Writer: Angela Clarke, James McLindon, Adam Hadley, Bill Knoweldon, Mark Harvey Levine, Grant MacDermott
Reviewer: Fergus Morgan
The Big Bite-Size Breakfast Show is fast becoming something of an Edinburgh Fringe institution. Offering up three different menus of short plays at 10.20 in the morning, with different selections performed on different days, Bite-Size Plays’ have clearly hit upon a winning formula for the early-rising fringe-goer. And that’s before you include the free coffee and croissant.
Menu 1 features six shorts, varying from the profound to the prosaic, from the compellingly taut to the surreally satirical. Angela Clarke’s Chugging For Kittens is a loose, light-hearted send-up of charity workers: a five-minute sitcom about people that stand on high-street thoroughfares rattling tins and failing to persuade people to part with their cash for the sake of some unfortunate felines. It’s slightly rough around the edges, but it’s bubbly and barmy enough to keep a bleary-eyed morning audience chuckling.
James McLindon’s i is a different beast entirely: a tense confrontation between two Russian political prisoners, which ducks and dives elegantly through a web of deceit and suspicion, arriving at a chillingly twisted conclusion with genuine dramatic verve. It also boasts two adept performances from a feverishly desperate Owen Bleach and a coolly battle-hardened Javier Rasero.
Next up is a stutteringly silly sketch by Adam Hadley, which features a schizophrenic kidnapper and a hostage with a pineapple for a head but never really finds any rich seam of humour. This is swiftly followed by Bill Knowelden’s All You’ll Ever Want, a snappy, satirical swipe at the information economy, in which Emma Wingrove’s consumer is enjoyably torn between her moral compass and a brand new pair of shoes, and Bleach returns as a brilliantly smooth salesman who knows his customers better than they know themselves.
The penultimate course, Mark Harvey Levine’s Surprise, is a delightfully constructed depiction of a psychic about to get dumped at breakfast. Dan Greest supplies a polished performance as a man able to see only a few seconds into the future, and Claira Watson is entertainingly exasperated as his long-suffering girlfriend.
The final play is perhaps the morning’s best. Grant MacDermott’s Ten Reasons Why Hamlet Was Gay depicts three loud-mouthed GCSE students investigating the sexuality of Shakespeare’s Prince of Denmark, under the initially irritated but increasingly persuaded eye of their earnest teacher. Imagine one of the feistier debates in The History Boys, but with more swearing and fewer Yorkshire accents. Greest, Wingrove and Bleach are all amusing as the trio of snap-chatting, sexualised sixteen-year-olds.
Runs until 29 August 2016