The Edinburgh Festival is now in full swing and I have been fortunate enough to visit a couple of excellent pieces this weekend in the company of Madame Vin and Van the Man who was visiting from that Midlands metropolis, Nottingham.
Natasha Wood: Rolling with Laughter - I'm always wary about seeing or reading something by a friend. What happens if I don't like it or think it ill conceived? How do you hide your initial thoughts and come up with something true but non-inflammable? Fortunately I don't have to do this with Tash's play because it is excellent. It was well written, displaying both great wit and deep pathos, it zipped along as fast as Tash in her wheelchair and not once did it fall foul of political correctness.
Most people when faced with a character as forthright as Tash often clam up, unsure about how to react or whether they should even laugh along with the jokes, but the audience at 'Rolling...' soon felt comfortable enough to guffaw, chuckle and dare I saw splutter saliva on the bald man sitting on the front row.
Simon Amstell: No self - Amstell is known better to me as 'that guy with the big hair off 'Never Mind the Buzzcocks'', but he is also a successful comedian in his own right. This is gentle humour, not eyes watering but enough charm, wit and intelligence to last the hour without any embarrassing silences. His humour is based around the basic philosophical questions of the self and what a selfish society we have become.
"I am greatly relieved that universe is finally explainable. I was beginning to think it was me." WA - Mere Anarchy
"I awoke on Friday, and because the universe is expanding it took me longer than normal to find my robe."
WA - Mere Anarchy
I've been reading the new Woody Allen collection 'Mere Anarchy', his first new collection in 25 years. Now as any of you will know I am a huge Woody Allen fan - in fact the reason I write has probably more to do with him than any other influence. As a child growing up in a village in the Midlands I would squirrel myself away watching movies on a small portable TV and VHS video player I had installed in my bedroom. I love film...I lived for film but up to that point I only ever watched Hollywood movies. Then my Mum introduced me to WA films and I fell in love. For the first time I realised it was possible to be funny and entertaining but also clever and intelligent and a little bit different. WA's film spoke about writers, literature, European films, art - and I wanted to know about all of them. Through WA's work I begin to read and eventually to write.
That said his new work is (and I hate having to say this) okay...that's it...it's just alright. Like his last set of films there are some amusing bits, some clever ideas and one or two laugh out loud lines but nothing that has blown me away. Perhaps I've changed, perhaps WA has changed, after all I've been watching and reading his work for 20 years and he's been creating for nearly 50 years. You can't expect every piece of work to be amazing so I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. I still think he's a genius and one of the best film makers I'm ever likely to experience.
Read this week:
Mere Anarchy by woody Allen