Edinburgh Fringe Reviews: Based on the Book

Bookworms will find plenty to enjoy in these two shows.

Feature by Jennifer McKiernan | 14 Aug 2016

Opening her show offering sherries from a drinks trolley sets the wry dinner party vibe of Lucy Porter's latest Fringe offering. Loosely based on Jenny Offill's novel Dept. of Speculation, Consequences [★★★★] takes a ramble through Porter's marriage and suburban family life.

The compromises of ageing are gently lampooned with a 20-something audience member being quizzed about his favourite A-roads and service stations and then fed with chocolate fingers. Visits to urban farms come under scrutiny but the edgier material seems a bit wasted when it's drowned out by laughter at puns about sheep.

The same goes for the lack of interest shown in heartfelt material about the growing gap with current affairs she tries to bridge by talking to younger people about big issues like transsexuality.  Some of the funniest bits are her letters to her 16 year old self and letters from future Lucy. Losing touch with her passion for music segues into grounds for divorce when she discovers her husband's favourite band. The overall effect is of being enveloped in a smothering hug without having been challenged or made uncomfortable in any way. 

Richard Todd [★★★] also uses a novel as the basis for his eponymous show about the pitfalls of ambition. He transposes the story of poet-cum-scientist Frankenstein onto his own hopes of comedic success and fears he has risked everything but overreached himself.

Todd's love of cleaning and getting deep into the nooks and crannies has something of the soul of the poet to it as well as being his fallback career option. He wrings a surprising amount of humour from jokes about hoovering linked to a surreally beautiful line about his mum's parenting skills. Hampered by a lack of confidence, Todd's performance nevertheless has flashes of brilliance with complex, imaginative surrealism and an endearingly chaotic style.

Richard Todd, Laughing Horse @ The Cellar Monkey, 4-28 Aug (not 15) 3.45pm, Free Lucy Porter: Consequences, Pleasance Courtyard (Forth) 3-28 Aug (not 15, 22), 5.30pm, £7-14 http://www.edfringe.com