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Review : Styx, Second Body By Hannah Goslin

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

In the belly of one of London’s newest theatre’s, I experienced one of the most emotional and best nights of my life.

Entering the space, we are welcome to live music, played by a band of 7 – with brass instruments, electric guitars, sound scapes and a drum kit. The set basic, only light bulbs above each person and in the ceiling, and all dressed smartly but shoeless – I cannot tell you how much this minimalist band excited me – something unusual and live!

Styx is a true-life play developed by two of the band members who are siblings – there is a cross over of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice Greek myth and their own grandparents’ lives. It tackles the issues and reality of dementia, of love, of life and ultimately how memory works.

Second Body chop and change, from true recordings of their Grandmother, new and brilliant music composed, written and performed by the band on stage, spoken word and recordings from interviews with the band. While this sounds like a lot, it really works amazingly well. There is a pattern to the performance, and it felt like a dark yet humorous, genuine and unbelievably cool musical. The story is brought to us, from beginning to end, as we get to know their family, their grandparents, but with musical interludes.

Both of these are so genius-ly done that you could happily take them apart from one another and still love every second – but you don’t want to do that. It is so wonderful composed that it is hard not to love every single person, to love their family and to really see their emotion and passion for the piece.

This review feels hard to write – I could gush all day about how phenomenal this piece was. Dementia is something close to me, but even if you have never experienced this, you would have experienced some kind of grief or ending of a story – and so I would defy anyone to come away not feeling tearful, feeling welcomed and honoured in sharing their story and a warmth at how beautifully this performance is.

So enough gushing – I can only see that if you do not see this, you will miss one of the best pieces of theatre I have ever seen. Styx is unlike anything I have ever experienced before, and tantalised every theatrical and personal emotion.


Review: Rabbits In The Precambrian, Wrong Shoe Theatre By Hannah Goslin

3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5)

A philosophical play – what happens when your whole word beliefs are shattered? Who are you? What has or is your life about? Rabbits in the Precambrian tackles this thought with comedy, contemplation and interesting character development.

Wrong Shoe Theatre Company, fresh from Royal Holloway University and The Front Room Croydon’s resident artists bring the story of a group of people contemplating life and existence, with the help of a con artist Guru. It features slapstick, clever writing and a conclusive ending tying up all loose ends.

We see the differences in relationships, with the writing allowing the characters to contemplate their own worlds and interests – everyone has as big a role as the next, hitting areas not unlike a sitcom as they interweave into one another’s stories and lives.

The actors themselves do well to create their own in-depth character – two married couples, both with a lecturer half and the other a little unusual in their interests – they compliment each other but at times it feels a little like the males are very similar and the females are just the annoyed wives. Perhaps a reversal in roles could make this more interesting and balanced in the controversy of gender roles in today’s theatre.

There is a balance of slapstick humour and then philosophical discussion – both being very well done, it felt like the two still needed to gel a little more, crossing over into one another to compliment the unusual storyline.

Particularly the character of Reed, played by Liam Crocker, was excellent. He struck the right balance of hilarity to rationale – when finding out that his life’s beliefs are disproved, his downward spiral is believable, but his character is quick witted, comical and we relate to him and his disbelief of the unusual events. Moments of monologue are directed to each of us, and we feel included, the fourth wall breaking down, and it creates a nice moment between us and the character.

The Guru, while part of the main plot, is also a great comic relief. Think middle class, hipster kid, meets spiritualist. She strikes the right vocal notes for this character, making her wistful and flakey but at the same time a believable con artist.

The ending felt like a little work was needed – as a theatre creator and at times writer, ending a piece is always quite difficult and I get that once all the questions are answered, it is sometimes at a loss on how to do this; and this is what it felt like was a minor struggle at the end. While the final note hit the nail on the head, a little work on how to get there could absolutely solidify this ending.

Rabbits in the Precambrian is full of fun, comedy and rational thinking – A play definitely worth seeing and to keep an eye on through development.

Review: Rouge, Underbelly Southbank London, By Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Who couldn’t be excited by an adult only circus? We begin our night by our intro full of comedy, verbal notes on a good time and nudity – and this is exactly what we get.

