Fringe acts can have a miraculous ability to make their audiences feel like they are in any number of places. Some may want to be transported to the wild landscapes of Siberia, or the romance of Paris. Others may want to head down to the land of hoedowns, where NASCAR rules and Elvis never died. This is, of course, the American South. And Reformed Whores are the perfect double act to take you there.
The frank and garish American-ness of double act Katy Frame and Marie Cecile Anderson sees two singer-songwriters who have swapped the red light district for their studio’s red recording light. They use a variety of songs to tell their comical stories of sexual exploration and relationships, all delivered with a cheesy grin and plenty of boot tapping.
Admittedly, when the audience first hear them speak and the first song gets underway, the crowd may just wonder what on earth they have set themselves in for. What follows, happily, unifies the whole room. As the Reformed Whores belt out some of the dirtiest lyrics imaginable, they are repaid in eruptions of uncontrollable laughter.
The two singers are let loose on their ‘gee-tars’ and a ludicrously large accordion as they perform Country and Western songs full to the brim with filth and jokes. Themes of their musical numbers include birth control, house husbands and an interesting use for care bears. It is shocking, colourful and sensationally funny. Grand Ole C*ntry never stops being anything other than riotously entertaining.
What helps a show like this thrive is that they are more than willing to get the audience involved in the show, making it feel like everything they do is a reaction to what the audience want. It helps to keep it interesting. Furthermore, the show makes some smart comments about their career change and how ‘us girls aren’t meant to sing about sex and stuff like that’. This show will not separate itself from world of today despite providing a glorious hour of foul-mouthed escapism.
That being said, Grand Ole C*ntry does not dawdle awfully much in anything political. Far from being critical, it helps to keep the whole thing jovial and fun. For all the potential for Trump-related jokes and stabs at American fame icons, they keep the asides and the songs very much about themselves. For that formula to work, the characters need to be interesting enough to merit not branching out into other topics. Fortunately, the Reformed Whores prove more than up to the task of keeping their audience on board. Their outlandish personalities never come close to feeling boring or overworked – they are just absurd and caricatured enough to incite the fits of laughter without looking like they are trying too hard.
Grand Ole C*ntry is one of the most entertaining and naughty hours you can find at the Fringe. If a musical double act twanging on their ukuleles and singing about those things not discussed around innocent ears is what you want, come on down.
Reformed Whores: Grand Ole C*ntry
Sweet Grassmarket (Venue 18)
Until 27th August
Image: Mindy Tucker