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Dusty Won’t Play

Oran Mor, Glasgow

6-11 November

Play, Pie, Pint (1pm)

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Script: four-stars  Stagecraft: four-stars Performance: five-stars 

IMG_5376i Simo Donaldson, Frances  Thorburn.jpgDusty Won’t Play is an explosively brilliant start to Oran Mor’s 2017 Play, Pie & a Pint season. Completely sold out, I was forced to sit at the back of the room on the bar itself, which at least let me for the first time truly acknowledge the excellent acoustics of the theatre – I could hear everything in pinpoint precision. The play is the brainchild of literary legend Annie Caulfield, a composite blend of Dusty’s best tunes (sung with entrancing impeccability by Frances Thorburn) & Springfield’s fateful tour of South Africa in 1964. Donning a good blonde wig, slapping the eyeliner on thick & singing some cracking numbers, in 1964 Dusty was a rising star & was just about to reach international fame – tho’ not in a war she would ever have wondered growing up in the back streets of Ealing.

IMG_5394i Simon Donaldson Frances  Thorburn.jpgThe timing of this play is karmic: where Donald Trump in America is causing cultural schisms, so in 1964 apartheid & racial segregation were raging wildly in South Africa. Just as our speaker of the house, John Bercow, has stood up against Trump’s bullying, so did Dusty refuse to play to all-white audiences. The chief drama of the play revolves against the bullying of the SA authorities – house arrest, threatening behaviour – & Dusty’s resolve to stand in defiance against them. The music was brilliant: Springfield’s ‘band,’ The Echoes, consisting of Simon Donaldson & Kevin Lennon, played guitar & piano along to Thorburn’s miraculous, almost shamanic renditions of classic motown numbers – it was almost as if Dusty was back in the room. At only one point did the music blend with the theatre, when Dusty sang ‘You Don’t Own Me’ to an overheavy SA policeman (played also by Donaldson), but this little slice of cheese really set off the trimming-laden quarter-pounder served up alongside the pies & the pints. Brilliant.

Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen

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Meet Our Team

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The 2019 Edinburgh Fringe is fast approaching, & the Mumble reviewers are sharpening their pencils & getting their hair-dos done in eager anticipation. But just who are the people behind the words? Are these scintillating connoisseurs of culture really real? The answer is a big & happy yes!


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James Nixon

James Nixon is a PhD graduate who looked at the relation between American politics and political comedy in the Obama era. He has a particular interest in forms of cultural communication within categories such as stand-up, film and television, and how these communicate and subvert cultural, social and political norms. Chapters of his Masters and PhD research have been published by Penn State University and Illinois State University.


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Lisa Williams

Lisa Williams is of British-Grenadian heritage and been living in Edinburgh since 2011. She runs Caribbean cultural events, Black History Walking Tours of Edinburgh and educational workshops in Scottish schools. Her first degree was in Psychology and African and Asian Studies and she’s currently studying for an MA in Arts, Festival and Cultural Management. When not penning her own creations, Lisa likes to fangirl her favourite authors at literary festivals. You can follow her on Twitter @edincarib and Instagram @caribscot


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Ewan Law

Ewan Law lives in Edinburgh and works for a homelessness prevention charity, where he writes, teaches, and provides the staff with amusing mannerisms to copy behind his back. He recently wrote, produced, directed and starred in a promotional film for the charity. This led to a situation wildly reminiscent of the Frasier Episode ‘Ham Radio’. Working with addictions, mental health issues and homelessness over the last ten years gave him the necessary education to turn an amateur love of stand up into a semi professional one. Ewan has graced the stage at the Edinburgh Festival over the last few years with such luminaries as Lucy Hopkins (Shouting Erasure songs at a bemused Bob Slayer), Funz and Gamez (Playing pin the tail on the donkey and stealing childrens prizes) and John Kearns (sitting on his knee and drinking a pint of Lucozade, Cointreau and backwash. pictured). Ewan is excited to be joining team Mumble for the Fringe and finally having someone to listen to his opinions.(Editors note: The Mumble is legally required to mention that Ewan has been blocked on Facebook by all the above mentioned artists)


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Damo

The Mumble’s editor-in-chief likes to think of himself as a poet of some nuance. Starting life in Burnley, Lancashire, & finding himself living in Edinburgh in his 30s, Damian Beeson Bullen set up the Mumble up to further his artistic education & to keep the words flowing – albeit in prose. Six years into his Parnassian pilgrimage he’s gathered a crack team of culture vultures to share the bounty. He enjoys all of the Mumbles – Comedy, Art, Theatre, Opera, Cirque, Festivals, Words & especially Musicals, which often make him cry.


