Edinburgh Fringe 2014 Review: Beans on Toast

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20 August 2014, ThreeWeeks Edinburgh Review

Scott loves Jen, and Jen loves Scott, but Jen has gone. ‘Beans On Toast’ goes through all the significant moments of their relationship, out of sequence, with a song or two thrown in for good measure. These ‘loveable’ characters are sassy, fast-talking and so underdeveloped they remain practically stationary. Apart from when they have their sole argument, their relationship appears completely faultless, apparently formed with some kind of perfect couple cookie cutter. This lack of any real conflict makes for rather plodding viewing, with any meaning almost entirely lost in the action. The production is staged well by the cast, who all play Jen and Scott at various points, but this does nothing to stop it being a one dimensionally pretty, rather than meaningful, production.

Image: Alixroth/Flickr

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Edinburgh Fringe 2014 Review: Le Flop

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18 August 2014, ThreeWeeks Edinburgh Review

‘Le Flop’ is like a tin of chocolates: bright, colourful but ultimately disposable. The idea behind the show seems to be that mind-numbing stupidity is funny, but it’s impossible to sum up what ‘Le Flop’ is actually about. “Four clowns muck about for an hour” doesn’t quite seem like enough of a description, but it’s accurate. Clearly ‘Le Flop’ is trying to be ironic, hoping to score laughs by being deliberately awful, but around half the audience left within the first ten minutes, when it became obvious that a man with a whoopee cushion was going to be the highpoint of the show. The whole show was tedious to watch, a real disappointment.

Image: Alixroth/Flickr

Edinburgh Fringe 2014 Review: Theatre on a Long Thin Wire

Image: Alixroth/Flickr

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17 August 2014, ThreeWeeks Edinburgh Review

‘Theatre on a long thin wire’ involves nothing but a chair, a CD player and a mysterious voice through a phone. Total audience participation is expected as individuals take it in turn to answer the phone and echo the voice on the line. Set in a loft covered in gas taps and pipes, it initially evokes the feeling that we’ve been transported to the scene of a horror film, then, as things progress, it starts to feel like a potentially dodgy psychological experiment as we willingly follow the instructions of a disembodied voice. This is hardly high octane excitement, but even the most cynical of participants will start to feel involved in the subtly built up, if predictable, drama.

Edinburgh Fringe 2014 Review: God is in My Typewriter

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16 August 2014, ThreeWeeks Edinburgh

Anne Sexton is one the most romanticized poets out there, and her history of creativity and depression has ensured that this is not the first time she has been resurrected on stage. In this solo show Anna-Mari Laulumaa draws on verse, therapy sessions and Sexton’s own letters to render a portrait of the artist. The various sources are integrated well enough to create a strong line of narrative, and the show uses music and lighting beautifully to create an often surreal and isolated atmosphere, but the production falters with its interpretation of Sexton herself. She is hysterical, unhinged and childlike, and the play manages to obscure her more behind her myth rather than illuminate the character and life which contributed to her work.

Image: Alixroth/Flickr

 

Edinburgh Fringe 2014 Review: 300 to 1

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16 August 2014, ThreeWeeks Edinburgh

This play should never work. A fifteen year old boy enacts the film ‘300’ to Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon? I’m not quite sure how Matt Panesh came up with the idea for this solo show but I’m glad he did. The show zings along thanks to Panesh’s comic panache with physical characterisation: he easily zips between the macho Leonidas, the stammering Wilfred Owen and the prickly Sassoon. With a biting script and a mass of energy, the play is frequently hysterical and plainly ridiculous which perhaps seems at odds with with its central message: war is not glorious, and Owen’s poetry and startling facts about veterans are used to clarify this. It somehow works, though, and the result is a pleasure to watch.

Image: Alixroth/Flickr

Edinburgh Fringe 2014 Review: Rosie Wilby-Nineties Woman

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15 August 2014, ThreeWeeks Edinburgh 

Former ‘Funny Women’ finalist Rosie Wilby had a plan: to interview all the women who wrote alongside her for nineties York University feminist newspaper ‘Matrix’, and the result is this intriguing show. This nineties woman takes us through the story of her student days bad perms, fruitless crushes and too sincere student demos included but what she really wants to know is whether these girls have stuck to their principles and remained true to the feminist cause. The stand out thing about the show is the former Brit-popper herself, who is a likeable figure and a natural story teller. Her tales of student (not quite) hedonism engage you from the off, and her willingness to gently self-deprecate allow the audience to happily laugh at her as well as with her.

