Archive for August 4th, 2012

JUST AN OBSERVATION

Saturday August 4th

 

 My first full day of seeing shows also saw my first five star one so things are off to a good start. The show in question is called Glory Dazed and is on at the Underbelly at 5pm. Written with the input of ex-servicemen serving time in prison after finding life at home, after spending time in wartime Iraq and Afghanistan, impossible to relate to and cope with. It is bleak in parts but it is also darkly comic and acerbic whilst maintaining the right amount of tension and emotion without offering any resolve apart from the fact war is destructive to everyone involved. It also neatly outlines how much of a struggle life is for those left behind and how relationships become a battleground where although blood isn’t always shed- though on occasion it is- the rate of survival is low. Excellent performances and clever writing make this show a 2012 winner and a full review can be found here.

Before this I saw Wanderlust an impressive spoken word piece cum travelogue about dropping out of your life and into the world of adventure by Martin Dockery at the Gilded Balloon. Dockery also gave an admirable performance despite the twat behind me who thought it was acceptable etiquette to answer his phone, carry on a conversation and then relate details of said conversation to his companion sitting beside him. It often astounds me how many people cannot live even for an hour without their phones and in fact used to amuse me-it just irritates me now- when on leaving a venue there is a frantic collective checking of phones, messages etc. by a large, usually young, section of the audience who somehow seem to think that the outside world cannot function without them for even an hour. Build yourself a bridge and get over it people. A full review of the show is here.

My last show of the night was stand up featuring comedian Dana Alexander and this was also a great show but it only lasted thirty minutes and spent the first ten of those getting going. This suited me as I think half an hour is about most stand ups can successfully pull off but then again I don’t pay for my tickets so I didn’t feel short changed. The faces on many of the audience indicated that they did however. If Alexander can fine tune those first ten minutes then she could have the perfect length Fringe comedy act and it could be the way of the future. An hour is far too long and usually leaves the audience wanting less anyway. A full review can be found here.

My last stop of the night was Check Point Charlie formerly the Forrest Café in Forrest Road and is a last minute addition to festival venues. So last minute that when I was shown around it on Thursday afternoon I was stepping over workmen and painters who were rushing to get it ready for last night’s opening. Surprisingly enough they were successful and a buzz surrounded the place when I arrived. It is open every night during the Fringe and if anyone wants to perform –live music, spoken word , whatever- then pop in and speak to the organisers who will be more than happy to accommodate you. Rumours are that Tom Thum-and no, he is not a dwarf and the amount of people who ask me this is amazing- is playing there after his show at the Udderbelly which I am reviewing tonight and if this is true then it would be well worth heading along as I feel he is going to be a big hit on this years Fringe with his truly astounding beatbox skills.

That’s it for today and once more off out into the mayhem and thankfully the rain so far has been intermittent and extremely well behaved. I have probably just cursed it now.

DANA ALEXANDER

Dana Alexander: Breaking Through. Udderbelly’s Wee Coo 10.35pm 1st -27th August (not 13th)

 

I will keep this review short and sweet as this is perhaps the best way to describe the show itself. I saw Alexander last year and was impressed by her choice not to use her full allotted full hour slot like most comics- most of whom fail to sustain the audience’s attention and end up losing them at some point- and her show was all the better for it. Short, sharp and punchy Alexander delivered an impressive set which never dragged and then left the stage and her audience more than satisfied. This year however she seems to have confused the Fringe with the Olympics and set out to beat her personal best time as last nights show lasted barely thirty minutes.

Despite this her thirty minutes were extremely well used and her act was extremely funny, seemingly spontaneous and clever. However it took almost ten minutes to really get going and then just felt as if it had taken flight when she finished up and left the stage following that old stage-school maxim of leaving the audience wanting more. This in some ways is a good thing as often I leave stand up wanting less and perhaps all she has to do is fine tune those first ten minutes and she could have a perfect act.

The subject matter ranged from guns, wills, families-including an extended slot featuring a hilarious Facebook argument/exchange with her Grandmother- and her penchant for smoking weed. Adverts and the English habit of solving every crisis with a cup of tea were also in the firing line and Alexander had well thought out observations on all these matters. Her recent move to a gay neighbourhood in London also provided several laughs.

It was all over just that little bit too quickly though and somehow felt unfinished. Personally I would prefer stand up to last half an hour as this is about as much as a lot of comedians can successfully muster and if Alexander is making a statement and a point then I feel it is brave and worthwhile one. It did however leave those sitting next to me slightly non-plussed and feeling short changed which is unfortunate as it was a good show. Never one to outstay her welcome Alexander perhaps needs to hang around for just that little bit longer to keep her public happy in the next three weeks

.  This could so easily have been a four star show but unfortunately its shortness somewhat failed it as it took so long to get going at the beginning and whilst this would be acceptable in a forty five to one hour show it is not so acceptable in a show which barely lasts thirty minutes.

***

GLORY DAZED

Glory Dazed 5pm at Underbelly 2nd-16th August (not 14th)

 

 This high octane drama from Second Shot productions and written by Cat Jones- with authentic input from ex-servicemen serving prison sentences- pulls on many emotional strings and each one highly effectively. Not just focussing on Ray-an outstanding and commanding performance from SamuelEdward-Cook- experiences in Afghanistan and Iraq it also shows how war affects those left behind at home and their daily struggles with life that turn their home-life ,on their partner’s return,  to a battleground which is just as devastating on the protagonists’ psyches and lives as any wartime experiences.

The drama evolves in an after-hours confrontation in a pub when Ray seeks refuge after attacking someone in the street and, bloodied and on the run, needs somewhere to seek sanctuary. His ex-wife Carla and her new lover Simon work there but at this juncture Ray is not aware of their relationship. It is just one of many secrets and truths which are revealed during the confrontations which follow. Also present is Leanne who is a barmaid who not blessed with a high IQ is at first responsive to Ray’s demands and flirting. Carla Meanwhile is on an emotional tightrope unable to hide her still strong bond of emotion toward him but realising the relationship is highly destructive, volatile and has no future.

The discovery that his ex-wife is involved with Simon the publican is enough to send Ray over the edge of the emotional precipice he has been teetering on for years. Unable to put his  wartime experiences behind him he is a pressure cooker full of seething intent and explosive emotions only propelled towards psychosis by a vast consumption of alcohol.

The recriminations which follow are far more shocking than the simple matter of his domestic abuse towards Carla and show how war destroys not only the dead but also those who survive and have to try and incorporate and accept what they have both done and seen in the name of defending their country. The drama peeks and rises to crescendos whilst achieving great moments of pathos and real-life awkwardness. It also manages despite all the heavy issues on display not to neglect humour when the drama necessitates it.

The strength of this drama is down to excellent performances- Chloe Massey , Adam Foster and Katie West are also all excellent- but it is Cook’s performance as Ray which Glory Dazed hinges upon. The actors are working with excellent material however and Elle White’s direction is sparse but effective. An excellent thought provoking drama with a conscience and depth Glory Dazed is quite an intense journey but one worth taking.

*****