Author Archives: yodamo
C Venues – south
Until the 10th of August (13.05)
The best theatre at the Fringe, the most diverse especially, comes from C venues. Hoichi the Earless stood out of the program at once, a Japanese folk-tale I’d come across with some wonder during my studies into oriental literature. And now it was in Edinburgh! I just had to go! Created in Hong Kong, & Supported by HKADC and HAB Arts Development Fund, I was presented with a fusion of traditional Chinese Nanguan live music and songs, innovative storytelling and elegant physicality. On the black backdrop were projected subtitles in both English & French – a little lazy perhaps, there is such a thing as separation of the parts – but l soon managed to transcend that split-second of confused focus trying to find the English words, & settled down to my cerebral sauna of song & story.
The setting is the Amidaji Temple, where Haiki, an ascetic poet of sorts, lives there out of poverty. A samurai then gets involved & at some point Haiki gets his ears chopped off. That’s a basic summary of course, but I wasn’t there so much for the plot, more the scent-dripping cherry blossoms of oriental theatre – & it was done magnificently. We are completely transported to a far-off place in a distant age by a lady sat cross-legged on a mat, getting amazing sounds out of her lute & vocal chords. There is a man who played the male parts, & there is a lady who donned a hood & flew a will-o’-the-wisp across the stage, or donned the sable dress of the Samurai. Multiple roles.
In the foreground we have lanterns & hither-ditherings about the stage. In the background, like a hungry rat, sniffs remembrances of the Battle of Dah-na-ura, of headless bodies floating in the sea, & other haunting visions of death & ghosts. Haiki himself is an amazing creation, essentially the golden masked mannequin torso of a terminator robot. This does not detract from the extreme escapism of the play, & it was wonderful to listen to a foreign language, rolling like waves across pebbles, projecting into drama as I sailed on an opiate carpet through the ribbony streams of Japanese culture & art.
Damian Beeson Bullen
Assembly Rooms – Front Room
Aug 9-13, 15-24 (17:10)
William Hartley has drifted from the Clever Peter troupe into the legendary life of a cowboy called Roscoe ‘Blackjack’ Porter. It is time for a daring full-length celebration of Hartley’s talents as he conjures twenty-five characters & every western catchphrase in the lexicon to shine a light on Roscoe’s flailing world. The main character, it seems, has been dragged through the cacti backwards, oppressed by desperate thoughts, but is still smiling. From him, like kaleidoscopic shards of light, the other 24 parts are played through accent deviations, slight costume changes, & a puppet shaped like a cactus. Of the many parts, Roscoe’s brother, John, is the most important figure for the plot, a plainly noble family-man sheriff, whose polar opposite Roscoe tells us; ‘Its funny how you can have the same ma, the same pa, & more or less the same upbringing, but one of you turns out to be a prissy dic£head.”
A lot of the familiarity-friendly action takes place in the Mucky Donkey salon, where its, ‘outside for shooting, inside for drinking,’ with a brothel upstairs. When Roscoe frequents the brothel later in the play, the results are quite eye-opening to say the least. On another occasion the gatling gun turns up one of its first ever historical outings to the line, ‘there are a million ways to die in the West, but this one is best,’ which was actually a brilliant, out-of-the-box inclusion, I loved that. As for the rest, yeah, its good, proper buzzin’ in places, but the speed of character changes & the minimum of trappings which Hartley uses to blur our receptors is just a tad tricky to follow at times. Gun is, in all essence, a western comic strip for adults, brought to life with a gallop like a cowboy chasing a prize steer.
Damian Beeson Bullen
The Mumble remain dedicated to their role as
The most progressive publication at the Fringe
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.
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 2019?
Well, not that much really. Beyond the windows of Mumble Towers, the Fringe Press of 2019 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 sensastion. 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 scoring.
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.
Material: Delivery: Laughs: Room:
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 yesterday (before this article). Quick off the mark, the company sent me this email;
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?
(and I’ll get the prize for the first one home with the answer!)
The answer is, of course, Suspension of Disbelief. I know my poetry, & within Coleridge’s wonderful 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.”
