The Retreat at Edinburgh Fringe ★★★★

The Retreat at Edinburgh Fringe ★★★★

★★★★ The Retreat | Underbelly Cowgate | Aug 15-27 | 8pm

A French & Saunders-style duo host this menses-heavy variety showcase – with a massive singalong moment for fans of naughties MySpace indie pop!

Us comedians Rebekka Johnson and Anne Gregory are the SHE-E-O’s Men-ses Period Panties, supremely excited to be launching their all-staff corporate retreat in one of Underbelly Cowgate’s magnificent caverns! That’s the basic conceit here, as Johnson & Gregory extol the dubious virtues of their product, in between 5 minute sets from a rotating cast of Fringe performers.

As with all of these variety shows, you never quite know what you’ll be seeing – but on the evidence of our night at The Retreat, the bookings are strong: The Daily Show’s Sophie Zucker (Sophie Sucks Face, Underbelly Bristo Square, Aug 15-28) piled straight in with some edgy abortion humour (we were sat next to her proud parents); Linus Karp gave us a taste of his uncanny Lady Di (Diana: The Untold and Untrue Story, Pleasance Dome, Aug 14, 17-20, 22-28); and Troll (Troll, Underbelly Cowgate, Aug 15-27) sniffed out a few audience specimens in one of the more bizarre five minutes of our visit to the 2023 fringe!

Johnson & Gregory are consulate hosts, an keep their own material ticking over nicely – there are some excellent gags, though perhaps some of the jokes aren’t for the squeamish!

And then there’s the special guest – producer of the show, Kate Nash! Yes, that Kate Nash! She performs a funny comedy song before giving everyone in the crowd what they want, a jaunty playful rendition of hit song Foundations. And, of course, there’s some supremely silly (and hilarious) dancing from Johnson & Gregory.

It’s great fun – a wonderful, feminist, period-positive way to sample some of the best acts at the Fringe.