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Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert

Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert is a multi-talented explorer of all things artistic and spiritual. A gifted Clairvoyant, Spiritual Healer, Musician, Writer and Performance Poet and Dancer. Arriving at The Edinburgh Fringe in 1995 to perform Clairvoyance at the Citrus Club, he fell in love with Edinburgh and made it his home. In 1996 he became the Spiegel Tent’s resident Clairvoyant and Spiritual Healer. A relationship that would last ten years, introducing him to some of the best performance art on the planet. In 2000 he joined the Spiegel Crew on their maiden voyage to the Adelaide Fringe where he became instrumental in the creation of Spiegel’s “Garden Of Unearthly Delights.”

Working with, spiritually guiding and supporting Fringe performers both in Adelaide and Edinburgh for two decades, it would be a natural progression to become a performance art reviewer for the world famous Blog “The Mumble.” When one is a performance artist and its rich tapestry has influenced ones life path so, being able to expand upon thespian pursuits and having the opportunity to witness the vast array of artistic merit for free, write an appraisal for, get it published and get paid for the privilege. Oh Aye 5 Stars all round. Its a win win, for Divine and the Artists he reviews.


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David Jackson

David Jackson is a happy go lucky guy who embraces all that life throws at him. Good or bad, he maintains a positive outlook on life. He loves to write, act, travel, dance, read, and pay it forward to those around him or to those whom he meets on his daily journey through life. Accept and be content is his out look on life and why not, he says, being convinced we create our own happiness and joy and therefore can share it with others. Hence being a reviewer.


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Lucy Davidson

Lucy Davidson is a 21 year old English Literature graduate from Edinburgh University. In the autumn, she will be moving to London to pursue a masters degree in theatre directing at RADA. She particularly enjoys reviewing new writing, immersive and site-specific work, physical theatre and contemporary Shakespearean adaptations. She is also more than excited about diversifying The Mumble by reviewing work in The Big Smoke!


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Billy Pearson

Billy Pearson has recently been called a “Renaissance Man” by friends, as he has partaken in many creative endeavours. He splits time between Europe and the USA, as the law dictates. He spent his formative years travelling thousands of miles though North America on a bicycle, sleeping in bushes and eating out of waste bins. Wood sculpture has fascinated Michael for many years, and he has recently completed a bench. He has often traversed great expanses in order to cat sit. Michael is formally trained in creative writing from a lower-mid level university. He enjoys the collaborative nature of reviewing for the Mumble. Getting to experience performance arts and creating a review to help attract others to do the same, fulfils Michael’s desire to see earth become a better place.


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Teri Welsh

Teri Welsh is a former spacecraft engineer, having worked for Scisys on ESA contracts for the Rover Mars mission. Her PhD research was undertaken at Glasgow University, Stanford University and NASA Ames in California, where she wrote a number of scientific papers on Spacecraft Robotics. Disillusioned with the private sector rat race, she abandoned her career to follow a holistic life as a traveller and writer, and set up a fair trade clothing/craft business working with disadvantaged communities in the developing world. In her free time she enjoys DJing at various gigs and festivals both here in Scotland and overseas, and can often be found dancing in a muddy field with a warm can of Strongbow.


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Mark Mackenzie

Mark Mackenzie gained a Master of Theology from St Andrews in 1992, before it was overrun with American heiresses looking to snag a prince. He has had many occupations, including farm-working, teaching, cleaning busses and editing books. He currently lives and works in Perth, with Archie, a rescue dog who adopted him. They like to go hillwalking, getting wet, and rambling in the park, where they terrorise other dog owners. Mark likes theatre, classic literature and all sorts of music. Except grime.


