VHS: Death To DVD

The writer and main performer, Richard Sandling, has appeared once before at the Fringe. This is his first appearance in his own show. He plays Rich, a video shop owner, who believes that VHS is superior to DVD, in the same way that vinyl is superior to CD. Not only does he refuse to stock DVDs, but he also puts so many barriers in his customers’ way that their attempts to rent videos invariably fail.

The performance starts with a clip from an old Pierce Brosnan film called Taffin, the reason for which becomes clear later. Initially, Rich is asleep over the counter but once he wakes up, he hardly stops talking again. The other cast members, who play his assistant, her college friend and various customers, are largely limited to providing him with feeds for his monologues. He is devoted to film, knows a lot about it and has fixed, strong views about which films are best. His ideal way to spend the evening is to watch a series of art house movies with a group of friends until they all fall asleep. His customers are only able to borrow videos if they pass his tests, which they never do. In some ways his attitude towards his customers is similar to that of Basil Fawlty – it would be much easier to run the video shop if he didn’t keep getting bothered by customers.

There are some clever references to events in films, which add to the humour, (JFK and Goodfellas at least) but it’s not necessary to pick up on them to enjoy this show. The pleasure is in watching and hearing Rich, who manages to be both dreadful and endearing at the same time. The funniest I’ve seen so far this year.

Reviews by Alan Chorley

History Boys

★★★★

Dracula

★★

Cherry Orchard

★★★★

Azincourt

★★★★

Secret Garden

★★★★

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The Blurb

Café Royal Fringe Theatre, 4-27 August 4.00pm (50 minutes)

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