Amongst awe inducing stunts, flying high in the air, balancing on unstable chairs, fire, whips, you name it, we get a show full of attitude, hilarity, tongue and cheek and lots of naughtiness. It’s true that this is a circus unlike any other.

This isn’t a show for the prudish, or the shy. The group openly admit that their idea behind the show is breaking down gender and sex roles, and so we see plenty of sexual tension between all sexes – they throughout cross gender roles, with femme and androgynous looks as well as woman taking a lead in dominance. And this shows another great step towards more open and equal performances that are popping up across the theatrical scene.  

Don’t be shocked if you fall in love with these characters – each with their own personality on show, they can be demure and intense with more serious acts but none are afraid to make a fool of themselves, taking playful approaches to S&M, hilarious dance routines with obscured faces by a lamp shade and dancing to a song stating ‘turn me on’ – at this point a light switch by their genitals can be flicked on with light blasting out. There’s no end to the inventiveness and comedy with their routines.

And of course, the more intense stunts are beautiful, well-rehearsed and stunning. The ability to make it look so easy, but with our full knowledge of the strength and skill going into these. They keep their performance faces on, even if the heat literally gets turned up as they swallow fire or keeping their head as they are swung around the room.

Rouge is raunchy, a great degree of enjoyment and certainly a brilliant night out – For ADULTS ONLY!

Rouge plays at Underbelly as part of the Southbank Festival until the 15th September.

Tips and Tricks as a First Time Ed Fringe-r By Hannah Goslin


Working in the industry for around 10 years, it is a wonder I have only just made the essential pilgrimage for every Performing Arts professional.

This is not for want of not wanting to. Time, money… all those factors. And each year I have major FOMO through all the pictures and social media, friends and colleagues attending; my insides screaming WHY AM I NOT THERE!

So this year, I planned in January. And trust me, when I say, this is the best time to plan.

But when researching, I firstly reached out to seasoned friends and colleagues on their tips and tricks of the Fringe and Edinburgh itself (as, a double whammy, I had never been to Scotland either!). I have immense gratitude to these beautiful people, and it was a lovely euphoric moment of realising the collection of talented beings I know and love in one City, from someone who has made these connections all across the country. To have all these people in one place was surreal but also completely beautiful.

However, there was nothing more I could find from others with perhaps a list of things to consider when making this trip, and while I certainly do not know it all, I thought I would write a little something of the things I learnt at my first Fringe.

What to Bring

Scotland is Scotland after all. It can be cold. It (weirdly) can be pretty hot too. It buckets down. It shines. But it is still the UK. So here are a few things I found out you NEED to have with you:

  • Coat – bring a light one. You can bulk with warm stuff underneath. But when it rains, it bloody rains.
  • Wellies/Walking boots – I only brought trainers and flip flops (oh the hopeful part of me) but when it pours, parts of streets get quite flooded and soak through your socks. While I was suffering from quite a lot of chronic pain at the time which affected my decision also, bring hiking/walking boots with you if you plan on Arthur’s Seat. The day I wanted to do this, it rained and trainers would just not have done the job. Sadly I did not walk it this time due to all these contributing factors, but from what I know, you can walk it any time, so be prepared!
  • Socks – man oh man bring enough socks. While I came away with lovely highland cow socks, they cost me £4 and I probably should have just been prepared. (There are shops like Primark and H&M is the newer part, but if you’re busy you may not have the time).
  • Water – Yes you will drink a lot of booze. But get a reusable (all about the eco) bottle – pubs, venues e.t.c. will fill these up for you. And trust me, you will need a lot to drink with walking the city.
  • Pre-pack some food – Do not feel like you always need to eat out. It can get a bit pricey and if you are with limited time between shows, a protein bar or some fruit in your bag will save your life. It was delicious, but a £7 mini pizza was not healthy, rinsed my wallet and I rushed it, feeling pretty unwell after.

