Comedy review: Phil Dunning: The House of Pigs

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Welcome to the House of Pigs, a renowned if down-at-heel cabaret bar threatened with closure to make way for yet another chain pub.

Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)


This sad situation brings consternation to the venue’s staff and the “multitude of world-famous variety acts” who tread its boards – a mixed bag of a dozen or so bizarro performers, each played in a different wig by Phil Dunning. There’s Sonia Jackson, the assistant front-of-house supervisor with implausible memories of childhood stardom; Fat Roy, the unreconstructed stand-up for whom political incorrectness and gastric mishap go hand in hand; Magic Lisa, an ever so underwhelming conjuror; a bevy of more or less deluded chanteuses, and many more.

Dunning’s style is campy, knowing, wild-eyed and surreal, buoyed by ceaseless energy, sinuous physicality, tremulous vocal renditions and a deep attachment to the bathetically grotesque. Preposterous parodies of American pop culture – from Disney romance and Moulin Rouge to frat-boy homoerotica – alternate with a kind of affectionate freakshow tour of the British regions. Some characters could fill an hour in themselves while others get old in three minutes. Overall, a world without room for the House of Pigs would be a blander, duller one for sure.

Until 27 August. Today 11pm.