Tag Archives: Edinburgh Festival Fringe

NEWS: Grid Iron Theatre Co. confirms the long-awaited staging of Doppler for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Edinburgh-based theatre company Grid Iron is pleased to confirm that its site-responsive outdoor adaptation of Erlend Loe’s best-selling book Doppler will take place as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2021.

The play was originally scheduled to be presented at last year’s Fringe with the plans then pivoted to a digital sharing in light of the Covid-19 related restrictions. With only a few days of outdoor filming achieved due to Storm Francis, the Company had decided to instead produce a documentary film charting the story of the show and its production, Doppler – The Story so Far, which was released for free in March 2020 and watched by almost 10,000 people worldwide.

Grid Iron is also thrilled to reveal it is one of a group of 15 shows and five venues awarded first ever Fringe Artist and Venue Recovery Fund.

Judith Doherty, Chief Executive and Co-Artistic Director of Grid Iron Theatre Company said: “After this roller-coaster of a ride that was Doppler – from the seed being planted in Ben Harrison’s mind when he read the book almost 3 years ago and plans for a Festival 2020 run, through to a digital sharing and finally the documentary – we could not be more excited to announce our 2021 plans for a live, outdoor sharing of the play.

“We are so grateful to the Fringe for this grant because it will allow us to provide BSL interpreted performances as part of the run and other access materials to make sure that our audience, although small in number, can be wide in reach.”

Doppler is an adaptation of a satirical novel by a Norwegian writer Erlend Loe, translated to English by Don Bartlett and Don Shaw. It focuses on Doppler, a man who, following the death of his father, decides to abandon his family and move to the forest on the outskirts of Oslo. He is determined to live a life as far removed from his previous as possible but struggles to maintain his isolation as his existence garners a lot of unwanted attention.

Produced and presented strictly following Scottish Government’s safety guidelines, Doppler will be staged outdoors and feature a small cast of four. Further information, including venue, dates and cast, will be announced in due course.

Grid Iron are an Edinburgh-based theatre company who, following their incorporation in 1995 and their first show Clearance at the Traverse, Edinburgh, swiftly gained a reputation for creating high-quality, high profile shows. The Company went on to specialise in presenting shows in unusual locations. They are a new writing company who work in challenging sites that lend themselves especially well to Grid Iron’s taut production style. Occasionally they create work for the stage or use theatre buildings in a site-specific, promenade manner.

In 1997 Grid Iron produced their first full-scale site-specific production, The Bloody Chamber, their adaptation of Angela Carter’s Bluebeard fairytale, which they presented in famously haunted underground vaults beneath Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile. It was the company’s first appearance at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and, by the opening night, the show had sold out for its entire three-week run. Awards: Herald Angel for Outstanding Contribution and Achievement in Theatre and Total Theatre Nominations for Best Newcomers and Best Design.

www.gridiron.org.uk

 

NEWS: Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2021: Show registration opened in May as Fringe Player announced

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society announced that show registration for Fringe 2021 opened on Wednesday 05 May.

Artists and venues will be able to register Fringe shows right up until the end of the festival. The Fringe’s world-class programme will be available to browse and book at edfringe.com, with tickets going on sale for audiences in early summer.

As Scotland navigates its roadmap out of lockdown, much is still unknown about what the Fringe will look like this August. However, a range of scenarios are being prepared for, from socially distanced live events to digital offerings.

The Fringe Society is supporting artists and audiences to find and book work online across a range of platforms, including the brand-new Fringe Player. This online platform aims to bring some festival magic into homes across the world, while providing a secure platform for artists, companies and venues to host their shows. The platform is available to any registered 2021 Fringe show or venue to use if they wish.

Any live performance registered as part of the 2021 Fringe will be expected to adhere to public health guidance from the Scottish Government.

Audiences can search, browse and buy tickets to both online and in-person work through tickets.edfringe.com. More details on individual shows and Fringe 2021 will be available in early summer.

Shona McCarthy, Chief Executive, Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society said: “We’re delighted to be able to open registration for 2021. Of course, we’re still very much in planning mode as we await further updates from the Scottish Government, but this feels like a hugely positive step in the right direction.

“Through the work being created across the various digital platforms, including the Fringe Player, artists have a brilliant opportunity to reach audiences and communities all over the world. I look forward to seeing how our Fringe creatives use these platforms in 2021 and beyond.”

