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|Tuesday, September 1st, 2015|
|Fringe Reviews Part XXIII
Four shows on the final day of Fringe:Austentatious: An Improvised Jane Austen Novel
. Performed by Austentatious. Comedy. This group improvises a Jane Austenesque novel based on a randomly selected title from an audience member. Today's was "The Exciting !Wow! Palindrome Party. They turned it into a story about a man with a plan to build a canal in Panama. Very funny. 4/5 ("Excellent").Siro-A
. Choreographed and performed by Siro-A. Dance. High-tech show making use of all the Cool Effects projections and computers can provide. Fun. 3.5/5 ("Very good".)Spillikin: A Love Story
. Pipeline Theater Company. Theater. A show about love and memory loss, performed by four people and a robot. Excellent acting, although the script sometimes didn't live up to the premise. Still, 3.75/5 ("Very, very good").Follow the Faun
. Written and performed by Adam Black and Sarita Ryan. Interactive performance dance-rave vision quest ... thing. I don't honestly know what to call this show. It was a lot of fun, and a very original concept, sometimes executed excellently, sometimes not so much. Definitely something you probably won't see outside of Fringe, so a good way to end things. Also, quite a good aerobic workout. 3.25/5 ("Good").
|Sunday, August 30th, 2015|
|Fringe Reviews Part XXII
Three shows this Saturday:The Girl Who Fell In Love With The Moon
. Devised and performed by Human Zoo Theatre Company. Theater. A frame tale about actors lost in the woods leads to a set of five stories about the sky and desire. A charming show; it sometimes got a little twee, but usually quickly redeemed itself with some sharp lines and fine performances, particularly from the group's musician. 3.5/5 ("Very good.")B-Orders
. Choreographed and performed by Ashtar Muallem and Fadi Zmorrod. Dance and circus. A show about growing up in Palestine, in a world of strictly defined lines that are dangerous to cross. I respect what it was going for, but it only sometimes worked. Most of the show was kind of shapeless. 2.75/5 ("Not bad, but nothing special.")Festival of the Spoken Nerd: Just for Graphs
. Written and performed by Matt Parker, Steve Mould and Helen Arney. Comedy. Nerd humor at its nerdiest, riffing on ways of viewing the world through plots, charts, and diagrams. Some of it was very funny. Some of it was so-so. Overall, I had a pretty good time. 3.25/5 ("Good").
|Saturday, August 29th, 2015|
|Fringe Reviews Part XXI
Friday's shows were particularly good:Every Brilliant Thing
. Written by Duncan Macmillan, performed by Jonny Donahoe. Theater. Great show. A surprisingly funny, surprisingly accurate piece about depression. The actor plays the main character, and audience members play everyone else. 4.25/5 ("Truly Excellent").Ponies Don't Play Football
. Performed by ponydance, with music by Donal Scullion and his band. Dance and comedy. This show was hilarious, whether poking fun at the pretensions of dance and music or just going for pure physical comedy. Great fun. 4/5 ("Excellent").
|Friday, August 28th, 2015|
|Fringe Shows Part XIX and XX
Covering both Wednesday and Thursday today. Getting a little lazy as the already-low chance that anyone is actually using these as a guide drops to near zero as the Fringe heads towards its final weekend.
So far I have seen no shows with names that start with the letters J, Q, U, X, Y, or Z. I'm sure that is fascinating to people other than me.
Anyway:Amy Abler: PianoDivalicious
. Created and performed by Amy Abler. Music and comedy. Amy is a friend, so as is my habit, I'm not going to rate it. But I will say it's a great show, fun and funny, with brilliant piano playing. Go see her. (UNRATED).4x4 Ephemeral Architectures
. Created and performed by Gandini Juggling. Juggling and Ballet. Four ballet dancers and four jugglers join to create a show which is ... not good. With rare exceptions, it was the two groups onstage doing things that had absolutely nothing to do with each other, with messy pacing and a dash of pretension. Reasonable technical skill is the only thing keeping this rating from sinking even lower. 2.5/5 ("Averages out to this").Lanark
. International Festival show. Adapted by David Greig, directed by Graham Eatough. Theater. A four-hour play based on the novel by Alisdair Grey. Held my interest throughout, with a sometimes bizarre, sometimes realistic tale about a man who wants to be extraordinary and usually isn't -- except in the way that all of are. Didn't always like the main character, but I think that was part of the point. 4.25/5 ("Truly excellent").Wings In My Heart
. Rigolo and Swiss Nouveau Cirque. Circus. There was a brilliant one-hour circus show lurking in this two-hour show. If they had cut out the dross and left in the parts that really worked, I would have been rating this one of the best shows of the festival. As it was, a full half of it simply didn't work at all. I'm still rating it fairly high on the strength of the best pieces, but it's frankly the Peter Jackson's King Kong of Fringe shows. 3.75.5 ("Really, really good.")
