Wednesday, August 29, 2007

"The Bacchae" - August 2007

A National Theatre of Scotland production, directed by John Tiffany of "Black Watch", adapted by the highly regarded David Greig, and starring Tony award winning Alan Cumming. Does the Guardian run a Fantasy Theatre Competition? Because this would certainly be my entry. Back in reality, "The Bacchae" was everything I'd hoped it would be, but also a little of what I'd feared it might be.

Alan Cumming as Dionysus owns the stage every moment of this production - from his incredible entry to his last curtain call. His performance is electric and pitched absolutely perfectly to the audience. Every look, glance, gesture, and inflection is carefully crafted and never fails to hit the mark. "Star" is an overused term, but few would question Cumming's entitlement to it.

But while it's Cumming that makes the show, he's also responsible for its failings. The scenes without him simply can't compete. It's not a problem with the performances or Greig's writing, it's just that Cumming's performance is so entrancing that you just want him back on stage. In fact the only way I can think to resolve this difficulty is to keep Dionysus on stage watching the scenes and reacting in silence.

Tony Curran as Pentheus gives a hugely enjoyable performance - particularly once he falls for Dionysus' scheme and does well to match Cumming's intensity in many of their shared scenes, however again this leaves some of his moments with other characters feeling flat in comparison.

The chorus of The Bacchae are excellent at times, and you can almost cope with Cumming's absence for periods as they take centre stage with series of musical numbers. There are some great voices in there, but many of the lyrics can be difficult to pick out.

There are additional prices to be paid for Cumming's genius. Much of what we get is phenomenally entertaining and sections are reminiscent of those comedic giants of the Scottish stage - Rikki Fulton & Stanley Baxter. This almost pantomime like tone is a joy to watch, but it's at the expense of some of the themes of the play. We aren't really left considering the conflict between repression and hedonism, or even the dangers of rejection and revenge. The pay offs are all in the performances.

This is a magnificent production but it is a little unbalanced by Cumming's sheer presence, and in trying to avoid him overpowering the show by ensuring he has plenty of offstage time, they have in fact only highlighted how empty it is without him. "The Bacchae" is a truly memorable show, but the memories are all Alan Cumming.

"The Bacchae" runs at the Theatre Royal, Glasgow until 1st September and then at the Lyric, Hammersmith from 5th to 22nd September.

Photo by Richard Campbell.


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"The Walworth Farce" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

Druid Theatre's production of Enda Walsh's "The Walworth Farce" was another award winner, and we'd heard good things. So despite it meaning an 11a.m. start on a Saturday we dragged ourselves out of bed and along to The Traverse. Even with its early start it was a sell out, so we settled down to be entertained.

Staged in a grubby rundown flat in the London borough of the title, the impressive set made me want to break out the marigolds. The tale of Dinny (Denis Conway) and his two young adult sons, Blake (Garrett Lombard) and Sean (Tadhg Murphy), starts somewhat confusingly until you realise you're seeing a play within a play. The daily routine of this dysfunctional family is to re-enact the events that led them to leave their idolised (idealised?) Cork City and 'settle' in the hustle and bustle of London.

Living in the shadow of their agoraphobic and paranoid father, Blake and Sean both take reassurance in their routine. However Sean in particular is starting to wonder if a better life might be awaiting him outside the flat, a realisation helped by his daily trips to Tesco to purchase the needed food for their play.

Despite the strong performances of the cast, especially Lombard in his multiple female roles I found myself wondering where exactly where we were going. People around me were laughing at what appeared to be the right places, whilst I sat barely smiling. The performances alone were struggling to hold my interest. Fortunately the arrival of Hayley (Natalie Best), the checkout girl from Tesco, just before the break brought a much needed lift.

The glimpses of the darker side to Dinny that we'd seen in the first act with his bullying and dictatorial treatment of his sons comes to fruition after the break. Rather than the polished and performed tale of the last day in Cork that's unfolding within their re-enactment, Sean finds the courage to confront his father with his true memories of that day. The brutality that his father, with Blake's help, inflicts on Hayley being the final catalyst. It's also a scene between Dinny and Hayley that results in the strongest audience reaction.

The ending is suitability dramatic, and tragic as befitting the farce in the title. However I was left feeling a little let down by it all - it just didn't work for me. Perhaps I need a little more sophistication with my farce. However I wholeheartedly agree about Ryvita.


"Hugh Hughes in...Story of a Rabbit" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

Although "Hugh Hughes in...Story of a Rabbit" had been well received, even winning a Fringe First, this isn't always an indication that we'll find something wonderful (and shows how theatre is a very subjective experience). However the reviews and a recommendation from Helen Smith prompted us to give it a go.
Statler had reservations from the outset as I'm renowned for having a "low tear threshold", so a story that intertwines a tale of a dead rabbit and a dead father could result in a very soggy Waldorf. I'm infamous for having cried during Bambi - when he was born. However, despite its morbid subject matter this is very much a feel good show.

From being greeted with a handshake by Hugh Hughes (Shon Dale-Jones) at the door, to an audience member being given a cup of tea (as you drink a lot of tea when someone dies) to the explanation of where his father's soul was when Hughes was returning home after the funeral the whole show is wrapped in niceness and charm.

Dale-Jones' presents Hughes as a somewhat bumbling and simple character, who is likeable enough, but with a tendency to smile just a little too much. This was tempered by some audience interaction at the start - where we possibly saw the man behind the mask. We were apparently the first audience in which someone had tried lying to get a cup of tea, and the third to give Aled (the man behind the music) a round of applause when introduced...but hadn't applauded Hughes himself. In some ways the more spontaneous reactions to these events provided more humour than the later set pieces.

The projections on the back drop worked well as did most of the props, including a versatile Action Man. The upbeat ending was welcome, but did make me feel like I'd just spent some time with a life coach.

All in all I enjoyed the show at the time (despite the mad dash across the Courtyard to Markus Birdman at then end due to it overrunning), and felt I'd spent a pleasant afternoon. However the badges handed out by Hughes at the end are probably what I'll remember most.


Monday, August 27, 2007

Coming to a Theatre near YOU...

Well the Edinburgh Fringe is nearly over for another year, and we'll no doubt get round to posting some kind of 'highlights' post sometime soon, as well as writing up our two final reviews. But for a number of the shows we've seen this is far from the end, as they continue on to venues in London, around the UK and beyond. Here's where you can catch up with some of them...

Nonsenseroom's excellent production of Douglas Maxwell's "Ballad of James II" is one of the first to reach London with a short run at the Greenwich Theatre from 4th to 8th September.

