|Edinburgh : A&E : Festivals : Fringe Theatre Reviews|
None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
Gaugleprixtown. (Page 149).
Venue Theatre Workshop (Venue 20).
Address 34 Hamilton Place.
Reviewer Ritchie Smith.
The first thing that needs to be said is that this is real theatre, with one effect especially, one unexpected appearance of a new character, which is like an eruption of myth. (Her performance is wonderful.) There is that expression 'heart-rending'. This is, truly...
Writer Andrew Muir takes us to the sea. To its comforting sound we first encounter two men, fishing. There is a subtle, almost sexual, tension between them. Richard is a wine salesman - a buttoned-up respectable type, played with effective nervousness by Darren Strange - and the other a darker, apparently shiftier character played by Simon Quarterman. The symbolism here, indeed the writing in general (though I would have wished for a little more tension and explicitness at the start, and perhaps a title easier to pronounce) is subtle and quietly gripping. The men talk about their boyhoods, and the brooding presence of the past becomes more and more powerful. Then they fish up a little girl's red shoe....
When it comes, the appearance of Jasmine Hyde as Lucy is a genuine coup de theatre, and I must tell you that her performance is from the first instant hypnotically convincing - as good as anything anywhere in the Festival. At this point the play takes a lift to something truly exceptional - both touching and unnerving. So who is Lucy? You must see the play to find out. And if you love theatre and deeply imagined heartfelt writing, I think you will love the play from this point. It becomes touching, and shocking, and wonderful.
©Ritchie Smith 12 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 28 (not 21) at 18:00.
Company - Menagerie Theatre
Company Website - www.menagerie.uk.com
George VI in Heaven. (Page 149).
Venue Holyrood Tavern. (Venue 84).
Address 9a Holyrood Tavern.
Reviewer Guy Woodward.
Royal surrealism is an understandably neglected genre, but finds its perfect expression in this beautifully conceived and delivered monologue. We find George VI propping up the bar in heaven, smoking, drinking, enduring the songs of fellow inmates George Formby and Bing Crosby, and waiting patiently for the arrival of his wife, fifty years after his own premature death from lung cancer. Over thirty utterly absorbing minutes he takes us through the story of his life, from birth, and troubled childhood at the hands of his bullying father and unsympathetic nannies, to his military career and marriage in 1923 to Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, through the abdication crisis to his accession in 1936 and subsequent sixteen year reign as King.
This will not appear to militant royalists – the subject matter is repeatedly sexually explicit and decidedly irreverent. But this is not Spitting Image style caricature, and there is no crude mudslinging for its own sake in a production that is frequently and curiously intensely moving. The dysfunctionality of the present generation of Windsors has been well documented through the public spirited efforts of our Sunday tabloids, and there is something far more thrilling in hearing about the various proclivities and fetishes of their sepia tinted predecessors, however factually suspect Andrew Neil’s script might be.
Andrew Hallett’s performance in the title role is masterful and compelling, by turns humorous and poignant, his often supercilious tone brilliantly undercut by the moving capture of the stammer that plagued the late King throughout his life. Tortuous and troubled relationships with his parents, his wife and daughters are successively laid bare with glorious indiscretion. This is a masterclass in monologue, and anyone with even the slightest interest in royal matters must see it. Added to which, each ticket holder is automatically entered into a raffle for a bottle of single malt, which, when the size of the back room at the Holyrood Tavern is taken into account, is a definite incentive.
©Guy Woodward 20 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August at 15.30.
Company – Andrew Hallett.
Get Stoned (Page 149).
Venue Smirnoff Underbelly (Venue 61)
Address 56 The Cowgate.
Reviewer Neil Ingram .
If you want to be transported back to those heady hazy days of the Sixties, here's your chance. The 21st Century Stones have re-created the sound and style of the Stones in their first great phase - it's a bit rough and ready at times, but so were the originals! After a selection of the classics of the era, there's a slick change of costumes and hairstyles, and the Stones of the late Sixties emerge. The sound is tighter and more powerful, and it gets better still with further changes to reveal the mid 70s line-up.Their last number really sums it all up -"It's only Rock'n Roll, but I Like It".
As an entertaining warm-up act, Kinda Kinks give you another reminder of the distant past, with particularly fine renditions of a few of Ray Davies' best lyrics. Overall, this is an authentic live performance of some of the 20th Century's most memorable songs.
©Neil Ingram 11 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August, not 21, at 23.30.
Company Phoenix at 4 Productions .
The Gigli Concert. (Page 149).
Drams The show is champagne enough.
Venue Assembly Rooms (Venue 3).
Address 54 George Street.
Reviewer Bill Dunlop .
