Edinburgh Fringe 2015
Cerebral entertainment for the plum-voweled battalions of Edinburgh society in a witty hour of song and patter from that doyen of the Fringe, Kit Hesketh-Harvey and his partner in rhyme James McConnel.
The sun is setting gracefully over the yardarm (or it would be if you could see it behind the dense clouds) in the elegant surroundings of the G&V Royal Mile Hotel, an idyllic setting for early evening banter (nay, badinage), mirth and music with Kit Hesketh-Harvey and his partner in rhyme and song, James McConnel.
And if ever an audience mirrored its performers, this was it. Judging by the plumy vowels, quixotic headgear, scarily-coloured trousers and proliferation of G&Ts, this was just the segment of the socio-economic strata at which Hesketh-Harvey and McConnel’s staple of cerebral, witty repartee and satirical song-writing is aimed. We even had someone over from the Cayman Islands, giving our duet a new set of material to work off before we’d even started – think tax avoidance and domicile gags.
With cabaret and sketch shows going overboard right now on Greek debt, it was a relief that these guys started with something different, a lament to the dying Blackberry to, what else, “Bye Bye Blackbird”. On we sped to a song about amusing place names before the first big hit of the evening, a parody of Donald Trump’s attempts to secure the Republican nomination for 2016. Hum “Nelly The Elephant” and you’re going to be on the money.
Migrants’ obsession with TK Max, a take on Fifty Shades of Grey along the lines of Victoria Wood’s infamous “Freda and Barry” number and a hilarious calypso extolling the virtues of Pilates (“Pilates, pilates, turning fatties into farties”) brought the house down.
It’s all very clever stuff – take a pretty familiar or simple piece of music and tell a new story to it. The audience will recognize the tune which then helps them pick up on and appreciate the words. And the frequents use of alliteration, innuendo, double entendre and neat word play all accentuate the intellectual feel to the show.
The melodramatic, gently camp delivery of Hesketh-Harvey is reminiscent of Hinge and Brackett at their finest (albeit absent their elegant Edwardian dress and plumage) and is nicely complemented by the urbane McConnel. They sound and act like many of the devoted married couples that are the backbone of their audience, finishing each other’s sentences as the patter cascades and flows, appearing quite spontaneous but no doubt much of this has been meticulously scripted. They are masters of comic timing as well – the pauses they insert are all perfectly rehearsed and set up the inevitable punch-line or denouement that follows.
Sent out into the dying embers of a Fringe evening with a warning not to dine at a certain well known chain that might rhyme with Fernando, we are left to reflect on a compelling hour from two very clever entertainers that was just right for the plumy voweled brigade.