Fringe Comedy Reviews: Liam Williams & Daniel Kitson

Feature by John Stansfield | 10 Aug 2015

There is a point in Liam WilliamsBonfire Night [★★★★☆] when he acts as if he’s being interviewed by some future version of Parkinson, and it's mentioned that Williams "got his start in stand-up." It’s a common theme in Williams’ oeuvre to date; the feeling of helplessness, not being able to affect any sort of change but not really being too bothered about it. What can a stand-up really do to change the problems of the world other than just mention them on stage? This is the eloquent voice of the millennial who’s show title was originally going to a frustrated emoji. For someone always on the verge of giving up the game he puts in a tough shift in what he calls ‘Bikram comedy’ upstairs at The Free Sisters. His show is worth the endurance test of heat exhaustion, and from the sounds of it he doesn’t plan on doing stand-up forever.

Williams could do worse than follow in the footsteps of another Edinburgh sweetheart in Daniel Kitson, who is here with his show Polyphony [★★★★☆]. Kitson still occasionally performs stand-up and will be doing a couple of charity gigs at the festival this year but mostly he sticks to experimental theatre to get his work on existentialism across. Williams’ mix of high brow and low lights is reminiscent of Kitson in that he manages the difficult task of seeming down to earth while discussing lofty ideas. In Polyphony Kitson sets up 15 speakers attached to iPods to tell the tale of one man’s struggle with his own self-enforced loneliness. The speakers are handed out to audience members and Kitson ‘interacts’ with the pre-recorded voices. It is self-referential, meta as all heck, and absolutely magical. Who knows what the future holds for Liam Williams, but he might want to go and check out Daniel Kitson’s show while he’s up. If he can get a ticket, that is.

Daniel Kitson: Polyphony, Summerhall, until 30 Aug (various dates), 12.15pm, £12

Liam Williams: Bonfire Night, The Free Sisters, until 30 Aug (various dates), 11.30pm up until 19th, 7.30pm from 20th. Free.