Edinburgh Fringe at Summerhall: The Rest of Our Lives & The Receptionists

Summerhall, Edinburgh
August 21, 2022

Jo Fong and George Orange: The Rest of Our Lives

Humour is a funny thing. It’s very personal. That was very obvious at the beginning of The Rest of Our Lives, Jo Fong and George Orange’s presentation of two middle-aged people looking at the rest of their lives and wondering, what next? Many in the audience found their antics hilarious from the off. I was among the minority (perhaps significantly mostly older ones) who did not. And yet, slowly but surely I was reeled in. A lot of that is down to the couple’s warmth, Fong’s unbridled enthusiasm and Orange’s often downright silliness.

The show is centred around questions and observations. Will I be alone? Will I be remembered? Will it hurt? Am I bothered? Amongst other things, they wrestle with a pair of chairs, Orange then squeezing every ounce of comedy out of squeezing his body through the metal frame of a chair in an act of determination but also one filled with pathos.

The show’s undoubted highlight is a ridiculous mass ping pong game involving the front three rows, all armed with bats. A blizzard of what must be close to 100 balls ensued as they flew everywhere. It was as totally crazy as it sounds. There’s more audience participation at the end when everyone is invited on stage to boogieing away together. It felt wonderfully hopeful, even if, like me you preferred to sit and watch.

There is a lot to like in The Rest of Our Lives, although I found parts more poignant than funny. But there is a lot of enthusiastic chivvying to join in (think of one of those over-excitable teachers or group leaders) and you do feel pressured. If that makes you feel uncomfortable, even if you do still sit it out, the show might not be your bag.

The Rest of Our Lives is at Summerhall to August 28, 2022. Click here for tickets.

Kallo Collective: The Receptionists

Inga Björn and Kristiina Tammisalo of Kallo Collective in The Receptionists
Photo Kallo Collective

Making a welcome live return to the Fringe (we also met them on line last year) are The Receptionists, aka Inga Björn and Kristiina Tammisalo of Finland’s Kallo Collective, in an hour of often very funny acutely observed physical comedy.

Smiles fixes firmly in place, they file paperwork, arrange a fruit bowl, tidy the desk. They get bored. They find fault with the smallest of details. It’s simple but immediately the pair have you in the palm of their hands. Every look, every facial contortion, every raised eyebrow says so much.

The pair have great chemistry and quite superb timing. Panic ensues when the telephone rings, both equally excited and horrified at the prospect of actually having to deal with someone. A mislaid scarf turns into a monumental disaster. An improvised attempt to rescue the situation using an audience member’s Sainsbury’s carrier bag was quite brilliant.

A visit to housekeeping, where amongst other things they delve into the folding the end of toilet paper into a point, works a little less well. Things pick up again when three members of the audience are persuaded to check-in, though. On this occasion things were helped along brilliantly when the first ‘guest’ played along superbly giving some very unexpected answers to questions.

It is all terribly inventive. Like the best comedy, it’s not only funny but has more than a grain of truth buried in there. Great fun.

Part of the From Start to Finnish showcase, The Receptionists by Kallo Collective is at Summerhall to August 28, 2022. Visit tickets.edfringe.com for details and tickets.