Category Archives: 2021

Kill Me Now

Rhiannon Boyle

Edinburgh Fringe
Online Streaming
Aug, 2021


As I turned on my laptop to tune into The Edinburgh Fringes online performance of Rhiannon Boyle’s ‘Kill Me Now’ where I was very surprised to find out that it seemed like it was for a business model for funeral care; it would turn out to be quite something else, in fact it would become a deep fiction.

As I joined this zoom meeting I was a little confused that this would be part of the Edinburgh fringe. But I went with it and actually began to find it interesting and found it easy to follow. Her company called Joyful Endings had come about after inheriting the business from her father.

It was seemingly an interactive zoom meeting where we were all asked to contribute. We all fell for it sharing ideas about the world of deceasing; twisting it into something new and quirky. As the interactive side embellished she all of a sudden began to falter apologising for lapses of concentration.

In the chat box there was a person who called themselves M. At this time I felt easy and even trusting with Rhiannon directly responding to one of my comments, effectively talking to me. The person M began by throwing in a terrible comment upon the conduct of our host. Aiming at the heart he just about condemned her for keeping her father’s ashes for over two years.

She picked up the urn that was decorated as a huge Boddingtons beer pitcher while remaining to be upbeat about her loss, in a most professional and loving way. This prompted further exclamations from M who persisted in putting her down with force and abandon. We could very well see that it hurt her deeply.

In this moment she went from high confidence to very low aspiration looking dishevelled. And as we saw in front of our eyes was this transformation; she stopped short and was lost for words. After calling for a break to steady her-self, she had left microphone on and we listened to an excruciating phone call with her mother as she shouted at her mum totally upset.

The mood had changed, the eyes fell to the floor, this was no longer about shaping a business model. It was now about survival. She appeared back onscreen, eyes red and teeth chattering, with a defiant will to carry on.

With the plot thus revealing itself there was a moment of the interaction similar to the War of the Worlds original radio broadcast mid 20th and a little like the Truman show movie. She had transformed into a grieving councillor by taking her-self through each of the 5 stages of grief. M’s prompting continued viciously attacking her while she remained at the helm of the attending public eye, so rude and raw and had the power to take us a’back.

There was a real elation during the watching of this clever, extravagant think out of the box play, revealing this journey’s story but more measuring by its impact on us. The turn of a place of trust to a much truer place of great uncertainty was greatly examined and amplified.

To that extent there was an explosion in our senses that blew wide open a largeness that is still hard

to describe. Through simple footage and dialogue she achieved all of this and I was putty in her hands. Her Kill Me Now is an opportunity for self examination of turbulent times. As it finished was not as it began, all put together so we could feel immensity of joy and grief. We left her in tears asking ‘So this is grief’ in an open and unknowing way.

Daniel Donnelly


Champions

Andreas Constaninou

Edinburgh Fringe
Zoo TV Live Stream
Aug, 2021


The online play at the fringe this year was called ‘Champions’ by Himerandit Productions for #Danish Digital and performed by Andreas Constantinou who is Greek actor. The scene we were met with was Andreas breathing before his show in his own ritual; he sat with two pictures of a man and a woman. We spent a prolonged moment with him doing this until a knock came on the door for curtains up.

He proceeded out of the door through a scaffold basement and found his way to the stage. The large venue was set with traditional sloping seats with the iconic positioning of the large stage. Set with mid twentieth century furnishings of a TV, a luxurious chair, a gramophone all of which he would tinker with for self explanatory reasons.

He took up his position at ground level to inform us of the purpose and meaning of his play that he has not performed since before lock down. We found out to ours and his dismay that he lost both his parents during the 2020 pandemic one of whom died having contracted Covid. As we were thinking ‘poor guy’ he finished his lightly dressed introduction by stripping his clothes off and sitting on the chair naked.

The levels of detail that was covered by this experimental plot, were all vividly striking in the light and colour changes, the distances between props. The room looked like something remote, cut off yet completely normal. He waved a hand to our deepest yet simple senses that can experience and create that have both darkness and light.

