Fringe 2016 – Juliette Burton : Decision Time

Juliette Burton : Decision Time ***** (5 stars) 

To call this a one women stand-up comedy show seems a little unfair,  although strictly speaking that is what it is. Unlike a conventional stand-up Juliette doesn’t stand in front of a mile and tell a series of jokes,  although there are jokes throughout the show.  

Juliette has led a somewhat “interesting” life dealing with mental health issues including  bolemia, anorexia,  bi-polar disorder,  ocd,  etc The shows theme is about making decisions,  or to be more precise about the decisions that have occurred throughout Juliette’s life starting with her mum deciding to name her “Juliette” right up to deciding what to wear for the days show. 

For the most part it is a very upbeat and funny show,  although there are times in Juliette’s life that have been very dark but she does manage to keep things moving along in a light hearted manner (spoiler alert : she doesn’t die ūüėÉ). 

With the help of a large screen projector Juliette takes you on a personal journey through her life and at the end of the show you’ll love her for it. 

It’s a very funny show and a bit emotional,  well worth seeing (it has been selling out).  Plus you get a free badge when you leave which says “F‚̧ԳŹCK OFF I’M A BLANKET”  (now you’ll have to go and see the show!) 


Fringe 2016 – Shakespeare for Breakfast, ¬†The Mission, ¬†Ada/Ava by Manual Cinema, ¬†One Man Star Wars Trilogy

Shakespeare  For Breakfast ***** (5 stars) 

This show is an institution at The Fringe, it’s been running for over 20 years (a new show each year).  The breakfast part is really just a gimmick,  you get a cup of tea or coffee and a croissant,  it’s really irrelevant to the show except to possibly provide the opportunity for a couple jokes within the show.

The real genius  of the show is how it manages to present a Shakespeare play with modern characters,  or not so much modem characters but the same Shakespearen characters but with modern personalities. 

The show is packed full of clever modem references,  re-writing well known Shakespearen quotes with modern references thrown in. Not everybody will get every reference as some will relate to pop culture they are not familiar with e. g. L a TV show or pop song not everyone knows but there are so many a few can go over your head without spoilling things.  

I don’t want to give away any spoilers so all I’ll say is that this year they have taken  A Midsummer Nights Dream as their play and it IS very,  very  funny. Obviously it is difficult to create new shows every year and they dont always hit the nail on the head but this year’s is great! 

The cast do a wonderful job of presenting their various characters and the laughs rarely stop. 

The Mission **** (4 stars) 

I was a bit warey of this show,  having seen a couple “physical theatre” this year, that weren’t that great but it turns out i really enjoyed this. 

The basic plot revolves around a very ordinary “bar maid” who is selected to go on a solo one way mission into space. The idea being if she can do it then anion could. 

The show itself is very stylized with no costumes and only a few LED lighting props.  There is a lot of choreographed scenes intermixed with the dialogue as the show follows or heroine through her recruitment and training as well as her relationship with her boyfriend,  whom she is not allowed to tell until The Mission is revealed to the entire world. There are also a couple scenes using a  rather charming spaceman puppet which are nicely done. 

It is a very good show, very professionally presented and tells a rather new and original  story. 

Ada/Ava by Manual Cinema ***** (5 stars) 

This is a shadow puppet sjow that combines hundreds of cardboard cutouts and live action shapes to tell a tale about two elderly women who live in a lighthouse toaster until one of them passes away. 

There is no dialogue,  but live music accompanies the show. It really is a brilliant piece of work.  Multiple overhead projectors are used to carry shadows onto a screen with live actresses casing their own silhouettes onto the same screen at the same time. There must be a camera behind the screen connected to a projector which projects the end result onto a larger svreen for the audience.  

This means you can see the team working as well as seeing the end result. The story is charming and easy to folliw even with no dialogue its truly amazing how the team work together and coordinate multiple cutouts and luve action at the same time for some very clever effects. 

Its a brilliant show and a real privilege to see (this is the companies first visit to the Uk from their home in Chicago). 

