for a better future, from the pleasures of walking along a beach at night to conspiracy theories. It’s quite a ride.

Matt Forde, Pleasance Courtyard

Matt Forde cheekily starts his show with a dig at his host nation, suggesting that all may not well with Scotland’s body politic. There are some loud groans, but Forde can rest easy; he’s an old Fringe hand and his loyal audience know that he will stick it to the Westminster government soon enough.

And so he does. Inside No. 10 is more of what we’re used to from Forde, mile-a-minute political comment and an array of voices, old and new, as the UK’s foremost political comic dissects current affairs across the home nations, with a slice of Donald Trump thrown in for good measure.

“The country is fucked just when we need a great leader,” says Forde, segueing into Rishi Sunak, bouncing on his toes and avoiding answering any questions, and then Keir Starmer, tight-lipped and avoiding.... you get the picture.

He delves into the banking problems of Nigel Farage - “leave means leave” for Coutts, apparently - and says union leader Mike Lynch might be able to solve the nation’s problems. He suggests a new career for Boris Johnson as a voiceover artist – he speaks in catchphrases, after all – although Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle may disapprove.

And if it is slightly cheating to give voice to someone who has left frontline politics behind, then so be it; his William Hague is excellent, so why wouldn’t he wheel him out to pass comment on the collection of nonentities who now people politics? And, talking of nonentities, Forde offers a passable Liz Truss here, too.

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