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Eilidh Sawyers

Eilidh Sawyers is a Scottish lass with an English accent – a scarring combination for a child in Lanarkshire which has ultimately led to a deep appreciation of language and a degree in Linguistics. She finds happiness in forests, jangly guitars and just-too-spicy food. Recently graduated and trying to work out where she should let the world take her; picking up odd-jobs along the way. Ever the critic, the Mumble is a way to harness her healthy scepticism.


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Matt Boyd

Matt Boyd, a recent graduate of French and History at the University of Edinburgh where I developed an interest in critical writing. My downtime is best spent cooking for friends, watching documentaries, and listening to music. I’m a frequenter of the Fringe that has worked as a promoter, critic and trader at music and cultural festivals across the United Kingdom. I have a passion for all things musical, comedic and spectacular (with a particular soft spot for anything bizarre and shocking) so I can’t wait to bring my keen and critical eye to The Mumble this year.


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Daniel Donnolly

Being part of the Mumble team has taken Daniel Donnelly on many courses, reviewing everything from comedy to tragedy in the theatre, to covering operas and rock music. His increased appreciation has come from reviewing Music and theatre especially. When he was put in the middle of Edinburgh’s Princes Street and told to go see some Fringe shows and write about how he felt about them, he discovered the journey made between production team, audience and the reviewer can be a handsomely rewarding thing to do. Hr is excited at the future of this kind of writing both for himself and for The Mumble. He has been set alight by performances and has divulged with great reverence scripts and dialogues, each time with a feeling that he was covering this better or that… the opportunity for writing has always been a welcome one, and one that will continue as part of his life. Music and theatre just seems to hit a certain spot in me as to offer me relish in what he does.


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Catherine Eunson

Originally from Orkney, Catherine Eunson has lived in Huntly, Stirling, Edinburgh, Devon, London, Glasgow and Benbecula, where her family all lived for 20 years until 2016. She worked first as a music therapist and then in arts and education, with various community groups and as an event promoter. A lapsed cellist, she wrote and recorded music for Pauline Prior-Pitt’s ‘North Uist Sea Poems.’ Catherine has also had poetry published in various publications.


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Steve Bromley

Steve Bromley is a creative writing graduate, who has unexpectedly found himself neck deep in the world of social housing. As a child, he wanted to be a frog, which is not necessarily the direction taken by most fairy tales and he’s never fully recovered from the disappointment of discovering that his amphibian goal could never be achieved. He now lives in Leeds with his sprawling extended family and fills his days with a heady (or possibly headless) mixture of experimental music, trashy horror films, comic books and classic literature. In summary, Steve is pretty undiscerning. He’s at his most comfortable astride the dizzying chasm of high and low brow, and is this is where his imagination burns at its brightest. Steve has released music through an assortment of netlabels from Edinburgh’s very own Bearsuit Records to the Netherlands based Rack and Ruin Records, having matured musically at the height of internet based file sharing bands. Over the years, he’s  also written over enthusiastically about music for a variety of fanzines and websites. He now bothers the West Yorkshire music scene in the form of Gnomefoam. West Yorkshire is still working out how to put him back into his box. He’s also still working on his unwritten masterpiece.


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Mark Parker

Code name: Big Weegie Mark
Strengths: Flagpoles, painting ceilings and being funny as fuck! Great under pressure!
Weaknesses: Can’t stand a bully, loves everyone, a bit naive, believes any old shite, pish at deadlines.
Best Mumble moment to date: Rag-dolling Nina Contie last year in her monkey suit, I had her mid-air one handed and no I was not part of the show. I hate a bully – she is one – but hopefully she has learned don’t pick a fight up here unless you are sure you can finish it!
Funniest Mumble Moment: Louise Redknapp reading my review of her show while getting a massage from my ladypal at some posh hotel, and me texting my ladypal asking for a threesome… still waiting on my answer Lou!
Loves: Dogs rule… my family reading out my reviews at birthday dinners/parties (proud as punch)… helping out whenever the Weegie is needed… Theatre, Comedy, Dance, Techno… taking someone to their first show or play or comedy and telling the story about how their face lit up and how they absolutely loved it!
Philosophy: Kill them with kindness,  love yourself as no one else is going to and this shit’s a marathon not a sprint. If you can spread some love along the way there is room -for you on my cloud.