One Man Star Wars Trilogy **** (4 stars) 

This one is obviously for Sart Wars fans.  without the use of costumes,  props or special effects,  one man re-enacts all three of the original Star Waes films in an hour! 

Obviously be doesn’t do ever single line from the films  and he does in fact skip over some scenes completely,  but he does very well to cover all the major scenes across.  He also does lots of sound effects and voices although some ate better than others (his Yoda,  Darth Vader &  Chewbacca aren’t  great)  he also manages to add in a lot of humour and comments 

The amount of effort he puts in is quite astounding,  he fly along at a very brisk pace only taking brief breaks between episodes. He jumps immediately from one scene to the next and on occasion it took me a second or two to catch up,  especially when he skips some of the minor scenes. If you are not very familiar with the films you may well struggle to follow the action, especially the fight scenes (either blasters,  light sabers or spaceships)  as a lot of these are mostly sound effects with limited dialogue. 

If you ate not a big fan of the Star Wars films you are unlikely to enjoy this show,  although you may still appreciate the humour and performance. 

Fringe 2016 РThe Addams Family,  Tago : Korean Drums II,  Taiwan Season : The Sacrifice Of Roaring, Angel To Vampire! 

The Addams Family – A New Musical Comedy *** (3 stars) 

This show was performed by one of those American High Schools that come over each year for the Fringe. They are usually pretty good and to be fare the performance was of a high quality but the show was only mildly entertaining. 

Based on the  TV series this show’s plot is about Wednesday (the daughter) falls for a “normal” boy and wants to may him so incites his family round to meet her family. 

As  I said there wasn’t anything wrong with the quality production,  I think the problem was is just not a particularly great show.  Each of the main characters in the family had a big solo number and there are a couple big dance numbers with the whole cast.  This leaves the whole show felling a bit “flat”,  there are no real big highs and lows to the plot,  it just moves along from one character to another filling in the plot as it goes and having a few completely pointless numbers. 

The singing,  dancing and choreography  were good but ultimately it was only mildly entertain as a whole. 

Tago : Korean Drums II ***** (4 stars) 

I’m no musician and don’t know much about music,  but from my point of view this show was fabulous. 

There is a bit more than just drums in this show,  but it IS predominantly drums. There are several different “sets” in the show where they shell in different types of drums and preform some breath taking days of dimming. 

As well as the excellent drumming they throw in some amazing little bits and pieces and intermixed the whole show with some rather good choreography (like drummers sharing and swapping over which drums they are playing). 

The show reaches a grand finale with some very impressive dancing. Definitely a show worth seeing! 

Taiwan Season : The Sacrifice  of Roaring
* (1 star) 

This is what  I would call “interpretive dance”,  unfortunately there is no  context. There was a “narrator” at the beginning,  who spoke in what I assume was Taiwanese., so basically there was no way of knowing what the dancing was supposed to represent. 

This is clearly one persons vision and was obviously designed to be surreal. The one star I have given this show was for the dancing,  the dancers are well coordinated and clearly worked hard but ultimately it was pretty pointless. 

Angel to Vampire! *** (3 stars) 

It’s clearly not a good sign when there are only 7 audience members for a show! This is a one man show telling the tale of how he went from working 9 to 5 to becoming a cabaret artist,  through a number of different characters. 

The show wasn’t helped by a couple technical errors,  nothing major but a wrong music queue,  a living issue where the light did not shine on the artists and a spotlight that some in my eyes for the entire show! 

The singing was quite good and there was some entertaining humour,  but ultimately there wasn’t much substance to the show. 

Fringe 2016 Р Intergalactic Nemesis,  Everybody Hates The Lounge Kittens,  House  Of Edgar 

‚ÄčIntergalactic Nemisis **** (4 stars)

This is a rather clever and original show, imagine an old fashioned radio show with three actors playing the voices of multiple characters, somebody with a table full of sound effects, another on a keyboard for musical atmosphere. Now throw in a massive projector screen behind them all showing comic book (graphic novel) images as the action progresses.

