Basil Brush: Unleashed @ Underbelly Bristo Square

The British children's TV classic is revamped for an adult audience

Review by Dominic Corr | 07 Aug 2019
  • Basil Brush

Never one for innocence, this Sixties legend tread the line of risqué on more than one occasion. In this adult version of the classic character, Basil Brush is, well, unleashed and can lay into his audience the way we’ve always wished. However, this old fox has more chew than bite left in those glistening fetters.

Blending his child-friendly gimmicks with a chat show, Basil Brush: Unleashed comes with an assortment of games, slapstick and interviews with fellow Fringe performers. Childhood stars have a habit of drawing out a lot from their guests, and a flirtatious Basil is no exception.

A bedtime story: Fifty Shades of Orange. It sounds cringe, and it is, but it’s also where we get the look at the authentic, adult Basil. There needs to be more; no one should feel safe. Basil gets away with audience involvement because, well, we adore Basil. If Basil asks you to enact a salacious scene, you damn well get down and dirty, capitalise on this.

Regrettably, Basil keeps a toe solildy in the teen-friendly camp. If you expect filth, it’s there somewhere, but it will depend on the audience. Gauging them from the get-go, Basil and his current Mister read the crowd and respond with the appropriate gags. If they smell smut, they give it. If they detect luke-warm middle-class Tuesdays, they tone it down. This doesn’t stop all of that pent-up venom though, with a few sly jabs at Rolf Harris, the odd expletive and political satire slipping to the bigger laughs.

After fifty years in showbiz, it’s quite hard to bite your tongue any longer. Basil Brush: Unleashed isn’t the naughty puppet show we may have been hoping for. Still catering for auntie Beeb, this national treasure makes for an enjoyable post-vino Fringe evening, or more likely, a future Saturday evening show.

Basil Brush: Unleashed, Underbelly Bristo Square (Cowbarn), until 25 Aug, 6.45pm, £12-14