Category Archives: Theatre

Review: Conspiracy, Barrel Organ, Edinburgh Fringe Festival By Hannah Goslin

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

I am sure that all of us consider at least one Conspiracy theory to be true. Or at least question it. But is it a conspiracy, fake news, or are we easily convinced?

Barrel Organ bring us an hour of questions, of theories, of arguments, mistrust and a jumble of opinions. Three freelance researchers are recording their findings on the famous picture of a line of men, sat eating their lunch on a skyscraper above New York. What this begins in a series of fast paced, believable explanations and theories behind how they got there and the realism of the ‘facts’ they have in possession of.

Conspiracy is a really minimal production. It is completely about the narrative, with imagery and props only to help along the story. It is really fast paced – imagine explaining something exciting to someone with no idea of the content – you become fast, full of energy and eager to surprise the listener. Now throw this into a play at a constant.

It is so well written and with the combination of the amazing performers, you almost cannot believe that it is scripted. It feels like a real conversation; there is so much information that you cannot believe it is just rehearsed lines and the interaction between the characters is so naturalistic and real that we almost feel intrusive into the broadcast.

Events eventually come to a climax, and the exasperation, the anger and frustration feels real but we cannot help but laugh. The comedy is completely on point – it is subtle, it is often brought with the right pause, the right intention, sometimes is even a subtle facial expression or gesture and you soon find yourself in complete hysterics.

Conspiracy is everything you want in a production – realistic, engaging and hysterical. Somehow you come away almost believing the content on stage, questioning conspiracy theories but also thoroughly entertained.

Review: Teenage Kicks, Roisin Crowley-Linton, Edinburgh Fringe Festival By Hannah Goslin

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

I am so happy with this year’s fringe and the abundance of solo female shows. Something that I have always wanted to do myself, it is great to see such confident, talented and inspirational women storming the stages of Edinburgh.

This is no exception of Roisin Crowley-Linton. Physically and figuratively, Crowley-Linton bares absolutely all to us on stage. Crowley-Linton works with teenagers, and this brings her to compare her teenage years with those of today; to be honest about the risky and at times sensitive events she has been through, and at the same time, giving great advice.

Stand up, meets spoken word, meets music and cabaret, Crowley-Linton has put together a meaty show. But it does not feel at all overwhelming. Everything moves swiftly and smoothly into one another, drawing on each story to involve the next. We feel like we are experiencing a story, but as if we are also there having a chat with her.

There is plenty of audience interaction, but stating from the start, Crowley-Linton is not here to ‘take the piss’ out of us, nor is she here to call us out. She asks us questions such as a song that reminds us of being a teenager, or where our first kiss was. We also are encouraged to talk to one another, becoming close friends and being honest with strangers. It feels like a safe space, and she always makes sure we are okay.

Crowley-Linton is also completely hilarious. Perhaps relating more to a generation in their mid to late twenties with specifics of their teenage era, there is still an abundance of ages in the room who resonate with the themes and with her as a person.

Teenage Kicks is not just a performance. It is a friendship group. It is relaxed, honest, raw and Crowley-Linton is an incredible woman to bring a piece to stage where she opens herself up to us, unashamed and with complete humour.

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: The Sensemaker, Women’s Move, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, By Hannah Goslin

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

Have you ever been on hold? The irritating music. The repetitive recorded voice. The infuriation. But when we reach the end and someone answers, aren’t we polite.

The Sensemaker is a predominantly multimedia, choreographed piece, responding to sound and music, with repetitive, but also different gestures and movement throughout.

We are there to question what is happening, and what would we do for the right opportunity. Some parts of the performance are comical – the performer continues to smile but her eyes and her glances away insist she is nothing but happy – a relatable response to being on hold; and others are unfathomable. Would you really do THAT if you were asked? If your opportunity depended on it?

