Monthly Archives: August 2022

The Tragedy Of Macbeth


Assembly Roxy
Aug 4-29 (12.00)
90 minutes


Every Fringe I love to check out a Shakespeare play, because although the spirit of the Bard never changes, it is possible to gauge the theatrical zeitgeist thro’ an individual production. It’s the one arena of board-treading in which the directors enter unto a fierce gladiatorial combat. Thus off I ambl’d to the Assembly Roxy to witness Flabbergast Theatre’s trio of combatants, who have charged into battle like the Horatii triplet warriors in the age of Tullus Hostilius. Henry Maynard is the artistic director, Matej Majeka the Movement Consultant & Adam Clifford the Musicality/Percussion Consultant, & boy! have they produced a massive Macbeth. It looks beautiful, the cast create some stunning scenery using their angular bodies with a minimum of propwork, & all that drumming & Dantean wailing sounds more than amazing.

In the middle of all that, of course, is Shakespeare’s moody, mist-soaked masterpiece, Macbeth. Unfortunately, the production was galloping impatiently at too fast a pace to maintain the seminal tensions & graven terrors of the Scottish Play, which turn slowly in our psyches as if a tourniquet has been rammed down our eye sockets & linked to our brain’s fear nodules. It’s Shakespeare, but it’s not proper Shakespeare. I mean, I prefer a test match at the cricket, while others prefer T20 – it’s a very similar scenario here. Still, stepping out of my stick-in-the-mud comfort zone, aesthetically & energy-wise this Macbeth is a stunning production, & enough of the story does penetrate Flabbergast’s elegant veneer to satisfy the purist.

The cast were great, some moments of elite-level performance. The Wyrd Sisters were a class act, almost seizing the role’s immortality portentously, as if they were the three Chinese schoolgirls on the first night of the Mikado. I also enjoyed the spectacle of Dale Wylde’s ‘fool’ interlude, which made me feel as if I was watching Richard Tarleton himself. For me, Flabbergast’s Macbeth is a Scorpion’s worth of theatre, with a vicious sting in its tail. A pleasure to watch.

Damo

Jake Cornell and Marcia Belsky: Man and Woman

Assembly George Square Studios – Studio Four
Aug 8-16, 18-28 (18:15)


Tonight I went out for a double bill from Zach Zucker’s Stamptown empire, one of the most prodigious & highly thought-of comedy umbrellas, which sends its Kraken-tentacle acts all across the world. Looking at the Fringe guide I’m like I can do two in a row in the Assembly Quarter of Edinburgh. Man & Woman was first (BriTANick was second), brought to us across the ocean by Jack Cornell & Marcia Belsky,& oh my god it was proper funny, like! From Tik-Tok acorns do oaks of humungous funniness grow & it was from the aforementioned online video vignette medium that Jack suddenly found a girl he’d never met before, but living round the corner, bouncing comedy of his little sketch. BOOM ! Chemistry ! Action ! & a year or so later a buzzing masterpiece has vaulted into Scotland with broad American accents & an amazing dissection of the realities of romantic heterosexual cohabitation. 

Stop being so curious, it isn’t good for you

Men & women is pure parody is about well, men & women, & their heterosexual intertanglings & bubbles with cutting edge socio-anthropological insights while at all times making us laugh out loud. Is it a sketch series? Is it theatre? I’d say a bit of both, that’s why its going in both Mumble Theatre & Mumble Comedy. Either way, when Marian met her Jom-Jom at nursery in Chipaquaqua County, after 3 years of life & loneliness, she knew he was the one for her. The show then flows through the rest of their lives together with great & innate detail surfing an ever-high level of hilarity. I loved the way kids keep popping up in a constant mission to get one that doesn’t ‘flop’ in life, while the comedy is spliced by commentaries on how ‘women influence life & society from the private sector of their homes.’

Can you stop reminiscing & treat my actual wound

Of our performers & their deliveries, Marcia is eminently watchable & Jack is emphatically suave – it really is top notch stuff, & includes the immortally dodgy exchange ‘ I told you I didn’t want to work with a paedophile — You are so closed minded it’s unbelievable.’ At the half way point we stepp’d away from the storyline into an actors’ workshop world & a Q&A intermission, which did halt my buzz a little bit & perhaps tainted my full appreciation for the rest of the tale – it was a funny interlude but definitely disturbed my trance in which I’d been more than happy to have been foster’d into. All the same, I swear down I actually shed a single tear of happiness at the end – a strange reaction – but I completely enjoy’d myself, which doesn’t happen all the time, in fact most of the time, when I’m out reviewing. Really brilliant stuff.

