Category Archives: Festivals

Review: Super Sunday, Race Horse Company, Edinburgh Fringe Festival By Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

In the last few years, there seems to have been a break out of traditional circus. The tricks and skills are generally the same, but the themes, the approach and ultimately the execution are all so different and unusual.

Race Horse Company bring their carnival, grown up kid-like circus to us, full of crazy stunts and belly laughing comedy.

This male group, a cross of hipsters meets a lad group who have been friends since childhood, they quite obviously explicitly trust one another (a must in circus) but also really enjoy what they do, while parading around in close to matching outlandish shirts and beach shorts.  

As any circus, we have a mixture of low level tricks to dangerous stunts – one minute the group are juggling or creating a comical dance routine wearing large horse puppets, and the next they are throwing one another up into the ceiling and performing in circular tubes that spin on their own at the same time on their own axis. Yet no matter what the performance, it seems effortless, smooth and there’s always an element of comedy to what they are doing.

A giant teddy bear being flung into the air, brightly coloured balls bouncing everywhere, this show is completely geared for children and you can hear the innocent giggles amongst the audience, along with gasps of all ages. Of course, any good show throws little jokes for the adults that go over the children’s heads and so we enjoy is just as much as the children are – giggling in our own corners and gasping in awe.

Super Sunday is extremely exciting, shocking in their courage and stunts but ultimately a brilliant Circus show.

Review: Tokyo Rose, Burnt Lemon Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe Festival By Hannah Goslin

2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

A wonderful way of bringing more unknown stories to light is through theatre. Burnt Lemon Theatre have done this with the story of Tokyo Rose.

An American woman, of Japanese heritage finds herself under the fire for treason in a case of mistaken identity, tricks and conspiracies. Burnt Lemon Theatre, through musical storytelling, bring us the story of this woman, from early life to the trial.

Not the biggest of musical fans, I have in the past be pleasantly surprised and converted. Unfortunately, Tokyo Rose does not do this for me. With musicals, some involve moments of script to break up the music, and some are back to back songs. With Tokyo Rose, this is more of the latter and it feels a little as if we need a break to take in the information. It feels quite full on.

What cannot be argued in how much the performers put into their series of characters, the choreography and singing itself. It is pristine, well formulated and executed with 110%. There are times that the singing is slightly off – throwing in quite often what I would call a ‘Mariah Carey’ flare; this over the top harmony that does not quite hit the right notes and could really be done without.

Unfortunately, Tokyo Rose was just not my cup of tea. Bringing such an important and not well known story to the forefront in this way is entirely commendable, and the performers are obviously very talented and bringing their all to the production. I really wanted to like it more – an all-female production bringing the injustice of a woman in the 1930’s/40s in a story missed slightly by time – it just missed the mark and did not seem to gel well with a musical approach.

Review: A Wake in Progress, Fine Mess Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe Festival By Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Adding to the ‘Death at the Fringe’ sector this year, Fine Mess Theatre bring us a death celebration.

When a young woman finds herself dying, all she wants to do is celebrate her life and go out with a bang. Not so much an unusual tale in today’s modern age, funeral parties before the death of someone is becoming increasingly popular – However, Fine Mess Theatre take this subject on with great intent and a refreshing approach.

The combination of scripted performance and audience interaction is equally measured. We are invited as guests; we are not made to feel like the audience but part of a really exclusive group of friends – given party hats and sweets, asked for our suggestions and addressed by names, (on a name tag we write at the beginning, but somehow the performers never make it seem as if they are reading them) we feel a part of this woman’s life. We feel the emotions and we feel the love.

The script is perfectly natural. Perfectly rehearsed, it does not feel scripted and if we were not at the fringe, it would be hard to guess that this is indeed a play; the performers interact and project their lines as if it was real life. The only theatrical break is when we are involved in the party and so there is a dramatic turn to the in depth and naturalistic scenes on stage.

And while partly heart breaking, partly realistic, there is some comedy to it. And these parts are not dramatised. Again, this is part of the script, naturally approached and so beautifully humorous, as one would find in a normal conversation among friends.

A Wake in Progress is true to life, deeply thought out and well executed. While a funeral is not something to find joyous, this celebration is worth the attendance.

Review: Art Heist, Poltergeist, Edinburgh Fringe Festival By Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

What happens when three thieves break into a gallery, the same night, to steal the same painting? A hilarious series of events full of comedy, gasps of close calls and complete chaos.

