Reviews & features: Theatre, Suzanne Black

67 reviews

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Sophie Willan: Novice Detective

14 Aug 20142 stars

A mish-mash of theatrical narrative and comedy skits at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Sophie Willan presents a theatrical hour about the search for her estranged father. The detective genre is her theme, and the opening set-piece is a campy nod to the genre from Inspector Clouseau to the board-game Cluedo. After a promising opening…

Esio Trot

16 Aug 20134 stars

Delightful Roald Dahl adaptation by Cambridge students

Roald Dahl’s tale of two lonely people brought together by a tortoise was adapted for the stage by Cambridge University’s Ryan Ammar and brought to Edinburgh by the Uni’s ADC Theatre. The script bolsters the slight story by amping up the villainy and…

I Believe in Unicorns

9 Aug 20133 stars

Storytelling with a serious message

The former children's laureate and writer of over 100 books, Michael Morpurgo returns to two of his recurring themes – the horrors of wartime and the majesty of the equine breed – in this 2005 story about the importance of storytelling. The action takes…

When I Grow Up

2 Aug 20133 stars

Heartfelt piece of comedic theatre with plenty of chuckles along the way

Juliette Burton asks the question of how our chosen professions contribute to our identities in this one-woman show about her not-always-successful career aspirations. Taking us back to her childhood with an aura of Crayola whimsy she walks us through…

Waiting for Stanley

17 Aug 20124 stars

Keep calm and carry on clowning

A woman with a red clown nose waits on a luggage-filled railway platform for her wartime sweetie to return. As her wait grows, she raids the suitcases around her, each contributing props to a captivating series of tales drawn from the experiences of…

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Simple Matters

16 Aug 20122 stars

Clowning around becomes a comedy of errors despite clear talent

This international troop of clowns present mime and physical comedy and, though skilled, grossly misread the audience to a less than comedic effect. Relying on 'volunteers', interaction that could work with a boozy, up-for-it Saturday night crowd comes…

Thread

11 Aug 20124 stars

Poignant site-specific evocation of life and loss

After the success of last year’s Allotment, Nutshell Theatre returns with an immersive evocation of nostalgia, memory and love as the forces that bind us together in the second part of their thematic trilogy. The audience is invited to the Burntisland…

Boy in a Dress

10 Aug 20124 stars

Thought-provoking and fabulous drag-related cabaret

Androgynous, third-gendered, ginger beauty La JohnJoseph makes a show-and-tell of the idea that all identity is a performance, and none more obviously than that which occurs on the stage, with his conflagration of gender theory, drag performance and…

Blake’s Doors

10 Aug 20122 stars

Existential grappling that overreaches its capabilities

Revolving Shed, from the London School of Economics, offers a bleak meditation on the human condition. A neat framing device sets up the idea of human life being something between everything and nothing, existing in the momentous and the mundane before…

Hearts on Fire

9 Aug 20123 stars

Immersive recreation of 2009 sweat lodge deaths

The Fringe guide makes this sound like a participatory event, but it's not any more so than any other performance. It is immersive, though, with a setting inside a heated sweat lodge at the top of C's most recently commandeered venue. Recreating the…

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The Trench

6 Aug 20125 stars

Pitch-perfect evocation of the theatre of war

Les Enfants Terribles have built a formidable reputation for playfully macabre tales mixing drama, music and inventive staging to create gothic fantasies reminiscent of Tim Burton’s oeuvre. The latest from the company’s writer Oliver Lansley draws on…

The Girl With No Heart

6 Aug 20122 stars

Children's storybook on loss of innocence fails to come to life

The Girl with No Heart is based on a short story book written by performer Louisa Ashton. A children’s parable about the loss of innocence, Sparkle and Dark’s Travelling Players use puppetry, silhouettes and origami to narrate the tale of a girl who…

Kemble’s Riot

2 Aug 20123 stars

Political intrigue with superbly engaging performance from Richard Hansell

Kemble's Riot recreates 66 nights of rioting in 1809 when the Covent Garden Theatre increased its ticket prices. With the audience drafted in as the rioters, split pro- or anti- theatre manager John Kemble, sitting on the fence is not an…

