Archive for the ‘ FRINGE 2014 ’ Category


Julie Burchill: Absolute Cult

Lizzie Roper captures Julie Burchill’s Bristolian ‘milk maid squeak’ perfectly in this production of Tim Fountain’s play directed by Mike Bradwell. Focussing on the loathe her or despise her journalist’s- unarguably Britain’s most controversial for several decades running- attempts to resuscitate her career after the debacle where she attacked the transsexual community in defence of one of her good friends. The story centres on her return from holiday and the realisation that her overspending has caught up with her whilst an invitation to appear on Celebrity Big Brother should maybe not be sneered at as much as she initially thought it should be.
Whilst the negotiations take place concerning her fee-the original £100,000 offered is nowhere near tempting enough- she prepares herself for a lunch date with a friend. Getting ready however involves arranging for her coke dealer to drop off the necessary supplies, downing the best part of a bottle of vodka and unleashing her bile fuelled invective at several obvious and not so obvious targets.
Ex Husbands such as Cosmo Landesman and Tony Parsons are both inevitably grist for the mill as is transgender journalist Paris Lees. There is also , of course, Morrissey who gave Burchill several pages of his own character assassination strategy in his recent autobiography. The middle classes and. feng shui also get a drubbing, with the assertion –quite rightly I feel- that it will take a bit more than re-arranged furniture to sort out most people’s problems and that it is little more than posturing at being educated.
Education is also something she sneers at although she makes the observation that her rise to the top of her profession could not happen to a working class girl like her today as places in journalism have already been bought and paid for by connected or wealthy parents.
Roper carries this play admirably, single handed, throughout its hour long duration. It is in turns funny and sad and one senses the actual loneliness and isolation of Burchill and how being so opinionated has failed to secure her any long term friendships or allies. It is a neat observation of her character though as although you don’t always agree with what is being said, beneath the feigned shock is the belief that maybe she does have a point. This is probably Burchill’s greatest talent and why she is still possibly the most fascinating journalist of several generations.
Julie Burchill: Absolute Cult is on at the Gilded Balloon until the 25th August at 1.45pm

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge-Life as a Cheap Suitcase

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge-Life as a Cheap Suitcase

Genesis P- Orridge is one of those people who has spent decades on the fringes of the mainstream but has resolutely followed his/her own path in whatever she has chosen to do whether it be music, visual arts or physical transformation. This exhibition at Summerhall opens today –August 1- and continues throughout the whole of the Fringe.
Focussing mainly on his Pandrogeny project in which he and his late wife Lady Jaye started to transform themselves into each other and as some of the photos show there was a point at which they were virtually indistinguishable from each other. It is a very moving exhibition but it never strays into sentimental or lachrymose territory. Instead it is extremely raw and compassionate in places, showing two people who felt so entwined and inextricably linked to each other that they wanted to carry this bond into physical similarity.
Alongside this are paintings by a Mexican painter which shows their facial features replaced by genitalia, posters from Throbbing Gristle, Psychic Youth and Coum days and personal pieces of custom made jewellery.
For anyone who has encountered Orridge’s work over the last few decades this exhibition is a must see. For those not familiar with the name then I suggest you visit this exhibition as a first step to familiarise yourself then investigate further.

Genisis Breyer P-Orridge- Life as a Cheap Suitcase is on at Summerhall from August 1 and will be showing throughout the duration of the Fringe.