The plot starts in America in 1942 where our intrepid herione reporter waits at the alter for her fiance. Unfortunately it turns out he may have been kidnapped by nazi! As it turns out our herione has had a previous adventure 9 years ago aboard a spaceship in the future, and our hero has travelled back in time. 

So we have an intrepid herione and a hero from the future and nazis, there is also a mad professor, a beautiful russian doctor, some aliens and even a couple ninjas! 

The voice acting is great, the the cast on stage expressing some entertaining emotions. The music is subtle and gives the right cadence and atmosphere and the sounds effects are wonderfully done.

It is an hour and a half long and does begin to drag out a bit near the end and the plot gets ridiculously complex (although this IS obviously done deliberately for comic affect).

The end credits (on the big screen) says the adventures continue online, I’ll certainly be looking to see what they have, as it was very entertaining.

Everybody hates The Lounge Kittens *** (3 stars)

At some point in the past, three young ladies decided to form a band and perform covers of “heavy metal” bands in the style of sequine covered lounge singers. One plays a keyboard and all three sing. Although admittedly I haven’t seen many lounge singers with bright pink hair, or a shaved head and a bright green mohican!

They then decided to post their music videos on YouTube, apparently many “heavy metal” fans do not appreciate their unique style of covers and have left some rather extreme comments.

In this live fringe show the Kittens introduce a number of their songs with highly amusing observations on the comments they received  online about each. Quite a lot of the comments are very extreme, sexist and X rated but the kittens have taken these comments in their stride and created an entertaining Fringe show.

Their music is pretty good although I’m not familiar with bands like “Slip Knot” or “Steel Panther” so I can’t really comment on what the Kittens covers are really like, but I assume their style is rather different from the originals!

The show was fun and entertaining (reading comments on the internet can be entertaining) but I doubt that the Kittens are ever going to be huge stars, although they did support “Steel Panther” on tour and are planning an album!

The House of Edgar ***** (5 stars)

This is an interesting concept, music is provided by a violin, keyboard and guitar (on stage). The cast is fairly young but very talented, the singing and dancing is wonderful (fairly classical in style, with some ballet). 

Edgar has died and his old “friend” has newly inherited his house. His friend is somewhat contemptuous of Poe’s work and critiques it rather harshly, Edgar had died and written his last tale… or has he? No plot spoilers but is this show a dream? a delusion? a ghost story? or something else?

I wasn’t too sure at the start of this show, for example “The Raven” is sung wonderfully and the raven is played by a wonderful ballerina dressed in black (of course). The problem was not in the quality of performance, it WAS great, but it was too beautiful and lacked the harsh, gothic horror one normally expects from Poe. As the show progressed the plot and performance gets darker and creepier. 

This show is beautifully performed, the music, dancing, singing, acting and choreography are all wonderful. The plot is rather clever and worthy of Poe. If you have an appreciation of Edgar Allan Poe and can enjoy a good musical I’d highly recommend this show.

Fringe 2016 – 2044, Starship Osiris, ¬†Jules Verne‚Äôs 20000 Leagues Under the Sea, ¬†Dracula, ¬†Shakespeare in The Garden, ¬†Twelfth Night & Poe’s Last Night

6 shows at six different venues in one day is probably a bit excessive. 

2044 *** (3 stars) 

Set in a dystopian future where England has been flooded and an independent Scotland is a walled authoritarian state where only fit,  healthy and productive English refugees are allowed in. This play revolves around three English refugees sharing a flat.  

Putting aside the politics (this show does not put an independent Scotland in a good light) this show is well acted and you do feel for the characters. It’s almost like a pilot episode for a TV series,  spending the time creating the characters and their circumstances without really having much of a plot. 

Today started off lovely and sunny and I was in a cheery mood on entering the show,  I was on a bit of a downer when I emerged, it’s not exactly a happy play! It had not occurred to me that the title of the play was possibly related to George Orwell’s novel 1984 until one of the characters said they were reading it. 

The play wasn’t bad and I’m sure some people would rate it higher than I have,  but it wasn’t really to my liking.

