By and large, performers at the Fringe are a terribly ill-mannered, slovenly lot. Not so Mr B, the gentleman rhymer. Back in Edinburgh to educate and elucidate the masses with the scintillating sound of Chap-Hop, his solo show at the Voodoo Rooms is therefore one of the most enlightening – and hilarious – you will see this year.
Mr B’s Chap Hop Hoorah features the eponymous performer (and his butler Carshalton) perform a series of ditties on his banjolele. The genius twist that makes Mr B vital is his mashup of styles: introducing cabaret’s most treasured instrument to the phat beats and breaks of hip-hop.
Whether you are familiar with the music he spoofs and covers or not, this works brilliantly. Seeing the tweed-clad mustachioed Mr B adopt a classic rap pose or posture is something which never gets old: and if you do know the originals, then his covers of the likes of Happy Mondays (‘Northern folk music’) and Reel 2 Real are made all the more enjoyable.
And Mr B is an adroit musician to boot. Playing to backing tracks, his fingers are a blur as he picks out the rhythms and solos which make his music sparkle – he is justified in proclaiming himself a ‘maestro of the ukulele’.
The lyrics to his original songs are clever creations too, whether laying out the rules of being a chap, or lamenting the lack of privacy introduced by the modern-day internet. And most of them benefit from the audience singing along in the choruses, something which requires little encouragement from tonight’s bouncing crowd.
Whilst his routine may be based on only one comic conceit, Mr B’s with, stage manner and material are more than strong enough to make this hour-long show speed past in an immensely enjoyable blur.
All hail this chap, indeed.