Sitting somewhere between the Big Four and the wilds of the free fringe, both geographically and in ethos, is Just The Tonic. Four venues across the city centre – The Tron, The Mash House, The Caves and The Community Project – host over 100 shows, some of which are conventional paid performances, some entirely free, some pay what you want. Suffice to say you’ll find something to suit your mood and budget.
Some of the Fringe’s comedy stalwarts are with Just The Tonic. Lewis Schaffer is still promising to be Free Until Famous, but in a massive twist actually charging you £5, at The Community Project. Mick Ferry, despite hitching rides on McIntyre and Bishop’s comedy vehicles, insists he Is Just A Bloke, and you can pay-what-you-want at the Tron to hear a man who likes Bad Manners, but hates bad manners.
Burt Lancaster Pierced My Hymen When I Was 11 makes for one hell of a show title, but we are reliably informed it isn’t just shock marketing. In fact it’s just one of the stories that Sara Mason, who grew up in Hollywood, has up her sleeve, and some of the best are being saved back for future shows.
Shock titles, pun titles, aaaaaaaaaaadding lots of ‘a’s to your title – there are plenty of ways performers try to attract the eye in the Fringe brochure. Sounding a little bit like someone else appears to have been Franks and Skinner‘s tactic. Less the chummy, Brummy fifty-something, more a surreal duo, claiming to be ‘loud, proud, placid and flaccid’. Does make them hard to find in Google though.
On the subject of names, Charlie Dupre makes a good name for a philosopher, less good for a rapper. Undeterred, Dupre is merging the two for Charlie and the Philosorappers, a trawl through the history of thought in hip-hop form.
The linguistically inclined might be tempted to Louise Reay’s comedy show in Chinese, It’s Only Words. You won’t understand, but you will, apparently. You can also hear about Omid Singh’s Favourite Words In The English Language. He likes long stories with no endings, so let’s hope ‘monotonous’ isn’t one of them.
You may or may not want to know the 501 Things that Nicola Wren does in her bedroom, but at The Caves, you can find out in a “bonkers” theatrical piece of post-heartbreak, Starburst-and-poetry self-discovery. Meanwhile, the males amongst us might be able to relate to Mark Silcox: No Women Plenty Of Cry, a show to which he is banning females, since they have made his life a misery and he wants to explore his feelings in a safe space. Been there, mate. Totally feel your pain.
And should we be in the right part of town (The Community Project) at the right time of night (midnight), the Crap Music Rave Party sounds our bag. One way or another, we’ll be at Just The Tonic, so keep an eye out for reviews.
Find the full Just The Tonic programme on their website