Playbill Pick: Gyles Brandreth Can't Stop Talking! at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe | Playbill

Playbill Goes Fringe Playbill Pick: Gyles Brandreth Can't Stop Talking! at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

The ever-charming, jumper-loving broadcaster and writer is simply delightful in his latest solo show.

Gyles Brandreth

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world, with nearly 3,500 shows. This year, Playbill is in Edinburgh for the entire month in August for the festival and we’re taking you with us. Follow along as we cover every single aspect of the Fringe, aka our real-life Brigadoon!

As part of our Edinburgh Fringe coverage, Playbill is seeing a whole lotta shows—and we're sharing which ones you absolutely must see if you're only at the Fringe for a short amount of time. Consider these Playbill Picks a friendly, opinionated guide as you try to choose a show at the festival.

As the audience walks into the Gordon Aikman Theatre there is some cheerful piano music playing. As I sat and listened, I realized I recognized the song: “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly” from My Fair Lady. That was followed by “The Surrey with the Fringe on Top” and then “Comedy Tonight.” I immediately knew I was going to enjoy Gyles Brandreth Can't Stop Talking!

At 75, Brandreth is probably not someone most people would think of as particularly young or hip—although he does use a punk song for his entrance music and then talks about hanging out with Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols. And who needs young or hip, anyway? This show is pure theatrical comfort food. In fact, the only possibly complaint I had was that he stopped talking so soon. I could have listened to his stories for hours. Alas, it’s the Fringe, and he was limited to just an hour.

Who is Gyles Brandreth, for those who don’t already know? He’s a television presenter, writer, former MP (Member of Parliament), to name but a few accolades. He hosts a very enjoyable and informative podcast with Susie Dent, called Something Rhymes With Purple, about language and the history of words. He’s known for wearing amusing jumpers (the one he wore at the Fringe celebrated King Charles III). And he has a large teddy bear collection, including an original Fozzie Bear given to him personally by Jim Henson. He seems to know pretty much everyone, and freely admits to doing a lot of name-dropping in the show—he talks about meeting everyone from Michael Jackson to Queen Elizabeth. He’s even introduced in the show by the voice of Dame Judi Dench.

If you’re a fan of theatre history like I am, you might hear Brandreth talk about seeing Dame Sybil Thorndike in the original West End production of Noël Coward’s Waiting in the Wings, or about a mishap Rex Harrison had in the 1981 Broadway revival of My Fair Lady. I say ‘might’ because the show changes every night. He invites an audience member onstage to choose from a menu of subjects he can talk about in his limited time with us. Curiously, the show also features the second audience sing-along of the Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” I’ve seen in as many weeks—and neither of those was the Broadway Neil Diamond jukebox musical A Beautiful Noise.

If you’re looking for a gentler type of comedy than you might get from some of the younger, louder comedians at the Fringe, Gyles Brandreth Can’t Stop Talking! is the show for you. By the way, that title? His wife’s idea. When he was a kid, his sisters were so sick of hearing him talk all the time, they asked their parents if they could use their pocket money to send him away to boarding school. I'm thankful he's since scrounged enough to make it to Edinburgh Fringe.

Gyles Brandreth Can't Stop Talking! runs until August 27 at the Gordon Aikman Theatre at Assembly George Square. For tickets, click here. For recommendations on other comedy shows to see at the Fringe, click here.

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