Review: Great Yorkshire Fringe, Tony Slattery, Slattery Will Get You Nowhere, 41 Monkgate, York, July 24

TONY Slattery sat down with comedy chronicler Robert Ross to discuss his life and times.

Having read the Guardian interview with Slattery in March, I attended the talk with a pre-conceived notion that Ross would be acting like a baby sitter – or to put it more respectfully, a guide – in case Slattery broke down or got lost in his fascinating and bewildering stream of consciousness.

Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to hear a plethora of hilarious anecdotes as he divulged on-set secrets that included calling Kenneth Branagh “the campest and yet most ferocious director he had ever worked with” and Emma Thompson’s “pretentiousness” (perhaps her birth as a Hollywood star) on the set of Peter’s Friends.

There is still a sense of respect towards Slattery, despite leaving our screen more than 20 years ago. While others adapted to the Americanisation of improv comedy in Britain, with cued laughter and pre-written scripts, Slattery lamented such a change, perhaps one reason why he never achieved the same fame and fortune as his Cambridge peers.

Still, Slattery is back now and will most definitely offer something strange and different. He leaves York to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe and then who knows what else…

George Dodd

Review: Great Yorkshire Fringe, Sh*tfaced Shakespeare, Macbeth, White Rose Rotunda, Parliament Street, July 25

DISCOVERING the premise of Sh*tfaced Shakespeare, I was astounded. Five highly-trained thespians perform a contracted version of one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, but one of the actors is drunk.

And when I say “drunk”, what I mean is that, in this instance, Macbeth is staggering, swaying, swearing and spilling Heineken all down himself as he performs. And yet, it works.

The audience spends the majority of the hour-long performance in hysterics as Macbeth dribbles and lecherously gazes at a very guilt-stricken and turmoiled Lady Macbeth. As the show proceeds, the actor becomes more disorientated – briefly leaving the stage to chase two young men heading to the lavatory – before returning and staging a fight with blow-up swords against Macduff.

All this sounds like a stag party show in Benidorm but the challenge in remembering Macbeth’s lines after drinking close to 75cl of Gordon’s gin is something us Brits seem to respect and commend when it is achieved. Unfortunately, a few lines from the play were replaced with expletives, but when you are disturbed by three witches I imagine it’s difficult not to curse.

The show received rapturous applause and will no doubt do so again should it return to York tipsy once more next summer.

George Dodd