Tiger Lady


Pleasance Courtyard
Aug 19 – 21, 26 – 28, 18, 23 – 25, 29, 13.05


‘Tiger Lady’ is a Dead Rabbit Production Fringe show at Pleasance; I thought it was a great title that stood out like a familiar face in a crowd. It was a show to celebrate the Fringe’s 2022 festival from Greenwich Theatre Connections. I was given a flyer for it that was an invite to a circus show of music, trained elephants and tigers when I cued at the Above room door.

The theatre struck out with a dusty scene of a street as Mabel Stark (Tiger Lady’) sat down and out and a song commenced the play. She took her cue to a start as of someone fragile with a storm in progress in the background telling us of the reason’s the storm had found her.

But she got to her feet, took in the present moment with a deep breath and threw the play open wildly stating a desire to join the circus. She was discovered after spending the night in a dangerous tiger cage.

Her stresses were to disappear; it was the summer of 1913 when Mable managed to join the circus, she found that the close knit community was based on love and loyalty, just what she needed. The ever trying Ringmaster could be ruthless in his management but that didn’t get her spirit’s down

Instead she dreamt of getting in a cage with a tiger to put her skill on the line and to blow away doubt in a daring act. Were we in a theatre or at the circus? It had a story of overcoming to vie for, acrobatics that were a spectacle to take our breath away, songs that had their bluesy connotations, and a love story for two separate but bonded souls.

The Tiger act was to grow into a cash overflowing enterprise as it was taken to the heights of popularity for Mable and her circus. In her rise so did the excitement of the stage rise, realistic puppets of the cats had in them the presence of actual Bengal Tigers moving around. The play was a performance of an obviously close team.
Hitting the heights of creativity a huge white sheet was spread covering all of the stage billowing in effectiveness as water or in a magical moment took the shape of an elephant.

The highs and lows of the top hats of the circus were dipped in a wonderful success for the amazing, courageous big cat tamer Mable Stark who tamed her lions and tigers to great popularity that grew for those in the play as it did to those (us) watching the play, we felt just as rich! This was a very touching lively play/circus was worth the price of admission.

Injuries were sustained in close proximity of the fearsome animals but they were brushed aside in the face of love and success. So when it all fell apart at the behest of a letter the whole room felt the demise. A ring master incensed and a crew down and out gave the act its ending a timely one, the bonding continued on.

Go and see this unobtrusively surprising play that welcomed us one and for all to the great Mable Stark Tiger Lady who stepped forth to a feast of an adventure. A show with a highly emotive, well written romp fit for the big top.

Daniel Donnelly

Starship Improvise


Pleasance Dome – KingDome
Aug 15-21 (15:00)


I’m afraid I cannot give this show any stars. Not ‘no’ stars, just I don’t want to pin a judgement to the tail of Starship Improvise. But it’s the Fringe! Stars are important! Yes, OK, if it was the same show every night, then quantifying it does make sense, identifying whatever cave in the Parnassian slopes it would have excavated for itself. Starship Improvise, however, I know for a fact can swing from pole to pole. There’s too many variables to give an accurate judgement of this show & I went in two in a row to assess that. The first was weak & draggy, the second was bright & funny. That is the nature of Improv, I guess. One dodgy tangent, one shallow premise, & the whole show is clinging to a colander at sea.

But when done well, improv is priceless, genius, inspiring, whatever superlative you’ve got at that moment… & so to Starship Improvise which at times is done to that superlative-heavy standard, but then again sometimes not. The idea is, of course, a Star Trek / Red Dwarf style romp thro the crew’s character conflicts & wherever they end up in that episode of the saga. This is on-running, by the way, & people come back episode after episode. I did it for two, like I said earlier, & they are completely different affairs, its just the crew are the same. There’s a captain, a computer, an empath, a dog-man, etc. There’s cool names like Tripp Hazard & Richard Vitamins, & they all bounce off each other & onto the stage & back with a certain sense of giddy professionalism.

Their ship is the Celestia 7, & their trip is mixture of over-emotional interactions & quality comedic quipping, which are thoroughly dependent on how the crew handle this episode’s audience-given themes. The improv is of a distinguish’d level – there’s several Showstoppers in there -, with hardly a stutter or pause anywhere. If you’re a fan of Star Trek or Red Dwarf, especially, you’re gonna absolutely adore this. It is pure sci-fi, tho’ going over very common ground – there’s no cultural earthquake with Starship Improvise. Not for everyone, but for those who it is for it’ll be a great buzz

Damo

The Importance of being… Earnest?