It was possibly George Steiner who first asked ‘how does one write tragedy after Auschwitz?’ The playwright Tom Murphy’s career can be seen as a sustained attempt both to answer this question and to take us beyond it. In the first published collection of his work titled ‘After Tragedy’, one of the plays was The Gigli Concert, brought vibrantly back to the stage in this co-production by Charm Offensive and Assembly Productions.
In hiding from the fag-end of an existence he loathes but feels unable to escape from, J. P. W. King, Alastair Mackenzie, Dynamatologist, alcoholic, crank and charlatan receives a visit from a mysterious man, Lorcan Cranitch, who claims to have a single ambition- to sing like the great Benjamillo Gigli. Disturbed and disturbing, the stranger exercises a fascination on King. Identifying psychosis, King prepares to do battle with the stranger’s demons, only to discover that the greater struggle has barely begun. Murphy’s plays are never less than demanding, his lightness of touch a deceptive disguise for the intellectual and emotional exercises his plays lead us into. His willingness to risk and push performers, companies and audiences further than they might have expected or imagined themselves able to go mark Tom Murphy is one of the genuinely gifted and experimental dramatists currently working, making it little surprise the Abbey Theatre of Dublin has presented a retrospective of his considerab le body of work.
Mackenzie and Crannitch are excellent in their roles, as is Alison McKenna as Mona. It’s possibly unusual to comment on the soundscape of a production, but in a work such as this, featuring and dependent on recorded music, it’s good to know we’re in safe and skilled hands, which remark could also be applied to the direction of Gavin McAlinden. This production by Charm Offensive was initially presented at The Finborough, one of London’s more lively and inventive pub theatre venues. It’s encouraging to discover the work of one of these courageous little theatres on an Edinburgh Fringe main stage .
©Bill Dunlop 10th August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 29th at 14.20 every day
Company Assembly Theatre, Marshall Cordell and .Charm Offensive Theatre
The Girls of the 3.5 Floppies. (Page 150).
Venue Traverse Theatre. (Venue No 15).
Address Cambridge Street, off Lothian Road.
Reviewer Marisa de Andrade.
For starters, this tragi-comedy from The Anglo Mexican Foundation, directed by John Tiffany the Director of New Work at the *National Theatre of Scotland, is enacted in Spanish. So if you aren't fond of subtitles, The Girls of the 3.5 Floppies could be a challenge. Splitting your focus from stage to screen is complex at the best of times, not least when 'two semi-whores, semi-junkies - half mad and half baked' are contemplating life at a rapid speed and in a foreign language.
But if you accept the challenge or are fluent in Spanish, this could be the play for you. The set is genius. A red hot-box center-stage with a light bulb dangling above it. A model of the Virgin Mary is framed in a gaudy neon light and illuminates as the rubik's cube of a set unfolds, like a giant present being unwrapped. The gift is a pair of young, unconventional, Mexican mums, desperate for coke.
One droops on a stool and leans on a table unceremoniously placed in the middle of the square, while the other mops. And mops and mops. They're talking, but after a while all you see is a disgruntled character cleaning the same spot over and over again. Their actions are uninspired, but dialogue the complete opposite. The pace is dynamic, their exchanges animated. Money - or the lack of it - is their main concern. First and foremost to support their drug habits, then to send their children to school. Their troubles seem familiar. These are universal concerns, placed outside the perimeters of language.
Daytime banter blends into nighttime pleasures a little strangely at first. The one minute they're chatting, the next one character's isolating her muscles to the beat of a Scissor Sister's track. Her movements become an exaggerated dance in a club. Then the music fades and the cleaning continues. You get the gist of it, but feel the transition could be more fluid along with the changing of the subtitles.
But when a part-prostitute, part-addict asks 'Do you think we represent anything?' and the answer is no, you leave thinking what is life all about? If that was writer Luis Enrique Gutierrez Ortiz Monasterio's master plan, he definitely hit the nail on the head.
Theatre Editor's Note - The National Theatre of Scotland was founded in 2004 and their first productions are expected this autumn.
©Marisa de Andrade 5 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August, various times, not Mondays
Company - The Anglo Mexican Foundation.
The Glorious and Bloodthirsty Billy the Kid. (Page 150).
Drams None required.
Venue Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14).
Address 13 Bistro Square.
Reviewer Marisa de Andrade.
Words will fail me to describe this display from the Wild West. For this is no fringe best. No, this show is destined for far greater things. The Glorious and Bloodthirsty Billy the Kid wouldn't be out of place on the West End or Broadway. So I'm urging you to book tickets for this show before they become like gold dust.
