Reviews & features: Theatre, Kelly Apter

55 reviews

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Once Upon a Nightmare

18 Aug 20143 stars

Dynamic adventure play in need of streamlining at Edinburgh Festival Free Fringe

Although there is much to enjoy in this fantasy adventure from Box Step Productions, including some fine performances, there is one over-riding problem with Once Upon a Nightmare – it wants to be a film. It came as no surprise to discover, after…

The Comedy of Errors

4 Aug 20143 stars

Bristol Old Vic Theatre School present take on Shakespeare with broad appeal

Finding new and exciting ways to deliver Shakespeare to children is a challenging, but by no means impossible, task. Bristol Old Vic Theatre School is making a speciality of it, after last year’s superb Romeo & Juliet, and now that farcical tale of…

Emily Brown and the Thing

3 Aug 20145 stars

Slick storybook adaptation with a big heart

Emily Brown had successfully completed two adventures when the little boy sitting next to me turned to his mum. ‘I wish there was another adventure,’ he said longingly. ‘There is,’ replied mum, ‘she goes on three’. The look of glee on his face, when he…

New Zealand dance and theatre company MAU visit 2014 Edinburgh International Festival with I AM

15 Jul 2014

Choreographer Lemi Ponifasio on the creative influences behind his new show I AM

‘Inspired by’ is a loose term for many creators, but when Samoan-born choreographer Lemi Ponifasio talks about his influences, it’s best not to expect a literal representation. Ponifasio’s New Zealand-based collective MAU was last seen at the Edinburgh…

Stuart: A Life Backwards

21 Aug 20134 stars

A touching meeting of minds in adaptation of Alexander Masters’ acclaimed story

The tale of an unlikely friendship, which blossoms in the most unlikely of situations, Stuart: A Life Backwards has leapt from book to TV film to stage, making a smooth transition at every turn. Partly, this is because of the quality of writing and…

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Romeo and Juliet

6 Aug 20135 stars

Children's show version of Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers, who never looked so good

Any company staging Romeo and Juliet for younger audiences has two hurdles to overcome: make it clear enough for children to understand, yet fresh and interesting enough for the adult sitting next to them, who knows the story inside out. This energetic…

The Maharajah and the Kohinoor

6 Aug 20133 stars

Family-friendly show covering some home truths about the British empire

If you’re not already familiar with Britain’s behaviour towards India during the Victorian era, then prepare to come out of the theatre with any sense of national pride a little bruised. This is a story that deserves to be told; a piece of history lost…

Big Wooden Horse theatre company adapting picture book Aliens Love Underpants

30 Jul 2013

The extra-terrestrial adventure is coming to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2013

Author Claire Freedman and illustrator Ben Cort may have come up with some fiendish rhymes and colourful illustrations in their popular picture book Aliens Love Underpants, but at just a couple of hundred words long, there’s not much in the way of…

Gruffalo geniuses Tall Stories deliver My Brother the Robot

29 Jul 2013

The mechanical family story will appear at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2013

Annoying as siblings can sometimes be, having an in-house playmate has definite advantages. Unable to procure one through the usual route, the little girl in Tall Stories’ new show obtains one from her father, an inventor who knows a thing or two…

Theatre of Widdershins bring Rumpelstiltskin and the Wheel of Fortune to Fringe 2013

29 Jul 2013

Widdershins' Andy Lawrence appreciates 'strong sense of darkness that runs through' the fairytale

Stories told in childhood stay with us forever, and there can’t be many parents out there who don’t recall the weaselly wonder of little old Rumpelstiltskin. It’s a tale ripe for theatricality, and if ever there was man to do it, it’s Andy Lawrence. In…

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Lapin Wants Ice Cream

11 Aug 20123 stars

Puppets on the beach à la Française

With a pre-schooler’s brain bearing a remarkable resemblance to a sponge, it’s the perfect time to introduce a foreign language to them. Tania Czajka knows this, and has created a cast of fun characters to deliver the message. Holidaying on the beach…

Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales

10 Aug 20123 stars

Julia Donaldson over-kill

Scamp Theatre’s 2011 adaptation of Stick Man was a skilful blend of lively storytelling, great songs and playful actors. They did Julia Donaldson proud. So it comes as something of a disappointment to see what they’ve done with Tiddler. As you would…

Treasure Island

10 Aug 20123 stars

Comedy on the seven seas

There’s nothing groundbreaking about this new show from Derby’s Uncontained Arts. But sometimes it’s OK to just tell it like it is, and Treasure Island has enough unusual characters and exciting plot developments for them to get away with it. Building…

Watch it!