|Wednesday, August 26th, 2015|
|Fringe Reviews Part XVIII
Tuesday I saw four Fringe shows. Just getting myself into fighting trim for Thursday, when I will see a four-hour play in the afternoon, and then a two-and-a-half hour circus show in the evening. BECAUSE I CAN.Swallow
. Written by Stef Smith, directed by Orla O’Loughlin. Theater. So, so glad I went to see this. A beautifully written and wonderfully acted play about starting over. Absolutely one of the best things I have seen at Fringe this year. 4.5/5 ("Fantastic").Paradise Lost (Lies Unopened Beside Me)
. Lost Dog Dance. Dance and theater. Great show. Paradise Lost as sort of recounted by someone who doesn't quite remember it, that slowly becomes a metaphor for creating a show, and being a parent. This is what a very good performer pretending to put on a very bad show while actually putting on a very good show looks like. (As opposed to a bad performer pretending to be pretending to put on a bad show while actually putting on a bad show, which is often how that turns out). 4/5 ("Excellent").The Elephant In The Room
. Cirque Le Roux. Circus. A woman plots to poison her new husband and acrobatics happen. I can't rate this horribly low because of the sheer technical skill of the performers, but this was ... disappointing. A show with no conception of the relation between plot and performance pieces, like a musical where people start randomly singing songs from a completely different musical. Well, there were good acrobatics, I guess. 3.25/5 ("Averages out to this somehow").The Room: The Musical
. Two Spoons Productions. The official musical version of The Room, at least since Tommy Wiseau stopped trying to sue them. Pretty much exactly what you would expect. 3/5 ("Pretty good").
|Tuesday, August 25th, 2015|
|Fringe Reviews Part XVII
Fringe is starting to feel eternal. There has always been Fringe, there will always be Fringe, there can only be Fringe.
Sunday and Monday's shows were a high-quality bunch:Dolls
. Cirk La Putyka, directed by Rostislav Novak and choreographered by Jozef Frucek and Linda Kapetanea. Circus. Performers as dolls in a surreal and desolate dollhouse, being played with by an unseen child. Captured the sense of being flung around and hinted at deeper currents always just beneath the surface. Really liked it. 4/5 ("Excellent").Bruce
. Created and Performed by Tim Watts and Wyatt Nixon-Lloyd. Puppetry. A show in which all parts are played by a single yellow sponge. A plot so stupid it's hilarious, and a brilliantly conceived show. 4/5 ("Excellent").The Dolphin Hotel
. Written and directed by Samantha O'Rourke. Theater. Play exploring human trafficking. Girl meets boy, girl follows boy to another country, very bad things happen to girl. Well acted and written. 3.5/5 ("Very good").
|Friday, August 21st, 2015|
|Fringe Reviews Part XV
. Written by Ryan Good. Site-specific theater. Wow, great show. About sex workers, with dialogue drawn from interviews. With one performer and a maximum audience of two, set in the bedroom of an Edinburgh flat, it is not quite the most intimate show at the Fringe (that would be the sold-out "Ringside", which is one-performer-one-audience), but it comes close. 4/5 ("Excellent").Velvet
. Produced by La Clique. Music and circus. There was a great, standout act, which was a truly phenomenal hula-hoop number, and a couple of other decent pieces, but otherwise this show didn't stand out for me. 2.75/5 ("Not bad, but nothing special").
|Thursday, August 20th, 2015|
|Fringe Reviews Part XIV
A rather good set of shows at yesterday's Fringe:Promise and Promiscuity
. Written and performed by Penny Ashton (and Jane Austen). Musical theater, solo show. The novel Jane Austen never wrote. Often very funny, especially when it went for social commentary, e.g. a comment that women were paid less than men for the same work in 1810, something that surely would not still be true in 200 year's time. 3.5/5 ("Quite good").Close Up
. Created and performed by Circa. Circus. Circa is brilliant. The intent of this show was to show performance stripped free of artifice, keeping it raw and emotionally connected. While it didn't hit the level of last year's jaw-dropping Circa show Beyond, it is still one of the best shows I've seen this year. 4.25/5 ("Truly excellent").
