Tag Archives: Ed Fringe 2015

REVIEW: Under The Ground – Assembly Checkpoint, Edinburgh

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s new musical Under The Ground wears its influences well and truly on its sleeve. This tale of loneliness, life, love and loss on the Glasgow Subway, whilst entertaining, offers little in the way of originality.

Presented as a series of vignettes, all forms of life are here: a young widow mourning the loss of her husband, a love rat, a man forced by a slip of the hand to propose to a girl he can barely stand, to name a few.

It is, as it always was with RCS productions, meticulously put together: slick staging, an on-form band and professional delivery and there are sufficient changes of pace, tone, texture and emotion to keep interest levels high, but the derivative songs are quite frankly, instantly forgettable the moment you cross the exit. The are issues with the setting too, which could have been more clearly stated and the idiosyncrasies of Glasgow’s infamous Clockwork Orange, that anyone who has ever travelled on could instantly recognise, are not utilised to add much-needed atmosphere.

There are though some nicely nuanced performances and some fine voices however, there are a few whose energy levels tipped their characterisations into over the top territory and quite a few had projection issues rendering their voices inaudible beyond the first rows.

An admirable attempt at a new musical but more work needs to be done on the music and setting before it’s the finished article.

Runs until 31 August 2015 (alternative days)

This review was originally published at:


REVIEW: The Girl From Nowhere – Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh

Victoria Rigby’s electrifying central performance elevates this tale of shattered dreams far above the normal road to ruin rock star tale.

In an era of innovation and change, where men have walked on the moon, women are still limited by societal expectation. It’s Cripple Creek, Texas, 1969, Jeannie Hogan has returned to her childhood home. As she riffles through the detritus of the life she left behind, a tale unfolds of how she ended up back here in the place she’s spent her life trying to get away from.

Rigby’s tale of teenage dreams of escape from a stifling past through rock stardom, is as cathartic as it is confessional and brings into focus how the issues played out here in this late sixties setting  are still depressingly relevant today: what if you don’t want marriage? what if you don’t have any maternal instincts? what if you want to live your life exactly as you please? Apparently OK if you’re a man, but a woman…

Rigby is an electrifying performer and her star turn as Jeannie is hypnotic and moving in equal measure. A masterclass in the art of storytelling. Simply mesmerising.

Runs until 31 August 2015

Originally published at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/the-girl-from-nowhere-pleasance-courtyard-edinburgh/

REVIEW: Shout! The Mod Musical – Momentum Playhouse, Edinburgh

Five girls coming of age in the ‘Swinging Sixties’ to a soundtrack of hits from the generation that created pop music, is Shout! The Mod Musical in a nutshell.

In an era when man conquered the moon, the pill was widely available, women were becoming liberated and the belief that there was suddenly a classless society, these ordinary girls find that while England claims to be swinging – things ain’t what they seem to be. Seeking guidance through this maelstrom, they write to Shout magazine’s agony aunt Gwendolyn Holmes for some sage advice. Unfortunately Ms. Holmes cure for all ills is the philosophy that women’s sole ambition is to be a wife and mother with perfect hair and an immaculate manicure.

The book writers Phillip George and David Lowenstein have pulled off an impressive feat in getting paid to write an almost invisible script. What really elevates this piece of fluff into a joyous celebration of girl power is its knock-out soundtrack and stunning cast. Who wouldn’t want to hear “Son of a Preacher Man”, “I Just Don’t Know What to do With Myself”, “Downtown” and the raucous title track sung gloriously by a quintet of stupendously talented actors? Their harmonies are particularly impressive and a delight to the ear.

Whilst it appears to be pure fluff, it does a helluva good job of highlighting the iniquities of being a woman in the 60’s through songs and laughter (domestic violence is even touched upon). It is terrifying to think that what was perfectly acceptable then is truly frightening now. There are particularly hilarious interludes about asbestos dresses “ooh, it makes me all tingly”, the side-effects of the pill, Paul McCartney’s impending nuptials and wearing the latest fashions: “I’m so chic, so trendy and so crippled” to look out for.

The whole thing tears along at break-neck speed in a riot of rainbow colours and the hits just keep on coming. This is a well-oiled machine and the chemistry created among the cast and their commitment to their roles absolutely shines through.

This is just a joyous celebration of womanhood and the music that set Britain on the world map.

Worth mentioning too from this production of ex-students from the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts, is the tribute to 60’s icon and Liverpool lass Cilla Black in the pre-show music – a nice touch.

Runs until 30 August 2015

This review was originally published at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/shout-the-mod-musical-momentum-playhouse-st-stephens-edinburgh/

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