Markus Birdman – Grimm Realities

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22/08/15

Canon’s Gait, Edinburgh

There’s an absolute multitude of acts available on Edinburgh’s Free Fringe this year and we rather liked the sound of Grimm Realities, even though it meant squashing ourselves into a hot and sweaty cellar room in order to experience it. Birdman is an interesting character. He’s done plenty of regular stand up work, over the years, but because he’s also an illustrator (as a child, he was made to draw bible stories by his preacher-man father) he decided this year to integrate his artistic endeavours into his set. And it works well.

It’s mostly about a father’s anxieties as his 10 year old daughter takes her first tentative steps into adolescence, and Birdman’s sly, witty patter is punctuated with extracts from two illustrated books he’s produced, twisted versions of the classic fairytales Cinderella and Little Red Riding Hood. Pages from the books are displayed on a screen by way of a visualiser –  essentially a souped up version of an OHP. As you might expect, Birdman’s versions are franker than the originals, spelling out the issues that the Grimm brothers could only allude to. (If you’re in any doubt, Birdman makes regular use of an insert with the words ‘This is an metaphor’ printed on it.

It’s appealing stuff. When Birdman asks if there’s a father and daughter in the audience, Grace and I seem to be the only ones who qualify (or at least, the only ones willing to own up.) This let’s us in for plenty of comic asides and knowing looks. And as a father who published a book that was originally written for his daughter, I found a lot here to identify with.

So, if you’re in Edinburgh and your finances are running low, make your way to Canon’s Gait and grab a pass for the afternoon show. It’s cheek by jowl down there, but well worth the effort.

4 stars

Philip Caveney

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