24 posts categorized "Edinburgh Fringe" Feed

2018 theatre review: Favourite moments from the surreal to the emotional and some awards

110+ plays and my first visit to the Edinburgh Fringe (15 plays in 6 days), 2018 was quite a year...

Magic and memorable moments:

Patsy-ferran-in-my-mumand39s-a-twt-121702
Patsy Ferran in My Mum's A Twat, Royal Court. Photo: Helen Murray.

Feeling part of the set:  Sitting on a bean bag on the carpet in Patsy Ferran's 'bedroom' for My Mum's a Twat at the Royal Court (and she said hello to me).

Audience reaction #1: The audience gasping at the 'snap' during a scene in the RSC's Julius Caesar where a little boy's neck 'was broken’. Obviously, no child was harmed etc.

Audience reaction #2: Finding myself stood up singing Amazing Grace with the entire audience at the Royal Court during 'Notes From The Field'.

Actor interaction: Kia Charles winking at me and grinning during Quiz, Noel Coward Theatre (benefits of on-stage seating).

Surreal moment #1: Alex Hassell introducing himself to me and Poly was a bit surreal (stopped myself from blurting out 'I know, I saw you play Prince Hal/Henry V etc.)

But what made it more surreal is that we were in a church hall in Pimlico and after the meet and greet we sat in a circle to watch and sometimes be part of a production of Macbeth.

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2018 theatre review: My favourite plays of the year (and my first six star play)

So I've published my favourite fringe plays list and my least favourite plays list, time now for my best plays of 2018 overall, gleaned from everything I've seen - large productions and small, commercial theatres, subsidised and fringe:

via GIPHY

Misty, Trafalgar Studios

A play which put the pulse back into the West End and as a result was a breath of fresh air.

A Monster Calls, Old Vic

I was nervous about seeing a stage adaptation of a much-loved book but the creativity with which it was staged combined with the performances meant I was an emotional wreck by the end. So much of an emotional wreck, I had to walk around for a bit afterwards to compose myself.

Queens of Sheba, Underbelly, Edinburgh Fringe

A play about the dual prejudice of sexism and racism encountered by black women that succeeded in being both angry, uplifting and empowering.

It left me feeling teary in a happy/sad/exhilarated way and ready to march if the call came.

There is another chance to see it at the New Diorama Theatre, Jan 30-Feb 3 as part of the Vault Festival.

Notes from the Field, Royal Court

It was an uncomfortable, seat-squirming, horrifying joy to sit and experience and I gave it an unprecedented six stars. Yes, six stars.

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2018 theatre review: My 10 favourite fringe plays

Edinburgh Fringe media pass2018 was my first year at the Edinburgh Fringe which produced a bumper crop of excellent plays (look out for transfer details) but London has delivered some gems too.

Out of the 50-odd fringe plays there are 10 that really stand out but what strikes me most when revisiting them is how many evoked such a strong emotional reaction.

Yes, some are on the list for being highly entertaining but others made me feel angry or empowered or rebellious, some even a bit teary.

The other thing that strikes me is their diversity in ethnicity and gender balance tipped away from male dominance but I'll be writing more about that in another post.

So, in no particular order:

1. The Claim, Shoreditch Town Hall

Based on research into Home Office procedures this exposes the farcical system that asylum-seekers encounter but more than that, how incompetence endangers people's lives. It made me very angry.

2. My Mum's A Twat, Royal Court Upstairs

It's been an incredible year for Patsy Ferran, kicked off in fine style with this solo performance in a play about a girl's relationship with her mother who has joined a cult. Funny and spirited it also had dark edges.

3. Coconut, Ovalhouse

An effervescent love story and a coming of age story that challenged stereotypes.

4. Flesh and Bone, Soho Theatre upstairs

Shakespeare-esque lyricism combined with East End vernacular cleverly takes you on a revealing and entertaining journey that elevates the stories of those that often overlooked. Shakespeare would, no doubt, have approved.

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3 brilliant Edinburgh Fringe shows to see in London

LADY KILLERSome great Edinburgh Fringe shows are heading to London, here are three I saw that I can highly recommend.

The Fishermen, Arcola (until 1 December) 

Based on a Man-booker listed novel, The Fishermen is about four brothers who go fishing somewhere they aren't supposed to and the consequences of that fateful night.

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

Read my full The Fishermen review here. 

Ladykiller, Pleasance Theatre (30 Nov - 1 Dec)

A hotel room, a dead body, a maid covered in blood with a knife in her hand. This isn’t what it looks like, it definitely isn’t.

'Her' is a perverse figurehead for female empowerment and it is that contradiction and the darkness that I loved.

Read my full Ladykiller review here.

Angry Alan, Soho Theatre (5-30 March 2019)

An ordinary American man comes across a men's rights campaigner who seems to have answers to all his problems. It won awards at the Fringe and for good reason.

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

Read my full Angry Alan review here.


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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