Pleasance Courtyard (Beyond)
Aug 12 – 14, 19 – 21, 26 – 28
15 – 18, 22 – 25, 13.30


Pleasance Courtyard was busy just down from North Bridge in the hot sunshine. The complex had lot’s of families enjoying the times between shows. ‘The Importance of being…Earnest’ was to be performed in the Beyond venue, that turned out to be a larger room with seating in the hundreds. I am a little familiar with this Oscar Wilde play so as we went in to sit the set was no surprise it was a room with a door, with the mod con’s in the fashion of the hundred year old play.

In the first scene two finely dressed gentlemen began with that most flavoursome dialogue Wilde is known and loved for, full of regard and straightforwardness. The air was jovial between the two so I settled in expecting an acting master class in a play called trivial comedy for serious people.

There was a huge unexpected turn of events; as when Earnest was in earnest introduced (to come through the door) it didn’t open and no one appeared. Ok so what had happened? How could a play ending catastrophe happen on a stage like this?

Running on stage the Director himself took a microphone in the disruption to apologise; by this time we knew that the obligatory twist to the tail would be something surprising. I won’t tell you here and now how things unfolded and spoil the story of event after event but after it all had happened I can say that it can stand as a great tribute to the flamboyant playwright.

Swinging open the doors for scenes of mayhem, live action that defied theatrical comprehension (yet was grounded by the strongest of takes on it). Improvisation was stretched beyond belief as all ties were cut from any kind of dusty retelling with or without good diction.

A roaring cast had to dialogue with inexperience and had a lot of breath gasping prompting. Uncertainty screamed and howled with tantalising comedy, and a revitalising use of craft pulled us in every direction possible. I had not seen this side of live play before as it oozed in creative freedom while always continuing to try and tell the tale of Earnest who after all was only in love.

Dealing with the cast, the crowd, the Oscar Wilde elements we were allowed into the bones of a cast controlled by its director, and there was no little amount of tenderness and care to be absorbed when things and moments of unfolding really got very sticky. Prompted by disbelief our emotions were taken on a ride like a rollercoaster with unhinged wheels.

A most complete show to be envied, a true dedication that chose well ‘The Importance of being …Earnest’ offering all the joys Wilde would glow with. The original 1895 script whose title was of such importance is always interpreted in a different way, with a chance to escape the problems of the world, in this show the whole thing stood on its head while balancing on a ball.

Daniel Donnelly

Zoe


Assembly Roxy (15.30)
Run Completed today


Do you know what we mean by Zoë?
We mean the roar
The daffodils
The clock and the stone
They all roar
August roars
Double polaroids
Old industrial knitting machines
The red jug and the waxflowers roar
Children roar
Books roar
Passports roar
Small mountains roar
Real bodies
The North Sea
And permafrost roar
Fossils roar
Cemeteries roar
Sweden roars
The Lancefield bus roars
Interruptions roar
Eukaryotic cells roar
Slugs and fire and
The white sky roar
The exhausted ensemble roars
The words we have roar
Grandmothers roar
Baskets roar
Islands roar
Boats roar
Mud roars
Cups of tea roar
Blue language
The sunrise and
Day 7
Roars
Zoe roars
Zoe Roars Yes
And sometimes
More.

The Assembly Roxy is a Gothic Church in Edinburgh’s old town, the
perfect venue for this surreal and abstract work of art. Physical theatre company A Good Catch, all the way from Melbourne, bring a visual spectacle in the form of acrobatics, gymnastics, circus arts and clownwork, three performers working together as one cohesive and incredibly impressive unit. Everything in their triumphant displays of physicality seems perfectly placed and very deliberate, every movement motivated by another or by the piece’s stimulus.

Transported into a world where nothing makes sense, the performance begins with the above poem “Zoe” Projected onto a table and the cast. Debra Batton, Sharon Gruenert & Spenser Inwood begin this piece of surreal and abstract choreographed genius. With clever use of simple props to demonstrate the strength, skill and agility of our three acrobats, with gasps aplenty coming from the audience, surrealism never looked so good. I still have no idea what it all meant, but it was delicious eye-candy and it did take one’s mind out of the box, to make one think in a different way. Indeed that is surrealism’s job to make one think and leave a lasting impression..

