The FringeReview Reviews Archive from Our Maiden Year 2006

Thanks to the eerie magic of the Wayback Machine, FringeReview’s maiden year of reviewing has not been lost to posterity. Our first web site was home made by yours truly who knew bugger all about web design. It was a one page web site with reviews in alphabetical order. I knew not what hyperlinks were!

Anyway, for those old enough to remember, and those young enough with nothing better to do, here are our first reviews from the year 2006…


Alvin Ungloved

Alvin Stardust

The still vibrant god-father of British Rock ‘n Roll

The Lowdown

Old rocker proves he can still cut it.

The Review

Alvin Stardust is not what you might of as a typical Edinburgh turn, but this show is a minor revelation. Accompanied by a very tight three-piece combo, the sixty-something ex-glamrock god sings the fifties rock-and-roll songs that he fell in love with as a teenager.

Between songs he gave anecdotes from his long and eventful career, these were fresh and funny and genuinely moving.

Most impressive was his energy and commitment, this never once felt like nostalgic cabaret. Alvin also belatedly reveals himself to be a very fine guitarist.


Played: Underbelly

Rating: ****

Reviewed by G.P. 25th Aug 2006


And Even My Goldfish

Chotto Ookii

An intriguing if sometimes disjointed piece on relationships

The Lowdown

A piece of physical theatre exploring the breakdown in a relationship, where one party cannot cope with the ageing of his partner and desperately tries to cling onto the past.

The Review

Though this play took a while to get into, by the time the cast had come on for their second bow I was clapping as hard as the rest of the enthused audience.

What confused me at the start was the seemingly random mixture of mime, voiceover and dance, but this soon came to provide the charm of the piece. The hugely tall central character had elements of Mr Bean in his goofy mannerisms, however his size allowed for some wonderful pieces of physicality with the shorter members of the cast.

The deterioration of the main characters’ relationship was mirrored with beautifully choreographed dances by other cast members, which served to highlight the struggles of love.

All in all this unusual style of theatre worked incredibly well, and this young and talented company is worthy of your fringe pennies.

Played: C-Central Studios

Rating: ***

Reviewed by A.B. 16 Aug 2006


Stopped Clock

A fine four-hander, full of energy from a talented cast

The Lowdown

A fairytale about love & loss set in Liverpool. Paul & Sam (out-of-towners) meet Amy & Anna (scouse sisters) and fall in love. When a tragic accident rips two of them away, how will the remaining couple cope?

The Review

There is so much to commend this fast-paced, energetic comedy of relationships. Most of the audience in this sell-out show gave it a standing ovation and clapped and cheered at various stages. You might not be blamed for thinking you’d stumbled into cult show. And cult show this might become. The mostly under thirties audience loved the story, of two man and two women (sisters) and their journey through fun, laughter, pain, love and loss.

The writing is crisp, with some classic lines, terrific banter and interaction, the pacing is good, the scenes are one moment funny, the next touching and serious.

The story itself doesn’t particularly break new ground, but it is engaging nonetheless. The cast know how to sing and the few songs only add to the whole heart-warming nature of the piece.

All of the cast are strong in a play that will put a smile on your face and a tear in your eye. The show plays late (about 10.10pm) and makes for an ideal night out after a meal. It’s a positive, feel-good play that is full of heart, humour and a terrific sense of life and how to survive and enjoy it.

Played Roman Eagle Lodge Theatre,

Rating: ****

Reviewed by P.L. . 13th August 2006


Bat Boy – The Musical

Cambridge University Broadway Savoyards

“Deep in the West Virginia hills a strange creature is found. From these humble beginnings comes an epic tale of love, tragedy, betrayal… and blood.”

The Lowdown

Mocky Horror Show: perfectly cast for cultish fun.

The Review

Amid the hullabaloo and raw ambition that is Edinburgh, it’s easy to forget
that theatre can be just plain fun. Bat Boy: The Musical brought back that
sense of joy with an hour and a half of camp silliness that never once
descended into schmaltz.

Taking stories from the supermarket tabloid “Weekly World News” as their
starting point, writers Keythe Farley and Brian Flemming – alongside
musician/lyricist Laurence O’Keefe – have fashioned a story of small town
prejudice and self-respect against the backdrop of cartoon-like southern
town Hope Falls, West Virginia, replete with ambitious sheriff, gullible
locals and a Baptist revival meeting.

