Fringe 2016 – Wychwood,  The Oxford Gargoyles Jazz A Capella,  Steele Edge : Maerial Arts Illusion Show,  Randy Writes A Novel

Wychwood **** (4 stars)

Wychwood is an asylum, that closed it doors in  1916, this show takes you inside and tells the tails of some of its inmates. 

It’s actually a show mixing four edwardian horror tales with music. Its mostly acting  with a few songs thrown in.  The acting is,  for the most part,  will done by a youngish cast,  I did think that some of the acting was a little stilted at times but perhaps the coupke individuals were selected for their singing ability over their acting. For the most part it was very well acted and the singing interludes are well done although perhaps a little out of place at times,  but isn’t that the way of musicals write often?  People bursting into song for no apparent reason 😆

The stories themselves were quite good and fairly original. The main characters,  (inmates of the asylum) appearing in straight jackets to introduce their tale before it is reenacted. 

There are lots of well done effects and a combination of live music and additional sound effects add to the atmosphere. There are also some nice “special” effects that adds to the show,  not hugely expensive effects (e. g. a rocking horse that starts rocking on its own,  a music box that opens and closes when no-one is near it,  a disembodied head in a cupboard) but clever enough.  It’s nice to see a the extra effort go into some props,  unlike a lot of Fringe shows that just leave it to the imagination.

All in all its a good,  dark and creepy show with much more plus points than a few minor ones. 

The Oxford Gargoyles: Jazz A Cappella  ***** (5 stars)

 I’ve seen this show a few times over the years and it never disappoints.  Each year is new and a delight to see.  The performers change from year to year but the high standards are always maintained. 

Their repetoire of songs is quite varied, including a track from The Jungle Book (King of the Swingers)  and “Twist and Shout” as well as some improvised jazz “bebob”. 

Along with the excellent singing the show is well choreographed,  not axillary dancing but moving around the stage for different line ups and formations for different songs. Most (if not all)  of the take centre stage at one time or another for solos and/duets. 

Is always a good show and I’ll no doubt try and see them again next year. 

Steele Edge: Martial Arts Illusion Show * (1 star) 

The show starts off with two guys doing some martial arts moves,  kick punches,  tumbles and somersaults,  this is a good start and they are fairly impressive (hence the 1 star). 

The rest of the show is led by a guy doing some fairly cheesy magic tricks. All of these tricks we’ve seen before and seen done better. Some of the props looked home made,  others can be bought at any decent magic shop. 

At one stage the lead man started throwing playing cards around like thowing stars,  this seemed a bit pointless not to mention a little dangerous as he wasn’t very accurate,  I was sitting in the front row and one of the cards almost hit me,  I felt it brush my hair and if I hadnt ducked it may have hit me! 

The rest of the magic tricks were pretty poorly executed e. g.  you could clearly see a person moving into position when a sheet was raised,  and the “empty” box obviously had mirrors in it to hide the secret compartment. 

A very amateur show and not worth the ticket price! 


Randy Writes A Novel
***** (5 stars) 

This is basically a one “man” stand-up comedy show,  except Randy is a puppet that wouldn’t look out of place on The Muppet Show,  although  he has an Australian accent and swears a lot. 

I first saw Randy at The Fringe a few years ago,  then he was a drunk!  The next time I saw him he had given up drinking and was trying to sort his life out. He is still on the wagon and has now written a novel!  

He admits he is rather scared about publishing it unless it isn’t received well so has decided to get the opinion of the Fringe audience by reading the manuscript. 

He is rather nervous about reading it and keeps procrastinating by talking about other subjects including Ernest Hemmingway,  the meaning of art,  being a vegan,  etc.  

It’s a hysterically funny show,  even though Randy’s features can’t move be seems to be able express real emotions.  Combined with a lot of humour and rather coarse language he puts on a fabulous show.   

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