Boothby Graffoe: Release U Win Tin

Note: This review is from 2006

Review by Steve Bennett

Boothby Graffoe is an old-hand at the Fringe, having performed his own peculiar blend of stand-up and extended comedy songs for years, either on his own with an acoustic guitar, or with accompaniment from guitar maestro Antonio Forcione or more recently violinist Nick Pynn. This show brings Pynn and Graffoe back together but this time they have some new tricks and new toys which take things in a different direction.

The stand-up bits are the sort of regular whimsical journeys into the smallest of ideas, such as the inherent exclusiveness of Lothian Cat Rescue, the notion of taking the entire audience to other comics' shows to confuse them, and a character sketch that ends with the deconstruction of the problems created by one comic playing two different characters and differentiating between them simply by facing a different way. They're all hilariously funny and vintage Graffoe.

Things go more bizarre when we get to the songs, though. The clever lyrics are still all there, as are the odd facial expressions and eye-crossing Graffoe typically uses to accentuate them.

But Graffoe has also invested in a loop box, effects pedal and guitar synthesizer, allowing him to do all sorts of tricks with the guitar (a good five minutes is spent demonstrating the different instruments the box can make the guitar sound like, which quickly becomes tiring). Also, for the first time backing tracks are used. All this combines to produce a much fuller sound, the problem being these carefully constructed multilayered tracks don't fit the whimsical lyrics half as much as the simple acoustic guitar/violin combo does.

The problem is at its worst when The Stand speakers prove unable to handle it all and start to distort the top end during some tracks, and of course, the depth of sound can sometimes drown out the wonderful lyrics. It's a brave attempt to do something new and different but it fails quite badly: this sort of thing can work well for comedy songs, but not the sort that Graffoe tends to write, which on the whole require a gentler touch.

This is still a good show: the stand-up is first rate and the lyrical and melodic cores of the songs are strong, but the presentation leaves something to be desired.

Dean Love

 

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Review date: 1 Jan 2006
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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