Posts tagged ‘fest’

16 August, 2010

The Vanishing Horizon ****

The Zoo, 8 – 27 August 2010

Review for The List (issue 664)

Did someone accuse Idle Motion of being one-hit wonders? Because as if in response to such an accusation, the company has recreated the success of its 2009 smash Borges and I with near-scientific precision. Recreated, that is, as opposed to surpassed.

Make no mistake, The Vanishing Horizon is still one of the most compelling shows you’re likely to see at this year’s Fringe: an exquisite weaving-together of music, text, movement and design in which each element supports and bolsters every other. But the pattern of the weave remains exactly the same as for Borges and I: suitcases replace books, pioneering aviatrixes replace Jorge Luis Borges and the heartache of an absent parent replaces that of impending sight loss, but the proportions remain comfortably unchanged.

Perhaps there’s nothing wrong with sticking to a winning formula, and winning this formula certainly is: the luggage-based set pieces alone are so delightfully innovative that some spark spontaneous applause when deployed. Surely, though, innovation of this calibre could be put to better use than reliving past successes.

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22 August, 2009

anomie ***

Zoo Southside, 7 – 31 August 2009

Reviewed for the British Theatre Guide

You can rely on Precarious to deliver a technical spectacle. Prerecorded and rotoscoped footage of the six performers is as crucial to the action as the performers themselves, and the two often seamlessly combine, with the performers partially hidden behind flatscreen TVs that display their obscured limbs or heads like a technicolour X-ray. Synchronising between live and prerecorded movement requires the cast to be masters of timing, and so unison dance sequences are flawless, performed as if by afterimages of the same body.

But unlike Precarious’ masterpiece The Factory, anomie – which follows six social misfits living in the same apartment building – lacks strong thematic justification for its technical wizardry, so while the integration of screen and performer is an undeniable triumph of pinpoint timing and rehearsal, it can also feel like a gimmick, style divorced from content. The company’s other speciality, dance and physical theatre, is anomie’s strong point, remaining fresh and engaging throughout while also building clear (if not always subtle) characterisation, and making inventive use of mattresses as crashmats, scenery and allegory; though there are too few of the haunting tableaux that made The Factory so memorable.

Written by Precarious

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15 August, 2009

Don Quixote – Theatre of the Blind ***

The Bongo Club, 5 – 22 August 2009

Reviewed for the British Theatre Guide

What we call madness is just a different way of perceiving reality; blindfolded, we’re able to ‘see’ the world as the chivalry-obsessed Don Quixote (Sunny Moodie) sees it. If he claims to espy a castle, who are we to argue? If he says old Lorenzo’s daughter is the fairest maiden in all the world, how can we attest any different?

Muckle Roe’s production tickles three of our remaining five senses (sensibly steering clear of taste); armour rattles, a horse’s tail flicks at our faces, the odour of cowardly squire Sancho’s … fear … makes us wish we hadn’t turned up, and hissing sounds, screams and the smell of smoke combine into a chillingly convincing torture scene.

Charlie Ward’s adaptation specifically nominates the church as the villain of the piece, rather than simply the general tendency of people towards cruelty. While this diminishes the scope of Cervantes’ moral somewhat, combining with the blindfolds to absolve the audience of any complicity with the Don’s tormentors, it also helps tighten the plot to fit the 65-minute running time, and to provide a more visceral ending than Cervantes’ merely sobering one.

Written by Charlie Ward after Miguel de Cervantes

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13 August, 2009

Chronicles of Long Kesh ****

Assembly @ Assembly Hall, 6 – 31 August 2009

Reviewed for The List (issue 636)

A cappella Motown numbers provide an unexpectedly effective accompaniment to Martin Lynch’s history of the infamous Irish prison camp. The episodic style allows the well-drilled ensemble to cover decades of Troubles – from internment through hunger strikes to the camp’s closure in 2000 – in two furiously paced hours.

Written by Martin Lynch

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7 August, 2009

Who to follow at Fringe 09

Written for The Collective Review, 7 August 2009

If you can’t make it to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this year, because a banker vaporised your life savings, or because National Express couldn’t be bothered to drive you up the East Coast, or because you usually live in Edinburgh and have gone on holiday to Inverness for the month, never fear!

You can recreate the experience of battling your way along the Royal Mile, accosted every other step by acts and PRs waggling flyers or props or parts of their anatomy in an effort to get your attention, without even leaving your desk.

Everyone who’s anyone at the Fringe this year is on Twitter, so add this little lot, feed the TweetDeck updates through your screen, smart phone or VirtuSpecs* and enjoy the onslaught in the comforting knowledge that, unlike those of us who actually need to get from one end of the actual Royal Mile to the other in a hurry, you can de-inconvenience yourself at the touch of a button.

Will incessantly plug their own shows, often providing the Twitter usernames of their acts for you to add to your Fringe Friend Frenzy.
Traverse Theatre – @traversetheatre
Assembly Venues – @Assembly09
Pleasance Courtyard/Dome (comedy programme only) – @PleasanceComedy
Underbelly – @UNDERBELLY09
Gilded Balloon Teviot – @Gildedballoon
Bedlam Theatre – @bedlamfringe
The Hive – @TheHiveFringe09


They’re already calling it Twitticism – reviewing shows in 140 characters or less.  I’ve tried it.  It’s very difficult to do the show justice unless the … tweview … is backed up by a full length piece elsewhere in print on online.

@EdTwinge is, as far as I can tell, endorsed and possibly set up by the Fringe Society (Professor Ed Hegg of @TheFringeThing has certainly been plugging it for a few days now), and promises a “Realtime, Twitter-based, crowd-sourced Edinburgh Fringe review service”.  Hashtag your tweets #edtwinge to become part of the crowd they’re sourcing from.  Could prove interesting, if only as an experiment; watch this space.