The City

  • The City is BEAUTIFUL. Take some time to explore, be a tourist, enjoy!
  • Stay in Old Town / Near the Royal Mile – easily the best part of the city, so beautiful but also a stone’s throw from most of the Fringe activity. Some happens in the newer part, and the half price tent is over there too but you will find most venues are in Old Town.
  • We’re still in the UK – Tescos, Lidl, corner shops are still around to grab anything you need. It can be stressful when you go on holiday and do not know the language or the area, but Edinburgh is littered with places to grab any essentials.
  • Walking is good – I loved walking the City. It’s pretty easy to do and the majority of things are pretty close together. But beware, it is all hills! (I found this out the hard way). However, if you’re struggling for time or feeling a bit lazy, public transport is amazing, and there is Uber!
  • Google Maps – Add at least another 10 mins to what google maps tells you. It is so busy and you will need to fight crowds at times. If you do not know the City, it’s easy to read a road not a bridge on the maps and end up going the long way. If you use public transport, there’s a lot of traffic so add time. And ensure you can grab a drink before your show!

Fringe

  • Get. Some. Sleep. – Part of this is planning where you want to stay. I chose a hostel but the experience made me realise I was A. Too Old for hostels now and B. It is NOT the place if you want to grab sleep, naps, relax e.t.c. So really think where you want to stay. This leads me onto…
  • Plan ahead – Get planning asap. Places sell out fast. Prices go sky high. The sooner you can book your travel tickets (train, plane, bus if you’re adventurous) and where to stay, the more you will save, the more selection and therefore can grab that private hotel room if you want/can afford and won’t end up sharing with a man who watches you leave/enter rooms and get ready for bed.. (yes this really happened).
  • Eat Healthy – I am still fighting the worse acne I have EVER had, and recuperating from lack of energy even a week and half after I finished Fringe. It’s so easy to eat bad food and let your health go down. Get some veggies. Drink some water. Practice serious self-care.
  • Have a freakin’ day off and organise your time– I packed around 50 shows in 9 days. I sadly cancelled a whole day because I got so unwell. 11am-11pm non-stop is insane, and why I thought I could do that for 9 days straight is beyond me. And organise your time – try not to do a million shows a day. Spread them out; schedule time to have a drink with the acts after; see some friends for lunch or coffee in between; go for a walk or take a nap between shows. Because you cannot truly enjoy a show if you’re at the back sweaty, exhausted and feeling like you may puke.
  • Plan your shows by distance – My second day I walked back and forth from the centre of Old Town down to Summerhall (a 20 min walk each way) at least 3 times. And I was a mess. If you’re seeing a lot at Bistro Square/St George’s Square or all on the Royal Mile, you can take a seat between, grab some food, chill in the park or a coffee shop and you’re not panic walking half way across the city.
  • Flyers/Be adventurous – Artists put a lot of money and time into flyers and flyer-ers. I spent my first few days politely saying no thank you until I met up with a producer friend who put it in perspective. Take the flyer, have a look, take a chance if you have the time. And if you can’t go and see it, you’ve at least made that persons day a little brighter by taking their flyer and considering it.
    Equally, take a punt! I was lucky to be going for reviews and ended up seeing some of the most incredible, the weirdest, the wonderful-est shows ever. And I may not have chosen these on my own. Even if it looks crazy or odd, have a go – you may be pleasantly surprised.
  • I also missed a lot of great work because I did not look into them enough before. If you are reviewing, balance it! Do some review work, see some shows just for yourself. I only did this once and it was a lovely relief not to be writing about it and to just enjoy it alone; a little break in between.
  • Be polite and chat with people – we’re theatrical people. The locals are lovely. Make conversation, it will brighten not only their day, but yours too. Everyone is really friendly.
  • Try not to hog pavements, doorways e.t.c It can be so dangerous with the busy roads. Be mindful and helpful, and it will make the Fringe so much better.

It may seem like a lot, but I learnt a lot from my first experience. I believe you need to experience it yourself and find your own ways to enjoy the Fringe but this is just a little to get you started.

Ultimately – ENJOY IT. It is probably one of the best things I have done with my life.

And maybe see you there next year – message me at any of the below and we can grab a drink!

If you have any other tips and tricks:

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We would love to hear your thoughts!