Damian Beeson Bullen
July 31- Aug 26 (12.40)
The flyer for this one-man show featured the face of John the Wireless Operator (Thomas Dennis) and was enough to prepare you for what would be a serious exploration of one aspect of World War 2 – a bombing mission. The story portrayed an actual mission carried out by the father, Bob Baldwin, who has co-written the piece with Max Kinnings. After a short wait in the wonderful Pleasance courtyard, we took our places in the small Below space. The seats were dominated by a contraption hung by bars from the ceiling, designed to effectively convey the claustrophobic feeling of being in the wireless operator booth of a WW2 bomber, sitting us right there alongside the crew. All this was aided by an excellent sound design which again increased the intimate feeling that you were really there, watching the entire plane and experiencing the perilous and terrifying action taking place in the sky.
In his authentic bomber jacket (these original ones were made very thick because of the freezing temperatures the crew had to endure), and combat uniform, Dennis certainly looked the part as he took us on the hellish journey into action. Although he was alone on the stage, we were nonetheless aware of the rest of the crew, on the in-com. We could hear their communications and I thoroughly believed in his emotional connection with them and their need for each other, as they joked to try and dispel fear.
There were feelings of regret as he became lost in memories, taking him out of the hellish action, which continued to wail and scream as the plane went through its paces, performing nosedives and terrifying manoeuvres under enemy fire. John never asked for sympathy from us, but he despaired of his decision to enlist and he had our serious sympathies anyway.
Somehow they landed in France to great relief. But distress attacked John once more, how could he face his little girl? How could he go on living after bombing innocent people? There was no way back, no way out, he couldn’t accept what he had just been through and what he had operated, what he was in part responsible for. This was a killer play that was messy; exposing guts, tears, humanity, responsibility and showcased the cruel irony of ordinary decent men having to go to war. But duty had to be done, he did not ask for our mercy but he sure as sure asked for God’s. Another absolute must see – a bit of a masterpiece actually!
Assembly George Square
July 31- Aug 26 (15.00)
Two space explorers come across a derelict spaceship. It was meant to be the last hope to save Human existence from a dying planet. The explorers begin an attempt to get the ship working once more, and the first step is to make friends with the lonely A.I. which has been waiting for someone to save it. That’s the backstory to the De Nova Super, winner of the award for Outstanding New Work at last year’s VAULT Festival.
The De Nova Super is a unique and entertaining hour. The narrative is told through dance, music, lighting, props, make-up and the voice of the ship’s computer. It is just about as perfect a Fringe show as you can get, in that it is strange, yet easily accessible. The whole setting of is very well done, while the choreographed movement tells the story effectively. For me, the story could have been understood even without the narration from the ships A.I.. We were also given splashes of comedy to add inject a little fun into an otherwise dark story. My first thought when it ended was “That was awesome.”
The De Nova Super made me think about loneliness and whether I would go to space to save Humanity? If I left Earth and all the Humans to save them, I would be lonely… so it would be better after all to have company & just wait for the endtimes. It would be a lot better if we just worked together NOW to preserve our existence, rather than waiting until we are forced into outer space. Luckily, the Earth is not coming to an end, so we can see interesting shows such The De Nova Super – a sublimely entertaining way to get together with other humans and enjoy a unique piece of art.
Can one become a fan of a superfan…
I caught a play the other day called In PurSUEt. The subject had intrigued me, a one-woman Fringe piece about celebrity stalking – Sue Perkins of all people, who I’m a fan of myself. I went along out of curiosity, & found myself being regaled by a charming young female actress, Eleanor Higgins, in total command of her chosen arena. Her play in its purest form is a contemporary conversation concerning mental health & addiction – something all of us can identify with somewhere in this fractured & difficult century.
Passion leads to obsession, from which often comes confused delusion. ‘I am fun, I am crazy, I light up a room… I am fine,’ Eleanor tells us, but she is clearly not fine. ‘Sue Perkins will be glad to have somebody like me as a girlfriend, thank you very much,‘ but of course she never will. Then Eleanor’s justifies her actions by comparing herself to Nancy Spungen, who bagged herself a Sex Pistol, before being (probably) killed by him in a New York hotel. Its not gonna end well really, is it?
We also witness Eleanor’s battle with substance misuse & her subsequent coping mechanisms, & thus we have a tender soul bared open to the world, emerging from the fabric of Eleanor’s night-fringed past as a massive monologue & memorial missive to the human maelstrom that flew desperately into her life. She had been brought near to the ultimate breakdown, but came back from the brink to a place where her energy seems calm. I wanted to get to know xxx a little more in person, so with pen & pad in hand I flagged her down after the play to answer a few questions about her personal paean to perkinsaphilia, & her subsequent personal redemption.
