Monthly Archives: August 2014

Domestic Labour : A Study In Love


August 23rd




What a charming play this really is, a blend of physical theater & a snappy dialogue that shows the menial sufferings of womanhood. Six vacuum cleaners litter the stage, & are subsequently used to create scenery about which the cast of three women relay their tale. Touching themes such as contraception & cleaning, they recite the script in stagger’d unison, & even use clips from 1954’s film Johnny Guitar in a surreal sidestep through the show.




The play has been brought to Edinburgh by Cambridge-based 30 Bird, an internationally minded group who collaborate with artists and practitioners from as varied a background as the UK, Iran, Germany, Italy, Poland, India, Japan and Turkey. This particular play touches Islamic marriage, & is deliver’d with a certain, surreal charm. Its a shame I saw it so it so late in the run, butr if the play is coming to your neck in the woods in the future, I thoroughly recommend a watch.


four stars


Reviewer : Damo Bullen



THE MUMBLE’S IMPACT : Edinburgh 2014















La Clique

The Spiegeltent, St Andrews Square

21-24 August



I have followed La Clique’s magnificent conception of ground-breaking performance art since 2004, from The Adelaide Fringe to George Square Gardens as part of The Garden Of Unearthly Delights, the Spiegel’s former Edinburgh Fringe mainstay. Before Assembly so rudely stole the idea and concept, replicating it under their own banner and making this show homeless in Edinburgh in 2011. La Clique resurfaced in the newly housed Spiegeltent on George St in 2012 and 2013. Now located in St Andrews Square, with a back drop that resembles Glastonbury Festivals winning art project.,Bloc 9,  La Clique has landed at long last, two weeks into the Fringe. With a Cabaret Review that lives up to the Royal Variety Show standards that we have become accustomed to. Yes, The Pole Dancers have arrived, after having been stuck in Kiev. A late addition to proceedings & well worth the wait.

Although slightly more expensive than other Fringe shows, the price represents value for money because of the exquisite and original performances of world class Cabaret. Breathtaking and athletically acrobatic,  with enough eye-candy to satisfy, astonish and turn on the most critical of Bohemians. Thirteen individual performances that deserve an independent review (a  work currently in progress which will be an exclusive to The… Divine has friends in high places). My only critique of this spectacular show is the rude, arrogant nature of the magician who insulted a member of the audience for laughs. (Bring Back Paul Zennon)




A show that doesn’t buckle under its own weight of ambition,
La Clique doesn’t need good press, its reputation as the greatest show on Earth ensures a capacity audience. If you are going to treat yourself or are looking for entertainment, then La Clique cannot fail to entertain. I believe the show is sold out, but some tickets are available on the door Book in advance.You will be pleased that you did.

This would have been a deserved 5 Star performance, had the magician not lowered the tone with rude and insulting comedy, scraping the barrel for laughs and detracting from the exceptional quality that is so skillfully represented in La Clique. FOUR STARS

four stars
Reviewer : Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert

Arabian Nights

Gilded Balloon

21-24 August







The remit of Story Pocket Theatre, set up in 2013, is to keep classic stories alive & to perform them with as much beauty as possible – & this hour-long version of ‘ One Thousand & One Nights’ & certainly realises their dream. Like Chaucer’s Cantebury Tales, & Bocaccio’s Decameron, the Persian One Thousand and One Nights is a collection of stories held together loosely by an over-plot. In this case the ruler Shahryār has ordered the execution of his wife, Scheherazade, who delays this event by telling him a story every night.





In this version, our three cast members skip across the stage, move scenery, change coustumes & alter voices in such a pleasant & dreamy fashion, there is nothing but a positive energy in the room. The timelessness of several of these classic tales is brought to life, the highlight I believe is the tale of the Little Beggar, into which is introduced a puppet. Next comes the more famous tale of Aladdin, after which the show ends with a moment of touching beauty, as the king & his queen are reunited as two sillouhetted puppets.


As I was leaving the theater, I heard a young boy say to his dad, ‘Thats the best one I’ve seen so far.’ I could not help but agree, which really tipped the balance for me when awarding the stars. I loved it, the kid-in-me loved it, & the word on the street with the other kids is thats its brilliant, so here’s a happy FIVE STARS



Reviewer : Damo Bullen





Made in Ilva : The Contemporary Hermit


20 – 24 Aug 2014




When one man can command the intensity of the theatrical experience just by flexing his sinewey muscles,  we must find ourselves at the Parnassian peak of physical theater. Nicola Pianzola, of the experimental Instabili Vaganti company of Bologna, is just that man, & his hour of incantantion-like speech & gymanastic movements is nothing but a piece of pefect drama.

The Ilva works - Taranto

The Ilva works – Taranto

The story he tells is that of the posionous effects of the ever-polutant-belching Ilva steel works in Taranto, southernmost Italy, whose dioxin emittants have simply murdered many locals. Layers of black & red powder covers every pavement in the town, glittering in the gutters, & it is in such a sandy bedsoil that ‘Made in Ilva’ has its roots.

Cue a desperate & work-addicted Pianzola watching his friends die around him, & delivering the translated script with a stylish panache which belies his non-English nationality. A mini-modern classic that drives a needle into the nerves. FOUR STARS

four stars

Reviewer : Damo Bullen

The Bastard Son Of Remington Steel.