However, before you start thinking that you’re into “Dukes Of Hazzard”
territory here, these are characters played with affection rather than
condescension. Even the slightest of parts (many of this brilliant cast
double-up) is given a unique twist or tick. Likewise, the script often
wrong-foots you, especially with an outrageous pagan wedding scene and a
curious tale of bat pheromones…

To give more details away would be to spoil the fun. Suffice it to say that
Bat Boy: The Musical is ideal late-night theatre for the slightly twisted.
My only criticism would be that the balance of the music sometimes drowned
out solo performers. But even this concern is churlish in the face of a show
that made even the German back-packers next to me laugh like drains.


Rating: ****

Played: C too

Reviewed by D.D. 21st August 2006


Whoever Fights Monsters

Dark humour, the pain of living when hopes are dashed

The Lowdown

End’a Walsh’s very dark play set in Ireland in a cramped room. A father and daughter reflect on their lives in a striking two-hander

The Review

End’a Walsh’s intense, dark play can be almost to much to watch in places. The very tragic story of a father and his daughter, who lies prone and incapacitated, in their claustrophobic, small room in Cork in Ireland.

We are witness to the telling of their life stories; he as a furniture salesman, she before her Polio confined her to her bed. Claustrophobic pieces such as this can become unwatchable unless they are engaging. This is a play where the walls have closed in, not just physically represented by the cramped living space, but also the symbolic walls that have closed in on two lives built around a bedridden state.

The bed represents lost opportunity, regret. We can all become metaphorically bedridden and, these days, many people are. The script keeps the attention but also dares us to look away or close our ears. Yet we are drawn in by the monologue and dialogue in this well crafted piece.

The actors are to be commended on their ability to hold us still; I sensed no fidgeting as the audience were held by the emerging story. Writing and acting can do this when the pauses really are as important as the spoken words. Young actors Theo Leonard and Lizzie Sankey acted beyond their years and were convincing in their emotional commitment and intensity. Director Ellie Dowall is to be commended for keeping the set and the staging simple in a piece that is complex and could be over-done/. It isn’t overdone and we are drawn into the space though Leonard’s high-energy, characterisation leaps across the stage and creates a person who is both comical and fearful. This contrasts impressively with Sankey’s stillness – much of her own impact comes from some nicely done eye and facial theatre.

Leonard’s acting is almost too much of a one-man show at times and he is too young to be fully believable as a father figure. Yet overall, this is a very laudable rendition of a play that is full of darkness and requires the actors to hold the stage well. They succeed.

Rating: ****

Played: The Rocket Venue, Roxy Art House

Reviewed by P.L. 12th August 2006


Bite Size

White Room Theatre

Literally, “bite-size” short plays in an hour that glides by

The Lowdown

A selection of some of the best plays from the Melbourne and Sydney short and Sweet Festivals, a rich hour or so of excellent writing by an equally impressive cast

The Review

You get a different bundle of five short plays on different days with Bite Size from White Room Theatre. Of course not every piece may be to your taste but, if this selection was anything to go by, it will be well worth making a second trip to see these high-energy, competent performers at work.

What I like about this show, and what gets it the strong star-rating is choice of material, the playfulness of offering such a wide variety of well-written work. This isn’t radical theatre and that is not to criticise it; this is theatre that mixes different styles and genres of acting and short play-writing, and the group pulls it off. There is a very poignant short piece in which a disappointing one night stand turns into a short exploration of memory and how we remember the good and the bad in our lives. Another piece, surrealist in quality, is a dialogue between two women (I won’t spoil what happens) and there is some lovely interplay and timing between the two characters with a neat twist at the end.

It’s the sheer variety that pulls it all off in the end. There is monologue, dialogue, music, some very funny comedy dancing of two mothers struggling through life’s routine, there is comedy, drama – it’s all there, and it is that variety that gives Bite Size its unique take on the Fringe.

I enjoyed the mix of pieces from the opening tragicomic monologue about about a kleptomaniac, to the end-piece about which was an hilarious satire on the film industry. Sadly I was only able to see one of the “menus” on offer. However, if this half is anything to go by, I would strongly recommend you go to see both. And I suppose the format is repeatable with new plays, so watch out for more Bite-Size in the future. Go see this gem at Roman Eagle Lodge.

Rating: *****

Played Roman Eagle Lodge Theatre, throughout the Festival dates – two different shows presented as two different “menus”

Reviewed by A.W. 13th August 2006


Bonnie in Brighton


A performance of heart supported by fine writing

The Lowdown

A Texan’s awakening experience of living in Brighton UK. A rite of passage, Bonnie meets the underworld and the overworld of a town that loves to party.

