Posts Tagged Edinburgh Fringe Festival

Review: Ulysses Dies at Dawn

ulysses-dies-at-dawn_30225Category     Cabaret
Genres     music, sci-fi
Group     Mechanisms / PBH’s Free Fringe
Venue     Whynot? ?
Event Website     themechanisms.com
Date     15-24 August
Time     17:30
Duration     1 hour
Suitability     18+
Warnings     Strong language.
Country of Origin     England

fourstars

 

 

This is a clever retelling of the classical Olympic Greek tales of Ulysses, Heracles, Orpheus, Oedipus and Ariadne as seen through the eyes of a bunch of bloodthirsty space pirates calling themselves the Mechanisms.  Does this work as a cyberpunk musical?  Surprisingly, it does. It brings a touch of the first Mad Max movies to the original Greek tragedies richly overlaid with grim gallows humour.

The players have added together an array of fiddles, banjo, keyboard, beatbox and bass guitar to go with some terrific folk and blues songs to create a performance that comes close to perfection.  The ancient Greek Choruses were never like this.

Reviewed by David Kerr

Leave a Comment

Review: Kazakoshi: Mountain Wind

kazakoshi-mountain-wind_31548Category     Music
Genres     classical, world music
Group     Wadaiko Tokara (Japan)
Venue     C venues – C too ​
Event Website     www.tokara.net/kazakoshi
Date     14-26 August
Time     16:55
Duration     50 minutes
Suitability     U
Country of Origin     Japan

fivestars

 

Wadaiko Tokara, a Taiko drumming group from Japan is currently in the Edinburgh Fringe as part of  a world tour. In this era of health and safety awareness, a sign by the booking office tells all; ‘Mountain Wind: patrons should be aware that this production contains drumming’.  It sure does!  And get this, some of it is very loud and very fast. It is also enjoyably infectious. mountainwind

Taiko drumming melds together a very fluid style of drumming, dance and martial arts. One of the pieces is an arrangement of a traditional item but this repertoire adds a number of original compositions by the group’s affable founder and artistic director, Art Lee.  These four performers are very fit – and no wonder – they all do 200 push-ups and 400m sit-ups and a 12km run every morning before breakfast. It shows, too in the disciplined choreography of this performance.

If you like percussion, this show is unmissable. It’s banging great fun.

Reviewed by David Kerr

Leave a Comment

Review: Funny Stuff for Happy People

martinbigpigCategory – Children’s Shows
Genres – children’s, family
Group – Martin ‘Bigpig’ Mor
Venue – Laughing Horse @ City Cafe
Event Website – http://www.martinmor.com
Date – 12-18 August
Time – 12:30
Duration – 1 hour
Suitability – U (5+)
Country of Origin – Northern Ireland

fourstars

 

Martin Mor from Northern Ireland was a successful circus performer, but has since turned to the comedy circuit.  He has worked professionally as a performer for more than 25 years and is well established in the UK as a popular comedian.  He has performed in many venues, from an Italian prison to performing before members of the British Royal Family. He has even supported the iconic Tina Turner.

For the Fringe this year, Martin is performing a family oriented circus show as Martin BigPig. And what a presence he is, from his outrageously long ZZ Top style beard to his boots, he is genuinely hilarious, with a mischievous streak and dead right audience rapport.

This is no show for the timid, as Martin draws in kids and adults alike to take part in his madness.  As I scrambled to a dark corner to watch the show from a safe distance, Martin BigPig pulled up onto the stage, unsuspecting victims. er audience members, who he swiftly integrated into the show.  The audience was having so much fun, you could see the children jumping up and down to happily become the next casualty of his folly.

Johnny Vegas reports that BigPig is a very funny lad with the best beard in the business and funnyman Frankie Boyle has said that Martin has been a big influence on him.

I won’t spoil the show for you, but there were rabid bunnies, rappin daddies, lickable lollies and tricksy tricks with gravity, raw eggs and water….
This show had laughter galore, shouting, cheering (and jeering!) and lets not forget the fart jokes.  Suitable for children and adults alike, BigPig Martin Mor gives us an hour of comedy, storytelling, circus and stupid science.  That’s right repeat after me kiddies, Stupid Science..Kids, bring your adults to Funny Stuff for Happy People, this is a rib tickling good time for both parents and kids.  I caught myself chuckling all the way through it and I recommend a good dose of BigPig for you lot.

Reviewed by Michelle Harrington

Leave a Comment

Review: League of Saint George

league-of-st-george_32861League of St George
Category     Theatre
Genres     drama, music
Group     Bricks and Mortar Theatre Company with The King’s Head Theatre
Venue     C venues – C nova ​
Event Website     www.bricksandmortartheatre.com
Date     8-26 August
Time     21:55
Duration     1 hour
Suitability     14+
Country of Origin     England

fivestars

 

 

Right from the off this show confronts you. It starts with an explosion of live music performed in front of a large St. George’s cross. The skinheads in the cast are rowdy, full of energy, aggressive and angry.  They take us back to the days when the strong skinhead identity was a source of pride and belonging to some and fear to others.

