Monthly Archives: August 2013




2-25 Aug






Highly recommended, I went along to this show in need of some genuine fun.  Easily enjoyable and quietly clever it was positively fun. Nominated for Total Theatre Award – its is definitely ‘innovative, experimental and playing with form’ to take anthropology to the comedy stage.  The show is performed by Victoria Melody (Farnham Maltings/ Harlow Playhouse/ Escalator East to Edinburgh) and her beloved Basset Hound, Major Tom.  It tells the story of Major Tom’s turn at becoming a show dog, and Victoria’s emphatic responsibility as his owner to equally subject herself to such scrutiny and try to become a beauty queen.  And so we enter the world of dog shows and beauty pageants.  The journey she takes us on is one of irony and wry observations.  The personal assaults each of them genuinely experience at the hands of professionals in these worlds allows you to gladly share in the mockery of the industries given how obviously endearing both of these two participants are.

As a piece of theatre the show is engrossing, you eagerly await the next tale.  Its the delivery that makes this show. Victoria Melody makes this show from concept to contest to conquest.  The normality of her sunny disposition is in stark contrast to her subtle satirical sentiments.  Now she does primarily allow you to make your own anthropological observations (or rather judgements) however there are times when you are definitely catching up with her, with the slow realisation that all aspects of the story are real, they really happened… in not giving anything away, staying true to the real story Victoria Melody’s disbelief is beautifully portrayed.  Her co-star is the perfect accompaniment, Major Tom’s brilliance is that he tells his own story without any effort whatsoever!  Delightfully dead-pan.

 I loved this show, I had at least a few squawking moments and some definite uncontrollable giggling, long beyond the punchline at times.  Quirky cheeky moments demonstrate the thought and preparation (and dedication! – you sometimes wonder if she might go too far..) Victoria has undertaken to tell us a tale of beauty, competition and the will to win. Well worth seeing! FIVE STARS


Reviewer – Elinor Dickie


Sid & Valerie


19-25 Aug





He’s not in York, he’s not in Chester, he’s Sid Leicester. Old-age has not done anything to dampen’s Sid’s love of vaudeville, & has relaced his dead wife’s role in his double-act with his daughter, Valerie. From ‘Name that Tune’ to dodgy pensioner acrobatics, what follows is an utterly charming hour of light entertainment, delivered warmly by Sue MacLaine (Sid) & Emma Kilby (Valerie), two talented stalwarts of the theatre-scene. Their crowd interaction is the best of I’ve seen all Fringe, as they ply the audience constantly with wurthers originals. Both actresses shine in their roles & the ‘play’ is perfect for those wanting a laugh just after lunch. FOUR STARS

four stars

Reviwer – Damo Bullen



Dark Matter

Audience meets 10 minutes before the show starts at the Victoria Bar, 265 Leith Walk.

Thursday 15-Saturday 24 August (no performance on Sunday 18)





Many shows at the festival are trying to create an interactive, immersive experience, (you can search on interactive shows). This is definitely the best I’ve seen so far. Actress Emma Anderson is fantastic giving a no holds barred passionate performance of a woman at the hinges of losing it, waiting in the garden for her lover.  Audiences are taken from Victoria Bar to a secret garden in Leith and given headphones, as the sound for this performance is kept separate from the live performance, creating a detached and innovative experience. Sound designer Tam Treanor uses original recordings to confuse and delight and the lighting creates an eerie atmosphere which accompanies the gothic theatre piece beautifully.

It’s selling out fast and not much more time left, so if you get a chance this is definitely worth the bargain price of £12 to experience something which suggests the Vision Mechanics production company are going to produce some excellent work in years to come. FOUR STARS

four stars

Reviewer – Antionette Thirgood




19-24 Aug




Twenty years ago, Tom Stoppard unleashed his comic masterpiece upon the theatre world, earning him the best play award in the 1994 Olivier & Tony’s. Ever since it has been treasured by the public, & has been a sell-out show at the Fringe for the last deacade or so. Its current incarnation is at the hands of the delectably-trained Close Up Theater , from Dean Close School in Cheltenham. The play straddles two time-zones, the first in 1809 when Lord Byron is visiting a country house in Derbyshire, & the second in the age of Richard & Judy, when a scholar is visiting the same house on the trail of said famous poet.

