Hal Cruttenden: Tough Luvvie, Gilded Balloon 10pm, until 26 Aug, £13 (£11 concessions)
With a convincing performance in the play ‘Making News‘ at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Hal Cruttenden stages his solo stand-up in the Gilded Balloon’s Wine Bar, with its near-deafening air-con. Fortunately his storytelling and dramatic outbursts rise above it, with a welcome apology and explanation for the delay on the night, which is rarer than you might think.
Cruttenden is quick to discuss Fringe ‘etiquette’, in that any show which is being flyered by a man dressed in historic attire, bellowing ye-olde-English, is always going to be ‘sh*t’, an observation that brings about the discovery that acting is where his heart truly lies, with this being the case for many years before stand-up. The way in which he uses his theatrical disposition to bolster his set is advantageous.
Topics pondered include his family dynamics with his Northern-Irish wife and with his two daughters, both of whom regularly question his camp persona. Cruttenden doesn’t shy away from their remarks and uses them to comedic effect proficiently.
The Royal Family and politicians are contemplated in depth, leading onto ‘that’ topic of the Scottish independence referendum. Unlike some of the higher profile stand-ups at this year’s Fringe, Cruttenden actually dares to speak more than just one sentence about it, explaining his viewpoint and possible ramifications of either result.
He does in fact manage to weave his views on numerous topics throughout the hour while addressing a range of regional stereotypes, much to the horror of one heckler who evidently caught Cruttenden unawares but was swiftly dealt with in a professional manner, where many other acts may have floundered.
Segments featuring Cruttenden’s critique of ‘life quotes’ and Facebook statuses, and experiences where he has had to portray his ‘tough’ side, were highlights of a set that featured many observations and anecdotes that you may have already experienced if you have seen some of his televised material.
Having said this, fresh injections, combined with a consistently well-paced delivery, make this an amusing endeavour. Cruttenden’s sensitive yet sharp-edged calibre and dramatised sequences make him captivating and topical.