|Wednesday, August 19th, 2015|
|Fringe Reviews Part XIII
Little late on yesterday's Fringe reviews (you were all deeply concerned, I know.) Honestly, it was one of the weaker days.Ada
. Devised and performed by the Edinburgh University Theatre Company. Theater. Play about Ada Lovelance, and you couldn't ask for a more interesting topic. They decided to have all her dialogue be from things she had actually written (letters, papers, etc.), which I guess is a Thing now. It's an interesting idea, and could have worked, but it ended up being too limiting, and didn't allow her life to be explored as deeply as it could have been. Still, worth seeing. 3.25/5 ("Good").No Strings
. Pop-Up Theatre Company. Written by Carolyn Duffin, directed by Martin J. Taylor. Theater. Play about two people who have an affair. Went to see this on the strength of audience reviews. I'm starting to think audiences don't know what they're talking about. It had one interesting scene where one of them is lying and both the other person and the audience know it. Rest was pretty ordinary. 2.75/5 ("Not bad, nothing special").
|Tuesday, August 18th, 2015|
|Fringe Reviews Part XII
Just one fringe show today:Barbu Electric Trad Cabaret
. Created and performed by Cirque Alfonse. Circus. The only show I know of in the fringe that gets the descriptor "Lumbersexual". Definitely merits it. High level performance and a fun show. I admired the professionalism of the hamster. 4/5 ("Excellent").
|Monday, August 17th, 2015|
|Fringe Reviews Part XI
Yet! More! Fringe reviews!Bruit de Couloir
. Devised and performed by Clément Dazin. Juggling. A meditation on time and aging using slow-motion movement and juggling. Neat. 3.75/5 ("Very, very good").Confessions of a Redheaded Coffeeshop Girl
. Written and performed by Rebecca Perry. Theater, with some songs. A barista with an anthropology degree analyzes the coffeeshop jungle. Nice singing, but the script had a lot of overused concepts. 2.75/5 ("Not bad, but nothing special").
|Saturday, August 15th, 2015|
|Fringe Reviews Part X
Fringy fringy fringe shows:Eurydice
. Written by Sarah Ruhl. Performed by Outcast International. Theater. The story from Eurydice's point of view, with a focus on her relationship with her dead father. Interesting script. Would have liked to see a version with good acting and direction. This wasn't one. 2/5 ("Flawed").All Our Friends Are Dead
. Written and performed by Norris and Parker. Sketch Comedy. Some hits and some misses, but the hits were sometimes pretty sharp. Nice dynamic between the two of them. Particularly liked their versions of Disney Songs, e.g. exactly what the Tories do to help "Poor Unfortunate Souls" (answer: nothing.) 3.5/5 ("Quite Good").
|Friday, August 14th, 2015|
|Fringe Reviews Part IX
Fringe shows on a rainy Friday:Claire Ford: Box
. Written and performed by Claire Ford. Storytelling and clowning. About Ford's relationship with her father and her somewhat unwilling inheritance of his packaging business. Definitely rough edges on this show, but ultimately it was charming. If she gets it polished, it's going to be great. 3.5/5 ("Quite good").Ashes and Blood
. Written and directed by Cathy Moss, musical arrangement by Jo Ollier, performed by IndigoCo. Rock musical version of Cinderella. Some brilliant moments; for example, the evil stepmother singing Radiohead's "Creep" when Cinderella ("Ashey") goes to the ball was a pretty breathtaking choice and performance. There were others, too (there was a standout version of "One Day Like This", and also "White Wedding".) I'm not going to rate this one because I don't think the scale I've been using makes sense for it. So, Unrated.
|Thursday, August 13th, 2015|
|Fringe Reviews Part VIII
Today at the Fringe:The Wonderful Discovery of Witches in the County of Lancaster
. Written by Gareth Jandrell. A play about the notorious Pendle Witch Trials of 1612 and its aftermath -- especially Jennet Device, whose testimony against her family when she was nine resulted in their deaths. I liked it, although a narrow focus kept it from being as good as it might have been. 3.5/5 ("Quite good.")Smoke and Mirrors
. Circus and Physical Theater. Created and performed by The Ricochet Project (Cohdi Harrell and Laura Stokes.) Best show so far! A dreamlike, hallucinatory performance. Acrobatics and aerial work always in the service of the show, rather than the show being fit around a series of tricks. This is a New Mexico group, so my friends in the Southwest might want to keep an eye out for them. 4.5/5 ("Fantastic").
