Gilded Balloon Teviot, Edinburgh – until 29 August 2016
Reviewer: Hugh Simpson
Broad, cheeky and deceptively carefully crafted, Grant Stott’s solo show Tales From Behind the Mic is a great success.
A long established radio voice, Stott has of course appeared in drama with panto colleague Andy Gray in previous years at the Fringe to considerable acclaim. With Gray now confined to helping direct due to being unavoidably detained in River City, Stott is onstage alone for the first time.
A description of the contents sounds unpromising – a stroll through Stott’s showbiz career, with the emphasis on the unfortunate things he, his colleagues and listeners have said on radio. Yet it all works very well. Making it more about his listeners than Stott himself is a smart move, helping the audience feel included while eliminating hints of egotism.
He transfers his broadcasting persona to the stage very well, dialling everything up to 11, and is now an accomplished stage performer. A tightly structured show, making good use of audio and video inserts, speeds by.
It is true that you will get more out of this if you understand what ‘it’s shan fur his dug’ means, and anyone straying in from outside Edinburgh could be completely nonplussed at an audience howling with laughter at the very mention of Coasters or Father Andy from the Open Line. Stott’s sheer professionalism and ability to work a crowd overcome any problems of accessibility, but the feeling of being part of a community who understand shared references is part of what makes this work.
Questions such as ‘has anyone seen the King’s pantomime?’ are entirely redundant, with Stott positively glorying in the effect his bad-guy persona can have on small children. It should be noted that the PG rating for this show on the Fringe website is thoroughly misleading; a warning of ‘strong language including multiple uses of the C-word’ would be of much more use. While this is not as sweartastic as last year’s Willie and Sebastian was, it is definitely not a family show.
The faint-hearted should not worry unduly, however, unless gratuitous inclusion of Hibs or Ruth Davidson’s radio career causes too much offence. This is essentially a warm-hearted, celebratory hour.
Running time: 1 hour (no interval)
Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14), Teviot Row House, EH8 9AJ
Wednesday 3 – Monday 29 August 2016
Daily (not Sun 14, Mon 22) at 5.00 pm
Book tickets on the EdFringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/grant-stott-s-tales-from-behind-the-mic
Grant Stott’s website: http://www.pantovillain.co.uk