Brighton Fringe 2017
Fox and Hound Theatre Company’s trio of Tennessee Williams are a must-see. Not just because they premiere the 1981 Ivan’s Widow adding the 1953 Talk to Me Like the Rain and Let Me Listen but the gem: 27 Wagons Full of Cotton from 1946. already famed for a Edinburgh Fringe sell-out. A superb piece superbly played.
‘It’s about this nurse.’ Angelica, former nurse to the Capulets sets out her moonlight vegetables quite literally. The essential point is that’s it a fascinating take, and a compelling story.
Four actors led by writer/director Sofia Stavrakaki enact what’s clearly a prison of a circus, people forced to perform a ritual of trouping for the delectation of a whip-cracking elite. A summary hardly does justice to the atmosphere this production evokes or the meta-language burning through the glares of hallucinated prey. You’ll know whether it’s for you if you like Beckett or European theatre
This is the most affecting bittersweet piece of theatre seen at the Fringe for a while and a masterly play. That Hall and Lacey invest it with such pathos humour and delicacy whilst working to pinpoint direction is equally winning, equally devastating and makes you dream sequels. It’s a must-see.
It’s as if Billie Piper’s Yerma does stand-up. Caroline Byrne’s Blocked reveals a writer whose images stamp a scream-out-loud theatre drawn into an arc of devastation. Curnick inhabits a performer’s meltdown from a technique and emotional agency as strong as… a recording black box. Why? Find out. Superb theatre.
Paul Macauley’s garnered outstanding praise and Bug Camp adds to his reputation. All four cast give exemplary performances though Douetil and Spencer hit a top register of something teetering on tragedy, laughing over an abyss.
What’s in this name? Eglantyne means a prickly rose and smells by any name bittersweet. Founder of Save the Children who burned herself out in its service. This is enlightening and moving in equal measure, not only rendering a great service, but asking after Eglantyne Jebb’s breath-taking leaps of empathy, how far we’ve come since.
Not so much another First War narrative but a parallel rediscovery of singalong music, song and dance, stars and tears in their eyes. Tightness of video, the engagement of audience and extremely well-counterpointed denouement makes this a memorable show. And did I mention the Childs can sing?
A fine adaptation of a classic 1926 pulp horror tale from H. P. Lovecraft. Be prepared for subtle creeping horror late at night when Thurber befriends the brilliant but horribly morbid painter Pickman, and is invited to his 1690s studio.
When an author entitles her experiences in How to Walk Through Hell as based on her own, you might wonder if we’re close to stories of abuse and terror. Yes, the abuse is a virus. Lyme disease. The acting of both Sam Wright and Kizzie Kay is exemplary, some of the finest naturalistic acting seen on the Fringe this year, indeed consummately professional.
In his end lies his beginning: almost the last and first plays of Tennessee Williams yoked together before a devastating mid-period work are a must-see. Beautifully crafted performances, these rare Williams plays deserve packed houses and Fox and Hound themselves accolades for putting on three Williams plays in one night and proving a special attunement to them all.
Donkin’s artistry as writer isn’t in doubt, and Newton-Mountney’s performance is compelling. This is eminently worth seeing especially if you like dystopian narratives of the possible near-present. The story’s complete, but this journey’s just begun.
It’s not been done like this before. This play fully deserves its accolades. Though we associate the First War Pals Battalions with the north (the Accrington for instance) this show localises it to every community it tours.
Imagine it’s three minutes to midnight before a nuclear winter. And that’s slipped on January 26th this year to two-and-a-half. Jonathan Williamson’s created a laconic take on the old 1970s-80s nuclear holocaust warnings.
Superbly acted, these gems deserve to be seen
The Cocktail Pianist is ultimately radiant with self-knowledge. Hatchard is a phenomenally gifted pianist even on an electric keyboard. His touch, mercurial dispatch are not of the medley kind. A first rate show with enduring things to say, it’s also a comment on how we treat our gifts and they us.
It’s history, so believe it. For over a century an all-woman gang marauded London from Elephant and Castle. Margo MacDonald’s explosive one-woman play which she both wrote and acts in, asks what you might expect in a series of evenings with Maggie Hale, an amalgam of two Maggie Hs, in 1937. MacDonald’s riveting throughout, rasping her laments, lusts and long views to the dogged interlocutor. A superb performance of a remarkable play and subject, whatever its provenance.
It’s all in the maths obsession. Think Nick Payne’s Constellations with a tighter focus on one event and its outfall and rewind. It’s a clever but also heartening play, which also asks what time does to two individuals who dream of the one direction but wake up without interpreting each others’ dreams, or finding when they do they’re different. And what to do.
What’s Left must be right. But the country’s voted, Right. Do catch this! Left-wing activist Adele is just the dominant voice when Morag Sims puts on the best single act of a whole cast I’ve seen in a long time.