The Swindon Fringe Festival is in full swing. Or should that be full “Swinge”?
No, not that. Not “full Swinge”. That would never catch on. That would be dreadful. Forget I ever mentioned it. Although if the Swindon Fringe people want to use it then it’s theirs for a modest fee.
There were two acts “Swingeing” (no, really, stop it) on Tuesday night at the Victoria, Old Town. First Gardyloo Theatre presented ‘Taxidermicon’; a black comedy in one act. We follow the tragic misadventures of the Greater-Northern-Suffolk Taxidermy Society as they gather for their annual conventions, 1978-1981. Over the four annual gatherings a north-east county ‘I Claudius’ unfolds. The death toll slowly rises and everyone gets a jolly good stuffing.
What we got was a small, but perfectly performed production featuring a quartet of talented comedic performers presenting a cast of comic grotesques. The audience were fully involved via a series of cue cards that prompted reactions from “uncomfortable muttering” to “spooky animal noises”.
Bizarre, gruesome and utterly hilarious. Well done to all involved.
The second part of the double-header featured the youngest Swinger in Town (no more, I beg you) in the shape of 19 year old comedian Andrew White, appearing at the Vic on the Swindon leg of his retirement tour. Andrew started on the stand-up circuit when he was 15, but, after a soul-destroying gig in Weymouth, the offer of a place at Cardiff University left him on the horns of a dilemma.
I’m nearly old enough to be Andrew White’s grandfather. Nearly-ish. Very nearly were I from certain parts of rural Wiltshire. But despite his tender years White is a comic of great promise and most of the promise is there to be seen on stage. Some of his set was a bit flabby, but when the pace started to slacken he generally produced a zinger that won back the crowd and got the routine back on track.
His pleasingly understated stage persona, combined with a knack for story telling, resulted in an enjoyable hour in his company. I’ve seen far more seasoned stand-ups with half his poise and craft. Academia, and retirement, should wait.
The Swindon Fringe continues to Swinge (cut it out!) until Sunday 14th April.