Set in 1970s East London ‘League of St George’ tells the story of Adam (Oliver Tunstall) a Skinhead trying to come to terms with being gay within a sub-culture which is hyper-masculine and would be far from understanding of his sexuality. Worse still he chooses a partner from another race! Not safe choices for Adam given the company he keeps.His friends Mark and Jimmy are crude about the women around them and mock Adam over his inexperience and lack of a girlfriend.

Adam has trouble with his sexuality. He conceals it from his friends and family and even within his relationship wants to avoid issues it raises by not talking about it. His boyfriend is more open and makes it clear that part of why he is attracted to Adam is the ‘danger’ and his bad boy image. The first time they meet he kisses Adam’s boots – a scene which some might find uncomfortable and non-‘PC’ but which is direct and honest.

This isn’t a preachy play. It doesn’t push a simple message.

Even when we are introduced to a ‘Fascist’ higher-up in the pecking order the choice of policies he puts forward is not what many would expect. Rather than the easy to knock down reactionary Tory-style  we get a slightly mangled ‘Political Soldier’ rhetoric. Here the miners strike is supported, black Nationalists like the Nation of Islam are referenced as comrades in arms and the villains are the money men not the immigrants. The money men, of course, are identified with the Jews here. For out-of-work, alienated working-class youth looking for answers the ideology seems to offer them. Nor does the play shy away from the fact that ‘the Cause’ offers purpose, direction, support and comradeship to empty lives.

League of St. George also shows the Skinheads as part of a wider working-class culture through their family life. Dan Walker’s  depiction of a Father in and out of jail and absent is convincing. This is one just aspect that makes us understand a little where Adam and his friends are coming from.

Don’t let what I have written scare you though! It’s not all serious and heavy. There is great comedy in the dialogue of this play!

Georgia Bliss (who also acts in the play) has written something which captures the energy of the skinheads and their appealing and unappealing sides. It certainly rang true to me as someone who was a sometime friend of Ian Stuart of the notorious Skinhead band Skrewdriver. It is a show which is full of life, ideas and passion. Go see it!

Reviewed by Patrick Harrington

Comments (2)

This Land

EDINBURGH FRINGE 2012

This Land
The Story of Woody Guthrie

Interplay

Zoo Southside

Woody Guthrie, the legendary American folk singer, was one of the principal musical figures of the early to middle part of the last century. His folk songs caught the mood of his generation with his tales of the great depression, the Oklahoma dustbowls, the war on Hitler’s Germany and the plight of workers and the downtrodden sectors of American society. He went on to influence Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger Phil Ochs and Bruce Springstein. Billy Bragg has recorded a British version of This Land, his best known song.

Punctuated with rumbustious renditions of some of Guthrie’s best known songs, This Land journeys through the highs and lows of his life; from his early days in the dustbowls of Oklahoma to his hospital bed where, by the time he met the young Bob Dylan, he was laid up with the final stages of Huntingdon’s Chorea.

Based on Guthrie’s own memoirs, the story is told by seven different Woodies, each one representing a different phase of his life. This inspirational play demonstrates the man’s dedication in the face of personal tragedy and debilitating life-limiting illness. It’s a perfect play from a perfect cast.

***** Five Stars

David Kerr

http://www.interplayleeds.co.uk/thisland/

Some of the Woodies serenade the audience leaving the theatre; So long, it’s been good to know you…

Leave a Comment

Baby Wants Candy

EDINBURGH FRINGE 2012

Baby Wants Candy

Assembly 3, George Square

Baby Wants Candy is your one-stop call for improvisational musical comedy.  Each evening the five cast members perform a never-to-be-repeated original musical show, using a title suggested by a member of the audience.  The lucky audience member whose suggestion is used gets a free t-shirt at the end of the show over-printed with the title of his show.

It’s impressive to watch how one cast member picks up cues from the others and runs with it, often in a total tangent to what went on before.  I get the impression that occasionally one member might playfully try to wrong-toot another.  Sure it’s great crack. This kind of ‘spontaneous co-ordination’ must take a lot of practice to perfect.

Aided by a wild bunch of frenetic musicians, this small team has put in a lot of hard work and are reaping dividends. They are playing to packed houses every night.

Baby Wants Candy is just the ticket for anyone looking for a bit of light entertainment at this year’s Fringe.

www.babywantscandy.com

**** Four Stars

David Kerr

Leave a Comment

DEVIL IN THE DETAIL

DEVIL IN THE DETAIL

Meta Morpho

Zoo Roxy, Venue 115, Roxburgh Place

WHAT on earth is going on here?  That was my reaction when this play opened.  This was a puppet show, for goodness sake.  I don’t like puppets, except maybe Captain Scarlet and Thunderbirds when I was a child.  However, any initial bafflement melted away as things began to make sense.

