Monday, 7 September 2015

Edinburgh Festival Fringe cabaret review: Twonkey’s Stinking Bishop, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Kate Copstick 25 August 2015.
The room is sunk in Stygian gloom. The sound of Gregorian chant comes as something of a surprise to the two rows of happy “relaxed” young men from Bishop Auckland who had stumbled in en masse and probably by mistake. I worry for Twonkey, a gentle, other-worldly man whose shows generally require the kind of willing suspension of disbelief that would hold up the Forth Bridge. But oddity by oddity, song by song, Twonkey draws them in.
It is a wonderful thing to watch a “lad” reclaim his daft. Comedy needs Twonkey, a performer who has not so much ploughed his own metaphorical furrow but woven it from sweet silly songs, ridiculous props, meandering, mesmerising stories that make absolutely no sense other than here in the dark with Twonkey. From the moment the first song starts – “From a fountain in the sea, I found a memory” – you know you have entered another comedy dimension. Yes there are references to things in this dimension – like Hugh Grant and Foxes Glacier Mints – but even they cannot anchor us to any kind of reality but Twonkey’s. Some things are eternal – like the Evil Conjurer and the Travel Sexy Ship’s Wheel. As we giggled our way through the Wheel’s portion of the hour, Twonkey, in full TV game show host mode – with his catchphrase “pull my knickers off” – had some little problem with the prop knickers. “Must remember to memorise the colours,” he chides himself, “Makes the act look that bit more slick.” Twonkey is to slick what deep fried pizza is to health food. But he is unique and he creates wonderlands of weird. Whether squashing toy pigs between two rounds of cheese, conjuring images of a hunchback with an unscrewable hump in rural Dordogne or singing one of his glorious ditties, he will always put a little wonderful into your day.
NEWS FLASH! Team Twonkey filmed couple of things for a new N.B.C series:
coming your way January 2016.See pic of Chris on the telly opposite.
Twonkey's Stinking Bishop reviewed by FringeGuru Richard Stamp.
Another year, another outing for Edinburgh's favourite Dadaist: the unmatchable, indescribable Mr Twonkey. You don't so much watch a Twonkey show as bob gently through it – adrift on a sea of surrealism, trying to maintain some semblance of your bearings through occasional glimpses of solid ground. But if that sounds a bit pretentious, think again. This is also a genuinely laugh-aloud show, a joyous experience shared between a pleasantly bemused audience and an immensely personable performer.
Mr Twonkey – real name Paul Vickers – is something of a Fringe institution these days, known for his flight-of-fancy stories and offbeat, nonsensical songs. If you're a fan of Vickers' past outings, then I'm delighted to confirm that the psychic sex-crazed ship's wheel does still feature – whereas, if you're a Twonkey virgin, that sentence will give you a reasonable idea of what lies in store. Compared to previous offerings however, Vickers has dialled down the surrealism just a tad; the universe he inhabits is still a bizarre one, but it's a little more accessible than before.
It's almost pointless to list the topics Twonkey's rambling journey visits (being sacked from Looney Tunes, getting into trouble in the Dordogne, and the undead roaming Skipton are just a few), but each song has an elusive sense of coherence, a feeling that it makes a kind of sense you can't quite put into words. Some are fairly straightforward, like the concluding number about "the drop" performers experience once they come off-stage; others are complex and multi-layered, and a few are performed by puppets. The only real link is the loveable personality of Mr Twonkey himself, who radiates a kind of affable shyness that would warm the stoniest of hearts.
There's less darkness to the stories than in previous years, and I confess I missed the undertone of pathos which have previously defined Mr Twonkey's tales. In its place, though, we got some low-key, slow-burn, but ultimately-hilarious physical comedy, built around the inherent entertainment value of a big man blundering around on a bijou stage. It's hard to know how much of this was scripted, and how much was down to genuine mistakes which he had the skill to run with; but either way, the result was an engaging hour-long visual gag, which saw Vickers get increasingly entangled with his costumes, props and microphone stand.
Search too hard for a meaning to Vickers' act, and you might leave deeply frustrated. But embrace it for what it is – charming, seductive nonsense – and it has the capacity to be one of the most memorable shows of your Fringe. At the end, I bobbed out onto the Grassmarket unsure of where I'd travelled – but knowing, above all else, that I'd enjoyed the ride.
Twonkey's Stinking Bishop reviewed by Donald Hutera from The Times.
★★★★ August 20 2015
“Will somebody tell me what I’m supposed to do?” These were the first words uttered by Paul Vickers, aka Mr Twonkey, on the night I treated myself to his latest Fringe outing. A founding member of the now-dormant Scottish indie rock quintet Dawn of the Replicants, Vickers is a rumpled, fuzzy-haired and middle-aged man of many parts and a completely bonkers charm.