The Review

Rarely do one-person shows make you laugh and cry so genuinely as this brilliant piece of writing and performance. Bonnie arrives in the UK and awakens to the realities of life as well as the joys that go with “walking on the edge” in Brighton. Erin Parks portrays Bonnie with an energy that both delights and deeply engages. There’s humorous storytelling, I didn’t ever feel preached at and the idea that sometimes you have to really live to experience life to the full, is often portrayed too obviously. Not in this show. Guy Picot’s lightness of touch with the script draws us into a terrific story.

Of course, this may not appeal to the emotionally-barren reviews that one sometimes meets at Festivals who love to trash anything with a warm heart. This is powerful storytelling but it is also a performance with heart. We smile with Bonnie and also share her reactions to the shadowy side of a town whose love of playfulness can also create pain as well as pleasure.

The show isn’t too long, the story is real, fun, sad, inspiring, and mostly enjoyable. Go and see it. I mean, GO AND SEE IT. SIX STARS IF I COULD.

Rating: *****

Played Roman Eagle Lodge Theatre, throughout the Festival dates

Reviewed by P.L/S.G 7th August 2006


Cabin Fever

Gilded Balloon Productions

Cruise comic capers with a funny and believable Stephen Frost

The Lowdown

A sacked cruise entertainer kidnaps his young boss and tries to get his job back.

The Review

This is a star vehicle for Stephen Frost who is both funny and believable as Billy Merriweather, a cruise comic at the end of an undistinguished career. It touches on the universal theme of older people being thrown on the scrap heap aswell as being a nostalgic look back at light entertainment.

As a two person show, the potential for the other part is under-realised, the young boss spending much of the play bound and gagged, but Frost is a real tour de force.

The play is written by Jim Sweeney, a comic turned writer who clearly understands the world he writes about. Frost’s energy stops this show turning into a grumpy-old-men rant.

Rating: ***

Played:The Gilded Balloon Teviot

Reviewed by G.P 25th August 2006



Resident Alien

A fast-moving and funny two-hander Well worth an hour

The Lowdown

Tom kidnaps Gerry. So far, so cat and mouse. But Tom is a decorated Falklands veteran, while Gerry’s a traffic warden – and who’s going to miss one of those? A tale of duty, guilt and parking regulations.

The Review

Hidden in the undiscovered reaches of Edinburgh is this enjoyable short play in ClubWEST. A simple but engaging enough idea draws you in immediately – the kidnapping of a traffic warden in search of fifteen minutes of fame.

The two characters work well together and there’s a sense of Hancock and James about them. The traffic warden is a prisoner, clamped himself by an angry and unfulfilled captor. It goes on from there with a neat twist at the end. You’ll enjoy this show is you like a simple story delivered through very competent character acting. You’ll want to know what happens in the end. You’ll like and dislike each character but you’ll laugh at both.

A simple set, the director has left the piece to express itself through the enjoyable interplay between captor and captured! Another hidden find worth seeing. See more of Clamp’d on TV here.

Rating: ****

Played: ClubWEST @ Edinburgh Theosophical Society 

Reviewed by P.L. 13th August 2006


Clint Westwood

Komedia Entertainment

Just you, me and the mountain goat. Clint’s suburban dream of becoming a cowboy has come true. Songs and stories of roundups, rustlers and the 7.36 from Victoria. A set of songs Dolly Parton would be proud of.

The Lowdown

Terrific music, high-quality comedy from a witty and full-bloodied musician-comedian; much to enjoy here in a show that can be touching as well as immensely entertaining

The Review

Armed with his guitar and ukulele and with the occasional support of a mountain goat Anthony “Lou” Macari is terrific as the singing cowboy Clint Westwood.

Whether telling us about his slightly dubious relationship with his sister /cousin, Jolene, or singing about a lovesick plumber, this is top notch character comedy.

What makes it so enjoyable is Macari’s warm, charismatic stage presence and an excellent set of songs.

More spunk than Clint Eastwood. More balls than Vivienne Westwood!! Don those cowboy boots and go see it, god-dammit!

Rating: *****

Played:The Gilded Balloon Teviot

Reviewed by M.K. 15th August 2006


Count Arthur Strong

Komedia Entertainment

Masterful comedy, from the master of the one-man show

The Lowdown

An hour of music and comedy, a one man show from a king of laughter and character acting

The Review

Count Arthur Strong is now a famous feature on BBC’s Radio 4. I am still a big fan of his live shows and this new show makes use of some excellent new material, touchingly funny, genuinely side-splitting and, to a few, just above their heads! His shows are continually of a high standard. This is truly excellent comedy performance.

