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FringeReview at PBH’s Free Fringe


Edinburgh Fringe 2017 - Free Fringe Logo

The spirit of free and the free spirit thrives again at The Free Fringe of the great PBH (Peter Buckley-Hill).

Here are our top recommendations, previews and interviews for PBH’s Free Fringe…

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Luke Closely: Mugician – Magic with a Jazzy Difference

Scottish performer brings his new Jazz and Magic show to this year’s fringe!

About the show
Debuting at the Edinburgh Fringe 2017, Luke brings you his new solo show Mugician – a combination of music and magic. Luke sets the scene with some funk music performed live with his Jazz trio, the show then develops through engaging, comedy magic interspersed with more Jazz & Blues music. From this show, Luke wants to make you laugh, amaze you and leave you feeling relaxed. Musician + Magician = Mugician.

About Luke
Luke is from the West coast of Scotland and has spent a great deal of time in New York City over that last few years visiting his girlfriend and enriching his love for Jazz and the arts. Luke debuted at the fringe last year with his show Luke Closely & Listen. While performing in the Voodoo Rooms – Ballroom, he got to work alongside and learn from celebrated acts such as Anna Morris (BBC’s Outnumbered, ITV’s Bad Bridesmaids). Luke graduated this year from a music degree where he dedicated his final year to researching theatre, music, performance, comedians, and magicians.

He commented on this saying: “I wanted to draw together all these elements and find my own brand of variety show that challenges convention and expectations. I find that the live music from my trio complements and balances against the sometimes chaotic, comedy magic.”

Venue: Fingers Piano Bar (Venue 221)
Dates: 5-27th August (Except Mondays)
Showtime: 4.20pm (50mins)

Details and booking here
Website: www.lukecloselymagician.co.uk


Melanie Branton talks about My Cloth-Eared Heart

What’s the theme of your show?

In it’s simplest form: not having a boyfriend.

But it’s about much more than that – it’s about desire, aspiration, failure, loneliness, obsession, the pressures on women to please others and conform.

What’s new or unique about the show?

I see a lot of young spoken word performers doing the whole hyperbolised emo thing. I see a lot of middle-aged spoken word performers doing shows about their children and their marriages. I have never seen another show by a middle-aged woman about being single. I’m often told that I say things that everybody thinks but no-one else admits to.

I also think there are far too few shows that reflect female subjectivity and female desire. There’s a lot of “Girl power!” kind of feminist shows and a lot of “This is how women are oppressed!” feminist shows, but surprisingly few women write about what they feel and what they want as if it matters,in the way that almost every man writes unthinkingly.

How did the show come into being?

I am a spoken word artist and a page poet and some of the poems for this show were written as standalone pieces for my 20-minute touring spoken word set or for submission to journals.

I have a book of page poetry called “My Cloth-Eared Heart” coming out with Oversteps Books later this year and some of them were collected together for that.

I write about lots of topics, but I’ve noticed that the ones that seem by far most popular with audiences and editors are the ones whinging about my non-love life.

Then last summer a friend suggested I pull them together into a 50-minute show. I was sceptical at first, but I realised there was a chronological journey to them and I wrote some extra material to fill gaps in that journey.

Describe one of your rehearsals.

Nothing terribly exciting, to be honest.

How is the show developing?

I put together a 30-minute scratch version for Raise The Bar London in June. Feedback from the audience was generally good, so I’m now trying to ensure that the 50-minute version doesn’t lose the through line and the comic/serious balance that worked well in that.

As someone who is more used to 20-minute, alone-with-the-mic spoken word sets, but who comes from a theatre background, I’m working on the challenge of making it a little more visual, without creating the need for a gazillion unwieldy props that will only be used once.

How has the writer been involved?

I am the writer,so at every step of the way!

How have you experimented?

This is my first full-length spoken word show,so it’s all a bit of an experiment.

I like mixing comic and serious material in a way that makes the audience uncomfortable. I think there’s far too much cosiness about serious issues in spoken word, far too much of performers pandering to right-on audiences who want to be able to congratulate themselves on how sensitive they are and come away from shows about sexual violence, self-harm etc feeling morally superior and good about themselves. I like to take the audience hostage a bit and frogmarch them out of their comfort zone.

Where do your ideas come from?

Anywhere and everywhere. Some of my most popular poems are pure expression of how I was feeling at the time I wrote them: I vomited them out almost as is. Others are less spontaneous: one of the poems in the show came about when I was coming home from work on the train and I passed through an unmanned station.I thought, “Hey! You could make a pun on “unmanned” = “unstaffed” and “unmanned”= “emasculated”!” and then ended up constructing the rest of the poem around that one gag.

I take a lot of inspiration from environmental print, tannoy announcements etc. I tend to work tag phrases that I hear/read all the time, like “Will you stop writing now,please”, “Store in a cool, dry place, well away from strong flavours and odours” and “On alighting the train, please ensure you have all your personal belongings with you” into my work in unexpected ways.

My imagery tends to come from my environment. A few summers ago, I worked as an exam invigilator and exam metaphors started appearing spontaneously in my work. Last year I was teaching an ‘A’level English Language unit and I couldn’t stop writing in grammar puns and imagery.

How do your challenge yourself or yourselves?

In this show, I have tried to open up about very dark periods of my life that I have never spoken to anyone about before.One of the poems, I literally didn’t attempt to write until I knew I had a counselling appointment the next day, as I knew there’d be fallout. I am not generally a let-it-all-hang-out, misery-memoir sort of poet and the more personal I’m getting, the more I tend to lapse into complex metaphor and symbolism or jokey a,b,a,b rhyme schemes as an instinctive distancing device.This doesn’t come easily to me and some of these poems are hard to perform (although therapeutic and – I’m told – hard-hitting when I do)

I have also challenged myself stylistically – there’s a wide variety of styles,including some technically quite challenging ones in the show.

What are your future plans for the show ?

I would like to tour it for a bit, but I already have ideas for my next show.

What are your favourite shows, and why?

I like spoken word performers who address serious and/or deeply personal subject matter, but in a deceptively light way: Harry Baker when he touches on being a nerd and being bullied, for instance; Robert Garnham,who says more about LGBT issues in what is on the surface surreal fluffy comedy than a thousand tedious,overearnest “Homophobia is bad” poems ever could; Jemima Foxtrot’s “Melody”, which dealt with tough autobiographical matter such as abortion through the medium of popular music; Sam Boarer, who writes filthy, hilarious comic poems which are underscored with pain. I think understatement is more powerful than hyperbole.

Show dates, times and booking info: Room 1, Black Market, 32 Market Street, Edinburgh EH1 1QB, 5th-26th August inclusive, 1.30 pm, duration 50 minutes. Part of PBH’s Free Fringe – unticketed

Company web site

Book here