Edinburgh Fringe 2018
An old dog takes a reflective, semi-autobiographical look back at life growing up in a Jewish household in the 1960’s. And some other new Shtick as well.
It’s a damp, dull Edinburgh Monday, but they’re out in force to see Daniel Cainer’s latest Fringe show, Old Dog, New Shtick. Peering around the packed Wee Coo at the Underbelly’s George Square venue, most people look as if they’re from the liberal, grey haired Guardian reading cohort, with a few perhaps also familiar with the utterings of the Jewish Chronicle.
And, judging by the general bonhomie of Canier’s very friendly “meet and greet” process, quite a few know him or are fans of his gentle brand of (on this occasion) semi-autobiographical storytelling set to music.
Turns out Cainer is a cricket fan as we start with a humorous but very poignant recounting of his first visit to a game of cricket, the final test between England and the West Indies at the Kennington Oval back in 1966, when he was just six years old. It’s a tale well told, particularly as his grandfather tries to explain to him the complex rules and social mores surrounding this quintessentially English pastime.
Songs about a visit to a Butlins’ Holiday Camp and one to the Battersea Pleasure Gardens complete our tour of Cainer’s memories from the 1960’s whereupon we fast forward to his experience as a Jew giving a concert in Germany just a few years ago before concluding with a ditty on a cocaine ridden Rabbi.
It’s a well constructed piece of storytelling to music with some relaxed patter to bridge the songs. But it could be improved with a little more variety in the musical delivery – you felt towards the end you were listening to the same song only with different words – and whilst the show’s informality was in some ways an asset, on other ways it made things seem a little under-rehearsed, odd for something now into its second week.
For all that it remained an amusing hour, particularly for those of you (like me) who grew up in the 1960’s and who enjoy a nostalgic look back at what seem, from this distance at any rate, to be simpler, more innocent times.