Image: Alixroth/Flickr

Edinburgh Fringe 2014 Review: The Duck Pond

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13 August 2014, ThreeWeeks Edinburgh Review

‘The Duck Pond’ may sound like a cut price version of ‘Swan Lake’ indeed, the performers acknowledge this by making several jokes about not paying royalties – yet it is anything but. This production is a clever, playful retelling of the ‘Swan Lake’ story, which uses dance, physical theatre and intelligent comedy to convey the well known tale of love and tragedy. This is an immaculate piece; the only thing I can think of to compare it to is the perfect circus show. Not a toe is out of place, the timing is perfect, the audience participation is well considered, the acting is superb and, above all, despite the humour, it is still moving. In my opinion, flawless.

Image: Alixroth/Flickr

Edinburgh Fringe 2014 Review: Tape

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12 August 2014, ThreeWeeks Edinburgh Fringe

‘Tape’ is an instantly engaging show. The audience is immediately thrown into the action, where we see Vince (Sam Dobson) preparing for a meeting with his high school friend Jon (Will Kynaston). This reunion quickly turns from amicable to spiteful when a secret is revealed about their ex-girlfriend, Amy (Cat Lewis), who is imminently expected. The fast-paced, tightly scripted piece provides an insight into the role of truth and honesty in our lives, as well as that of self-deception. Its success is largely due to the solid performances from the whole cast. The play is not original, and the ideas in it aren’t subtle, but the strength of the acting and the writing prevent it from seeming too clichéd and keep the action engrossing.

Image: Alixroth/Flickr

Edinburgh Fringe 2014 Review: Amir Shah

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12 August 2014, ThreeWeeks Edinburgh Fringe

The erudite Ahir Shah talks faster than anyone else and is probably one of the most energetic performers at the Fringe. It’s difficult to sum up what ‘Texture’ is about, as he covers a staggering range of topics: from moving house to finding love in the modern age, Tinder and the cost of living… even Edwina Curry and John Major get a mention. The abundance of varying topics means that he seems to be discussing multiple things at once, and the it’s easy to lose track of where he’s going. He makes some very good points with his material, and Shah has the ability to make long running gags work well, but you get the sense that this show would be better if his energy and material were more tightly controlled.

Image: Alixroth/Flickr

Edinburgh Fringe 2014 Review: Feminism for Chaps

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10 August 2016, ThreeWeeks Edinburgh Review

As a woman and a feminist, I am clearly not the sort of ‘chap’ that Andrew Watts is aiming his material at. He also warns his (mostly female) audience that the cricket jokes may go over their heads. They do. It took becoming a father to make Watts realise he was a feminist, and in this show he tells a well-honed series of anecdotes and attempts to educate his fellow men on some (worryingly) basic facts about feminism. The result is not laugh a minute stuff, but you cannot fault Watts for his earnest attempt to enlighten through comedy. He is insightful enough, not at all self-congratulatory, and does manage to wring a few laughs out of the audience, but this is more soapbox than stand-up.

Image: Alixroth/Flickr

Edinburgh Fringe 2014 Review: FanFiction Comedy

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10 August 2014, ThreeWeeks Edinburgh Reviews

‘FanFiction Comedy’ may be one of the most silly, nerdy and hilarious hours I have ever spent. Created for geeks, by geeks, the show sees the cast writing and performing several brand new stories for every performance, each involving beloved figures from popular fiction. From Harry Potter to ‘Life of Pi’, nothing is safe from their comedic talons: the night I attended we were treated to the moving tale ’12 Years an Oompa-Loompa’. The show presumes a certain level of familiarity with the material, and clearly delights in coupling the ridiculousness of fanboy delusions with a nerdy level of detail. There’s a little too much time wasted at the start and end of the show, but it’s still very smart and frequently hysterical.

Image: Alixroth/Flickr

Edinburgh Fringe 2014 Review: 15% of the Seagull

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9 August 2014, ThreeWeeks Edinburgh Review

Thespians are an endless source of comedy, and Chekhov’s ‘The Seagull’ is ripe for picking. Here we see Liberty Martin, the highly strung half of this duo, desperate to direct, produce and act in ‘The Seagull’ despite only having one actor left – Cheryl Mayer, the seemingly dull half of the act. But, of course darlings, the show must go on. The final result is a mix of wig-and-accent acting alongside intelligent jokes, preposterous props, good acting and, ultimately, a very likeable show. The scenes in which they mock pretentious am-dram members were undoubtedly the highlights of the show, and perhaps more humour could have squeezed from these. Overall, ‘15% of the Seagull’ is a gloriously silly comedy.

Image: Alixroth/Flickr