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The Fudge Shop
Published on Friday, 19 August 2011

4 stars

The Fudge Kitchen
5-14, 16-28 Aug, 8:45pm-9:45pm
Reviewed by Craig Thomson

 Recommended for age 14+ only.

You might be attracted to this show because of its unusual location, after-hours in the famous Fudge Kitchen on the Royal Mile.  You could have spotted that free fudge will be given away to the audience.  You may even be lifting your glass to the BYOB policy, and these are all good reasons to consider The Fudge Shop.  But you can be reassured that these are all bonuses to an odd and charming funny story.

Comedian Patch Hyde, one of the stars of this four-man production, is a real life fudge-maker (one of the best in the country, Google tells me), hence the out-there situation.  He is joined this year by three other fine comics of varying vintages: cheeky young Tony Dunn, specially reserved David Gibson, and well-matured Toby Williams.

Together they perform what is essentially one long sketch, with characters rotating throughout.  Dunn in particular is often on stage as the top-hatted, moustachioed villain (rather than his simpleton fudge assistant persona) in order to drive the slight, but amusing, plot forward.  The structure allows each of the performers to have their moment in the sun; Williams looked the most assured, although the biggest laughs were shared between Gibson and Hyde.  Dunn's pre-recorded nocturnal confessions, like something out a ZAZ film, won a riotous reception, mainly for the gross-out factor.

The fact that this is an independent production – the cast are their own crew, box office and venue staff – lends a sense of good-time camaraderie, as do the bottles of wine and cans of export picked up from the mini-market over the road.  The free samples are delicious and copious – the fudge is so rich and satisfying that I quickly felt I'd had enough, although of course that didn't stop me having more.

Of course, it doesn't have to be set in a fudge kitchen – the story could have been told in a black box cupboard at another venue – but I'm glad it is.  The Fudge Shop is a true Fringe oddity, charming, silly, and packed full of laughs.

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