Archive for the ‘ FIVE STAR REVIEWS ’ Category

KNEE DEEP

Knee Deep-Assembly 7.30pm

 

This show quite literally begins by walking on eggshells and continues to maintain that level of tension throughout. Created by Circa who were last here three years ago this latest addition to their cache never fails to impress or astound during it’s one hour duration. It is a show which shows consummate skill combined with intensity and trust between the performers. It does not go for shock tactics or overt dynamics but is not any less powerful because of this.

Opening with the aforementioned walking on eggs routine-eggs figure throughout as a metaphor to remind us how fragile we as humans are and the danger the performers are constantly in- accompanied by a new age soundtrack the intricacies of the four onstage artistes is compelling and almost Zen like. When the music shifts up a notch to electronica from the Aphex Twin school of sound so do the movements and routines. Among the extremely visceral, exhilarating and jaw dropping routines we are then entreated to include a tightrope of interwoven human limbs-which one of the performers edges their precarious way along- gymnastic acrobatics performed on what appears to be the world’s four smallest bar stools and hula hooping which provides a moment of light relief. There are also some impressive modern trapeze acts, body percussion, back flips, forward rolls and each movement is performed with balletic poise.

Muscles strain and sweat drips and it is obvious that all of what we are witnessing requires inordinate strength and is pushing the naturally toned bodies –none of which look as if they are acquired by spending hours in the gym- to the very limits of their endurance. This only makes the show more attractive as the obviously intense nature of the acts being performed are not made to look easy and they obviously rely on a gargantuan amount of trust between the performers as one minor slip or loss of concentration could be fatal.

Knee Deep is a truly astoundingly beautiful show which will have you spellbound and holding your breath throughout. Exquisitely performed, the visuals and music merge beautifully and although it is seamless it always feels as if it is teetering on a precipice-like an egg about to drop and smash- and this only adds to the proceedings. When it was over, the standing ovation the four exhausted performers received was not just expected but totally necessary.

*****

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ANDY AND THE PROSTITUTES

 Sunday August 19th

 Andy and the Prostitutes- The Institute

 

To be honest, at the beginning, the signs for what lay ahead this evening did not bode well.

Turning the corner into Roseneath Street I was met by five simultaneous cries of ‘I’ve seen your cock’ –in reference to the ‘Naked Touch’ exhibition in the Institute which I am a participant in- and smiling as sweetly as I could-not much then, really- made my way into the venue which, aside from those working there, was empty. Not too worried as I was uncharacteristically early I got a drink and waited on a friend joining me which they did about ten minutes later. After about half an hour the band arrived and started setting up and there were still no customers, bar us two. Tuning up commenced and when the band announced their first number we looked up from our conversation and noticed that a few other people had arrived. Quite a few in fact, as the place was packed out right through to the back with little room left for anyone else.

Launching into their first number the Star Wars based ‘Jedi Knights’ the brilliance of this band was apparent to everyone in the place and an atmosphere unlike any I have encountered on a night out in Edinburgh in quite some time started to take hold captivating anyone in its remotest vicinity. Quite literally in fact, as crowds started to form in the street, with dancing firmly on their minds, whilst across the road people were leaving the comfort of the local pub to try and capture some of the vibe.

The amazing thing about this band is not only the music but the comedy dynamic that exists between the members-especially lead singer Andy and violin genius Richard Moore- which takes the act to a whole new infectious level. Thus to hear a roomful of people singing along to a song they have never heard before is really quite something. However this happened during several numbers, especially ‘I’m too Pretty for Prison’, ‘Benefits Girl’ and the darkly twisted ode to the other side of Disney ‘Uncle Walt’s a Paedophile’, which has a chorus so disturbingly catchy it is still lodged in my consciousness this morning. Things really exploded though, with a cover version of Talking Heads ‘Psycho Killer’ which saw Moore snap his G-string-on his violin- in all the excitement. Not that this held him back in anyway and things continued at a frantic pace.

This show is really what the Fringe is all about and the spontaneity of the evening contained the crucial element lacking from most of the other shows I have seen this year which- apart from a few exceptional dramas- if I am honest has left me pretty unimpressed and with only an overwhelming sense of ennui.

Last night however is one of those nights that everyone there will remember and so many others will claim to remember. It is a night which would have appeased the most virulent of Fringe haters as the infectiousness of the proceedings and atmosphere were impossible to resist. The band is playing next Saturday at the same venue at 9pm and also at the Phoenix bar in Broughton Street at 7pm nightly. I can’t guarantee there will be dancing in the street but that is up to you.

*****

Andy and the Prostitutes -The Musical is at The Phoenix bar in Brouighton Street every night at 7pm

Also next Saturday the 25th at The Institute 14 Roseneath Street at 9pm for a one off show.