The National Theatre of Scotland's "Venus as a Boy" based on Luke Sutherland's novel also reaches London on 4th September and runs until the 22nd at the Soho Theatre before visiting Glasgow's Citizens from 30th October to 10th November and then finishing up at the Unity Theatre in Liverpool from 15th to 17th November.

returns home to the USA with a number of dates around the country.

Fin Kennedy mentioned in a response to our review of "Mehndi Night" that he hoped to revive the show on returning to London following its reception in Edinburgh. No details yet, but keep an eye on Fin's blog for info.

Following an entirely sold out run of their incredibly intense production of the play version of "Blood Brothers" Lauder Studio Theatre company hope to schedule further performances in Fife. More info when get it.

Benchtours' stage-truck and "The Psychic Detective..." parks up in London from 29th to 31st August as part of the National theatre's 'Watch This Space" before hitting the road again to tour Orkney, Wick, Carrbridge, Skye, St. Andrews and East Lothian between the 8th and 23rd September. Although it didn't really work for us, others seem to have 'got it' and it is certainly something a little different. Full tour details on Benchtour's website.

TAG's production of David Greig's "Yellow Moon" returns home to the Citizens from 4th to 15th September after a hit run at the Traverse and then moves to The Round in Newcastle for 17th & 18th September before a visit to the Woodend Barn in Banchory on the 22nd.

That's all of the productions I could currently track down that have definite(ish) plans, although I'd certainly expect that "Damascus", "The Walworth Farce", "Hugh Hughes in Story of a Rabbit" and "Rebus McTaggart:Crimewarrior" will reappear in the coming months. If you manage to see some of these shows, do pop back and let us know how your opinions compared to our own.


Sunday, August 26, 2007

"Failed States" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

"An innocent man finds himself trapped in a nightmare world, as laws designed to protect against the threat of terror wreak havoc." So far, so Fringe... and once you add in the fact that this is a musical, alarms bells should be ringing. Even more so when this is all in earnest seriousness rather than knowingly tongue in cheek. Had it not been for the show neatly filling a gap in our schedule I'd have been nowhere near "Failed States" but incredibly it turned out to be one of the highlights of my Fringe.

From the opening scene where "God Save the Queen" is cleverly combined with "The Star Spangled Banner" it's clear this is an intelligent and stylish production with a cast capable of pulling off the herculean task of making a musical about terror laws entertaining.

Set over the course of July 2005 the show focuses on Joseph who has found himself with financial links to terror suspects and under intense interrogation by the authorities. But we also see the effect this has on his family and wider circle, how attitudes towards him are affected by the 7/7 bombings in London. We are also asked to consider to what extent we are willing to have our rights and freedoms eroded in the nameof security. But while the show is up front about its political views, it doesn't shirk from giving dissenting views a voice.

There may not be any outstanding musical numbers here, but they all serve the story well and the "Tube" number is particularly effective. The performances are excellent all round. Joanna Heap as Anya gives a particularly strong vocal performance, while Guy Lewis as Joseph gives a real insight into his anguish and frustration. Marcus Ellard and Steve McNeil give Joseph's tormentors a surprising level of depth, and Fanos Xenofos as Anya's father Massoud makes his own reactions to Joseph's situation believable. The conceit of having Joseph's deteriorating mental state portrayed on stage by Andrew Mathys' Franz works far better than it has any right to.

Andrew Taylor's script is witty and subtle, making it's points without bludgeoning the audience with them. Although there is a lot of humour here it isn't at the expense of dramatic tension and there is one truly edge of your seat moment.

1215 Productions have put together a great piece of theatre, and although it has already been performed in London, I hope it can find a continuing life beyond the Fringe - it deserves to, and audiences deserve a chance to see it.

Failed States runs at the Pleasance Dome until 27th August at 15:30.


"Markus Birdman - Son of a Preacher Man" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

While not exactly outside our comfort zone, we don't normally go for out-and-out stand up comedy at the Fringe. Rightly or wrongly, I tend to assume that the good stand-ups are all on well past our bedtime and that someone in a 7pm slot will be more miss than hit. But after seeing Markus Birdman we might have to re-evaluate our thoughts for next year.

Birdman's set is themed loosely around the absurdities of religion and the religious, but also touches on fatherhood, right-wing attitudes and his relationship with his own father (the preacher of the title). He's an immediately engaging character and the audience are very quickly on-side, and despite his voiced concerns of losing some along the way as he picks off targets for offence one by one, the audience stays with him throughout.

Not that there is anything really offensive here, at least not to anyone other than the fiercely closed-minded religious. Some may find a few of the gags in poor taste, but that doesn't make them any less funny for the rest of the audience. And any accusations of prejudice can be quickly thrown out - although Christianity bears the brunt, Birdman dishes out the comedy at the expense of pretty much everyone. There are a couple of elements of the set such as the budget airline segment that stray a little from the central themes and instead go for some cheaper laughs, but they do hit the target.

In addition to a well honed routine Birdman has great rapport with the audience and is happy to encourage responses without fear of becoming a target.

This was pretty much an hour of solid and genuine laughter and at times I was left with tears in my eyes. If the finish had been just a little stronger, and if he'd stuck around a little longer to take the applause, I could easily have found myself on my feet.

Markus Birdman
is on at the Pleasance Courtyard at 19:00 until the 27th.


"Tiny Dynamite" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

Edinburgh Graduate Theatre Group's production of "Tiny Dynamite" had been on my radar from before the Fringe programme was published, and was high on my list of shows to see. With a limited run and a late evening slot we found it hard to schedule in our plans, but we eventually committed to one final trip through to Edinburgh, largely based on wanting to see this. We needed our effort to be rewarded, and to a large extent it was.

While Abi Morgan's story of two friends, Anthony and Lucien, and their shared loves and losses is a great character piece, it's pretty thin narrative wise. As a result it needs strong performances from the cast to make their friendship believable and create a genuine level of chemistry with Madeleine, who becomes the object of their affection.

As the up-tight Lucien, Paul Schultz does well to convey his frustration at Anthony's carefree attitude while ensuring that we appreciate that his motives are good. Chris Condie seems supremely comfortable in his role as Anthony and succeeded in making his lifestyle choices sympathetic, while Lesley Paul's Madeleine is playfully flirty without appearing to toy with the emotions of her admirers.

Between them, the three actors achieved a dynamic that ensured we wanted a positive ending and that the omens of a repetition of a previous tragedy would remain unfulfilled. While the final outcome may not have been the one I was hoping for, it was certainly a perfectly satisfying conclusion.

