Reviews: Liam Rudden's four 'Must See' shows to see at Edinburgh Fringe this week

IF variety is the spice of life, then few events have the multitude of flavours boasted by the Edinburgh Festival Fringe - there really is something for everyone.

Monday, 12th August 2019, 13:45 pm
David Benson in Cato Street 1820

Testament Of Yootha (Gilded Balloon Teviot: Turret, 11am ****), is the perfect way to start your Fringe day. Light and amusing but with a sentimental poignancy .

Effortlessly, actress Caroline Burns Cooke transports one and all back to the swinging' 60s and shameless 70s, eras that saw sitcom star Yootha Joyce soar great heights, while smiling through loneliness and emptiness of her fame.

Terrified of being typecast as one of the UK's greatest comedy characters, Mildred Roper, and self-medicating on up to a bottle of Brandy a day for the best part of a decade, tragedy and comedy intertwine as we watch her descent into alcoholism.

Caroline Burns Cooke as Yootha Joyce

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Cooke captures the brash tenderness of the troubled star in a warm and interactive performance that thugs at the heart-stings. An enlightening production for fans of Man About The House and George and Mildred, The Testament of Yootha epitomises all that is good about Fringe theatre; a tight script and truthful performance.

Cato Street 1820 (The Pleasance Courtyard: Beneath, 3.15pm ****) meanwhile, is a master-class in story-telling from Fringe favourite David Benson.

The past informs the present in this timely tale of an often over-looked episode of British history, the Cato Street Plot to assassinate the Cabinet of Prime Minister Lord Liverpool. In a relaxed, convivial manner, Benson regales his audience with the story, illustrated only with the odd song and his deft knack for morphing from character to character in the blink of an eye.

It's a spell-binding turn that brings the past to life in glorious and often grizzly detail. Engrossing, Cato Street 1820 confirms Benson as a Master of the One-Man Show.

Basil Brush is unleashed

Story-telling of the highest calibre, it's also an example of how we are manipulated at every turn by the establishment, and serves as a stark warning for today's uncertain times.

Boom! Boom! If it's just an hour of fun you are looking for, then Basil Brush: Unleashed (Underbelly Bristo Square: Cowbarn, 6.45pm ****) is exactly that.

Risque, boisterous and downright daft at times, Basil brings the watershed forward to 7pm for some good old-school belly laughs - in other words, his humour is not always politically correct. From politics to dating apps, water-pistols to custard pies, a sing-along to a glittering finale, it's pure panto from start to finish.

Nostalgia is a powerful tool and Basil knows how to bend and shape it to ensure each generation of fans get something from it. Arguably the funnest hour on the Fringe.

The Good Scout by Glenn Chandler

Finally, another forgotten episode of British history has the spotlight shone upon it in Taggart creator Glenn Chandler's The Good Scout (Space: Surgeons' Hall, 8.20pm *****), a rattling spy-thriller in the style of the 'Boys Own' adventures of old.

There's a plot to kill Hitler in the offing as two local Rover Scouts host members of the Hitler Youth as they embark on a cycle tour of Britain in 1937. But could these German cyclists actually be spyclists?

Moments of laugh out loud humour and unashamed high camp are accompanied by an ever present vein of underlying threat in a well-researched script, delivered by a talented cast of six as the action twists and turns towards its unexpected climax. A gripping 80 minutes that, like many of Chandler's recent hit Fringe productions has a bittersweet affair of 'the love that dare not speak its name' at its heart.

Tickets for all shows are available from www.edfringe.com or by calling 0131-226-0000