Starship Osiris **** (4 stars)

I admit I’m a sci-fi fan, so when I saw a sci-fi comedy show in the progamme I had to see it. This starts off like a rather poor sci-fi show, a tall heroic captain and his crew of attractive young ladies in tight, sleek, short uniforms fighting off aliens in cheap alien costumes. 

It is rather hard to explain what makes this show so much fun without giving away spoilers, but suffice to say things go from bad to worse to completely chaotic.

You really don’t have to be a sci-fi fan to appreciate this show, I imagine they could have chosen any genre and created a similar show. It’s a very funny show and worth seeing for a good laugh, there are some rather clever twists and I imagine I had a silly grin on my face when I left.

Jules Verne’s 20000 Leagues Under The Sea **** (4 stars) 

This retelling of the classic tale is well done, with a minimum of props and scenery.  I thought it might be difficult without underwater effects and visuals but the cast are excellent and the script describes the surroundings so well you can visualise being underwater in the Nautilus. 

The three main leads are excellent,  Captain Nemo comes across as slightly unhinged but passionate. The professor (a woman) is driven by her need to learn and understand Nemo. And the young harpoonist only wants his freedom. 

The highlight of the show for me is when the Kraken attacks the Nautilus and its “all hands on deck” to fight it off. 

This is a good old fashioned adventure and worth seeing. 

Dracula *** (3 stars)

The Fringe programme described this as “physical theatre”, I’d call it more like interpretive dance. Yes, the cast wear costumes and use props but there is no dialouge. At the end of the show I overheard somebody commenting “It was very good but I had no idea what was going on”. I’m fairly familiar with the original Bram Stoker’s Dracula and I could follow what was happening, although they did miss out most of the plot set in England including Van Helsing!

From my very limited knowledge of dance the cast were very good and enjoyable to watch, if you are into dance shows you should enjoy this, you might want to make sure you are familiar with the basic outline of the original Dracula plot.

Shakespeare in the Garden : A Twelfth Night ***** (5 stars)

I believe this is the third year I’ve gone to see “Shakespeare in the Garden” but only the first time it’s been dry enough to actually perform it in the garden (the past years it was performed in the church where the garden is due to wet weather). 

This year it was touch and go but it did stay dry although there had been a little rain earlier. There were only a few garden chairs supplied, one of which I got ūüôā the rest of the audience were supplied with picnic blankets to sit on the grass and some blankets to keep warm, umbrellas were also available just in case. 

The show itself was excellent, the cast did a wonderful job and the setting in the garden makes for novel experience. The play makes great use of the garden, they even use a VW campervan park beside the garden.

This is a very good classic version of Shakespeare’s play in a unique setting, you can even bring a picnic if you want. Just be aware of the weather and dress approriately, it did get a touch chilly near the end, and if it IS too wet I’m sure the show will be just as good in the church as it has been in previous years.

Poe’s Last Night **** (4 stars)

Obviously this is one for those who appreciate Edgar Alan Poe. It’s a one man show, Poe arrives home and explains to the audience he overheard somebody plotting to kill him and begins musing about who it could be. He reminiscences about his past acquaintances which brings to mind a few of his poems and short stories.

It’s a rather clever show putting a subtley new twist on the more traditional recitations I’ve seen before. This is Edgar at the end of his life, a bit decrepit, certainly drinking too much, as evidenced by his continual sipping from a bottle, and possibly a bit unstable. The acting comes across well and pulls you in to almost believing you are listening to Edgar Alan Poe himself.

Fringe 2016 – Austentatious, ¬†Dracula & Darktales

Austentatious **** (4 stars) 

Anyone familiar with the Edinburgh Fringe probably already knows about Austentatious. It was a massive hit at the Free Fringe a couple years ago and became a paid show last year with sell out shows.  I decided to go for an early show incase it sold out again this year.  

The idea is a title is pulled from a “hat” of suggestions given by the audience and the actors play out a comedy show given that title in the style of a Jane Austen novel. 

The title selected at the show  I saw was “Jonny’s extraordinary trippy dream”. The cast did a great job of creating characters and generating some semblance of a plot. It was amusing and funny in parts,  partly due to watching the cast struggle through the improvising and partly due to the cast adding in their own humorous qips. 
It was good and although the show  I saw was not hysterically funny it is well worth seeing,  every show will be different and entertaining. 

