Rory McGrath and Philip Pope in Bridge Over Troubled Lager
Assembly George Square
From 31 July 2013 to 26 August 2013
Review by David Chadderton
I remember coming across both Rory McGrath and Philip Pope for the first time some thirty years ago in the TV sketch series, quite controversial for its time, Who Dares Wins.
Since then, McGrath has become best-known for his appearances on various celebrity panel shows as well as sharing a boat with Griff Rhys Jones and Dara O'Briain, whereas Pope rivals Howard Goodall for composing the most UK TV themes.
In this show, they come back together for an hour of comic songs and jokes, both playing guitar and singing and Pope also playing keyboard. The title—and McGrath's reputation—implies something laddish and possibly rude, but other than lots of extra swearing there isn't anything racier than we've seen him do on TV. In fact it feels safer and more predictable than he used to be on They Think It's All Over a decade ago, which makes it all seem rather tame for a Fringe show.
The songs cover various subjects including celebrity reality TV, the Bible and people tweeting the most banal details of their lives. There's quite a clever solo number where Pope plays a Metallica number as Schubert. The linking banter feels a bit too forced and prepared with some very old and predictable jokes (I remember using one of McGrath's gags in a panto script 20 years ago, and I got it from an old book then).
There are some laughs and a chance to join in the title song at the end, but after seeing Rich Hall's masterclass in how to present a show of comic songs the night before, the content and concept of this show appear a little flimsy.