|Fringe Reviews Part VII
One Fringe review tonight:Butoh Medea
. Choreographed and performed by Yokko. A butoh version of Medea (surprising given the title, I know.) Raw and intense. It didn't always work, but when it did, it was powerful. 3.5/5 ("Quite good").
|Tuesday, August 11th, 2015|
|Fringe Reviews Part VI
Today's Fringe Shows:Ockham's Razor: Arc and Every Action
. Devised and performed by Ockham's Razor. Aerial theater. I liked this. Arc had a stronger narrative, which I preferred, and Every Action had more interesting movement, which Beth preferred. 3.5/5 ("Quite good").Ozymandias
. Written and Performed by Hugh Train. Absurdist comedy. Well ... That happened. 2/5 ("Flawed").
|Sunday, August 9th, 2015|
|Fringe Reviews, Part V
Went up to see some shows in New Town today. (Still have spent relatively little on shows as of yet. One today was Free Fringe, one was still in previews so discounted.)Shit Girlfriend
, written and performed by Laura Kidd AKA She Makes War. Music and spoken word. Music was good, lot of potential in the spoken word section. Once she's as confident with the latter as she is with the former, this could be great, but right now it still feels like it needs polishing. 3/5 ("Pretty Good").Incarnadine
, written and performed by Chiaroscuro Theatre. A prequel to MacBeth. Kind of a silly plot, and acting of the "Shouting means emotion!" school. Not impressed. 2/5 ("Flawed").
|Fringe Reviews, Part IV
Went to some Free Fringe shows today (ones that work on a voluntary donation / pass the bucket basis, rather than ticketed shows.) My "pick something that sounds interesting and go" policy is still yielding good results so far ...In Case We Disappear
, written and performed by Vanessa Smythe. Spoken word, poetry, some singing. This show was absolutely delightful! Personal, funny, sad, touching, and true. I hope she's seen by a wide audience here at the Fringe; she really deserves it. 4/5 ("Excellent").Pussy
, devised and performed by Tight Theatre. Physical theater / performance art. Show about (I think) how the social construction of women as sexual commodities is modeled and enforced. Took a while to get into gear, but I was with it by the end. 3/5 ("Pretty good").
|Friday, August 7th, 2015|
|Fringe Reviews, Part III
Today was the last day of previews for the festival, so my rate of shows per day is likely to go down as the tickets (except for free fringe shows) mostly go up to full price.
Today's shows:Kitten Killers: Woof
. Sketch comedy. Very much hit or miss, but there were definitely some hits. Standouts included a song about the fact that tampons are taxed as a luxury item in the UK, and a running gag about someone trying to write erotic self-insert fan fiction but failing because the fictional characters absolutely refuse to have sex with her. But there were also misses. 2.75/5 ("Not bad, but nothing special").Cut
, by Duncan Graham. Performed by Hannah Norris. Site specific theater. Very intense show about a woman who may have a stalker, or may be creating one in her mind. Excellent use of complete blackouts for effect. 3.75/5 ("Very, very good").The Harmonium Project
. International Festival. Sound and light show to John Adams choral music. Light show was extremely well done. The John Adams music was, unfortunately, more Adams in "Nixon in China" mode (which I don't much like) than Adams in "Short Ride in a Fast Machine" mode (which I do). Still, 3.5/5 ("Quite good").
|Thursday, August 6th, 2015|
|Fringe Reviews, Part II
Went out trolling for free tickets deliberately today, rather than by accident. This is the end of previews, so possibly the last day for doing this easily unless shows paper opening night as well. But I'd always intended to switch over from "random shows that are free and sound kind of interesting" to "shows I'm actually seeking out in advance" at some point. Been fun doing it the first way for awhile -- saw some shows that might not have stood out to me otherwise, and a couple of them over the past two days have been pretty brilliant.
Anyway, today netted me three tickets:TES
, by Steve Larkin. One-man show, reimagining of Tess of the D'Ubervilles as a modern day teenage boy who becomes a slam poet. Not bad, but I couldn't help but wonder, why? What's the point of doing this? And I don't think the show ever really answered the question. 2.75/5 ("Not bad, but nothing special").Blind Man's Song
, conceived and directed by Guillaume Pigé. Avant-garde dance/movement piece. A blind musician and faceless dancers. Really really great, lots of arresting images. 4/5 ("Excellent").Neel Kolhatkar: Truth Be Told
. Stand-up comedian. Jokes about being an Australian of Indian heritage, countries as high school students, sex. Amusing, some good jokes, some only OK. 2.75/5 ("Not bad, but nothing special").
One great show a day is doing well so far, I think!