Devil in the Detail has live actors in huge masks, a bit like the Tweenies, but this story is not for children. There is no dialogue. Changes of mood. Changes of pace.  All the performances are led by the musical soundtrack.

The action unfolds like an old Brian Rix Whitehall farce -as adapted by Quentin Tarantino or the Coen Brothers, with opening and closing doors and characters just missing one-another.  Two tenants, a crooked accountant who is skimming money off a sexy gangster and a dozy night security man, both rent the same flat from a dodgy landlady and her shopaholic daughter. Neither one knows about the other. It’s great knockabout stuff.  Look out for a runaway snake, a barking dog, murder and mayhem in this riot of fun.

Reviewed by David Kerr

**** Four Stars

www.metamorpho.co.uk

Leave a Comment

GUTTER JUNKY

GUTTER JUNKY

Presented by Dream Epic and Salida Productions

 

GOD alone knows what the title means, It’s not important. This fast-moving, hard-hitting play has much to say about the road to hell being paved with good intentions.

Harry, an enthusiastic young, naïve writer bunks up with  Bill, a jaded, washed out old hand – a friend of a friend in the chief city of a strategic South American city on the verge of revolution.  Within a few weeks, however, he has become single-minded enough in pursuit of his story to go into the south of the country and ‘rescue’ a girl from the unfolding chaos.

Within a decade, his book has become a bestselling advocate for war against the new South American ideology.  He realises his role as a prophet of fear and paranoia and tries, claims he was sick at the time, and tries to enlist Bill to help,

James Cunningham plays Bill with unrelenting world-weary cynicism.  James Maxted carries off Harry’s early-years Tony Blair-style ‘Bambi’ to perfection.  Andrea Pelaez combines fear, uncertainty and indignation in a perfect mix.

 

**** Four Stars

 

www.salidaproductions.com

www.assemblyfestival.com

 

Leave a Comment

RIOT

RIOT

The Wardrobe Ensemble,Bristol

Zoo Roxy Venue 115

 

TIMING is everything.  The producers of the production could not have imagined that riots inLondonand other English cities would be the top item in the news just as Riot opened inEdinburgh.  Whether this boosted the audience or not is hard to say but the players performed to a full house.

This entertaining story is based on the events inEdmonton, northLondonin 2005, the year of the Crazy Frog, when a riot broke out at the midnight opening of a new outlet of a large Swedish furniture company.  You know the one; lots of blue and yellow.

The lure of sofas for £45 on the opening night drew enormous crowds.  People fought over items as inexperienced staff and overwhelmed police failed to cope with unexpected numbers.

The players capture the absurdity of the whole affair in a tight script that has lots of laugh-out-loud lines.  Gin (like the drink), the nervous supervisor tries to warn his boss that things might get out of hand. She is full of New Age crap so she doesn’t want to hear any ‘negativity’.  She sacks Gin and orders the doors opened to let everyone in at once rather than in stages. Big mistake! Mayhem takes over.

The flawless action is tightly choreographed with simple props of Ik** lights, folding chairs and a hanging wardrobe. Some of this was sheer genius. Who would have thought that two unfolded chairs could function as shaking doors holding back an angry mob?

Riot is one of the highlights of the Fringe. Book now and you won’t have to beat the doors down to get in.

 

***** Five Stars

 

www.thewardrobeensemble.com/

 

www.bit.ly/riotplay

 

 

 

 

Leave a Comment

Scene of the Titans

Cheesy dance routines

Karaoke Night

By Tim Foley

Faulty Productions

C Venue 34, Adam House, Chambers Street

TIM FOLEY, a member of the Belfast Titans RFC has penned this improbable account of how the famous rugby team was founded.  If you’re looking for innuendo and jokes about men playing games with odd-shaped balls you’ve come to the right place. There are some priceless one-liners in this sharp, witty script. Pay attention or you’ll miss some.

Loosely based on true events, the story unfolds with Terry – a regular in the Belfast gay bar, the Kremlin – telling a TV crew how he set up the team initially to impress Colin.  The goal of the makeshift team was to contest the Bingham World Cup in Dublin (the Emerald City) and do it all in just eight months.

Presented as a Broadway-style musical, each stage of story unfolds in song with some deliberately cheesy dance routines. Just one caveat, the dance scene of the song, My God is Gay may offend some folk. It didn’t advance the plot in any way to have one of the dancers appearing in cruciform. You have been warned.

Despite the name, Faulty Productions have managed to pull off (sorry it’s infectious) a hit show.  The mix of music, humour and pathos is just right with an upbeat and catchy score whose tunes that will haunt you for hours after the show.  This show should tour and consider releasing a CD of the soundtrack.

 www.sceneofthetitans.co.uk

**** Four Stars

Reviewed by David Kerr

Leave a Comment

« Newer Posts