Reviews & features: Theatre, Issue 664

85 reviews

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Sex emerging as theme running through 2010 Edinburgh Fringe theatre

13 Aug 2010

Steve Cramer's Festival blog

My first significant encounter this fringe, a week ago as I write, occurred at the door of the Traverse theatre with Jane Ellis, my esteemed fellow hack and wife of another much beloved colleague, Mark Fisher. As I made to enter the building, she seized…

Extinguish

13 Aug 20105 stars

One man stares down several abysses

Ezra LeBank is one of those people who it might genuinely be pretty entertaining to watch reading a phonebook: his voice is musical, finely-timbred, and he uses it like an instrument, and his physicality is awesomely controlled: muscles don’t move on…

Lorca is Dead

13 Aug 20103 stars

A lament in the key of surrealism

Belt Up’s eulogy for Federico Garcia Lorca is anything but a stately affair. So much happens, and continues happening, all at once, in such a short space of time, that it’s impossible to pay attention to it all, and frequently difficult to know what is…

Like You Were Before

13 Aug 20104 stars

Home movies and movies about home

Walking in off a dark, rainy Marchmont street to the dimly-lit cinematic wonderland of Alphabet Video after hours, the stage is already set for cosy personal revelation. Debbie Pearson, Canadian emigrée, and former Alphabet employee-turned playwright…

My Hamlet with Linda Marlowe

13 Aug 20104 stars

That’s the way to be or not to be

This reinterpretation of Hamlet is interesting on several levels beyond the marketing tagline (‘Linda Marlowe does Hamlet! With puppets!). Yes, it’s essentially a one-person show, with Marlowe doing all the voices, but then perhaps there’s an argument…

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Bang Bang You’re Dead

13 Aug 20102 stars

Update to 1999 version lacks emotional force of original

Writer William Mastrosimone and director Michael Fisher update their 1999 attempt to make sense of student Kip Kinkel’s killing spree at Thurston High School, Springfield, Oregon. This well-respected version lacks the emotional force attributed to the…

Lockerbie: Unfinished Business

12 Aug 20104 stars

Capturing the human story behind the headlines

The ongoing furore surrounding the early release on compassionate grounds of Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi – the only person convicted of the Lockerbie bombing – is almost a footnote to David Benson’s one-man show on the subject, and has very little…

While You Lie

12 Aug 20104 stars

Brave exploration of identity, the body and sexuality

Sam Holcroft’s first piece for the Traverse, Cockroach, explored the interplay of genetics and politics. In this new play the conversation is continued, but here more specifically in the realm of sexual politics. Ana (Claire Lams), a young emigrant…

Imperial Fizz

12 Aug 20104 stars

Fast-talking 1930s drawing room satire with a twist

Like the spirit of Oscar Wilde (all barbed wit and intricate language) filtered through a dark Lovecraftian sensibility, Imperial Fizz adds an extra ingredient to a classic recipe to delicious effect. Sophie Fletcher directs American Brian Parks…

Sticks, Stones, Broken Bones

12 Aug 20104 stars

Your plastic friends

There’s something delightfully primal about a shadow-and-light show; it makes us all into children again. This piece, a light comic novelty of the kind only seen in fringe festivals, is an exemplar of its kind, with the delicate touch required for a…

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Decky Does A Bronco

12 Aug 20104 stars

Winning revival of site-specific coming-of-age drama

Reviving its award-winning 2000 production of Douglas Maxwell’s site-specific play Grid Iron set up home in a Canonmills park. In a circular arena focused on a swingset David, a self-confessed ‘pathological reminiscer’, dredges up childhood…

Running on Air

12 Aug 20104 stars

Charming road show in a camper van

Your ticket for this site-specific show directs you to the rear of the Pleasance Courtyard, where a bright orange French VW camper van is parked in the corner. Writer and performer Laura Mugridge turns up in welly boots and a flowery summer dress…

