Horse Country.

Rating: 🍷🍷🍷🍷

4 out of 5. Almost the Full bottle!

Surreal, smart and unpretentious.

It’s one of the glorious, great things about the Edinburgh Fringe that you can be in the Assembly Club Bar tapping away on a laptop, when Guy Masterson, my ‘A Christmas Carol’ actor and Fringe stalwart, comes up to me and says, “What are you doing? Close that laptop and come and see a play. Here’s a free ticket.”

I first met Guy when Griff Rhys Jones arranged a Dylan Thomas Centenery celebration in Fitzrovia. He’s a great ‘Artrepreneur’ and is presenting this play, along with another… about circles? (I’ll see it this week and know more soon!) So you can’t really say no to him. Plus, in spite of Directing AND Producing ‘Winston And David’ at the Underbelly Dairy Room, (1.25pm every day! Come and say hello! Plug over, loves..!) I’m really in Edinburgh for the art, so its great to see stuff now my show is ‘bedded in’ as it were.

Horse Country by C.J. Hopkins, won all sorts of awards when it first appeared at the Ed fringe in 2002. And I kinda see why. Eventually. As I was given a direct invitation to see this first production, I’d not even read the flyer and it kept me guessing for a while. But two things became rapidly obvious from the start. The quality of the cast – and the quality of the direction. And when they got to the joke about “How many surrealists does it take to change a lightbulb?” (“The answer? Fish. Of course!) it started to dawn on me what was going on. And later, as I was buying Guy a drink in the bar afterwards (See! There’s NO such thing as a free ticket!) and I met the cast and crew, I realised what a quality offering this is.

Bob (Dan Llewelyn Williams) takes the straighter role of the two, but perfectly foils, criticises and lovingly relates to the more clownish Sam, played brilliantly and touchingly by Michael Edwards.

Director Mark Bell gives the surreal show a solid base, with inspired movement and physicality. Mark is perhaps best known for directing The Play That Goes Wrong, so has a deft and talented touch. Which means that even if you don’t get the twenty year old references to capitalism, it’s worth the price of a ticket for the magic, missing playing cards, fishing and sea lions. Oh yes, and genocide. And Adolph Hitler makes an appearance too.

How many brilliant actors, directors and presenters does it take to make a fine, fantastic, surreal Edinburgh Fringe production? The answer is obvious. Fish. No, sorry… Horse Country.

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