Hello Eleanor, first things first, where are you from & where are you at, geographically speaking?
Ha – well there’s an interesting one… We moved all over the country when I was a kid. I was born on the Isle of Wight, which I absolutely love. It’s gorgeous, peaceful and historical, full of dinosaur bones, beautiful beaches and archaeological treats. I am defiantly an island girl at heart. But moved to Suffolk when I was about seven and then up to Lancashire at 13 and then back down south in my late teens. I lived in New York for my early twenties. So I say home is where ever I lay my hat. But – for the last 10 years I’ve been in London, which is where I live currently.
When did you first develop a passion for theatre?
I’ve always been fascinated by human stories and relationships. Growing up I would watch films over and over, analysing every relationship, learning the lines of the characters and acting the parts out on my own. As a kid I’d force my family to watch me perform some random things I’d just come up with. I remember me and my brother created our own circus double act where we pranced about in leotards copying really dangerous acrobatics off the TV, we thought we were incredible. My first life-changing theatrical moment came when my mother took me to see Phantom of the Opera when I was about 10 or 11 years old. I sat in the audience being utterly transfixed, I couldn’t believe that people could do this as a job. I knew in my heart of hearts: this was what I was meant to be doing for the rest of my life. As soon as I was able to leave school and train in the profession I did. So at 16 I was out! Some might call this a bit of a risk – but my parents could see my commitment, I knew that theatre was where I belonged. It’s in my blood. My great grandmother was an opera singer and trained at the Royal Academy of Music – where I went on to train myself. I grew up on stage and around creators. When I moved to London at 18 to continue my training it really evolved. I was exposed to the wealth of theatre we have in our capital.
In a world where you can get entertainment ‘on demand’, what makes theatre special?
Theatre is always so special. It’s live and unpredictable. You have the added dynamic of the audience, and no two audiences are ever the same. The relationship between you and them is always something that fills me creatively. We are human, whether we are having a good day or a bad day – and how we are feeling affects the performance you give and the ways it’s received. Theatre art becomes far more tangible. I’ve found I never give the same performance twice. It’s always developing as the character grows and I find different colours and nuances to improve on each day. And these are all based on my relationship with the audience at each performance. How they are, the energy in room on that particular day, in that particular moment – these things mould and modulate each time: To me, that is the ultimate joy of all theatre. That direct relationship you are able to have.
What is it about being performing in front of other people that makes you tick?
That’s a hard one as I guess as it’s kind of just always been an innate desire. As pretentious as that may sound! I guess performing in front of other people is always where I’ve felt most comfortable. Sometimes even more comfortable than I do in real life. I can be still on stage, where as life can sometimes be chaotic. I feel my most alive when doing a live show. Especially theatre because it’s a communal thing – you share that moment and that always leaves me buzzing. You get to feel and gauge how the story is landing, how the words are being met. The atmosphere in the room, the sound of their responses, the laughter, the shock, the horror, the encouragement, the support. Even down to the smell of the theatre and the dressing rooms. I love it all! As weird as it may sound it almost feels like I’ve never really had a choice, it’s always just been who I am.
What does your perfect Sunday afternoon look like?
Right now, not waking up to the screech of my alarm clock and a backlog of emails would be a dream! I love to wake up slowly, climb onto my bike and cycle to my yoga class, then a leisurely walk with the dog round the Hackney marshes – there’s so much greenery in London if you know where to look! Then it would have to be a Sunday roast at my local followed by an evening bingeing on Game of Thrones. I need to watch each season about three times over until I’m satisfied!
I have just seen your play at the Fringe, can you tell our readers more about it?
Of course! My new show, In PurSUEt, is inspired by a true story: A woman sent to treatment to deal with her drinking, relays her adventures pursuing Sue Perkins. She’s in deep denial over the realities of her own life. You follow her internal monologue as she relays her adventures pursing Sue, all the while finding coping mechanisms to function in a dysfunctional world. A world that’s focused on social media, celebrity image and Brexit! It’s set in a Therapists office so also covers the important topics of mental health and addiction. All told with a dash of humour along the way! Think Fleabag meets Miranda kind of vibe, with some fierce, heartfelt, honesty thrown in for good measure. Ultimately It’s central message is of hope and redemption; that by facing of our demons, we overcome them.