Art Heist by the company Poltergeist, in partnership with Underbelly and New Diorama Theatre, bring us a high energised and full of calamity production featuring three thieves and a gallery guard. All have different motives, different personalities and bring their own humour and likeability. At some point the characters are all bound to bump into each other, but there is a sense of a tense atmosphere while waiting for this, along with near misses. Once they do, the interaction is surprising, well thought out and full of comedy.

There’s hardly a break in this production for anyone – reminiscent of Monty Python, come Mischief Theatre’s ‘Comedy about a Bank Robbery’ with a hint of alternative reality/game culture, the narrative and actions are both fast paced and with quick thinking, yet perfectly accomplished with every comical intent hit.

Each character narrates their actions, sometimes with interaction from the guard who throws spanners in the works. This reminds me of watching a video game, with planned out thoughts that not always come to fruition.

The staging and lighting is simple – characters are always on stage but always engaged. We get different levels away from the main action, without a single person breaking character.  Multimedia is used with cameras, sound effects, lights e.t.c. to give the emphasis of a gallery but also to layer the action.

The performers themselves are hysterical – fully involved in their characters, there is freedom to ad lib and go with the chaos, especially when the audience are encouraged to interact. The simple ‘guard training’ that the audience undertake is hilarious in itself; again, it is simple but well put together.

Art Heist will steal your heart and rob your laughter – coming away, there is admiration of the energy of these performers and great smiles at how much fun we have in just an hour.

Review: The Words Are There, Nth Degree Productions, Edinburgh Fringe Festival By Hannah Goslin

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

How does one express themselves without being able to speak fluidly?

The Words Are There tells the story about Mick and Trish, their meeting, relationship, the most important moment of their lives, but with the underlying issue of domestic abuse. Mick himself suffers from a stutter and so we see the impact this relationship has on bringing him out as a person and then shutting him back down.

This piece is fascinating. Using only sound cues and music, The Words Are There is a fully physical theatre production with only props to help us along the way. It is fast paced, intricate and full of energy, even at times of stillness. At times this is a little hard to keep up with and also a mystery to how Ronan Dempsey manages to keep going in this one man production.

While there in minimal narrative, with our reliance on the sound cues and the physicality, we are able to imagine our own scenes for Mick and Trish – triggers for the good and triggers for the bad are all available that we cannot help but get swept into the drama.

It seems comical when Dempsey makes Trish out of household items – but how he interacts with her and makes her move, we soon forget she is just an object and really believe in her and her personality.

The production is slow starting but somehow this works into bringing us to curve balls and climaxes. It feels like a build-up and we enjoy the ride; getting to know these two characters and developing love/hate feelings towards them.

The Words Are There is an energetic and emotional piece. Slow to start, we do engage intimately in these two characters and our feelings immediately change with the theatricality of the narrative.

Review: Final Form, Ange Lavoipierre, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, By Hannah Goslin

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Now this is going to be a hard review to write. How do you write a review when everything goes wrong, no fault of the performer?

Unfortunately for Ange Lavoipierre, technology was the devil for her tonight.

Final Form is a comedy show involving a cello, Lavoipierre’s past and present, her likes and dislikes as well as being open, raw and entirely loveable. Her approach to making her life comical is absurd but likeable and unlike any other.

But this was severely tampered with with the consistent tech malfunctions. Lavoipierre does well to laugh it off, continue when possible and use her natural comedic talent to keep the ball rolling. Her interaction with us is constant, warming and we are all there rooting for her.

From tales of snail massacre, to what she really wants in a man, Lavoipierre’s sense of humour is dark, unapologetic and damn right funny. We feel apart of a group and her friendly and confident personality makes us feel safe in her cocoon of an unusual life.

She’s not afraid to be vulnerable when things go wrong; but when they go right, they are excellent.

She has a fresh approach to female comedy, which is great to see; touching upon relationships, marriage and children, somehow it feels more fresh and a little less of what many female comedians can fall short with by bashing ticking clocks and men in general.

Ange Lavoipierre is lovely, friendly and definitely funny. It was just a real shame that tonight was when everything went wrong for her. I urge you to check her out, as her recovery over these obstacles shows that she has a real talent for comedy.

Review : Retirement Tour, Andrew White, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, By Hannah Goslin

2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

This may be an odd title for a 19 year old to name his show. Why would you retire comedy at such a young age?

