There’s a queue out the door and around the corner as I arrive at the cobbled side street by Voodoo Rooms. As we’re let inside, we’re directed to a small, dark ‘speakeasy’ full of collapsible chairs and featuring a gilded bar. ‘Bring Me to Life’ by Evanescence is blasting over the speakers, and nothing about my experience so far seems to match up, but that’s just the Free Fringe. Off to one side, we can see our two performers headbanging along to the continuing nu-metal and emo tunes.
Shelf, the ‘sort of’ musical comedy double act of Ruby Clyde and Rachel WD returned to this year’s Fringe with their brand new show Teenage Men. Combining standup comedy, storytelling, and a few musical numbers featuring Ruby on guitar and vocals, accompanied by Rachel’s often unpredictable dancing.
The duo regaled us with the trials and tribulations of performing children’s comedy (Shelf’s second show at this year’s Fringe The Kids’ Show), the almighty Instagram algorithm mistaking Rachel for a teenage boy, and the joys of curating breakup playlists (long live Alanis Morisette).
Similar to last year’s show Hair, Shelf also brought material from growing up together as lifelong friends, the highlight being Rachel’s handmade pottery, which was often gifted in lieu of an apology, an ‘apotogy’ if you will. There were even a few available to purchase after the show.
Overall, Shelf has once again presented a joyful, feel-good hour of comedy. There’s an infectious quality, as well as an intimacy to their performance that will leave you with a grin on your face. It’s fun, it’s queer, it reminds me why I like the Fringe.