The emotional investment the actors gained from the audience is all the more impressive given that much of their performances were reduced to mere vocals for a large part of the audience (myself included). Claire Wood's direction did well to realise much of the play - particularly the swimming scenes - and created a holiday-like atmosphere, however, the decision to locate a good portion of the action on the floor at the right hand side was hugely detrimental to the production. In a venue with several rows of seats on each raised tier this rendered several scenes out of sight of all but the front row. These scenes would have been much more effective staged on one of the raised areas, and I'm amazed this wasn't identified and corrected during the run.

Even with it's problems this was an enjoyable feelgood production that avoided becoming saccharine sweet. And it's a tribute to the performances that they managed to keep a Saturday night end-of-festival audience (who may have had a drink or two) fully attentive throughout.

Tiny Dynamite ran at Diverse Attractions 20th to 25th August.


Friday, August 24, 2007

Last of the Fringe for us and the Last Fringe Firsts

We had already booked "The Walworth Farce" and "Tiny Dynamite", but thanks to your suggestions both on the post and by e-mail we've sorted out our final day. Sorry we couldn't fit everything in, but our time machine is broken.

We've just booked up for "Hugh Hughes in...Story of A Rabbit", so we had better mention that it got a Fringe First.

And last but not least we're booked in for "Failed States".

Bank manager is delighted that the Fringe is almost over!


Black Watch on TV

Just a quick post to let you know that BBC will showing the National Theatre of Scotland's "Black Watch" on Monday 27 August at 10 p.m. It's a recording of an actual performance at Dingwall, not a TV dramatisation.

It's only on BBC2 Scotland - so if you're south of the border your best bet is if you've got Sky. BBC2 Scotland is on channel 990. I'm not sure if you can get it on Freeview or Virginmedia.


Friday, August 17, 2007

Scotsman Accounces Second Week Fringe Firsts

From this week's batch from The Scotsman we're pleased to see Emergence-See! joined the roll of honour.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

"The Psychic Detective (and those disappeared)" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

"The Psychic Detective (and those disappeared)" is an ambitious project that aims to bring the world of film noir to the stage. Well maybe not quite the stage as such, for Benchtours' production is located in a specially adapted "theatre-truck".

The truck is essentially divided in half, with the auditorium on one side seating 20; and the stage area on the other side of a divide. The divide is solid with the exception of a window and a blind that can be opened to allow the audience to see the action or closed to allow images to be projected onto it. It's all very effectively done, although a protruding hand can be seen turning the blinds at times.

And behind the blind is undeniably impressive. Laura Hopkins has created a series of sets that imaginatively create a genuine sense of space and outside environment. There's a real feeling that you are viewing a much larger space than the dimensions of the truck could possibly permit and that sense of scale really has an impact.

The plot involves 1940's private eye Betts as his path crosses with underworld figures and dangerous dames, but as the show progresses it's gradually revealed that things are not what they seem. Visually and vocally the performances of the cast (Peter Clerke, Catherine Gillard and David Walshe) are well pitched for the piece – drawling dialogue complimented with long slow turns to the 'camera' with the cast almost appearing to be in 'black and white'. Equally, Helen Smith's dialogue evokes the noir genre when required to, but also includes some very sharp writing such as the scene where Betts is 'tricked' out of his confusion.

But while making "The Psychic Detective" interesting to watch and a technical marvel, none of this can take away from the fatal flaws in the production that render it ultimately unsatisfying. It takes too long to get from start to finish and is overly repetitive, but the bigger problem is that the 'finish' just isn't a finish. Now, I'll admit that I like my theatre to have a beginning, a middle, and an end, (although they don't necessarily need to be in that order). I can understand the attraction of shows with open endings but "The Psychic Detective" doesn't even take us to the middle of the tale it hints at. To me it's an unfathomable decision for a festival production, and just as the story appears to be taking a genre-defying turn it ends. The audience is left a little bewildered and one individual behind me appeared to assume (not unreasonably) that the 'to be continued' end title means 'after a short interval' rather than at some unknown future date. And given the apparent epic nature of the story that is revealed I'd be concerned Part 2 would continue into Parts 3, 4, 5 & 6.

As a visually and technically impressive production "The Psychic detective" will be hard to better, and the dialogue creates an authentic genre piece, but if you like your shows neatly boxed and self contained – this isn't for you.

"The Psychic Detective (and those disappeared)"
runs until the 27th (not 21st) at 14:30 and 17:00 (meet at the Udderbelly box office 15 minutes before performance)


Black Watch - finally gets to London

After abortive previous attempts by National Theatre of Scotland to take "Black Watch" to London, The Stage is reporting The Barbican will be hosting it in June 2008.

After some tough investigative reporting (OK, I used the event calendar on The Barbican's website), it looks like it will be there from the 22 June to 26 July 2008. However there are no further details at the time of this post.

The Stage also mentions that "Black Watch" will also be returning to Scotland, so another opportunity for those who've not yet seen it.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Finalised Plans - Autumn/Winter 2007


Life After The Festival

We really confused the booking office at The Traverse on Saturday. We actually booked to see something after the Fringe... And going by our ticket numbers, it looks like very few people are looking beyond that at the moment.

We teased you with our plans in an earlier post. However we've now sorted out our plans for the next few months, so read on to find what delights await us and you.

We couldn't resist seeing Alan Cumming's return to Scotland, and the fact that it was an adaptation by David Greig ("Yellow Moon" and "Damascus") was an added bonus. So we booked our tickets in the beginning of April for NTS "The Bacchae" during its Glasgow run at the Theatre Royal. Having booked so long ago it's strange that it's only a couple of weeks to go. (Review now posted)

As Statler has already mentioned we're going on a tour of provincial theatre. Apparently London has some theatres, so we thought it was time to check them out. A Scottish invasion of the turf of the West End Whingers, Interval Drinks, Sean in the Stalls was long overdue. I don't think you could get 2 more contrasting shows than Elling (Review now posted)and Wicked (review now posted)(oh and we're going on the London Eye like the sad tourists we are). Restaurant recommendations gratefully received.

After the success of "We Will Rock You", I've persuaded Statler to come along to Glasgow Light Opera Club's production of "Fiddler On The Roof" at The King's in Glasgow. I'm not sure how he's going to cope, but as we're going en masse I hope it's going to be strength in numbers. And I can always sit at the opposite end of the row from him. (review now posted)

Although we're wandering far afield, we've also got plenty of things booked at one of our favourite theatres - The Citizens'. The popular Audiences with... format returns, and we'll be spending evenings with Sir Alex Ferguson, John Mortimer and Hillary Kaye and Paul Atterbury (Antiques Roadshow). If you haven't given one of these a try, they're well worth experiencing.