As the play went on around him he sat still on his chair neither moving nor speaking a word but with a highly relaxed persona that came through with a very controlled and complete action of stillness in the play. His story was of a recorded tape of him, his mother and his father all with a therapist. When we heard him converse with her his troubles began to be revealed.

All he spoke of about his mother and father was his loss and the fact that he had not played this tape so hadn’t heard their voices within the live component of the interview all about being gay and in love with men. His father strongly disapproved but his mother was much easier. As he sat on the chair omitting his relaxed persona the backing of the stage turned into a projector screen that was to convey repetitive footage including a long struggling wrestling match that moved from sea to field.

That story unravelled and still totally unobtrusively and in fact reeled us right into his sore heart, he smiled and seemed to find contention in his still expression. It was almost like magic as the play came together from the huge lessons he has endured in his fragile lifetime. We sat with him and we wanted to talk with his and console him.

But in his transcendent appearance as a performer on a chair his work had come together in a well thought out show and tell, exploration of and intuitive colouring of how his soul works when he simply moves back and is loved again by his lost parents. From listening to this four way conversation we could tell that even in a hurricane there is still love. In the end he forgave his father and his father forgave him, the hour finished with footage of his father’s funeral.

And in his final Eulogy in the church we came to realise that was the purpose of this play from a darling actor who allowed us to feel and think with dialogue, to escape into the scenes of wrestling, water, fields was to fulfil a Eulogy in the highest purpose and with the greatest of taste. As he was sad he sat, as he angered he sat, and as he smiled (with greatness) he sat, so thanks for sitting with us and allowing us to look into your mind and life. So personal, so real, so naked, so much like a champion.

Daniel Donnelly


Two Men & A Plank


Edinburgh Fringe
Zoo TV Live Stream
Until 28th Aug, 2021


Two Men & A Plank has been brought to the Edinburgh Fringe on behalf of Danish Digital & I can see why. Its just so cool. A couple of cheeky chappies in suits, white socks & sandals strutting determindley around a desolate landscape with, well, a plank. Cue a variety of Big Top scenarios – its essentially traditional clownerie – while drunken swamp blues strolls around our consciences like a harlet in beads.

The enthralling hypnotrance of watching Two Men & A Plank is universal Tellytubbieness for all ages – a fun-filled 20 minutes of action & camera angles, with not all the show revolving around hijinks with our now famous plank. The central portions see changes of music & vibe – the plank disappears & is replaced by Laural & Hardy vibes, flamenco dancing & a slap fight. All good, but better on the stage I think, as televisual entertainment those days are long gone. Perhaps this change of texture was intended, however, for when the plank returned for the finale it was like welcoming a long-lost family member to the kitchen & I was buzzing.

So thank you DON and GNU – two of the stars from acclaimed trilogy MEN IN SANDALS – for inviting us to your fun & rather brain-startling soiree with that never to be forgotten plank.

Daamian Beeson Bullen


David Alnwick’s Nightmare Magic


Edinburgh Fringe
Free Fringe @ Banshee Labyrinth
12th – 29th Aug, 2021


With fewer people at the Fringe than usual 2021 will never the less be another triumph for the Edinburgh scene. The Old town is in the well – known part of the cities underground city. We had a little taste of this at the Banshee Labyrinth down Niddrie Street; the rain was now off for the rest of the day, it was evening when we took our place at David Almanac’s Nightmare magic.

In a chamber the sold out show had black bricks for a stage, a huge fire place (not in use). I wandered what function it would have served. Then the charmingly confident David began his story about magic and circumstance. Classed as theatre his performance had excitement in a thrilling environment.

A book had come to be in his possession that was coded. Having come from University the codes were like crosswords to David which he and his mates could play with. He announced that the book had been decoded, putting a fair sized wooden box on a chair central stage. Like a magician he would rummage through the box all with an air of character of something other worldly which he enjoyed.

As in the classic magic show he took members of the audience on stage and played about with Tarot cards. He pulled of some undeniable magic tricks where the audience gasped and laughed. My first live day at the fringe was complete and all I wanted to do was settle in, while also praying that he didn’t pick me (you know the feeling).

