Category Archives: Theatre

Review: The Bible 2 (Plus a Cure for Shame, Violence, Betrayal and Athlete’s Foot), Crystal Rasmussen / Tom Glitter, Edinburgh Fringe Festival By Hannah Goslin

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

This is a drag show unlike any other.

A combination of comedy, quintessential camp fierceness, honesty, raw truth and pure love, Crystal Rasmussen (out of drag, lovely Tom Glitter) brings us the story of violence, shame and betrayal he felt growing up as a homosexual man in a less accepting world, and how his drag alternative personality helped him to accept himself and ignore the haters.

Crystal is beautiful, glamorous and hilarious. She bares all to us not only emotionally but physically, spinning on the stage in all her glitter for us to cheer, whoop and love.

When she opens up to us about Tom’s past, the physical, emotional and mental abuse he suffered for just being him, it is brought to us in a really sensitive way and anyone with a brain on their shoulders and a heart in their chest feels for him, feels the anger, betrayal and sadness that there are people who could treat someone else like this.

The narrative is nicely and equally split – while there is some hard hitting stuff, there’s as much joy and comedy and utter glamour to help us along.

Crystal also makes us feel included – saying hello to all of us, somehow making us feel as if she knows us one by one (and she is so brilliant, you just WISH you were her friend!) and makes us feel welcome. It feels like a safe sanctuary, where we are all joined together to celebrate Crystal and Tom’s love.

Not to mention, some well-known tunes, that we boogie to, but that she sings – and what a voice! I would happily listen to her sing any song and love it more than the original. Crystal Rasmussen/Tom Glitter, Bible 2, is great fun, a wonderful night out, but a hard hitting realisation of the world for LGBTQ+ people. It is not a shy performance, the jokes are NSFW and we come away even more in love with her than before.

Utter perfection!

Review: YUCK Circus, Edinburgh Fringe Festival By Hannah Goslin

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

The only way to start this review is to announce that this was one of the best and most inventive things I have seen for a long time.

The word ‘circus’ could however be a loose term for the performance; there are some small stunts, a little aerial and flexibility, but this is not the main focus, and that does not make me mad.

This all female group openly spit in the face of the patriarchy, but with a sense of humour and no fear. The YUCK ladies take elements of female life, from menstruation, to talking about messy nights out, pubic hair to ‘dick pics’ and ultimately doing this with a hint of satire on how women are perceived in Circus shows.

The YUCK performers are dressed in basic black shorts and tops, modest and purely to help with the stunts. But at one point, they point out that there has been little circus; to fuel our need, they do a balancing act, but not before pulling their shorts up, exposing their bottoms and facing the audience. This is not only hilarious but is addressing the importance that we are used to seeing scantily clad circus performers, and at times we question if this is really for function or for the ‘male gaze’.

They are unapologetic in parts of life that are not feminine – beer drinking, burping – who cares! They certainly don’t and through this humour and inventive acts, they poke fun and make a stand at the same time.

They interact fully with us, making eye contact, coming into the audience and so this is not a show for the shy by any means.

There is also music; and again, these range from satirical live music, poking fun at what the aerialist is doing, as well as some quintessential feminist songs, some disco – all the tunes you cannot stop yourself dancing to.

YUCK Circus is what every feminist woman should go to to feel another push in what we are striving for in society; for every woman who is still in the dark; and for every man who is stuck in the patriarchy. It is for everyone who wants to laugh, has a slight dark and unbarred humour and to feel really empowered by these unapologetic and fierce women.

 

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: 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.