Chain of Trivia
  • By Ben Dali
  • |
  • 17th Aug 2019
  • |
  • ★★★

BBC radio music aficionado Russell Clarke is making his Edinburgh Fringe debut in a show jam-packed with fascinating rock ‘n’ roll trivia and random connections between the stars behind the hits. His show, Chain of Trivia, focuses on ten of the biggest stars of the 1950s-80s, offering a well-paced, clear and succinct insight at each pitstop from Elvis to Queen and back to Elvis again. Each new performer of focus is unveiled with a beautiful black and white photo on an easel.

Some truly fascinating facts from Clarke’s evidently vast archive of knowledge

On his meandering journey through the annals of rock history, you can expect to learn more about Bob Dylan, Buddy Holly, The Kinks and many more. Which bonafide Rock Gods went to school together? Which legendary musician performed on a '60s smash hit before becoming a star in his own right? Who was inadvertently responsible for launching Paul Simon into stardom? All these questions and more will be answered.

If you’re looking for a balanced cultural history though, this one may inspire some ire. During the 50-minute lecture, there is one mention of Stevie Wonder, one mention of Olivia Newton-John, and not a single other woman or act of colour in sight. Even when discussing Elvis’ influences, no black performer is named as a source of inspiration. And if you’re looking for an opportunity to show off your own prodigious knowledge you will also be left unsatiated. There are occasional pauses before trivia is unveiled where a quick “Does anyone know…?” would entirely fit, but Clarke dismisses these chances to engage with a live audience and continues the lecture.

There are a couple of times when he suggests “If I were to ask you to sing…” or “…to hum…”, yet he doesn’t. Only at his very final point of trivia does he open it up to the audience to chip in a connection between Queen and the song being discussed, but it is too little too late. If he were the type of performer who established a rapport with the audience that he evidently does appreciate, then a short Q&A session at the end would be an entirely appropriate way to round off what amounts to an intimate TED Talk.

The show does exactly what it says on the tin, providing some truly fascinating facts, carefully whittled down from Clarke’s evidently vast archive of knowledge. The show is a dream for quizmasters, students of musical history, or those of us who collect trivia for our own personal interest. If you don’t fit into one of those categories, this probably won’t be worth trying on a whim.

Reviews by Ben Dali

Underbelly, Cowgate

SK Shlomo: Surrender

★★★★
Assembly Rooms

Melinda Hughes: Off the Scale

★★★
PQA Venues @Riddle's Court

Comedy Hypnotist and Mentalist Mark Knight

Just the Tonic at Marlin's Wynd

Les Quizérables

★★★
PBH's Free Fringe @ Globe Bar

Dave Bibby: Crazy Cat Lad-y

★★★★
PBH's Free Fringe @ Voodoo Rooms

The Creative Martyrs: Kabarett DysUtopia

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

How do you get from the King – Elvis Presley of course – to Queen and Freddie Mercury with only a series of amazing rock'n'roll facts as your guide? In his first Edinburgh one-man show, writer and broadcaster Russell Clarke – BBC London’s Rock'n'Roll Routemaster – takes you on a fascinating and hilarious trivia journey from Elvis to Queen in 10 steps, with each linked to the next by an awesome piece of rock trivia you never knew or never thought of.

Most Popular See More

Wicked

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mamma Mia!

From £31.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

From £13.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Les Miserables

From £22.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets