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Edinburgh Fringe 2012

Guardian Reader

William Hammer Lloyd

Genre: Storytelling


Just The Tonic at The Caves


Low Down

Trying to find an audience member in the Edinburgh Fringe who has at least a passing acquaintance with Britain’s most Liberal newspaper is not exactly a challenging task – it’s pretty much like shooting fish in a barrel, which really sounds like a task more suited to Daily Mail readers. Our host, who perhaps unsurprisingly looks like a character from Doonesbury, is a pleasant guide though this late night show.


It’s fair to say that a good amount of William Hammer Lloyd’s audience are singing from the same broadsheet: they’re not exactly going to be surprised at whatever appalling headline from the Mail gets name-checked. In fact, it’s reasonable to assume that the majority of people who click on that paper’s most controversial news stories are in fact dismayed Guardianistas sharing it around themselves. 

Guardian Reader is an enjoyable show, but not quite either of the things it suggests with its title. It’s not quite about the paper and its politics ( Mark Thomas this isn’t), and it’s not entirely about what it is to be a reader of a paper that would seem to form the opinions of most of the types of people that, say, would take time to read a theatre review like this, but is actually one of lowest circulations of any papers in the UK. This latter is the greatest shame, since it’s clearly the sort of show our host wants it to be, and many times almost is: appalled at his mother’s reading of the Daily Mail, he convinces her to read his paper of choice. She agrees to do so, on the condition that he lives up to his open-minded ideals, and reads her paper for the same period of time. She keeps her side of the bargain; he does not. The fact that this indicates the disturbing idea that Mail readers are more open minded than Guardian readers isn’t really developed fully.
And that’s the flaw with this otherwise intelligent and amusing hour: as we’ve indicated, it’s at least likely that the majority of the audience are going to either read, or respect the Guardian. While it’s true that Hammer Lloyd’s presumption of that fact is a fair characteristic of the average Guardian reader, he doesn’t really attack the thing he loves (or himself) often enough. His paper of choice is as flawed and problematic a publication as any of its rivals, even if it has slightly less pictures of breasts and a lot more stories about Pussy Riot. The conclusions he has drawn by the end of the show are logical, but it feels like a little too much of a short cut on the journey. All that said, we look forward to the sequel: G2? Or The Observer?