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe will take place from 06 – 30 August 2021.

REVIEW: Confetti and Chaos – Imagination Workshop, Edinburgh

Interactive Theatre International’s Confetti and Chaos is back at its spiritual home, smack bang in the middle of the madness of the Edinburgh Festival.

The world’s worst wedding reception still has the ability to surprise and delight and it’s all down to the pin-sharp script and the enviable comedy acting and improvisation skills of its talented cast.

The whole idea is a winner, because we’ve all been there: the excruciating speeches, the wild cannon relatives, secrets tumbling out of the closet, lips getting looser as the alcohol flows freely, drunken dancing and worse, much, much worse. Just when you think it couldn’t get any crazier, it does. Did I mention that while all the madness unfolds we, the wedding guests, are all enjoying a three course meal?

While there’s a face-achingly funny script at its backbone, it’s the ability of the cast to interact and react with the ever-changing nightly audience that makes this more than just a performance but an event for the ‘guests’. No matter how effortless this looks, it takes phenomenally talented actors to pull it off. Nerine Skinner, Otis Waby, Helen Colby and Hayden Wood, double and triple-up on roles and manage to give each their own individual characterisation, and each is funnier than the last. The energy required is astonishing and the effort the actors put in is laudable.

Confetti and Chaos (formerly The Wedding Reception) remains as hysterical as it ever was, and stands up to multiple viewings. A show where quality is assured night after night.

Runs until 26 August 2019 | Image: Contributed

REVIEW: West End Producer: Free Willy, Assembly Studio Two, Edinburgh

The infamous and anonymous mystery man of London theatre, West End Producer has finally taken the plunge and headed north of the border to Edinburgh for the summer season with his rubber Willy under one arm and baby grand under the other.

WEP is in town to audition hopefuls for his proposed West End mega hit-to-be Free Willy: The Musical. In the process we are let in on a few theatrical secrets, partake in a lesson on the perfect jazz hands and are led in a theme appropriate dolphin vocal warm up, there are even some genuine soiled West End show pants on offer to one lucky auditionee.

The fun starts before the show does with our idol interacting with his public in the queue, we are assigned our audition numbers and given a mini task to perform. Audience participation-phobes don’t despair though, it’s all very non-threatening – what else would you expect, we know WEP is an absolute #dear.

As befitting WEP’s status among the stagey folks, the place is packed on this sunny afternoon and the large crowd really helps the atmosphere. This is a show that knows its audience – everyone is in on the West End gossip and the jokes and digs land, and the addition of a different guest each day, a fellow Fringe performer (today’s was comedian Patrick Monaghan) is a nice touch that delivers variety and a sense of what on earth is going to happen next? to the proceedings.

WEP is a man of many talents, as well as this being a well-conceived and executed show, he’s a gifted pianist and singer, and the comic songs are actually, in some cases, better than some of the drivel I’ve had to endure in real West End shows. WEP’s entrance on a blow up whale is also a sight once-seen – hard to forget.

If you are of a stagey disposition – this is a chance to get up close and personal with the enigma that is WEP. Go along and help West End Producer find his Willy – you won’t regret it.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

REVIEW: Keith Moon: The Real Me – Gilded Balloon Teviot Wine Bar, Edinburgh

Mick Berry endeavours to delve deep into the psyche of the world’s greatest rock drummer – The Who’s Keith Moon, but succeeds only in proving how decent a drummer he is himself  (he’s the author of The Drummer’s Bible), in this odd mish-mash of a show. 

There’s material a-plenty to plunder in Moon’s life, both actual and mythical, but this one-man version misses the mark in so many ways. Berry has apparently been working on this show since 2013, when a version appeared at the Eureka Theatre in San Francisco, that time with the support of some fellow musicians playing his band-mates in The Who. This one-man version is neither straight biography, though there are many dis-jointed biographical moments, nor musical tribute to the great musician.

