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All Turn! - Free
Published on Thursday, 30 August 2012
3

3 stars

Laughing Horse @ The Free Sisters (venue website)
Theatre
13-26 Aug, 12:30pm-1:30pm
Reviewed by Allison Mckeon

 Free and unticketed. No pre-booking required.
 Parents or guardians should consider the content of this show if children are attending.

Cross-dressing, family ties, big band music – this show is an odd jumble of entertainment offerings. Occupying the midday, upper double-decker slot of The Three Sisters’ free Fringe show assortment, All Turn! explores the life, from childhood to old age, of Mr. North – the grandfather of the performer. She plays the part quite well, from her thick and immaculate Manchester accent to her simple, dated masculine garb; but more importantly, she conveys her personal connection to the material, which makes an otherwise goofy show resonate more soundly.

Her character, who outside of specific stories seems to be a young adult, is gregarious and enigmatic. He chats away with easy confidence about the poverty of his childhood and his siblings; and with impish gleefulness of the favoritism he was shown at his first jobs, and of his forays into dating. Despite the sadness of many stories (the squalor of his boyhood home, early deaths of siblings, the eventual passing of parents) there are no figurative violins played to provoke sympathy. Rather, the bumblingly good-natured raconteur blusters through the darker bits, and maintains his infectious likeability.

Though the show is decidedly enjoyable, it wasn’t quite what I’d expected. Given that it’s listed as a part of Laughing Horse @ Free Sisters and takes place in the Comedy Bus, I was under the impression it would be more of, well, a comedy. In reality, humor is only an embellishment to a series of heartfelt anecdotes from throughout her grandfather’s life, told with a few props, several antics, and a lot of enthusiasm. There’s a lot of obvious physical comedy (which became ever so slightly wearying by the end of the hour), but an amusing show and a comedy show aren’t really the same thing.

As a piece of free theatre though, All Turn! is a spectacle to behold. I warmed to the show particularly after hearing the back-story – it was first performed for her grandfather and grandmother in their home town, which was clearly an immensely heart-warming occasion – and think it deserves a moniker of more than just ‘good’. It’s a little overdone at points, but the whole thing feels genuine and personal; his/her unwaveringly pleasant self-deprecation makes for some solid entertainment.

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