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Dave Gibson & Charlie Talbot: Battle Of Britain – North Vs South
2010 audiences decided that North was better than South, but this is your chance to decide as Dave and Charlie return for another year! Vote for yourself as Eastenders battles Corrie, porkpies battle foccacia and dave battles Charlie. All for your amusement.
Battle Of Britain: North V South
Sometimes premises of Edinburgh shows can be contrived – but this doesn't matter as long as the resulting show is entertaining and funny. For an illustration, look no further than Battle Of Britain, where Dave Gibson and Charlie Talbot represent the North and the South respectively in a bid to determine which is superior. The highly entertaining result has an amiable, shambolic quality which disguises the high level of improvisational skill required.
At the start, the audience is asked to declare its allegiances. Since the idea of ‘North versus South’ is a largely English construct and the Fringe attracts visitors from all over the world (not to mention a few locals who bristle at the idea of becoming involved in their southern neighbour's parochial squabbles), it's necessary for the duo to assign loyalties to those not from England. This becomes something of a land grab for Talbot, claiming the Dutch and the Australian. Even though this banter was extremely mild, the charm of the two performers ensured the audience's enjoyment.
A wonderful dynamic was introduced to the show by three latecomers... mum, dad and their 17-month-old baby, Oliver. It wouldn't necessarily suit every Fringe show to have a visitor this young in the audience but to Gibson and Talbot, the toddler was a godsend and both Oliver and his parents were incorporated into the action at every opportunity. They were not alone, though, as this is a show that calls for a high level of interaction. It speaks volumes for the good-naturedness of the two performers that all those called upon to participate so willingly surrendered their dignity for the cause.
The show is punctuated throughout by a series of puns with a geographical bent. Some of these are genuinely clever while others were more deserving of a groan than a laugh, but the convivial atmosphere ensured a warm reception for each.
One of the highlights comes when Dave Gibson showcases his ability to impersonate different English accents. The comedy drawn from this was reminiscent of Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer at their best, as a series of absurd phrases were rendered into different dialects at the behest of something the pair called the ‘random accent generator’.
There's more affectionate laughter when two members of the audience are inveigled into performing excerpts from the two soap operas judged to best represent the North and the South. Unfortunately the man enlisted to play Bet Lynch in a scene from Coronation Street was not carrying his reading glasses and the script in his hands was nothing more than a blur. But even this couldn't stall the momentum of this show and the misfortune was turned into an opportunity for further improvisation.
An 'argument' between Gibson and Talbot about the superiority of the music which has emanated from each region was settled by an ‘X Factor’ style competition in which the participants were a couple from the audience. When asked to recount the saddest thing he'd ever seen, the young man needed a prompt from his girlfriend before launching into a lengthy description of a 'Builders from Hell' style documentary. It says much about the anarchic nature of the show that this bizarre outburst was neither embarrassing or out of place.
There are undoubtedly more sophisticated and more meaningful Fringe shows this year but for anyone seeking an hour of exceedingly engaging comedy, Battle of Britain may be just the ticket.
|Date of live review: Saturday 13th Aug, '11|
Review by Jason Stone
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