Damo

What Broke David Lynch?

Greenside @ Nicolson Square (Fern Studio)
Aug 5 – 7, 8 – 13, 15 – 20, 22 – 27, 21.00

Mr Twonkey, is a favourite of the Edinburgh fringe. His real name is Paul Vickers and in 2010 he brought his award winning cabaret to the stage at the Fringe all those years ago. His work stretches and bends the academy of theatre with a truthfulness that can’t be ignored.

In this work the 4 performers, actors of prominence, broke out in the highly anticipated ‘What Broke David Lynch’. For those who haven’t heard of David he is an American Film maker of prolific proportion since 1970’s. This play was based around him and examined how the inner workings of movie making for him came about, in the face of the 1980 film ‘The Elephant Man’.

So enter the play! For some reason the room at Greenside in Edinburgh felt absolutely magic, it could have been the lighting scaffolding, or that it was just so neatly presented. Out came a cigar smoking Mel Brookes in a brown overcoat with scribbled writing of his film titles all over it. The great quality of cast was evident from the start, with multifaceted opinions everywhere flying around at a fast pace.

Looking back I’m amazed that it all was done in only an hour. I saw Mr Twonkey’s work ‘Jennifer’s Robot’ back in 2015 where I recall a feeling of strangeness and abstract absurdness in his writing. But the amazing thing I found for ‘…David Lynch’ was its complete sense, and with it success.

This show was all made of the very best of everything; taste, class, poking fun at the movie-making business. A joy to see among the threats and failings of Paul’s ability to cope with things of tenderness it explored. The ‘Elephant man’ meets Anthony Hopkins (from the original film), meets the flamboyant janitor of the movie business, cigars, motor bikes, very weird papier-mache globes worn repeatedly, but for only moments.

The levels unveiled hit the heights of the talent and capability of the four who bounced the tale in resonance, having brought a recipe for success. All to make a comment on 80’s movies, using plenty of parables, placed in piercing moment of clarity or with the softest of scenes. Paul made the best of joking and of jokes that were self explanatory in their hilarity, making use of his mind in ways unexpected and forever sensitive.

The play proceeded in sensation, its story, props, timing blended with Paul himself who was so relaxed; his interaction went so well to keep everyone of the close knit cast under his tutelage. The female, Miranda Shrapnell had the role of loving him, the costumes told stories in themselves and jokes were firing out faster than I could take them in; fantastic.

In fact I think now I’ve had time to reflect, the joke lines helped shape the vision of proceedings, funny yet serious. Lynch in life had come across ‘The Elephant Man’ when his project’ Ronnie Rocket’ was dragging, so he prepared to take up a movie about Joseph Merrick, a man seriously deformed in the early twentieth century, ‘The Elephant man’ is a film that holds its art and craft at cult levels

But the world was on his back when his progress was slow, so he had to fend off things when it got too gluey to deal with.

An entourage of award-winning, tempting fun, with a remarkable clarity of vision and of years and years in preparation (wither knowingly or not); a perfect play where you forget time to intimately know the personality of music, laughter, writing and endearing reward of splendid proportions.

Daniel Donnelly

The Adults Only Magic Show

Assembly George Square Studios Studio 3.
The Adults Only Magic Show (21:15)
Starring Sam Hume And Justin Williams

Well, this was a nice surprise, Niddrie is a different world from the hustle and bustle of Festive Aulde Reekie. From the peace and tranquillity of good old Niddrie Mill and the two miles of the Innocent Railway Path I walked as I got into town, there was a tangible buzz in the air. I skipped across The Meadows and headed up middle meadow walk, It was really busy, the silent disco massive were making their way down singing to the collect tunes on their headphones, I had a quick gander in The Underbelly and a quick scout around Assembly. Both are housed in George Square Gardens. I was looking for the venue in which my “Adults Only Magic Show Cherry” would be popped.

I found the venue, I was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t a bit more grand. Because back Down Under this trio of cute and genuinely gifted sexy young men are packing theatres nationally, when i was doing a bit of research this afternoon I learned how many 5 Star reviews had been awarded. So I was a bit wet with anticipation of what we had in store tonight.

Two young Magicians who are truly gifted talented performance artists who came together after meeting at The Melbourne Comedy Festival in 2012 and began creating quality theatre together. More cute than they are handsome. Apart from Magnus, Our Compare of the evening. Hes a dish ❤ This brilliant evening of performance art makes its debut at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2022 and Divine was there.