Next it's a little more conventional with "Hamlet" by the Citizens' Theatre company (Review now posted) and it's junior counterpart, the Young Company's "The Doctor and The Devils" (Review now posted). Keeping up with the supernatural sounding theme is "St Nicholas", a tale of modern day vampires. (Review now posted)

"Molly Sweeney", a joint production by The Citizens' and NTS, returns. As we didn't catch it first time round, we'll make the most of it's return. (Review now posted)

And despite protestations from Statler we're going to see "Peter Pan." (review now posted)

We're definitely back through in Edinburgh for "Rupture" at The Traverse (the show that caused the confusion when we booked) (review now posted). I have high hopes for this as it's come through the NTS Workshop like "Venus As A Boy" did.

We'll be making time to catch Nonsenseroom's Winter show - "It's A Wonderful Life"(Review now posted). Although we'll being going to one of the Rosslyn Chapel shows, a little bird tells us that this might be touring; so keep an eye out. Remember that a lot of the things we see do tour, so might be coming to a theatre near you.

As you can see we've got a full schedule over the coming months. We do hope to fit in "Antigone" at The Tron (Review now posted), and "The Wizard of Oz" at the Royal Lyceum Theatre. However we might run out of time for the latter of these two. (we made it - Review Now Posted)

We've been made aware of how lucky we are with ticket prices at some of the theatres we go to. Booking the London tickets (especially "Wicked") caused palpitations. And "The Bacchae" and "Fiddler on The Roof" weren't much better. Theatre doesn't need to be an expensive night out, but it certainly can be.

Since this post we've booked a couple of additional shows - "Hidden" at RSAMD (review now posted) and Oran Mor's 'surprise' 100th play. (review now posted) More details here.


"Kirsten O'Brien's Confessions of a Children's TV Presenter" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

This was a fairly late addition to our plans and was chosen as it fitted in with the other shows we had planned both in time and location. I was expecting a well rehearsed show with everything considered and measured, lacking spontaneity and without revealing tales people would prefer remain hidden. Boy was I wrong.

O'Brien gives us a run through her time as a Children's TV presenter - eleven year's worth at present along with anecdotes about life as a 'two bob' celebrity. While there are some very funny stories in here (the Brian Blessed ones in particular) and some revealing secrets, it's O'Brien's energy, charm and enthusiasm that really make it a hit. It is genuinely infectious and she is very comfortable interacting with the audience. It's also one of the few shows where, while there are obviously core elements to the routine, much of it seems largely unscripted and off the cuff. This gives it a little more edge and the suspicion that she just might be saying something that she really shouldn't be.

It's a real feelgood show and a great way to start an afternoon and is honestly well worth seeing even if you have no idea who she is!

"Kirsten O'Brien's Confessions..." runs until the 27th (not the 14th) at 14:10 at the Pleasance Courtyard.


Sunday, August 12, 2007

"Blood Brothers" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

Waldorf has always quite fancied seeing "Blood Brothers" but in its regular incarnation as a musical there was no chance of her getting me along to it. So when we discovered the Lauder Studio Theatre Company were doing the play version it was a compromise we could both live with. And I'm so glad I was persuaded to see this...

Willy Russell's tale of twin brothers brought up in different families but becoming friends without knowing the nature of their relationship, is a believable and straight-forward one with no unneccessary complications or contrivances.

The performances of Jacqueline Hannan as Mrs Johnston and Sarah Halliwell as Mrs Lyons were both impressive but it was the four younger central cast members that really blew me away tonight. Neil Thomas as Mickey gave an emotionally raw performance and did a great job of showing the transformation from carefree wild child to angry and frustrated young man. As Edward, Darren Martin made a suitably sheltered child, wide-eyed on his first glimpses of the 'real world' and then later as the adult Edward a sense of bewilderment at his loss of Mickey's friendship. Katie Milne brought a real level of angst to her role as the adult Linda and a sense of fun to her younger self. These three managed to generate a real and authentic level of chemistry to their relationships. Acting as our on-stage narrator Christopher Hunter maintained his level of visible distress throughout - despite the sometimes hilarious antics taking place in front of him, and was excellent when interacting with the mothers.

The whole cast was clearly throughly committed to their roles and prepared to suffer for them. There are no sound effects or pulled punches here - these guys really delivered quite savage violence with Edward receiving a serious beating from his mother and Linda delivering a slap to Mickey with such force that the audience gasped. I'm not entirely sure I can advocate this technique but it was certainly effective.

Those of you who read my reviews regulalry will know that I'm an absolute sucker for stylish/clever direction and Sam Boyd's had this in abundance. A nice portrayal of the factory production line, a visually stunning freeze-frame ending, and a wonderful segment of several short silent scenes showing time passing.

I loved this from start to finish and it has some of the best dramatic performances I've seen at the Fringe this year, but I do need to add a couple of caveats about the venue. There was some confusion/problem with ticketing and seats being oversold and I hope the venue/box office can ensure this is prevented in future. The room is far from ideal - the lack of any form of tiering must make viewing the performances difficult from a few rows back and the air con machine may pump cold air towards the stage but it forces warm air into the audience! But these are minor quibbles and if the cast are happy to suffer beatings and bruises I'm not really in a position to complain about such trivialities.

"Blood Brothers"
runs on the 16th, 17th & 18th at 20:15 but tickets are limited. Please note - the venue was Understairs @ Euroscot and has now been renamed as Seven Dwarves at Euroscot.


Suggestions please...

After today's three shows we have one last trip planned on Saturday 25th. We've booked up for The Walworth Farce at 11:00 and Tiny Dynamite at 21:30 (Review now posted) so we have a good bit of time to fill in between. Suggestions/comments welcome.


Herald Angels News

Just a brief post on this as we're about to head back to Edinburgh to see some more shows. The first batch of the Bank of Scotland Herald Angels have been announced. The main website hadn't been updated at the time of this post, but full details of winners can be found at

Of particular note for us was the success of "Venus As A Boy".

Addendum: Main website now has full details.


"45 Minutes" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

"45 Minutes" was an interesting conceit - based around the claims of Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction being launched, and how a family (and their neighbour) would spend the time in those 45 minutes. A compacted "On The Beach". Unfortunately the reality failed to live up to either our expectations, or the reviews of others on the website.

The tale centered round the familial interactions between a widowed former politician, John (probably an MP, or possibly even Prime Minister - it's unclear which), and his 2 sons. Michael, the eldest is in his late teens and having a typical teenage relationship with his emotionally distant father; whilst William is about 9 and has withdrawn after the death of his mother. Rounding up the family is Uncle Bob, John's brother, who is a contrast to his over-achieving sibling. The final cast member is the intruding next door neighbour, Tom Henry, who is spending the countdown to oblivion with them rather than being alone.

