Reviews & features: Theatre, Issue 686

78 reviews

Sorted by popularity / date / title / rating

Roar

8 Aug 20114 stars

Stylish, sexy romp is frequently hilarious but not without emotion

If you want your ‘sexy romp’ boxes ticked, this is the place to do it. Dumbshow’s Roar is a stylish, exuberant tale of gin-soaked 17th-century wenches led by a ‘Moll Cutpurse’ channelling Beyoncé in full-on she-lion mode. Bawdy, slick and…

The Seagull Effect

8 Aug 20112 stars

Enthusiasm and visual techniques let down by overdone score and direction

It’s raining on the way to Idle Motion’s The Seagull Effect, setting the audience up nicely to appreciate a play about small but consequential events in the world and the weather. Unfortunately the performance is similarly damp with overly literal…

Shhh: The Musical

8 Aug 20112 stars

Enthusiasm let down by unoriginal script and forgettable songs

There is little doubting the enthusiasm of this young cast, as they do their best with a ‘romcom’ script about finding love in a bookshop. Sadly their energy is largely wasted on a script lacking in originality and punch. The characters are roundly…

Simon Callow in Tuesday at Tescos

8 Aug 20114 stars

Transgender monologue that’s dressed to kill

Anything performed by Simon Callow comes with a certain guarantee: that you’ll be entertained, impressed by the Shakespearean actor’s masterly skill, and perhaps moved to laughter and/or tears. Almost all of which Tuesday at Tescos achieves. Emmanuel…

Slavery to Star Trek

8 Aug 20113 stars

Autobiographical show taking in Martin Luther King and Malcolm X

Andreea Kindryd has lived a fascinating life. She knew Martin Luther King, was friends with Malcolm X and worked on the original Star Trek series. She’s an engaging storyteller whose tale starts in the days of her great grandparents and slavery…

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101

8 Aug 20114 stars

Group hugs, cult chants and it’s all your fault

Back with three new immersive scenarios after causing a stir last year, the 101 team show just how compelling theatre can be with the most elementary of resources. No special effects, no set, scarcely anything you’d call a costume and yet the young…

Dance Marathon

8 Aug 20113 stars

Sweat-slicked endurance test

At three hours in, the fatigue has begun to show. As per the First Rule of Dance Marathon, we’re all still moving our feet constantly, but it’s descended to a listless, obedient shuffling. A room full of sweating strangers, inhibitions completely lost…

Somewhere Beneath It All, A Small Fire Burns Still

8 Aug 20113 stars

Monologue that’s less than straightforward

'This is true.’ Comedian Phil Nichol implores you to believe in his story midway through this experimental monologue, seemingly trying to inject a moment of clarity into a deliberately fractured and confusing play from Royal Court young writer Dave…

The Table

8 Aug 20114 stars

Puppet show silliness backed up by serious skill

Blind Summit are a company of puppetry geeks, with the triptych of pieces that make up The Table, they’ve made a show that lovingly reflects that. They’re also a company with a great sense of fun, and happily this hour-and-a-bit more than embodies that…

A Celebration of Harold Pinter

8 Aug 20113 stars

Pinter wonderland manages not to sink beneath the hype

The danger that accompanies any theatre event accompanied by movie star hype is that the piece itself becomes lost under the brouhaha surrounding its presenters. With John Malkovich directing Julian Sands for this piece, that was always the danger, but…

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After the End

8 Aug 2011

Gripping if uneven thriller adaptation

The action of Dennis Kelly’s thriller takes place in a nuclear shelter in the aftermath of an explosion, but the play’s politics, we discover, are of the personal rather than global kind. The two-hander opens immediately following the atrocity. Louise…

A Slow Air

8 Aug 20114 stars

Nationhood explored and deplored

In David Harrower’s new play a struggling middle-aged builder (Lewis Howden), haunted by an entirely inadvertent contribution to the Glasgow Airport bombing, is provoked into reflections about his estranged sister (the performer’s real-life sister…