While the piece is simple, there is a sense of Sci-Fi to it. The recorded voice and the reactions are relatable to anyone who has been stuck on hold. But the responses that are required e.g. ‘Clap 6 times for English.’ ‘Crouch down and take one step to the right …(for analyses)…’. e.t.c is demanding and unusual, making this process the performer goes through feel all too much like a potential future reality.

It feels funny but it also feels dark and unnerving – reaching some points when you really question what she is working for and whether it is worth it. But who are we to question when we may be in the same predicament and willingly do the same things.

With almost 99% pure movement with sound and music queues, The Sensemaker is a really interesting piece; being able to bring something so deep across with only the minimal is quite a feat and a very clever response.

The Sensemaker is good fun, but also dark. It throws up a lot of questions about ourselves, our World and the Future. And watching something very ‘mime’ orientated was a breath of fresh air through the Fringe.

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.

An Interview With Welsh Playwright Owen Thomas

Hi Owen great to meet you, can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?

I have been a Playwright for almost 20 years. My plays include ‘Benny’, ‘The Wood’, and ‘Richard Parker’. I have a lifelong love of storytelling and the rhythm of words. How the dialogue sounds to an audience is always as important to me as the strength of the narrative. 

The play I am best known for is ‘Grav’, a one-man show about the life of Welsh cultural and sporting icon, Ray Gravell. This year saw ‘Grav’ complete its 100th performance and counting.

I grew up on a farm in Mid Wales where my parents still live and work. I now live in Tongwynlais on the edge of Cardiff. I am married to Amelia, and we have twin daughters, Sofie and Brooke. I love swimming and running and, for my sins, I am a fanatical supporter of Tottenham Hotspur.

So, what got you interested in the arts?

The urge to write was always there. My earliest inspiration was my Primary School Headteacher at Bronllys Primary School, Mr Dave Cooke. He was also a writer and would occasionally play us a radio play he had written. I was transfixed by the idea that something you had written could entertain people. This was where the idea of being a writer took root.

I went to a secondary school where drama wasn’t taught and with no history of school shows. One day I asked the Head if I could write a play and put it on. The result was a rather strange effort called ‘Where Have All the Foxes Gone?’. It was staged as part of the Christmas concert and the reception to it, as well as the buzz of writing dialogue for actors, was instantly addictive.

Poetry was my first love, and I had some poems published whilst at school. I won some prizes for my writing at local eisteddfods. In my recent writing I feel I am returning to my poetic roots, and my new play, ‘West’, is certainly the most rhythmic and lyrical play that I have written.

It wasn’t until I was living in London that I had the confidence to stage a play professionally. One day I rang all the Pub Theatres in the phone book pretending I was a successful writer looking for somewhere to stage my new play. The Hen and Chickens in Highbury and Islington offered me a weekend in December 2003 and the result was my first play, ‘The Dead of Night’.

Your background is in education.  I believe you left teaching to work full time as a writer? This must have meant some risk for you in terms of you career, why did you feel the need to make this move?

I was a Head of Drama in various schools for almost 20 years and I thoroughly enjoyed the job. I still do some Freelance teaching at venues such as Welsh College. But, in my own life, as with so many other people, there had been a few reminders that your time is finite, and that if there is something you really want to do then sometimes you just have to go for it. Carpe Diem. I thought about making the leap for many years, and felt I had enjoyed enough success to encourage me to go for it. But yes, it was a huge decision and one that I didn’t take lightly.

Playwriting is my passion. It is the job I have always wanted to do. I wanted to give myself the opportunity to see how good a writer I could be if I devoted myself to it. So far, the decision has proved to be the right one. In the past year I have written two new plays, ‘West’ and ‘The Night Porter’. ‘The Night Porter’ is a life-long ambition, a good old-fashioned ghost story in the vein of ‘The Woman in Black’. I am delighted that the Arts Council of Wales have granted me a large research and development grant to bring the play to life in January 2020. We have an amazing team lined up I can’t wait to bring a chill down the spine of Welsh theatre very soon.

You have successfully written plays based around the lives of Benny Hill and the Welsh Rugby player Ray Gravell. How do you approach transposing these real lives to the stage?

