Luke Toulson: Grandpa, Hitler and Me (3 stars)

This article is from 2015

Luke Toulson: Grandpa, Hitler and Me

A fine set that doesn’t quite know whether it’s a history lesson or stand-up show

Luke Toulson truly hit the jackpot in the Fringe show-material lottery: 200 letters written by his grandfather Stanley to his grandmother Kate during WWII and unread since. Aided by a slideshow, he conveys the daily life of a conscripted soldier with a wife and young family at home. A lot of the humour comes from the incongruities: Stanley’s preoccupation with gardening and his drunken adventures seem all the more meaningful when set against the continual threat of death.

This disconnection informs the whole show. Toulson seems to think he has written a comedy show with a historical theme when it feels like a history show that happens to be funny. Chastising the audience for not laughing enough, he explains his separation of true facts followed by jokes. Counter-productively, the success of the history bits has the audience so wrapped up in the story that it’s difficult to adjust to the sudden interjection of a gag.

A final incongruity is the introduction of a bit about historian David Starkey that isn’t referred to again. Toulson gets his money’s worth from those wartime letters though perhaps not in the way he wanted with quality storytelling winning out over hilarity.

The Stand 5, 558 7272, until 30 Aug (not 17), 3.45pm, £8 (£7).

Luke Toulson: Grandpa, Hitler and Me

  • 3 stars

Luke Toulson My grandpa was a Royal Engineer in France, North Africa and the Middle East during the Second World War. He wrote hundreds of loving, funny and insightful letters home to his wife. 70 years on, this show is about those letters, including stories of Dunkirk, the Blitz and a drunken attempt to climb a pyramid.