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Kate Fox News

Note: This review is from 2010

Review by Steve Bennett

Poet Kate Fox is something of a victim of the Fringe programme’s inevitable need for classifications, listed under comedy because the absence of a spoken word section leaves her falling between more stools that Amy Winehouse on a big night out.

She is best known for her residency on Radio 4’s Saturday Live, where she recites verses based on current events. It seems to be her forte, as she opens her lunchtime show with a witty poem from the headlines, today the cloned meat brouhaha. It’s not typical of the autobiographical tone of the show, but in terms of comedy, it’s stronger than most of the rest of the work on offer, which is gently humorous, but unlikely to raise more than a wry smile.

In this, her Fringe debut, she mines some undeniably unusual aspects of her life: from eloping with a gun-runner, to discovering her prim-and-proper Bradford parents were swingers, as well as briefly mentioning a few news events that helped define her, such as the burning of the Satanic Verses, which she witnessed from the top deck of a No 576 bus, or the Yorkshire Ripper case – brought home as Peter Sutcliffe worked for her aunt Mary.

But these chapters aren’t really brought to life. She tells us about them, but not in a way that has much empathy. She doesn’t put herself in the stories enough, telling them with the emotional detachment of her former job as a local radio news reporter. The rigid format of the poems with which she illustrates these stories also puts more distance between her and the material. We’re being informed about her journey, rather than being taken on it.

A few jokes conservatively pepper the hour, but they are the sort you may well have heard before: puns about ‘womb with a view’, observations that dyslexia is a difficult word to spell, and pointing out that certain sports stars are only British when they are winning. Though the aside about inappropriate records radio stations played immediately after the announcement of the Queen Mother’s death, Ivan Brackenbury-style, is a stand-out.

For the flaws in the show, Fox is an engaging presence, light and conversational with a melodious Yorkshire voice, softened with a gentle lisp. She is a woman you’d like to hear more from, making it more frustrating that she goes into so little depth.

If you’re into poetry, this would probably provide a light sorbet to start your Fringe day, but if you’re after hearty laughs, there are more substantial offerings to be had.

Review date: 7 Aug 2010
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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