Archive for August 17th, 2016

STARMAN

Starman
Starman-Landscape
Eight months on since the shocking news of David Bowie’s death and somehow it still doesn’t seem real. More than a rock star Bowie’s influence and presence are so ingrained in our cultural DNA that his spectral presence still hovers over us informing our thoughts and his music is as potent, poignant and essential as ever.
This show by Sven Ratzke places some of these songs in a cabaret setting and accompanying narrative. It is not such a shock to hear some of Bowie’s greatest works given the cabaret treatment as Bowie himself was as influenced by cabaret as any other genre.
I mean what are Five Years and Rock and Roll Suicide –the opening and closing tracks of his classic Ziggy Stardust album- if not cabaret informed by the currency of rock and roll and even this show’s title song Starman leans so heavily on Judy Garland’s Over the Rainbow that it could be considered grand theft. That was always Bowie’s genius though, being able to steal all the right elements and put them together in a totally new and imaginative way.
The songs that Ratzke features in this show include a jazz tinged Rebel Rebel, a beautiful Lady Grinning Soul, a Weimar influenced Time, Space Oddity and a strident Heroes.
I wasn’t quite as keen on the inter-song banter however and found it overplayed and on occasion meandering. It was never quite as funny as it aimed to be and often felt added on and unnecessary.
The songs however speak for themselves and who cares if Ratzke is no David Bowie as there never was and never will be another like him, so trying to compete is pointless. The show has its moments and when it shines it really does sparkle in stardust. It is a shame that the dialogue in-between doesn’t match these moments as if this wasimproved upon it would make the difference between merely a good show and a great one!
***
Starman is at The Assembly Spiegletent at 20.45 until the 28th August

Advertisements

HORSE MCDONALD IN CAREFUL

Horse McDonald in Careful
2016HORSE_AVZ
This extremely affecting autobiographical piece of theatre is at various times heartfelt, touching and very emotionally raw. Only occasionally does it stray into over sentimentality-I am thinking particularly of the inclusion of the concrete slab of bombast that is Snow Patrol’s ‘Run’ over-killed by Leona Lewis which accompanies her wife’s wedding proposal- but most of the time steers a course in comprehension into her loneliness and isolation.
Describing growing up in the rather reticent town of Lanark in the nineteen seventies where glam rock, as portrayed by Bowie and Marc Bolan and the experimentation it encouraged, probably died as the end credits to the weekly dose of Top of the Pops fade from the screen raised her hopes briefly but eventually helped to perpetuate her loneliness.
Gender fluidity was not such a hot topic for discussion in those days and any thoughts of re-assignment was met with horror, dismay and questions about her sanity. Psychologist followed psychiatrist and talking about dreams led to filling in questionnaires before ECT was offered up as a ‘cure’.
Even her relationship with her parents which had always been good until this point suffered although it is clear that the deep love between all parties was ultimately unbreakable.
Basically a spoken word piece incorporated into theatrical prose aided by musical interludes- the Snow Patrol moment aside these are usually well chosen and fitting to the dialogue it surrounds- Careful is an extremely worthy production.
Horse herself gives a great performance never losing her stride even when describing situations, times and emotions which have obviously been harrowing and upsetting. Definitely a form of catharsis it often feels like the audience are the psychiatrists and psychologists who permeated her youth only now they are listening to what she has to say rather than languishing in their own preconceived ideas and notions.
****
Horse McDonald in Careful is showing at The Giled Balloon Museum until August 29th at 19.30 daily.

ATTRAPE MOI

Attrape Moi
2016ATTRAPE_AT
Attrape Moi is essentially Flip Fabrique, a six piece dance and physical theatre group from Quebec, whose show is never anything short of impressive.
Whether it be hula hoops, juggling balls, trampolines and yoyos all combined to create a thoroughly entertaining show.
The loose narrative revolves around six friends re-uniting an playing tricks on each other whilst involving themselves in escapades.
If I have a criticism of this show it is that the venue-Assembly on the Mound- lacks intimacy preventing involvement or engagement with the audience; particularly if you are up in the balcony as I was. At times it felt I was watching something on an exceptionally small television screen.
For these shows to be successful the audience has to sense some kind of tension- I saw Closer by Circa last week at the Udderbelly and you could almost bathe in the perspiration, concentration and intensity of the performance whilst getting caught up in the total palpable atmosphere- but this was non-existent for me at this show.
Yes, I was impressed by the skill and ability of the performers and of course the trust they must place and have in each other is beyond words but ultimately I felt quite disconnected from it all.
Despite this it is still a worthwhile show although I would recommend getting there as early as possible so you on’t feel you are watching the action from a distance.
***
Attrape Moi is at Assembly Mound at 18.00 until August 29th (not 22nd)

GROWING PAINS

Growing Pains
2016GROWING_N6
This is truly an excellent show!
Not only has Tom Gill-surely a major talent in the making- written and produced the work but he also uses it as the platform, to give what is possibly the stand out solo performance of this year’s Fringe.
By avoiding settling into any singular genre –at one point he declares how musical theatre ruins any authenticity before bursting into song himself- and deconstructing the elements of traditional theatre then assembling them in his own unique and singular way, he creates a wholly original and thoroughly cohesive work which is compelling throughout.
The narrative hinges on his own personal bildungsroman and the characters and situations which help shape the person. Slipping out of characters and accents seamlessly- although his Jamaican accent often veers towards Irish but Gill uses this to comic effect by drawing attention to it and conversely somehow manages to add to rather than distract from the work- it is a total tour de force which sees sweat dripping off Gill as he inhabits each moment of this production with intense conviction.
The musical interludes are not anything like traditional musical theatre- thank Go- as Gill puts a totally contemporary spin on them and uses these sequences as another form of transmitting the dialogue driving the tale. They are easy to follow and not once during the show does either his or the audience’s attention waver.
I could go on and on about how impressed I was with this show- it is compelling, funny, intense, involving and so much more- but in the end the best advice I can give is go see it for yourself. Yes, go see this show!
*****
Growing Pains is on at The Underbelly Cowgate at 16.30 until August 29th

Advertisements