Posts tagged ‘pleasance’

2 September, 2010

Tea Dance ****

Pleasance Dome, 7 – 30 August 2010

Reviewed for the British Theatre Guide

Marvel as performers pay and an audience watches them for free, inverting the traditional roles of audience and performer! See real food and alcohol consumed live on stage! Stroll right across the performance space and personally influence the direction of the performance! Is this the future of avant-garde dance?

No. Not everything listed in the Festival brochure is experimental and boundary-breaking, and thank goodness for that; sometimes you need an hour to relax and enjoy yourself without worrying about being challenged for the sake of it. Tea Dance is a gentle introduction to a couple of simple ballroom dance steps, with two genial instructors and a break halfway through for cocktails and canapés. Just the ticket.

The dais in the middle of the Pleasance Dome’s very public Palm Court feels at first like an overly exposed place to take those first tentative steps of the foxtrot, but concentrating on footwork and rhythm makes the ‘audience’ easy to ignore or forget entirely. The steps are surprisingly simple to pick up, and the instructors are responsive, not to mention full of ballroom facts – be sure to pick their brains in the cocktail break to get the most out of the experience.

Need a second opinion?

25 August, 2010

Maff Brown – Looking After Lesal **

Pleasance Courtyard, 4 – 30 August 2010

Reviewed for The List (issue 664)

Some funny things have happened to Maff Brown. Funny, that is, in the way that you probably had to be there to appreciate fully; like his dad Lesal reacting to being widowed by moving to Korea and Skyping 23-year-old Ukrainian girls. Thinking his anecdotes wittier than they are, Brown just tells them straight and neglects to say anything amusing about them.

Need a second opinion?

23 August, 2010

Others ****

Pleasance Courtyard, 4 – 29 August 2010

Reviewed for The List (issue 665)

Jemma and Kylie, two thirds of the Paper Birds, perch in an armchair and speculate about Nazim, an Iranian woman Jemma’s been corresponding with by post. Maryam, the third Bird, plays Nazim, updating her performance to reflect her colleagues’ conclusions. Though based at first entirely on Nazim’s own words, the armchair pair’s enthusiastic deductions ramify farther and farther from the facts, bombarding Maryam with illogical abusive husbands and suicide bombings as she vainly attempts to draw attention to their fallacies.

Not only is this intensely comical – a rare achievement for a verbatim play – it’s also a playful dissection of the Birds’ own unconscious assumptions and prejudices, and of the conflict at the heart of all documentary and verbatim theatre: the one between entertaining an audience and being faithful to the source. And that’s just one scene.

What’s truly impressive about Others is its use of such inward-looking subject matter to interrogate a much bigger issue: the national media, which face essentially the same dilemma as documentary theatre, and seem (the Birds suggest) to be veering the wrong way.

Devised by Maryam Hamidi, Jemma McDonnell and Kylie Walsh

Crew includes Ellen Dowell (set design) and Marec Joyce (lighting design)

Need a second opinion?

18 August, 2010

Terry Alderton ****

Pleasance AceDome, 4 – 29 August 2010

Reviewed for The List (issue 665)

Watching Alderton is like channel-flipping between several different acts and finding that, by a million-to-one fluke, the composite experience makes perfect sense. ‘You can’t please everybody all of the time,’ chides his Gollum-like alter ego; but with observational material, characters, sound effects, impressions and music all vying for the mic, there’s probably a joke here for all tastes.

Need a second opinion?

11 August, 2010

Poland 3 Iran 2 ***

Promo image for Poland 3 Iran 2

Promo image for Poland 3 Iran 2, courtesy of the EdFringe Media Office

Pleasance @ Thistle Street Bar, 4 – 28 August 2010

Reviewed for The List (issue 664)

Iran’s narrow defeat at the hands of Poland in the 1978 World Cup serves more as punctuation than as the main text of this lecture-cum-barroom shaggy dog story. Lecture because its main visual element is a slideshow; barroom tale because it’s told in a tiny pub, as the bartender wipes glasses.

For Mehrdad Seyf (representing Iran), football is intertwined with politics. For his counterpart Chris (representing Poland; he’s Essex-born but his dad’s Polish), it’s something to obsess over. For both, the relationship between Iran and Poland has affected their family history.

The resulting I-go-you-go slideshow oscillates between the fascinating, the revealing, the confessional and the merely mildly interesting; and there are some lo-res clips of the match in question, as well. While both men are engaging speakers, and the venue encourages intimacy, the show’s demands on its audience are chiefly intellectual: to take in facts and trivia, and only to respond emotionally at infrequent moments (the tale of Mehrdad’s uncle, in particular). The highly emotive closing image therefore leaves us wondering whether we’ve missed something vital.

Need a second opinion?

21 August, 2009

Oh, My Green Soap Box ***

Pleasance Courtyard, 5 – 31 August 2009

Reviewed for The List (issue 637)

Lucy Foster aims to illuminate why we haven’t yet pulled our collective finger out and saved the planet. We get sidetracked by the trials of everyday living and loving just as her proposed game-changing environmental campaign gets sidetracked by one-night stands and dressing up. Her one-woman show is whimsical yet heartfelt, though more bemusing than amusing.

Written by Lucy Foster

Cast includes Lucy Foster (herself)

Need a second opinion?

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.

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

Need a second opinion?