BIG SEAN, MIKEY AND ME

Big Sean, Mikey and Me- Gilded Balloon 1.30pm

 

From the moment Ruaraidh Murray announces to the audience that what we are about to witness is definitely not musical theatre I am immediately re-assured and quite prepared to entrust the next hour of my attention to him, and his one man show, detailing his life as a struggling actor and relating it to events which occurred in his formative Edinburgh years.

In many ways a valentine to his home city –he has lived in London for the last fifteen years- he has written and directed himself a compelling piece of work which, apart from appealing to the usual festival going crowd, will also be extremely attractive to Edinburgh residents. Very often they feel their city gets neglected as London based artists use the Scottish Capital as merely a platform to promote their work whilst knowing little about the city itself.

Having grown up in Edinburgh’s Stockbridge area Murray has an interesting and diverse collection of reminiscences to draw from and to help him along his way- acting as a spiritual mentor and guiding light- is Sean Connery who was always an inspiration to the aspiring actor from his earliest days. Also on board is Mikey, a friend since primary school, and a friendship formed on the fact that young Ruaraidh didn’t identify him as bullying a classmate merely because he felt if he did then he would be next in line for the treatment.

What follows over the next hour is what seems like a freeform show with voices and characters dipped in and out of almost randomly but is in fact a brilliantly constructed, performed and cleverly thought out production. Stripped of little apart from Murray’s natural talent and energy – there is a work out scene which will leave even the most stationary audience member exhausted just watching- it is an exhilarating ride which never lets up for a second. Even the quieter moments are racked with very real emotions-there is a sense Murray is actually reliving the actual events he is describing- whilst he is always capable of defusing the tension with humour. A particularly amusing scene occurs when he describes the, probably never heard before, dichotomy of Kenny Rogers versus ‘black man’s cock’ and this dilemma poses itself at a crucial moment when he should be experiencing terror.

At this time of year to hear an Edinburgh accent is nearly as rare as a decent acting role in Hollyoaks. It is therefore a relief for a show written about Edinburgh, by an Edinburgh native and delivered in an Edinburgh accent-never better or more effective than when he recites a list of Edinburgh gangs- and also a pleasure. It is a great show for anyone though and visitors to the city should see it if only to gain a better insight rather than just the usual tourist traps. Intense and riveting, Murray has created a homage worthy of his hometown and the early friendships which, not only, shaped him but have continually stayed with him as a touchstone throughout his life journey. An exceptional piece of work!

*****

A CLOCKWORK ORANGE

A Clockwork Orange– The Pleasance 3.40

From the very opening sequence when a group of marauding menacing Droogs skulk slinkily onto the stage the eroticized tension is apparent.  A major hit at last years Fringe, The Action To The Word company return and manage to create another high octane, tension addled and sexy all male show which at times resembles an S&M  West Side Story. It is a thoroughly exhilarating ride which has its audience as feverish at its conclusion as the, dripping with sweat, cast.

The familiar tale of Anthony Burgess’s classic novel, A Clockwork Orange, involves a gang known as the ‘droogs’ led by the wayward Alex- a simply astoundingly thrilling performance from Martin McCreadie- who while away their hours indulging in ultra-violence and sadistic sexual practices. They are drop-outs with few prospects and have coined their own hybrid language of Russian juxtaposed with English to create a teenage street patois recognizable only between each other. After being caught and arrested for crimes committed Alex is forced to submit to treatments guaranteed to turn him into a more civilized human being who thinks in a regular fashion; like the clockwork orange of the title.

This is a modernized version of Kubrick’s 1971 screen outing which is still a potent work even if time has placed it as a glam rock curio more than anything. Although the sequences involving Beethoven –his instantly recognizable and associated Fifth Symphony soundtracks the opening fight sequence with force and vigour whilst the Ninth is omnipresent- still resonate much use is made of more modern music. Thus Gossip’s ‘Standing in the Way of Control’ Bowie’s dystopian ‘We are the Dead’, the Scissor Sisters version of ‘Comfortably Numb’ and Placebo all strike a balance which lifts this production to a higher level.

The script is stripped back to basics- similarly and quite literally so are the cast on several occasions- and is all the better for it. It is a highly energetic show which even when it pauses to gather pace and let the tale unfold manages to keep the tension taut and the audience fraught. The balletic dance sequences are simultaneously  highly evolved and raw whilst the interchangeable roles-and gender- of the cast never detract from the action unfolding.

Highly recommended for anyone who wants to see some highly impressive dance meets physical theatre via a classic tale given a modern twist and relevance. Hot, hot hot!