I got to Assembly Studio 3 early and watched the queue grow longer and longer, The wind was really chill while we were waiting, Ben in front of me only had a T-Shirt on, I said its a good job its not raining. We both chuckled, Ben was from Carlise up with his girlfriend Lauren for the weekend. I was explaining how this was a choice pick based on how many amazing reviews The 18 Plus Magic Show had achieved from delighted audiences, Indeed the small theatre was packed to the rafters. Everyone moist in anticipation of what was about to COME.

A Magic show that is a really really good night out, genuinely funny, with lots of audience participation Demonstrations of breathtaking illusions and feats of magic, even now while writing this I am shaking my head wondering “How did they do that?” They had us all in the palms of their beautiful hands. We are talking about Las Vegas quality performance art here. Such is the brilliance of the whole thing. I loved every minute. And all three of our magical heroes are very well hung indeed and look fantastic naked. With a script and delivery expertly executed for maximum delight. Made for Divines first pick of the Fringe. ❤ This is a guaranteed night of entertainment. I couldn’t recommend it, more highly.

Without a Doubt 5 Stars

Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert

An Interview with Kuniko Kato


One of Japan’s foremost percussionists

Is coming to the Edinburgh Fringe


Hello Kuniko – so where are you from & where do you live at the moment?
Between US and Japan.

Where did you train?
Graduated from Toho Gakuen School of Music under Akira Miyoshi and Keiko Abe.

What do you like to do when you are not performing?
Cook, Yoga, Gym, Walk…

You have performed all across the world, which have been your favourite places to play & why?
UK is definitely my pick other than Estonia, France, etc… since I performed in many different places including small town like Mottisfont, Litchfield, Cheltenham, and also at LINN’s headquarter as well.

You are coming to Edinburgh with two shows this Fringe – can you tell us about them?
This Double Bill concert features Steve REICH, his Counterpoint pieces and one of his signature pieces Drumming using phase shift. All are ensemble pieces but I will play as Live Solo + Tape.

So what was the impulse behind putting on two different shows?
It’s two shows but perhaps the audience can enjoy two concerts as one continuous program since it is the same composer and his signature minimal pieces.

Why Steve Reich – what is your relationship to him & what is it about his music that makes you tick?
When I was in Brussels I performed almost all his pieces with Ensemble ICTUS and the dance company ROSAS and toured Europe. After that I shifted my career toward soloist. Some years later I wanted to perform his pieces in SOLO so I asked Steve and his publisher for official permission to transcribe the pieces for Live Solo + Tape. I simply love his music a lot. They look simple but musically very deep.

What emotions & thoughts do you hope to invoke in your audience through your drumming?
I simply want the audience to enjoy the music and share a good time together. That’s all about it. Today the world has too many unpleasant events..

You know a good show when you have done one, what are the magic ingredients?
I believe I myself enjoy the music and the moment with the audience, that will create the atmosphere for audience to really enjoy it.

What will you be doing in Edinburgh when not promoting & performing your show?
Perhaps eating some good Indian curry, meat pies and may be haggis as well, and possibly want to hear bagpipe and highland drums.

You have 20 seconds to sell your show on the streets of Edinburgh, what do you say?
Please enjoy the groove of Steve Reich together!


www.kuniko-kato.net

BUY TICKETS

BUY TICKETS

Expanding the Mumbleverse 2022

IMG_20190803_203950.jpg

The Mumble Scoring System Explained


Every Sunday I like to go to Stockbridge & buy a couple of pounds of my favorite grapes, which arrive there from Mauritius that morning. Chomping on a juicy handful last Sunday, I began making my way up through the New Town, arriving in the York Place area where the trams are. This is Stand country, & a few years ago was the epicentre of laughter in the Fringe. These days its all a bit like a weekday wake & might as well be out in Fife, for there has been a seismic shift to one Edinburgh street in particular – the sloping, cobbled thoroughfare between the Cowgate & the Bridges that is Blair Street. This is the real epicentre of Fringe comedy these days; where comedians, punters & flyerers mingle in a smiling Sunset Strip.

index.jpg

Things evolve, & the stranglehold The Stand had on making people pay for ‘safe’ mainstream comedy has been utterly smashed by the innovations of the Free Fringe & its quality, liberty-laden shows. All things change – I mean I’m actually writing this article on a speech-to-text app walking through Holyrood Park on the way into town. So if Fringe comedy can evolve, what about the ancient art of reviewing. Think of those ancient Greeks who first stepped down from the Dionysis theatre during the reign of Pesistratus, who had just observed the very first play there from its seats, who have been babbling opinions & critiques to each other as soon as they left the hilltop. Criticism is as old as the performance art it observes, so how does its own evolution fare in 2022?