Let's start on a positive note. The idea as I've said is a good one, how would you react if you were given such a tight countdown to devastation. Would you panic buy in Tesco 'just in case' the worse didn't happen. Would you re-enact the old 'Protect and Survive' public information film. Or would you lie down and accept the inevitable. Unfortunately this family did none of these, they played Scrabble.

This was originally an improvised piece, which was transcribed for future performances. And this is perhaps the source of its problems. For something like this to work it need to be tightly written and paced. This was neither. Little adjustment to its staging seemed to have been made to take into account the compactness of the venue (a conference suite in Jurys Inn). If it's difficult to more around the set without falling over each other, then adjust the stage direction!

You felt no empathy for the characters, with the Tom Henry being a particular irritant. I assume he's meant to be there for initial comic relief, which is meant to grow into sympathy for a man who doesn't want to leave his empty life alone. However he's so unevenly drawn that this just doesn't happen.

There is a nice touch at the end, with the direction of the final scene. But we were left with the feeling of an opportunity missed.

45 Minutes has now finished its run at Jurys Inn, but will be at Venue 45. from 13-18 July.

NB - please see comments below for a correction with regards the character names.


"Ballad of James II" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

I was nervous going into this show. Based on previous Nonsenseroom productions of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "The Canterville Ghost" it was the only production that I had been prepared to strongly recommend to others before seeing it, so there was some credibility at stake here. I needn't have worried...

Nonsenseroom have done well to obtain the world premiere of this work by Douglas Maxwell, and as well as these performances at the stunning Rosslyn Chapel they are also taking it for a short run in London. The story focuses on a short period in the life of James II of Scotland as he deals with a potential rebellion, the machinations of his wife and mother, and mental illness.

Scott Hoatson produces a wonderfully deep performance as James avoiding the temptation of playing him like a manic Jim Carrey and making him more of a tortured soul. Lois Creasy is excellent as his wife Queen Mary effectively conveying her mixed feelings for her husband, while Charles Donnelly provides perfect comic relief as Bower. As the King's mother, Queen Joan, Lori McLean was suitably manipulative while keeping the character three dimensional, and Neil Smith brought a believable stage presence to the charismatic Douglas.

The tale is tightly plotted with a few twists and turns along the way as alliances switch, and the fact that it's written in verse works well here (and it's something that often irritates me). The scene where James and Douglas swap roles works particularly well and the wide ranging swordfight is impressively staged.

It's a pacy and incredibly energetic piece, particularly the second act and as an audience member you'll feel thoroughly involved - both physically and mentally. The humour has a light touch which is well handled by the cast but the core of the play is an emotional one.

The Production is top class in its own right, but we'd recommend trying to see one of the 'Gala' performances which include a post-show Q&A and tour of the chapel along with a delicious light buffet and couple of glasses of wine. These performances make it an real experience and the cast/creative team were happy to chat away with the audience during the buffet.

"The Ballad of James II" runs until the 25th with Gala Performances on the 18th and 25th. Ticket availability is limited for some dates on the Fringe website but tickets may still be available directly.

The show then moves to the Greenwich Theatre, London from 4th to 8th September.

And Nonsenseroom have already announced their version of "It's A Wonderful Life" will be returning to Rosslyn Chapel this Christmas.


"Rebus McTaggart: Crimewarrior" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

After loving last year's debut of Richard Thomson's 'Rebus McTaggart' I not only had high expectations but also a level of confidence that I wasn't going to be disappointed. Thomson has stuck with his winning format as Rebus McTaggart returns to give another lecture on his policing methods, although as McTaggart explains, he has been improving his presentational skills with some acting classes.

Thomson is a master of working and involving an audience - although he was thrown by one particularly stupid audience response, which just made the whole thing even funnier. This show is entirely McTaggart with only one other character used (and even she is McTaggart's portrayal of her). The quality of the show in general is higher and more even than last year, although perhaps it lacks truly a sidesplitting moment - your mileage may vary depending on audience participation.

Highlights for me ere ,the extended mime scene which was brilliantly executed, although the puppet sequence was a close second. The stake-out sequence was overlong without the big pay off it required, but that was the only segment that fell short.

The venue isn't ideal, and some of the routines won't work particularly well for those sitting at the sides, so do try and get seats in the centre bank (although there is a definite price to be paid for this in the interrogation scene). And remember, there is significant audience interaction so you may wish to choose your seat with this in mind.

There was always a danger that this could have been the "difficult second show" for McTaggart but with Thomson's mix of clever routines, a well defined character and masterful audience control it simply sparkled. Looking forward to Part 3 already - if he isn't snapped up as a sitcom before then. But Richard, please bring back Benji the dog for Part 3, we missed him this time round.

Rebus McTaggart:Crimewarrior
runs at the Pleasance Courtyard at 16:45 until 27th (not 15th) and the original show, Rebus McTaggart also returns on the 13th, 17th & 19th at 19:00 in Pleasance Dome.


"Armageddon & Fishcakes" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

A light-hearted comedy would always have a difficult time on a rainy Saturday morning in Edinburgh, but the fact that "Armageddon & Fishcakes" by Touch Wood Theatre appeared to have a pretty good attendance was a good sign. But just how funny could a show about the four horsemen of the apocalypse be?

Re-united after some time apart, the four are to bring about the prophesied end of the world and judgement day. But having spent so long living as humans some are less eager than others to fulfil their task.

Fenella/Famine (Ali Hodge) appears to be the leader of our group and along with an 'interesting' line in picnic food provides the central role of the piece. I'm still struggling hours later to put my finger on exactly why, but I found the character as written to be irritating and tiresome with a level of smugness beyond my tolerance. While this was clearly intentional (and performed to have that impact) it really pushed my buttons and my lack of any empathy with this central character did affect my enjoyment as I found it hard to 'laugh with' rather that 'at' the character.

Trish Donnelly as Wendy/War gave a particularly strong performance while Ian Donnelly (Percy/Pestilence) and Andrew Patrick (Derek/Death) were effective in their roles as was Geoff Allen (the Tramp). I enjoyed a great deal of the dialogue for these three and there were some genuine laughs in there, but I'm not sure that the full comic potential of what is a very nice concept is really brought out.

Part of the reason for this are the intercut scenes of an editor and his assistant as they examine potential news stories, and despite the admittedly nice pay-off at the end, these scenes don't add a huge amount to the piece and serve as a distraction from our real interest.

I'm glad to have seen the show, but my personality clash with the lead character was detrimental to my enjoyment of the piece as a whole. Shame really, as there is definitely the potential for a good show in there.

"Armageddon & Fishcakes" run at Diverse Attractions is now completed.


Friday, August 10, 2007

First Fringe Firsts of 2007

The Scotsman has announced the first batch of Fringe First winners of this year. Of interest to readers of this blog is that Damascus was one of the six named.