*****

RAZING EDDIE

Razing Eddie – Underbelly 12.00pm

 

This is the fourth consecutive year I have seen a Horizon Arts production during the Fringe-last year they had two shows within hours of each other- and every year I do not expect them to better the previous years production and every year they do exactly that. This year is no exception to the rule and I doubt you will see a better piece of drama during this Fringe. It is an outstandingly exceptional show which runs the gauntlet of emotions leaving you breathless and exhilarated. The script by Philip Stokes is imaginative, well written and more than done justice to by the exceptionally talented cast. It really is an ensemble piece but both Aiden Ross-  Billy Big Balls- and Lee Bainbridge-Eddie- are simply absorbed in their characters at every moment they are on stage.

The drama unfolds around Eddie’s arrival at his ex-girlfriend Shauna’s-Chloe Mylonas- new upmarket flat she shares with her seemingly permanently absent lover Richard. Also present are a young girl Gemma – -Jess Heritage- who although the audience recognise as a spectral presence doesn’t seem to be acknowledged by either Shauna or Eddie during their far from amicable reunion. This is about to change with the arrival of Billy as it becomes clear that both he and Gemma are both dead and function as guilt pangs in the shape of ghosts which continue to haunt the two remaining live characters.

Pretty soon all four characters are engaged in confrontation unearthing guilty secrets including sexual orientation, abortion, stabbings and previously withheld facts. Murky depths are plunged into and the arrival of Billy’s religiously devout -to a questionable cult-sister arrives into the equation and takes on the role of righteous avenging angel, picking at emotional scabs until they bleed.

The script shifts pace as revelations are revealed. One minute jocular with dark humour it gradually twists and turns like a knife into your psyche until the tension in the theatre is palpable and the silence amongst the audience is stunning in its loudness. The climactic crescendo towards the end is perfectly sound-tracked against a doom laden Spiritualized backing track which only ratchets up the tension further. The closing scene is then set against a living flame fire which, in this setting and what has preceded it, acts as a metaphor for the hell Eddie is not only going to but also caused for others whilst being mired in it himself through his own existence.

I cannot recommend this production enough and other reviews are as effusive –and deservedly so- as mine. Great writing and excellent performances conspired to ensure this show sold out in the early lunchtime slot-12pm- which is notoriously difficult to sell. The ovation the cast received at the end was the most enthusiastic I have witnessed this whole Fringe. Razing Eddie just raised the bar.

*****

THE BOOM BOOM CLUB

 

The Boom Boom Club- Underbelly 12.30am

 

During August late night revelries in Edinburgh are really no big shakes. There is late night comedy, cabaret, drinking emporiums open until 3am and, of course, clubs optimistically aiming for a 5am closure. The Boom Boom Club from the London Wonderground manages to successfully incorporate all these elements- and then some- in this amazing show which must surely be the late night highlight of this years Fringe. No contest. It is a constantly evolving round up of avant-garde daring and freak show beauty transported to the whole top floor of the Underbelly-with its own bar without queues or their associated hassle- which although lasting three and a half hours, constantly has something to keep your imagination and senses flowing.

Entering into he vast expanse of the dance-floor -via two chambers in which absurdist dramas and situations appear to be being carried out- it seems as if you have wandered into a private party. The music is of the early rock and roll party and a sense of joie de vivre permeates and then the familiar intro to Kate Bush’s ‘ Wuthering Heights’ emerges from the speakers and on the stage a beautiful freak choreographs her way through the song in a dextrous and athletic way even La Bush could not have envisioned. After this it is back to the party but before long the festivities are punctuated by other spellbinding feats including a hula hooping slinky, Guns and Roses’ ‘Welcome to the Jungle, accompanied by a stripping fire-eater with the climactic finale of setting her tits aflame. It is all preposterous, fascinating and totally brilliant. Amongst all this fabulousness my companion found himself being married in a Southern style freak-show wedding which was sealed by a Jesus dildo.

There is also a separate forty five minute cabaret segment in a different room which you enter into in sittings. This evolves nightly but last nights four acts ranged from the absurd to the ridiculous whilst always being hilarious and entertaining. Thus we were entreated to ‘Sexy Time’ –an almost Neanderthal  seduction scene- ‘Juan in a Million’ –Spanish flamenco and comedy making perfect bedfellows- and the blood spattered grotesque of Betty Grumble whilst taking in some impromptu crowd-surfing along the way.

Not starting until 12.30 and finishing at 4 the beauty is you can come and go exactly as and when you please without feeling you are interrupting anyone else. The beauty of a bar separate from the rest of the venue means you don’t even have to interrupt your own enjoyment when you need your drinks refreshed. It is a truly amazing experience of which my only complaint is it could have been slightly busier-not too much though otherwise it would lose its intimacy- as when the cabaret is taking place in a different room the party area felt a little sparse. This is a minor quibble however as I don’t think there is a better late night show in town during Edinburgh’s busiest season. Treat yourself to a walk on the wild side!

*****