THE EDINBURGH FRINGE 2019

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Gap Years

Play, Pie, Pint

Oran Mor

Glasgow

March 13-18

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Script: five-stars  Stagecraft: four-stars Performance: five-stars 

What a joy was this play to watch. A very real, cross-generational story about mothers & children & child-rearing, packed full of comedy from the pen of playwright Gavin Smith. In an earlier interview with the Mumble, Gavin very kindly outlined the plot of Gap Years, which, ‘focuses on a newly retired woman Geraldine. She’s full of life, has lots of disposable cash and is looking forward to 20 or so years of doing all the things and seeing all the places she always dreamed of. She knows that in a couple of decades she will be too old to do all these exciting things so has to live it up now. These are her Gap Years! But then… like so many retired grandparents of this generation… Geraldine’s daughter shows up looking for regular free childcare so she can go back to work. It’s a comedy as mother and daughters personal grand plans crash together and Geraldine finds herself changing nappies rather than flying to China.’

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Vari Sylvester was a lovely, flouncing genius, who delivered Smith’s effortlessly funny, anthropomorphic one-liners with quality timing. It rather felt as if I was listening to a fresh-from-the-wrapper vinyl record for the first time, so clear was Sylvester’s transition into her role. By her side was the excellent Tom Marshal as Peter, & the indisputably talented Nicola Roy as daughter, Louise. The three bounce off each other like genuine family members, & with Smith’s uncannily accurate portrayal of the the conflict which ladies of a certain age experience when entering the supposed ‘freedom’ of the pension years counterbalanced by the needs of their younglings, Gap Years is a tremendous success. ‘This is very close to my life,’ whispered a lady to my right to her friend. ‘This sounds so familiar,’ said another to my left. The play was certainly striking a chord.

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Charming from the off, Gap Years has many memorable moments, stitching little familial cliches into an embroidery of silky comedy. ‘I’d rather not pay my family to look after my family,‘ says Louise, before castigating her mother for feeding the baby a bourbon biscuit, which was clearly against the ‘brochure’ of rules she had left with Geraldine. Alongside these two, Peter comments on raising grandchildren by comparing them to a nice rioja read- a great taste, ‘but you don’t want to drink it all day for two days a week.’ The play perhaps tapered off a little in the third act, but not enough to tarnish a brilliant piece of theatre.

Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen

five-stars

World Domination

A Play, a Pie and a Pint,

Oran Mor, Glasgow

27th Feb to 4th March

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Script: four-stars  Stagecraft: four-stars Performance: four-stars 

World Domination is a meandering vision of a broken family, anchored upon a suburban dominatrix dungeon. The madame of the crypt is played by Louise Ludgate, who at first rejects the return of her errant  sister, Hannah Donaldson. What follows is a gradual shifting of the spheres as the-at-first stoic dominatrix begins to crumble, while the once-flakey, ketamine-bombing sister begins to ‘dominate’ proceedings, in the most gentlest of ways that is.

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The two actresses bob along with an unstrained & effortless chemistry, & the script stands up to scrutiny. This is playwright Lesley Heart’s fifth A Play, A Pie and A Pint staged, & it’s a moving,  snapshot of the mediocratic malaise which effects modernity. I particularly liked the script at:

  • : This is my dungeon, my place of work
  • : Its quite a change from human resources
  • : No I don’t think it is

 

An excellent addition to this season’s PPP, especially if you like your theatre clad in lycra & your scenes divided by hard-core German Techno.

Reviewer : Damo Beeson Bullen

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Behind the Barrier

Oran Mor, Glasgow

September 5-10

Play / Pie / Pint

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Script: four-stars Stagecraft: four-stars  Performance: three-stars

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Morag Fullerton

Behind the Barrier is a meeting of two Scottish broadcasting heavyweights – & when the peroxide mind of Muriel Gray meets the dramaturgical ninja that is Morag Fullerton, then we should expect a production of some quality. Luckily, they did not disappoint, & as we stand behind the barrier watching two women watch spectating at a marathon, we enter a curious yet poignant world. Gray’s wit seeps out of every second line, but the retrospective scenes offer a completely different avatar of her genius. Julie & Pat are the two women; Julie a middle-age mother of three whose husband is running the marathon – somewhere between the Kenyans & the fancy dress, but definitely after the club runners – while Pat is a sporty young un.’