Where, when & why did you get the idea for turning your experiences into a play?
Well! Sue had always been on my radar. We worked in similar industries so I circulated around the fringes of her world. We met at various events and I developed a bit of a crush on her. We had a few funny encounters where I did some fairly ridiculous and embarrassing things. Often due to the free bar. Whenever I told my friends the stories of my shenanigans, they all said I should write it down. It was also becoming increasingly clear that I was drinking too much. So while on one hand I was finding myself in these funny and ridiculous situations I was also getting myself into quite tricky ones. In PurSUEt felt like an opportunity to tell a story using strands from my own life, while also telling a tale of resilience, obviously dramatised with artist license. I also felt I wanted to reflect on things that are personal to me. I wrote a 20 minute scratch performance of it for my MA last year. The response from the audience was so strong. It encouraged me to develop it. I was strongly advised to take it to the Edinburgh fringe, so I wrote some more and here I am.
Have people approached you at all, identifying with the problems you portray?
This has been the most rewarding part of the whole process. When you start to write something down, especially something so personable, you never really know how people are going to relate to the inner workings of your own mind. When nobody had seen it – I sat there in my living room thinking; oh my God, what are people going to think? This is crazy! I am revealing some pretty personal things about myself. I’m going to look like a lunatic! I was not prepared for the response that I have got. People have been coming up after the show saying how they know someone who’s suffered the same issues, they relate to what the character has gone through, they have friends, family and loved ones who’ve all had similar experiences. It’s been overwhelming and so moving. I can’t tell you how touched I have been the last few days with the responses….I’m very grateful. To me this is what creativity is all about. Sparking the conversations about the central issues in life we all face.
What have been the biggest challenges about telling your story in such a dramtic(al) fashion?
Well I delve into some pretty personal aspects of my life, so some of the biggest challenges have been keeping myself safe mentally – while I go to a pretty tough place from my past. Luckily, a lot of the things that happen in the play happened about three years ago and I’ve had a lot of time to process those things. Also, our past is what makes us who we are. I embrace what’s happened, how I was and who I have become. I believe the difficult challenges we face in life can be some of our most growing times. I don’t shut the door on them or regret the past. It’s put me where I am today. And if my story can benefit others, then it would have all been worth it. Gosh this is all getting rather deep isn’t it! Mainly after the show, I make sure I have downtime to recharge and get in touch with things like meditation – that I find really helpful.
You are a few days into your run, how has it all been going so far?
We have done four shows so far and Edinburgh Fringe is living up to everything we had hoped it could be and more. It’s insane! My feet haven’t touched the ground. I’m not sure anything could have prepared me for the craziness that is the fringe. But I love it. We’ve had the most incredible reactions from our audiences so far – it’s such a boost. It solidifies how we feel about what we are doing and spurs me on to try and get the word out as much as possible. It’s been a complete whirlwind! We’ve already had one offer of a London transfer and are in discussions with several others about touring the work. All by day four! I t’s been unbelievable and I am so very grateful.
You’ve got 20 seconds to sell In PurSUEt to somebody in the streets of Edinburgh?
Sure! A young woman fancies Sue Perkins. Most people would have the good sense to do nothing about this, but not her! She won’t take no for an answer and she wants a date. So she blags her way into anything and everything she can, to try and get near her celebrity crush. All the while she’s stealing her nerves with a few too many glasses of anything alcoholic. As you can imagine – things don’t go too well. The show opens in therapists office, where she has been sent to deal with her alcoholism. But she’s not an alcoholic and she doesn’t need therapy – she needs Sue Perkins! If only Sue could see that too, everything would be ok. Or will it? A dark comedy with real heart. If you don’t shed a tear or have a lump in your throat by the end, then you’d better check your pulse!