For the solo shows devised for his on-stage alter ego he stitches together pun-filled, rib-tickling and mind-bending little fables and gently barbed cultural commentary; belts out rhythmically catchy, self-composed songs in a comfortably raspy yowl (think Ivor Cutler meets Tom Waits) to taped accompaniment; manipulates home-made puppets and others objects; and functions as his own technician and stage manager. He is also endearingly fond of taking the mickey out of his own humble, DIY status. Hence, I think, the line quoted above. Being in his presence for an hour is delightful.
Anyone even vaguely on the same weirdly wonderful wavelength as Vickers will likely agree. Named after a high-fat, washed-rind cheese, his newest show is being presented in a tiny, non-descript room in a hotel. And with a top ticket price of £6, it’s a hole-in-the-wall bargain. Although his work is not cheesy, cheese does make a guest appearance in the form of a large wheel under which Vickers — dressed, for the record, like a ship’s captain, but in many ways functioning like a fallible magician — secretes a mechanical grunting pig.
There is also, memorably, a haunted cable car with an attendant off-the-wall back story and a faux competition involving Dracula and a putative trip to the Yorkshire market town of Skipton. Note that the vampire reference allows Vickers to indulge in what he calls a “Transylvanian Finger Fantasy.” As he reminds us, “The mistakes are real in this show.” What’s not to like or, dare I say it, even love?
Twonkey's Stinking Bishop reviewed by Paul Levy from Fringe Review.
Mr Twonkey has a brand new show and this is the very first night. Over the following hour, many of the audience were in hysterics and others looked on, suppressing smiles and laughter that might just reveal their own inner affinity with the absurdity of the human condition.
Songs, set pieces, banter and even psychic brandy tasting fill the time. This is anti-showbiz, punkish musical surrealism. Running through it is a thread of more rational banter as our host and his crazy puppets comment, tell a gag or two and sing with an energy that nearly pops buttons and smashes Quadrant windows.
Twonkey has built up a loyal following over the years, and many fans were in evidence tonight. The show isn’t there yet, which is a big relief all round. It feels rough because it is meant to be rough. Twonkey is like an abstract painter who really knows how to classically paint but has ditched those genres for something more playful and unhinged. It works. The audience love it. It is a spectacle and a cabaret in equal measure. Songs, banter, backing tracks, tricks and puppets; stories and one liners all combine to create sense overload, too much happening at one time, then everything grinding hilariously to a halt at another.
Old favourite characters plucked from the zany repertoire alongside new material and changes of mood from mad to intense, emotional to throaway, this is the skill of the man and his arrant inventiveness. He gives himself permission to spin at the edges of normality and that gives us permission to indulge a bit of escapism from the mediocre normal. Simply staged, plenty of props, bemusement mixed with delight, the audience lean forward to see what will happen next.
Not all of the songs were as clear as I’d have liked them as there are words I wanted to hear. It will settle in the right ways as the show develops but I hope that the material will not completely settle, keeping its offbeat and reality-popping cleverness.
You won’t enjoy it if you are seeking a beginning, middle and end (in that order. You won’t enjoy it if you can’t induldge your own propensity towards the unhinged. But if you go with Twonkey he’ll take you all over the shop, but you’ll be happily, crappily, mad-cappily glad of the journey.
The Mumble's Paul Rivers had this to say which means ★★★★★
“I am you, I am you, I am yooooo,” sings Mr. Twonkey in one of the many bizarre but brilliant songs that punctuate the show. There were many lines from the songs that stuck in my brain but the refrain above made me think: this is comedy—if that that’s the correct word (it may not do the show justice)—that lies in a tradition of eccentric/absurdist /subversive art that from time to time manages to rise up from the deeps and defamiliarize your world—off the top of my head: Michael Bentine, Spike Milligan, The Goons, John Lennon, Ken Dodd, Tommy Cooper, The Mighty Boosh, Victor Spinetti, some 70’s children’s shows/cartoons. This stuff makes you feel different.
This is no nostalgia trip, mind. The audience responded intensely, but the laughter wasn’t corporate laughter, it was probably best described as nervous laughter: but who can explain? We all laughed hysterically as Mr. Twonkey squeezed a plastic pig between two wheels of Stinking Bishop cheese, wrapped it in a plastic chain and announced: “He’ll never get out of that!” I had my 16 year old son with me and to his great joy he won a ticket for an individual performance of a Transylvanian Finger Fantasy: Mr Twonkey clambered over the seating and gave the performance—a paper puppet on each finger. My son loved it. The only criticism here mind is that Mr. Twonkey didn’t let him keep the winning ticket, claiming that it took him 2 hours to make—tight! We left the theatre as we arrived with Mr. Twonkey prone on the floor his head under the curtain. I suppose this might not be for everybody, but we loved it. And in the words of another one Mr. Twonkey’s songs—quickly to become a mass singalong—“Take a dip, dip, dip, dip, dip, dip, dip, dippppppppppp!”
Michael Brunstrom
Richard Gadd
The Story Beast
Mr Twonkey
And the winner well....Michael Brunstrom still always good to be in the running for these things. Maybe they heard about my Battle of the Super Villains performance as Spring Heeled Jack the picture below tells that story.Horribly funny ;-)