An all-round 5 star Performance.

Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert

Crybabies: Bagbeard


Pleasance Dome
Aug 12 – 14, 19 – 21, 26 – 28
16 – 18 – 22 – 25, 17.50


On the way to Pleasance dome for a comedy sketch show called ‘Crybabies: Bagbeard I was about to see one of the strangest creations of the Fringe. Out came two men with large square helmets on their heads, they spoke in outer space garbled words that needed explaining as it was projected on a panel of material hanging centre stage.

After a ringmaster like introduction to the play already there was an all inclusive medium in operation as circus met with the comedy that the evening would portray. The luckless Chris Mystery was about to face a life changing ordeal.

They flashed on and off stage at speed, at the right was a sign reading Slug Witch Wood’s. As the outpouring comedy of fast lines a general conversation immerged as Chris tried to make his way he was advised on all sides. In tongue twisting dialogue, Chris was in love with his life and revered his mentor doctor with abundant enthusiasm. For it slowly came to pass that actually his life was falling apart. He was in danger though he didn’t know it.

Science and medicine spelled out by costume changes seemed to be random but it transpired that Chris’s world was to be plagued but the reason for this was yet to transpire. As he gradually caught on to the issue at hand he became irate to the joy of the room. It was a lot of story crammed into an hour, offering the thick script up to a craze filled frenzy upbeat and full of energy.

Somewhere lurking in the shadows of the saga a monster was hidden who may have been influencing things, it took part in the cajoling of Chris as multi characters secretly directing things. The show hit the tone of an absolute farce as a sketch show that even reached disembodiment at a big turning point.

With Chris foolishly thinking he could navigate his way he was tossed about as things came at him at pace not least was the notion that he was just a puppet on the end of a string. From this funny calamity on rolled an alien with an absurd talking voice that had us compelled to laugh from our belly.

It was a romp around with action, suggested holiness from naked man in blue plastic bag beard from ear to ear. It was a dedicated sketch show of good and bad taste, offering up a with a sharpened wit a need to take a break to reflect on with laughter. His demise flew across the stage with a goal that everything was directed to an outcome of ultimate momentous revealing to come for the finale. I wasn’t surprised that this show is well attended this year, having a very welcoming and highly pressured comedy/sketch show.

It was all true to life for all of its gratuities in a funny tale of personalities who made the absurd come to life with all the characters of a humorous play with a healthy looking villain; who went too far by killing frustratedly with a blade and a gun. A little nudity took to proceeding, I think to include another heightened spectacle of this man trying to make amends. All of which ironically played to a plot with a twist as he was helped all along with assured guidance by those who looked to do him harm.

A touching story that bent the fabric of space and time to put Chris through exhausting paces, but did he grow or was he not given the chance? Putting everyday life; into an hour of sincere hilarity into and outside the box. It Drew us into a performance of spirited and delectable rushing moments counteracted with writing that had us at their mercy, t’was Bagbeard that saved the day.

Daniel Donnelly

Lottie Plachett Took a Hatchett


Assembly Roxy
August 4th – August 27th (20.35)


At the Assembly Roxy they are offering up a play about the trial of Lizzie Borden that shocked the American public in 1892. Called Lottie Plachett Took a Hatchett, this piece of theatre was not created to disappoint but to entertain to the max. While Judge Baw Sack and his incompetent colleagues set alight the trial for Lottie we head back to the crime scene where a dysfunctional family are revealed, and with all the unhealthy interpersonal behaviour within the unit it is apparent that trouble lies ahead. From Pansy, the broken brother, to Molly, the Irish maid, this becomes a dirty and dangerous situation for all concerned. Thundering onto the stage like a herd of migrating buffalo, the high-voltage energy from all five cast members was intoxicating & the audience was now transfixed. With uncontrollable bouts of giggles, and gasps of shock, the play proceeded at a level like no other…

This is a beautifully written script with no quarter given, which delivers with perfectly precise timing and execution. The interaction of cast members was truly excellent, creating a landslide of constant deep cutting jokes. Sexy, imposing, shocking, direct and hard-hitting are only a few of the words that can describe this roller-coaster of a show. Like an Agatha Christie who-done-it, the conspiring siblings create a cocktail of filth and sex that any scandal would be proud of. No area of family life was left untouched as this fast-paced show kept the audience’s attention like a Leopard fixed on its prey. Mixing fantastic acting with superb comedy this is a very, very funny piece of comedy theatre. Filthy, but yet endearing, Lottie Plachett Took a Hatchett propels the already captivated audience to a higher plane. When a show runs for an hour but feels like 15 minutes you know it has to be one of the highlights of the Edinburgh Fringe. Great cast, superb stage production, hilarious and with cleverly thought-out gags, this is an explosion of laughter you won’t forgot any time soon. High octane, powerful and dynamic, this is a must see show…..