The story of Count Arthur’s life is rolled out through a heartbreaking, bumbling and always breathtakingly funny raconteur; in this show we are treated to songs that will have you in stitches. Yet Count Arthur is of course a tragic figure and this gives the show poignancy in all the right places. For example, when Count Arthur croons with Malcolm through their reflections in a dressing room mirror. The secret really is in the timing and also in the performer’s own restless energy to innovate the material from show to show. Thoroughly and genuinely enjoyable.

Rating: *****

Played: Assembly at George Street

Reviewed by S.G 7th August 2006


Diamond Johnny-Ray

Theatre Boutique

An impressive one-man show delivered with power and punch

The Lowdown

One of two plays (also Played is Miss Dis’Grace showing at the Roman Eagle Lodge, we took in Diamond Johnny-Ray, a story a boy and his search for an elusive father. It’s a tale of growing up, of seeking acceptance and feeling rejection, of drag queens and the army.

The Review

Who is Rigger Ron really? Where’s my dad? This is a thoroughly engaging performance that takes in coming of age, the pain and joys of family life, stealing, sex, drugs and “falsies” – this is about a son growing up and trying “tear away” from being a tear-away.

One-person shows can often fall flat and not hold a story together. Travis Oliver keeps our attention all the way through, he holds the stage and delivers a moving story that is full of gritty reality and much humour. Oliver moves around the stage, plays family, friends and a few enemies in a tale that spans the age of growing up. I have never experienced a life like Johnnie-Ray yet felt drawn in and interested in how it would all turn out.

There are a few twists and turns in the story and once or twice I was struggling a little so connect all the pieces of the story. It doesn’t get a bit too complex in places.

But it all comes together so movingly at the end that the journey is worth it. This is a performance of excellent timing and it isn’t overplayed which gives it the realism that is supported by well-written monologue. The characters are often outrageous yet also believable. We cheered Johnny-Rae at the end – and we were cheering the character AND the performer. One-man shows built around a life story don’t come much more impressive than this.

Rating: ****

Played Roman Eagle Lodge Theatre

Reviewed by P.L. 13th August 2006



Fish Story

People Can Run

Another hit show from this innovative theatre company

The Lowdown

“…an uproarious, biting and true-ish tale of the dangerously bored and the extraordinarily deceitful. ‘One of the most energetic, inventive, riotously funny companies around, delivering dazzlingly original, anarchic takes on modern living”

The Review

An incredibly brave performance from Fringe favourites, People Can Run, seems at first a departure for them, but in fact steps firmly in the direction hinted at by the ending of last year’s hit, Aruba.

Exploring the implications of assuming a fantasist’s false reality, these extraordinary performers dare to create huge and bizarre characters trapped in a Becketian wasteland somewhere near the the M25 where they await the mysterious Mr Fish.

Beset with paranoia and half-remembered dreams of another world in which people have names, jobs and reward cards, we begin to question which reality is preferable. Ballsy, bizarre and brilliant.

Played: The Pleasance Courtyard

Rating: *****

Reviewed by L.H. 15th August 2006




Unrestricted View

Versatile, pacy and well-written, aiming-for-tv sketch show

The Lowdown

Fast-moving sketch show full of energy and pace

The Review

There were more hits than misses in this well put-together collage of a show. Written by the cast and director Alan Freestone, Greedy manages to distinguish itself from the many contenders in the genre by the ability of the hard-working cast.

It’s refreshing to see a few performers the wrong side of thirty showing the skills they have acquired.

There was more to the sketches than just good ideas, they were all well performed, and demanded great versatility from the performers, all of whom had to sing, dance, and show great movement skills.

The disparate parts were cleverly brought together by great music and lighting. In an overcrowded category, greedy shows how it’s done.


Played: Underbelly

Rating: ****

Reviewed by G.P. 25th Aug 2006


Inspector Sands and Stamping Ground Theatre (United Kingdom)

A not–to-be-missed piece of theatre and manic hilarity from a fine theatre company

The Lowdown

A man and a woman are on the most awkward dinner date of their lives in this piece of surreal, powerful theatre – “The world is ending. And it’s happening at table 9.”

