Colin Hoult: The Death of Anna Mann – Pleasance Courtyard ★★★★☆
Colin Hoult says goodbye to his most famous character, fading actress Anna Mann. The comedian has been appearing as Anna for years with a cheap wig and slightly dodgy eye makeup. Now he gets out with a bang that is heard over the edge of Edinburgh.
Anna, an actress, singer, and welder — because you “have to have a backing” — tells us she was once the “creme de le menthe of society,” and speaks with a luxurious purr as she walks us through her life. There are memories of her childhood struggling to fit into “a sea of monotony” and her not-so-fame on stage and screen.
We dive in and out of her love life and career – a role as a resident corpse City of Holby; a major appearance in a musical version of The Empire Strikes Back. characters with bizarre, Toast to London-similar names are introduced and then discarded, mere supporting roles on the Anna Mann show.
Hoult’s commitment to this surreal role is remarkable, his softly spoken voice somehow totally believable as an aging woman. But the show excels when Hoult himself begins to fight back beneath his creation. His recent ADHD diagnosis is alluded to and then undercut by Anna’s “very brave” coo. As the show reaches its climax, it becomes clear that letting Anna go is an act of self-care for Hoult. He stands before us with his wig off, for the first time without a facade. It may be a classic Fringe trope, but this closer is a poignant yet fitting tribute to a truly iconic character.
Amy Gledhill: The Girl Before The Girl You Marry – Monkey Barrel Comedy ★★★★★
Amy Gledhill has one hell of an Edinburgh Fringe. Her comedy duo The Delightful Sausage is nominated for Best Show, while her solo hour is one of the liveliest at the festival (and also earned her a Best Newcomer nomination). I’m happy to say that this buzz is well deserved. You will struggle to find a better constructed show than The girl before the girl you marryand Gledhill itself seems destined for greatness.
On stage, she introduces herself as Amy Christine Stella Gledhill – Stella for her father’s favorite beer. “Two middle names. is she fancy Or is she trash?” she giggles.
In her happy hour, Gledhill explores her childhood, spent as a sickly child “made of dust, rennies and second-hand smoke” on a council estate in Hull. The youngest of seven children, she used to drag a rock on a string to prove she was emotionally mature enough for her parents to get her a dog. We’re getting more fun stories, with a queen flashing routine as the highlight in a stacked set.
The show’s title comes from Gledhill’s story of trying to help emotionally downtrodden men, only to have them leave her and marry someone else almost immediately. Sometimes it’s 18 months – in a really shocking story that’s constantly being teased, it’s only three hours.
Gledhill’s dating mishaps make for hilarious comic material, but it’s actually their happy, current relationship that delivers the funniest routine of the set. She gleefully shares a story about ingesting cannabis-infused chocolate she bought on Google with her boyfriend and how the couple went insane at a Pizza Express in central London. Sounds funny on paper – in person it made me laugh. Remember Gledhill’s name because he’ll be everywhere.
Age is a feeling – Summerhall ★★★★☆
You just turned 25 years old. Your brain is fully formed, which means you can legally rent a car. You realize for the first time that death is slowly approaching. Your life is just beginning, but you are thinking about the end for the first time.
A second-person monologue, Haley McGees age is a feeling is a stunning reflection on the ups and downs of growing old. McGee is our narrator and she sits in front of us on a tall, ladder-like white chair. Her feet are bare and her jeans are slightly dirty.
Surrounding her are 12 potted plants, each bearing a different noun: “hospital”, “inbox”, “dog”. They present different stories within the play, with the audience randomly choosing different ones while discarding the others. Every performance of age is a feeling is its own unique combination of stories. The paths separate and some stories are never told to us. “No one knows everything about your life — not even you,” says McGee.
McGee may be young, but she writes with exquisite depth about experiences at all stages of life – love, death, illness, divorce. She regrets not using skincare when she was young and vows to be eating more vegetables, drinking more water and exercising more every decade. The words “And you will… for a while” always follow. Some things we never learn.
age is a feeling summarizes the complex emotions that accompany aging – the devastating losses alongside freedom. There are moments when it feels like the show is overly constructed to evoke tears, but you can’t deny the beauty in McGee’s writing and performance.
Vir Das: Wanted – Pleasance Courtyard ★★★★☆
Comedy may be plagued by talk of “abandonment culture,” but few comedians have experienced the aftermath of controversial routines quite like Vir Das. Last year, the Indian comedian made headlines around the world after delivering a speech in Washington about hypocrisy in his homeland. “Do you know how badly you have to screw it up for the BBC to say you divided India?” he blares.
Das quickly became the most wanted man in the country. He was reported to the police for sedition and defamation of India abroad. News reporters called him a terrorist on live television. He and his family had to turn off their phones to avoid thousands upon thousands of death threats. “Never complain to me about how a ‘mob’ was after you,” he warns his fellow Fringe comedians with a smug eye roll.
Das’s experience with True Cancellation is a fascinating story that he explores in depth Searched. He describes boarding a plane back to India, unsure if he would be arrested and taken to jail once he landed. A conversation with the Air India steward who supported him when he was Public Enemy No. 1 is touching and sweet. You can feel the frustration when others only defended him after he was released by the police.
However, when Das deviates from that central story, his material fails to evoke the same emotional response, with more observational material feeling generic. Nevertheless, his voice is definitely worth hearing.
https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/comedy/reviews/edinburgh-fringe-reviews-comedy-theatre-amy-gledhill-b2153475.html The Week on Stage at Edinburgh Fringe: Amy Gledhill, Colin Hoult, Vir Das, Age is a Feeling