The List (a print listings and reviews magazine, Edinburgh and Glasgow’s equivalent of Time Out, and first to coin the hashtag #twitreview) – @thelistmagazine

Fest (A5 print magazine, festival-only, affiliated with the University of Edinburgh) – @festmag

ThreeWeeks and Broadway Baby (daily or thereabouts A3 freesheets; ThreeWeeks is staffed by students, who are given professional journalism training, then unleashed on the Fringe) – @ThreeWeeks, @broadwaybabycom

FringeGuru (a guide to the festival, and progenitors of the iFringe iPhone app) – @FringeGuru

Official Bodies
Edinburgh Festival itself tweets as @edinburghfest – mostly it just aggregates news about the festivals.
From within the Festival as a whole, the Festival Fringe also tweets at @EdinburghFringe, providing gossip, news and dates for your diary.
And within that, the self-explanatory Five Pound Fringe strand tweets at @fivepoundfringe.
Finally, Professor Ed Hegg tweets all things Fringe along with his attempts to crack the mysterious oviform Fringe Thing, at @TheFringeThing.

*Reference to future technology included to increase article’s long-term relevance, writer’s perceived foresightedness.

21 August, 2008

Padamme, Padamme ****

<a href="http://, 11 – 23 August 2008

Reviewed for The List, issue 611

Monolingual Brits will inevitably miss some of Teatr Ecce Homo’s captivating ensemble sequences while reading the (frequently frozen) surtitles, in this adaptation of Nobel Prize-winner Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn’s Cancer Ward. Fluid movement work grants the terminally ill characters – played by a largely teenage cast – a kind of dignified grace, as they come to terms with their conditions through denial, philosophy or love. Uplifting and heartbreaking.

Written by Teatr Ecce Homo after Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn

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14 August, 2008

The Rebel Cell ****

Pleasance 10Dome, 30 July – 24 August 2008

Reviewed for The List, issue 610

Rap is the language of rebellion in Babasword Productions’ dystopian futuristic England. The central dichotomy – change from within the system versus rebellion against the system – is essentially a very simple one, which is dissected down to molecular level halfway through this 70-minute rap battle. Occasional descents into un-theatrical ‘lecture rap’ are easily excused by Babasword’s extraordinary freestyle poetry.

Written by Baba Brinkman and MC Dizraeli

Cast includes Baba Brinkman and MC Dizraeli

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14 August, 2008

Reasonable Doubt ****

Assembly @ George Street, 1 – 25 August 2008

Reviewed for the The List, issue 610

Two former jurors reunite in a hotel room two years after a controversial hung verdict in this smart two-hander from Australian playwright Suzie Miller. Both harbour guilty secrets, and sex – initially top priority – is soon shelved in favour of a ‘striptease of truth’.

Miller’s script maintains a sense of climax throughout, skilfully teasing out revelation after revelation with barely a wasted word. Emma Jackson and Peter Phelps – both TV personalities in their native Australia – more than do justice to the text, but Jackson’s performance as the energetic Anna is so captivating that she overshadows her co-star, making his few flaws seem deeper by comparison.

Phelps plays the dour, mournful Mitchell with subtle intensity. His guilt stews silently and ominously, until either he chooses to release it in a measured stream or it explodes violently and uncontrollably. But, as the play progresses, it demands more and more frequent rapid emotional gear changes and Jackson is simply more adept at these than Phelps. She bubbles with a kind of eager remorsefulness that escapes in heartfelt, confessional waves. Both performances reveal important angles of the core theme – the guilty compulsion to confess – but where Phelps is merely compelling, Jackson is enchanting.

Written by Suzie Miller

Crew includes Guy Masterson (director) and Suzi Pack (assistant director)

Cast includes Emma Jackson (Anna) and Peter Phelps (Mitchell)

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7 August, 2008

Mommie and the Minister ****

Smirnoff Underbelly, 31 July – 24 August 2008

Reviewed for The List, issue 609

Gerard Anthony has created a monster. The titular Mommie of this Hammer Horror homage is part drag queen, part Methodist preacher, part Bride of Frankenstein. Anthony’s range runs from shrill unctuousness through pious browbeating all the way to sinister guttural Satan-zombie. He is the campest, most overblown feature of a play that’s clearly aiming to be the campest, most overblown thing at the Fringe.

Mommie keeps her children, Edmund and Harriet Lovely, in the basement. There they have spent 20 years waiting to be judged obedient and respectful enough to meet the mysterious Minister. The inevitable cries of ‘Too soon!’ – from the same people who hoover up exposé after exposé on Josef Fritzl’s secret basement family – are only the beginning of their story. Guilty laughs, shocked gasps and outraged knuckle-biting will follow every deliberately (and exhaustingly) overacted exclamation.

From the twins’ obscene games (‘Find the Bean’) to the predictably gory dénouement, every aspect of the play is shamelessly calculated to shock and offend. Like its source material, the show is unafraid to be what it is: a barefaced challenge to the kind of society that bans ice-cream van chimes for being too loud, or writes stiff letters to newspapers about shows like this.

Written by Sisters Grimm

Crew includes Declan Greene (director), Claire Glenn and Charlotte Strantzen (producers) and Ellen Gales (production and technical manager)

Cast includes Ash Flanders (Edmund Lovely), Matt Hickey (Kitty), Gillian Perry (Harriet Lovely) and Gerard Williams (Mommie)

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7 August, 2008

Auditorium *

C Chambers Street, 30 July – 25 August 2008

Reviewed for The List, issue 609

When Guy finds an audience in his bookshop, he kicks off an ambitious but fatally flawed experiment, which marries farce with audience interaction. The best laughs in this overlong show come not from the script but from devil-may-care audience members.

Written by Three’s Company

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