Fringe 2016 – Austentatious,  Dracula & Darktales

Austentatious **** (4 stars) 

Anyone familiar with the Edinburgh Fringe probably already knows about Austentatious. It was a massive hit at the Free Fringe a couple years ago and became a paid show last year with sell out shows.  I decided to go for an early show incase it sold out again this year.  

The idea is a title is pulled from a “hat” of suggestions given by the audience and the actors play out a comedy show given that title in the style of a Jane Austen novel. 

The title selected at the show  I saw was “Jonny’s extraordinary trippy dream”. The cast did a great job of creating characters and generating some semblance of a plot. It was amusing and funny in parts,  partly due to watching the cast struggle through the improvising and partly due to the cast adding in their own humorous qips. 
It was good and although the show  I saw was not hysterically funny it is well worth seeing,  every show will be different and entertaining. 

Dracula ***** (5 stars) 

There’s two shows called  Dracula at this years Fringe, the one I saw was a comedy version at the Pleasance Courtyard. I did not expect much from a comedy version of Dracula but I was surprised to find this show to be brilliant! A cast of 5 play numerous characters in a retelling of the classic Bram Stoker’s tale,  the plot follows the original story fairly closely (for the most part) but is packed full of clever one liners and subtle,  and not so subtle, jokes. They also throw in a couple clever modern references e.g. Dracula arrives at the dance with a Watermelon followed with the line  “I carried a Watermelon” 😂 (it makes more sense in context) . They also throw in a few clever references to the fact that the actors play multiple characters (why do Van Helsing and Renfield look so similar?) 

This show is one of the great things about The Fringe,  it is a hidden gem that you’re not likely to come across anywhere else. If you get the chance to see it do so. It is brilliantly written and extremely well played. 

Darktales *** (3 stars)

A cast of three brings this dark play to “life” and is well presented and well acted but did not, for me, live up to the advertising.  The show starts with the lead telling a ghost story,  the typical sort of urban legend told around a camp fire. I found myself hoping this wasn’t  going to be the whole play and it was not,  without giving away any spoilers the play eventually moved on to the real story involving the other two actors. And then suddenly it went off to telling another “ghost” story before eventually getting back to the plot. 

The show was well acted and definitely dark but not particularly scary. It does have a couple nice effects and makes some limited use of video. I still do not see the point of the two “ghost” stories,  they seemed to me to be completely  superfluous to the play as a whole.  I found myself leaving mildly entertained but some what disappointed. 

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