It's difficult to find a musical performance quite as energetic as this one. These cowboys exude vigour in every move. They're as explosive as it gets, right from the start. Set in what feels like a dated saloon, the eclectic cast announces its intention - to tell the true tale of America's favourite outlaw. The dynamic narrator subsequently brings Billy the Kid back to life as an innocent youngster, untouched by the hand of man. As soon as he's tasted the bitterness of reality, he's donned a disguise and grabbed his gun. The transition from pure to affected is remarkable. Aided by what appears to be a big budget set and magnificent soundtrack, Billy brings terror to the States and delight to the audience.
Lights, music and sound effects from the impressive ensemble emanate a slightly Moulin Rouge style. The humour is slapstick at times and the comedic timing faultless. Every action, each exchange is deliberately conveyed and executed with conviction. And as each blameless victim meets his end, he's transported to an after-life created through twisted body language, smoke and spotlights. The effect is as much eerie as it is enchanting.
The theatrical spectacle is uncanny, particularly when creepy fairground music ping-pongs in the background. You'll feel your tiny hairs prick up, especially when Billy takes his first victim, a loud-mouthed fraudster who provokes him to the point of no return. The magical Jack Malone manages to draw the spectators straight into the action by playing a card trick on an unassuming audience member. The Glorious and Bloodthirsty Billy the Kid is definitely one to look out for.
©Marisa de Andrade 18 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August at 17.45.
Company - Trilock Company in association with Fringe Management.
Golden Prospects (Page 150).
Venue C Theatre (Venue 34)
Address Chambers St.
Reviewer Neil Ingram.
Welcome to the world of melodrama, where the villains are hissed off the stage and the audience have to try to save the heroine and hero from fates which are almost worse than death. Writer Colin Campbell has created a wonderful show, full of heart-wrenching moments and herioc battles against the forces of evil. It's a tale of death and deception, dastardly deeds, oil, oranges, movies .... and more oil. Our hero Alex Goodman, Paul Hampton, is abandoned in a Los Angeles orphanage after his father disappears when trying to buy land from the ruthless Chauncey Fairfax, Jon Campling. Inevitably their paths later cross, as do those of Axel's sister Lucy, Laura Freeman, and Chauncey's son Maurice, Matthew Roland-Roberts. I should also mention Axel's mother Laura, Helena Tuckett, who suffers horribly despite the best efforts of the audience.
But it would be wrong to give away any more of the story, and it would also take me several paragraphs to describe it. There is of course a happy ending for some of these folk, but not for all - there has to be tragedy too. An inspired musical accompaniment is provided by Phil Southgate, who also gets drawn into the action at times. Golden Prospects will by turn charm and horrify you, as the plot twists and turns, in a unique form of entertainment rarely seen at the Fringe.
©Neil Ingram 20 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 29 at 16.20.
Company Website www.skullduggery.co.uk
The Good Thief. (Page 151).
Venue C. (Venue 34).
Address Chambers Street.
Reviewer Marisa de Andrade.
The Good Thief is a dreamer and a dealer. A yin-yang creation confined to the crevices of his mind. Spurred on by what could be and could have been, he is a hit man of sort, mentally governed by his ex-girlfriend Gretta.
Life's unfair for The Good Thief. But he doesn't feel sorry for himself. Actor Roy Donoghue makes sure of that. His extensive characterisation is simultaneously natural and researched. He's a blank canvas - quite literally dressed in white and manipulating pure props. A one-man show, who knows how to hold an audience. Spectators who hopefully come expecting drama and darkness.
But The Good Thief has its lighter moments. Writer Conor McPherson makes sure of that. His work is enacted like chapters from a book, leaving you to paint imaginative pictures. It's up to Donoghue to live up to the expectations of the cliffhanging script. And he does, magnificently most of the time. In scenes of heightened action, his lips stop moving and his inner voice takes over. An underworld soundtrack sets the steady beat as he demonstrates disaster through a series of choreographed steps diluted in a dim orange light.
The Good Thief claims he is no good and to be fair, that's a lie. You have to be to hold suspense for well over an hour all by yourself. And although he may not rest as his conscience continues to torment him, you can rest assured this mildly disturbing play lives up to all it claims to be.
©Marisa de Andrade 22 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August, 18.00.
Company - Watch-It Productions.
The Grill Chef. (Page 151).
Venue C. ( Venue 34).
Address Chambers Street.
Reviewer Pippa Tennant.
“What do you want to do? Where are you going? Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?”
A hysterical production, astutely exposing just how sad we really are.
You are stuck in a job you hate. You only entered the office three minutes ago and are already wondering what flavour flapjack you will pick out of the measly collection at the corner shop when eleven o’clock eventually arrives. The depressing thoughts of young professionals are displayed in this new satire. Containing a wide variety of innovative dramatic techniques, this production converts tragic circumstances into hilarious comedy. Through the astonishing talent of Tom Wainwright, scenes expose the inner mechanics of individuals with abundant imagination.