The others were:
The Container - tickets showing as sold out at, but may still be available from the venue.
The Walworth Farce - we did overhear some comments at The Traverse that this was meant to be very good.
ENGLAND - again limited ticket availability.
Truth in Translation


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

"Damascus" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

Before the start of the Fringe the premiere of David Greig's "Damascus" made it pretty high up most people's 'highlights' lists. Knowing that I was seeing this later than many and given the show's high profile, I've tried to avoid reading any reviews for it. But it's been impossible not to pick up a bit of a vibe that it hasn't quite lived up to expectations. Having seen the show today, I think that is terribly unfair on the production.

Set almost entirely in a Damascus hotel lobby with reception desk, coffee tables and a grand piano; the show is the story of Paul (Paul Higgins) as he attempts to sell his English language course materials/textbooks to the government and the impact his arrival has on those he encounters. Although there are political aspects to the play's dialogue, and there are certainly plenty of comments designed to make the audience think, the central themes here are not political ones. I suspect that may be part of the negative reaction in that people assumed a play set in Damascus had to be about Damascus when in fact much of the characterisation and story could be set anywhere. "Damascus" is really a story of individuals, the choices they make, and how they treat one another, and on that level it delivers.

Told in flashback by the ever-present hotel pianist, Greig effectively sets a ticking timebomb under his characters as he makes it clear that we are en-route to some dreadful event. We spend much of our time wondering who is marked for tragedy and it's to Greig's credit that right up until the final moments things could go one of two ways. The conclusion fits well with what has come before, and while not having a great deal to say about politics/nations it says a great deal about the human condition.

In addition to the flashback method used throughout, Grieg also uses a reconstruction set piece similar to those in his "Yellow Moon" which works well and brings Dolya Gavanski to the fore as Elena our pianist 'witness'. The 'translation' scenes also work well, providing much of the show's humour, along with a number of Scottish/English gags that were well received.

The performances are all as polished as you would expect for a production with such a pedigree and do a good job in making the situations believable with clear chemistry between Paul and Muna (Nathalie Armin) well supported by Alex Elliott as Wasim and Khalid Laith as receptionist/porter Zakaria.

Leave your preconceptions of "Damascus" in the bar and enjoy it for the entertaining, morally ambiguous and moving story of individuals.

runs at the Traverse until 26 August (times vary). Please note that some dates have no tickets available from but may still be available directly from the Traverse.


"Mehndi Night" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

One of the biggest sins a Fringe show can commit is to be overlong - the temporary seating just isn't up to it and if you start to lose the audience's attention they quickly become unsettled and start to fidget. With a runtime of just 40 minutes "Mehndi Night" is a blessing for the Fringe-goer and there's no padding here - every line is carefully crafted and made to count.

This production by Mulberry School for Girls, written by professional playwright Fin Kennedy is set around a traditional Bengali pre-wedding event where the female family members are gathered - similar to a hen night without the excesses. The cast come on stage out of character and explain in rhyme/song that they are presenting the play about their families, their traditions and we are cleverly introduced to each character as the performer 'steps' into their role.

The performances are all of a high standard with Rubina Begum as Ripa delivering a brilliantly confident performance in a role that holds the show together, acting as the narrator and delivering her lines in rap/rhyme. I really can't single out others as they were all excellent, delivering complex sequences of intertwined lines with perfect timing.

I'll not go into the plot in detail as the way it is gradually revealed is part of the show, but it addresses a number of the issues facing young women of Bengali origins, and equally relevant to many others. Arranged marriages, family jealousies, religion, dress, music, family history, it's all covered here and not just glossed over. All sides of the debates are given voices, and all sound authentic and genuinely held opinions.

My only quibble with the piece is what I felt to be a disheartening ending with the main character still being forced to make a choice between following her dreams and her family. I'm saddened that they didn't believe there to be a middle ground and I'd have hoped that even the act of bringing such a show to Edinburgh would highlight the importance of holding on to your dreams and ambitions.

"Mehndi Night" is a truly delightful piece and Kennedy has done a wonderful job in his stated aim of giving these young adults a voice, and achieved it in an entertaining, amusing and challenging manner. As well as an insight into the Bengali culture the show has also had a major impact on my thoughts on identity - I had never before considered just how strong the 'London' aspect of identity is, but it's clearly a major part of how many people would describe themselves - an interesting element when so often such debates are focused on Englishness/Britishness.

And if you make it along, make sure you pick up a programme - for £1.50 it includes a full script and is well worth having.
Mehndi Night runs at Venue 45 until 11th August at 12:10.


Tuesday, August 07, 2007

"Killer Joe" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

Although "Killer Joe" appears to be sold on the basis of Phil Nicol's involvement as Ansel, the stars of the piece are Tony Law as a deadpan Joe and Charlotte Jo Hanbury as the unworldly Dottie. The production successfully brings out the humour and the darkness in the play and doesn't shirk from its violence and immensely uncomfortable moments.

We're quickly brought up to speed with the members of our trailer-trash family and their financial predicament which results in them resolving to have their mother/ex-wife murdered to get their hands on her life insurance. The dialogue is pretty snappy and the laughs come easily but as things progress the violence becomes more pervasive.

Law has a real stage presence here and does quietly intimidating very well, while Hanbury's performance is both incredibly brave and subtle when required. The nudity is appropriate to the piece and contributes to the feeling of deep unease that is intended.

The tale is very well plotted and holds tight right up until the end, when the quickfire resolution gives an immediate sense of "that was pretty cool" but which quickly gives way to "that didn't actually make a lot of sense, did it?". It's such a shame that the ending doesn't live up to the rest of the show but it shouldn't detract from what is a very strong production.

One final note - the set design for the trailer is truly incredible - if this isn't the best set at this year's fringe I'll eat my chicken drumstick...

"Killer Joe"
is at the Pleasance Courtyard until the 27th (not the 15th) at 18:00.

We've since found out that the set was designed by Simon Scullion - we'd have credited him sooner if there had been a programme available on the night.


"Turn Me To Stone" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

FourthAngel's "Turn Me To Stone" has given me a bit of a problem to review. There is definitely a good show in there, in fact probably two, but as it stands the combination didn't sit well together. Although I did hear two different audience members upon leaving call friends to tell them about a "great play" they had just seen.

Set in a relief/emergency shelter after an undefined disaster we meet "Liam" (Richard Dennis) and his two younger siblings Charlotte and Morgan (the adult Katy Bartholomew & Nick Kay putting in remarkable performances as 10 year olds.) Their parents are missing and Liam has to find them while also looking after the children. This is where my real interest in the piece lay and the writing and performances were spot on.

