Fringe 2013 – Week 1

So the first week of the Fringe is past and I thought I’d give a summary of the shows I’ve seen so far, I’ve tried not to give way any significant spoilers.

Making News – Pleasance Courtyard

My Rating: 4 Thistles

MAKING NEWS is a funny and fast-moving satire taking place over 24 hours in a BBC news room on a day when the top story might be a scandal involving the BBC itself.”

An excellent cast and a well written script keeps this play moving along with enough laughs to keep the audience amused through-out. Suki Webster plays Rachel Clarke as newly promoted Acting Head of News, on her first day she is presented with a news story that may well involve the Director General of the BBC, will she risk her career and run the story or bury it? Suki pulls the play along and plays the main lead, but it is Phil Jupitus who stands out as the Director General in the second half.

Highly amusing and entertaining through-out.

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Omega – The Assembly Rooms

Rating 0Omega” is difficult to describe, it’s a sort of modernistic view of a Victorian Freak Show.

Yes, I am giving it 0 Thistles out of five! I don’t like doing but I can’t in all honestly give it anything else. There is nothing in this show with any redeeming features, I could not work out if it was a parody or to be taken seriously. There certainly was not anything in the slightest entertaining about it, or scary, spooky, horrifying. I could not work out what the show was trying to do. Perhaps “farcical” is about the only word that comes to mind.

The show is a serious of “freaks” doing a mixture of “cabaret” style acts, opening with a two headed singer. The problem is that neither head looked convincing, both heads looked like papier mâché models and I’m fairly sure the “singing” was a recorded sound track, this was like something you might see at a bad school talent show. The acts continued to get even more bizarre, including  a very messed up “clown” who flopped about the stage for no apparent reason before attempting to juggle by taking some objects and throwing them up in the air (that was it, “he” just threw them up in the air!).

Some of the costumes were very elaborate and could have been impressive IF there was any sign of talent or entertainment to go along with it. A number of people left during the show, the rest of us stayed to the end (after all the tickets were not cheap). The applause at the end were very quiet and forced indicating that the audience were in agreement with me.

A terrible show, I would expect better considering the price of the ticket and the venue.

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Drum Struck – Assembly Hall

My Rating : 5 ThistlesDrum Struck” is an African “interactive drum-theatre experience”.

It’s billed on the Fringe website as a “childrens show” but I think that’s unfair, it’s suitable for all ages and not aimed specifically at children. I saw it with three other adults (no children) and we all enjoyed it immensely. However there were a lot of children in the audience and they also seemed to love it.

The show tells the story, through narrative and music, of an African village that starts off being a happy traditional village which lives by the philosophy “Ubuntu” (No! not the Linux operating System) but when gold is discovered everything breaks down and the Queens drum is broken, but with the help of kids from the audience the drum is restored and they all live happily ever after :-).

On entering the hall each member of the audience finds a drum on their seat and can join in through-out the show. The members of the cast do a great job of directing the audience when and how to play (you don’t need any talent) and I was surprised how quickly the audience got into the rhythm.

I’m not a huge music person and probably would not have gone to this show if my friends hadn’t invited me to join them, I’m glad I did as it’s an excellent show and great fun.

You can take pictures at the end of the performance

You can take pictures at the end of the performance

A drum for everyone

A drum for everyone

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Tourniquet 2013 – Summerhall

My Rating: 3 ThistlesTourniquet 2013” is very hard to describe, it’s a modern art piece with no spoken words.

I guess this is what’s called “Avant-garde” theatre, I didn’t love it but I didn’t hate it, a bit disturbing and definitely “odd”, I spent a lot of the time thinking “what the hell is going on?”

Errr… Ok, when the stage lights go up there are three naked actors on stage, one in a bath, they then get dressed (two as men, one as a woman), one then serves the other two numerous drinks,  before they start partially undressing again, then there is a thing with a Nazi flag and they may or may not kill the “woman” and then possibly bring her back to life… it get’s weirder after that!

The EdFringe website describes this as “three ghostlike characters perform old rituals and evoke the dark history of a house”, I’m not sure how this is interpreted. It is very “arty” and “out there” and I guess open to each individual interpretation.

It’s hard to recommend this show as I imagine it depends on the individual, some people will probably hate this while other will like it (maybe). That’s one thing about the Fringe it does give you the opportunity to see shows you’re not likely to normally see.

