Posts tagged ‘gilded balloon’

25 August, 2010

Felicity Ward Reads From The Book Of Moron ***

Felicity Ward Reads From The Book Of Moron

Felicity Ward Reads From The Book Of Moron. Image courtesy of the Gilded Balloon Press Office

Gilded Balloon Teviot, 4 – 30 August 2010

Reviewed for The List (issue 665)

Being less a ‘moron’ (her word) than a victim of circumstance, Felicity Ward has to inflate mere embarrassing mishaps into excruciating humiliations to get her desired reaction which, with some neat turns of phrase, she does. Aware that her brave but scatological finale isn’t everyone’s ideal takeaway memory, she buffers it with a song, proving storytelling’s her forte, not music.

Need a second opinion?

23 August, 2010

Stripped ****

Hannah Chalmers in Stripped

Hannah Chalmers in Stripped. Image courtesy of the Gilded Balloon Press Office

Gilded Balloon Teviot, 6 – 30 August 2010

Reviewed for The List (issue 665)

Hannah Chalmers proves herself a versatile performer in this one-woman show, dropping comfortably into an array of archetypes: the naïve first time stripper, the lecherous club manager, the nervous, kind-hearted client. Chalmers seems to acknowledge that audiences don’t shock easily; her exploration of her former profession’s institutionalised exploitation of performers and clients is insightful, not salacious.

Written by Hannah Chalmers

Need a second opinion?

23 August, 2010

The Door **

The Door

The Door. Image courtesy of the EdFringe Media Office

Gilded Balloon Teviot, 7 – 29 August 2010

Reviewed for The List (issue 664)

Two men argue in spiteful spirals about responsibility and religion as a door bangs offstage. Each has his own particular brand of self-righteous posturing; both are equally grating. The outcome of the debate is unexpected without being contrived, and is delivered more theatrically than the rest of the play, but who cares about the outcome when neither party engages our empathy?

Need a second opinion?

18 August, 2010

2-Man No-Show **

Isaac Kessler and Ken Hall in 2-Man No-Show

Isaac Kessler and Ken Hall in 2-Man No-Show. Image courtesy of the Gilded Balloon Press Office

Gilded Balloon Teviot, 4 – 29 August 2010

Reviewed for The List (issue 665)

This Canadian duo will make you laugh, but not in a way you’ll thank them for. They sensibly wring dry the comedic potential of their distinguishing features (one’s Jewish, one has scoliosis) at the earliest opportunity, but too many of the subsequent skits are simply overlong re-enactments of famous scenes from 90s screen blockbusters, with gurning in place of gags.

Written by Ken Hall and Isaac Kessler

Crew includes Mark Andrada (director)

Cast includes Ken Hall and Isaac Kessler

16 August, 2010

The Oxford Imps

The Oxford Imps

The Oxford Imps. Image courtesy of the Gilded Balloon Press Office

Gilded Balloon Teviot, 4 – 30 August 2010

Reviewed for the Oxford Times

The Oxford Imps are more peppy by far than anyone has any right to be first thing in the afternoon at the Fringe, where venues routinely programme work well into the small hours of the morning. The success of their show — now a staple of the Festival — depends on it: improvised comedy relies on the contributions and collective goodwill of the audience. This year’s troupe have, therefore, made it their mission to perform so energetically that it motivates not only themselves, but an entire packed auditorium as well.

As always, the whole troupe disco dances with abandon between games. The games themselves are consistently cut short by compère Tom just as they peak, meaning that some skits end before they’ve given all they have to give, but ensuring that onstage energy maintains a relentless high.

Though he carries out this particular duty with a practised sense for pace and comic timing, Tom’s personal brand of enthusiasm quickly begins to grate. As if endeavouring to outdo every one of his colleagues in rousing the audience, he strides restlessly back and forth while introducing each game, jigs distractingly at the side of the stage while each game proceeds, and has a tendency to shout rather than project. Overall, his manner is manic rather than simply excitable, and exhausting rather than energising.

This year’s selection of improvisation games tends heavily towards the musical. The Imps treat us to an improvised charity single based on an issue that slightly irritates the audience, a Motown-style ballad based around names shouted out by the audience, and the pièce de resistance, a 15-minute improvised musical.

Improvising in rhyme, to music, is a proven crowd-pleaser and, due to its challenging nature, something of a hallmark of prowess in improv comedy; but the Imps have little left to prove in that area, and a more balanced programme would be a better showcase of the ensemble’s talents.

16 August, 2010

Cirque de Legume **

Cirque de Legume

Cirque de Legume. Image courtesy of the EdFringe Media Office

Gilded Balloon Teviot, 6 – 30 August 2010

Reviewed for The List (issue 665)

The most impressive feat achieved in this send-up of circus performance is training the audience, Pavlov-style, to applaud whenever the phrase ‘How ‘bout that?’ is uttered – whether it follows a ‘levitating’ radish or an onion ‘striptease’. The two red-nosed clowns commit so fully to gross-out, chewed-food spectacle and clumsy sleight of hand that they must be aiming to be ‘so bad it’s good’. Unfortunately they aren’t quite that bad.

Need a second opinion?

11 August, 2010

Celia Pacquola – Flying Solos ****

Celia Pacquola in Flying Solos

Celia Pacquola in Flying Solos. Image courtesy of the EdFringe Media Office

Gilded Balloon Teviot, 4 – 30 August 2010

Reviewed for The List (issue 664)

If performing stand-up is flirting with humiliation, Celia Pacquola takes humiliation home to meet her mum: having never learned the piano, she ends Flying Solos by attempting a virtuoso piece. She prefaces the attempt by effusively recounting previous ‘solos’, moments when, intentionally or otherwise, she stood out. A buoyant performance, surprising and cathartic for all involved.

Need a second opinion?

12 August, 2009

The Rap Guide to Evolution ****

Gilded Balloon Teviot Wine Bar, 5 – 31 August 2009

Reviewed for the British Theatre Guide

Baba Brinkman believes. Believes Creationism is “dead wrong”; believes the whole human race share common ancestors in Africa, and that therefore he can legitimately call himself African; believes that rap is an appropriate vehicle for explaining Charles Darwin’s Theory of Natural Selection and its many derivatives. You can see it in his eyes, and in the earnest way he bounces on the balls of his feet when he assures us a point is “true, true, true!”

Here’s the justification: the weirdness that is a rap show about evolutionary biology is like the weirdness that is the first appearance of a random genetic mutation. If the mutation turns out to beneficial, it should survive to the next generation; if the show turns out to be popular, Brinkman should be back with another next year (and possibly get laid into the bargain). If not…

The show covers a vast tract of material, explaining natural selection in the first ten minutes and proceeding swiftly onto evolutionary psychology, social Darwinism, cultural creationism and, most importantly, the consequences of said theories for the way we choose to live our lives. Brinkman’s many personas, from gangsta rapper to pot-smoking hippie via various members of his own extended family, keep the material from becoming too dry or lofty. And while the choruses in some of the early numbers feel a bit rhythmically squiffy, his delivery flows smoothly and clearly (even when faced with unwieldy scientific terms like “eukaryotic”).

All the science in the show has been peer-reviewed and guaranteed accurate (a condition set by the funding body). And now the reviews are rolling in, the artistic aspect is peer-reviewed as well – part of a creative process Brinkman suggests is itself analogous to natural selection, as he repeats over and over in the penultimate number: “Performance, feedback, revision”.

Written by Baba Brinkman

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.