Skip to content

FringeGuru

 
The Ride of the Bluebottles
Published on Tuesday, 07 August 2012
3

3 stars

theSpace on the Mile (venue website)
Theatre
3-4, 6-11, 13-18, 20-25 Aug, 11:10am-12:10pm
Reviewed by Will Howard

 Recommended for age 14+ only.
 Free and unticketed. No pre-booking required.

If the rumours are true, the only people that don’t find the film This is Spinal Tap hilarious are professional musicians, the general view being that it’s way too accurate to ever be considered funny. Everything that happens to the clueless metallers regularly occurs in the supposedly glamorous world of stadium-playing rock ’n’ roll. While Spinal Tap caters for that side of the music industry, The Ride of the Bluebottles casts an equally withering eye on the plight of the unsigned artist… and any member of a struggling band who happens to see it might spend most of it either wincing or howling with sympathetic laughter.

Make no mistake, this production is an awful lot of rather dark fun, tailor made for a fan of rock and roll (preferably the kind made in Britain in the 90’s). For a long time it’s quite happy to be just that: the story of four very large egos put in a very small room, and asked to get along. The Ride of the Bluebottles tells the story of – well – The Bluebottles, made up of Darryl, the egotistical lead singer, George, the “sensitive” lead guitarist, Syd, the psychotic bass player and Pete, the unflappable drummer.

Yes, they’re tropes that even the most casual student of rock history would call predictable, but it works. That success is pretty much entirely down to the dialogue and the acting; the former is sharp and very witty, and the latter is uniformly great. Ben Ostell’s unflappable drummer Pete is excellent, calmly reading the NME while his band-mates fight and accuse each other like EastEnders characters, before verbally hurling them back to earth with some scathing put downs.

The other actors might well be equally good, if only the script gave them equally good characters. But this is where the show falls somewhat flat. As I’ve mentioned, these are standard rock-band tropes that border on clichés, and some characters simply don’t evolve beyond that. Chief offender is George, whose overly sensitive, faux-punk pretension really does seem to be his only beat for the duration of the show. Kudos must still go to actor Ben Schwarz, who gives his all and manages to make him annoying only to the other characters – and not to the audience – with an excellent sense of comic timing and the ability to humanise a character that many couldn’t handle.

The other problem is the plot. There doesn’t really seem to be any plot until the third act, where the stakes suddenly get so dramatically high that I had a hard time accepting and believing it. Truth be told however, this doesn’t derail a show that focuses so much on the script and characters; and while there is little plot there is an abundance of story, with every character getting a side plot that perfectly complements their character. In all this is a good, entertaining play, with some killer lines and four excellent performances from its actors. It’s perfect for any discerning music fan looking for something to kill an hour with.

<< Sam Simmons - About the W...   I Heart Hamas: And Other ... >>

FROM OUR ARCHIVES

These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

Edinburgh 2012 Five Stars

5 stars Comedy
Totally Tom


5 stars Comedy
The Magical Adventures of Pete Heat


5 stars Theatre
Bye Bye World


5 stars Comedy
Barbershopera: The Three Musketeers


5 stars Comedy
Truth


5 stars Theatre
The House of Shadows


5 stars Cabaret
Briefs


5 stars Theatre
Made for Each Other - Free


5 stars Comedy
Tony Law: Nonsense Overdrive


5 stars Comedy
Ivo Graham and Liam Williams


5 stars Comedy
Hannibal Buress: Still Saying Stuff


5 stars Comedy
The Blanks' Big Break


5 stars Theatre
A Clockwork Orange


5 stars Comedy
Richard Wiseman: Psychobabble


5 stars Comedy
Martin Mor: A Man You Donít Meet Everyday


5 stars Theatre
1984


5 stars Comedy
Swedenborg, the Devil and Me


5 stars Theatre
The Trench


5 stars Theatre
Casablanca: The Gin Joint Cut


5 stars Theatre
Joyced!


5 stars Theatre
An Evening With Dementia


5 stars Comedy
Scott Agnew: Tales of the Sauna


5 stars Theatre
Comedian Dies in the Middle of Joke


5 stars Comedy
Chris Ramsey: Feeling Lucky


5 stars Comedy
The Horne Section - Live at the Grand!


5 stars Theatre
How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found


5 stars Theatre
The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle


5 stars Theatre
Songs of Lear


5 stars Cabaret
Jonny Woo: Wonder Woo-Man


5 stars Comedy
Josie Long: Romance and Adventure


5 stars Comedy
10 Films With My Dad


5 stars Theatre
4.48 Psychosis


5 stars Theatre
As You Like It


5 stars Theatre
Appointment With The Wicker Man


5 stars Comedy
Jessie Cave: Bookworm


5 stars Comedy
Morgan & West: Lying, Cheating Scoundrels


5 stars Theatre
Hearts on Fire


5 stars Theatre
Rainbow


5 stars Comedy
Chris Dangerfield: Sex Tourist


5 stars Comedy
Chris McCausland: Not Blind Enough


5 stars Theatre
Chatroom


5 stars Comedy
Peacock & Gamble Don't Even Want To Be On Telly Anyway


5 stars Theatre
I Heart Hamas: And Other Things I'm Afraid to Tell You


5 stars Comedy
John Robertson - The Dark Room - Free


5 stars Kids'
Dr Brown Brown Brown Brown Brown and His Singing Tiger