Monthly Archives: August 2013


In the Kingdom of the Blind

Venue 13

Aug 3-11, 13-24






With a focus on theatre, physical theatre and contemporary dance, established in 1996, Venue 13 was a first visit for me this year.  I stepped off the bustling Royal Mile into the quaint but very well run venue to check out this new play. “In the Kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king” – (Desiderius Erasmus), or, to put it another way, someone of limited ability is at a great advantage in the company of those less able. Setting out on a voyage into the wilderness, the three characters leave the trappings of modern society behind them and using what survival skills they have between them, the story develops into a test of emotional endurance.

Kit Spink, Charlie Howitt and Brian McMahon who star as Nik, Krissy and Davis also wrote this new play.  They have manifested strong individual characters into the play and it’s interesting to see where their story is going to lead.  They certainly have great ability at performing and writing, with all six eyes wide open! This is Reverend Productions, an Oxfordshire theatre company’s 10th production and has been nominated for the NSDF – emerging artists award this year.  I wish them the very best of luck. THREE STARS


Reviewer – Christine Morgan



Sex Lives of Others

Pleasance Courtyard – Pleasance This

13-26 Aug


£10 – £12

SLOO 29X29

This tiny venue is packed to the gunnels and its adds an intimacy that is appropriate for the subject matter here: we all want to know what other people get up to in the bedroom.  This successfully attempts to show that while we may think that other people sex lives are more boring or exciting than our own that we never really know…

This punchy, witty comedy from writer Keeley Winstone and award winning director Hannah Eidinow (winner of five Fringe Firsts) (hits the mark with sharp dialogue and well judged observations judging by the audiences laughter signalling that they related to what was being acted on on the tiny stage by the 4 strong cast of Joanna Bending and Martin Miller, and Jessica Biglow and Matt Green.

The story follows the bedroom antics of 2 couples; one young and one old living next door to each other.  The older couple (Hilary and James) think the antics going on next door are a young couple Kerry and Sonny are  “going at it like rabbits” but the truth is anything but, whereas the oldies are looking to rekindle their youthful lust.  The well-written script ensures laughter right the way through and the hour flies by.  Highly enjoyable, don’t expect gratuitous sex scenes (like the mainly male crowd were probably expecting) just a very good, well thought out and produced succulent piece of theatre. 5 STARS


Reviewer David McMenemy


KAFKA’S – A Report to an Academy

Kafka’s A Report to an Academy 

Gryphon Venues
12th to 17th August
    There is little doubt Kafka was a fine writer. Time has certainly been testament to this. You can see his work transferred to stage and screen all over the world. But I couldn’t help but feel this particular piece lost a little in translation. The script seemed to me to be clunky and over wordy. I know this may be viewed as sacrilege in many eyes but I can’t help having an opinion. The sole actor, it was a one man show, did his best to imbue the source material with life and was largely successful. If a touch over the top in places.
    The story was as interesting and thought provoking as you’d expect from Kafka with the familiar subjects of what it means to be human, anthropomorphism and body dis-morphia all covered. Eminently visualised by the actor slowly shedding off his animal skin to become human. The naked ape. With a typically dark twist at the end. There were also moments of humour, twisted as they were, to lighten the heavy philosophical load. But all in all I believe this piece would have perhaps gone down better fifty or a hundred years ago when the text was a tad more vital. Not to say that these subjects aren’t eternal but I believe there have been more recent plays and films which have breached them more relevantly. Still, if you’re a fan of Kafka and guys in gorilla suits this may be the play for you. Personally I’ll stick with King Kong. THREE STARS

Reviewer – Steven Vickers



Track 3

Bedlam Theatre


Aug 4-24





Track3  sees last year’s well reviewed collaboration between the Theatre Movement Bazaar and Greenwich Theatre,  return with a  fantastic interpretation of one of Chekhov’s plays, “Three Sisters.” The play looks at the lives of three sisters through their marriages, (or lack thereof), desire to flee back to Moscow, and their emotional journeys as they realise not everything will turn out as they had hoped for in their youth.


This was a highly professional and polished performance. The cast successfully bring you from shock to sadness and back to comedy again, before you even realise what they are up to. Delivered with hilarious abandon, there are even elements of barbershop and surrealist comedy thrown into the mix, with speedy set changes and excellent use of the stage to convey the drama and wit of Chekhov’s original work. The actors delight in both not taking themselves too seriously, (avoiding over-acting), and yet giving credit to every twist and turn of the plot with polished skill.


