Underbelly’s Circus Hub on the Meadows
Aug 18-21, 23-27 (19:35)
La Clique is a blend of master acrobats, bangin’ music, hot fellas & stunning gals, all serv’d up on a slice of cabaret rye. An audience of 99 percent adults were all reverting to their own childhood days at the Big Top; gasping & laughing & just being happy. I found myself sitting with 4 local lassies, who came back every year, they told me, for they thought this the best show at the Fringe. It was good, yeah, but not amazing, & the roller-skating couple who could potentially send the woman shooting into the audience like an exocet was actually quite alarming. I was soon assessing the possible risk to myself & worked out with velocity & distance she’d be landing about 6 rows in front of me, thank fuck!
La Clique is possibly the coolest cabaret I’ve ever been to, its pretty slick like, with escapism & entertainment the order of the day. One-by-one our performers enter the stage for their slot, & after 75 minutes they all appear together to a euphoric ovation & a sea of smiling faces.
theSpace on the Mile – Space 2
Aug 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26 (17:35)
In the past 6 months or so I find myself being sucked into the vortex that are the Savoy Operas, written & composed by that great Victorian cultural combo – Gilbert & Sullivan. I have even decided to compose a piece of musical theatre myself entitl’d the Savoyards, & I was overjoyed to see Blue Fire Theatre Company visiting Edinburgh touching the same subject.
I need something from Iolanthe that will really show off my gravitas
Gilbert & Sullivan’s Nightmare consists of a young flare-dripping pianist & a decrepit, dusty, rrrrrr-rolling, old Savoyard with delusions of grandeur as to his own standing in the D’Oyley Carte company. Understudy to the understudy is the truth of the matter, but he powers on thro several butcherings of the most classic G&S tunes. In-between there is some marvellously witty-pattering reminiscences, with an occasional bounceback from the pianist, that is dipped in great wax-vats of research & has come out with a lit wick on which we can penetrate deep into the heart of the Savoy Theatre, the Strand.
I can clear a room in mere seconds, such is my influence
As it progresses thro its 45 minutes, the play gets funnier & warmer & from the laughter of clear G&S acolytes in the audience, pushes all the right buttons. I’m nowhere near as steep’d in those guys as to the wonderfulness of G&S – but I’m getting there, & this play really helped fill out some of my imaginings as to the energy of the era. I am now looking very much forward to writing my own play on the subject in the Autumn.
Aug 17-28 (21.05)
I awoke with the fear this morning, I had the come-down blues from such a high-octain Sunday of Rock N Roll finesse at Party In The Palace, it was just Brilliant. So I broke free the shackles and headed on my review mission of the day. I walked to Porty and down the coastal path to Seafield and across to Restalrig to see Linda for a catch up and a natter. Then I headed into town “Just Like A Sacred Clown” via the Pianodrome on Waterloo Place, where I had a good tinkle of the Ivories, before heading to the Cowgate for tonight’s entertainment.
This was a show of which I had great anticipation for on reading the reviews, now into its third week of the Fringe Season. All of them gave a full five stars. So I already knew that this was going to be an excellent performance.
Stephanie Dodd from Fremont, Nebraska (Vocals/Accordion) & Justin Badger from Fremont, California (Vocals/Guitar) perform original music to tell their story of meeting in New York, performing on Broadway, accidentally moving to a pretentious mountain town and doing everything in their power to stay sane and married at the same time.
Tonight’s heroes of entertainment. The Fremonts, delivered a beautiful spectacle of eye candy. Think Madonna in her beautiful prime with Brandon Flowers of the Killers. Both in voice and looks. With a very clever script, delving into the complexities of marriage, Young and Beautiful and completely in love, Doing the Shadow Work, This is a Musical. With original songs and a brilliantly written psychodrama the journey of true love and a shared Muse.
The Failure Cabaret. The title of the show draws from the beautiful couples failings and the good that came out of each one. Its a very intimate performance, an invitation into the Soul of The Fremont’s successful marriage and they completely fancy each other Not surprising they are Divine’s type of gorgeous. Both have rock star voices and rock star looks, And both are incredibly talented musicians and the songwriting is genius. So it’s not surprising why The Fremonts have already had great success with this Fringe Show in some very prestigious venues globally. Divine also gives five stars to this Rock Opera and the complete remedy for post festival blues.
The Failure Cabaret is therapy for the soul in so many ways a heart warming reflection of true love and soulmates creating brilliance. Deep and satisfying on so many levels. Aye The Failure Cabaret is Winner. A Divine Top Tip of the Fringe. See it while you can, you will love it.
Mark ‘Divine’ Calvert
Gilded Balloon Teviot
Aug 17-22, 24-28 (12:40)
Andy Linden takes to the stage this year at the 75th Edinburgh Fringe in the role of Baxter, the charismatic and very likeable gambler who takes his hobby very seriously. Studying the racing forms in-depth, he has plenty of insider contacts and observes the details of the horses at the race track by hanging around the stable block.
Linden has been a familiar face on television and in films for many years from John the Watch in Count Arthur Strong to Mundungus Fletcher in Harry Potter.
Written in 2004 by Roy Granville at a time when racing was a different world to the online gambling availability in today’s world. The old-school tipsters like Baxter reminded me of my family and evenings spent as a child at the dog race track. My Grandad and Uncles had been bookmakers and worked for bookmakers which gave me an advantage of understanding the racing language and how phrases like the each-way betting odds work, it certainly took me back a few years.
One of the points Baxter’s character highlights is the all-consuming world that becomes an addicted gambler’s life. Normal relationships suffer, it’s always onto the next big win that is going to change their life. Sadly, this is rarely the reality and as I remember being told growing up “you rarely meet a poor bookmaker”!
I fully appreciate that this performance could be lost on a wider audience who haven’t any experience in gambling or racing and might struggle to comprehend some of the terms Baxter uses. However, Rest assured that the likes of Baxter exist/existed and over the years I have certainly encountered a few.
In my experience, it’s one of those rare Edinburgh fringe theatre productions where you feel like you are the only member of the audience in the room and that Baxter talking to you directly. The Wee Room in the Gilded Balloon is “wee” and adds the intimate space that this performance deserves.
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.
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
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.
Assembly Roxy (15.30)
Run Completed today
Do you know what we mean by Zoë?
We mean the roar
The clock and the stone
They all roar
Old industrial knitting machines
The red jug and the waxflowers roar
Small mountains roar
The North Sea
And permafrost roar
The Lancefield bus roars
Eukaryotic cells roar
Slugs and fire and
The white sky roar
The exhausted ensemble roars
The words we have roar
Cups of tea roar
The sunrise and
Zoe Roars Yes
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
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.
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…..