20 posts categorized "Edinburgh Fringe" Feed

That was August in theatre land - news & castings that caught my eye plus hits, misses and celeb spots

August was dominated by Edinburgh for me but the London theatre wheels were still turning; here's my round up of my favourite bits of news, my theatre hits and misses and few celeb spots...(let me know if I missed anything while I was north of the border).

Foxfinder_poster_sept18Sally Field and Bill Pullman in All My Sons, Old Vic - yep Hollywood comes London theatreland next year in a co-production with Headlong (Jeremy Herrin directs). No dates yet but already I can't wait. 

National Theatre's artistic director Rufus Norris steps into the breach - there has been a spate of understudies and theatre staff saving the day when actors are indisposed but last night's performance of Home, I'm Darling saw Norris take to the stage to play Jonny for Richard Harrison.

Foxfinder full cast - You may have missed my July round-up (I did) which (would have) mentioned that Iwan Rheon and Heida Reed had been cast in Foxfinder at the Ambassadors Theatre, well joining them is Paul Nicholls and Bryony Hannah. It opens for preview on September 6.

The Wild Duck, Almeida - Fans of Robert Icke rejoice, he returns to the Almeida with a production of Ibsen's The Wild Duck. Speculation has already started about who will be in the cast.  Opens October 15.

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Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Review: Josh Glanc, Underbelly - good character comedy fun

Good fun with enough laughs to carry it through.

2018JOSHGLA_BLNAt the beginning of Australian comedian Josh Glanc's show Karma Karma Karma Karma Karma Chamedian I was reminded a little bit of a Green Day gig I went to at the Brixton Academy when the band invited members of the audience up on stage to play.

Here it's only miming to a backing track and the audience members are plucked with that embarrassed awkwardness from the front row but they did throw themselves into it much to everyone's delight, giving Glanc the TV game show host style entrance he was presumably aiming for. 

The audience plays quite a big part throughout the 60 minutes which is a series of sketches rather than stand up.

It is a lively show with music and Glanc plays different characters from different countries - an American football player, René from Europop band Aqua, an Australian cyclist and a Marcel Marceau-style mime artist.

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Edinburgh Fringe Review: Revelations, Summerhall - laughter, tears and pin-drop moments

It's a story that sweeps you up in a mixture of warmth, humour and tragedy.

Revelations-700x455Revelations is the final part of a trilogy following the lives of James, Emma, Sarah and Tom - although it works as a standalone as I hadn't seen the first two.

Told as a monologue through the eyes of James (James Rowlands) who has been friends with Sarah since they were kids, Sarah is now married to Emma who is a human rights lawyer.

This is the story of what happens when Sarah and Emma ask James to be their sperm donor so they can have a child.

There are plenty of flashbacks and references to earlier incidents for context but what follows is a story that bubbles with laughter one minute and tension the next.

Rowlands has a (very) small keyboard set up on stage and periodically will record and loop music and sung dialogue which plays along in the background - sometimes a little obtrusively as he yells to be heard over the top.

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Edinburgh Fringe Review: Blackout, Summerhall - a difficult watch at times but darkly funny

Blackout is a dark and difficult play to watch, darkly funny at times, horrifying at others

BLACKOUT by Mark Jeary(photo by Mihaela Bodlovic)
Blackout by Mark Jeary, photo by Mihaela Bodlovic

A blackout, we are told at the start, is when part of the brain shuts down in order to let the organs work and what follows is the story of six alcoholics - created from interviews with recovering alcoholics.

Their journey on the path towards alcohol abuse starts with feelings such as loneliness, escapism, being shy and drink provides the seductive magic ingredient to lift them.

'It unlocked part of my soul' says one and it's similar for the others making them gregarious and confidence - you can understand the lure.

But what follows is like falling down a dark and destructive rabbit hole, the six stories told simultaneously, with similar themes but different details.

From minor accidents to 'going off like a bomb', the blackouts, the health toll; laughter about amusing drunken mishaps, like their friends and family, drift away as the devilish effects of alcoholism release demon personalities, behaviour and paranoia.

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Edinburgh Fringe Review: The Fishermen, Assembly George Square - richly-drawn, gripping narrative

It is fast-paced, the narrative rich with detail, the characters beautifully drawn

The-fishermen-edinburgh-fringeFour brothers go fishing where they aren’t supposed to and have their lives irrevocably changed.

The Fishermen is based on the novel by Chigozie Obioma which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2015 and adapted by Gbolahan Obisesan.

It's is an expansive story - and chunky book - populated by many characters in the lives of the brothers but here it is condensed to a 70-minute play with just two actors.

The play tells the story through the eyes of younger brothers Obembe (Valentine Olukoga) and Ben (Michael Ajao) who meet years later and look back at that fateful night which led to a series of events that tore the family apart.

It is fast-paced, the narrative rich with detail, the characters beautifully drawn in the performances of Olukoga and Ajao who play at least eight different people between them.

