Festival Review: Slightly Fat Features & Kubrick³

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Slightly Fat Features
Matt Barnard, Richard Garaghty, Jon Hicks, Gareth Jones, Robert Lee, Goronwy Thom, Herbie Treehead
7 August
Pleasance Courtyard
3/5

Comedy cabaret isn’t something often respected as highly as other art forms, but as Slightly Fat Features proves, if it’s kept to occasion then it can be a delight in its own charming way.

Variety’s a pretty rare thing these days, so it’s refreshing to see it done so honestly and classically. With an almost Tommy Cooper-esque self-awareness, a tight group of several magicians, musicians and workies (the seven performers switch between each of these roles by the way) perform their own unique concoction of a variety show, marked with cheeky self-deprecation and, chiefly, a real knack for physical comedy.

Their self-mocking attitude for the DIY vibe they maintain in contrast to bigger budget versions (“Cirque du Soleil must be shitting themselves,” Barnard comments dryly during a mediocre trick) is justified not only by their comedic confidence but by the fact that they do have actual talent. Circus tricks, magic acts, finales with tigers (sort of) and even an uplifting sing-a-long are all tied together by a mutual love for the stage, comedy and entertainment.

From the bios of Slightly Fat Features in Fringe programmes and the like, you might go in expecting a genuine circus of sorts. Even though that isn’t the case, the fact that the whole thing is almost a mockery of its inability to provide such a show makes for a perfectly pleasant and fun way to spend a Festival evening. After all, the Fringe is a time for enjoying what you might usually not.

Slightly Fat Features is showing at the Pleasance Courtyard at 5:50pm every day, excluding the 12th, until the 26th of August.

Kubrick³
David Byrne, Kate Baiden, Leah Milner, Andy McLeod, Madeleine MacMahon, Ed Cobbold, Sophie Wallis
8 August
Pleasance Courtyard
5/5

Kubrick³ (i.e. Kubrick cubed) comically tells the fascinating true story of Alan Conway, the man who claimed, and succeeded in claiming, to be Stanley Kubrick to many members of public, via the medium of the deceased Conway’s ghost, divided into one actor and three actresses simultaneously portraying the enigmatic Conway’s life, including the lives he made up. It’s very simple really.

Conway, who died in 1998, was born in Whitechapel in 1934 (although he liked to tell some people he was a Polish Jew who escaped out of a concentration camp), before becoming a Borstal (youth prison) regular. The play depicts the four Alans retelling and justifying his life choices to his son, who’s frequently on hand as the logical audience surrogate. Underlining the incredible amount of fraud Conway extended himself to is a message that while it may seem immoral or unethical or whatever to us, what Conway did was in a way, ultimate living. He became Stanley Kubrick, and in doing so became whatever he wanted to be. Or, you know, he committed fraud and benefited greatly from lying to people so that they’d treat him better. Depends how you look at it really.

Kubrick³ only starts to prove its worth when you realise that the jokes aren’t stopping. A fine chemistry between the four Alans is matched with a brilliantly creative and inventive use of the stage and its minimalist collection of props (pretty much a blackboard, a cardboard box and a plate of Fox Glacier Mints). Genuinely laugh out loud quality, all of the performers are naturally comically talented enough to provide a sense of uninterruptible flow, a flow with incredible stamina.

The perfect show is one you never want to end. Thanks to the regularity and consistency of the constant jokes after jokes, this is one of those shows. That said, to finish in as surprisingly tender and inspiring a manner as Kubrick³ did, even the ending was a delight.

Kubrick³ is showing at the Pleasance Courtyard at 7:10pm every day, excluding the 13th, until the 26th of August.

Hamish Gibson
National Collective

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About Hamish Gibson

Hamish Gibson is an arts journalist studying English and Politics at Aberdeen University. National Collective Arts Editor and Scotland On Sunday new music columnist.

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