Queerly Brilliant Fringe

Hands and Flowers, and Daddy Short-Legs are AJ Clay’s not-to-be-missed recommendations.

Hands and Flowers [theSpace @ Surgeons Hall] (@lastminuteprodz)

The lives and loves of a group of diverse queer friends are explored in this play from Oxford-based Last Minute Productions. From Yiddish drag catwalks to the philosophical belief of time as we experience it moving at a different speed to ‘real’ time, it’s an eclectic mix of themes but one that never seeks to alienate its audience.

Non-binary Jewish narrator Dani is a sassy, charismatic presence, flirting with the front row and working through a week of Tinder dates. Meanwhile, bartender Guy and his partner Faith navigate the question of whether monogamy or heterosexuality is working for them, as Faith falls for student Jo after a chance encounter. Their whirlwind romance of tarot readings, piano lessons and awkward pauses is broken up by arguments with Jo’s friend Anj, Guy’s insecurities and the ever-present Dani flitting between scenes.

The candid description of the messiness of dating, lust and breakups will be familiar to most of the audience, even if the orientations and identities are not. There’s plenty of laughs to be had amid Faith’s struggles, even if it’s sometimes accidental when some of the bar set has a mishap. The cast style it out, however.

A joyful representation of queer experiences for those in the community, and a great place to start for those wanting to be better allies to their LGBTQ+ loved ones.


Eli Matthewson: Daddy Short-Legs [Underbelly Wee Coo] (@EliMatthewson)

Eli Matthewson returns to the Fringe with a stand-up show focused on coming out, terrible cars and life in New Zealand before and after lockdown.

He joked that he tried to make less of the material gay, which naturally has backfired. There’s plenty of razor-sharp observations about the issues the LGBTQ+ community has faced; not just homophobia, but the perils of heterosexuals reversing into parking spaces. There’s some great anecdotes about the mundane and everyday: mishearing his PT at the gym, being accidentally labelled bisexual at work and a particularly unforgettable cake mishap that has to be seen to be believed.

The compact Wee Coo is the perfect venue size for this show, as Eli easily engages with the whole audience. He’s got bags of charisma, which helps him get away with his smuttiest material. A neat narrative arc also helps proceedings, with call-backs to previous jokes and working towards his dad’s story. Eli’s journey to finding his true self is mirrored neatly in his dad’s coming out. It’s a show with a lot of heart alongside the filthy jokes, and the audience loved it.

Even the Underbelly bar staff were heartily recommending Eli before the show, which speaks volumes. A great feel good hour of comedy.


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