Andrew White opens up to us, and becomes vulnerable before our eyes with the truth about his title. After a bad gig, admitting he was not right for that audience and of which was due to a booking mistake, White explains to us through honesty and comedy about how this has rocked him, leaving him to consider whether comedy is for him or whether a stint in University is more sensible.

We learn a lot about White – his personal life, his ever changing fight with his own confidence and we see him battle with this on stage as he produces his acceptance letter to do communications at Cardiff University.

At first this reveal of the letter and his sub sequential decision to pursue comedy instead, seems very premature into the proceedings and feels as if he has already revealed his trump card. But this continues onto a series of ever changing decisions, revealing more and more letters, said to be his acceptance. This is a fun approach, and feels as if we are contemplating the decision with him.

White does seem a little nervous on stage. Understandably, stand-up comedy and at the fringe where there is much competition is a tough business and again, we forgive the lack of confidence but will him to continue. Unfortunately this therefore makes his delivery feel more of a TED talk than a comedy set, but we are interested none the less, with comical interludes.

Andrew White: Retirement Tour is an interesting comedy set – we follow him on his battling life decisions and feel honoured to go through this sequence with him. With some great jokes involved, White could go a long way with a little more confidence in his delivery. 

Review: Here Comes Your Man, Matt Hoss, Edinburgh Fringe Festival,By Hannah Goslin

2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

Do you recognise the title? Here Comes Your Man comes from a famous Pixie’s song to which our comedian for the night thought was all about love. Yet he has a sore realisation that it is about a murderous homeless person.

So how does he turn this around? Matt Hoss the hopeless romantic bears his soul to us for comedy, telling us about his relationship fails and his hopes for the future.

Matt Hoss is a rapid speaker and at times it we lose the train of thought slightly. This can only be put down to nerves, which we appreciate and are happy to stick with for a funny man.

You cannot help but feel for Hoss – we have all been there, and it being rare for a man to feel so much and to be romantic – any lady would be happy to have him. But his tales are not unusual, but the way he has twisted it and to create a show from it, is.

To turn this into comedy for our enjoyment is brave; he is comical, lovable and fun to be in a room with.

With a little more confidence, Matt Hoss could go far. He is worth checking out for all those who have loved and lost, and need that pick me up!

Review: Bumper Blyton, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, By Hannah Goslin

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

No matter what age, we all grew up with lashings of ginger beer, while slapping our raised knee. Not one person does not know about Enid Blyton and her wonderful tales.

But what happens when you take the Blyton theme and improvise?
A whole lot of fun.

Bumper Blyton, an improv group, interact with us and let us take control. We give our suggestions and they help to influence how the team bring the story to us. Each time is different, each joke is different and so each show is unique.

Playfully labelled as ‘Enid Blyton for Grown Ups’ – it sure is! There are jokes that are only for the adults, and at times even flummox the performers themselves; this is not a bad thing. One thing I think is brilliant is when performers in these types of performances quite obviously enjoy what they do and find it as funny and exciting as the audience. And it is clear they do. This makes us laugh even more and feel included and part of the group.

Improv is a clever performance technique and so to come up with an interesting and mysterious story on the spot, keeping to character is impressive.

Bumper Blyton is lashing of fun, a slap on the knee of enjoyment and a show we all feel included in. If you want a break from the festival to sit back, laugh and enjoy something new each time, ensure you check them out.

Review: The Grandmother’s Grimm, Some Kind Of Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, By Hannah Goslin

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

In an underground tunnel, it seems like the perfect place to set the creation and editing process of the famous Grimm Fairy tales, we all know and love.

However, there is a twist to this tale. The Grandmother’s Grimm takes a keen look into the women behind these stories; ahead of her time, Frau Hassenpflug helps the Grimm brothers to edit the horror out of the original tales, while realising how the females behind these stories are the ones being edited out. As we delve into their editorial process, we see the championing of women, at a time that the patriarchy was at full force.

This small cast need little else than their talent and enthusiasm to bring this tale to us – doubling up as the farcical characters in the fairy tales, they use little items to help bring the magic across, and this works well, triggering our own imagination.

The character’s of the Grimm brothers, Frau H and the house maid are well established and with fierce and conflicting personalities of their own – keeping to the ‘Victorian’ era that it is set, they continue the customs and attitudes of the time, filling their language and physicality with this, yet there is a modern take when Mrs H and the house maid are challenging the stereotypes and becoming just as involved and as important as the men.

The Grandmother’s Grimm is intelligent, interesting and intriguing – a really enjoyable and unusual production.