Excellent acting and delivery mean this play has the potential to appeal to all, even those who normally don’t enjoy theatre, as it delivers on every level. Entirely bonkers and definitely worth a look in. FIVE STARS



Reviewer – Antionette Thirgood



Leaving Planet Earth

EICC (transport provided to Ratho climbing centre)

20.15 departure (meet at 19.45)

10-24 Aug

Price £25


Leaving Planet Earth

The idea of Leaving Planet Earth is to take audiences on an immersive journey to a “New Earth” leaving an earth behind which has been destroyed by riots, fires and World War three. There was massive potential in this idea, and it started off with lots of excitement, with the audience being split into three groups and given a mysterious bracelet which we were told would gather data but little was revealed about what it would do. Then buses were provided to Edinburgh Climbing Centre at Ratho where the different groups were taken on a tour around the building to different rooms where the story is developed and audiences are introduced to different characters who live on New Earth in an acclimatisation centre.

Despite enthusiastic attempts from the actors involved to convince us we were on another planet, the overall aftertaste of this experience was disappointing. Perhaps as we’re so used to special effects now from the world of film in science-fiction, it is a lot more difficult to convey that sense of wonder and awe which you imagine you would feel on a  new planet. The choice of venue was good in terms of the industrial zone style central foyer, use of lighting in the quarry and size of the climbing arena for dramatic tone at the finale, however overall it felt a little lacking. There was an amazing opportunity here to create either an original audience participatory experience, or an overwhelming display of technology and music yet it didn’t quite make it. It was well organised in terms of timing and moving large numbers of people around, yet the actual experiences in each room were about as new worldly as going to a library. The mysterious bracelet from the beginning wasn’t used to its potential either. Maybe more one for children than adults as it was very hard to stretch the imagination quite far enough to fully believe the experience. An excellent concept that didn’t quite live up to the expectation. TWO STARS.



Reviewer – Antoinette Thirgood



The Space @ Niddry St

12-17 August




Every year a new theatre company will venture forth up to the Firth of Forth & present its debut show at the Fringe, Among them this year is Suffolk-based Seckford Theatre, whose players consist of talented 17 & 18-year-olds. A pleasant blend of physical theatre & solid acting, they tell the story of Rosemary West, wife of the infamous serial killer, Fred West.

You Tube

From the onset I was intrigued how such a story would convert to the stage, but was indeed informed & perhaps entertained, although such subjects I feel are strange entertainment indeed. The play also sits on the fence as to the possible guilt of Rosemary west who to this day professes her innocence.

This clever piece of theatre was performed with a confidence that belied the cast’s younger years. THREE STARS

three stars

Reviewer – Damo Bullen


I’m With the Band
Traverse Theatre –
2nd to 25th August
£6 to £20
Times vary
    As a musician I was looking forward to seeing how this play might explore the familiar but dysfunctional four-way marriage of a rock and roll band. As a voter I was curious to see how politics would be brought into it. As it happened they performed an impeccable job in synergizing the two, the parody of band life melding so well into political satire it’s hard to mention one without the other.
The basic premise was that a rock band, subtly called The Union, had had some success as a middle of the road indie outfit but due to a tax-dodging manager they now found themselves in massive debt and the guitarist, who just happens to be Scottish, wants to go solo. I found it particularly brilliant how the English singer/songwriter could only express this troubling news through song. As much a political statement as a keen observation on how many songwriters find that this is the only way they can express the more heavy dilemmas life throws at them.
The other members of the band are an alcoholic, testosterone fuelled Northern Irish drummer and, my personal favourite, a self effacing Welsh bassist with a crisis of confidence. Who at one point chooses to hide in a box rather than face the reality of Scotland’s impending independence. And this independence is clearly something the writers of the play are against (I guess the clue’s in the title). With Scotland out the band dissolve back into their own individual madness’s. Northern Ireland drinking and fighting with his Mrs again, Wales giving in to his cripplingly low self esteem and England disappearing rapidly up his own backside with some nightmarish prog-rock. As someone on the border of the argument I found myself by the end of the play almost hysterically in favour of the union. And I believe anyone in my position and certainly the Scottish Nationalists, should all come to see this play to get their views challenged. Get Alex Salmond a front row seat this instant! And for the rest of you there’s always Braveheart. FOUR STARS
four stars
Reviewer –  Steven Vickers



Monday 12th August

Festival Theatre




Fidelio was the only opera ever composed by the great musical genius Ludwig Von Beethoven, & as such was infused with two decades worth of improvements. Inspired by Jean-Nicolas Bouilly’s Leonore, the libretto was handled by at least three persons, & is based upon events in revolutionary France. It tells the story of Florestan, who is being kept prisoner by a a wicked governor named Pizarro, & of Leonore, Florestan’s wife, who is working in the prison disguised as a man.