7 Aug 20123 stars

Small-screen addiction writ large with dance, theatre and visual trickery

Watching too much television is bad for you. This is not a new piece of information, the psychology behind why has been well documented. But if people only created shows about new subject matters, there’d be a lot of empty stages, so we can’t really…

Mephisto Waltz

7 Aug 20123 stars

Derevo's surreal show of devil pact is success but lacks emotional tie-in

You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs, and it would seem you can’t make a Derevo show without making an inordinate amount of mess. By the time the five performers step forward to take their well-earned bow, the stage is littered with more…

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4 Aug 20123 stars

Plucky superhero fights for survival in sensitively-portrayed kids' theatre show

Creating a show about a child in need of a bone marrow transplant was never going to be easy. It’s a subject most children don’t really understand, and parents don’t want to think about. It’s part of life, however, and if you’re going to tackle such…

Kipper Tie Theatre return to the Fringe 2012 with kids' show Our Island

27 Jul 2012

Singaporean theatre and slapstick in show tackling xenophobia and religious intolerance

Best known for winning over Fringe audiences with their poo-centred hit show, The Mole Who Knew It Was None Of His Business, Kipper Tie Theatre are back in Edinburgh with a far more serious subject matter. Set in a mystery location, Our Island…

Scamp Theatre bring Tiddler and Other Terrific Tales to life at Fringe 2012

27 Jul 2012

Stage version of hugely successful Julia Donaldson children's book

With so many shows to choose from at the Fringe, it’s always handy when a tried and tested company returns carrying a guarantee of quality. All those who saw Scamp Theatre’s production of Stick Man in 2010 will be pleased to know that the talented…

Tall Stories to perform Julia Donaldson's The Snail and the Whale at Fringe 2012

27 Jul 2012

Stage version of hugely successful children's book

Julia Donaldson’s picture books take pride of place on bedroom shelves around the world. But it’s not until somebody picks them up and reads them, that those clever rhymes come alive. Published in 2004, The Snail and the Whale has been one of…

Children's theatre at the 2012 Edinburgh Fringe for a fiver

18 Jul 2012

2012 Edinburgh Festival offers a host of great-value kids show previews

Various venues, Edinburgh, 1–3 Aug Each year, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe has more and more shows to tempt families. From theatre pieces to circus shows, you could easily spend three weeks (and a month’s salary) straddling the good-taste line…

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Edinburgh Fringe Theatre 2012 for a fiver

18 Jul 2012

Shows offering discounted previews at 2012 Edinburgh Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Desperate for a big dose of culture but short of the necessary funds? Kelly Apter, James Corlett and Suzanne Neilson pick a selection of Fringe theatre and dance previews, all showing at a venue near you at a price that’s nice.

3D Hamlet: A Lost Generation

12 Aug 20114 stars

Strong acting secures the Bard a place in the 21st century

Were this show set in a different venue, with decent sight lines, a proper projection screen and space bigger than a postage stamp for the actors to perform on, it would be a shoe-in for five stars. Abridged, but retaining all the salient points and key…

The Wheel

11 Aug 20114 stars

Innocence lost in war-torn Spain

When we think about war, it is the civilian casualties or soldiers who lose their lives we remember. The children whose innocence is stripped from them, observing the horrors that surround a war zone rarely, if ever, get a mention. In the west, we worry…

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…

Fringe 2011 theatre - Five issue-based shows

3 Aug 2011

Shows based on 60s teenage pregnancy, infanticide, bullying and HIV

Be My Baby with Amanda Whittington A moving comedy about pregnant teens in 1960s Manchester who are sent away to a heavily religious hiding place where their only sense of freedom comes through pop music. Zoo Roxy, 662 6892, 7–13 Aug, 6.30pm, £8…