2017 Reviews

Interview: TV Smith – No One Chord Wonder

TV Smith is coming to Edinburgh, which means you have the chance to spend the evening with somebody who’s not only a punk legend, a witty and talented writer but also one of the most giving and kind people you are likely to meet in the cutthroat music business.

Review – Confabulation

Over the course of an hour in Confabulation, Eamonn Fleming takes the audience on a journey through his childhood memories and how memory works.  That sounds like an audacious challenge but he pulls it off with the aid of an electric guitar, a flip chart and a slide projector.

Review – Phil Kay: Euphoric

Phil Kay’s current show is part of Bob Slayer’s Heroes of Fringe and let’s face fact, that’s what Phil is.  In ten minutes, he will show more improvisation, originality and archaic surreal humour than most comedians will perform in a year.  If they’re lucky.  His new show, Phil Kay: Euphoric, does not disappoint and I was left breathless from the laughter he induced.

Review – Turntable/Edinburgh

I’ve said it before and no doubt will say it again in print, but I love music.  When I saw the poster for Turntable/Edinburgh, I knew I’d be going.  For those of us of a certain vintage, the red sleeve and disc sticker bring back childhood memories.  Buying record spiders, unwisely using the record stacker extension on turntable’s nib, learning not to jump around too much in case you caused the needle to jump.  Michael John McCarthy and Red Bridge Arts may have used a simple graphic for the show but it was extremely evocative.

Review – The Offering (Guru Dakshina)

Aditya Roy works tirelessly over the course of forty-five minutes in the Offering, which allows the audience to sit back and enjoy his skill and athleticism.  The play, part of the India@UK2017 season, is a mixture of dance, martial arts and traditional storytelling.

Review –Swan Bake

This is Second Sons first time at the Fringe and they’ve produced an entertaining, challenging and fun show.  This is not fun for all the family or those of a delicate sensibility.  If you can laugh about drug use, Christianity and LGBT relationship problems though, this is a show for you.

Review – IlluminArchie: Archie Maddocks

I saw Archie Maddocks on Tuesday night as part of Bringing to Book, which was a benefit for two legal charities working on the Grenfell Tower Fire.  I was really impressed with him, especially for reciting the poem written by one of the surviving residents.  You could tell it was hard for him and not how he is used to performing but he did it well and I was touched by it.  Here as part of the Free Fringe, I ended up seeing his show my chance as I was in the area and remembered I had his flyer in my bag.  I’m glad I took that decision and for once was happy I got the library’s opening hours wrong.

How to Act

The National Theatre of Scotland has produced many great plays since it was formed in 2006.  Sadly How to Act doesn’t rank with the best, such as Black Watch or the James Plays, which is unfortunate as I was really looking forward to it.  I’m not saying this is a bad play, it’s just not as good as some will no doubt have you believe.  How to Act is as good as the Alien Chicken Remembers Galatea, say, and both have as many faults as the other.  However, the former has the money and backing behind it so will be talked of louder and for longer.  That’s not fair but, sadly, such is life.  Both have something worth hearing to say but only one has the chance of a UK tour and a possible West End run.

A Joke

Who knew that three men, a massage table and a pair of spoons could cause such hilarity?  Dan Freeman, the writer of A Joke, obviously did.  Then again, this performance is gifted with three very talented actors.  You may come for McCoy and Picardo due to their appearance in various skiffy roles but you’ll be glad that Richard Oliver is in it too.

The Alien Chicken Remembers Galatea

Mofsec have created a comedic adaptation of an Elizabethan comedy that is a biting indictment of blindly following societal rules.  While the original is set around Lincolnshire village and features Greek deities, The Alien Chicken Remembers Galatea is set on a planet governed my large corporations that expect the population to sacrifice fair, beautiful and talented young women for the ‘greater good’ and their common survival.  There are lovely moments of black comedy throughout; I particularly enjoyed the priestess overseeing the sacrifice as if it was a TV talent show.   Hebe’s reaction to not meeting the grade was also well handled and humorous.

Mark Thomas: A Show That Gambles on the Future

Mark Thomas’ show has a simple premise; can we, the great unwashed, do better than futurists, pollsters and pundits in predicting what’s around the corner.  No bookie would give you odds on me enjoying it, I’ve loved the man’s work for thirty years now.  As usual, he didn’t disappoint and had me cackling and laughing yet again.

The Establishment: Eton Mess

Eton Mess, while wonderful and beautifully performed, is not everybody’s cup of tea.  Dan Lees and Neil Frost follow in the footsteps of Monty Python, Vic and Bob, Harry Hill and the Mighty Boosh, amongst others.  At times, I could have sworn I was hearing Graham Chapman when Neil Frost delivered his lines.  The Establishment serve up their clowning with a dash of Eric and Ernie for good measure.  I’m not sure if their humour is more absurdist than surreal but it is damn good fun.  They take a none-too-subtle swipe at those who govern the UK throughout the show.  This includes poking fun at Brexiteers’ colonial wet dreams or the elite’s corruption and control of society.  While it isn’t subtle it is damn good fun.

Show Up

Picking a show at the Fringe is never easy.  Sometimes you go if it’s a performer you know, have heard good press about or because somebody wants you to chum them.   Sometimes a poster or a flyer has enough in it to draw you in.  Occasionally you’ll get a performer who’s flyering and does such a good pitch that you go and see their show.  Peter Michael Marino did that to me yesterday in the street; in around 90 seconds he’d convinced me to take a chance on Show Up and I’m glad I did.

Clean Sheets

The Free Fringe is a mixed bag.  Sometimes you get exactly what you’ve paid for, sometimes you get much more than you expected.  Clean Sheets, a debut play by two singer/songwriters, falls more towards the latter and has a lot to praise.  I’m not saying it’s perfect but I’m glad I saw it and put money in the hat at the end. Aye, they could improve it but the play has a good heart and packs an emotional punch and I would recommend you see it.  I also hope that Billy and Freddy have another go at writing a play because they have an ear for dialogue that can only improve with time and experience.  As the first step in a writing career they only stumble because they are trying to go faster.

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A Tale Etched in Blood and Hard Black Pencil

I feel sorry for most of you reading this review, as you probably don’t have a chance of seeing this wonderful play.  That’s because Horsehead Theatre‘s all-too brief run has already sold out.   Good news for them, well deserved too; bad news for punters who’ll miss seeing it.  While some sections and characters from Christopher Brookmyre’s book are missing, all the main players and beats are there.  I was really impressed by how the cast deal with the adaptation and the regularly shifting scenes.  For those who don’t know the story, it covers murder, revisiting your childhood memories and friends, plus learning folk aren’t who they once were.

Card Ninja

I’ve seen some card tricks performed in my time but I have never seen anybody deal with a deck as quickly or smoothly as Javier Jarquin.  Trust me, this is no 52 pick-up merchant, he will astound you with his witty banter, life lessons, high roundhouse kicks and, most of all, his digits’ dexterity.  He can shuffle through his tricks as quick as any dealer while proving you can apply the ninja rules and training to anything in your life.

Ruby Redfort

As you can probably tell from this show’s description, I’m not their target audience.  In fact, until about two months ago I hadn’t heard about Ruby Redfort but I know she is popular with my daughter.  I also know that she wears glasses and has a side parting across her right eye which is always secured with a hair slide.  The person playing her definitely didn’t have glasses on and I don’t remember her hair matching that description.  Picky?  Maybe, but to a nine-year-old the details do matter and could lead some to leave disappointed.