Stoppard is at his most fluid & lyrical in this play, which wis full of wit & wonder & a delight to be amidst for its full two hours. The cast is 12 strong, with each role being performed flawlessly by the troupe. Especially strong is Charles Coombs as Septimus Hodge, who shall no doubt shine in the future. However, every performance was strong, & the sum is greater than its parts, & the effect Close Up Theatre exude is one of a finely-honed theatre machine, which no-doubt gets on well away from the boards. A worthy FIVE STARS…


Reviewer – Damo Bullen


The Beginning
Pleasance Courtyard
August 19th to 24th
£8 to £12
the beginning

I didn’t know quite what to expect when entering the theatre. I’d chosen this play from a list because I’d presumably found the write up interesting but that was a couple of weeks ago and I couldn’t really remember it. What I got was nothing I could have anticipated. And that was an entirely good thing. If Stuart Lee is the master of deconstructive comedy then this lot are the masters of deconstructive theatre. There was no set to speak of, no real narrative, the text was constantly analysing itself and there was an overarching sense of self effacement throughout the piece. However, this was all delivered with such a lightness of touch and mischievous sense of humour that things were always kept fresh, never overly intellectual or pompous. Yes, there was perhaps a touch of pretentiousness but, as Michael Stipe will tell you, that’s no bad thing.

As a piece of post modern theatre it was hard to fault. And simply as a brilliantly written piece of quality entertainment there were few flaws. As daft as it was ambitious, as joyful as it was innovative, this play was truly one of, of not the, highlight of my fringe so far. And it was all delivered by an annoyingly slim and beautiful cast to keep things easy on the eye. If you want a play that covers love, Shakespeare, Serge Gainsbourg, the joy of performance and probably a whole host of other intellectual musings that went over my head but was no the worse for it, this is the play for you. Basically if you want to be entertained and stimulated in equal measure you can’t go far wrong here. It left the pallet refreshed yet satisfied like a fine Michelin star meal.  It is pieces likethis that remind you what the fringe is all about and are vital to the future of inventive new theatre. My only gripe – the run is criminally short. FIVE STARS

5-StarsReviewer – Steve Vickers


Whispering in the Dark

Venue 13





Whispering in the Dark


This play set off from Los Angteles, crossed the Pacific picking up its subject, then traversed half the world to settle amidst the salubrious surrounds of Venue 13’s pleasant theatre near the bottom of the Royal Mile. That subject, then, is those two teenage lesbians who shocked both New Zealand & the world by the crude & callous slaying of one of the girl’s mother.

However, this is no simple retelling of the tale, but a garish nightmare of two souls haunted in torment following the demise of their earthly lives. For an hour the audience is privy to their painful purgatory, as the two actresses fence intellectually, sexually & emotionally, occasionally recreate the scenes which led to their ghastly crime.

The dialogue offered up by by director/writer Kaiso Hill is unremitting, enacted at fast pace which is a credit to the actresses training & memory. These, Caitlin Teeley & Kat Ortiz, give us an energetic show & some of the best acting I’ve seen this festival, pouring realistic emotions into their performances.  THREE STARS

three stars

Reviewer – Damo Bullen


Head Over Heels in Saudi Arabia

19-26 Aug


Spotlites@the Merchant Hall



head over heels in saudia arabia


Maisah Sobaihi stars in this play about women’s roles in Saudia Arabia… she poses the question to the audience as to what their pre-conceptions are about women in Saudia Arabia at the offset, with answers mostly returning ideas of oppression, women not being able to drive and men being able to marry multiple times. Sobaihi then challenges these notions and in a humorous and very confident manner acts out some snippets from some women’s daily lives in Saudi Arabia. We are shown how typically a woman might react at finding out her husband wants to take another wife and how a woman feels from the perspective of having married “Misyar”, (marrying outside of financial obligation/sharing a home).  Sobaihi also deconstructs familiar pre-conceptions about what it must be like to not be able to drive.