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Each actress was excellent in her part, but I did notice a lack of chemistry between them on stage, which was this play’s only drawback. Otherwise, it is an excellent hour of theatrical entertainment – a parallelian play which keeps leaping about thro’ time, but not confusingly,  for there is a deftness to the timing of each leap. Gray’s chit-chatty comedy is brilliant throughout; bang-on at times – kids are only useful these days for changing fonts – cheeky at times, as when she described a ‘Pompeii in your pants,’ & her overall take on the situational play – stuck in a lift, soldiers in a trench kinda vibe – is refreshing. Yeah, a great start to this season’s PPP.

Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen

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Billy (The Days of Howling)

Oran Mor

Glasgow

Play, Pie, Pint

14-18 March

Script:  2.png Stagecraft:  2.png  Performance: four-stars

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IMG_3160i.jpgThis a strange play. Disconnected, waffling – it is as if we are led in bed with our three actors after they had drank far too much caffeine after ten o clock. They cant get to sleep & they are just thinking aloud – thinking & speaking aloud. None of this is in harmony, however, until the end that is, when finally the three separate soliloqueal strands fuse together in a sweary & shouty finale. Is this the Howl, one asks, or it more the voice crying into the hurricane, when Ginsbergdeclaimed, ‘I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked.’

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Billy’s main theme is the chaos that ensues after an adult makes the wrong step in the minefield that is kindergarten playground. In this case, Alice’s mum notices Billy eating & Cheeto — & the rest is history (or for me rather, it should have been left in the historical records.) I wasn’t convinced by this piece at all, although the hour was definitely saved by the spirited acting of Hoary Lyon (admin lady), Rosalind Sydney (Alice’s mum) & the big-boned & bubbly Anthony Strachan (Billy’s dad). Perhaps that is down to translation, not perhaps of the language so much, but more the format conjured by French playwright, Fabien Cloutier.

Before I entered the Oran Mor was in a pretty good mood, but left having something of a personal existential crisis. Perhaps that was the point, I’m not sure, or maybe I am….

Reviewer : Damo Bullen

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Face – Morag

HiPlay, Pie, Pint

Oran Mor, Glasgow

15-20 February

Script: four-stars  Stagecraft: three-stars Performance:  5

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A week after we met the feisty Isobel, a five star performance, playwright Peter Arnott introduces the world to her twin sister, Morag. How different their lives are: where Isobel married & had kids, Morag remained single & focused on her career as a Science Teacher; where 10-year-old Isobel blamed her sister when she got caught nicking sherbet from John Menzies, 10-year-old Morag said nothing; where 60-year-old Isobel has left her family to live it up in Dubai on borrowed money, 60-year-old Morag stays in Britain to focus on her career, although admittedly – ‘at the of end her disappointing, unfulfilled tether.’

url.jpgThis play sees the monologuing Morag give us all that information & more, a bitter sister caught in a dispute over the liquidation of their dead ‘mummy’s money.’ I didn’t see her first run out as these siblings incongruous, but I did feel keenly how well actress Janette Foggo brings to the optimum of reality Arnott’s characters.  Their long-standing relationship had begun back in 1986 with the ‘Adventures of Thomas Muir’ at the Tron, & they seem a couple married to each others’ muses as  their material & delivery remains invigoratingly accurate.

‘Is it alright if I sit here,’ asks Morag as she first enters the stage, ‘I wont disturb you.‘ But disturb us she did, running rough-shod over our deeply-buried ideas of death’s finality & life’s pointless carousel. Morag moans who way through the play with the high-brow eloquence enough to maintain our interest – one of the keystones of such theatre – holding us in her hands for a good fifty minutes, as if we were bartenders & she the only drinker in the bar, offloading her problems as she downed her JD & cokes. Though with Morag it was more like an Earl Grey & a wafer biscuit down the W.I.

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There is something about the PPP plays that offers us windows into the lives of real people, which is a strength of its programming & support of local up & coming playwrights. With Morag, they have again hit the nail firm on the head, a piercing spike into the fibres of our existence that despite the odd uncomfortable moment, is a ravishing piece of reality. Arnott  & Foggo should be really proud of this clever double-header.

