Review: Steve Gribbin – Viva Gribbostania – The Stand (4), Edinburgh.
Only four people have turned up, and Steve Gribbin knows three of them. This means Viva Gribbostania! feels like it is being performed exclusively for me, personally welcomed by Gribbin as I sit hunched at the back of the room.
Undeterred by his applause sounding like “the pitter patter of tiny mice”, the cheery Liverpudlian presses on with the performance. Brandishing an acoustic guitar, Steve reveals that he has decided to form his own country. Choosing to explain his manifesto through the medium of song, the show explores political themes through musical parody. Beginning with a rousing Bruce Springsteen tribute, Gribbin attempts to assess the mood of the Scottish people towards the independence debate. As there are no Scottish people in the room, this becomes a difficult task. If Gribbin is to be believed, however, this is an improvement on his Saturday performance, invoking images of an irate nationalist clambering towards a unionist foe.
Steve is an energetic performer, launching into songs with a childlike gusto. The NHS and Vladmir Putin are effectively satirised, while a musical conversation between the two Edinburgh Pandas is a clever satire on the Chinese government. Particularly memorable, however, are the shorter bursts of song. Captain Francesco Schettino of the Costa Concordia is hilariously skewered, while an affecting tribute to Bob Dylan needs to be seen to truly appreciate a musical genius at work.
Gribbin has more than just songs in his arsenal. The wide scope his theme affords allows him to explore a number of political topics, including Lockerbie, Pussy Riot and the Jubilee. A section on ‘religion bombs’ is particularly amusing and well constructed, and a nice departure from the incessant guitar thrashing.
Some sections, however, fall a little flat. The introduction of a Labrador puppet adds nothing to the show, returning at the conclusion to lengthy, awkward effect. And though it seems harsh to point out, a raucous, bellowing performance like this one was always going to be hampered by a lack of audience. To his credit, though, Steve soldiers on, gamely engaging us in a sing along and ensuring we all take the pledge of Gribbostania before we leave.
Steve Gribbin delivers an amusing, likeable performance carried through by boundless energy and enthusiasm. The lack of attendance is truly a shame, hampering parts of the show that would have been a triumph given a larger crowd. As it is, Viva Gribbostania! is an enjoyable hour of musical comedy that certainly deserves more than an audience of four.
Date of live review: Sunday 19th August 2012