We then meet David, a local political activist who is helping to run the recovery centre, but whose extremist right-wing views are gradually revealed as he attempts to recruit David to his cause. This raising of race/cultural issues just didn't work for me, and whilst performed well by Fred Gordon, David was left rather two dimensional. The audience never sees the potential that David appears to see in Liam and is left somewhat puzzled by it. A much more interesting angle was David's wife Marianne (well portrayed by Gwennie Von Einsiedel) and her uncomfortable relationship with the younger children. Indeed, David's interest in Liam worked best for me when it appeared to be hinted as potentially sexual. The sub-plot involving a mother with a missing daughter also seemed more of a distraction than anything else.

Writer Tom Latter clearly has a real talent for writing the characters/dialogue for the children and I'd love to have seen this as the sole focus of the piece. His political dialogue also has the potential to work - but not here, not for me. As it stands it is definitely worth seeing but leaves a feeling of a missed opportunity.

"Turn Me To Stone" runs until the 26th (not Wednesdays) at 15:40 at Roman Eagle Lodge.


"The Butler Did It!?" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

As someone who has always felt the works of Agatha Christie and her ilk take themselves far too seriously I was really looking forward to seeing "The Butler Did It!?" but twenty minutes in I was surprised to find myself mentally preparing a review that was starting to look like a hatchet job. I was however, even more surprised to find that by the end of the show they had managed to turn things around and I left with a grin on my face.

The set-up is simple - rich old bloke gathers family member to inform them of his will and then finds himself bumped off, with all in attendance considered suspects by the crime-solving old biddy. The problem is that the humour required really struggles in the first half and isn't strong enough, often enough to gain any momentum. There was a good deal of laughter in the audience but much of it seemed to be of the 'laughing-at-my-friend-doing-something-silly' variety rather than down to the writing, which at time dropped to schoolboy humour (Fanny/Dick & the hotdog scene spring to mind)

But what a turnaround! From the 'gene pool' gags onwards the quality really improves and a very nice set-piece involving voiceovers, combined with the realisation that the timeline isn't quite as it seems bring us towards a reveal that was genuinely laugh-out-loud funny.

The performances were all good - particularly "Lauren Silver" as the quirkily unstable "Faith", Amie Burns Walker as "Gertie" and Gemma McElhinney as "Miss Marbles". During the final musical number "Crime Doesn't Pay" (one of two in the show) Kevin Quinn notes one crime that does pay - well I think he can add his own show stealing performances in both of his roles to that particular list.

I'm glad I saw this and really enjoyed the second half, which more than made up for a definite feeling of wasted potential early on. In a similar fashion I have to note that the programme produced for the show (£1 charge) is an excellent example of what these should be, with detailed cast info, images and show notes. But guys if you put your website on the programme - make sure there is something to see!

Addendum: Some content has now been added to their website.

"The Butler Did It!?" runs at Roman Eagle Lodge until the 26th at 13:10.


Now Booking / Coming Soon - Autumn 2007

Just a reminder to everyone that the Autumn/Winter schedules for most theatres are now out. Tickets will be selling quickly for the most popular shows, so don't get so caught up in the Fringe that you forget you've got the rest of the year to book up for.

We're still finalising what we're going to see, and we've already booked up for some shows. I'm not going to list them alljust yet, mainly because I can't be bothered to go get the tickets from the front of the fridge, but also because there's at least a couple of more things we want to book up for.

However as we've already mentioned we'll be venturing to London, back to the Theatre Royal, Glasgow for "The Bacchae". We've got a few things already booked for The Citizens too. In addition to venturing back to the Theatre Royal, we're possibly heading back to the King's Theatre too (see Are You Positive? for why we don't go to either often).

We'll try and sort out the schedule over the next week or as and update this entry with a full list of forthcoming attractions.


Sunday, August 05, 2007

"Emergence-See" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

Of all the theatre productions at this year's Fringe this was the one with the concept that grabbed me most. The idea of an abandoned historic slave ship suddenly appearing in present day New York seemed so full of potential that by the time I saw the show it was almost certain to disappoint. I said *almost*.

Over 75 minutes Daniel Beaty portrays dozens of characters as they react to the events of the day with particular focus on a father and two sons who find themselves more caught up than most. Their tale is interwoven with the tales of others, and as well as the slave ship, the other focus of the piece is a slam poetry contest one of the sons is involved in.

Aided by only lighting and sound effects, Beaty's transitions between character are incredibly well realised, even when switching between two halves of conversations a dozen times a minute. It's a stunning performance - vocally, physically and textually. While the issues raised have greatest relevance to Black America you certainly don't need an in-depth understanding of American history to appreciate this show and much of it speaks equally to UK problems.

While the main tone of the piece is humourous, this is powerful stuff and the topics covered are discussed seriously, and Beaty is perfectly capable of pulling the rug from under the audience on occasion.

This was a joy to watch and is everything a Fringe show should be, although there are a few moments that start to drag a little. Now it may have been due to the influence of an American contingent in the audience but this got a standing ovation from over three quarters of the audience. While it's a great show I wasn't one of those standing - I've never yet given any show a standing ovation. I believe that it isn't a decision, a standing ovation should be something you just can't stop yourself from doing, but make no mistake, anyone wanting to see quality at this year's Fringe should have this high up on their list.

Emergence-See is at Assembly @ St George's West until the 27th at 18:45 (not 6th or 13th)


"Love Labours Won" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

Rogue Shakespeare Company's "Love Labours Won" at the Gilded Balloon Teviot is clearly both written and performed thoroughly with tongues in cheeks, gently mocking the Bard's style in an affectionate manner that is more homage than spoof. Sadly at the Fringe it's not uncommon for an audience to fail to get the show they deserve, but in this case I was left feeling that the show hadn't got the audience it deserved.

While not perfect I found this to be well written, both linguistically and plotwise, and the humour largely hit the mark - for me at least. Unfortunately much of it seemed to be missed by large sections of the audience and the laughter was pretty restrained.

The decision to go with an all-female cast didn't seem to either add or detract greatly from the piece (apart from one or two cheapish gags) although I enjoyed all the performances, with Clare Harlow as "Julia" and Emma Canalese as "Annabelle" being particularly strong. Jade Allen as "Caesus" gave a performance inspired by Blackadder's "Lord Flashheart" but it was very much in tone with the production.

That can't be said for the nudity towards the end of the show. While not in any way tasteless or gratuitous it just didn't add anything significant and seemed out of place. At the Fringe any show that has to warn of nudity on its flyers/listings risks being classed along with the kind of shows that use it for shock value or attention seeking to make up for lack of quality/originality - and "Love Labours Won" shouldn't need that - it's a quality production.