The Review

This is a visually impressive piece based around two compelling characters – an academic who fears he is going insane through his research into neuroses, and an events organiser fixated her need to revel. And there is the waiter, living in fear, looking over his shoulder, in hiding from the world. This is an engaging, powerful and hilarious theatre about what bubbles up from below our daily lives

It is all here: a gripping sense of fear, paranoia, laughter, and an almost manic interchange of personalities and human interaction.

I am delighted to see such creativity and boldness put into a production by a UK-based theatre company. Stamping Ground’s style is truly expressive, the piece is cleverly lit, and the whole piece really does converge around some of the latent hysteria endemic in these over-analytical times But this is also effortless comedy, almost charming in parts, sometimes a little too staccato in its transitions, but always engaging and often disturbing. But the piece has a hilarity that borders on hysteria at time! I love this kind of work for its sheer competence at creating all the right ingredients of comedy and theatre – blatant expression, humour and playfulness with language and movement. Fine work.

Rating: *****

Played: Aurora Nova

Reviewed by S.G. 8th August 2006



Improbable Frequency

Rough Magic

A retrospective science fantasy-comedy with a great score, talented cast, and full of humour and wit

The Lowdown

War-time Dublin, a musical about secret Nazi plots, nationalists, power and love – cabaret, musical, poetry and rhyming couplets, comedy and drama all blended into a high energy production

“It’s 1941. Europe is at war and espionage is the front line. As the rest of the world gets on with the small matter of the Second World War, Dublin’s lights burn flagrantly and Europe’s intellectual elite has come to play. But suspicious messages on a radio requests-show have drawn the attention of M15 and a diffident young code-breaker is dispatched to Dublin to determine which side neutral Ireland is really on. “

The Review

Rough Magic bring this cult show to the Edinburgh Stage. A musical, often in Cabaret Style with a witty and fast-moving libretto, the show is set in Ireland and plays with our concepts of politics, loyalty and the nation. An unbelievable plot, absurd but enjoyable, Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger is in Ireland experimenting with probability, which becomes a metaphor for the events in Britain, Ireland and the world at large.

The Songs are terrific in a show that is rather too long but still breathtaking in the wit of the script, the versatility of the performers and the sheer energy of the production. The set is outrageous (I won’t spoil it any more for you). You have to go with this show or you might find yourself feeling detached from it, I went with it. Another production full of heart, loaded to the hilt with words, music and activity, it has moments that are breathtaking, foot-tapping, laugh aloud, intense – it is a full performance and deserves to huge applause from its audience.

Rating: ****

Played: The Traverse Theatre

Reviewed by S.G 8th August 2006



Lizzie Roper in Peccadillo Circus

Lizzie Roper

Believable and funny one-woman show

The Lowdown

Revealing real people’s fetishes and bedchamber secrets, Lizzie Roper reveals her research into the our opinions on sex.

The Review

This was my first experience of both Lizzie Roper and “verbatim” theatre and neither disappointed. If I understand correctly, the essential feature of “verbatim” is that the actors or actor are literally listening to the recorded voices of real life people through headphones live on stage. They are then repeating what they hear to the audience. If one of the intentions of this is so that the actor creates a realistic characterisation of the person then Lizzie Roper fulfils this requirement superbly.

For this show she has interviewed a number of people about their sex lives and wow! I obviously don’t get out enough because some of what they say is, as my grandma might have said, a little racy!

Roper portrays six different characters of varying ages and sexual inclinations and they are all beautifully defined and wonderfully believeable. Roper is also an accomplished stand-up and this comes out clearly in her performance. This is an extremely funny show. It also contained my favourite joke so far on the fringe! Great stuff!

Rating: ****

Played: Gilded Balloon Teviot

Reviewed by M.K 17th August 2006



Love Labours Won

Rogue Shakespeare Company

Enjoyable Shakespearean Comedy of love and the play within the play

The Lowdown

A pastiche on Shakespeare, an hour of impressive acting, an engaging story and much comedy will put a warm smile on your face from start to finish

The Review

Ryan J. Smith is often described as a “Shakespearean Verse-style playwright”. He writes in Iambic Pentameter (and more) and, his writing is astonishing. Witty, funny, dramatic in a way that makes you think he has the Old Bard’s brain in a jar and is using electricity in an illegal and shady manner. The verse is a delight and don’t go thinking he is copying the style for its own sake. Smith makes it all his own and gives it all a modern twist. It’s original in a pastiche that fuses modern and old (he often does it cheekily and subtlety and, Played Edmund, gives us a sideways wink in case we didn’t notice!)

