Some shows only make sense at the Edinburgh Fringe; think ‘Cat photos set to music’, ‘Shitfaced Shakespeare’ and ‘Chasing scenes’. Sister Mary’s Playtime @ Teatime is one of these shows. It is a fringeful mash-up of a hairy nun in a medieval tavern leading the audience in everything from Mary Poppins to rap between comedic interludes.
Beginning with rousing vocals, Sister Mary had the audience on their feet from the start, joyfully belting out classics including Mamma Mia and Do-re-mi. Accompanied by Brother Matthew on the keyboard, the two’s musical ability struck a well-tuned note with the audience.
Chiding and leading the audience helplessly into unavoidable innuendo, Sister Mary is at her best. Her more impromptu interactions with the audience, guest comedian, Eli Matthewson, and a surprise-guest brought genuine laughter.
Tim McArthur started with the spot-on mannerisms of a commanding school teacher mixed with your granny, yet strangely embodied by a burly man. As she led us through our first “hymn”, chiding stragglers and clapping her hands with purpose, it seemed we were in the presence of an expert actor. However, what transpired was a performance and script which felt somewhat tired, predictable and overly dependent on the same jokes. Admittedly, this is perhaps true of many performances across the final days of the 3 week long Fringe Festival.
Regardless of this, being British, I laughed at the celebrity references, classic songs and became very aware of the British obsession with men in drag. I became even more conscious of my Britishness, explaining our love of the Sound of Music to a German man to my right … I also ended up explaining a joke by pointing at the body parts in question to a Spanish girl to my left. Such an international audience did seem to struggle at points although the majority seemed happy, laughing along in bemused good faith.
Although jaded, it was an entertaining, goodhearted hour of fun which undoubtedly has a place at the free Fringe.
Reviewed by Jennifer Helen McGowan
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