Hotel Methuselah

23 Aug 20114 stars

Stunning and inventive multimedia production

In a war-time hotel night porter Harry delves into his memories in this tense, mysterious multimedia work from Imitating the Dog. A frame around the stage offers limited views of the actors who work in tandem with pre-filmed dialogue and supplementary…

Unanswered, We Ride

23 Aug 20113 stars

An emotional portrait of grief

Joe Tippett and Martha Wollner take on multiple roles to flank Joy Barrett’s journey as bereaved mother Reese in a portrait of all-consuming, selfish grief. Despite one jarring attempt at an Irish accent, all aspects collide to create an engrossing…

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Cul-De-Sac

23 Aug 20113 stars

Capable garden-fence comedy

Scripted by Matthew Osborn, this natty little three-hander (Alan Francis, Mike Hayley, Toby Longworth) relocates The ’burbs to Middle England. Taking the tested trope of a seeming idyll masking a sinister reality, the deviant Tony Deveraux rules the…

Silken Veils

23 Aug 20113 stars

Tenderly performed memories

We join a Persian woman (Leila Ghaznavi) as she freaks out about her impending nuptials. Using puppetry, silhouette-work and animation to complement live action we are taken on a journey through her memories of Iran, suffused with the poetry of Rumi. A…

Beowulf – A Thousand Years Of Baggage

17 Aug 20114 stars

Postmodern interaction with a classic

As Beowulf was pitted against the manbeast Grendel in the Old English epic, NY theatre company Banana Bag & Bodice pits Beowulf the man against Beowulf the text in this clever, stylish interaction with a classic. Seemingly set in a jazz club, three…

The Dark Philosophers

17 Aug 20114 stars

Dark Welsh classic given a postmodern twist

Death is no impairment to being on stage (as being a goat is no impairment to being a stagehand) in this darkly comic delight from National Theatre Wales and Told by an Idiot. Weaving together two novellas from Welsh English-language writer Gwyn Thomas…

Medea's Children

17 Aug 20113 stars

A cautionary tale for divorcing parents

Lung Ha’s Theatre Company is known for its use of performers with learning difficulties. Teaming up with Swedish company Unga Klara they bring us an exploration of the psychic trauma felt by children affected by divorce. The script, originally…

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The Time Out

17 Aug 20113 stars

Interactive theatre with a motivational aspect

An interactive piece for 12 players who get to don swimming caps (with headphones inside) and become a water polo team. If this fills you with trepidation, it’s meant to. The focus shifts between Ken, the cliché-spouting coach with motivational tidbits…

King Lear

14 Aug 20113 stars

Engaging spectacle gives Shakespeare a Jingju interpretation at 2011 EIF

Two artforms, alike in their lengthy traditions and explorations of familial and martial subjects but divergent in their aesthetic, are brought together by their areas of commonality. Wu Hsing-kuo (Contemporary Legend Theatre) adapts aspects of…

Free Time Radical

14 Aug 20112 stars

Wryly humorous evocation of mid-life crisis falls short of expectations

After a massive flood wipes out London Jensen (Tom Frankland) seeks refuge in the flat of his rescuer Ali (Sébastian Lawson). Amidst a creatively interactive set the duo muses on surfing, relationships and their place in the world in an often physical…

Are You Happy Now?

14 Aug 20112 stars

Pessimistic two-hander about dysfunctional relationships

First-time Fringe writer and director Sam Wright brings us a pessimistic two-hander about dysfunctional relationships. Mark Booth and Mark Jeary flit between the stories of two gay couples on the outs. The cast make an admirable attempt to convey the…

Blood and Roses

11 Aug 20113 stars

Multi-sensory journey with history’s courageous women

Edinburgh’s tendency towards the wet would seem an admonishment against a promenade performance. The northeast’s Poorboy, whose raison d’être is the site specific, doesn’t shy away from the less sunny sides of life. Listening via individual headsets…