It was the details around it that really helped move things along as we entered into the darkened world he was musing on. There was a feeling things could get crazy but thankfully he was more composed than wild. It came across as a great performance of a script but his idiom set it apart, he had come up with something unique for now. Blending media to his will so as to create the structures of showmanship and tall standing mysteriously laid out programme for us to follow.

I felt things could get good for this young fellow, his willingness combined with his findings were all laid bare without losing his bearings. He left us with a musing of what is this or how about that. Well thrown together from a man in a smart black suit who maybe knows more than we think.

Daniel Donnelly


Plasters


Edinburgh Fringe
theSpace Triplex, Jenner Theatre
12th – 21st Aug, 2021


The Space Triplex down a side street was revealed to be a large room with a few rows of chairs and a stage that took up half the room. My focus was brought to a yellow table cloth. There was a bed, two tables and a woman sat at the yellow one writing something. This was a play called Plasters which involved two Andrea and Chris as a couple who like to thrash things out. All starting jovially and in good spirits, though there was something not quite right.

It was a snap shot of human life, the kind of situation so many can relate to. I’ve heard the story before; we can hear it all the time as we float by phone conversations on the streets. But they seemed for a short while to be well and in love sharing humour about things.

In the play Andreas costume was her bedroom pyjamas from the beginning was this some kind of signal for help. The large space helped the play grow in our minds increasing our levels of pleasure as the audience. And its intentions were only revealed as and when. It was a very giving performance with the active and upbeat Chris cajoling her, where at first she would smile and wave it off.

It wasn’t just a normal day and we soon realised that she was in fact suffering him and unsure of a great many things. We still took well to the performance even through her raging dialogue, her upset heart, but Chris stayed around trying to capture her and holding her in his arms, she smiled lovingly then spat out that love to his confusion and his indignation.

Chris’s manly movements offered the opposite to Andrea’s shy and almost regretful demeanour, their youth was touching as was so much of this performance. There was an ease of flow through a conversation that was to be confounded by Andrea’s vocalisations of her hearts rending pain. And he went right there with her.

She seemed unreasonable and self justifying, to which he too flew off the handle though never aggressively. But she quietened and they sat on the bed holding each other and joking again. But to finally lead us into the expertly placed plot her mind left the room again and it seemed to go dark. She recalled a memory of certain things describing them but became troubled and couldn’t quite tell what was really going on.

They put the joys and sorrows of a life time into just under an hour of theatre. And once revealed the points unmissable stakes were high but everything was disturbed. We knew not the events that caused her fragility but even as the stage fell quite we didn’t know but it was enough not to know. Like a radar the importance of the play was there for all to see and to relate to.

Daniel Donnelly


Ithaca


Edinburgh Fringe
On Demand
From 6th Aug, 2021


For this performance of ‘Ithaca’, part of the online Edinburgh Fringe, Phoebe Angeni presented us with a tour de force of Greek, gothic lords and gods. Her great inspiration climbed out of the poetic book Odyssey by the epic poet Homer. She told us of her biggest love of this book and the amount of languages she has read it in.

In a black low cut dress she formulated the world of this Odyssey into her own magical transcendent voyage through the rages of all kinds of hell. She began her conversations with the gods as rain and storm came from the bleak and darkly red sky. Hello she cried as if into a howling wind. The voice that came in return was the voice of her father a god that sounded like something of pure evil.

She threw herself into the voyage as much as the voyage was thrown into her. She met herself in the mirror though many time she could not recognise what was going on. This wasn’t a wonder because each voice had a different command and intention for her future; as a sentient being. She was told in one voice that she was a fat waste of space and in a Texan accent she was told that her right to live where she was was over and that she must return home to the ancient Ithaca.

Phoebe Angini

She stood fast and developed well despite being in so many states of confusion. The play mirrored Homer’s in its epic and extremely well done capacity for being at the cradle of the often cruel playing hands of the gods, she even had the bow made for them. Her words would flow as moods took her. We saw her growing beauty rise in front of us even as she despaired with a deep feeling that she didn’t want to go to Ithaca and that it was in fact not her home.