Aug 4-10: theSpace on North Bridge (12:20)
Aug 12-17: theSpace @ Niddry St (12:10)
Script: Stagecraft: Performance:
Edinburgh’s Space on the Mile had an intimate feel as we entered, with the stage taking up a large proportion of the room and seats on two sides. Before the show began, a man in a tuxedo played very gently on the piano, conjuring songs the more elderly audience members recognised. He would soon be joined by actress Lottie Walker, who graced the stage in the persona of Nelly Power, famous star of musical hall and pantomime. Resplendent in her fancy, 19th century, green velvet dress – with lots of frills and ornamentation – Nelly launched straight into dialogue. Her down-to-earth cockney accent was coupled with a beautiful smooth voice and delicate posturing. She was a performer famous througout London town. She knew of a great many things, not least how to navigate life’s rich scenes, to move in the right circles. This Victorian songstress was far from cold or nervous. In fact she was as warm and welcoming as the gentle songs that interspersed the play, many of which had great meaning for her.
Having captured us in a moment, Nelly held us in her careful hands for the next 45 minutes, telling us not only about her life, but also capably dispensing support and advice. Even as she described failed relationships she seemed to have already forgiven any wrong-doing. She didn’t seem to have any qualms even about her husband beating her, it just seemed to bring out humbleness without even a need to be upset. A century and more ago, people for the most part didn’t live much past 35, so there perhaps was no place for feelings of revenge.
Nelly’s career spanned decades and she accomplished much to be proud of, though “nothing to be vain about”. On the contrary, she’d lend a helping hand on more than one occasion to other artists and performers who were struggling to be someone, to make it. Especially, she would find inspiring words to encourage budding talent. Her purpose seemed full of love like a bouquet of posies; she was neither overpowering nor to be taken for a fool. Her songs, accompanied on the piano, were light, and her voice just as charming, inviting those of us who knew the words to join in.
Nelly was a strong and feisty woman and so is J.J. Leppink, who has woven in the social history of the suffragist movement to the play and also conveys the submersive element of Music Hall in Nelly’s dialogue. Lottie Walker
Read the full interview…
There was something about this show that was endearing and beautiful, a period piece that stood without history, yet with a definite past. Nelly’s personality shone through, a strong and generous soul, an example of balance, honesty and even trustworthiness.
Even in the end, when a woman called Marie Lloyd successfully stole what seemed like Nelly’s whole life and reputation, Nelly simply replied “maybe she’s better than me”. The Blue Fire Theatre Company’s production has intricate, imaginative dialogue, delivered to perfection with heart-breaking warmth. A definite YES! from me.
The Space on the Mile
Aug 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, 14, 16 (18:55)
Aug 6, 8-13, 15-20, 23-26 (20.30)
Well here we go again! This was my first review of the festival and I had high hopes. My girlfriend was keen on seeing the Faulty Towers experience, but I couldn’t get tickets, I was reliably informed that the Cushty version was as good if not better! This was going to be Cassi’s first show, so I was super excited for her and really hoped it would be great! In fact it was phenomenal – one of the best shows I have ever seen! From the moment we walked into the bar at the hotel the fun started! I noticed this rather out of place woman in a mack trying to engage with a couple who were sitting by the toilets. I twigged straight away it was Cassandra (Rodney’s) not mine, played by Kat Mary who also doubled as an amazing Marlene! I gave her a bit of chat but she wasn’t really biting and continued to engage the couple.
As me and Cassi went through into the bar there was another odd fellow in a black mack looking at me rather suspiciously. I get a few looks for being a bit of a giant, and normally people look away quickly, but this dude was wanting to engage – so the game was afoot! This turned out to be Slater, who also trebled as Trigger and Boycie, who instantly had us giggling before we had even managed to grab a drink. The guy was off the charts, and dare I say my favourite, if there is such a thing with such a quality cast! Then the fun really started as Del boy (Nick Moon) burst into the bar and tried to flog us all hooky watches from his case, followed by Rodney (Lawrence Watling) in snorkel and flippers! Such a great start – could this get any better?
Hell yeah! The full thing from start to finish was an absolute riot! The theme was a pub quiz with a meal chucked in! Please don’t expect too much from the food – it isn’t supposed to be that good no matter how posh the hotel is – it’s a pub quiz after all & it’s supposed to be pub grub! Anyway, we weren’t there for the food, we were there for the giggles – and we had a barrel load of them! Every one of the actors nailed their parts and stayed in character from start to finish. These guys were on point with every mannerism being perfectly nailed, and the show flowed effortlessly and without fault. I could not actually believe we were in there for over 2 hours, it was so good the evening just flew by as we were entertained and mesmerised by the actors and their show!