As the famous chords of Baba O’Reilly ring out and Berry batters out the ear-splitting, accompanying beat, there’s a sense of optimism that this might be a rollicking rock ‘n’ roll tale, but that quickly subsides the moment Berry opens his mouth and the worst British accent since Dick Van Dyke’s Bert in Mary Poppins comes out. During the course of the show it travels from Cornwall to Cockney to Canberra. There’s also the issue of Berry’s insistence in shouting out disjointed sequences of dialogue that are drowned out by the backing track and Berry’s own drumming. Other minor issues are Berry’s insistence on replicating Moon’s famous two-handed drumstick twirling that looks laboured, something he continues to try to do throughout. Despite his evident drumming skills, to a Who fan’s ears there are moments when he quite evidently fails to keep on these famous beats. Berry also looks uncomfortably nervous, whether with the material itself or the muted reaction of the small audience, it’s hard to tell. Moon managed only 32 years on this earth, and Mr. Berry is a man of advanced age that’s hard to hide in a small venue.

There’s little attempt to “pierce Moon’s insane exterior to get inside of this rock legend” or provide a “deeper, more personal, volatile and intimate exploration” as promised in the advertising material. It merely grazes the surface in the most superficial and confusing way. It smacks of self-indulgence and is badly in need of a pair or two of outside eyes to take what could be a dynamite story to the place where it should be to be a fitting tribute to one of the rock and roll greats. On a more positive note, the drumming’s good and there are snippets of some of the biggest hits of the greatest rock band Britain ever produced.

REVIEW: Phoenix – Pleasance 10 Dome, Edinburgh

If you’re looking for a creative team of infinite quality and a performer of prodigious talent (sometimes rare at The Fringe), then look no further than Richard Marsh and Jessica Sharman’s musical play, Phoenix.

Marsh and Sharman’s enviable track records include Marsh winning a Fringe First Award, a BBC Audio Drama Award, and a run in the West End with previous show Dirty Great Love Story, and in Sharman’s case, co-writing Ward Thomas’ record-breaking No.1. Country album Cartwheels.

This play is so much more than its simplistic blurb. It’s a big story in a small-sized show. On the face of it, it’s a tale of a wannabe rock star for whom fatherhood subsumes his hopes and dreams of stardom, but its themes are much greater than these few words, instead delivering a highly-relatable story of love and sacrifice.

There’s an elegant fluency to the writing, the beautifully constructed script has a completely developed story arc, fully rounded characters, all interwoven with some expertly crafted songs, and all packed into a 70-minute running time. The combination makes for an irresistible, gripping, funny, life-affirming show.

In a piece of master casting, multi-instrumentalist (guitar – electric and acoustic, keys, drums, looping) singer and actor Andy Gallo  plays Ash, and proves to be a rare find. He manages to perfectly pitch the gamut of emotions required of this marvellously layered tale, all the while banging out tunes on a plethora of instruments and singing. He has the audience transfixed from the start.

This is an astute piece of theatre. Well thought out, cleverly crafted and refreshingly surprising. This is the perfect five-star start to this year’s Fringe.

Runs at The Pleasance 10 Dome Edinburgh

Aug 3-12, 14-26

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: Auditions – Sweet Grassmarket, Edinburgh

Inspired by creator Michael Sharmon’s personal experience and seemingly hugely influenced by A Chorus Line, Auditions is a somewhat clichéd take on the much-dreaded audition process.

The hugely experienced cast of four, play out a series of vignettes on ageism, sexism, racism and nepotism to name a few -isms, each accompanied by a tune or two. Those tunes, though competently delivered (to a taped backing track) and mostly pleasing to the ear, lack the necessary oomph to elevate this above being just a pleasant way to pass an hour. The lyrics suffer particularly from their reliance on hackneyed rhymes and the lack of electronic amplification means that the singers feel as if they are constantly holding back.

There’s no particular narrative thread, each scene playing as an individual vignette, the dialogue is short, acts as a build up to a song, then it’s a case of cut, paste, repeat. At no time does it scratch much below the surface.

While delivered by an undeniably talented cast, it needs more grit, more original staging and direction, and greater dramatic variety to make it the musical it could be, rather than the cabaret it is at the moment.

Runs until 13 August 2017 | Image: Contributed

Originally published by The Reviews Hub

REVIEW: Aaron Calvert: Awaken – La Belle Angele, Edinburgh

The lure of the stage rather than the stethoscope has led trained doctor Aaron Calvert to Edinburgh for his second stint at the Fringe. Inspired as a child by feats of human strength and the US Intelligence services’ selection process, Calvert presents a combination of psychology, hypnosis and ‘telepathy’ in Awaken.