Underbelly Cowgate

Aug 19, 21, 23





I am pleased to say that I have reviewed some magnificent examples of performance art since I have been writing for the Mumble. So, it is fair to say that this ill-informed play on the trauma of becoming an Orphan has buckled under its own ambition. It was also far too short. It was this level of armature dramatics that I had been expecting from the off-set this Fringe. Thank goodness this was the exception and not the rule.



Were the cast suffering hang overs? I mean whats the rush. The  venue didn’t help things, as the sound of Sunday revelers in The Cowgate distracted what attention span I had from trying to fathom my way through this play, which I assume can only be a work in progress. Good in parts but not fully formed. 2 Stars!



Reviewer : Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert



Near Gone


19 / 21 / 23 August





The amphitheater style Demonstration Room of the majestic Summerhall is an interesting beast/ An unsettling performance space for an unsettling performance that represented a Bi Lingual Primal Scream Therapy Session performed in the dungeon of Hannibal Lecter.

Two siblings recreate the traumatic morning when one of the family members was seriously injured in an accident, with the Dialogue acted out in bulgarian by the Sister and translated to English by the brother. There was also quite a Bonkers dance blooming with white carnations, prformed not once but three times.

Its Art Jim
But Not As We Know it.


Reviewer : Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert

Pomegranate Jam



2-23 August




An early start for Divine on this Sunday of Theater. Arriving at the venue with only minutes to spare before the start of the performance, I took my seat in the packed theater. A packed theater at 10.00am two weeks into the fringe just doesn’t happen. It was this that told me something of merit was about to unfold. I was not mistaken.

The Performance is titled.”Pomegranate: A Shadow Ballet” A story of unrequited love told through the medium of puppetry and Ballet. All silhouettes of a very talented cast acting and dancing behind a screen. Performance art as good as this doesn’t need to be explained but it does need to be experienced. An interpretation of every hard luck story about giving ones heart away to a ball breaker. And just how painful the consequential process of such an action is. Ouch! 

We follow our hero’s through the stages of heart break and renewal, expertly Interpreted through choreography and dance. The Shadows Of Love are laid to bare in such an exquisitely beautiful way. 45 minuets of eye candy performed to a haunting soundtrack,played by one achingly beautiful violin.

This wonderful work of art I can not recommend more Highly. Sexy and another Masterclass. Five Stars.




Reviewer : Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert


Beyond Zero (1914-1918)

Beyond Zero

Monday 18th August

Festival Theatre



This offering from the Edinburgh International Festival began with a recital of music composed by Aleksandra Vrebalov and performed by the world famous Kronos Quartet to a massive screening of film footage photographed from the start of the first world war to the Bosnian conflict in the 1990’s and called “Beyond Zero 1914 to 1918” A contemporary classical composition of music accompanying the footage of the soldiers who had no choice,other than to fight in this clumsy, barbaric and sad war. 



The cello was played by Sunny Yang, violins played by David Harrington and John Sherba, while the Viola was played by Hank Dutt, the latter being the most emotive of instruments to reproduce this contemporary master piece. Seductive and powerful are words that describe the sensations that the music summoned. Death and destruction never sounded so romantic and dare I say it. “Healing.” One has to ask. If the film had not been screened at the same time as The Kronos Quartet’s performance of this sublimely beautiful score, would the association of war have been so forth coming? Music and the way that we receive it is such a personal thing, as are the images that music summons. So on this note I will have to leave that question open,as I do not have the answer. It was an amazing experience. FIVE STARS


Reviewer : Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert

666DSM: A Dark Comedy

Venue 13

Aug 15-23




American-born writer and actor Douglas de Souza’s manic creation based on legitimate concerns about the DSM, America’s psychologists’ bible, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Who decides who is insane or unsafe, or not normal? De Souza is angry at what he perceives is the homogenisation of people and society. Any serious deviation from the societal norms could mean you match a profile in the DSM. He mentions, for instance, that homosexuality was in the book from 1952-74 as a Sociopathic Personality Disturbance. I read up on this myself and whilst the reference to homosexuality was removed the disorder was simply renamed Sexual Orientation Disturbance (*1).

To illustrate his point de Souza performs his on-man show in 6 segments, each with a different character whose experiences offer different angles into how the perception of mental illness affects the individual. He enacts an artist, a conman, a Russian club promoter, a conspiracy theorist, a clubber and a psychiatry patient. The highlight of these scenes was the raver which amidst the pumping rave music of a club our raver dances and cavorts whilst extolling the virtues of club drugs and the nihilistic attitude and disenfranchised feelings of a generation that have lost faith in a society that rarely values its margins, and these margins are being squeezed all the time. The spectrum of what is considered normal gets smaller and smaller. This is a piece of theatre with a voice and a powerful message; in a world where governments make seem to be more and more paranoid about the behaviour of their citizens, snooping and attempting greater control, what is wrong with humans being paranoid also. By labeling people as mentally ill may we be hindering the advancement and growth of consciousness?

The director Cindy Sibilsky makes excellent use of projections and a pumping soundtrack (Public Enemy, Underworld, Biggy Small etc.) to add to the excellent character acting of De Souza. Intelligent, thought provoking and current. 666DSM is something all psychologists and those with the power to pass judgement on people capacities should see and reflect upon. If we don’t it won’t be too long before we’re all in the book. 4 STARS

four stars

Reviewer : David McMenemy


*1 Spitzer, R.L. (1981)”The diagnostic status of homosexuality in DSM-III: a reformulation of the issues” American Journal of Psychiatry 138