||[Sep. 5th, 2010|10:36 pm]
Note - This post has taken a little longer than planned in the writing....
After a couple of days hiking near Glen Affric, I made it to the fringe for the Friday afternoon. My first few ideas for what to see were thwarted by shows having sold out, but by just gone 4pm I'd started my fringe trip for 2010!
First up was The Leeds Tealights at Underbelly, which was a random picked based on the 4* reviews on the fliers. It was a 4 person sketch show, 3 guys and a girl, which set up the dynamic for a fair few of the skits. Most of the skits were only a few minutes long, so they got through a lot of material during the hour. A couple of them were absolute gems, most were fairly good for most of the time, and only a few fell completely flat... Overall, I'd give it 3*, and it was a fun and lighthearted start to the fringe!
Next up was the stunning Tabu out on Leith Walk. The non-central location allowed them to have a large big top as their venue, setup for standing rather than seating. It was billed as a circus show, but turned out to be so much more. Firstly, there was the live band, providing a musical backdrop to the show, often accompanied on vocals by the performers not doing acrobatics at that moment. Secondly, it wasn't just the (amazing!) acrobatics, the pieces changed and were woven together which each other, and the music, to provide a narrative for the show. It wasn't a static show either, instead the whole audience was moved about between pieces to create the appropriate gaps and spaces for the next set. Finally, the acrobatics themselves - stunning! Very varied, covering most major circus and acrobatic styles, stunningly well executed. It was a wider range of things than Circa (from last year), so not every piece ended up as developed as in that, but with the music and the thematic links between pieces, it was a wonderful performance. 5*
My 2nd day at the fringe kicked off with Shakespeare For Breakfast at C. With free croissants, and being one of the few early starting plays, this is a usual favourite of ours. This year source of inspiration was King Lear, and their modern, silly take on it worked quite well. However, it's by no means the best production they've managed in all the years we've seen them... Good start to the day though, 3*
Was a zany version of King Lear, solid 3*, but last year was better
This is Belt Up's third year at the fringe (2 years ago they did The Red Room, and last year The Squat as C Soco). They were back at C Soco again this year, with a series of immersive theatre set in The Room Above. The first of their shows that we saw was The Boy James, which was a very intimate and immersive show. A boy, his older friend/self, the joys of childhood adventures shared, and the loss of growing up. Amazing stuff, an excellent 5*
Next up was another Belt Up show, The Second Star to the Right, carrying on with the JM Barrie theme. It was an almost hypnotic at times performance, with some lovely dance-like parts, as 4 actresses took us through bits of the Peter Pan story. 4*
Roam at Zoo Southside was a piece of modern dance by a company we'd seen in previous years. Unfortunately, this year's show had no real narrative, but that did still leave us with some amazing dancing and great music! The dance was great as ever, 4*
Vanishing Horizon at Zoo was largely back to theatre, though with some almost dance-like physical elements in places. A variety of interwoven stories covered the history of women aviators, family discovery, and the perils of trying to make a radio play... The stories fitted well together, and apart from a few iffy timings in the fictional bits (the historic factual parts seemed fine!), worked well. There was frequent, very impressive use of a large number of suitcases as props, and great physical parts using them to link everything together. Interesting and engaging theatre, 5*
For a lighter note, we opted for Amateur Transplants again this year, and were rewarded as they were on top form! This year's show featured both of them, and focused more on the excellent shorter funny songs, rather than fewer longer works. As ever, it was dark and silly medic humour, but hilariously done! No-one left through being offended either... Back up to their previous 5* standard again.
Finally was Geraldine Quinn (@geraldinequinn), for some musical Australian comedy. The show was about modern pop music, and featured some excellent, cutting songs and dance routines, exposing and ridiculing the faults of the pop industry. 4*
Carrying on with Belt Up shows, we began Sunday withBelt Up's Oddssey. This was another excellent immersive piece, in one of their smaller venues, and powerfully done. However, while the re-setting into a dystopian future was good, it did sometimes make it tricky to entirely follow, so largely one for people who already know the original! 4*
Hunchback of Notere Damn at Pleasance wasn't the only production of the story running, but was one of the good ones! Set in a smallish venue, it was a one man show, a powerful portrail of a poignant tale, 4*
More Belt up, this time Belt Up's Metamorphosis, with their take on Kafka's tale. It was interesting staging, but I didn't find it as well translated as last year's "The Trial", so it ended up being that little bit to odd for my tastes... (I realise that Kafka isn't supposed to be normal, but still!) I rate it 3*, but many others in my group gave it 5, take of that what you will!