This isn't going to provide bundles of belly laughs but it should certainly leave those with an attention span and passing understanding of Shakespearean dialogue with a smile on their face.

"Love Labours Won"
is at the Gilded Balloon Teviot until 27 August with daily performances at 16:30.


"Pit" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

Being seasoned Fringe-goers we had planned our schedule well, and after "Venus as a Boy" we were remaining in the Traverse for the Arches Theatre Company production of Megan Barker's "Pit", and had left just enough time between shows to grab some lunch in the theatre cafe/bar (Nachos with chilli are excellent). Given the food related themes of "Pit" it was just as well we ate beforehand.

The structure of the show is a strange one and takes a little getting used to, but does in fact work fairly well. "Myrtle" is played, at times simultaneously, by three actors - Yvonne Caddell, Ray Farr and Patricia Kavanagh as we see her/them prepare a meal under the assumed supervision of social services. These cooking scenes are intermixed with flashback style scenes of the events leading up to Myrtle's current situation as she struggles with family life in trailer-trash America. During these flashbacks the actors take it in turns to play other family members, although the fact that different "Myrtles" play the same family members at different times seemed to add unnecessary confusion to an already difficult conceit to follow.

Performances were all good with each proving capable of effectively portraying their multiple roles and delivering what is quite a physical performance. However, in many ways the 'triple casting' of Myrtle seems unnecessary and adds little to the piece that couldn't be achieved with a single Myrtle playing against one or two others in the supporting roles. It isn't confusing and does add one or two nice touches but the pay-off seems a poor reward for the effort involved.

For the most part the plot is well paced, but the use of "Baby Whistler's Song" (of which the production flyer makes a great deal) seems immensely out of place and takes away much of the momentum the show had been building. Many of the issues raised here are good ones and in general it avoids coming across like a Michael Moore documentary.

The 'reveal' comes suddenly and while it being unexpected would normally be a plus point, I'm afraid I do like my twists/shocks to be at least hinted at earlier in the piece rather than seemingly dropped in as happens here.

"Pit" is typical Fringe fayre and worth seeing if it fits in with your plans, but I'm not sure I'd plan a schedule around it.

Traverse Theatre
2 August - 26 August 2007


"Venus As A Boy" - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

The Fringe is an ideal opportunity to try new things, and take a risk in what you're seeing. However in the interests of breaking us in gently our first show this year was an adaptation by Tam Dean Burn of Luke Sutherland's novel 'Venus As A Boy', in conjunction with National Theatre of Scotland's Workshop, so we felt we were starting on safer ground. I'm always slightly concerned by novel adaptations as due to time and practical constraints it can be almost impossible to make a completely successful transition to either film or stage. However as Luke Sutherland was so intimately involved in this - to the extent of providing the score and live music - he was obviously comfortable with how his work was being presented. As I've not read the book yet (see below), the production had to stand on its own.

The incestuous nature of the cast and crew of Venus As A Boy did have us worried beforehand. When the author of the novel is onstage providing the music, and the adaptation has been carried out by the main performer it makes a reviewer's job that much harder. It also leaves all those involved very exposed.

Despite starting slowly, you soon become caught up in the tale of D/Désirée and how circumstances conspire. The small flashes of Sutherland's life that are woven through D's tale take on much more significance when he's standing in front of you playing his electric guitar or violin. In fact if there was one disappointment in this is that Sutherland's contribution is so non-verbal. Meaningful looks and the excellent score only went so far for me - I wanted more. However ultimately this isn't his story - it's D's.

Tam Dean Burn laughingly admitted in his introduction that he doesn't quite meet the description of D as a gorgeous Orcadian boy. And physically you've got to agree. However he brings both an energy and vulnerability to his portrayal of D that makes physical appearance largely irrelevant.

A limited set also worked well, with the lighting providing shifts in mood and tone. It was also revealing that Dean Burn's co-director, Christine Devaney has a strong dance background. The use of costume and choreography together helped bring the other 'characters' to life.

All in all this was a good start to the 2007 Fringe.

Venus As A Boy
Traverse Theatre
2 August - 28 August 2007
then London, Glasgow and Liverpool

PS The Traverse always does well at offering books/script books for sale. We picked up 'Venus As A Boy', so I'll be able to say how well the book adapted.

Photo by Eammon McGoldrick, used with permission.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Coming around again...

A quick pointer on a few shows that we saw last year that are making a return over the next couple of months.

"Yellow Moon" has a long run at the Traverse as part of the Fringe, and although I found it a little overloaded with issues, the performances and direction were excellent. As well as the Fringe it also returns to the Citizens in September.

As well as his new show Rebus McTaggart:Crimewarrior, Richard Thomson also brings back his original Rebus McTaggart show for a limited run. Feltonfleet School also return with their production of "Lord of the Flies" although I suspect with a different cast. Our review of last years festival includes coverage of both of these shows.

Moving away from the Fringe, and the reason for this post, one of our favourite shows from 2006 is returning to the Britannia Panopticon in late September. "The Whitechapel Murders" really impressed us with it's concept, writing and performances and the atmospheric setting made it a memorable evening. For a show about the victims of Jack the Ripper it was hugely entertaining while remaining respectful given the subject matter. More info from Theatrefusion, but book quickly as these shows are always popular as it's a rare chance to see the Panopticon where a young Stan Laurel once appeared, back in use.

We've got a good number of new shows now lined up for later in the year, so we'll be adding a new Now Booking/Coming Soon post shortly.


Fringe 2007 Index

A full list of our Edinburgh Fringe 2007 reviews and links to other Fringe info.

Preview Part 1
Preview Part 2
Tips for Fringe goers
Coming to a Theatre Near YOU (shows transferring post-Edinburgh)

Review Schedule
Venus As a Boy - review posted
Pit - review posted
Love Labours Won - review posted
Emergence-See - review posted
The Butler Did It?! - review posted
Turn Me to Stone - review posted
Killer Joe - review posted
Damascus - review posted
Mehndi Night - review posted
Armageddon & Fishcakes - review now posted
Rebus McTaggart:Crimewarrior - review posted
Kirsten O'Briens Confessions - review now posted
Ballad of James II - review now posted
Blood Brothers (Lauder College) - review now posted
45 Minutes - review now posted
The Psychic Detective (and those disappeared) - Review now posted.
The Walworth Farce - Review now posted
Tiny Dynamite - Review now posted
Failed States - Review now posted
Hugh Hughes in The Story of a Rabbit - Review now posted
Markus Birdland - Son of a Preacher Man - Review now posted

Other Fringe Review/Comment sites
Three Weeks
Sean in the Stalls
Edinburgh Festivals
Onstage Scotland
Edinburgh Festival Punter