Dracula ***** (5 stars) 

There’s two shows called  Dracula at this years Fringe, the one I saw was a comedy version at the Pleasance Courtyard. I did not expect much from a comedy version of Dracula but I was surprised to find this show to be brilliant! A cast of 5 play numerous characters in a retelling of the classic Bram Stoker’s tale,  the plot follows the original story fairly closely (for the most part) but is packed full of clever one liners and subtle,  and not so subtle, jokes. They also throw in a couple clever modern references e.g. Dracula arrives at the dance with a Watermelon followed with the line  “I carried a Watermelon” ūüėā (it makes more sense in context) . They also throw in a few clever references to the fact that the actors play multiple characters (why do Van Helsing and Renfield look so similar?) 

This show is one of the great things about The Fringe,  it is a hidden gem that you’re not likely to come across anywhere else. If you get the chance to see it do so. It is brilliantly written and extremely well played. 

Darktales *** (3 stars)

A cast of three brings this dark play to “life” and is well presented and well acted but did not, for me, live up to the advertising.  The show starts with the lead telling a ghost story,  the typical sort of urban legend told around a camp fire. I found myself hoping this wasn’t  going to be the whole play and it was not,  without giving away any spoilers the play eventually moved on to the real story involving the other two actors. And then suddenly it went off to telling another “ghost” story before eventually getting back to the plot. 

The show was well acted and definitely dark but not particularly scary. It does have a couple nice effects and makes some limited use of video. I still do not see the point of the two “ghost” stories,  they seemed to me to be completely  superfluous to the play as a whole.  I found myself leaving mildly entertained but some what disappointed. 

Glazed Venison and Chutney

I’m no cook, I occasionally throw some ingredients together and something edible comes out. I do look up recipes on the inter-webby thing to give me an idea of what ingredients work together but I’ve never actually “followed” a recipe. I have been known to cook a pretty good steak and come up with some tasty soups , I have also come up with some virtually inedible stuff too!

Anyway I made a really good dinner this evening and decided to document it, although I doubt I’d be able to repeat it as there was no measuring or timing done!

I had this with boiled new potatoes, so I threw a handful of those in a pot and put them on to boil for a bit.

Preparation work:

 I chopped up a couple medium sized tomatoes, half a large onion and a large carrot and peeled a couple large garlic cloves (I love garlic!).


I put a large slosh of Italian chilli oil in a frying pan and heated it up, I then added a generous spoonful of honey, crushed the garlic cloves and added a couple “knifefuls” of whisky mustard, a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. After mixing this all together in the pan over a very low heat (just enough to melt the honey) I had a fairly thick paste to which I added my venison strip loin steak and rolled it around the pan so it was fully coated. I then cranked up the heat to seal the venison and kept it moving around for a few minutes, when the “glaze” began to blacken in the pan I removed it from the heat and put the venison steak in the oven on a low heat (enough to keep it hot but not burn the glaze). The remaining glaze I spooned out of the pan on to my chopped onions, trying not to avoid any oil (as I didn’t want the chilli flavour coming through but did want some of the venison juices plus honey and mustard flavours).

In a clean frying pan I heated a drop of ordinary cooking oil and threw in the chopped tomatoes, onions and carrots and fried it all up over a medium heat until the I had a sort of thick chutney, when it started to get too dry I then added a generous few slugs of beer. I used Eden Breweries Oak aged series whisky barrel, it’s a good light scotch ale but fairly sweet from the whisky (I would avoid using a pale ale as it would be too bitter or a stout as it would be too heavy). I then let everything simmer and stew a while until the beer had reduced somewhat.

When I thought the “chutney” was sufficiently cooked I sliced the venison into medallions and served it up with the new potatoes and chutney… it was absolutely delicious even if I do say so myself!


“Honey, garlic and mustard glazed medallions of venison with a whisky beer, tomato and carrot chutney and boiled new potatoes”

Not exactly restaurant quality serving, but I swear it was as really good!