Your reviewer excited to meet with the cast

Spud

Our Eyes Met


The Space – Surgeons hall
Aug 8 – 13, 13,00


The title for this play ‘Our Eyes Met’ caught my eye as an appealing one and it didn’t let me down. The Space – Surgeon Hall room was blackened with drapes as the play began. The St Catherine’s School’s Drama crew were in the position of 2 groups sitting either side of the stage. There was an air of confidence bubbling about them already.

They were at a train station waiting for a train, from which the ghostly tale was to unfold. Straight away we knew we were in the realm of the gods, the Greek Gods to be exact. The metaphorical waves were hugely stirred as the Gods and muses tussled with bad news of rape and murder.

Out of the chaos the saga of Perseus and Medusa immerged as the central story. The play told it as the Legend had happened where Medusa was punished by Athena for mating with Poseidon. Athena was furious and cursed Medusa to a terrible and tragic life of the freshly created gorgon. Medusa’s new power meant that whomever she set her eyes upon would turn to stone, also in her pitiable fate was to be banished to live alone on a remote rocky island.

The mighty subject on show here held a remarkable twist in a fresh retelling of a strong and enjoyable journey of Medusa and Perseus. The play tied down a kind of contest that carefully placed our attention on assumptions of how we look at things through the eyes of the gods. With Athena furious and incensed it wasn’t long till Perseus travelled, under instruction from his father Zeus; making Perseus a half god half mortal, to find and slay poor Medusa.

The naturalness of the play rose in the delectable energy portraying the kind of multifaceted plot to leave Medusa and Perseus under a trial of the scene of Medusa’s death by his sword. The moment of killing her was part of the remarkable twist. Re-enacting this scene was the fate of the play. Taking turns (enthusiastically) to play the scene found that each case for the prosecution and defence ran a little differently, though always on Olympian proportions.

Their deliberating stood strong, with the strength of the gods, and comedy of importance. And together it strode forth with an inquisition in an attempt to find the truth about the murderous actions of the gods and Perseus. And with each perfectly framed repetition of the scene the reality on trial in the play became; who the real monster was? A question of compassion was struck.

Was Athena too wild in her reaction to how Medusa had behaved? The poor exile was to suffer her fate forever as a mortal changed into the most unfortunate monster. Passionate dialogue ran incredibly well, in timing, and had a great innocence about proceedings. They had the gods on the go with a flavour of naivety very appropriate to the Myth of the Greek gods.

With this fresh retelling capably underway and with the braided hair universally worn, the play was never about doubt but about fact. We found it very learned as they hurriedly listed many of the hierarchy of the ancient mound with swift and certain deliberation.

As a fan of the genre this play went well beyond any frivolity nor had it a need for farce. Instead it was seamless and free from the faults of mortals, but resoundingly it felt like a good and bright production; fun, games, truth, fear, were all on show with the togetherness of the happy medium of a very well written plural play.

I enjoyed it greatly and would not substitute it for anything, very worth your while as it sparkled on a note that reached deep into storytelling, creating a beautifully wonderful play. The title ‘Our Eyes Met’ turned out in its brilliance to offer the tragic aspect of Medusa’s eyes that may never be met again. After it’s repeated ordeal the gods and muses broke character to catch their train, leaving the tale in a ghost-like phenomenon.

Daniel Donnelly

Skank


Pleasance Two
August 10-29th (16.40pm)


In a quaint room situated at the back of the Pleasance Courtyard the comedy / theatre show Skank was about to be unleashed upon the eagerly waiting crowd. Fuelled by all the chit-chat in the queue my anticipation was growing stronger as I proceeded inside. Suddenly, a bashful Kate wearing fish-net tights and holding a baked bean can was controlling her audience with an intoxicating stage presence. You could tell from the outset that this was a well-thought out piece of theatre with only one thing in mind – to shock the audience and make them cringe with laughter. That she did in abundance.