Over to Pleasance for our first of two boxing shows - Beautiful Burnout. This proved to be an excellent mix of story, monologues, group pieces, physical theatre and some dance-like fights. It did a great job of showing all sides of it, and worked well no matter what your knowledge or feelings on boxing were to start. An excellent 5*
Another fun Australian musical comedy followed, in the form of Sammy J. This was our third time seeing him, and he remained as great as ever. True, you often question his sanity, but you laugh all the same! Songs and stories, probably almost all true, of his more recent past (last year's show did the earlier parts), and very funny. 5*
Putting It Together by Sondheim was a late night almost-musical show. Rather than being a full Sondheim work, it was a collection of his songs around the themes of love and marriage. The songs were done well, but the pick'n'mix feel that went with the lack of any real narrative was the slight snag. 4*
An early start, and for a full length play - History Boys at Greenside (again one of several productions). As one would have hoped from the reviews from previous years, this was a good story well told. The direction largely worked well, and it was a solid 4* production.
Then for something a bit darker - Blackout at Underbelly. This dark, depressing, excellent piece of physical theatre told of one young man's journey to mindless violence. Based on a real story and real interviews, it was dark but great. 4*
Pluck were back again this year, relocated to the Gilded Balloon. Once again the trio impressed us with some crazy slapstick whilst managing a fairly decent rendition of a classical music concert at the same time! It wasn't quite as good as their previous show, but is was still good fun - 4*
Belt Up's Lorca is Dead was I think their best show of the fringe. Belt Up are always surreal to some extent, but the chance to play the Paris set of surrealists, debating and retelling the life and death of Lorca really lets them into their own. Strange, but great! 5*
More Belt Up followed, with Belt Up's Atrium. More great immersive stuff, weaving in and out of the different fantasies of a dying writer dictating his memoirs. Some great silly costumes too, but I must remember not to be a tiny bit more reserved when sat at the front, lest anyone have to see another one of my 5 second Kafka looks...! Good show though, 5*
Ovid's Metamorphoses at #edfringe, told through the medium of 40s music, a few great bits with puppets, and some fun physical theatre! 4*
Others by Paper Birds, who for the previous two years did the stunningly powerful and amazing In A Thousand Pieces. This year they'd sent letters, and then questionnaires to a number of women they felt to be interesting, and different `(other) to them. The play again featured three actresses, moderately minimal props, but this time was light-hearted for parts. It was made up of the letters sent and received, the responses not received, the actress's ideas of what the responses might be, and the discussions that led from them. Parts showed the similarities between apparently different women, parts the unexpected differences, and parts the terrifying cluelessness of the actresses (I think, well, hope, largely hammed up!). In the end, it was a lighter piece than last year, but ended up not quite so powerful and thought-provoking. Still great stuff though, 4*
Hamlet! The Musical - You'd probably expect this to be dreadful, but it actually turns out to be silly and quite good fun! 3*
NewsRevue were on fairly good form once again. A few of the tory jokes seemed a bit rehashed from the 80s, but the Nick Clegg puppet worked well! Throw in some good characatures, and several Glee related songs, and you have a fun hour. 3*
Finally the last show of the Fringe - Shadow Boxing. This was a one man show, about not only being a boxer, but the personal growth and discovery that lay around it, and with some good twists as it went along. Not as good as Beautiful Burnout, but a solid 4* none the less.
And after 25 shows, that's it! During the course of the fringe, I tweeted short reviews, which seemed to go well (based on in-person feedback from many of my friends, and from twitter comments), so I'll probably do that again next year. The above are hopefully longer and more thought out reviews, though as they vary in being written between 1 hour and 2 weeks after the event, they do vary somewhat...!