This is a tale of love lost and love won, in classic style with enough irony and satire to keep you smiling and engaged.

It’s a genuinely enjoyable hour for fans of Shakespeare and also lovers of theatre that laughs at itself with charm, panache and no short amount of competence.

The cast work hard and also seem to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. I feel that the cast is a bit young for the piece and the verse is so good that the performance is sometimes too much verse and rhyming couplets and not enough sheer theatre.

But that’s how good the script is. These are fine actors, but this show requires some more experienced performers to really deliver the piece. That’s the only quibble – the show appears a little too much like a student production and it isn’t.. These are talented and impressive actors. But the text is rich and requires one or two of the cast to be a bit older, with a little more depth and life experience. But nevertheless, this show was all the ingredients of a marvelous hour of entertainment. As a writer, Smith is one to watch. As a show, you’ll thoroughly enjoy yourselves.

Rating: ****

Played: Gilded Balloon Teviot

Reviewed by A.W. 13th August 2006



Mein Gutt

Resident Alien

A little gem of a one-man show, told from the heart, delivered from the gut!

The Lowdown

To the strains of Morrissey’s ‘You’re The One For Me Fatty’, Hefty sits surrounded by chicken legs and Guinness cans, reflecting on his past, and the history of the world in an enjoyable, moving and ultimately very funny show

The Review

Sometimes some of the most wroth-seeing shows on the Fringe are hidden in small venues that are letting their performers down with poor marketing (and sometimes simply obscure location). ClubWEST is Played to a few “finds” of which this show is one.

In conversational style in this tiny venue, Doug Devaney has written and is performing in a tragicomic polemic on the nature of being “large”. Devaney’s style is informal as he delivers a classic piece of story-performance that never preaches, often humorously informs, and always interests. Devany has researched his material but also speaks from experience. The one-liners are funny, the story is well-crafted and the facts about corn flour have made me seriously consider a diet.

This is a genuine show without ever becoming cheesy. Devaney knows how to write, and gives us a performance that has depth and laugh-aloud humour. The visual and verbal gags work and there are plenty of them, but they never get in the way of a thoroughly impressive one man show. Well worth a trip down the hill on the other side of Princes Street.

Played: ClubWEST @ Edinburgh Theosophical Society 

Rating: ****

Reviewed by A.W. 13th August 2006



Other People

Guy Incognito

A dialogue on friendship

The Lowdown

 One sofa. Two friends. One girlfriend and only two tickets to the gig of the century. Hilarious exploration of male friendship in the vein of Seinfeld.

The Review

The premise os this two-hander is simple; two flat-mates discuss thier lives and loves, from The Beatles to being a Human Statue. Writers Matt Gocene and Darren Richman have created beautifully observed childish arguments interspersed with top-notch humour and dry wit.

Both Tom Filton (Jonathon) and Darren Richman (Michael) execute the script with a fine, natural comic style and pace. I knew I was in very capable hands when the opening seconds of the play had myself and the audience in stitches and subsequently for the next hour. This is a must see at this year’s Fringe.

Played: C Central, North Bridge

Rating: ****

Reviewed by J.W. 21st August 2006



Petrol Jesus Nightmare #5 (In the Time of the Messiah)

Traverse Theatre Company

Powerful contemporary theatre making some sense of a complex theme

The Lowdown

An apocalyptic thriller about the violent consequences of faith and belief for five people caught under fire in occupied territory.

The Review

This play, from the Israeli occupied territories. It focuses on the coldness of war, the harshness that can arise from all-too-rational decisions that also have an insane quality about them. How we are at war, and in war, is dealt with through sharply drawn characters, the hunger for oil at the heart of so much Middle Eastern conflict. There is much to ponder here and the material is skillfully handled in both the staging and the writing.

James Cunningham plays Slomo, presenting a character of cold cleverness that shocks. A man of violent motive, and cunning. Aleksandar Mikic is also excellent is Buddy.; they are sometimes hard to listen to, mercenary in their approach to a war that few truly understand. The Middle Eastern conflict is such a complex set of issues that the play is necessarily selective in what is covered. The pleasure in killing is portrayed as part of this selectivity and perhaps some other aspects of the Middle Eastern puzzle are left out. For example, the fact that death is also for many a painful dilemma – to kill or be killed, to turn the other cheek or to seek revenge. This is no morality play; no, it is a depiction of certain folk in the midst of a hopeless conflict. Sharply written, brilliantly staged. Another must-see from this award-winning writer.

