Category Archives: Edinburgh 2016

Saturday Night Forever

Underbelly Med Quad

Aug 4-28  (19.10)


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

The dramatic soliloquy is one of the most intensely difficult theatrical art-forms, but when done well, one is transported into the ancyent mead-filled halls, where the bards recited their tales to the local lord. Now, as the Welsh & their eistedfodds have the greatest esteem in the bardic tradition, it is no wonder they are modern masters of the form. Roger Williams’ Saturday Night Forever (directed by Kate Wasserberg) seems as if it had been brought down from Cadair Idris after a a wild night with the birds of Awen, for it is simply a marvellous telling. The hall is just as good as well – the Underbelly Med Quad possessing one of the finest middle-sized theatres at the Fringe.

snf page onlyLee is gay, and regularly haunts the nightspots of Cardiff on the hunt for his perfect man. Of these, Matthew seems promising…  a pastry chef who is good at blow jobs, who was perhaps too cool for Lee. The eventual clash came, of course, when Lee dissed Take That, from which the story took a darker, more insular turn through Lee’s search for satisfaction in a harsh & loveless modernity. Y’see, Lee is no gay sheep, he’s a lost-soul trying to do his own thing, who just happens to be gay – & a nervous one at that.

Actor Delme Thomas & his lovely Welsh lilt plays the part with a smooth precision; warm to watch, easy to listen to, his performance is as slick as his hair. Behind him there is an atmospheric neon-pulsing backdrop which helps hypnotise us into his world. For me, his vocal portrayal of other characters in his story could have done with a little more idiosynchratic accentation, but other than that it was a charmingly quixotic oratory which would have pleased even Llywelyn ap Iorwerth himself. The ending is also a triumph of acting & writing – where we see an intensely beautiful transformation in Lee – but before then, enjoy yourself in the courageously cathartic company of Cardiff’s gay scene – you wont regret it.

 Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen




Gilded Balloon – Billiard Room

Aug 8-29 :(13:15)


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

I’ve always found Physical Theatre an unusual organism to review. I write, I use words, I like to know what’s going on through the functioning of my frontal cortex. With Physical Theatre words are at the bare minimum, however, & the story must be told by other means. Come the Edinburgh festival, this equates to an hour of storytelling, so I took my seat in the pleasant Billiard Room theater at the Gilded Balloon like Simon Cowell at one of the audition days for the X-Factor – ie not expecting to be entertained a great deal. I was wrong, I loved it. They nailed it.

Buckle Up Theatre is a an experimental troupe – four good looking guys & gals who may have appeared on an X-Factor series…  if their muse was singing. Instead, it is all about full-power, theatrical tomfoolery which has a precision of performance that must have come from aeons of practice. They’re that tight. Their theme is a journey around Europe during the World War period – suitcases, video backdrops & multi-national attire attest to all that – the location of each scene being given away by a smattering of foreign words.

The whole thing is a joy to witness & despite not being able to follow its exact nuances, the general gist is enough to let you think you know whats going on in order to enjoy the pretty moving postcards sent by Buckle Up as they race about Europe at a million miles an hour. Their most delightful scene was one in which air was escaping from various orifices of the troupe, which of course needed plugging – comedy elysium! Combine their artistry with their choice of soundscapes & their faultless use of props & stage-settings, then among the great banquet that is the Fringe, Journeys is one of those really tasty, really creamy vol-au-vonts, & if you can this August, you should sneak one off the plate!

Reviewer ; Damian Beeson Bullen


An Evening with CS Lewis

Venue 209 @ 25 Nicholson Square


Run:  Aug 5-13, 15, 22-27

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

If you’re after a factual and rather touching literary hour, this show’s for you. An Evening with CS Lewis gives you a real look at who the man was, and what inspired him and his writings. The set is minimal – a chair, a table and a cup of tea; but all that’s required by the star and creator of the show; David Payne.  Payne has been playing C.S Lewis since he accidentally won the lead role playing the author back in 1996 in a production of Shadowlands. Perhaps it was all meant to be, seeing as he does such a terrific job.  I loved the way he deftly manages the sensitive one-man relationship between actor and audience- there is an impressive versatility which inhabits the lines with a familiarity that in turn puts us, the audience, at ease.

