Recent Posts

Thursday, 21 September 2017

REVIEW: Five Guys Names Moe at the Marble Arch Theatre

Five Guys Named Moe has been seen in London several times, most recently in 2012 back where it began at Stratford East. This new production of Clarke Peters’ musical based on the music of jazz crossover star Louis Jordan, now helmed by its creator, finds a fantastic home in Underbelly's popular spiegeltent recently relocated and rechristened the Marble Arch Theatre. 

It must be said that the plot of this classic juke box musical is light on the ground; the central character Nomax (Edward Baruwa) has ‘woman troubles’, and has turned to drink to deal with his shortcomings. In an alcohol induced miasma, five Moes – Four-Eyed, Little, Know, Big and Eat Moe – pop out of Nomax’s radio to counsel, encourage and school him in life and love. There isn't much more depth to it than that but in this intimate set up it feels easy to accept this show for what it is; more upbeat concert than storytelling.

Friday, 11 August 2017

EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: KIN at the Underbelly’s Circus Hub

Barely Methodical Troupe’s latest show, KIN, is an engaging, comedic, exhilarating piece of family-friendly circus. Perfectly at home in Underbelly’s largest big top, the tremendously talented cast of six burst onto the stage in an hour of entertainment that flies by.

The concept sees the five men competing in some sort of sinister Olympics-come-Hunger-Games, while a stern, straight faced woman looks on. Their competition takes the form of shows of physical prowess, strip-teases and (bad) trumpet playing. When they are deemed to have done well there is a reward; a banana. They are marked as they go, attempting to charm and impress their judge. 

The judge herself, Nikki Rummer, has some beautiful moments, equally as skilled slinking across the stage in an enthralling acrobatic solo or in physically controlling the group of boys as if reminding them of their place in this particular hierarchy. One of the most memorable sequences involves her riding the heads of the group as if on a wave, or standing atop a horse. The strength and skill on display here is astonishing. 

Thursday, 10 August 2017

EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Circa: Humans at the Underbelly Circus Hub

The latest offering from contemporary circus heavyweights Circa, Humans, is a beautifully stripped-back knockout. Created by Yaron Lifchitz, it puts the spotlight on the bodies of ten acrobats as they physically explore what it means to be human. 

As the audience enter the large circus tent at Underbelly’s delightful Circus Hub on the Meadows, the performers also trickle in one by one. They move into the performance space and change into their costumes for the show – a simple affair. This perceptively reminds the audience that these incredible performers are humans, just like us. It is from this that the audience are invited in to the world of the piece. From a thrilling trapeze sequence, to towers of people higher than seems possible, to seeing these performers try to lick their elbows, Humans becomes a love letter to the human body, and the ways our bodies allow us to connect. Lifchitz is not simply captivated by the amazing things these bodies can achieve, but also by their frailties and it is in this marriage that the piece truly succeeds.

EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Nassim at the Traverse Theatre

Nassim Soleimanpour’s self-titled fourth play is a fantastically exciting theatrical experiment which sees a different performer take the stage each day, unrehearsed and having never read the script. This was Monica Dolan’s turn. Known for her appearances on television, including W1A, and premiering her own solo show The B*easts in Edinburgh this summer, she bravely launched herself into the unknown. 

Introduced by a producer of the show, Dolan was told to open a large box to find within it the four-hundred-page script for the performance. She opened the box; within it was a simple page containing an instruction. Her first response… ‘Do I have to obey it?’ This wonderfully set off the piece in which both performer and audience are asked to be complicit in its making.

EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Thus Spoke… at CanadaHub @ Kings Hall in association with Summerhall

At the first ever incarnation of CanadaHub at the Fringe, a new venue giving the cream of Canada’s art world a platform, two of Montreal’s most celebrated and influential theatre artists have come together to present Thus Spoke… and it is a thrilling thing to behold. This is not your grandmother’s theatre; the audience are not left passive in the dark, nor ignored by the performers. There is no narrative, as such, and not everything can be intellectually understood or explained. But the atmosphere is enthralling, drawing you in to this charming and bizarre piece.