Glen Matlock: I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol

Bounding onto stage with all the energy of the teenager referenced in the show’s title Glen Matlock immediately reveals the carefree, laissez faire attitude which saw him ousted from The Sex Pistol at the very point they were about to explode from being cult phenomenon into household names and the harbingers of social, musical, fashion and cultural change. At the time it felt like the most ludicrous action yet taken by manager Malcolm McLaren and indeed many questioned the logistics of sacking the most musically gifted and main songwriter of the band but it transpired that McLaren never saw the band as a long term prospect and poster boy Sid Vicious- Matlock’s replacement- suited his short term needs better.
This must however have been little comfort to Matlock at the time however but if he felt bitter about his treatment it certainly doesn’t come across in this show. In fact he makes light of the fact that whilst his former colleagues were on their inexorable, but brief, rise he was scrabbling around living in squats trying to get his next band together with little money to fund the project and therefore deciding upon the moniker The Rich Kids.
Beginning with anecdotes about early visits to Scotland in the seventies he divulges tales about when he came with the Pistols in ’76 to play Dundee, and again a year later when he encountered a not so famous Billy Connolly during his travails to persuade Midge Ure to front the Rich Kids. His tales are told with the loucheness and familiarity of a friendly guy you would encounter down the pub and along the way he dispels many myths about himself including that he was never really that big a fan of The Beatles; his over-fondness for the former frequently cited as being one of the main reasons he was supposedly sacked from the Pistols.
His tales follow on with tales about Iggy Pop and a close-almost- sexual encounter with legendary transvestite Romy Haag in Berlin. Punctuated with songs from his career as well as several covers- The Pistols numbers lose a lot of their potency in their acoustic translation as it was the sheer electric verve of the originals which emboldened a generation- it is clear why he was never the front-man.
Charismatic as he may be personality wise unfortunately this doesn’t transfer itself to his performing abilities. But I suppose if you have worked with both Johnny Rotten and Iggy Pop-two of the most charismatic performers ever- and they have sung the songs you had a hand in writing then your interpretation and delivery is always going to suffer in comparison.
This one shortcoming aside Matlock comes across as totally un-starry and without any of the hang ups which usually embitter those who have been so cruelly written out of history. The fact that he is still here-although the non alcoholic lager imbibed throughout shows that he didn’t escape totally unscathed- and seems healthy and happy is something to be admired. Must admit I was glad I didn’t wear my Sid Vicious t-shirt though. That would have been too cruel; even for me!
I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol is on at Assembly Palazzo, George Square until August 5th at 7.30 pm


Fringe Mania 2014

And so it begins!
Whilst the Fringe used to confine itself to August, over the last few years it has made tentative steps into July and this year continues this new tradition. Likewise the previews for shows generally took place on the Thursday and Friday before the opening weekend but this year sees many previews today –Wednesday- with the shows proper starting rather tomorrow or Friday.
First things first though and the inevitable round of press launches must be got out of the way although this evening these will be cut short as I have a date with the legendary Burt Bacharach who at eighty six may be in the winter of his years but his music continues to spread the eternal youthful optimism of summer; what the world does definitely need now is love! And plenty of it too!
Back to the fringe however and my first show proper tomorrow comes from yet another great contributor to music and youthful optimism- maybe not so much optimism as intent but at the time it offered hope so this is optimism as far as I am concerned- Glen Matlock formerly of the Sex Pistols. Ousted from the band at their breakthrough point in favour of an untalented but more obvious poster boy, Sid Vicious, Matlock was temporarily displaced from his place in history despite having contributed many of the band’s best musical numbers. This show allows him to reassert his input and will include readings from his autobiography: ‘Glen Matlock: I Was A Teenage Sex Pistol’ is at Assembly George Square until August 5th at 7.30 pm.
Next on my agenda is another legend thrown up by the punk movement, Julie Burchill. Definitely a divisive figure-loathe or despise her is perhaps the best way to describe her- Burchill is probably one of our better known journalists although controversy rather than news is what she courts.
I plan on following this show up with another figure form the 20th century who was as important and influential in his own way to a certain section of our culture, Quentin Crisp.
To finish off my first day of shows I plan on taking in Ruaraidh Murray’s new show ‘Boxman’. Murray has established himself as a force to be reckoned with over the last two Fringes and as an Edinburgh native who returns home during this time of year to perform his own work- based in London he has a successful career in the industry- and his shows are always very corporeal and high octane. All of these shows are on at the Gilded Balloon and start at 1.45, 3.00 and 4.15 respectively.
The rest of the weekend includes a show about Richard Burton, an adaptation of ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ and Mark Ravenhill’s ‘Product’ amongst others but reviews will be posted several times during the day to keep you updated and in the know.
Another show for your diaries however is a chat show/ discussion type event taking place over two nights- 11th and 12th August- with writer and cultural commentator John Robb hosting the chair and engaging in discussions about everything musical and anarchic. Guests are being split into tow gender specific- or not so in some cases- nights with the first seeing Faye Fife from the Rezillos guest with The Twinsets a Teen Canteener and the troublesome one from The Trama Dolls. The second night includes The Merrylees, Roy Moller a Neu Reekie representative and writer Neil Cooper. Starting at 11pm in Bob and Miss Behave’s Bookshop in Holyrood Road this is likely to be a busy and in demand event so best get there early.
Off now to prepare for the press launches which usually find me cornered like a victim of flesh eating zombies in ’28 Days Later’ once performers find out I am a reviewer. It takes more than a baying crowd however to get me into their shows. I usually find bribery, corruption and the offer of a free meal work better!