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Edinburgh Fringe 2013

A Brief History of Beer

Wish Experience

Genre: Comedy, Drama

Venue: The Free Sisters


Low Down

An hour of edutainment that takes uson a journey through the history of beer with comedy, theatre and plenty of visual-aid supported storytelling


I grew up in Essex where they drank a lot of lager. I went to college in Brighton which had its own real ale festival and boasts Dragon’s Blood and Harvey’s.
This is a beer show in a pub spiked with multi media and a deep mine of research, delivered by two accessible and fluent performers, Trish Parry and Will Glenn.
The thing about beer is… Well, over the next hour we find out as we ride the quantum beer continuum and find out how beer became so canned and bland. In mockumentary format Trish and Will are our guides in the pint machine, our beer Trekkies.
Comedy theatre lies at the heart of engaging show – a decently written script delivered as an hour long pint of storytelling with a pleasing and not too intrusive improvisational head. The comedy is warm hearted yet never cheesy and I found myself drawn into the material.
There are laughs but more smiles – satisfying ones. Factoids are the bubbles in this fizzy flagon of edutainment. I enjoyed the occasional interaction between the two and wish there’d been more of it. I wanted the screen a bit closer but, apart from that, they make the most of the venue. Indeed, the content is woven well into the narrative and the comedy theatre format. A particular highlight for me was William Glenn’s Dick Van Dyke ‘Merry Boppins’ Cockney accent when we arrive in Industrial Revolution London. The performers throw themselves fully into the proceedings and their enthusiasm is infectious.
There’s a technical thumbs up too to the use of sound, music and some pretty nifty back projection that added to and supported the live performance. There’s no clunky PowerPoint here but a fairly slick multi media backdrop.
The show also manages to take in a few serious issues along the way, for example the impact of pasteurisation not only on reducing the health properties of food (and beer) but also it’s sanitisation of taste.
There’s some enjoyable film along the way in what is an energetic and well plotted history of the golden nectar in a show that is definitely pro-beer.
This is a very accessible show, which proceeds at a swift pace, ensuring interest is held throughout. A golden hour, endearing, fun and educational. There’s some guest stand up thrown in and suddenly this smooth beer feels more like a strong pint of snake bite. Oh, and there’s a bar at the back. Recommended.