Archive for Drama



Assembly George Square Theatre (Venue 8)
12:00noon; Aug 9-10, 12-17, 19-24
Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes

George Orwell’s tale of a revolution betrayed is brought to the stage by the Tumanishvili Film Actors Theatre from the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Georgia’s most famous son was the model for the pig leader, Napoleon; former Soviet leader Josef Stalin.

In this allegory, the animals of Manor Farm overthrow the rule of the tyrannical Farmer Jones and set up a new regime where all animals are equal under the new ideology of Animalism. However, to defend the revolution, the newly christened Animal Farm gradually cedes, without realising the consequences until it’s too late, all power to Napoleon and his coterie of pigs.

Props and costumes are minimal in this production but that is not a problem. This performance  is in the Georgian language with simultaneous English language surtitles displayed overhead. In practice this works well. Arguably, it allows for greater concentration. Through dance, movement, gestures and a cracking soundtrack we can soon work out who are the sheep, the pigs, the hens and the dogs in this effective piece of physical theatre.

Stalinism is dead and gone everywhere but in North Korea but the temptation to trust a ruler who is ‘always right’ is still with us today. Animal Farm is great reminder of the truth of the words of the Psalmist who said, ‘Put not your trust in princes’.

***** Five Stars

David Kerr


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As you Like it

Princeton Day School Theater
American High School Theatre Festival
Pilrig Studio Venue 103

4 August – 9 August

In the midst of all the furore in Belfast over whether or not the Union Flag should fly daily over the City Hall a friend confided in me that the part of his British culture and identity which he really values is not a piece of coloured cloth but the works Milton, Keats, Burns, the King James Bible and Shakespeare.

Sometimes quite dreadful things are done to Shakepeare’s plays at the Fringe. As one stand-up comedian wryly observed, it would be really radical if somebody did a Shakespeare play as if it was set in the bard’s own day. Well, he could have his wish if he takes a wee trip down the Leith Walk to the Pilrig Studio to see this wonderfully exuberant interpretation of Shakespeare’s comedy of exile and love, As You Like It.

This young American High School cast don’t hold back anything in this show. The casting and the direction is perfect and it’s obvious that everyone involved is really having a great time. The chenistry between the cousins Celia and Rosalind is perfect, as is the sense of animosity between the brothers Orlando and Oliver. I can’t name any of the actors involved as the main roles alternate.

One nice touch is that some seats in the audience are kept free, so cast members sit in them from time-to-time giving the sense of action going on all round you, rather than just on the stage in front of you. This is immersive theatre at its best. Audience participation goes much further as one member of the audience will find himself plucked from his seat to preside over the wedding scene as Hymen, the god of marriage.

Only one thing marred this production for this reviewer; in some scenes a group of musicians played a series of notes on piano, guitar and tambourine which made it difficult to hear some of the dialogue. Despite this minor irritation – my seat was right in front of the piano after all – the packed audience didn’t seem to notice and they really enjoyed this show and it’s superb value for just a fiver.

**** Four Stars

David Kerr

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The Onion of Bigotry: a History of Hatred

The Onion of Bigotry: a History of Hatred

Black Dingo Productions.
Running time 60 minutes

blackdingoJust at St John’s, St John’s Church, Princes St, EH2 4BJ (Venue 127)
1 – 25 Aug 2014

Production: Kielty Brothers
Performers: John Kielty, Gerry Kielty, Jordanna O’Neill, Stanley Pattison

This lively light-hearted rattle through Scottish history might fall flat on non-Scots or anyone not familiar with some of the highlights and lowlights of the country’s past. There are some great songs; how else could you manage to rhyme Reformation, Protestation and Excommunication? We learn that past kings called James had a rough time of it and we have to endure some excrutiating puns; Orthodox Sea, bloody big Hanover and ninety-five faeces anyone?

That said, this story does remind us that dreadful things were done in the past but offers a simple solution is a rousing chorus at the end. Your people did some dreadful things to mine. My people did awful thing to yours. But instead of indulging in more whataboutery let’s just get over it. Simple, eh?

**** Four Stars

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Black Dingo Productions.
Running time 50 minutes

Just at St John’s, St John’s Church, Princes St, EH2 4BJ (Venue 127)
Fri 1 – Wed 13 Aug 2014

Daily at 14.00

Tickets from

Sixteen-year-old Evan is in big trouble. He’s facing court proceedings over sectarian postings he has made on-line. He is an angry teenager. In a series of monologues from Evan, his mum Liz and his dad Dave, the audience begins to piece together his story and gradually uncover the truth behind his actions.

The atmosphere is heightened by the way the play is staged. The audience sits around the edge of a small side chapel in St John’s Episcopal Church while the players give their take on Evan’s story. You might think that Evan is a bitter young bigoted Rangers fan reared by bigots so what’s surprising about that? He’s only spewing out on-line what has been bred into him. If so, you’ll soon be disabused of that notion.

Euan Brockie brings raw emotion to his role as Evan. Bit-by-bit we see how this quiet, unassuming computer games geek – who prefers to sit at the back in class and keep a low profile – is goaded by the class bully, Mark Dempsey – a ‘shifty, sleekit wee shit’ – into the outburst that brought the police to his door.

