Onion Fringes: Part 1 – Colin Hoult: Characthorse & Real Horror Show

The Edinburgh Fringe is almost upon us, with a host of TVO favourites set to descend upon the city between 2nd and 26th August.  In the build up, we’re bringing you a great show to go and see every weekday – from our regulars to shows beyond the usual confines of Onion Land.

Today’s showcase gives you two shows for the price of one from Edinburgh veteran and comic mastermind Colin Hoult

Left: © Matthew Hopkinson // Right: © Colin Hoult

Left: © Matthew Hopkinson // Right: © Colin Hoult


Colin Hoult: Characthorse // Real Horror Show


Pleasance Courtyard // Assembly Roxy


31st July-26th August // 1st August-26th August


18:00 // 22:45


Characthorse // Real Horror Show

Trying to summarise Colin Hoult in few words is difficult.  To the initiated, Hoult is a legend of the live circuit: a force to be reckoned with after three previous solo shows, and four more years at the Fringe with Fergus Craig, then David McNeill.  The main difficulty in explaining why people should go and see him is simple – there’s precious little footage of him in action.

The last 18 months, however, have seen Hoult’s cult-stock on the rise, with appearances in Life’s Too Short, Red Dwarf and most recently, Being Human giving him a greater profile on screen.  Yet it is on stage that Colin really excels, with a rapid mind and a powerful presence bolstered by his seeming ability to not give a damn how ridiculous he looks.

© Edward Moore

© Edward Moore

In fact, Colin’s shows are masterful concoctions of grotesques, sad-acts and has-beens – with the great man able to personify his characters with minimal props and a shifting stance or voice.  It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen him, spoken to him, or even interviewed him, when Colin Hoult gets on that stage he is Anna Mann, Andy Parker, The Mighty Thwor, or any of the myriad of characters he has created.

His early work with Fergus Craig sparked three shows and several awards. 2004’s Colin & Fergus, 2005’s Colin & Fergus 2 and 2006’s Rutherford Lodge were critically acclaimed hits, and two years later, Colin hooked up with Rutherford Lodge supporting actor David McNeill to create the bonkers Zimbani.

Much as Colin & Fergus moved to radio, Zimbani moved to television, with a pilot episode filmed for Dave that was sadly never picked up for commission (despite also featuring one Julian Barratt!).  Instead, Colin moved on, forging 2009’s Carnival Of Monsters, 2010’s The Enemy Of The World (possibly this writer’s favourite hour of live comedy ever), and 2011’s Inferno – the first two of which also featured our very own Stephen Evans.

Following a year away from the festival, Colin is now back with not one, but two new shows!

Characthorse is the logical progression from his previous “stand-up” shows and is mythically summarised as “a sublimely original hour of comic shape-shifting and supreme silliness”.  It’s a one-man show, which sees him depart from his usual network of supporting actors like Dan Snelgrove & Zoe Gardner… and speaking to TVO recently, he explained:

“It’s a show I wrote as a seven year old about a town called Snottingham.  It’s a sort of love letter to growing up and my family and the people I met as a kid, and Nottingham in general.”

And we’re saying no more… go and see it!

© Eliza Power

As well as Characthorse, Colin is also bringing a super-charged version of his semi-regular London night Real Horror Show to the festival.  Previous events have seen Hoult and a revolving door of actors perform short-form plays surrounded by a wider narrative  – a tribute to the portmanteau Amicus movies of old, but done with a completely straight face and a real sense of genuine horror, instead of Hammer style hokum.  Last year, Colin told us:

“I’ve probably watched just about every portmanteau film there is, but these are much more about people doing horrible things to other people or to themselves. There’s not really any ghosts or goblins in there.”

Both shows are filled with the vitality and urgency that Hoult always brings to his material, and with the incredibly prolific comic actor on the up, it may be your last chance to see him in intimate venues before superstardom beckons.  His forthcoming radio series, Carnival Of Monsters, will see highlights from his previous material, and all new stuff mixed together, and we’re sure it’s the next step towards bigger things for Colin… so get in there whilst you can!

Characthorse runs from 31st July to 26th August at Pleasance Courtyard.  Real Horror Show runs from 1st August to 26th August at Assembly Roxy. We’ll have another Edinburgh recommendation tomorrow, and every weekday throughout July, so stay peeled!

3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. There’s Still Time To Join The Carnival of Monsters | The Velvet Onion
  2. Edinburgh Festivities With Colin | The Velvet Onion
  3. The Final Countdown For Hoult & Law | The Velvet Onion

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