Note: This review is from the 2015 Fringe

@ Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh, until Mon 31 Aug 2015 @ 14:30

James Craze brings to life the true story of his granddad, Ernie Hort, an ordinary man born in 1924 who lived and worked through World War Two, in this fast-paced and wonderfully comical one-man play.

Craze plays 34 characters in 50 minutes taking the audience on a journey, originally told in Hort’s unpublished autobiography, where he was brought up in the working class society of East London, survived the Blitz as a teenager, served in the Navy during World War Two, before returning home, meeting the love of his life, and struggling to find better pay to support his family financially.

Craze, a 23-year-old actor from London, brings the characters to life with a lyrical wit. In the setting of the Billiard Room at the Gilded Balloon, a small studio set and minimal use of props allows us to engage with each of the wonderfully crafted people he plays. With just a simple re-position of a flat cap, the odd costume and voice change, Craze flits between a raft of personalities, from Mr Pilcher, the effeminate schoolmaster, to Bill Savage, the gruff boxing coach, to his grandfather, Ernie, portraying him at various ages.

Craze’s grandfather might not have sailed around the world or contributed to any world records but this is a charming play, well crafted and definitely worth putting on your Fringe schedule. It’s a nostalgic little gem.