Shakespeare the Man From Stratford

12 Aug 20104 stars

Spellbinding mix of thundering speeches and historical storytelling

Simon Callow’s Fringe show is a magnificent three-course banquet of storytelling that will prove irresistible to anyone with a passing interest in Shakespeare. Writer Jonathan Bate builds a biography of the Bard told around extracts from his works…

Up 'n' Under

12 Aug 20103 stars

Enjoyable revival of John Godber’s lively romp

Yorkshire playwright John Godber’s crowd-pleaser is celebrated with a new production marking its 25th anniversary, directed by the author himself and starring celebrity-turned-actress Abi Titmuss. It’s the story of five disillusioned working class lads…

The Fragility Of X

12 Aug 20104 stars

Blurring the boundaries of behaviour

You could be forgiven for assuming that a play about the relationship between a single mother and her autistic teenage son would be very worthy and pretty heavy going. The Fragility of X is those things (in a good way), but it’s also incredibly funny…

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Meow Meow - Feline Intimate

12 Aug 20104 stars

Cabaret will never be the same

The former star of La Clique, who counts David Bowie among her fans, strips away the mystique of cabaret in this riotous postmodern deconstruction of her art. That’s literally the case when during the first few minutes of the show she’s interrupted by…

Pedestrian

12 Aug 20103 stars

Fishy tale from an engaging performer

Tom Wainwright’s monologue, which he performs with simple but effective animation creates a man haunted by the surreal vision of a giant goldfish. Said Piscean apparition appears in a recurrent dream, while its narrator walks through the shopping…

Call Mr Robeson

12 Aug 20103 stars

Inspirational story of legendary singer

Having suffered a setback by losing his voice during the world premiere run of this show in Edinburgh three years ago, writer and star Tayo Aluko subsequently took it on tour around the world. This year the monodrama about the life of African-American…

The Fly in the Fridge

12 Aug 20104 stars

No flies on this

This is what the Fringe is all about. One ersatz stage, one stepladder, and one immensely-talented performer. Karin de la Penha enacts the traumatic true story of an Orphean journey through an underworld of heroin and prostitution. At times almost…

Plague! The Musical

12 Aug 20104 stars

Vibrant musical with sassy humour about a quest for fame and fortune

In this vibrant musical cute but clueless Clive travels to London to find fame and fortune, but gets waylaid by jack-the-lad Jerry and finds himself working for an undertaker instead. In a plot featuring elements of Dick Whittington, Oliver Twist and…

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Ray Bradbury’s 2116

12 Aug 20103 stars

A dreamy fairytale about the perils of creating perfection

Creepy. Macabre. Childish. Puppets are dangerously captivating. In this new musical by speculative fiction guru Ray Bradbury Mr Marionette leads a dreamy gothic fairytale about the perils of creating perfection. The production, masterminded by…

The Master and Margarita

12 Aug 20102 stars

Atmospheric and exciting, yet a difficult to follow and rough performance

Staging as dense and convoluted a novel as Bulgakov’s masterpiece in 70 minutes necessitates ellipsis – so much, in this version from Oxford University Dramatic Society, as to make it very difficult to follow. The set is atmospheric and exciting, the…

Two

12 Aug 20103 stars

Uneven play about a succession of couples packs a powerful punch

Two frantic, versatile actors play a succession of straight couples – in love, in hate, in cynicism – who come into a pub in the north of England. Through it all runs the relationship of the landlady and her husband, a dark, unspooling thread strung…

Vieux Carré

12 Aug 2010

The Wooster Group returns to Edinburgh with this typically inventive new take on Tennessee Williams autobiographical play set in a dilapidated boarding house in the French Quarter of New Orleans. The production draws on the improvisational films of…

Expectations

12 Aug 20103 stars

An earnest, intelligent, and honest piece

The daily struggles of raising a disabled child are explored here through two couples who react in very different ways. This is an earnest piece, intelligently and honestly delivered by the cast, though some overplaying and the odd incongruous scene at…