Payne, himself a widower, tells the romantic story of Lewis and his wife with a tenderness and sadness that cannot be faked. Humour, character descriptions and historical context abound in this disarmingly-delivered 55 minutes. I laughed, I learnt; I even shed some tears. Highly recommended as a preprandial injection of easy educative culture, about one of the world’s best writers.

Reviewer : Monica Sutcliffe


Adventures of a RedHeaded CoffeeShop Girl

Gilded Balloon Teviot

Aug 5th-29th (16.15)



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

Among the international fare that slaps itself down upon the plates & palettes of the arts-discerning punter each year, the Canadians always like to send in their own representatives of the commonwealth of culture. Of these, last year, Rebecca Perry made her ‘Confessions’ to us all from the coffeeshop she was working at, an Orwellian trip through her imagination that saw her romancing several dream-guys & contacting the renowned primatologist, Jane Goodall. This time round, we follow her ‘Adventures’ to Tanzania, & the very chimp-sanctuary ran by Goodall, where Perry monologues, sings & acts out conversations with an ever-growing confidence in her craft. She’s good, & farming her own peculiar muse over the past 12 months has earned her a bumper crop this time round.

So what is it about this show that is so appealing. Well, its just so bloody unique. I’d love to find out more about Perry’s youth, but one gets the feeling she was an only child, who spent acres of time alone in her room making up stories with her dolls. A couple of decades later those stories – or the maturer versions – are reaching our ears, & I think the world is a better place for it. Again, I’m not sure why, but the sheer joy that Perry beams when singing her songs – which are, by the way, more soulful & of a better elf-dust than last years’ – or frolicking through her multi-accented characters, must be the key somewhere. Experiencing Perry’s creation is like watching a slightly tipsy professional chef whipping a quick wonder up with whatever ingredients are to hand. Proper tasty, & you don’t quite know how they pulled it off.

Reviewer : Damian Beeson Bullen


Dusty Horne’s Sound & Fury


Pleasance Queen Dome

3rd – 29th Aug (14.30)



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

Dusty Horne’s Sound and Fury is a bubbling pool of cinematic sound creations, forged in the mind-vaults of the eccentric and energetic Dusty. With a certain Nicholas as her loyal sidekick, Dusty takes us on a journey through the images, the sounds and the films of the 1960s. Taking her seat amidst within the movie-making pantheon, she wants to prove her worth buy adding her peculiar genius in the art of adding soundscapes to the world of cinema. With a collection of household stage-props and a backdrop of cinematic memorabilia,  this production has been well-thought out and designed with a passionate heart. As Jack Foley and Alfred Hitchcock brought to life with a box of stones and a bucket of water, Dusty delivers her muse with fun, sharpness and the occasional dramatic outburst, a well chiseled character determined to have her place in cinematic history.


While crazy black hair and an extroverted look added to Dusty’s mystique, her stage presence was simply gripping – she held good eye-contact with all the audience,  who were soon invited to participate in the show and with Tom, Chloe Disney and myself soon executing the sounds with wood, celery and a wet dusters, creating the soundtrack to the Hitchcock classic, The Birds. With pieces of celery flying around the room and water dripping down my leg to the sound of Chloe’s seagull howls, it all made perfect sense. Meanwhile, the relationship between Dusty and Nicholas was played out with a real warmth and sadness, creating a separate story of true friendship.

Despite having only two central characters ,the show held its own, where I found combining diverse and nicely trimmed acting with the world of cinema a veritable gust of fresh air!  The hour flew by, when it felt like only 30 minutes, a sure sign of a good production. It is dramatic, funny, factual , turbulent, and full of magic. Where else could one discover how the sound of a rubber glove on a wash board doubles for an alien crab’s claw scraping along a rock formation!!!! If you are a cinema lover, dramatics art lover, pop-art 60s lover, film lover and even just a curious character who enjoys a trip back in time, then this show is for you. Sublime and soothing to the eye, this show shone a different light on the cacophonous sounds we hear in films. Quirky and entertaining, I was pleasantly contented with the structure and delivery of the show… a great start to year’s this  Fringe.

Reviewer : Raymond Speedie