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The Shawshank Redemption – The Assembly Rooms

My Rating: 4 ThistlesI imagine most people are familiar with “The Shawshank Redemption”, either through the film or the original book by Stephen King.

I have not read the book myself so am only familiar with the film, the play follows the same plot as the film fairly closely. Although it perhaps does not give the same over bearing, depressing feeling of prison life or the same emotional depth. I guess it’s harder to do live on stage. If you haven’t seen the film, don’t worry you don’t need to (but you really should at some point!).

The show is well acted by the entire cast and moves along well with simple, efficient scene changes and the two main protagonists are excellently played. Those who love the film may find the play is not as intense but if you go in without expectations then I believe you will find it extremely enjoyable, the loud applause at the end of the show suggested the audience were in consensus.

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Bianco – NoFit State Big Top

My Rating : 5 ThistlesBianco” is a contemporary circus combining live music and acrobatic skills.

This show is sensational, go see it! Stunning acrobatics and gymnastics with live music and beautiful visuals make this a must see show! To read more see my Blipfoto entry.

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Red Riding Hood – Greenside

My Rating: 4 Thistles

“Red Hiding Hood” is a unique and chilling twist on this well-known children’s story that will leave audiences shocked and exposed.

Forget the traditional fairy tale, this is no fairy tale! For example there is no grandmother or huntsman in this story and Red Riding Hood never reaches her original destination…

This is a rather dark, gothic and at times horrifying tale, the show moves along rapidly and interacts with the audience which can be genuinely scary. When the wolf bounded up the centre stairs into the audience I was NOT going to turn my back on him! Nobody could possibly predict what was going to happen next as the tale unfolds and the gasps from the audience were of genuine surprise and shock.

At times it did seem to be so over-the-top as to make you wander if this was intended or not. I like to think it was deliberate and allowed for the odd nervous chuckle from the audience to relieve the obvious tension.

If you like your plays dark, gothic, unsettling and a bit bloody then this show is well worth seeing.

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Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre – In Space – Gilded Balloon

My Rating: 4 ThistlesThe Socks” are an old favourite of mine and I’ve seen then a number of times now.

The title says it all really, it’s two Scottish sock puppets 🙂 This show they are talking about science fiction so some of the references may go over the heads of some audience members (who today knows Fireball XL5?). In past years I would have given them 5 Thistles but this year there were quite a few groans from the audience for corny puns and a number of jokes I had heard before. Also some of the improv. suggestions were immediately rejected, but this is all part of the charm of the socks, they can adapt as fast as the Borg and if one pun gets a groan the socks will respond, suggesting they will drop that from future shows. The show stumbles along in their usual shambolic fashion, with “the stupid one” screwing up most of the “other ones” plans.

The Socks are still great and if you are looking for some fairly late night laughs and are fed up with yet another stand-up comedian then they are a great alternative.

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Humans Inc. – C

My Rating: 3 Thistles “Humans Inc.” is a Sci. Fi. play about Issac, who has three days left to pay for his upgrade or face full-body-shutdown. His only hope lies in finding a lost girl, Eva, and returning her to the Upgrade Corporation for a financial reward.

I imagine it’s difficult to do Sci. Fi. live on stage, for one; there’s the problem of “special effects”, secondly; Sci. Fi. usually has complex/confusing plots due to the futuristic “science” and thirdly; live theatre and sci. fi. geeks probably don’t mix too often.

Before the play started the sound system was playing “adverts” for futuristic products when the show started with a darkened stage: several “spaceships” zipping around, these were cardboard “models” covered in different LEDs, with which the actors danced around. This worked rather well and set the futuristic mood, after the lights came up and the actors came on stage the futuristic mood continued with actors creating “whooshing” sounds for sliding panels and doors. And the LED models were put to good use through-out as droids and in combination as a flying car.

The whole thing gave a somewhat “Blade Runner” feel to the play, with the main protagonist wearing a leather jacket and having to talk to “Humans Inc.” (a large corporation run by an old man, with a beautiful young assistance), again feeling like a homage to “Blade Runner” and the “Tyrell Corporation”.

As the plot develops, the hero and heroine have to escape the city to find the mythical “Arcadia”, there are reminders of “Logans Run”, unfortunately it’s at this stage that the pace picks up and the plot starts to get a little confusing until the end. The second half does seem a bit rushed and seems to try a pack too much in.

You’ll probably enjoy the play, as I did, but I’m not sure how much if you’re not a Sci. Fi. fan

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