Shannon Matthews: The Musical (Just the Tonic at the Caves – Just up the Road, until AUG 27)

“You’ll feel awful as you cackle throughout.”

Editorial Rating: 5 Stars (Outstanding)

A common complaint of seasoned Fringe goers is the gentrification of the event: Aperol spritzes, padded seats, expensive tickets. All a bit prawn sandwiches.

It is refreshing then to find the old Fringe, the real fringe: a small, sweaty venue, shock value, plastic pints and the general feeling that you are seeing something naughty and exhilarating.

And that is what I found in the Caves: ‘’Shannon Matthews: The Musical’’ has made headlines with various blowhard MPs calling for the show to be banned given the subject matter. It was banned from a number of venues in Leeds recently but has managed – for now – to escape the wrath of the Whitehouses here in Scotland.

For those who don’t know the background: it revolves around a staged abduction of a child – in the wake of Maddie McCann’s disappearance – with the aim of making her dysfunctional family famous and rich. Is a child abduction fit for comic purposes? That is for personal taste. There’s nothing more unpalatable here than you’d find at a Gervais or Boyle gig. It isn’t as if Kunt and the Gang hide it. The clue is in the name of the show after all. If you don’t think it is appropriate don’t go. It is your loss,

But… never mind the should it be allowed discussion. Is it funny? Yes. Is it good? Yes.

I was doubled over laughing often ashamed of myself for doing so admittedly. Thee sheer outrage of the jokes forced the audience to whoop, applaud and cackle. It may seem blunt or base but it is more than that. There is cleverness here and a deft touch. It is relentless: Shows hitting 90 minutes and with pretty much constant gags are as hard to find as Prince Andrew’s used sweatbands. Those who have seen Kunt before know what they are getting: electro pop, 80s nods, hilarious songs, gags that would make the Profanisaurus blush and a deep understanding of a certain sort of British life.

More Shameless than Downton Abbey but as British as looting cultural treasures. Some of the songs will stick in your head. That may cause issues or funny looks. I found myself singing ‘ Can’t work, won’t work’, ‘Shannon ain’t dead (she’s under my bed), and ‘I’ve got a plan – based on Maddie McCann’ walking through the Cowgate. Perhaps ones to sing under your breath. Hilarious, shocking, catchy tunes. Well worth a watch.

ALL our recent coverage? Click here!