She felt this very strongly though could not for the life of her figure out why? Her trances and developments were a strong hold to see performed with total abandon and immersion. Written in the very strong holds of the gods she was played about like a rag doll with the courage to be open and swim in mysterious languish forthcoming as a goddess herself.

She spoke with Athena and enacted a carefully profound rant with Dionysus whom she revelled upon. The powers of the play were so sharp, and worked to be on the very shoulders of the worlds themselves. It was meaningful to such an extent in every aspect. It was an experience of an experience with delays, distortions, desperate soul seeking and finding. With our star Phoebe; being tossed around even unto the land of the dead.

As she journeyed just as in the Odyssey it thankfully started to become clear that what she felt that she couldn’t remember was in fact because of journeys she wanted to forget. And with her great will beside her, her memories were like confessions into the plays astounding depth of insight and pure talent. Phoebe’s play was hers entirely, written, directed, filmed, edited and all the rest by her own hands, and we were just along for the ride in a most vivid and gracious storyline that held a brilliant grip on us.

Daniel Donnelly


Push

Tamsin Hurtado Clarke

Edinburgh Fringe
Pleasance Online
From 6th Aug, 2021


I was happy to begin my Edinburgh Fringe journey with an online one person play called ‘Push’. Performed by Tamsin Hurtado Clarke and Directed by Scarlett Plouviez the play was to be something special triggering a good feeling inside myself. For the Fringe this was filmed in a studio as a new breed of filmed theatre has come into play during the pandemic. ‘Push’ was to master this new media.

It began with a greatly realistic scene of a woman (Tamsin) peeing on a pregnancy test. She wore a long white coat and with the completely white back ground the stage (or studio) was set. First there was a little narrative then speedily on to the affluent dialogue of realised comedy, with that realness and with a kind of fast ska she released herself with great pros and cons about pregnancy.

She danced, smoked moving in and out of her thoughts of being a mother letting us into her trimesters, and there effects. Captured on camera in close ups with walk away’s, smiling, frowning, letting us into the absolute core of her head and heart. In an offering of some greatly descriptive acts of giving birth, raising a child to a depth that made me feel proud of her in her act.

The production used every semblance there is in the art of theatre coupled with camera work and synchronised dance movements all coming together as scenes of a whole. There was poetry in her dialogue; repetitions rolling from her tongue. Tick tock she exclaimed tick tock tick tock. So humanly she entranced us offering an unforgiving relevance between loving and loathing her own child.

After taking off her coat to reveal her bathing suit (bare feet) the air of her act appeared to hold a thrill with no detrimental effects though it took her through it alright. The direction, composition and dialogue dancing were all a work of heart that was praiseworthy, all of which coming as we viewed her gentleness, her courage her beautiful fragility and with that strength.

Her amazing mind imagined every detail of what she needed, how she and her child were to be together. In detail took us through iconic scenes one of which had a spotlight that looked like a doorway and she and her child were its shadows. Included were the coming hardships, as she doubted, forgot and beautifully let us into to a play of such wonder as to cover a great deal of wonderful theatre with something that was perfectly written and so created a perfect performance.

As a child is perfect, as a mother who delights is perfect and as a woman undone finds her strength as she nearly threw up during the performance to take a seat and give us a most amazing look is perfect. The delights of taking this in will have you taken to the heights of theatre, film and she will impress you thrillingly with the gentlest insight of the real miracle she is looking to perform. Her form on camera made her small and big, telling a sophisticated story in itself, we were left beside ourselves with joy.

Reviewer: Daniel Donnelly


The Control Project


Brighton Fringe

26th June – 12th July, 2021


As this was my final work for the Brighton fringe 2021 I was filled to the brim with expectation. The Control Project was a dance that told a story, presented in a science fiction idiom by Project Female. It would be the most insightful of modern arguments about grooming the human populous with the example of a view of an asylum corridor with bars on its doors.

On a very large stage the dancers grouped together as they obeyed announcements over the speaker. The large layout was spectacularly used with a big screen at the back, and two large tarp covered scaffolding boxes on wheels. These wheeled platforms were wheeled everywhere around the stage.