This slide-show production flicks from dream-like Ally-McBeal-style explosions of song and cheesy David-Brent-style office scenes to perceptive psychological analyses. Ridiculous sequences effectively depict the pressures that our dog-eat-dog, survival-of-the-fittest, rat race working world place on young people, whilst embracing the opportunity to take the piss out of the keen and successful. Brilliantly original.
©Pippa Tennant 16th August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 29th at 12:30 every day.
Company - Paper Areoplane in association with Bristol Old Vic.
Company Website - www.paper-aeroplane.co.uk
Guided Tour. (Page 151).
Venue Traverse 5. (Venue 25).
Address McEwan Hall, Bistro Square.
Reviewer Marisa de Andrade.
When I entered McEwan Hall, it was a sunny Saturday afternoon. Scores of skateboarders hung about outside Edinburgh University looking every bit a part of the twenty-first century. When I left just over an hour later, the skies were grey and pavements empty as it began pouring down with rain. The transformation was apt. What had happened outside while I was wondering around the basement of McEwan Hall on Peter Reder's Guided Tour, had also occurred inside.
I had no idea what to expect, which is probably best for this show. Knew I would catch a glimpse of one of the capital's architectural marvels. Knew the site was integral to the performance. But what I didn't know was that an hour with Reder is like an afternoon with a close friend. He speaks in a gentle, familiar voice. Smiles as he shares stories you wonder if he's just made up. That's the thing about this particular experience. It feels like it's being created right then and there for the first time, completely unscripted. What is prepared is done so loosely, as to add to the intimate conversation he has with a small group of strangers, who somehow seem to be related.
We start in front of a giant set of doors, instructed to huddle closer to the narrator. Reder welcomes us in jeans, sipping a bottle of water. Then we enter the site, holding our breaths as the gem of a building steals the show momentarily. Every corner of the hall cowers in its past. Each picture and brick seems to have a story to tell. But Reder takes the reigns. He begins speaking of sense memories, like his own personal recollection of the smell of pencil sharpenings from primary school. You can almost feel yourself being transported to that time in your own like. That's the thing about Reder. He doesn't mean to, but his suggestions spark off your own memories until the whole tour becomes one of contemplation. Perhaps that is exactly what he means to do.
Ten minutes later he says we're about to start. You expect something to commence as you walk through yet another set of doors. But the mood is unaltered, tone stays steady and similar. He offers playful descriptions of artefacts he's borrowed from national museums and gives explanations of the past. It becomes difficult to determine which are facts and which fiction, but they're fascinating nonetheless. What begins as a brief account of William McEwan's life as a wealthy brewer, evolves to a tale of immortality. Philosophers will love this tour, as will those who appreciate Victorian buildings packed with history.
© Marisa de Andrade 6 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August, various times.
Company - Peter Reder.
Gulliver's Travels. (Page 151).
Venue Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49).
Address 11b Bristo Place.
Reviewer Edmund Gould.
Jonathan Swift's extraordinary satirical travelogue, Gulliver's Travels, lends itself well to the stage. Illyria's production recreates the author's menagerie of dwarves, giants and cavemen with theatrical ingenuity, and the result is a sight to behold. The show moves at a frantic pace, and covers every twist and turn of Swift's original novel. Presenting exotic, fantastical creatures in parallel with wordy political monologues, all infused with plenty of childish humour, it's an ambitious project that requires plenty of professionalism and competence. Thankfully, both are qualities that this show possesses in spades.
Gulliver's Travels follows its eponymous hero-cum-narrator on his numerous sea voyages, all of which end invariably in shipwreck. First Gulliver finds himself marooned in Lilliput, an island populated by a miniscule race who marvel at the 'man mountain' before them. Soon the tables are turned when our hero finds himself cast away once more, but this time in a land of enormous giants. Gulliver's later destinations include a bizarrely magnetised flying island commanded by a blundering Texan warlord (hmm…), an academy of scientific quacks, and eventually a country where men, or Yahoos, live as naked, hirsute savages, governed by a civilised breed of horses, or Houyhnhnms.
All these episodes are vividly enhanced by an abundance of fabulous costumes. Giants adorned with oversized crowns emerge tottering on enormous stilts, while the Lilliputians are represented by tiny puppets seemingly lifted out of a Punch and Judy show. The Yahoos are particularly horrifying, their artificial foam genitalia proving a real hit with the crowd. The cast's versatility is impressive, and Gulliver's performance in particular is tireless; the actor does well to remember an incredibly verbose script that sticks faithfully to the Swiftian original. However, the unusual counter-balancing of pantomime gurning with lengthy satirical musings on British politics at times risks alienating the show's core audience – namely, children. All the same, it's a fantastically inventive, riotously performed show, and it's never less than rollicking good fun.
©Edmund Gould 25 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 27 August at 20:00 (2hrs).
Company – Illyria.