Rating: ****

Played: The Traverse Theatre

Reviewed by I.P. 8th August 2006



The Garden

Shams Theatre

Atmospheric, innovative, intelligent visual feast of a one-man show

The Lowdown

History repeats itself for two war-torn survivors. Powerful drama with stunning multimedia, inspired by The Lost Gardens of Heligan.

The Review

A very beautiful, subtle, sublime performance featuring ingenious projection, crafty object manipulation, humour, charm, wit and skilled physical theatre. AN intelligent and thought-provoking study of post-traumatic stress disorder interweaving stories of World War One and the former Yugoslavia with a lost Cornish garden and a granny with a dictaphone. Wonderful. Don’t miss.

Played: The Pleasance Dome

Rating: *****

Reviewed by L.H. 14th August 2006




The Yellow Wallpaper

Room 37

Utterly engaging production from a young and talented cast, superbly directed; a fine fringe show

The Lowdown

A psychological study of a young mother who feels
smothered and controlled by her controlling husband in
America, 1890’s.

The Review

Eleven women transform this one-woman monologue, written in the late 19th Century into an exciting piece of theatre using three chairs and some simple
props. The young cast all have excellent stage presence and consistent American accents creating with ease the same young woman’s story of loneliness and struggle.

With imaginative choreography and direction, the director makes good use of the stage and voices; using echoing, and speaking simultaneously reaching a
chilling and unnerving climax.

Although well staged and acted the venue itself lets productions down; with an oddly spaced venue, and badly placed pillars, you need to fight to get a good spot to watch.

The company, Room 37, are a drama class from Cheltenham Ladies College. It is great to see awonderful story delivered with a professional style and a fresh approach.

Played: Greyfriars Kirk house

Rating: *****

Reviewed by J.W. 25th August 2006



Tits and Blood

The General’s Players, Washington and Lee University

From writer Neil Labute comes a new play that dismantles the theatrical fourth wall. In two scenes Labute explores truth, dark deeds and the revised role of the audience in a theatre experience.

The Lowdown

Tits and Blood is Neil Labute’s latest play and its European premiere is here in Edinburgh. It explores the relationship and boundaries that exist between actors and audience and attempts to subvert it.

The Review

I have seen so many shows this year where I found I was clapping the performance rather than the substance, which tended to be safely formulaic. If I want formula I can do what many of the residents of festival cities do; I can stay home and rent a DVD.

And then along comes this rejuvenating LaBute curiosity. You perhaps remember Neil LaBute’s extraordinary and unsettling movie In The Company Of Men. Tits and Blood, though, does not have a traditional narrative structure like a movie

I don’t want to give much away, as have others. This is the European premiere of Tits and Blood. It comes in two parts. The student actors – the very capable General’s Players from Washington and Lee University – spend a good amount of time talking to the audience directly and, in so doing, dismantling the so-called ‘theatrical fourth wall’ that divides actors from audience. Note, some level of verbal audience participation is sought.

Criticisms? I wanted more!

Manipulative and uncomfortable and great stuff!

Played: Greyfriars Kirk House. (Venue 131) till 20 August then 22 – 28 August at Augustine’s (Venue 152)

Rating: ****

Reviewed by A.G.. 14th August 2006



Up The Gary

Bad Penny Theatre

Moving, engaging, tragic, and often very funny look at, of course, in the circumstances, disturbing (but always impressive) show

The Lowdown

One-man-show about a Gary Glitter tribute act.

The Review

This gem of a show is head and shoulders above all the comics who evoke the name of Glitter for a cheap and easy laugh. It tells the story of a misfit who finally finds acceptance by impersonating his idol, only to have his living taken away from him as his idol comes crashing down.

The piece is written by performer Andrew Barron and Director Jessica Beck. Barron is touching and funny as the anti-hero, and genuinely thrilling when he dons the glitter.

Production company Bad Penny have plans to tour the piece soon, it certainly deserves life after Edinburgh.

Played: Underbelly

Rating: ****

Reviewed by G.P. 26th August 2006



WitTank: Pop goes the iCulture


“Five guys, one girl and enough hair to costume King Kong present an hour of sketch comedy. “

The Lowdown

A mixed bag sketch comedy show from a student troupe with much energy and potential

The Review

“Come in and make yourself comfortable in the company of the next big names in comedy.” I was very dubious about this one. I was told that WitTank were students, and their show was a mad sketch show comedy.

