The Thinking Drinkers' Guide to the Legends of Liquor

If nothing else, Ben McFarland and Tom Sandham have cracked the formula for Fringe success: a crackingly funny show, interesting facts and (perhaps most importantly) lashings of booze. The Thinking Drinkers Guide to the Legends of Liquor makes no pretence to what it is: an excuse to learn a few facts, get a few drinks in, and have a grand old time.Taking the audience on an alcoholic odyssey through history’s most discerning drinkers, and the tipples they love, McFarland and Sandham are a double act to be envied. The only thing more important to this show than the natural chemistry of fermentation was the chemistry between its hosts, and I’m happy to say they nailed it. Charismatic, energetic and frighteningly knowledgeable about their subject, these are two guys you’d kill to have pulling pints down at your local.

No matter if you think your drinking knowledge could use a little top up, or you’ve got habits that would make Dylan Thomas faint, this is guaranteed to be a good night.

And that’s not just because of their obviously passion for the craft. These are two very funny guys - and I’m not just saying that because they forced me on stage. The audience was rippling with laughter at a near-constant pace (although that might’ve been helped by the shots). But the real success of McFarland and Sandham’s humour is that it struck a balance I think a lot of performers would struggle with. It was gregarious, without being laddish. Vulgar, but never offensive... And there were some surprisingly intelligent quick fire jokes slipped in amongst the weird skits: just like a good bar shelf, there was something here for everything.But not everything could go down as smoothly as the shots. Both men sometimes tripped and stumbled very noticeably on their words, and seemed as if they needed to slow down the otherwise frenetic pace in order to get the jokes out there. And some skits seemed to go on a little long - although they never got unfunny, the strain would occasionally show.

However, I’d be lying if both myself and (from the sounds of it) everyone in that room wasn’t having an utter blast. In true pub fashion, McFarland and Sandham brought the audience together through the undeniable power of drinking, and took full advantage of their crowd, leading to rousing cheers and song. No matter if you think your drinking knowledge could use a little top up, or you’ve got habits that would make Dylan Thomas faint, this is guaranteed to be a good night. Just hide when the lucha libre mask comes out.

Reviews by J W Close

C venues - C nova

Threesome

★★★
Greenside @ Nicolson Square

That Deadly Noir Magic

★★★
theSpace @ Surgeons Hall

The Canterbury Tales

★★★
theSpace on the Mile

The King of Monte Cristo

★★★
theSpace @ Symposium Hall

Messages from Japan / Super-cussion

★★★★
Whistlebinkies

Gary Colman: Tickling Mice

★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

The ideal aperitif to your Edinburgh evening. Slide onto the bar stool of discovery and enjoy five free drinks whilst exploring the liquid lives of history's most extraordinary elbow-benders. Roosevelt, Dorothy Parker, Andre the Giant and Jesus Christ star in this award-winning show from two highly acclaimed drinks experts, whose performances have sold out at the Fringe and at London's Soho Theatre since 2011. ‘Terrific. And in these austere times, it has to be the best value for money in town' **** (Scotsman). 'Funny. Genuinely fascinating' **** (Edinburgh Evening News).