A sterling understated performance from Marilyn Wilson as Liz brings tears to the eye as she tries to cope with this new and threatening situation wrestle with her own sense of guilt and responsibility and that of her husband and son.

Adam Tompkins as Dave brings alive a sense of bewilderment and defensiveness as he sees his career as a successful television actor likely to come crashing down around his ears in the face of unwelcome publicity with reporters camping on his front doorstep.

There is often a rush to judgement when people post sectarian, racist or homophobic sentiments on-line. Some of this judgement may turn out to be justified but his play suggests that everyone has a backstory to explain – though not excuse – their action. Thi s thoughtful play demands a thoughtful response. It’s a shame that the audience was so small.

***** Five Stars

Company website:
Just Festival website:

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The Trojan Women

The Trojan Women trojanwomen
Emmanuel Theatre Company

Space 1; £5 (£3.50) / 0845 508 8316
theSpaces on the Mile, Edinburgh
80 High Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1TH

This intense, gripping reworking of Euripides’ classic text brings home the true horrors of war for the women left behind to cope with an atmosphere of bitterness, reprisal and recrimination. It has been updated with images of contemporary conflicts raging today – and God knows, there are plenty of them going on, from Gaza to Syria to the Congo.

All the horrific images are here; the child ripped from its mother’s arms by smirking soldiers to be dashed to death, the rape and pillage of the wives and daughters of fallen enemies, the deceitfulness and self-delusion of the conquering soldiers and politicians and the loss of innocence of young people whose trivial everyday lives have been turned upside down when apparent victory turned overnight into defeat and bloody retribution.

This is not an easy play to watch, but as we contemplate the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War of 1914-1918 and the growing readiness of our political leaders in Britain and ‘the international community’ to resort so easily to war, it is a timely reminder of the real human cost of such conflicts.

**** four stars



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Help send a show to New York!

Can we send this show to New York?

Can we send this show to New York?


I saw a great show at the Fringe last year called ‘You All Know me – I’m Jack Ruby’. I am told that the show has been invited to the United Solo in New York in November. They are using crowdfunding through Kickstarter to fund the trip. It is a very worthy effort and we shall be making small donations. We invite our readers to do the same. The appeal ends on the 24th of June.

The appeal is here

Our original review is here



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Fertile Ground Festival, Portland

My first year attending the Fertile Ground Festival in Portland Oregon, USA, a 10 day gathering of art and performance whose only common thread is the work must be Portland based and premier here in Portland. Sponsored by the Portland Area Theater Alliance, these artistic offering span a broad range of venues and levels of production, and spring from a range of sources, self-produced, large, professional theatrical companies, ensembles, collaborative efforts, workshop level productions, all of which include a wide range of experiences; theater, dance, musical, comedy, visual art,and film works. At 50 dollars for a festival pass the possibilities are nearly endless, I chose venues and works that piqued my interest, and fit my schedule. There were many more I could have seen, but there is always next year.

For opening night I chose International Falls a play written by Thomas Ward and directed and co-produced by Brandon Woolley. Cast includes Isaac Lamb as Tim and Laura Faye Smith as Dee. Set in a hotel room in a Holiday Inn, in (where else) International Falls, MN. This play immediate drew me in voyeuristically, interspersed with stand up comedy by Tim, to remind us we were an audience and not peeping through the window of the hotel room. We are witness to the hookup of Tim and Dee following his last show at the venue. They took us down a darkly funny path of humor, philosophy, the juxtaposition of comedy and tragedy, and the deep wounds from which comedians draw their humor. A raw peek into soul, life and love. Please don’t miss it, plays through Feb 16th at the CoHo theater on 22nd/NW Raleigh

The Spinnerettes,perform before The Lost Boy

The Spinnerettes,perform before The Lost Boy

The Lost Boy, at Artists Repertory Theater

The story details the kidnapping of a young boy in the late 1800’s, the media and political exploitation of the event and the family, I feel so much less inspired to write about this play. While it was technically well done, I did not find the story emotionally engaging. It was more like reading a newspaper article on the subject. It was interspersed with circus acts that were entertaining, but the play felt plodding at times. It was one event that I was kind of glad to see end, and I don’t like to feel that way about anything I watch.

Ribbons of War at Shaking the Tree studio

A workshop production musical play based on the 2006 concept album of the same name by the Philly based Indie rock band “The Extraordinaires”, a love story about a ships’ captain and her true love Annalies, two independent spirits, jealousy, tragedy, love and war. Delightfully campy, intentionally and unintentionally funny, lyrical and moving, . Musically arranged and performed by Andrew Fridae and Justin Jude, the vocal performance was carried by Annalies, played by Bahar Baharloo, who flawlessly wove her voice throughout the story. I wanted to hear her sing, not true for all the vocal performances, however what was lacking in polish was more than made up for in enthusiasm. There is Love! War! Sea Monsters! Enjoy!

Still to come- Rain! The musical, Whipping Cream and Freudian Dreams/Oh F*ck, Oh Sh*t, It’s Love The Musical, and Feral-Homelessness in Portland.

  • Fertile Ground 2013 is a 10-day arts festival held January 24 through February 3 in Portland, Oregon, USA. More information can be found here.

Review from Heather Miller

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