Posts Tagged Edinburgh Fringe

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
Date     15-24 August
Time     17:30
Duration     1 hour
Suitability     18+
Warnings     Strong language.
Country of Origin     England




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: Funny Stuff for Happy People

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



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

King Lear

King Lear

Act One

Zoo Monkey House, Venue 124

0131 662 6892


This intense modern adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s bloodiest tragedies brings the events surrounding Lear and his daughters forward to a feral, post-apocalyptic Britain.


King Lear

These eclipses in the sun portend no good to us…

Lear gives up power to his two thuggish daughters, Regan and Goneril, while spurning his favourite daughter Cordelia who declines to flatter him. Shorn of its Tudor garb, the brutality of this tragedy becomes much clearer to the modern audience.  There are some nice modern touches; messages now come via smartphone and pistols replace blades.

This tale of madness, treachery and bad faith is powerful stuff; a million miles away from Shakespeare’s boring image. Be warned, though, this is not for the fainthearted. The torture and gouging out of the ex-policeman Gloucester’s eyes is truly shocking. It’s a flawless performance from a top class cast.

**** Four Stars

David Kerr

Leave a Comment



Cast of Metamorphoses leafleting on the Royal Mile.



Fables from Ovid

Venue 53, The Space at Surgeon’s Hall

Hecate Theatre Company

What could be more innocent?  Four excited boarding schoolgirls can’t sleep as they await a debutant ball the next day.  They are about to become women.

The stern matron is persuaded to tell the girls a story.  She retells the old story of Arachne, whose weaving skill was so fine that she provoked the wrath of the Goddess Minerva, who turned her into a spider.  Using their bedlinen as props the girls compete to tell even more hair-raising tales from Ovid. The subjects of these stories find that their actions have dire consequences. If you don’t know the stories, you’re in for a big shock.  Prepare to have your spine chilled.

**** Four Stars.

David Kerr

Leave a Comment

Scottish Folk Roots and Offshoots

Scottish Roots and Offshoots

The Royal Oak Bar

Infirmary Street


SCOTLAND’S music has travelled all over the world; toAustralia,New Zealand,Canada, but most of all toAmerica.  Scots settled abroad for many reasons; poverty and religious or political persecution at home, or just in search of a new life.  Wherever they settled, they brought their music with them. That’s why one of the songs sung for generations in theAppalachian mountainsmentions the River Clyde.  It’s a folk memory.  Once there, the music met with other strains, mutated a bit and came back here.

This trend is epitomised by the Singer/Songwriter David Ferrard.  AnEdinburghlad himself, his mum is American, and he spent most of his summers as a young man over there, picking ups songs as he went along.

This comes out strongly in his routine which draws together songs from Robert Burns excoriating the politicians of his day as a Parcel of Rogues, romantic Jabobite songs dedicated to the Young Chevalier, Black American freedom songs from the slave era and some of his own composition.  Love songs, sad songs, rude songs and silly songs.  They’re all here.

Ferrard engages with his audience in an understated way that draws them out into singing choruses and participating in ‘hand-dancing’. More than half the audience had seen previous performances and come back for more. What better recommendation can a man have?

Leave a Comment



Adapted by Elton Townend Jones

Dyad Productions

Directed by Guy Masterson

ASSEMBLY @ George Square (Three)

FOLLOWING its success with I, Elizabeth in Fringe 2010, Dyad Productions breaks new ground with this hugely entertaining adaptation of Mark Twain’s Diaries of Adam and Eve. Rebecca Vaughan’s Eve, is bright, chatty and inquisitive.  She experiments with naming things, developing language and engaging with the not-too bright, not-very-talkative, indolent creature she encounters in the Garden of Eden.  She’s not sure if he’s a man or a reptile in this, the original story of human relationships.

This is the ultimate story of how those little and great misunderstandings between men and women have been around since the beginning of time. This is one to see with your husband, wife, or significant other.

***** Five Stars

Reviewed by David Kerr

Leave a Comment

DUST Scargill’s dreams and reality. Britain 1984-2011

Advertising Dust

Dust poster carrying CounterCulture UK ***** star verdict.

DUST  Scargill’s dreams and reality. Britain1984-2011

Quidem Productions

The New Town Theatre, Freemasons’ Hall, 96 George Street Venue 7

NOTHING divided British society in the mid-1980s more than the bitter Coal mineworkers’ strike of 1984.  As in 1926, a confrontation between a charismatic leader of the miners’ union and the elected government, brought poverty and misery to dozens of mining communities all overBritain.  Margaret Thatcher, who became Prime Minister in 1979, was determined to break the power of the miners’ union which had forced a previous Conservative government out of office in 1974.  Ironically, the Miners’ union played a part in bringing Thatcher to power when she succeeded Ted Heath as Tory leader after his electoral defeat in 1974.  She determined to break the power of the miners and their famous ‘flying pickets’.

Scargill echoes another Arthur, AJ Cook who led the miners to defeat in the 1926 general strike with the famous slogan, ‘Not a minute on the day, not a penny off the pay’. Cook, a former Baptist preacher, died at the age of 47 in 1931.

This is the background to Ade Morris’s play. Arthur (Michael Strobel) and his publisher Barbara (Lucinda Curtis) are discussing his forthcoming biography of his hero AJ Cook when news breaks that his old nemesis, Margaret Thatcher, has died.  Arthur is expecting a visit from Lawrence, one of his old militant flying pickets.

InDoncaster, Chris (John Sackville), a retrained former miner tells his wife Maggie (Alice Bernard) that he is facing redundancy from his health care job.

At times witty and at other times deeply moving, the play probes the depths of each character’s soul.  Strobil’s Scargill is convinced that he was absolutely right and that history has vindicated him. Other characters illustrate the human cost of the miners’ struggle.

Simple staging means that a lot more rests on the actors to project the right image and not distract the audience. This experienced cast carry this task off easily. John Sackville stood out.  With a change of coat, stance and accent he switched from a preaching, revivalist-style Welsh miners’ leader to a defeated, downcast ex-miner fromDoncasterand back again.

If you’re looking for an agitprop hagiography of Arthur Scargill as champion of the working classes, you’ll be disappointed.  This is Arthur Scargill and the miners strike, warts and all.

Reviewed by David Kerr

***** Five Stars

Comments (2)

Older Posts »