Susan Calman’s show is worth a look

Here’s another of  my reviews from the Edinburgh Fringe, first published on The Skinny’s website. Great local act.

As the gathering crowd winds through the Underbelly’s stairways and passages, you can’t help noticing the eclectic mix of people here to see Susan Calman. Her opening lines reveal her readiness to deal with this very mixed crowd indeed, as she energetically quizzes the audience about which of her various jobs – from radio to stand-up – has drawn them to see her at the Fringe.

And from this early point on she has somehow, almost miraculously, drawn the diverse audience together and on she goes through her tight, well-written set, sharing a mock, self-deprecating obituary she’s apparently written for herself while drunkenly reflecting on the course of her life. The gags touch on manners, size-ism, feminism, relationships and the potential comic pitfall of Glasgow.

Glasgow can draw stand-up acts towards well trodden paths and Calman’s show does touch on the usual stuff like alcoholism, stabbings and alarming mortality rates; luckily she also adds her own colouring of the subject. Her audience could have been a difficult one to balance in terms her shock value versus local charm, but she clearly has enough charisma and a lively banter to keep everyone completely entertained.

A show well worth seeing.

How many times can I get drunk in the same suit?

I haven’t blogged for ages, I know.  If you want to know what I’ve been up to: weddings, weddings, and more weddings!  Two of them conincided with holidays, so I suppose I’ve been on holidays as well.

Apart from that I went to see the Glasgow Boys exhibition in the National Gallery on the Mound in Edinburgh.  I love the Glasgow Boys but I have to be brutally honest: this is a mediocre exhibition.  Nothing wrong with the works on display here, but they could have done a lot better with curation.  The soporific dungeon below the gallery is challenging at the best of times and when an exhibition is added to this space with minimal expense or effort, it’s not going to be good.  And despite the fact that they are attempting to show us an almost ‘behind the scenes’ picture of the movement in question, it’s amazing how poor an assemblage of works this is for a Scottish Gallery doing an exhibition on Scottish artists.

But it’s the explanation that I find completely perplexing: the fact this is running concurrently with a far superior Glasgow Boys exhibition in the Kelvingrove Gallery in Glasgow!  Why two?!  Well, the Edinburgh one would seem to claim that it’s complementary, showing us the Boys’ inspiration and the cultural and artistic context in which they worked, but I have to say I am only aware of this from subsequent research, not from the exhibition itself, and one could fairly easily walk in and out of the Edinburgh exhibition and remain unaware of the main event in Glasgow (and feeling a little short-changed, despite the fact that this is FREE!).

If you like the contemporary painting then check out John Squire’s Nefertiti exhibition in Edinburgh’s Henderson Gallery.  Several paintings generally around the same concept are for sale here.  The idea is Miles Davis translated to canvas by a Stone Rose. It’s free – do it!

PS – pictured: Spring, by Thomas Millie Dow (a Glasgow Boy).

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