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Making a song and dance at the Fringe

Lee Levitt reviews comedy at the Edinburgh Fringe - including a show where he was the only member of the audience.

    Reuben Kaye
    Reuben Kaye

    Reuben Kaye

    Assembly Checkpoint, until August 27

    ★★★★★

     

    Reuben Kaye gives a stellar performance in his Fringe debut, with a captivating storytelling style and a wry line in camp humour surpassed only by his outstanding voice.

    The heavily eye-lashed and luridly made-up “Jewish cabaret star”, as he calls himself, is dressed to excess, with each costume change more over-the-top than the last.

    Kaye, 32, from Melbourne, backed by his band The Kayeholes, reworks rock and pop tunes by the likes of ZZ Top, Kate Bush and Annie Lennox to scabrous comic effect, producing a dazzling array of dirty ditties.

    Away from the dirt, we are introduced to his late father, a sculptor and artist who used to work in the Jewish community, and his mother, a film-maker and former ballerina.

    The winner of the best cabaret award at this year’s Adelaide Fringe, he has a mesmerising stage presence and could well be in line for more silverware in Edinburgh.

     

    It’s no job for a nice Jewish girl

    Black Market, until Aug 25 (not 12, 19). Waverley Bar Upstairs, Aug 14 and 21

    ★★★✩✩

     

    At the start of Rachel Creeger’s smiling trip through the highways and byways of a Modern Orthodox Jewish woman’s rather unorthodox life as a stand-up comedian, she talks about “coming out” as a Jew. It’s so true (for her, at least) and yet so redolent of the euphemism for revealing that you were gay decades ago that it made me cringe.

    From then on, the red-and-black bandana-wearing mother of two from Barnet engages her audience in an hour of refreshingly swear-free heimishe humour.

    A former pupil at the Hasmonean school for girls in Mill Hill, when it was “extremely Orthodox”, Creeger, 44, gives an amusing description of being told how babies were made by the religious instructor and tells her audience about the Jewish obsession with food.

    We learn about the Kosher Near Me app— “it’s like Grindr for bagels” — the excessive number of Jewish girls called Rachel and there’s a bit of audience engagement on the subject of things you have always wanted to know about Jews.

    My favourite section covers the Orthodox Jewish music scene and her part in it as a member of Kol Sheva, the seven-piece female vocal harmony group. She gets the audience to play the “band” her family formed for her late Alzheimer’s-suffering grandma.

     

    The jokes are warmly conveyed and while they don't set the house on fire this free show by the Greater Manchester Fringe best comedy winner was amply rewarded by its appreciative audience.

     

     

    Becky Rimmer’s Bat Mitzvah

    Heroes @ The Hive, until Aug 27

    (not Aug 13, 14, 22)

    ★★★★✩

     

    Candy Gigi conjures up a hormonal, spoilt 12-year-old Jewish girl from Hendon in this follow-up to last year’s anarchic Fringe gem If I had a Rich Man.

    Wearing a short light blue prom dress and inhabiting the sexually curious Becky with a squeaky high-pitched voice, Gigi is deliciously un-PC in a fast-paced, visually graphic performance.

    Her brattish facial gestures, temper tantrums and forays into the audience — members of which are routinely (but engagingly) humiliated on stage — are assisted by props including a blow-up doll, peyot, a sheitl, a doctored photo of Sadiq Khan as a Jew and tomato sauce.

    Candy Gigi
    Candy Gigi

     

    Gigi’s powerful voice is evident in a variety of numbers including her Nana singing: “Marry a Jew, or I’ll kill you” to the tune of the Hatikvah as well as artfully adapted hit musical songs.

    Go, but be warned: you could be yanked out of the audience, made to wear false teeth and subjected to a blast of Co-op squirty cream.

     

     

    Broke as a Joke

    theSpace @ Jurys, until Aug 25 (not Aug 12,19)

    ★★✩✩✩

     

    It must be a bit dispiriting to fly in from the United States for your Fringe debut in your mother’s native Scotland and to find your first audience consists of your wife and the reviewer from the JC.

    Such was the cosy, if slightly awkward, experience of Los Angeles-based New Yorker Danny Lobell whose routine about going from one fruitless job to another, as variously an audio cassette tape pusher for Jackie Mason on Broadway to a door-to-door light-bulb salesman and a failed “hairless cat mogul”, was played out to said reviewer scribbling away and his wife Kylie cackling supportively in the back row.

    It was rather meandering fare, featuring a half-decent impersonation of Mr Mason, but a commendable effort that both members of the audience enjoyed.

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