Theatre review: Don't Frighten The Straights, Paradise in Augustines, Edinburgh

Dont Frighten the Straights!, Paradise in Augustines (Venue 152)
Dont Frighten the Straights!, Paradise in Augustines (Venue 152)
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An experienced storyteller whose work has been read on BBC Radio 4, Turan Ali has a repertoire of more than 40 stories, from which he selects three or four each night to form the basis of his show.

Don't Frighten The Straights, Paradise in Augustines, Edinburgh * * *

On our visit we heard, for example, about his work trip to Eastern Europe in which he picked up an extremely handsome man, only for his guest to utter what sounded like a term of casual antisemitic abuse; in which case, Ali had to decide whether he stayed for the sex or left and kept his conscience clear. In another tale, meanwhile, a police programme to integrate with the community brings a young policeman to Ali and his partner’s house to stay the weekend, and a revelation that football is more powerful than prejudice.

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A proudly self-declared “mouthy old ethnic poof”, Ali makes the obvious but still resoundingly-landed joke about his presence at the Fringe being necessary to fulfil the festival’s diversity quotas. While there’s a certain old-fashioned viewpoint to the idea that Fringe audiences aren’t ready for queer stories, or that they might be shocked by what they hear, there’s also an intentionally smutty cheek to his delivery which gains the audience’s trust and enriches these tales of life well-lived as a gay man.

Until 25 August

David Pollock

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