I sat there in the basement of the Roxy Art House, Blackout, Lights up; two actors wander on ‘Greenpeace?’ one says, ‘no, Help the Aged!’ the other says as he rips is shirt off revealing ‘help the aged’ and so the stage explodes in a wonderfully accurate West Side Story-esque battle complete with music and dance.

The pace and style of this sketch show was perfect creating an almost TV like quality to it. Great one-liners, satire and bizarre , all manage to keep the audience gagging for more. It had a sense of Smack the Pony mixed with Big Train.

All six actors are competent in their sketch show comedy; Played a littering tree, reenacting a car crash advert to recreating the seedy world of Postman Pat with ease.

Look out for WitTank!

Played: The Rocket Venue, Roxy Art House

Rating: ****

Reviewed by J.W. 25th August 2006


We also saw four shows that we have chosen not to publish reviews of.


19:26 28th Aug 2006


And this was our reviews policy at the time…


Pisspoor Reviewing

The world of “judgement” in art has always been a bit of an awkward mystery to me. On the one hand I meet a vast number of people who claim that no one should judge anyone else. No one has the “right” to tell anyone what to do. No one has the right to “invade another’s space” with their judgmentalism. On the other I have met some of those very same people doling out judgment as “temporary reviewers” as Festivals.

The biggest arts festivals become a sudden recruiting ground for a very large number of wannabe judges. I have spoken to some of them and watched others in action. Some do actually write the review in their head BEFORE seeing a show based on a love of the sheer power of it. Others simply have a fear of writing well and so pre-concoct reviews from a combination of borrowing from others’ clichés and choice phrases, combined with their own made-up clumsiness or use of stereotyping as a literary crutch.

Trashing a show early in a festival is an easy thing for a poor reviewer to do. It gives them confidence and a “story to tell”. For some with even half a heart, it gets the “worst over with” at the start.

Other reviewers like to bring work crashing down to earth (whether it is good or not) simply because it has warmth, which the particular “judger” fears for various reasons from their own biography. The disastrous combination for any theatre company or performer is the mix of a warm-hearted show (or indeed anything with a message) and a reviewer who is still trying to get surrogate revenge on his/her parents for “telling me what to do”.

It is shocking and sad enough that the various so called quality newspapers and magazines recruit such pisspoor people in the first place, often from equally pisspoor amateur publications.

But the big irony is that the very people who have often suffered at the hands of judgmental parents, lecturers or partners, now apply the same clumsy and heavy-handed destruction to shows which, by any COMMON SENSE view, are well put together, demonstrate creativity or talent.

I have no personal axe to grind her and have made a fine living from the theatre work I am engaged with. I only care for the work and the warm and genuine response we get from our audiences.

But the Darwinistic hatcheting that masquerades as “reviewing” is often cruel and massively harmful to well-intentioned and energetic people.

A bad show is a bad show. But a good show at a festival can suffer the crime of being trashed on day one by talentless, pisspoor reviewing.

It’s okay for someone not to like a show. It’s okay for someone to say why a show is badly written or directed, staged or performed. But it will never be okay for a pisspoor reviewer to pursue an agenda against an artist, to mock them out of clumsy cruelty, or to simply be allowed to NON-review a show because the newspaper or magazine is either corrupt or incompetent.

Examples of pisspoor reviewing include:

– a reviewer trashing a show when just about every audience member (representing a broad cross section of humanity often) adored it for COMMON SENSE reasons of it being well staged, written and delivered. The least the reviewer should so is report to future potential audiences what the majority reaction was.

– a reviewer engaging in REGION-bashing or even stereotyping

– a reviewer trashing a show not our of any review of the show’s quality but by allowing personal irritations to take the review over

– a reviewer trying to be clever with the review at the expense of a review that allows future audiences to gain insight into the work. Often the pisspoor reviewer fails to be satirical or ironic, but is downright nasty and cruel for its own sake

– a POOR review of a show simply because the reviewer “feels like it” or is trying to balance the number of poor reviews with the good ones for the day

At the end of the day, the reviewer moves on to the next show or “cocktail party”. But like a burglar or a mugger, they don’t wait around long enough to smell the stench their piss has left all over a group of human beings. In 20 years of theatre, a NEGATIVE review that is constructive is nearly always FINALLY taken on board by a theatre group, writer or director. But a pisspoor review simply contributes to yet more sadness and negativity in an already cold and cynical world.

Paul Levy, Aug 2006