Reviewer : Damo Bullen

four-stars

Thoughts Spoken Aloud From Above

Oran Mor, Glasgow

Play, Pie, Pint

25-30 May

*

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*

The Oran Mor has a knack for serving diverse theatrical slices with its pies & pints, & ‘Thoughts Spoken Aloud From Above’ really does take the biscuit. A Russian play, by the celebrated Yuri Kladiev (translated by by Alexandra Smith), we are taken on a Yellow-Submarine like journey through a series of observational vignettes. The play is acted with an almost inebriating desire by Simon Donaldson & Kirsty Stuart, who enact Kladiev’s global tour with a deft & delicate touch.

*

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*

Surreal situations abound throughout the play, from penguins parleying with cannibals in the Antarctic, to spaced-out cosmonauts ruminating upon the chronic Wastelands of Modern Life. At times, the script rises to the heights of pure poetry, & by the end of the play one is left with a feeling of pleasant confusion, & not sure exactly what has just happened. Yet as they say, the journey is the destination, & there is a genuine warmth to this play that manages to pack into its hour more interest & subtle theme-variations than about five British plays of the same length. I am not qualified to say if anything was lost in the the translation, but ‘Thoughts Spoken Aloud From Above is an excellent piece,’ & equally as excellent a production.

*

Reviewer : Damo Bullen

Tommy’s Song

Oran Mor

Play / Pie / Pint Season

16-22 May

£12

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From out of the mini-country that is Glasgow comes this fine piece of native-born theatre, inking its way into the world along the pen of the award-winning Lou Prendergast. She presents us with the monologing Tommy, played by the talented & perfectly experienced Tom McGovern. Having been in & out of Barlinnie more than most folk go to Benidorm, Tommy is a hard-drinking, petty gambler & one of the characters Prendergast would have witnessed in her youth. Last year, her play Blood Lines brought the story of her gangster father to the stage, & this production seems a perfect spin-off off-shoot of that world.

The very cute Lou Prendergast

The very cute Lou Prendergast

The story is set around trying to have a good Christmas for Tommy’s dying dad, with his ex-bird being invited along for good measure. McGovern brings these extra vocal parts into the story with expert changes of voice & mannerisms, & combining these skills with his phrenetic stage-presence really brings Prendergast’s vision to life. Colloquial as hell, as McGovern rattles through his lines we watchers really feel like we are in the heart of Glasgow, as indeed the Oran Mor theatre is.

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Prendergast’s first effort at writing for the male voice is something of a triumph, pulling off all the nuances that are involved in the banter-driven patter of the modern man. Together with McGovern’s wonderful oratory skills, witty one-liners & a genuinely touching plot, this play is a true winner.

Reviewer : Damo Bullen

Crash

Traverse

28 Oct – 1 Nov

13.00 (plus 19.00 show Friday)

£12 (including pie & pint)

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“Money means power and freedom.
Who’s not interested in that?”

There was something terribly infectious about this rendition of Andy Duffy’s one-man monologue, Crash. The play is essentially a guy on a chair chatting away, & as he took his first tentative steps through the script, I found myself thinking this might not be the most enjoyable hour of my life – yet within five minutes or so those baby steps had become Vishnu-like strides, by the end of which march I was left wishing for more.

The story revolves around the wheeler-dealings of yer classic money-making stock-market trader, whose life slowly begins to unravel around him, hence the plays title of ‘Crash.’ From family life to the angry cut & thrust  of his often desperate profession, we gain a real insight into the tragic possibilities that surrounds such a culture.

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With the entire play being performed solo, it is only the tony-blair like hand movements that offer any real visual stimulation. The script, however, was excellent… peppered with witticisms, Crash is a modern take on a classic theme, & would not have been out of place at the theater of Dionysus in Pesistratan Athens, whose audience would enjoyed similar rhapsodic performances. The intensity was perfectly pitched, with the plot’s disparate nuances rising to the climax like ribbons on a maypole. Plus the pie & pint were well tasty today (bacon gravy). FOUR STARS

four stars

Reviewer : Damo Bullen