I have always been fascinated by the lives of real people. The key to bringing a life to the stage is thorough research. There is a huge responsibility in ensuring that you do your homework and present an accurate depiction of your subject matter. When ‘Grav’ was launched at Parc Y Scarlets there was a moment of genuine terror just before Gareth first took to the stage to showcase an extract. The Chief Executive of the Scarlets jokingly said to a room full of dignitaries, ‘well, I hope you’ve got his right, because there’s an awful lot of people in here who loved and knew Ray.’ I went white. Thankfully the reaction to the scene was great.

Finding the voice of a person is crucial. This comes from watching all that you can, and meeting people who knew what they were like. Ray’s widow Mari and his daughters Manon and Gwennan were incredibly supportive. The trust they placed in me to do justice to someone who was so loved by them personally was the primary thought kept at the forefront of my mind.

With Ray Gravell it was easier in that he was a well-loved figure. I chose Benny Hill precisely because he is more of a marmite figure. I wanted to get under the skin of a more divisive character, and to explore the impact of society changing around a person. I have always been interested in the lives of old comedians. With Benny Hill I was intrigued by how a man who was the most famous comedian on the planet for a time had become airbrushed out of popular culture. There was some hostility when the play was first unveiled, but thankfully this dissipated when people saw the play, and Liam Tobin’s skilful central performance as Benny.

I am just about to start writing a brand-new play about another much-loved Welsh icon. The team behind it are excellent. It is somewhat under wraps at the moment so watch this space.

You frequently work with the same collaborators, Peter Doran, Artistic Director at The Torch Theatre and most notably the actor Gareth John Bale. How does this relationship work?

On a personal level we are all good friends with a lot in common, but more importantly there is a huge amount of trust between us. That is essential. As a writer you have to be prepared to hand over your work to a creative team who may well suggest cuts and alterations you may or may not agree with. If you have an open and honest relationship, then this is far less painful. I have worked with people in the beginning of my career who would put a line through writing I had spent hours pondering and shaping. This never gets easier, but if you trust the people share the same vision and passion for the project then these decisions become much easier.

The journey we have been on as a creative team has been incredible, taking us from an initial conversation about ‘Grav’ at the Torch, to New York and our performance this year for the Welsh Rugby team. I can honestly say that throughout this process we have never had a cross word. We all believed in the project and each other. Peter and I went on to work on ‘The Wood’, a play commemorating the Battle of Mametz Wood in World War One. I was incredibly proud of this play and I hope that Peter and I will collaborate on another project in the near future.

Gareth and I have worked together for over a decade. We were first introduced through the excellent Script Slam at the Sherman Theatre. I had a 10-minute play called ‘The Window’ in the final and so was randomly paired with Gareth as the director. We hit it off immediately, and our relationship has seen us work on a wide range of projects. He is a very skilled director as well as actor, and we complement each other perfectly in the rehearsal room. My family often joke about how often I ring him. Usually once a day, often more. We have lots of plans for the future as Bale and Thomas, and are shortly heading out to the United States with a new play.

Get the Chance works to support a diverse range of members of the public to access cultural provision. Are you aware of any barriers to equality and diversity for either Welsh or Wales based artists? 

Encouraging diverse voices to feel empowered to share their stories on stage is key to this. People from all walks of life who live in 21st Century Wales need to feel confident enough to share their individual stories and experiences. We live in strange and somewhat divisive times at the moment. Theatre has always had the ability to hold a mirror up to society and pose questions. In my opinion the importance of cultivating awareness and understanding of other people’s lives and journeys has rarely been so relevant. New plays by diverse voices can play a key role in inspiring discussion, generating understanding and engineering social change.

There are a range of organisations supporting Welsh and Wales based writers, I wonder if you feel the current support network and career opportunities feel ‘healthy’ to you?

Generally, yes, but there are a few areas where there could be some improvement. I developed as a writer through opportunities such as Script Slam at the Sherman Theatre, Cardiff.