This version of Fidelio, as presented by the Opera de Lyons, is a grandiose projection into the future is more ways than one. Imagine if Spielburg had turned Star Wars into an opera, & you’ll be close, with Don Pizarro as the Emperor & Luke Skywalker as Leonore. Sung in German, one is touched once more by that teutonic language’s complete genius for the art of opera. However, despite those three different hands, the libretto is unchallenging – yet embosomed at all times by a musical complexity that plucks the very lyre strings of the heart.

The most riveting part of the show, however, is the wonderful visual effects achieved on stage by the placing of see-thro white screens at the front & back of the stage, onto which futuristic images are repeatedly played. This provides the performance with a great 3d effect & the ability to create armies of robots marching about a majestic Pizarro.

A very fine production of a dearly loved opera, & tho traditionalists may scoff at the modernistic effects, Beethoven’s flurishing fancies are recreated with an acute prescision by both orchestra & singers. FOUR STARS

four stars

Reviewer – Damo Bullen



Traverse Theatre

11-25 Aug

Times Vary


Blythe as Ciara


This is what the Fringe is all about ! A Saturday afternoon in Edinburgh at the wonderful Traverse Theatre. A brilliant one person play performed by a powerhouse of an actress to a full house in an intimate venue. The tale of Ciara charts her struggle with her self made success as an art gallery owner with her troubled past as the adored daughter of a petty gangster. Blythe Duff (best known for her role as Jackie Reid in Taggart) is immense. Ciara is articulate, a sexy middle aged Glaswegian, a strong independent spirit with a ready comedic foul mouthed rejoinder and a dark sense of humour. I was left with the strong impression that Duff did not have to try too hard to assume the characteristics of the title role !



The script is superbly crafted by David Harrower and the whole 70 minute experience was captivating. The audience lapped it up, totally riveted throughout. With many Edinburgh middle class accents heard in the foyer and mostly middle aged people filing in to see the play, I was surprised at how empathetically they absorbed the murkier aspects of the storyline. Also, it never ceases to amaze me how the theatre can accommodate vocabulary that other mediums would struggle with – for example the use of the phrase ‘romanian cunt juice’ gets a giggle from an audience that might well react with a sharp intake of breath if the same words were spoken on the telly. I loved the dialogue. The writer is from Edinburgh but now lives in Glasgow and he is quite clearly fluent in the weegie tongue. His script has a sort of west-of-Scotland Irvine Welsh quality about it. For example: “Bobby is seventy six years old but looked reborn. He shagged her twice daily on the tanning bed he said. ‘In the cunt before lunch – up the arse after’. On the tanning bed.”


The one-person play is such a hard gig to pull off. The combination of Harrower and Duff have accomplished the feat in trumps, this play is a real triumph for both. A great way to spend a Saturday afternoon for me and as this play runs until the 25th August a great way to spend some time on any day of the week for you. The times of the performance vary from day to day so check the timings before booking a seat – but do book a seat – you won’t regret it. FOUR STARS



four stars


Reviewer – Chris Donkin




Cinderella Lives
Venue 13
3rd – 24th August (no show 12th)
Cinderella Lives describes itself as a “Feminist burlesque revolution” that “revisits the fairytale to measure how far women have progressed…” Not exactly my cup of tea I thought.  However setting my bias barometer firmly to neutral I was in for a very pleasant surprise.  From enticing start to exuberant finish writer and performer Aisling Kiely held the room entranced with this cleverly written and wonderfully executed show.
Whether as androgynous fairy godmother, Eve – our middle class, modern day Cinderella – or Eve’s slightly older, abrasive flatmate Alice, Aisling held the audience spellbound as we watched Eve fumble her way through the revelation that maybe her expectations dreams and wishes aren’t really hers at all.  And if they’re not…? With just herself and a handful of props Aisling Kiely delivers a show that is visually striking, humerous and thought provoking. The hour speeds by leaving you re-enthused by The Fringe and delighted to have found one of the gems shining brightly in the multitude. FOUR STARS
four stars
Reviewer Fiona Lindsay