images

Well, not that much really. Beyond the windows of Mumble Towers, the Fringe Press of 2022 seems an archaic institution – chained to amateur rules dished out by a hereditary feudal demense, & a narrow luddite marking system which, even if the stars are split into halves, can only ever give a ‘marks out of ten’ assessment. But half-stars are an ugly aesthetic, a deformed evolution of the species. Like Darwin says, it’s not the biggest or the fastest that survives, but the one that adapts. If the five-star marking system is not to go extinct, it must evolve from its primitive 5-point Ape, through the Homo Erectus 10-point system of halves, & into something more suitable for an increasingly sophisticated modern world.

The trained reviewer can actually feel a show’s quality as 1,2,3,4,5 within moments of the start. So what are the qualities that provide such an esoteric sensation. Since 2016, the Mumble had identified three factors in each of its genres. For Comedy, we had Material, Delivery & Laughs; while for Theatre we had Stagecraft, Script & Performance. This was an improvement on the old system, where now in essence a score was obtained between 1 and 15, the Neanderthal if you will. As the Mumble went into the 2019 Fringe, we were still using this system, but have finally recognized there was still a certain imprecision to the score.

mumble-poster.jpg
The old system (R.I.P)

Under our old system, to obtain four stars, for example, a show needed to score 3.66 – which is simply closer to 4 than 3. The overall marks would then be described as a low four, a natural four or a high four. The eureka moment came the other day while sitting in two comedy shows. On one occasion I was the only one laughing, while at the other show the room was in uproar & I was sat stony-gilled. It was time to add that factor into the marking mix, the Room… how does a comedian play their audience, do they keep tickling funny bones like a comedy octopus, or is each viewer sat there playing on their phones.

IMG_20190805_114005.jpg
A four-star Room at Gary G Knightley

The Room category in Comedy has a natural cousin in Theatre. I have called it S.O.D, with the first review to use it being published in 2019. Quick off the mark, the company sent me this email;

Dear Mumble

We have asked our wonderful PR company; we have asked the amazing Pleasance Press Office; we have asked the astonishing Head of Programming at The Pleasance – no one can help.
We are delighted by our review by the excellent Daniel Donnelly, but no one seems to know what S.O.D. stands for!

Please can you elucidate?

Many thanks
(and I’ll get the prize for the first one home with the answer!)

220px-SamuelTaylorColeridge.jpg

The answer is, of course, Suspension of Disbelief. I know my poetry, & within Coleridge’s wonderful Biographia Literia, he elucidated on the driving phantasian spirit behind his co-creation of the Lyrical Ballads with Wordsworth. Its essence is the state of mind reached where there is, ‘a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith… awakening the mind’s attention from the lethargy of custom, and directing it to the loveliness and the wonders of the world before us.’ In modern lay terms its like switching off reality & becoming immersed in the production. Is that your mate Nigel before you? Do you see them behind the make-up, or are you lost in the drama & believe this drag-queen before you is the fabulous Nigella?

The introduction of another genome into the star system, the aforetitled Expansion of the Mumbleverse, seems wholly natural. Our planet is divided into four seasons, the main elements are still earth, fire, air & water. The four bodily humors were part of Shakespearean cosmology, inherited from the ancient Greek philosophers Aristotle, Hippocrates, and Galen. Ovid, in his Metamorphoses divided the Ages into Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Iron. Now the reviewing star system can also be divided into four harmonious parts. Marking-wise, to obtain those 4 stars, a show must now be awarded at least 3.75 points as opposed to 3.66. The overall marking goes like this

19-20 = 5 stars
15-18 = 4 stars
11-14 = 3 stars
7-10 = 2 stars
1-6 = 1 star

As cultural surveyors, The Mumble can now give a more detailed account of a show for both artist & potential audience member – its now a case of, “you need to sort your tiles out, pal, and there’s a bit of damp in your back bedroom – you’re wirings seen better days and of course you’re gonna have to update your boiler system, it’ll never pass the new laws.

La Traviata


Clyde Opera Group
Renfield Centre, Blythswood Hall
Sat/Sun – 30th/31st Aug, 2022


The Clyde Opera Group are a Glasgow – Scotland based Operatic group who are 7 years in the making. Their first ever production happened in 2016 when they brought the project ‘La Boheme’ to the stage. They are involved in all sorts of internationally fired up projects of old and new theatre these are exciting modern times. Very good to see a stage again I settled in with high art on my mind. The Orchestra played a gentle tune to the evening’s Opera called ‘La Traviata’. The air had electricity in it.

