tue 12/12/2017

Edinburgh Fringe: Margaret Cho/ The Wheel/ Jessica Forteskew | reviews, news & interviews

Edinburgh Fringe: Margaret Cho/ The Wheel/ Jessica Forteskew

Edinburgh Fringe: Margaret Cho/ The Wheel/ Jessica Forteskew

US Korean bisexual, a war-torn epic and posh comedy from Peckham

Margaret Cho: as ever, the gynaecological and scatological material makes an early appearance

Margaret Cho, Assembly ****

 

Margaret Cho is back, and how. Ten years away from the Fringe, the American-Korean bisexual - “I'm just greedy, I guess” - is a little softer around the edges maybe, but still as funny. With her lefty humour, punctuated by lots of adult content, she is waspish, but definitely not Waspish.

Margaret Cho is back, and how. Ten years away from the Fringe, the American-Korean bisexual - “I'm just greedy, I guess” - is a little softer around the edges maybe, but still as funny. With her lefty humour, punctuated by lots of adult content, she is waspish, but definitely not Waspish.

As ever, the gynaecological and scatological material makes an early appearance - oh, about two minutes into the set - but this is surprisingly classy stuff and the shock value never too painful. She talks about a potential lover who was perhaps put off by her unevenly cropped anal hair, or fantasising that, if she were a gay man, she would want a spit roast every day (use your imagination, or look it up at whatfootballersdointheirsparetime.com).

But her lust for life, men, women, who knows who or what, is gloriously realised in her comedy, and Cho is unafraid to reference her ethnic background for the sake of another joke. (Her liking for spit roasts is “because us Koreans love a barbecue”.)

Since she was last here, Cho has been on Dancing with the Stars on American television, where Bristol Palin was a fellow contestant, and this is some of Cho's stronger material, gossipy and deeply political at the same time. Imagine, she says, meeting the daughter of the woman of whom she has said, “I want to lick Sarah Palin's pussy from behind.” Never has a potty mouth been quite so entertaining. Until 29 August


The Wheel, Traverse **

 

wheelSince it burst into glorious life at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2006 with Gregory Burke's Black Watch, the National Theatre of Scotland has had one huge success after another, with rarely a foot put wrong. Sad to say Zinnie Harris's The Wheel, directed by Vicky Featherstone, is one of the latter - a big mad mess of a play that echoes everything from Lorca and Brecht to Edward Bond and Howard Barker, but fatally fails to find its own voice.

The play is a dystopian epic about war and famine, rape and violence and the horrors that humans inflict upon each other. We are in a place ravaged by conflict, but the time and precise geography are never identified, and there is a vast range of accents from across the British Isles on stage. In a war zone that could be anywhere over the past 200 years on any continent, soldiers invade homesteads, neighbours turn against each other and mayhem ensues. But there is hope; one woman, Beatriz (Catherine Walsh), finds herself thrown into the role of guardian and guide to three children left orphaned by the conflict. At first she wants rid of them and desperately tries to reunite them with their parents, but after a series of cataclysmic events she sees children are humanity's only hope.

The cast of 14 give it their all, and Walsh is luminescent, but fine, committed acting, an evocative two-level set by Merle Hensel and atmospheric lighting by Natasha Chivers can't make such a generic and unfocused piece work. Until 28 August

Jessica Forteskew, Gilded Balloon ***

 

forteskewJessica Forteskew is a mass of contradictions, hence her debut show's title, Luxury Tramp. She wears expensive perfume but will eat food dropped on the floor despite the five-second rule. She sounds quite posh but lives in deepest Peckham (where shops are restocking as I write). She's also a charming soul who talks about her life and the dangers of being all things to all people. Hers is a charming stage presence and she has an ease of delivery that belies her newcomer status. Forteskew has started with what she knows, so most of her act is observational comedy about her family – her posh mum, her rather less posh dad, her step-siblings – the daft things people says, dating and the benefits of therapy. It's not ground-breaking stuff, but she has a neat way with words - the town of Penge sounding like a transvestite's bits, for instance – that suggests Forteskew is one to watch. Until 28 August

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