Review: Leslie Ewing-Burgesse EXISTS! Edinburgh Fringe Festival By Hannah Goslin

2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

Canadian born Leslie has come to London as she has always dreamed. In her flat, she finds an unusual book with the conspiracy that Paul McCartney died and all these years has been an imposter. And this begins a journey into her insecurities, acceptance but also getting to know this colourful lady through comedy.

Dressed magnificently (her boots are to die for, pink sparkly platforms!) and her bright hair, it’s hard not to fall in love with Leslie despite her fighting her own personal demons.

This work-in-progress performance is full of different levels – from insight into her past, The Beetles and conspiracy theories, the structure is well thought out and engaging as to what happens next.

There are times when Leslie needs to remind herself of what is next, but takes this in her stride and her comical ability smooths over these very brief breaks. Her ideas are all there, there just needs a little more confidence and trust in herself and her writing, as when it goes well, it is smooth and funny. This is not to say it never does not go well, but a work in progress type show always has a little delay with the comedian working out their material.

At times it felt a little more like a TED talk, and thoroughly interesting in this way none the less. But there’s a little work to do to deliver this as more of a comedy performance.

Leslise Ewing-Burgesse does indeed EXIST! She is flamboyant, loveable and we all want to be her best mate. Funny and insightful, she is one to keep an eye on as she inevitably rises through the comedy scene.

Review: Moonbird, Handprint Theatre, Edinburgh Fringe Festival By Hannah Goslin

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

After previously seeing Jonny Cotsen and Mr and Mrs Clark with Louder Is Not Always Clearer, it is safe to say my interest in BSL performances and learning BSL has peaked more than ever before.

If we’re being honest, between us friends, I am not sure before Cotsen’s show, that I have ever seen a show with BSL. Not even a captioned performance. And for that I feel shame, but also think it makes a great point of what Cotsen and Handprint Theatre and trying to achieve and put across in the industry with these shows.

Moonbird is a gorgeous tale of a Prince whose parents begin to realise he is deaf. Their struggle is explored on how to connect with their child and their feelings of failure towards him, but we also explore Orla’s (the Prince) struggle with being deaf, the world around him and ultimately loneliness. Enter the Moonbird who introduces him to nature, where he learns how he can communicate, and rebuild hIS relationship with his parents.

Throughout the production, BSL is communicated, along with subtitles projected behind. They are patient and take their time, not rushing through this to fully fulfil the message coming across. As one who does not know BSL, the movements of communication are like a beautiful dance, and the performers throw their all into it, incredibly bringing emotion and feeling across. If there were not spoken word accompanying the signing, I believe that you would still understand the story and feel every emotion within it.

The performers do well to change characters – a small group of 4, the majority double, even triple up from humans in the palace, to deer roaming the fields and monkeys playfully prancing the stage. During this time, there is almost no speech at all, purely the communication through action, movement and facial expressions. And nothing is over the top – it is enough for the stage yet subtle enough to be realistic and understandable.

Use of puppetry (my favourite!) comes in the form of baby Orla and Moonbird, and every movement is carefully thought out and taken time with. There is total fluidity and realism with this and you forget that these are not real actors on stage.

Lastly, the staging, lighting and general composition of the aesthetics are magical and beautiful. Simple yet effective, it feels as if we have jumped into a story book, with purples and blues, peacock colours spanning the stage, and basic costuming and props to help the story along – but ultimately this story is about the physical and nothing draws away from this.

Moonbird, while a production for young families, is really for everyone. The story is what every child’s story should be – magical, engaging and with a moral to the story. Moonbird is such an important performance for theatre going forward, I dare anyone to come away without being mesmerised and championing BSL performances.

Review: Switcheroo, The Oxford Revue, Edinburgh Fringe Festival By Hannah Goslin

2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5)

Think Whose Line Is It Anyway? Think classic British Sketch shows. A combination of these is what the Oxford Revue are trying for.

A small group of performers from Oxford university, aside from being some of the brainiest in the country, they are dabbling their hand at acting and performance creation which is always commendable.