Calvert’s show isn’t exactly treading new ground. With king of mind-control Derren Brown touring the country and new star on the block, Edinburgh’s own ‘forensic mind-reader’ Colin Cloud (who is also appearing at the Fringe, and currently a finalist in this year’s America’s Got Talent), the public are used to a lot more pizzazz and showmanship than the clinical Calvert. Brown’s Svengali-like persona and Cloud’s Steam Punk persona and psychological mischief, lead the audience to believe that their shows are going to be magical, mysterious events. There are undoubtedly impressive psychological skills here, but Calvert’s act seems terribly out-dated, like an end of the pier variety show from another era. He’s a handsome, suited and booted young man, but there’s a coldness to his delivery that’s hard to like.

The set up for the hypnosis section of the hour-long show takes an interminably long time, especially for the non-participants and the pay-off, while faintly interesting, doesn’t reflect the time taken to get there. You can tell that a lot of time and thought has gone into the technical aspects of the show, but this needs a huge injection of personality to take it from the cabaret circuit to the big time.

Runs until 27 August 2017 | Image: Contributed

Originally written for The Reviews Hub

REVIEW: Alexander Fox: Ringo – Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh

It’s the moments of pure storytelling that resonate most in Alexander Fox’s debut solo hour of original comedy: Ringo.

In 2006, a then teenaged Fox, met and began a pen-pal correspondence with the world’s most famous drummer, The Beatles’ Ringo Starr. What follows is an at times surreal, biographical tale, with appearances from the Cadbury’s gorilla drumming to Phil Collins’ In the Air Tonight and Pingu; references to drumming movie Whiplash, as well as a whole lot of audience participation and good-natured banter.

For all the mad-cap antics it’s the moments of stillness and genuine emotion that are the most successful. Fox is a natural storyteller and easily grips the audience. He should be confident enough to rely on his considerable skills without resorting to some of the nonsense that litters the tale and takes it off on unnecessary tangents. There’s real potential here: the subject matter alone is enough to draw an audience, keeping the path of the narrative a little closer to the key material (or if the silliness were a bit more on-theme) could make this a universal winner.

Fox is genuinely charming and it’s easy to warm to him and he provides plenty of laughs throughout. He is naturally ebullient, but this is as much a negative as it is a positive, his youth and exuberance playing to the time-wasting interruptions from the audience rather than keeping it tight and on-point.

With a little bit of work, Alexander Fox: Ringo, could have a long life beyond an igloo on the green at The Pleasance for the Edinburgh Fringe.

Runs until 28 August 2017 | Image: Contributed

This review was originally published by The Reviews Hub

REVIEW: The Soft Subject (A Love Story) – Assembly Hall, Edinburgh

Chris Woodley takes us back to the classroom to tell his poignant, playful and practically perfect tale of love, loss and survival – The Soft Subject (A Love Story).

As an ex-drama teacher, Woodley frames his autobiographical work as a lesson plan: Aim; Introduction; Starter Activity; Main Task; Evaluation, and for any teacher or pupil it’s a familiar and effective device. There are also incidental lessons on theatrical devices: subtext, narration, montage, hot-seating and visualisation, thrown in for no extra charge.

Woodley is irresistibly warm and only the hardest of hearts would fail to be both engaged and moved by this heart-on-your-sleeve story. He challenges societal assumptions about the tale that he, a gay man, is telling. He reminds us: “this is not a coming out story”, “it’s not a tale of homophobia” what it is, is a universal tale of love and loss: “just a love story”, and it’s all the more touching because of that. It tells of falling in love for the first time, the joy of a stable loving relationship, it’s devastating breakdown and the psychological path back to ‘normal’ and the effect a loving and caring family can have on that.

It’s rare that a production comes to the Fringe, so perfectly formed: this is well though through, there’s space for the words to breathe, there’s no filler and each element of the story lands on its mark. The fact that Woodley is so utterly lovable, so assured in his storytelling skills, makes this an absolute winner.

This is an absolute shining little jewel of a production and I defy anyone not to leave with a little tear of joy in their eye.

Runs until 28 August 2017 | Image: Contributed

This review was originally published by The Reviews Hub

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