Directed by Frédérick Gravel and Étienne Lepage, with movement by Gravel and words by Lepage, it is a patchwork of philosophy, political rants, movement and song. With topics covered as diverse as the problems with assassinating Trump to the social taboo of female masturbation, as well as a speech reclaiming the label of being an arsehole, the company of four performers have a captivating dryness and manage to somehow not take themselves too seriously. This prevents the piece from becoming heavy or laboured; they know it is a piece of avant-garde theatre, and keep their tongue planted firmly in cheek about it. 

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Into The Woods at Assembly Hall

The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s musical theatre graduates once again provide a sterling effort in their production of Sondheim’s classic, Into the Woods. 

Productions of Into the Woods have boomed since the Disney film’s release, and director Michael Howell’s production is a great effort to find some different angles on a now rather well known piece. Christopher Rowney’s charming Narrator, clad in walking boots and a windbreaker as if he’s been out in the highlands, is not consigned to the side-lines; he conjures the world, never leaving the stage. This works successfully, locating at least the telling of the story in perhaps a contemporary Scotland. Richard Even’s set eschews representational trees, hardly making a concession to the woods themselves at all. Rather, the story is played out in a rather decrepit old cottage, creaky floorboards and crumbling walls galore, used to the full by the cast. It is not always appropriate, but it is a well-executed design that helps to frame a different approach to the show.

The very large cast sound tremendous under joint Musical Directors James Harrison and Robert Wilkinson, as do the impressive eleven-strong band who play Sondheim’s challenging score with style and flair. Very few musicals on the fringe sound this good! It is also pleasing to hear the performers encouraged to use their own accents in both dialogue and song. Some of the large ensemble numbers felt somewhat rushed, particularly the opening number, and EJ Boyle’s choreography occasionally made the stage feel overcrowded and chaotic, which risks losing clarity in what is a busy plot. The well-drilled cast, though, didn’t seem flustered by it at all.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: 5 Guys Chillin’ at the Assembly Roxy

Between runs at London’s King’s Head and across three continents, 5 Guys Chillin’ is back for its second Fringe. The set up of the piece is as expected; five guys arrive to ‘chill’, take drugs, and have sex. The night takes a darker turn, though, as the thin veneer comes away and we see what lies beneath.

The cast of five – David Palmstrom, Gareth Watkins, George Bull, George Fletcher and Tom Ratcliffe – portray a cross section of ‘gay scene’ tropes. They are an energetic bunch, who take the bull wholeheartedly by the horns. Plates of white powders litter the stage, a dildo is tossed about, jockstraps are worn and there is plenty of bare muscle on show. Sometimes the acting leans towards the demonstrative, but Tom Ratcliffe stands out with a sensitive, endearing and nuanced performance. There is good work, too, from David Palmstrom’s host.

EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW: Newsrevue 2017 at the Pleasance Courtyard

Another Edinburgh Fringe brings another incarnation of solid festival favourite, Newsrevue. A raucous, irreverent musical sketch show – and longstanding holder of the Guinness World Record for longest running live comedy – it satires and lampoons every hot political topic and personality of our times. From Brexit to Trump, Jeremy Corbyn to Theresa’s fields of wheat, no one is safe from Newsrevue’s sharp wit and musical aplomb. 

It’s a simple format. Two boys and two girls, supported by a large team of writers and accompanied by musical director Tom Barnes on piano, rattle off the musical sketches as rapidly as machine gun fire. This year’s selection is certainly more hit than miss. What better way to start this year than with a reworking of Beyoncé’s Irreplacable, getting all the mileage possible out of those famous lyrics ‘To the left, to the left…’. From that tone setter, we’re launched into Arlene Foster turning C’est la vie into a celebration of the DUP (rhymes abound), Boris Johnson proving he is the very model of a modern foreign secretary (assisted by patter lyrics Gilbert and Sullivan would surely approve of), and Assad, Putin, Kim Jong-un and Trump forming the unlikeliest of boy bands to be Bad Guys even Bugsy Malone couldn’t handle. 
Blog Design by pipdig