This is both an educational and enjoyable play which is performed well and draws the audience into thinking about what we often presume about Islamic or Middle Eastern nations and cultures.  In demonstrating that reactions of women are the same the world over regardless of religion or location, Sobaihi succeeds in making Saudia Arabia not seem quite so different to the UK after all. Maybe one that women would find more appealing than men, and it did feel just a little bit too long on the running time, yet definitely recommendable as something different and valuable in forging some pleasant mental connections between the Western and Eastern sides of the world. THREE STARS


three stars

Reviewer – Antionette Thirgood












Sympathy Pains

Pleasance Dome

18-26 AUg




One of entertainment’s long-time journeywomen,  Rosalind Adler has had a dabble with theatre this time round & produced a curious play about man becoming pregnant. This ‘miracle’ occurred just as the roles had been reversed in his marriage, with his wife having become the chief bread winner. These are the only actors in the play, which revolves around their bickering & tenderness. We in the audience have obtained a big brother like window into their lives, & are treat to a glut of emotional moods as the tensions of a modern relationship are played out before us. Sometimes funny, sometimes awkward, it is a very real play from a very real voice, & watchable show to boot THREE STARS

three stars

Reviewer Damo Bullen




Gryphon Venues
Point Hotel – Bread Street
16-24th August
An ‘improvised silent movie’ was certainly a first for me, and so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from tonight’s show bought to us by an Italian group Bugiardini, as I entered the intimate venue on Bread Street.  In an innovative and quirky manner, the audience were encouraged, though mime, to approach the front of the stage and chalk on a board what was to be the topic of tonight’s show. This was settled on ‘Grumpy Astronaut’ – a rather unusual topic for a 1920’s themed show, but nonetheless intriguing.
The cast, props, lighting and projections were all in black and white, in homage to the 1920’s silent movie era, and included a spectacular ragtime pianist who improvised ferociously throughout the 50 minute set. The mime was intervalled sporadically with blackout and old style projector slides reminiscent of the Chaplin/Arbuckle era which provided some guidance to help follow the progress of the movie.
The movie appeared to cover the exploits and adventures of two gay astronauts on voyage throughout outer space with at times, hilarious slapstick. I have to admit, however, I was somewhat lost at numerous points throughout the show and found the storyline delivered by the six actors on-stage a bit confusing and disjointed. But given that this was an entirely improvised show they could be forgiven for a level of erratic-ism. And the show was impressively delivered with some excellent mime, which was seductive, comic, intricate and intriguing. Overall a great homage to the silent movie era, a well done, innovative and original piece. THREE STARS
three stars
Reviewer – Teri Welsh


Doug Segal
Gilded Balloon
Teviot Square
16th-26th August

Award winning self proclaimed ‘Mentalist’ Doug Segal performs a mind-blowing extavaganza of comedy, magic, animation and audience interaction set in the midst of the festival action within the Gilded Balloon on Teviot Square.

On entering the show we are each given an ominous prop bag containing silver foil, card and pencil, which I eyeballed suspiciously, as it seethed of audience participation, and I felt that immediate all-too-familiar dread of ‘don’t pick me!’.
This enthusiastic, mind reading comedian engaged the audience throughout his one hour show, using a whole range of entertainment, innovative use of colourful props, hilarious interactive comedy sketches, fast and flashy jokes, audience participation and some brilliant mind miracles that left the audience gasping. He engages the audience to explore the ideas of telepathy, clairvoyance and mind control punctuating it with bubbly one liners. Some of his jokes were a bit weak, and the venue seating arrangements were badly designed causing it to be difficult to see the full stage, but all in all an entertaining evening. THREE STARS
three stars
Reviewer – Teri Welsh