REVIEW: GM Fringe 2016: Fast Fringe with Justin Moorhouse (The Dancehouse Theatre, Manchester)

Justin Moorhouse's Fast Fringe opened the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival 2016
Justin Moorhouse’s Fast Fringe opened the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival 2016
reviewer: demi west
upstaged rating: 

The Manchester Fast Fringe festival at the Dancehouse was a visual montage of the best jokes and gags from up and coming comedians due to perform at the festival, all comically led on from one another by Manchester’s own Justin Moorhouse. The show was to kick off the Manchester Fringe and consisted of twenty comedians, who each had three minutes to barrage you with a taster of their best material so that you could get a flavour of what they are offering at the Manchester and Edinburgh fringe. This offered a ‘selection box’ of comedy, which had a wide range of acts from puppets, to bearded men in dresses, keeping everyone’s eyes on the stage.

The acts, on the whole, were all very entertaining, with acts such as Brennan Reece offering anecdotal humour on the struggle of masculinity, and Andy Field who did a quirky take on the classic impersonation, including Elton John, and ‘Poprah’. All of these acts thought out their jokes and executed them to a good standard gaining a good response from the audience. Some acts broke the generic anecdotal formula of humour and offered more interesting approaches that worked well yet sometimes fell short, as the three minutes provided was sometimes too narrow of a time frame to sample their whole act.

Acts like Harriet Dyer offered an eccentric performance centred around nineties music and growing up in Cornwall, in which she performed an acapella singing dance routine with unusual body movements, catching the audience completely off-guard, yet still provoking the desired response. Other acts like Daniel Nichols simply picked out members of the audience and made them attempt to try and remove his jumper, but due to the short time slot, the audience wasn’t able to grasp what the whole act consisted of, which was one of the main problems with the show.

The show was all brought together and well-rounded by Justin Moorhouse, who worked the audience very well and connected with them through jokes on topical subjects, such as what it’s like to be from Manchester and the EU referendum. After attending the Fast Fringe, I’d definitely consider seeing some of the acts in their full-length solo shows, and thought it was a great way of sampling the best comedy that Manchester has to offer.

-Demi West


Greater Manchester Fringe Festival 2016 runs from 1st July – 31st July and with an eclectic collection of shows and events, we recommend you check out the website and full festival listings by clicking here.

Aladdin (Dancehouse Manchester)


Following on from last year’s pantomime success, The Dancehouse Theatre, home of the Northern Ballet School, are back and keen to grant Manchester a Christmas wish by staging timeless classic Aladdin this year.

This pantomime is a perfect opportunity for the company to showcase their dancing talents, featuring many different dance styles from bhangra to ballet, all are skilled from the teeny tiny jazz dancers through to the feisty and rhythmic crew of street dancers.

The Dancehouse Theatre and Eight Freestyle poke fun at the expected pantomime tradition, managing to put their own stamp on the magical middle eastern adventure. The genie of the evil Abanazer’s diamond ring was a bolshy Liverpudlian, which ran well with the Mancunian crowd and the final fight scene between Aladdin and Abanazer played out with lightsabers, giving the nod to all of the Star Wars fans in the audience.

Although most of the energetic dance numbers were choreographed well and the popular chart music choice was a hit with the audience, there were moments in the story where the action seemed stunted and the audience were left trying to make sense of an empty stage.

There were also some problems with the sound quality throughout the show – occasionally my ear drums were rattling as the treble was booming and just like Widow Twankey sang in the show “All About That Bass”, some adjustments did need to be made.

The cast took every opportunity to interact with their eager audience by inviting people on to the stage and encouraging all to join in with the customary pantomime sing-a-long. The use of gauze to create a starry night as Princess Jasmine and Aladdin were suspended on a magic carpet was a highlight as was the amusing version of “Take me Out” to find a suitable husband for the Princess.

The Dancehouse Theatre and Eight Freestyle certainly succeeded in entertaining the whole family, with plenty of belly laughs, Christmas sparkle and not a reality TV star in sight. Aladdin runs at just over two hours long and with ticket prices starting at a mere £30 for a family of five, it really is excellent festive value for money.

-Kristy Stott

Originally published by What’s on Stage in December 2014.