The Tanners Tale – Fringe Review

At the beginning of August, we were walking down Chambers Street when I heard bellowing coming from South Bridge. Across the street, there was a kilted man shouting “there will be no blue painted faces, there will be no fantasy french princesses ” and something about a 5 star reviewed show… I was intrigued.

We were on our way somewhere so we couldn’t watch it but we walked over and said hello to him and took a flyer. Fast forward to last Saturday and I had a hankering for hearing a tale from the tomes of Scottish history. It was just as well because that was exactly what was on offer with this show by Alex McSherry. The show was part of the PBH Free Fringe lineup and, like everything I’ve seen from the PBH programme over the years, it didn’t disappoint. The show starts with a bang on the door and in pours McSherry, this time completely immersed in character. It is at this point that we are introduced to Alec, a Tanner recently bereaved of his wife and son. After going over the basics of soaking animal skins, he begins to recount the time he spent making leather items for William Wallace. Next comes a no holds barred retelling of the Battle of Stirling Bridge with all the blood, guts, death and heroism intact. It was a very dynamic performance which sees McSherry utilise his booming voice to great effect, as well as some quieter and sombre moments.

Indeed, his stage presence was very commanding and the drama was riveting enough that a small interruption by a couple of latecomers wasn’t enough to take me out of the action, so to speak. A true masterclass in performing arts and storytelling.

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While there are plenty of laughs in this show, it is by no means a comedy. When McSherry warns people against coming if they are easily offended, he isn’t kidding. The Tanners Tale is a no-compromising, graphic retelling of a period in Scottish history too often stripped of its accuracy in the pursuit of accessibility and romanticism.

Although this was the final showing of The Tanners Tale for this Fringe season, Alex mentioned that the show will be returning to Edinburgh at some point so keep an eye out for it! You can find Alex McSherry on Twitter.

The Atari Show – EdFringe

We never thought the first Fringe review would be of a Street Performer. If you follow us on Instagram , you might know that we have been to fair few shows this year. While we enjoyed all of them, the one which entertained us the most was The Atari Show.

His show was on Chambers Street, right in front of the steps to the National Museum of Scotland. We were on the opposite side of the road and his antics really caught our eye. Normally, we avoid street performers because many of them spend 20-30 minutes building up to their performance only for it to transpire that they only have 5 minutes of material. This was different. We were already at the end of a long day and were on our way home, but there was something magnetic about this performance.

We couldn’t stop ourselves from crossing the road and getting ourselves positioned right in the middle of the stage. I should have mentioned by now: his stage is the road, the pavement, the steps and even the opposite pavement. He dominates the whole area and tries to involve as many passers-by as he can. From cars to children to the elderly, he involves everyone to huge hilarity. His antics range from pretending to push a van along the road, while it is stuck in traffic to chasing pedestrians with a remote controlled shark fin. For every situation, he has a piece of music, a funny sound effect or a cool prop. Speaking of props, he has with him a huge box full of them. Every time he reached his hand into his prop box, I thought that he must be about to repeat a previous joke but he rarely did and I was constantly surprised by the variety in this show. On the rare occasion that he did repeat a gag, it was completely worth it and perhaps even more funny than the previous time.

We at Explore Edinburgh thoroughly enjoyed every second of it and laughed for the duration. Please seek out this wonderfully talented improvisational street performer before he moves on to another city.