Edinburgh Fringe: Condensed

Two months on from the Edinburgh Fringe festival, ponder some of the shows they still can’t stop talking about, and pick out some acts to watch out for this winter

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Repertory Theatre (physical theatre)

Producers: Elephant and Mouse Company

Imagine a production of Hamlet where Hamlet is an insecure young playwright, his Dad is an actor-diva with salivation issues (both played by Jeffrey Ophir), and Claudius is a pretentious talent agent (Erez Drigues) who’s getting it on with Hamlet’s mum. Shakespeare’s Hamlet is stampeded and bulldozed to the point of oblivion, but is then resurrected in a completely unexpected final twist which makes being lost in the doldrums of confusion seem worth it. It’s at times a little too raucous and you definitely won’t learn anything about Shakespeare’s original, but you might burst some blood-vessels laughing from this off-the-walls, physical theatre, part-slapstick, reimagining of the iconic play. Driguez and Ophir are masters of comic timing; flamboyant and outrageous in equal measure. Keep an eye out for the Israeli duo when they return for another European tour.

To see a clip of the show visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EdQx2bxCEkY

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Anthropoetry (spoken word)

BBC Radio 4 Slam Champion Ben Mellor and multi-instrumentalist Dan Steele get together to give us a tour of the body via spoken word layered onto catchy electo riffs. Anthropoetry is a collection of social commentaries on issues ranging from page 3 girls to resisting the trappings of a utilitarian society, cleverly framed within an anatomical metaphor. Catchy, funny, and thoroughly thought-provoking, this musical poetry showcase ticks a lot of boxes.
Mellor will be performing at the Cookie Jar in Leicester on 16th October, and at the ARC – Stockton Arts Centre in Stockton On Teese on 20th November.

For more shows and information visit www.mellorandsteele.com

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Bright Lights (musical)

Written and performed by Léonie Kate Higgins, this one-woman show about an office secretary dreaming of making it as a pop star, combines ironic sweetness with dry wit and killer vocals. Higgins manages to take the typical, over-done plot of young wunnabe celebrity and make it into a show that’s both touching and original. You can’t help wanting to be her best friend by the end of the show.
Leonie Higgins has performed at the Latitude Festival and is part of Eggs Collective.

For further shows and information visit www.leoniekate.com

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The Greatest Liar in All the World (puppetry, physical theatre)

Company: Familia De La Noche

It’s not often that you find yourself at lunchtime seated in what seems like an eerie, abandoned bomb shelter inhabited by a depraved-looking circus troup. What ensues is a crazed mix of puppetry and physical theatre in this bizarre sequel to Pinnocio. Although slow to get off the ground, the set of talented performers, eclectic set and intriguing plot, draw you, half-reluctantly into this weird experience, where you come out of the other end feeling bamboozled and bedazzled, and knowing you’ve seen a very good show.

For more information about Familia De La Noche, their current shows and workshop opportunities visit www.familiadelanoche.com

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Banksy: The Room in the Elephant (theatre, spoken word)

Director: Emma Callander

The story of the man who was evicted from his home – a water tank in the LA hills – after the artist Banksy turned it into an artwork worth millions of dollars, is finally told. Gary Beadle plays Tachowa Covington as a somewhat crazed, fiercely intense and at the same time endearing individual, gripping our attention throughout this one hour one-man show. A self-professed non-documentary, the play doesn’t attempt to retrace the original story in exactitude, instead, using it as a springboard to address wider issues of property ownership, the failure of the US justice system and the capitalist system in general. Though at times guilty of (unsubtly) attempting to extract an emotional response from the audience, nonetheless, Banksy: The Room in the Elephant succeeds in telling an interesting story in an interesting way.

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Nirbhaya (theatre)

Director: Yael Farber

Winner of Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award, Nirbhaya is a diamond in the dust. Renowned throughout Fringe circles for its topicality and raw originality, this interpretive theatre retraces the harrowing story of a woman’s December 2012 bus rape in Delhi. The effort required in breaching the tight silence of repression that leads to countless crimes going untold throughout India is evident in the breathtaking breadth of every facet of Nirbhaya. Minimal props and a slow script heavy with pain reel the imagination into the uncompromisingly brave act. This is theatre sweating grit and blood, at its peak of the political and hard-hitting, pushing far beyond the boundaries of most shows and exploring a very real and painful drama that continues to spark headlines today.

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Shit-faced Shakespeare (comedy, theatre)

Company: Magnificent Bastard Productions

In the wake of resounding success in 2012, Shit-faced Shakespeare takes to the stage once more. Shit-faced? Exactly. In a devious brainwave, that clumsily toes the no-man’s land between genius and criminal, one cast member before every performance wins (or loses) a roulette and must perform an entire play in front of a live audience blind steaming drunk. A bawdy compère acts as director, safety advisor and circus master: giving two hooting audience members horns with which to inebriate further. A heavily slimmed-down version of Much Ado About Nothing forms the basis for what is essentially an improv show where the central comedian is drunk. It is indeed hilarious, however, to watch the flailing sobers attempt to bandage the script back together, and interesting as a hyperbolic study of how a cast deals with shoddy fellow actors. One of the most unpredictable shows you will ever see, constantly wobbling on the brink of collapse, it is one boozy evening of wonderfully simple and original comedy that students would be fools to miss.

For forthcoming events and more see here: http://www.magnificentbastard.co.uk/shitfacedshake.html

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The Bridge (musical theatre)

In one of the more intimate venues, where the audience perches face-to-face with the performer, Benjamin Scheuer sits naked under a spotlight and strums his guitar. Emotionally naked, that is: tortuously gripping life recounts of death, disease and attachment ferry you into Scheuer’s world alongside the taut plucking of his acoustic accompaniment. An experience that is surprisingly immersive for a show with only two instruments and a winning smile, The Bridge’s innovation and charm will inevitably squeeze the heart and perturb the mind. Honesty, hard and clear rings with a rare force through Scheuer’s lyrics, and pokes you in the tear ducts like an icy gauntlet.

For more of Scheuer’s work see here: http://www.benjaminscheuer.com/

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Bin Laden: The One Man Show

Director: Tyrell Jones

“One man, one monster, one unforgettable act of violence” runs the tagline. Enticed by a grabby title a suspicious and intrigued audience sit to be introduced to tea and biscuits with Bin Laden (Sam Redway), a blonde, and to all appearances thoroughly British, terrorist. Redway tells Bin Laden’s life story from start to finish using a first person perspective, and, incredibly, manages by the end of the show to completely reverse conventional pro-US and anti-Arabs sentiment. A standing ovation greets the finale of this utterly refreshing and astonishingly brave show. Redway’s only props are a whiteboard, a scarf and some minor audience interaction, but addictive charisma and an air of delicate innocence bring life to an aesthetically skeletal stage. More than anything the show indicates how nothing is taken for granted, and the considerably gigantic anti-middle East media campaign has not had quite the effect one might think.

3 comments

  1. Thought the Bin Laden play was utter trash personally

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  2. 3 Nov ’13 at 11:08 am

    Joseph D'angelo

    No mention of ‘Pigmalion Zoo?’ Outrage!

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  3. 4 Nov ’13 at 12:40 am

    Teresa Higgins

    The Shakespeare was such trash too. I think this feature is pretty poor tbh. Great editing work from the Nouse team…Sometimes you just have know when to kill a piece.

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