Basil Brush's Family Fun Show
- David Pollock
- 5 August 2019
Lively show from endearingly rude puppet legend
There are people in their 60s who will remember the upper-crust and endearingly rude puppet persona of Basil Brush, a tweedy country gent fox who has been an on-and-off staple of British children's television since the 1960s. Even now, although the heights of his own prime-time show are behind him, he still turns up on such disparate and grown-up programmes as The Last Leg.
This year – his 50th in showbusiness, apparently – Basil and his human envoy/helper Mr Martin (Martin Cabble-Reid, aka former Britain's Got Talent finalist Kevin Cruise) have two shows at the Fringe, one for grown-ups in the evening and the more traditional kids show during the day.
This one is 'Basil's Greatest Show', and the thin link to The Greatest Showman sees Basil cast as Hugh Jackman while Mr Martin is 'the lady with the beard'; the indignity in these things is always the sidekick's, and the latter ends up bellowing 'This is Me' while under the supposed influence of strong laxatives.
The pace is lively, the room more often noisy than not. The audience is led in sing-a-long versions of contemporary-sounding new songs, for example the insufferably catchy 'Boom Boom Basil', which riffs on his catchphrase, and the humour well-pitched to gee up an excited young crowd. There's just the right knowing edge to satisfy equally thrilled parents (Brexit is only mentioned once, and that's because Basil's quest to stop talking about it has failed).
Having a puppet character sell a show from behind a desk naturally cuts down the options for things to do – although Mr Martin gleefully helps out here, taking custard pies in the face with the best of them – and if the running time is shorter than the usual Fringe hour, that's because the photo opportunities with the star of the show at the end are enthusiastically taken up by all ages.
Underbelly Bristo Square, until 15 Aug, 1pm, £11.50–£12.50 (£10.50–£11.50)