The Curse of Macbeth

8 Aug 20112 stars

Great staging, shame about the acting

From the knife-wielding thugs that welcome you into the venue, it’s clear that this production of Macbeth is going to be bold, brash and in your face. And in those terms the show doesn’t disappoint. Its striking design – all bloodstained mirrors and dry…

Death Song

8 Aug 20114 stars

Intense story of loss and secrets

Focusing on a bereaved father and daughter in the 1980s, Death Song is engaging and impeccably performed. Juan, a single father following the death of his wife, is a Mexican immigrant in America struggling to get work and keep his daughter safe, when a…

Elegy

8 Aug 20114 stars

Moving story of a flight from persecution

The last time Douglas Rintoul was in Scotland was to direct a revival of David Greig’s Europe at Dundee Rep. There’s something of the flavour of that migratory play in this powerful production for the internationally minded Transport company, as actor…

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Free Run

8 Aug 20112 stars

Heavily padded parkour spectacle

The warning that diffuses through the auditorium is ominous. ‘What you are about to see is not restricted to the stage’. Sure enough, this is one of those Fringe shows where you’re definitely not safer in the back row. Within moments of the house lights…

I Hope My Heart Goes First

8 Aug 20114 stars

Remarkable young company delves into matters of the heart

If you want to know what it feels like to watch this show, you could do worse than to listen to the song from whose lyrics it takes its title – Cardiff indie-poppers Los Campesinos’ ‘We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed’ – a four-minute scrunched-up ball of…

The Infant

8 Aug 20113 stars

Absurdist comedy with a Gothic feel

Maestros of the dark and twisted fairytale, Les Enfants Terribles (who brought us Ernest and the Pale Moon and The Terrible Infants), bring back to Edinburgh a play they debuted here in 2006. In a cell in an unnamed location a man is subjected to an…

It’s Uniformation Day

8 Aug 20112 stars

2001: A Space Odyssey got weird

Surreal from start to finish, It’s Uniformation Day aims to analyse ideas of happiness, human frailty and relationships in modern life. Other than that, it’s hard to say what happened. The three actors are our representatives on a strange rocket mission…

John Peel’s Shed

8 Aug 20113 stars

Intimate musings on the joy of radio

In 2002 author John Osborne won a competition to write the best two-sentence description of John Peel’s radio show and win a box of the DJ’s records. ‘Songs you want to hear. Played by a man who wants you to hear them.’ earned Osborne the prize, and he…

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Man of Valour

8 Aug 20112 stars

Mime and punishment

Haven’t we been through this before? Wasn’t it some time in the 1970s we stopped being dazzled by mime artists? Didn’t we pretty quickly realise the means of telling a story are never as interesting as the story itself? It seems not in the case of…

Mission Drift

8 Aug 20114 stars

The TEAM achieve the huge, soaring size of their ambitions

The TEAM (Theatre of the Emerging American Moment) don’t deal in the small. Since their Fringe debut in 2005 with the Richard Nixon-fixated solo Give Up! Start Over!, their chaotic, rambunctiously-expressed subject matter has been myth-making factory of…

Robert Burns: Not in my Name

8 Aug 20112 stars

Tracing the final years of the Bard

Political activist, prolific blogger and former Rebel Inc proprietor Kevin Williamson traces the last few years of Burns’ life via the poems that were considered too dangerous for the Bard to claim as his own. A blend of multimedia and spoken word…

Scary Gorgeous

8 Aug 20113 stars

Girls gone wild

2010 Fringe First winners RashDash ask why girls allow themselves to be defined by their sexual prowess in the mess that is modern femininity. Two classic ‘frenemies’ and bandmates, Helen and Abbi, demonstrate the difficulty of being a ‘normal’ young…

Spent

8 Aug 20114 stars

Razor-sharp agit prop satire

If you live in the UK, you’d never know it, but agit prop is alive, well, and indeed thriving in the world of theatre. An impressive exemplar exists in the shape of this sharp-as-a-tack satire, which incorporates clowning, physical theatre and…