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Edinburgh Fringe Review: Angry Alan, Underbelly Cowgate - powerful irony at play

You'll laugh, scoff and roll your eyes at the irony of what Roger says but the final blow is a tragic irony.

Angry Alan  Edinburgh Fringe 2018 - courtesy of The Other Richard (6)Donald Sage Mackay in Angry Alan Edinburgh Fringe 2018. Photo: The Other Richard

Booked my ticket for Penelope Skinner's new play, Angry Alan, before the Fringe started and it's subsequently won a Fringe First Award which raised expectations - and it didn't disappoint.

Skinner presents the reasonable Roger (Donald Sage Mackay) who stumbles upon men's rights campaigner Angry Alan on YouTube, someone who seems to have the answers for all his ills (and he thought he had bowel cancer).

His divorce, redundancy, high alimony payments can be explained away by what Alan describes as a 'gyno-centric society' which has suppressed men's feelings and emotions and their place in society.

What Skinner and Donald Sage Mackay do so well is to present a man that isn't dangerous with his new found views but rather misguided and lost.

 

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Edinburgh Fringe Review: Queens of Sheba, Underbelly Cowgate - the most emotional I've felt at the Fringe

If there had been a call to march right then I would have gladly followed and from the rapturous response of the audience, I wasn't the only one.

Queens_of_Sheba_750x490I walked out of Queens of Sheba feeling a bit teary in a kind of happy/sad/exhilarated way. It's the first Fringe play I've seen that has evoked such a strong emotional response.

The reason is partly the subject matter, partly the delivery and partly the collective response of the audience.

Queens of Sheba by theatre company Nouveau Riché is an examination of the twin prejudices facing black women - racism and sexism - but also a celebration of sisterhood, determination and defiance.

Rachel Clarke, Jacoba Williams, Koko Kwaku and Veronica Beatrice Lewis burst onto the stage dancing and singing in a way that denotes total comfort and an air of freedom.

They return to their dancing in between stories of misogynoir (race and gender bias) - the white boyfriend who wants an 'exotic' girlfriend, the boss who won't attempt to pronounce a name and the sexist black boyfriend. 

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Edinburgh Fringe Review: Su Pollard is a sharp-tongued hoarder in Harpy, Underbelly Cowgate

Birdie, like the play, isn't the persona she presents, the wit and humour gives way to something that feels like an emotional punch in the gut.

Su Pollard Harpy
Su Pollard in Harpy

Birdie (Su Pollard) is a hoarder and the bane of her neighbours and social services.

She likes to belt out 80s pop music - Bananarama, Eurythmics - late at night and her house is a health hazard.

Harridan and harpy to most, locals tell children that she’ll take their soul if she catches them looking in the window.

Her comments are sharp and insensitive - and often witty - and she sees the ‘mishaps’ that envelop her as not quite how they appear to everyone else.

However, for all her bluster she has a keen observation and there is an organisation to the chaos of her home, a rationale that unfolds slowly in her life story.

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Edinburgh Fringe Review: The Approach, Assembly - subtle, nuanced and utterly compelling

You feel like you are eavesdropping on a conversation at the table next to you - it is utterly compelling and its resonance lingers long after you've left the theatre.

Three women, only ever in pairs, meet in a Dublin cafe for a coffee and a catch-up - not the most magnetic sounding set up on paper but Mark O'Rowe's play, The Approach, is slowly gripping.

The_Approach.jpg
Cora (Cathy Belton), Anna (Aisling O’Sullivan) and her sister Denise (Derbhle Crotty) are all friends or least they were really close once.
The years pass all too quickly, things happen - life happens - and now they don’t see as much of each other.

When each pair meets their conversations start with everyday anodyne chit-chat but soon turn to more deeper personal topics such as relationships.

You have to listen carefully for clues as to how much time has passed between meetings - usually marked by relationship statuses.

A particular romantic gesture is a recurring motif and a signifier that something isn't quite straight in what the women are saying.

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Edinburgh Fringe Review: Killymuck, Underbelly - colourful, touching and powerful insight

There is on doubting Killymuck's powerful message, it is moving and tough but there is also love and laughter along the way.

Killymuck_-_courtesy_of_Javier_Ortega_Saez_(3)_399x500
Killymuck photo by Javier Ortega Saez

Kat Woods' play Killymuck is the story of Niamh who lives on a council estate in Northern Ireland with her alcoholic father, mother and sister.

She's bright, sassy and resourceful but learns early on the disadvantages of living with little money. It's a personal story of growing up in difficult circumstances and one which aims to not only expose class stereotypes but also demonstrate how they exacerbate the problems. 

In an engaging monologue, slickly performed by Aoife Lennon, we track Niamh's life through school the narrative peppered with factual interludes, stats and research that relate to what is going on in her life.

Woods' evocative writing brings colourful and touching insight from the mind of the child and teenage Niamh, through amusing first encounters with boys and porn to the isolation of being bullied for where she lives and having hand me down clothes.

There is an ease in her storytelling and Lennon's performance that brings out fun and laughter in Niamh's life while exposing the injustice of the cards she has been dealt.

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