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Frank Sidebottom The Home of the Retrospective


Edinburgh Fringe 2017: Giants: For an Hour @ Pleasance Courtyard

What the Edinburgh Fringe website says:

After a sell-out debut show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe last year, Giants return with their sophomore hour. And boy, will it be great? Boy: no. Join Barney and Will for their unique brand of musically-infused sketch comedy, as they chart the past, present and future of their lifelong friendship with their 'distinctive twist on the genre's dynamics' (Chortle.co.uk). Guardian's Recommended Shows 2016 and Metro's Top Three Sketch Shows 2016. **** (Skinny). **** (Edinburgh Festivals Magazine). **** (FreshAir.org.uk). 'Tightly woven and precision-timed, smartly self-aware but capable of dishing out big, daft laughs too' (List).

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Two giants amongst comedians?

Barney Fishwick and Will Hislop are a pair of lifelong friends who perform their own comedy act as a spoof Norwegian Eurovision pop band called Fjord. The trouble is that the domineering, limelight-hogging alpha male of the duo (Barney) wants to move on from the silly Nordic accents, while the clingy Will still wants to continue with it out of sheer nostalgia and affection for their longstanding creative partnership.

At the beginning and during several moments throughout the show we get the band’s comedic musical numbers, which come imbued some vaguely absurdist humour - as evident right from their opening when Will’s lyrics go on about him being so bad he rides a bicycle at night without putting the headlights on. At that moment, Barney stops the tune and expresses his disgust at his negligent behaviour - and we can see a rift opening up between the two.

In between the music we get flashbacks to moments throughout their lives together, such as a two-man production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, where Will plays the actual coat. The result is a subversion of the traditional comedy double act of the kind where one has an assumed superiority over the other, who is a bit of a sad-but-harmless goofball. While most of such acts are only like that on stage, this one examines what it would be like if the working relationship between the two behind the scenes was similar in the sense that Barney constantly grabs all of the attention himself - except, tellingly, during that Fjord act which he hates so much.

A way with words…sometimes

There is some amusing word-play between the two; when Will calls Barney “pretentious” he responds “Look who’s calling the kettle noir.” A later Fjord musical number asking various world leaders to bury their hatchets and get on the dance floor is also a lot of fun, as is a jibe at the racist attitudes that contributed to Brexit. However, the material isn’t consistently strong throughout and there’s an occasional sense that the two comedians are struggling to keep a straight face while delivering it. The occasional moment of skimping in the props department also tends to reduce the impact of the show (for instance, during a gag involving Barney talking in his ridiculous “phone voice”, we hear a mobile phone sound effect but see him miming putting it to his ear - rather than using a real one).

It’s not a perfect show by any means, but it does have its entertaining moments and ideas.

Rating: ☆☆☆

Tickets are available from the following link:

Edinburgh Fringe 2017 logo

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