Quintessentially British, they tackle relatable subjects from Dating to the Doctors, University life to sports which we all associate with in one way or another as well as recognise from society. This gives easy laughter, and interesting how they can easily roll through an hour long of 2 minute sketches without flagging energy.

As one can imagine, these guys are just starting out and so have a long way to go. They are comical, full of passion and excitement, but still with room to improve and hone their acting skills a little more.

Interaction with the audience comes in ebb’s and flows, something a little different than what we expect from a sketch show. However, the audience are as up for it as the performers which is a great sight to see, boosting confidence and helping the show run smoothly. The performers interact well with chosen contestants and do well to ad lib when necessary.

Oxford Revue, Switcheroo, is a good fun activity – a late night affair, if you are not ready to head home and up for sitting back for easy laughter, they are worth checking out. I would be interested to see how they progress professionally and perfect those already developing theatrical skills.

Review : Crazy Cat Lad-y, Dave Bibby, Edinburgh Fringe Festival By Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

We are crammed into a hot corner of a pub, close and snuggly, but the next hour proves why.

Dave Bibby is a Crazy Cat Lad-y – dressed in a onesie with a giant cat face, his comedy is evidently popular but also completely wacky.

The name is however a misdemeanour – admitting he needed a name for the show before writing it, his love for cats was what he thought of; however, in between his show, we get to see cute cat pictures, videos and GIFs to help us calm from the intensity – intensity of laughter.

Bibby talks to us about how he wishes he was Peter Pan – he unveils a costume under his onesie to reveal he is really Peter Pan. He then cleverly changes the characters in the original story to be accompanied by modern day themed songs e.g. The Lost Boys, are actually Lads from love island and so a song featuring full body waxing and ghosting girls begins.

The intelligence and thought into turning these characters into more relatable people and modern scenarios is abundant and so is completely hilarious in execution but also with how clever they are and how much it makes sense.

Bibby is completely engaging, and while we are all sitting almost on each other’s laps to see him, he makes us feel like close friends, engaging with us, confidently making eye contact and effortlessly interacting and ad libbing.

There’s at no point that we wonder what time it is or how long is left, because we are completely engaged and consistently laughing. The show is chocked full and Biddy even struggles to have a sip of cola as he is on an energetic roll.

Dave Bibby may be a crazy Cat Lad-y but he is also a talented, very funny comedian. Get there early to grab a seat, and don’t be surprised by how busy it is, because he truly brings a hilarious comedy show to the fringe. I look forward to seeing what his next show may contain.

Review: Do Our Best, Remy Beasley, Francesca Moody Productions, Edinburgh Fringe Festival By Hannah Goslin

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

For you Welsh readers, you would recognise Remy Beasley. But it may take a while. I spent a huge amount of Do Our Best wondering where I had seen her before, and it is a testament to her acting talent that I still did not know till googling after. Known for her role in the Welsh show, Stella, her character of Sephie could not be more far removed from her character opposite Ruth Jones.

Written by Beasely, we are introduced to Sephie who has decided to go back to girl guides to get her final badge. Dealing with the death of her mother, her feeling of insecurity and failure, and her relationship with her guide leader, we go through her motions of sadness, of loss to reliving her past and realising how much of a star she is.

Beasley is full of beans and never seems to stop on stage. I love this approach to the character, giving her a sense of still being childlike and finding her way in the World. She finds her way on the floor, on top of chairs, hugging the audience – she is as impatient as a child and we get the sense she has not grown up since the guides.

Sephie is a confident character – her want to be a star and her memory of being the centre of the world is evident, and she brings this to us in the present, ordering us around, stating memories as facts, and all in all being absolutely hilarious. Beasley shows through this her own confidence and own get go – at times slipping her own giggle at an audience interaction in, a little ad lib, and obviously enjoying her own performance, as much as we are!

And these comical and loveable moments make the hard moments, the sadness and the euphoric moments all the more poignant – when silence comes after chaos, it is beautiful, and she relishes these moments, leaving us feeling nicely energised and contemplative.

Do Our Best is a brilliant example of women running theatre – Beasley is a performer to be reckoned with, and it is guaranteed you will come out sore from laughter, from heart ache but with a new friend in Sephie.

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!