FringeReview UK

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FringeReview UK 2017

A Pacifist’s Guide to the war on Cancer

An exploration of what caner really feels like and is


All or Nothing

Carol Harrison’s written the band proud and plangent; her split hero strategies work to make this one of the best possible storylines of a British band, given hell-bent Marriott burning his talent at both ends, just like the decade.


Catch Me…..the cracks are starting to spead

How far can we be pushed before we break?


Committee

This edgy new development, faithful to one incident, marks a more than worthwhile variation on such larger works as London Road. It’s more illuminating than the history it sheds music on.


Dreamboats and Petticoats

It’s back again. Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran’s nine-year dream Dreamboats and Petticoats returns to Theatre Royal, Brighton with a cast and creatives deserving high praise for creating the lightest touch out of slight narrative. Those who’ve seen it should start marvelling at the musicianship, and those who haven’t will increasingly join in.


Fiddler on the Roof

Evans allows this musical theatre to breathe on his own big-hearted terms whilst allowing the bones to show, as it does with a breath-taking diminuendo that seems to raise and settle the dust of emigration as we watch. For sheer penetration, heart and balance it’s as definitive as we’re likely to see for many years.


Follies

It took a visit into past and pastiche to propel Sondheim’s language into a modernity no-one foresaw. This is the finest realisation of this Janus-faced masterpiece, ringing with towering performances: Staunton, Bennett, Dee, Quast and Forbes simply at the head. This must be the definitive production.


Grease

Grease really is the word


La Cage aux Folles

La Cage aux Folles one might say comes home to Brighton’s Theatre Royal in this revival by Bill Kenwright Productions directed by Martin Connor. There’s no mystery why Brighton gets two weeks of this.


Million Dollar Quartet

This is outstanding for is peerless characterising of the four legends with their unexpected female singer, the acting of Duncan and above al for the way the structure allows such extraordinary musicianship its head.


Nell Gwynn

Swale’s unique: she writes a play of feline-scratching wit that’s a feelgood hommage, where intellectual pyrotechnics never feel out of place. We’ve recently enjoyed The Libertine’s brilliantly-lit darkness revived too, and revived Nell Gwynn is the antipode to Jeffreys’ profound masterpiece. Just as clever, as fiendishly witty, Swale’s orange-girl raillery refuses the other’s command to dislike. It ends too, in a startling reality, and tenders a shock.


Saint George and the Dragon

This is an unsettling, unsettled play. Creating its own world, it asks something of substance no-one else is quite doing – not even Rory Mullarkey previously in The Wolf From the Door. His adaptation of the Oresteia for the Globe has after all come between. It’ll be intriguing to see where this big-boned, big-themed dramatist will venture next.


The Buddy Holly Story

The Buddy Holly Story is a superb show, the fast-track to know Buddy Holly’s world with storyline and songs that influenced and were influenced in turn. Alex Fobbester’s Buddy Holly inhabits his role with verve and heart-stopping sensitivity. There’s room to craft an even more compelling story, but as a show its generosity good-humoured inclusiveness proves irresistible.


The Mikado

This Mikado not only redefines but rescues the operetta from an edgy oblivion, where we could never lose the melodies, yet increasingly hesitate to stage the work. It’s back.


The Suppliant Women

In one of the most radical productions ever mounted of Aeschylus indeed any Greek tragedy we’re literally taken to its roots: as in Greece, a community chorus of fifty, twenty-one of them the suppliant women of the play’s title. In this outstanding production, everything to resurrect this astonishing vision has been invoked.


The Wedding Singer

This is an outstandingly-conceived show, generous to cast and audience alike, superbly choreographed and performed in what might seem challenging spaces. The last blast of summer’s breath: enjoy.


Thoroughly Modern Millie

Plews and Wicks have created a musical powerhouse literally all-singing and dancing, of the highest West End standards. The quintet – and they blend magnetically together – of Clifton, Barrett, Rush, Glover and McDuff have stamped character and stomped bliss on this musical.


Urinetown

This eco-warning musical can hardly be billed as feel-good but the music is. Mark Hollmann’s music and lyrics are as fresh as they were in 2001, and Greg Kotis’ book and lyrics are sadly prescient. This ambitious professional standard musical is something we almost take for granted with BLT. In festival time, we lose sight of some regular theatre work But this is overall the finest Fringe theatre event I’ve seen so far.


Wonderland

The ingredients are there: it’s a magical idea, and just needs a quieter rationale and – to make it a great show - a few more memorable numbers. But if you care for musicals, see it for an outstanding clutch of performers and a dream of something perennial.