As did our dancers who made movements to music and songs that had the sense of being robotic but then in another scene soulful and husky. It looked like an action game but the dancing slowed the pace as well as speeding it up. All fell to the floor to lie in the dim light; the mighty unison of dance movements was pulled apart by one of them when they looked like waking up from this project into some kind of a revelation. The writing used all things old and new to make its points. It drew from wide ranging representation of a great many cultures (not least the science fiction body).

The props that were used were – lighting, screen footage, orb-lit people, film, all went ahead with the story as the dancing had us glued to experience of this story. The four or five levels worked great as the show grew and shrunk before us. The voice giving them instruction sounded soulless as she ordered them around all be it in a great dance.

They made the process magical of being in this world being brought to life and had a sense of the future about it. The pronouncement of the story really grabbed us with costume changes to suit the stars and the so many well done maneuvers in an ever widening tale. With the cast being so young it helped give it the certain atmosphere of youth being examined. The plot was fulfilled in the dance by the dancers, as it had its memorable moments of style and training.

This was a very rich looking, enriching us and at the end leaving us with a great sense of well-being. No words need be spoken when the story is this clear. The noise was controlled along with their behaviour and their personalities. We felt that this sci-fi world had been in control for a while and it was in that in abundance. The movements looked like reaching up and almost silently called on us to help escape the sterile organisation of females. Confronting and challenging us to think about this situation where the technological evolution had taken a step in a controlling environment.

They wore yellow robes with large barcodes seemed into the hem, they all had half their hair grey and half dark, they moved as one but their point of view was from a very human perspective. All offering; a humanity of unison, of selflessness, with an outspoken conforming into the whole; as if without a soul. The soul kept on appearing in the dancing when they looked stirred and in longing. It had a soft side to it even in the metal scaffolding. It was a theatrical cirque with no acrobatic props but plenty of vision, a vision that stirred and was soon to arrive.

Daniel Donnelly


The Travesty of Richard III


Brighton Fringe

28th May – 27th June, 2021


I’m sure if Shakespeare were here he would congratulate this play/movie made for the Brighton Fringe 2021. It worked as well as any adaptation since the time of the bard and I was glad when the credits included the playwrights name. The dynamic duo of Ian Renshaw and Helen Manners created every facet of the show from multiple characters to a great many costume designs.

It all came together as ‘The Travesty of Richard 111’ unravelled its unscrupulous plot to kill for a place on the English throne. In a performance to envy the war of the roses in the 15th Century was oddly represented in this play as an age of war made hilarious from strikingly well conducted acting.

The comedy aspect as it was written so long ago had the laughter was coaxed out of us, merging us with the modern world and the life of the 15th century. And so with only a cast of two; the scripts unfolding majesty which was about to unveil an insane plot for the throne through the devious developments of the Duke of Gloucester’s plan for King Edward’s demise. Any other obstacle to Richard claiming the throne of England was to be crushed with inane pleasure from Richard III.

He (Richard, Duke of Gloucester, who was one of a long list of characters, played by Ian Renshaw) had a compatriot in Elizabeth 1st (played by Helen) who strongly desired for the Duke to become King, not least because he tricked her into it. It was his most flattering charm and words that had her in the throes of his arms.

The exclamation brought about by the side of this play was in its element as an event made for the screen which gave the actors anther language to play with.

It was in good conscience a story of the screen with scenes of unearthly colours and make up, where Richard always looked a little grey but certainly no less charming. It created modes to revel in the characters in a modern and attention grabbing effects delivering the jokes of the century.

In its entirety the theatrical nuances seemed ahead of its time, dreaming of a perfect play made possible by technology. But no less an enthusiastic appraisement of Shakespeare’s work, a lyrical master stroke to stir our senses.

Without the atmosphere of live theatre, an audience, they clasped the chance to free up the medium and focus on a much wider aspect to come from. The Duke’s full face seemed to fall from grace. As happened when Richmond who had returned from campaigning to take the crown slayed Richard in battle

I say this in all seriousness but my funny bone was hyper active and I felt a natural high with my guilty laughs for what was a catastrophic passage of time. Richard’s aura and his black bob haircut, was thrown in with certain confusion for us, did we support his aims because he made us laugh? Whose side were we really on? Entwining us to all the characters was a revelry and interesting interaction performed by Ian and Helen both shown to bring with every blow, a transformational theatrical spirit. It was a tragedy of epic proportions that had the tempo to line the historic events.

