Archive for August 12th, 2016

CLOSER BY CIRCA

Closer By Circa
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After returning to last year’s Fringe with a stripped back show ‘Close Up’ following huge success with more extravagant outings in previous years Circa return this year with an even more stripped back show than their stripped back one. The sense is that they have taken it all back to basics and simplicity but they have lost none of their verve or capacity to enthrall by doing so.
For those previously impressed by the sheer chutzpah and hyper-tense nature of their performances will not be disappointed whilst for those who are seeing this formidable troupe for the first time will be suitably impressed.
There is such fluidity in this show that it is hard to believe that the main point of reference is the human body and just what it is capable of at its physical peak. Ropes, trapezes and even what seems like a tower constructed of Ikea chairs are the minimal props which heighten the audience’s senses and create a palpable tension.
It is all brilliantly soundtracked with the likes of Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Bang Bang’ The Velvet Underground’s ‘Pale Blue Eyes’ and a chilled out, eerie version of ‘Killing Moon’ the Echo and the Bunnymen classic all providing an undercurrent of tranquility.
Beautiful sequence follows beautiful sequence and each one is as impressive as its predecessor and in its own way. There are none of the usual physical pyrotechnics usually associated with shows such as these and instead the performances hinge on skill and the amazing amount of trust the performers must enlist in each other.
A most impressive show which will quietly blow your mind!
****
Closer is at Underbelly George Square at 18.55 daily (not 15th or 23rd)

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F*CKING MEN

F*cking Men
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Well the title more or less sums it up and if there is a hint of male nudity in there, well it doesn’t disappoint on that level either. Loosely based on La Ronde this production brought to the Fringe by King’s Head Theatre looks at the modern gay lifestyle as depicted by a choice of characters all of whom become inextricably linked and entangled through sexual activity; most of it extra curricular or illicit.
There are a variety of characters in this production from a playwright to rent boy to a couple who both have extra-marital affairs, there is the randy university student and there is the army boy who claims he is simply experimenting and can’t possibly be gay because he is ‘in the army’.
The play looks at how the couple in a relationship use this as an excuse to play around perpetuating the myth that being gay means that monogamy is an optional extra that no-one really adheres to. Meanwhile the rent boy is desperate for the security of a monogamous relationship and this is truly what he aspires to and desires.
Although there are a number of characters all the roles are taken by only three actors –Haydn Whiteside, Harper James and Richard de Lisle- who are the masters of quick scene and costume changes; even if in most cases the latter involves getting out of their clothes rather than into them.
The performances are accomplished and the pacing of the play is perfect for the subject matter. Each scene is prefaced by a snippet of dialogue which reappears within context during the scene which follows but although many questions are raised the conclusion is rather non-committal and none of the questions addressed in a way which provides any answers other than the main currency between gay men is still that of sex. Whilst there is a grain of truth in this I am not sure that it is a wholly accurate portrayal.
Despite this it is a worthwhile show which at least takes on the controversial issue of promiscuity for promiscuity’s sake and although much of the nudity was gratuitous it was very easy on the eye.
****
F*cking Men is on at Assembly George Square until August 29th at 15.55

LABELS

Labels
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We are all guilty of applying labels to people, things and even relationships whether we realise it or not. It is way of making distinctions and labels define who we are and what we do. Not all labels have positive effects though and this thoroughly astute and engaging show by Joe Sellman-Leava questions why we and how we label and the effects our way of looking at the world.
Early on in the performance Joe runs us through his early personal history, his family background, his upbringing and explains how he never really thought about where he came from until he attended University and a friend asked him where he came from. After explaining his background it became clear that this sis not what she meant and that what she was really enquiring about was the colour of his skin.
Explaining that his father’s family originated from India he found it strange that he had to explain himself in this way but realised that it was probably nothing compared to what his father probably had to go through. It transpires that originally the family name was Patel but his father changed it when he realised it was a hindrance when trying to attain work.
Aside from this obvious racism which has been a long-standing feature in his life Sellman-Leava shows us through a humorous Tinder exchange and extremely persuasive rhetoric how these attitudes still persist.
Despite the fact it deals with serious topics and issues which affect some more than others Labels is a thoroughly entertaining show captivating its audience from the outset. Sellman-Leava is a totally charismatic and engaging performer who has no problems gaining the audience’s attention-his smooth tones go some way to making what he says even more listenable than it already is and giving his argument a persuasive edge- and keeping it throughout the one hour duration.
Definitely thought provoking and intriguing, Labels is a show up there with the best of this year’s Fringe; definitely one worth making an effort for.
****
Labels is on at Pleasance Courtyard until 29th August (not 16th) at 2.15 daily

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