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Some Things for the Weekend

Pub landlord & Much Ado among highlights

Vlad headIt may only be early June, but tickets for this year’s Edinburgh Fringe have been on sale for some time, and this week two of the Festival’s major independent producers launched their programmes for this year.

Salt ’N” Sauce Productions launched their 2016 Edinburgh Fringe programme at the city’s Voodoo Rooms this week.  Salt ’N’ Sauce are the company that run the Stand Comedy Club on a year-round basis, but whose operations go up several gears in August.

This year, they will once more be running six Stand venues, clustered around their permanent home on York Place and for the third year in a row, they will they will be running the hub that is St Andrew Square Gardens. 

This year, the Gardens will host an outdoor music stage, The Famous Spiegeltent  and The Stand In The Square.  It will also be home to a number of bars and food outlets, creating a welcome oasis in the heart of the city.   The Stand’s 2016 comedy line-up includes stellar names such as Stewart Lee, Bridget Christie, Josie Long and Daniel Kitson.  Also, making his Edinburgh solo debut, they have New Zealand stand-up James Nokise, whom I saw in Australia earlier this year, and who looks bound to be a huge critical success.

Highlights of the Laughing Horse Free Festival programme include a welcome return to Edinburgh after a gap of several years for comedy veteran and Have I Got News For You writer Dave Cohen.  Cohen started out in the early days of the London circuit in the mid-80’s, and has been credited with coining the phrase “comedy is the new rock-and-roll”.   In true Fringe style, he is doing a show in a basement bar in Marchmont at lunchtime, for four days only.  Back in the day, that’s what everybody did.   

This is also the time of year when the thoughts of many turn to sport on the TV.  The Rio Olympics are just around the corner, and this weekend, the football extravaganza of Euro 2016 kicks off in France.  On Saturday in particular, when England play Russia, many people will choose a night on the couch to a night out.  Therefore, it should be easier than usual to pick up tickets for some of this weekend’s live highlights.




The Stand Comedy Club, Glasgow   Sunday 12th June 8.30

Al Murray’s grotesquely-funny Pub Landlord is one of the most acutely observed comic character acts to have been created in the last twenty years.  So accurate is Murray’s portrayal of the boorish xenophobic, UKIP-supporting landlord that many audience members believe him to be real.  In actual fact, Murray is a middle-class Oxbridge-educated intellectual whose politics are firmly of the left and whose comedic writing skills created the monster that is the Pub Landlord, the very antithesis of everything Murray himself believes in.  However, Murray’s skill as an actor, his ability to inhabit the skin of this fictional character and to find his likeable traits makes the Pub Landlord a fully-rounded credible persona rather than a crude one-dimensional stereotype.  In these times, when talk of Brexit is in the air, there are few more relevant comedians performing in the UK. 


The Stand Comedy Club, Edinburgh   Thursday 9th to Saturday 11th June 9pm

If you like your comedy to be high-energy, then the Edinburgh Stand have the line-up for you this weekend.  Hyper-active Canadian Phil Nichol, a past winner of the Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Award is supported by up-and-coming London act Garrett Millerick.  I first performed with Millerick at this year’s Adelaide Fringe.  He has a larger-than-life stage persona, and delivers his jokes at full volume, yet he is inescapably charming.  The show is compered by the non-stop ball of human energy that is Susan Morrison.



Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh   Until Saturday 11th June    Times vary

The final weekend of the play of the Lyceum’s fiftieth anniversary season has been a huge critical and box-office hit.  Former Makar Liz Lockheed’s comedy, written in the Scots vernacular, fantasies about the French satirist Molliere undergoing a mid-life crisis.  Its powerful ensemble cast includes Siobhan Redmond and features Jimmy Chisholm in the title role.


Dundee Rep, Thursday 9th to Saturday 26th June   Times Vary

Shakespeare’s comedy about honour, love, shame and honesty contains some of The Bard’s wittiest wordplay. This production, by the critically-acclaimed Dundee Rep Ensemble Company should prove one of the theatre highlights of this summer in Scotland


His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen   Until Saturday 11th June Times vary

Another Scots-themed twist on a favourite classic, Dreich Encounter  is a an affectionate comic pastiche of the 1940’s Celia Johnson-Leslie Howard romance.  The creation of local North-East company Flying Pig Productions, it should have them rolling in the aisles in Aberdeen.


Pitlochry Festival Theatre    Various dates until 13th October  Dates and times vary

If summer nights tempt you to take a weekend break in the Highlands, you can still catch some quality theatre. The Pitlochry Festival Theatre repertory season is now in full swing and runs through until the end of October. This Ben Travers farce, originally produced at The Aldwych Theatre in London’s West End in the 1920’s, and is a classic of its genre. Also in rep this season will be the sumptuous Rogers and Hammerstein musical Carousel, a show where it’s always easy to spot the football fans.  They’re the ones inevitably joining in on You’ll Never Walk Alone.

Vladimir McTavish is appearing at The Byre Theatre, St Andrews on Friday 10th June, the Leith Festival on Sunday 12th and The Stand Comedy Club, Edinburgh on Tuesday 14th.

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