I think there is room in Wales for more events like these for up and coming writers. Writing is a very insular activity, and the chance to see something you have written actually performed on stage is incredibly important in your development. Seeing actors perform your story and hearing your dialogue spoken aloud, as well as having an audience respond to your work, is key to helping you find your style and voice. These early opportunities were fundamental in teaching me how to craft dialogue, and introduced me to some of the most important people in my writing career.

If you were able to fund an area of the arts in Wales what would this be and why?

Funding for youth provision is essential. Growing up I never had access to Youth Theatre or drama lessons. Having taught the subject for so many years, I fully understand the benefits that drama can have on a young person’s life. I have set up my own Youth Theatre in Tongwynlais which is great because I also get to teach my own daughters. There are about 25 members at present, and to see the growth and development in them over the course of the first year has been really exciting. It is essential for the lifeblood of our industry that we nurture our future performers and equip them with the transformative skills that performance can provide. It is essential that drama continues to empower and embolden young people.

Can you tell us about your writing process? Where do your ideas come from?

Ideas come from a range of sources. I have always enjoyed people watching, and indeed was inspired to write ‘The Night Porter’ after glimpsing a haunted looking man sat behind a hotel front desk through a window on a gloomy night in Edinburgh. Sometimes, as with ‘Grav’ or ‘The Wood’ I am lucky enough to be approached. But it has to be something I am going to enjoy researching or something I am able to give my own unique slant. I will often research a play for ages before I start writing, building up a thorough knowledge of the subject in my head.

For ‘The Night Porter’ I wanted to properly get under the skin of how to make people scared and so I enrolled in some night classes on Ghost Stories in Literature at Cardiff University taught by the fantastic Dr Juliette Wood. Through that academic process I was able to improve my understanding of the genre, and this will hopefully add to the scream count in the audience.

I always begin a new play by free writing, getting a load of ideas down on the screen before saving it and leaving it for a week or two. I then re-read and delete the vast majority, but in there I often find the elements I want to develop and expand. I draft and redraft many times until I am satisfied. ‘West’ has undergone five drafts, with ‘Grav’ it was many more. I always try to hear an early draft spoken aloud having long understood that something might look great on the page but sound awful when spoken aloud. Failing that, I read it to the dog in the shed.

Can you describe your writing day? Do you have a process or a minimum word count?

I tend to be at my most productive first thing in the morning. I get up early and go for a walk or a run to clear my head. Then I make a pot of tea and head to the shed for 9. I tend to keep going until ‘The World at One’. The afternoon is often spent reading, researching and editing.

Owen’s Writing Shed

Music is very important, and Spotify is a godsend. The right mood can be created by who you have accompanying you in the background. Richard Hawley is one of my go to artists for this. His lyrics and music are very inspiring, and his latest album, ‘Further’ is just beautiful.

I used to set myself very strict word targets, but after a while I found I was getting more concerned with the number of words I was writing than the quality of them. As long as I leave the shed with a scene or some dialogue that didn’t exist before I went in there then I am happy. A good day could be one page or five pages – it is the quality of the writing that is important.

Is there a place you go to write?

I am lucky in that I have a shed at the bottom of the garden. It has a desk, a chair, bookshelves and pictures all over the wall. I like to be surrounded by postcards, paintings, and photographs, for inspiration. There is no WIFI in the shed which is very important. With a good WIFI connection it is very easy to disappear off into a digital rabbit hole instead of actually writing.

Writing Shed Interior

If I want company then the Park and Dare in Treorchy or Chapter are both great places. But mostly, and fuelled by a steady stream of tea, I am content to lose myself for hours in the shed.

What excites you about the arts in Wales? 

I am currently working for ‘Pick of the Fringe’ at the Edinburgh Festival. It is so exciting to see such a wealth of terrific Welsh companies showcasing exciting, innovative work across the city. Companies like Dirty Protest, Clocktower and Volcano, to name but a few, are just superb.

