Edinburgh Fringe 2012
Two heavyweights leave their audience contending with split sides and an ear worm that will give you anything but a sense of peace and quiet.
One is the legendary writer who has worked with some of the biggest names in the British comic pantheon. The other is perhaps the most skillful strummer of stringed instruments to emerge since Orpheus first rhymed Calliope with “I did it my way”. Together they are Barry Cryer and Ronnie Golden, returning to the Fringe with a double act that is one of the rowdiest bouts of silliness to grace a stage this year.
The audience is fired up and ready to go. These consummate entertainers do not miss a beat. Laughter erupts from every side as they dive headlong into their set, a mix of words and song. The delivery is both charming and flawless. Unhurried but pacy. There are some in the audience who have come to see the bemedalled veteran of Radio 4 comedy and are not familiar with the Oscar-nominated Golden. They get the best surprise of all. Golden is a man who can share a stage with Cryer, bring out the best in his partner and knock the crowd’s socks clean off in his own right.
At the heart of this show is a very special bromance. Cryer and Golden are at obvious ease in one another’s company and like any good couple they are fun to be around. It is great to see Cryer getting out a bit more these days. His show last year (whilst hysterically funny, a schooling by the master joke-teller) was a gentle stroll in the park compared with this year’s olympian 400m hurdle dash. These guys work for every laugh and are rewarded with gold more than once.
A projected presentation compliments several of the songs. This amusing whimsy comes courtesy of happy snapper Steve Ullathorne, whose exhibition of comedians’ portraits is outside. It was well worth the craned necks we got sitting at the side of the stage. Barry and Ronnie have been photoshopped into their favourite bands. For the latter the Beatles, for the former the Spice Girls (not an image you will soon forget).
For me this show is what the Fringe ought to be about. World class performers playing an average-sized venue resting on not a single laurel. Self-deprecation without false modesty. An ageless generosity of spirit. Fine material, expertly tailored, fabulously worn. We expected this show to be funny but no one could have predicted it would be this magical.