An undemanding hour spent with a showcase variety of acts.
Best of the Fest Daytime is a pleasant if disposable way to spend the early afternoon, best approached as a way to gauge acts that you might not usually pick, but which, potentially, could surprise and entertain.
The Bristol-born compere John Robins ambles along with a pleasant family-friendly routine, and quick, unthreatening interplay with the audience. A foray into Scotland's potential future currency doesn't work so well, however, with lazy material - “the Scottish pound, deep fried” - merely highlighting how any venture into the well-worn debate requires depth beyond stereotype.
Dressed in blue jumpsuits, Symphony perform a song of urban anonymity and dislocation, of oyster cards and rainy streets, which is part sung and part spoken word. It's imaginative, humorous and just on the right side of twee. The main singer's gorgeous low voice and apparent enjoyment performing warms hungover cockles, as they tell us, “you are not alone.”
UK-based New Zealander Rhys Mathewson talks about differences between home and away with confidence and good timing, but relies on well-rehearsed clichés, including about his appearance, that meander in search of a decent punchline. Towards the end he pulls off an entertainingly energetic performance of a McDonalds-themed haka, but takes a long time to get there.
Australian card-magician Tony Roberts pulls off an impressive card trick from his show, but a pleasing pun excepted the jokes about peanut allergies and Princess Diana never transcend the obvious. His grizzly demeanour works with the image of the all-knowing magician, but the sleight of hand is undermined by a script that is, well, slight.
Australian Luke McGregor plays on his OCD persona, which is amusing and contains some tight jokes but the anxiousness never really reaches relief or the cathartic release of a belly-laugh. Damagingly for such faux-confessional, the audience is not quite invited on to his side, unsure of who is is, how much is real and how much an act. A longer show might allow the audience to warm to him and concentrate on what comes beyond this, but in a necessarily limited slot McGregor never quite makes his material work.
Best of the Fest Daytime is a pleasant if disposable way to spend the early afternoon, best approached as a way to gauge acts that you might not usually pick, but which, potentially, could surprise and entertain. For a variety “best of” show, however, some more variety would be welcomed – are three white male Antipodean comics, really representative of the best the fringe can offer?