Friday 17th August

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malmaison-london

Chez Mal, EC1M: restaurant review

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer & Reviewer

Heading below ground to escape a bustling Clerkenwell simmering from one of the hottest days of one of the hottest years felt like blessed relief.  Darkly lit apart from some mildly jarring neon pop art motifs and empty other than a pair of early evening diners, Malmaison’s Chez Mal restaurant was only an ample air conditioning unit short of Shangri-la.

The contemporary New York-style dining room – as with many spaces that day – was a touch too warm to hinder hidrosis and so, disappointingly, was the #nochill Mamaku Sauvignon Blanc.  Fortunately, that warmth spread elsewhere, to the service of our host Emanuele and to the collective culinary cogs – mostly residing in the noggin of executive chef John Woodward – that whirred in preparing such a balanced and sumptuous summer menu.

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Category: Restaurants
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Rob Oldham: Worm’s Lament review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer & Reviewer

Rob Oldham makes a solid start in his first hour-long show, showing a sharp eye for observational comedy.

For a first hour-long Edinburgh show, this is an assured effort from Rob Oldham.  Although never quite hitting the heights you suspect he may be capable of in time, he delivers a well-structured show – frequently commentated on during fourth wall-breaking moments – that’s heavy on parody and neat one-liners.

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Category: Comedy
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Wil Greenway: Either Side of Everything review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer & Reviewer

Wil Greenway delivers more warm and engaging storytelling, but loses something in this style experiment. 

Over the past few years, a Wil Greenway show has virtually guaranteed a charming, poetic experience filled with passion and laughter.  This year’s iteration, Either Side of Everything, is ultimately no exception but something seems to have been lost in the Australian’s experiment towards comedy and multiple storylines.

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Category: Comedy
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Chris Kent: Looking Up, Edinburgh review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer & Reviewer

Chris Kent proves himself to be a witty and adept storyteller, but lacks punchlines needed for the next level.

Cork-born comedian Chris Kent is James Acaster’s favourite stand-up and – for swathes of this show – you can see why.  His style isn’t dissimilar, injecting run-of-the-mill stories with a measure of absurdity by fixating on funny phrases (like “booty cover” and “sweat pea”) and heightening their impact by telling them behind an emotionless mask.  But where he falls short of his biggest fan – in this show at least – is in creating tension (without which, there’s nothing to cut through), producing punchlines and hanging his tales onto an overarching narrative framework.

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Category: Comedy
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Sheeps: Live and Loud Selfie Sex Harry Potter review

Rating:

Ian Cater, Chief Features Writer & Reviewer

Despite the performers’ pedigree, Sheeps’ return to sketch comedy doesn’t quite match the sum of its parts.

Sheeps, as they announce after an enjoyable opening number, haven’t performed together in four years and this show is heralded as their triumphant return.  In the interim, Liam Williams has had fingers in pretty much every creative pie going (Ladhood, Pls Like, Capital), Alastair Roberts has made a name for himself as an accomplished comic actor (recently seen excelling in Stath Lets Flats) and Daran Johnson has showcased his writing talents on sitcoms like Year Friends.  In short, the three possess bucket loads of talent, but don’t manage to mop up as much laughter as they should in this format.

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Category: Comedy
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Rob Oldham: Worm’s Lament, Edinburgh preview

In our third Edinburgh preview, Ian Cater speaks to up-and-coming comedian Rob Oldham about Worm’s Lament – his debut full-length Fringe show, already tipped for the Best Newcomer Award.

Not bad, is it?  To be one year out of university and putting on your first hour-long show at Pleasance Courtyard.  To be performing work directed by one of the best contemporary creative minds around.  To be described as having a ‘unique comedic voice’ by the age of 23.  To be, in short, Rob Oldham.

“I realise how lucky I am,” he says, examining each word with deliberation before placing it before him.  And he does, you sense, truly feel that fortune.  But equally, Oldham would be forgiven for finding success routine.  Getting into Cambridge was soon eclipsed by the award of a Double First and a place on the prestigious Footlights sketch troupe touring the United States.  Shortly afterwards, he was handpicked to provide tour support for John Kearns and Abandoman.  And even his football team, Fulham FC, got promoted last season.

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Category: Comedy
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Jordan Brookes: Bleed, Edinburgh preview

In the second of our Edinburgh previews, Ian Cater speaks to unconventional stand-up Jordan Brookes about Bleed, perhaps the most eagerly anticipated show at this year’s Fringe.

Few comedians have as big a buzz around them right now as Jordan Brookes.  The 32-year-old heads north on the wave of a soaring reputation amongst critics and fellow comics, evidenced by last year’s Edinburgh Comedy Award nomination and Chortle gong for the 2018 Comedian’s Comedian.  As a further mark of progress, Brookes has gone from beginning his last run at a remote Free Fringe venue to a primetime slot at Pleasance Courtyard – still perceived as the Edinburgh gold standard.

The plaudits and upgrades stem from the unfeigned, unflinching and unconventional style of comedy that stands him apart.  “Oh Christ,” Brookes groans.  “Why the hell did you have to say that?  Now they’ll expect too much.”

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Category: Comedy
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Wil Greenway: Either Side of Everything, Edinburgh preview

In the first of our Edinburgh Fringe previews, Ian Cater speaks to Wil Greenway – one of the most soul-stirring, poetic storytellers around – about his move towards comedy in new show Either Side of Everything.

The first time I saw Wil Greenway walk onstage, he looked very much your archetypal Australian hipster: bright shirted, bare footed, big of beard, all perched on a strong frame growing down from a top-knot.  He was only lacking a surfboard and a can of Fosters to complete the picture.

But book split from cover the second he opened his mouth and unravelled a softly spoken story full of heart, humour and small-town heroism.  The fluid in his eyes ebbed and flowed to the rhythm of his words: full of mischief during each well-worked metaphor; packed with pain when retreating to gather himself during folksy musical interludes from singer Kathryn Langshaw and guitarist Will Galloway.

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Category: Comedy