Artistic director and producer Roxana Nite expressed her personal joy and relief that returning to the stage was the best thing ever. There had been nothing possible for the 3 year pause on the world. The title ‘La Traviata’ translates as ‘fallen woman’ which was a strong indication of the content to come.

Under this exciting quality the curtains opened to the stage of a ball of monstrous proportions. Act 1 was quickly begun. Giuseppe Verdi wrote this tale as a 3 act piece, the commotion focused on the figure of a woman who lay in fatigue as the loud party around her was enjoyed. The fate of Violetta Valery, performed on another level by Skye Marie Johnson, (an American vocal master) who is compelling in her roles, would soon be met.

There is no denying the growing international Theatrical interest being inspired right now with attentions and collaborations on internet connections and social media. Often for the work done there is a great desire to celebrate; the heights can be revealed through revelry! Such performance for this show had been sourced from across the globe.

The original 1853 Opera was set to a libretto and revolved around the Paris scene of the time (and the most affluent) the uses of classical theatre were evident. When the voices sang together it seemed like something awesome but things are the way they are. The orchestral music moved effortlessly with every turn of event and ballet too was to play its part.

As rich yet poor Violetta nearly passed out from coughing, we found that she was making way into devoting her life and heart to pleasure. Admirer Alfredo Germont, performed by Stephen Calgaro, (another talented American), stepped in to ease her, coming wildly to her his feelings of love raw to absolute bursting. She famously swerved the encounter by drawing attention to something else, but it seemed a seed had been sown in both their hearts.

Opera offers a wide inclusivity and it stands as an art forever relevant, proving itself with something of a remarkable amalgamation of all the genre’s of Theatre especially in the dynamics that occur from following the righteous, unbounded story. Guiding the enacted and active thoughts there came a time for poetry to intervene. Involved in this story were moments where we could feel in a knowing way; that our hearts would be laid bare before the end, hence the weeping at Opera’s.

Language plays a big part; there are puritans on both sides but to follow the story is everything. And the entire Italian dialogue was translated for us into English on a screen. The dialogue was all very passionately down to earth; the acts are always to simply put down steps. For Violetta the inescapable steps involved enduring the end of her love for Alfredo (the love of the Opera)

Swelling in poetry, the tragedy explored with freshness and naivety an unstoppable journey that had commenced. And the world was waiting to put in their bit. Passion and drive showcased a strong woman though through fright she was often unsure of her choices or of her way ahead. When father of Alfredo intervened his words of sacrifice eventual became the destruction that was seemingly always imminent, Violette’s world was deep in love and bent on a choking life of pleasure.

The group, in whose creative powers there was no doubt, made a flux of entertainment. A joy to follow, flowing in and out of strength, beauty and masterful synchronisation of everything from vocal to orchestra to characters who on stage glowed with personalities as big as life; huge in their physical presence and appearance. The group of dancing gypsies (who danced around in finery like Greeks on a vase) were all formal, but for all their revelry they had a bone to pick which was why they were there.

Crazy Barons up to mischief, a personal maid to Violetta (Annina, played by Hanna Minner)and a doctor (Doctor Grenvil, played by Ben Noble) saw her stripped of her lover and her heart she knew would stop beating. In a naively sentimental stir she was well again for her lover Alfredo was there to hold her. She felt strength again leaving for a moment her sickness behind her for to embrace her love again.

The vocals deliver the style to the story; well written and with a mission. By tricks and deflections our heroin is the true voice of the moment many times the whole production fell onto Skye Marie’s shoulders, she led the way fighting every obstacle until she could do no more. Noticing turns of events brought emotions up through those moments that would lead us in every way to a shiver down a spine, in a very beautiful way.

The word love was repeated with grace as it filled or emptied the stage the voice rose and fell. Reality expressed what the truth was and love made a success of life being worth living. Why shouldn’t she be as good as life is? Even details were fascinating and in every situation of Skye Marie’s actions we came across as welcomed into her ordeal; it really looked like she was fading her face changed.

Acting is a marvel; singing and acting, being part of this entertainment we took in a monumental performance of essentially still a young platform from a place of comfort with a greatly heralded return for the darling Clyde Opera Group. They have worked hard and fought hard to accomplish this evening for the professional ‘La Traviate’ capably bringing an intrigue into work’s to come. We followed a great story of great love, languishment and fevered celebration, as inclusive a thing as there is likely to be.

Reviewer: Daniel Donnelly