Edinburgh Fringe 2010
Eric Davidson is a Scottish poet and comedian who revels in using the everyday Scottish banter, that you hear at bus stops and over the garden fence, and tackling political and topical issues. He is superbly ribald, and with a strong Midlothian accent he percussively delivers his rhymes that reek of the twisted black humour that Scots are infamous for.
In the peculiar venue that is upstairs in Symposium Hall, Davidson plays to a full house. He bounds onto the stage with a lethal look to the audience, and begins the relentless verbal attack that is his trademark. This acerbic wordsmith effortlessly reels off interlocking syllables with rapid delivery and the audience dissolve. Their dissolution is a mixture of awe at Davidson’s rhythmic metre and vocabulary and laughter at his droll outlook. It’s clear to see why he is popular, this performer is from the same village streets as many of the audience and they revel in his ability to mock their parochial upbringing. His pauses allow for the knowing guffaws as he spits and spews out tales that include the fantasy of “Humping Keira Knightley on a Nightly Basis” to a right of passage for every young man with the “village bike”
In particular, the newly composed “Ma Wee Vuvuzela” is inspired writing.
He has limited but inventive props to assist him, his wife’s ironing board acts as a drum kit, and I suspect his children were without their toys as a child’s keyboard accompanies his anthem for Posh and Becks. His, far too easy, political backlash at what he dubs the Cameron / Clegg love pact raises a cheer. He could easily persuade this audience to march to Westminster. He has them in the palm of his hands for the majority of the show. Although peddling humour, he pushes the audience’s conscience regularly. It’s admirable to hear his poem of the Portobello drunk who bridges the gap between, Edinburgh locals who feel the fringe is not for them and the sophisticated theatre goers who pay through the nose for an exclusive ticket. Then the poem about Joanna Lumley’ much publicised fight against the British treatment of the Ghurkhas, raises laughs but still makes you think about the rights and wrongs of the event.
It’s not all plain sailing though. Davidson obviously wants to develop his performance material and attempts to lift his product to another level by the incorporation of backing tracks and visual stimuli. Unfortunately, this backfires often, with the tracks drowning out the essential poetry. The audience strain at this point to hear the vital punch lines which are jettisoned over their heads. It’s a distraction that should work but doesn’t due to technical naiveté. The volume levels are erratic and he needs to do more with the visuals. Occasionally he appears startled by their appearance and I suspect this is because their presence is hit or miss.
The meat and potatoes of this fringe show is Davidson himself. His intelligent rhyming, style of delivery and awareness of timing allows maximum impact when he on a roll. He is vitriolic and astute at the same time and it is this, the audience love. The age ranges of his appreciative ticket buyers are from teenagers to pensioners. They love to hear stories about the places they know well, laughing with recognition at references to places that they usually never hear about unless it’s on Crime Scene.
Whether Davidson can successfully add digital media to his product in the future remains to be seen, but his ability to put the thoughts of his neighbours and friends into an entertaining dialogue is not something to be sniffed at.