Clutching a handful of books, Robin Ince takes to the stage to welcome the audience into his world of lurid literature from across the ages. With this Fringe special edition of his regular show, Ince guides us through a panoply of sexual fantasies, giant crabs, eighties pop stars, stiffening nipples and quivering lengths; accompanied by anecdotes of his encounters with gargantuan actors, particle physicists and wizards.
Through a combination of soft crab porn, teenage sexual angst and quick-witted observation he has his audience thoroughly hooked on his salacious tales.
Ince, a confident and energetic performer, introduces us to our texts for the evening, including a book from the 1980s charting the secret fantasies of fans, a 70s pulp horror/soft porn featuring giant crabs that attack the Welsh coastline and a 19th century translation of an ancient Arabic sex manual. His choices are inspired. The audience is captivated and greatly amused by the bizarre, and slightly perplexing, sexual fantasy of a girl who simply can’t spare the time to meet up with Stewart Copeland for a tryst and is infuriated by Sting’s constant interruptions. Similarly, the ‘tacky brilliance’ of Guy N Smith’s giant crabs (not an alarming STD) and unmarried sand dune philanderers provides much hilarity, but it's Ince's faultless delivery that really elevates the material to comedy on a grand scale.
Ince is also joined by guests George Egg and Joanna Neary who inject their own eclectic mix of variety and comedy into the evening. Egg, the Ray Mears of the hotel room wilderness, provides an innovative and highly entertaining survival guide for those enduring hotel-based food hell. Using only what can be found in a hotel room (give or take an ingredient or two) he takes us through how to make such delicacies as iron-fried pancakes (served up to the, now salivating, audience to share), complimentary tiramisu and ice-bucket ice cream. Egg’s contribution to the book club theme is his unorthodox use of 3 bibles to construct an iron cooker and readings of his own humorous poetry. These, dotted with cultural comment on themes such as underage bushy beards, combine to form what is a genuinely funny and inventive show, underpinned by Egg’s easy and relaxed style.
Joanne Neary kaleidoscopes through an eccentric mix of characters, impressions and physical comedy. Her wonderfully accurate Bjork impression is skilfully combined with a satire of aspirational Brighton living, whilst her Kirstie Allsorts parody of the upcycling queen has the audience laughing at her spot-on portrayal. Perhaps not so comfortable with improvisation, Neary seems to lack some of the assurance of her fellow collaborators however, and not all the material is as well-realised as the Bjork and Kirstie Allsorts skits.
Robin Ince’s Dirty Book Club is an ingenious premise brilliantly executed. Through a combination of soft crab porn, teenage sexual angst and quick-witted observation he has his audience thoroughly hooked on his salacious tales. Whilst the wonderful George, whether poached or boiled in his hotel kettle, brilliantly gives good egg and a damned tasty pancake.