Daniel Donnelly


Women Hold Up The Sky


Brighton Fringe

28th May – 27th June, 2021


‘Women hold up the sky’ was a film made for the Brighton Fringe 2021. In half an hour we would be told about what life is like in these Countries in Africa; Uganda, Republic of Congo and South Africa, the stories were clearly to give a voice to these women making and taking this footage of villages and local communities.

It began with the words; “The world is in deep crisis.”  In a narration from a women who presented the show for us. They spoke about how huge international conglomerates who own oil and coal were causing them major problems in the communities. It has become so bad for these women in these positions because of how the male dominated culture suppresses and holds them down. But things get a lot worse than that.

In the footage we were shown moving pictures of colour and thriving for these communities. But in the narration we found them speak about their heart rending experiences at the hands of Big Oil companies. We thankfully were hearing this news from the grass root people whom it has affected.

So many things were brought to light in this epic story. All of which were centred around these women and their own hopes and fears. The stories from these women affected us as they filmed them talking about horrifying nights when men with guns arrived to evict people from their houses. 

There were so many failings on behalf of the energy companies that were listed for legal purposes, in rights being checked. In a twist to the tail it turned out that one of the many loopholes was that a women cannot own land, there for has no rights. It was impressive to see how communities came together and started to fight this fight, and redeem their homes and livelihoods.     

Great strides have been and are being taken in these preliminary stages of proceedings now striking with the power of legal representation. That has just about saved at least some of these victims of moneys more complex world, taxing communities with a threat of death, and other equally bad things. 

It soon was to realize that the importance of sharing was paramount in establishing new and rigid laws about land ownership. But these catastrophic instances are on the rise and not the way out. As would please our displaced people back to the place they had worked so hard to create and maintain. 

They spoke of the lack of water now they are blasting and digging, loss of cows because the food sources dried up. They have the ambitions to send their children to school and have some kind of medical facilities but they are not being left alone at all to thrive in these things.  

They defiantly grew to positions where fighting giant oil or coal company might be becoming more prevalent, but with a disbelief as to the severity of their treatment. And our senses grew sharp from the displays of dancing, talking, singing all as a means to express them-selves and be together for it. As we listened to the stories we climbed on board to help sail these awfully rough seas. It’s an old fight that seems to lurk at the centre of many cultures who took on the mantle to bring about great change for these communities. From the women who have known how good things can be if they were just left alone to do it.

But they have and were given less at every stage of this very fiery issue that these women have to find a way through. There are cracks appearing in the door but as they said in ‘Women hold up the sky’ the battle seemed to be a one sided thing. But do these companies set out to destroy lives? are they playing with us like toys? These questions and more were asked as the righteous momentum of the women in the movie flittered by. “I think their intension is to kill us” was one quote for the feelings going around after tragedies like this, there is so much to endure, and to worry about. Still treating each other with great smiles and brimming confidence about the future which could have been resounding for African natives in general

This was a plea for the outcry of women in these villages who are suppressed on so many levels by mans conscious willingness to degrade and make less than nothing of other sentient beings 

Houses creeked, walls shook as the digging and blasting commenced. Whole zones where created with the results of buildings coming down that are now lost forever. Faceless Companies have offered many things but through legality they worm their way out and get away with it. The amazing potentials of fair legal representation are beginning to offer a very serious solace in the case and aim of the name of the people 

These women as they were together still have hope in the name future achievements. It’s a shame that for things like this to be happening there is no a chance to climb out of it. By this time we were left with a message of hope not just for these communities but for the planet as an entirety as we spur it into a cycle that may be it for us and a sign an end to all that we love. Congratulations to things like writing and theatre because the more we see of this the more aware we can become and even unite for at least a piece of land to thrive on. Men who still make these rules that place women at the bottom of just about everything have no idea that ‘Women hold up the sky’   

Reviewer: Daniel Donnelly