Skank delivers a show directed at sexual frustration, mundane office jobs, friendships and recycling. Collectively, Clementine Bogg-Hargroves’ Kate brings everything into prospective as an inner chaos creates an eruption of vocalized jokes that were delivered with venom. Stylish, creative, witty & scathingly sarcastic, Skank continues to grow & grow as the show develops at a steady pace. Nibbling away like a squirrel on an acorn, Skank encases you with contentment. Raw, hard hitting, truthful and delivered with heart and soul, this is a refined slice of the Edinburgh Fringe. A challenging piece I was enjoying & questioning the show at the same time. As I left the theatre I was ruminating on whether witnessing the internal turmoil of anxiety was really entertainment. But then watching Kate pull it all off was entertaining, so there’s the true rub.

Spud

NewsRevue


Pleasance at EICC
3rd – 28th August (not 22nd)


The EICC definitely has the comfiest seats at the Edinburgh Fringe, & after 3 years of political nonsense & global propaganda, I was curious to know how our current bunch of ‘leaders’ were being satirised. To be honest I wish I hadn’t have bother’d, but the young lady I was out with, who’d barely seen anything at the Fringe, thoroughly enjoy’d herself. Was it me – had I been oversaturated with culture, or had I become hypercritical after gauging so much art? Or was the NewsRevue just a bit, well, weak?

The show gives us two men & two women – talented singers all four – who have master’d their acting skills & voice projection, flowing through every important political avatar of the past few years. There was an excellent Trump, a cutting edge Truss & a floppy haired Bo-Jo all swaggering about on stage on the sketch-show hamster-wheel of political light entertainment. Along the way the superb pianist accompanied singing, & tinkl’d classics thro the interludes, & some of the songs were excellent. The best one, unfortunately, was the Patrick Vallance & Chris Whitty duet which was reyt funky but sung by the avatars of absolutely evil people. It was all a bit ‘Springtime for Hitler,’ but far too raw as its only been a couple of years since those ghouls took the pharmaceutical companies money & brainwashed an entire nation into becoming vaccine addicts. Not cool.

Still, if you like your Ant & Decs & Oligarchs, your Steimers & yer Sunaks, yer Putin & yer Partygate, your gags & songs & dances, this show’s definitely for you. There was one moment when two news-readers spoke in unison about the mirror image worldscape of 2003 & the 2020s – just changing the names of the leaders in each period – that show’d the potential of this show to wake the audience from its media-fuell’d mass-conditioning. Unfortunately, the rest was too gentle, I think, & like I said before, if I refused to watch our corrupt political ‘leaders’ & the sacred Covid Downing Street broadcasts during the fake pandemic, & have been completely disgusted by the way the media is being used to implement a totalitarian globalist regime, then why would I want to be entertain’d by the same rabid cumquats utilising its vehicular Big Brother weapon of mass manipulation. The news isn’t fun any more. But my date enjoy’d it, so its getting 3 stars…

Damo

The Trial


Pleasance Beyond
Aug 10-14 (15.00)


The Pleasance Beyond is a lovely large space for theatre, & so to see the ‘The Trial,’ by the Young Pleasance ensemble. Based on Frans Kafka’s early 20th century novel, The Trial, Tim Norton has transcreated in a new piece in which tells of how Joseph K is arrested and prosecuted in a medical trial for reasons unbeknown to him or the audience on his 21st Birthday.

the play then depicts, metaphorically, allegorically, whatever, & just plain weirdly the struggles of combating bureaucratic authorities in the most surrealistic of manners. Interludes of dance and live set changes transport you into the dream state of Joseph K and leave you as baffled as he is by his set of circumstances.

The acting was very intense but wasn’t enough to engage me emotionally. The costumes were fantastically tailored and represented each character well. The lighting was extremely well done, creating great atmosphere and mood, especially the use of torch light to emphasis the speaker throughout the trial scene, but then all proceeding suddenly rushed to an abrupt halt, a rather vague experience leaving me dazed & confused about what I had just witnessed.

I’m sure there is a powerful artistic message in there somewhere, but unfortunately I missed it. This adaptation will be best enjoyed by those who are already familiar with Kafka’s work, otherwise you may only be set up for complete mystification.

Bobbi McKenzie