Undoubtedly, one of the best things I have ever seen; so, so real – as if you were actually with the Trotters as they got up to one of their capers. They had great audience participation, with my Cassi being brave enough to get up and become part of the show. Well done guys, I have been a lifelong fan of Only Fools and Horses and you absolutely smashed it! I could not have asked for a better start to the festival or for a better way to impress my girlfriend – 5 stars out of 5 and a pure 10 out of 10 – thank you Imagination Workshop!
The Last King of Porn is a play full of ambition. We are landed upon the set of a snuff porn film production. Tragedy, incest, lingerie and shadows are our themes. An Italian Stallion makes his final film, employing a hundred porn stars engaging in what they do behind a curtain, painting the action as silhouettes. Meanwhile, female porn stars wait for their number to be called for their turn.
This is where the drama unfolds, in the waiting room. The youngest of the cast discovers she had been conceived on the set of a vintage porno, back in the olden days when porn stars had a full bush. The film had starred tonight’s Italian stallion, who she was just about to be filmed being with! Her Dad! The plan is too snuff him out with a cyanide pill, and just for good measure finish the job with a pair of scissors – presumably to save the severed member as a token of a job well done.
Such a crazy story could live only in the world of porn. I tried to do it in the least aggressive way as possible. The play is for a mature public Alessandro Onorato
Read the full interview
With English not being the mother tongue of the cast members present, one cannot help thinking that the script would have been better portrayed in Italian with English subtitles. On second thoughts, one can only wonder what inspired such a sick & twisted concept of endemic violence. OK, we do have Oedipus, but that incest was done much more tastefully. But then again, is it even possible to approach the subject of porn, especially snuff porn, in a sensitive way? Maybe as an opera. Operas are full of this kind of tragedy.
Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert
Greenside @ Infirmary Street
Aug 2-17 (21:50)
Script: Stagecraft: Performance:
“Let those who play your clowns speak no more than is set down”. Will Kemp is on the move, travelling with a spring in his step away from London towards Norwich. Chased out by embarrassment, though he would never admit it, and the plague. On an eight day trip with plenty of stops along the way, Kemp performs his well known jig to loving audiences, explaining as he goes his recent career changes: from the renowned stage on the south bank of the Thames, to the makeshift open air ones upon which he now taps his feet.
Steve Taylor is excellent as the narrator Kemp, captivating from the very first line. Clearly a seasoned performer, Taylor is so energetic and wildly entertaining. The writing is consistently funny, playing with language in they way an old fashioned comedian might, whittling off subject relevant and pun-heavy jokes. The story is so intelligently considered in this sense, propped up by an impressive knowledge of history and Shakespeare’s work. Occasionally Taylor will himself stumble over a word or two, but his persona is so open and welcoming that it doesn’t harm the show in the slightest, coming off more as a delightful character quirk.
Lyrically composed, the main focus of Kemp’s Jig is the titular hero’s recent departure from The Globe Theatre, over disputes with both the Bard himself and Richard Burbage. Taylor pitches the famous playwright as an obsessive, playfully mocking him as a writer who just wants his words to be read as they are written. “Why must a great actor like you resort to funny hats, red noses and stuffed dogs on wheels?” Kemp voices Shakespeare’s concern, scratching his chin whenever the impression surfaces. Perhaps old “Shakerags”, as he is lovingly referred, has a point, but Kemp makes a formidable argument with his drunken interpretation of Dogberry and his puppet retelling of a scene from the Merchant of Venice.
Join me on an Elizabethan roadshow with Will Kemp and enjoy a factual, comedic look at one man’s rise and fall in his relationship with The Bard. Will Kemp – Shakespeare’s forgotten clown – and the original 9 day wonder!
Read the full interview…
Still there are more surprises in store. Taylor’s performance covers so much ground in such a short time – relaying yarns about executions and dancing villagers with nothing but pure energy. It is so well delivered that what is sometimes clearly context and set-up never feels like exposition, a testament to Taylor’s incredible ability to sell a story. Had he been afforded a larger space or more time, Taylor may have been able to do more, but the simplicity of the set and hold all trunk that jingles when opened carries a lovely charm. Whether Shakespeare was right to part ways with a jig performer like Kemp may never be clear, but one thing is certain: he would have been excellent as The Nurse in Romeo and Juliet.