My wife is a graffiti artist and spoken work performer called Amelia Unity. She is part of a collective called ‘Ladies of Rage’ who are working hard to address the lack of opportunities for female performers in Hip-Hop, grime, drum & base etc. To see how inspired and empowered they are as a group, including firing up the imagination of my own teenage daughters, is terrific.

Gareth Bale and I have recently set up ‘Rebel Rebel Comedy’, a monthly comedy night at Tiny Rebel in Cardiff. I’m really enjoying getting to know the stand-up comedy scene in Wales, and through our wonderful MC, Steffan Evans, we are being introduced to the huge depth of talent that is out there. Stand-up comedians are fearless performers and I love watching them work.

Music wise, I am always in awe of Gruff Rhys. His career is so inspiring and organic. I am always excited to see what he does next. From his very early days he has yet to record an album that I haven’t loved, and his imagination is something I am very envious of. To work with him in some capacity is a long-term ambition of mine. That would be a dream come true.

Finally, after the incredible impact of Rachel O’Riordan at the Sherman, I am very excited to see where the newly appointed Artistic Director, Joe Murphy, takes the theatre to next.

Joe Murphy, Artistic Director, Sherman Theatre.

What was the last really great thing that you experienced that you would like to share with our readers? 

I grew up in the Britpop era and have always loved going to gigs. I am a big fan of 6 Music and recently happened to hear ‘Kebab Spider’ by the Sleaford Mods. I fell in love with it and them on the spot, and went with my wife to see them at Cardiff University earlier this year. On stage were two men in their mid-40’s, one with a lap top and one with a microphone. It was the most unbelievably visceral, and exciting live experience I have had in years. To lose yourself in a crowd and feel the joy of being in a mosh pit was something I thought I had left behind long ago. I am going to see them again in London in November and I cannot wait. Jason Williamson is far and away the best front man I have seen in years, and I would urge you to check out their documentary ‘Bunch of Kunst’ if you want to know more about them.

And finally, I believe you are about to have your new play ‘West’ premier in America. How do you think American audiences will react to your work?

Last year we were invited to the North American Festival of Wales in Washington DC with ‘Grav’. The play was well received and so I was asked to write something original for this year. 

‘West’ explores the lives of the first Welsh settlers who went over to America. It is written largely in verse and stars Gareth Bale and Gwenllian Higginson. On a superficial level it is a love story between two people who make the decision to uproot their lives. On a deeper level I wanted to explore the theme of immigration, and to hopefully show the audience that we all originated from different places. I am very proud of it, and delighted it will premiere in America.

Many thanks for your time

You are very welcome.

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.   

Review: The Populars, Volcano Theatre Company, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, By Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

If there is any time for a production around Brexit, then this is it.

But this is Volcano Theatre Company – do not expect it to be as simple as a Brexit play.

In what looks like a village hall at Summerhall, there are no chairs, no ‘basic theatre staging’; nothing is quintessential about this production.

Firstly, it is AMAZING how this small group of performers keep going. Edinburgh is unusually hot at the moment, and to then essentially dance full stop, in character, no where to hide, for probably 15 minutes is a feat in itself.

Volcano are well known (and gosh don’t I know it from my training days with them as a student) for their physicality, and so there is no fear in this when they battle over tables, ‘claiming space’ and almost throw one another around the room. They each have a ‘character’ but there’s also an honesty about them – we get to know them, their personalities, with the opportunity to ad lib and interact with us alone and as a group, and from this we get the impression of their personalities. Of course, this may just be very good acting, but still, we enjoy getting to know them, laughing with them, dancing with them and all the absurdities in between.

The ‘choones’ are EXCELLENT- A brilliant choice of music; it lets us get involved, as music is a powerful tool when everyone knows the song. And these are eclectic in themselves, with diverse nationalities and drag us into one era, while the performers question the future; we are left in a state of every changing existence.

The Populars is high energised fun, full of important questions, great music and intense choreography.