Archive for the ‘ Fringe 2018 ’ Category

FREEMAN

Freeman

This powerful and visceral production attempts to tell the story of racial prejudice at different points of history ever since the first slave to break free of his mater’s control took the name William Freeman at the moment he believed he became a free man. However this huge step forward was only a beginning and as is shown time and time again during this cleverly performed collaborative drama between Strictly Arts and Camilla Whitehill his free status was perhaps not as free as he had assumed nor has it automatically been delivered to black people since that moment; not even- probably especially- today.
Cleverly utilising a cast of six who slip in and out of roles as quickly as there is a time shift the story is easy to follow as it focuses on prejudice, violence and inequality therefore the names, places and dates don’t really matter as it is an ongoing problem with possibly little hope of any real resolve.
Great performances and simplistic backdrop allow the stories to speak for themselves and the lightning pace of direction and nuanced dialogue reveal a talented cast who can slip in and out of characters and somehow manage to inhabit them simultaneously.
Freeman is definitely one of the most captivating, intense and powerful thought provoking productions on the Fringe this year. If you get a chance it is one not to be missed.
*****
Freeman is on at Pleasance Courtyard at 5pm until August 27th

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AD LIBIDO

Ad Libido

Fran Bushe wants to talk about sex; fixing sex, having sex, fulfilling sex, her vulva and sex, masturbation and sex and let’s not forget about dolphins and sex.
During the one hour duration of her show , Ad Libido, she discusses all these topics and more and even manages to include a self penned song or two along the way.
Bursting onto the stage in a maelstrom of glitter, with shiny curtains- even the metaphors are sexually derivative- clad in a sequined top and the obligatory, for 2018’s Fringe anyway, dungarees the show manages to take in extreme wackiness, quieter contemplative moments and even a diagram of her vulva complete with a missing set of keys!
It is all highly amusing and well thought out and even if there were times I felt the wackiness was a bit too full on and contrived Bushe’s amiability and persona compensated.
Tales about a sex camp which led to disappointment and a conclusive view that sex is an issue for most of us and generally we all think others are having a better time with it than we are ourselves. The real question is why are we so obsessed with beating ourselves up over it?
Bushe is quite a force of nature onstage and as I said before she certainly knows how to hold an audience’s attention. The script was well thought out and very cleverly delivered; as were the musical interludes.
Definitely an amusing show that is worthy of your attention.
***
Ad Libido is on at Pleasance Courtyard until 26th August at 3.30pm

ICONIC; A BRIEF HISTORY OF DRAG

Iconic: A Brief History Of Drag

The title of this show is slightly misleading as it barely touches on the history of drag unless it is the personal history of Ian Strouighair aka Velma Celli and the drag that influenced him. There is however recognition of the crowning moments in drag culture such as the Stonewall riots and David Bowie draping his arm around Mick Ronson in the legendary 1972 Top Of The Pops performance of Starman. However the latter tale is somewhat diffused as it is followed up by a version of Under Pressure which came out at a time when Bowie was trying to re-heterosexualise his image so,for me, the song lost its impact.
Along the way we are treated to Velma’s other favourite moments including Queen’s I Want to Break Free, the Rocky Horror Show’s Sweet Transvestite, something from the musical Rent and Gloria Gaynor’s I Am What I Am which was swiftly followed by an encore of I Will Survive.
Loughair certainly does have an impressive set of lungs on him and his voice is expertly matched with the musical theatre leanings of his material. Likewise his band is tight and sync in with his act perfectly.
It could more realistically be called Drag for Beginners however as it barely touches on the themes of drag as performativity as Loughair so often steps out of his character as a means of attaining a knowing laugh.
All in all it is more than an adequate show if you are a fan of light cabaret with musical theatre leanings.
***
Iconic: A Brief History Of Drag is on at Assembly Checkpoint until August 26th at 9.30pm

Cock, Cock…Who’s There?

Cock, Cock…Who’s There?

An ambitious outing, Cock, Cock…Who’s There? is Samira Elagoz’s personal documentation on the complex relationship between violence and intimacy after being raped by a partner she had previously trusted.
It is an experimental audacious piece which uses social media and video documentation as Elagoz embarks on her own brand of catharsis and discovery to try to endeavour how men actually see her but putting herself in situations where she has set them up to be observed. Recording their reactions to her femininity and whether they see her as strong or vulnerable and whether she can only ever view from subjective rather than objective perspective.
It is an intense production which resonates after the show as it puts a lot of energy into trying to understand how men view women and how the male gaze is still prominent within society.
Elagoz does a good job of seemingly being simultaneously involved and detached from her findings and the videoed events unfolding on the screen behind her as she watches impassively. It is not ‘entertainment’ in any traditional sense nor does it even masquerade as such but it is a deeply personal experimental piece that has some resonance with a sympathetic- or even empathetic- audience.
****
Cock, Cock Who’s There? is on at Summerhall until August 26th (not 20th) at 6,45pm

MY LAND

My Land

Returning after last year’s triumphant Paris de Nuit show-without a doubt the hottest, sexiest show on The Fringe- Hungary’s Recirquel present their 2018 production My Land which is just as stunningly intoxicating, mesmerizing, breathtaking and erotically charged as their previous offering,
This year however the pace is much more languorous and the set stripped down to a bare floor strewn with a sand-like substance and a wobbly mirror backdrop but the simplicity of the set belies the complex nature of the show wherein beautifully taut glistening bodies twist, turn and contort themselves into shapes and positions that will quite literally take your breath away and leave you gasping for air.
The six male and one female performers – Rodion Drahun, Roman Khasifov, Sergii Materinskyi, Yevenhiia Obolonina, Andrii Spatar, Mykola Pysiura and Andrii Pysiura- turn in an ensemble performance that alongside amazing skill, dexterity and imagination must also include an inordinate amount of trust and awareness as everything is perfectly synced to within a split second and the reliance on each other is inestimable.
Highlights include balancing on delicate body parts, twisted torsos and limbs, a sequence involving a free-standing ladder and even an imaginative juggling sequence which beats any street performance you are ever likely to see.
The soundtrack featuring traditional music from Tatar, Moldavia and other parts of the Ukraine adds a surreal, sublime flavour to the outstanding feats on display whilst director and choreographer Bence Vagi has more than excelled himself yet again.
Not a solitary second of this show is wasted and you will find yourself captivated and even unable to draw breath at certain moments. It is a stunningly visceral piece of theater which will stay with you for hours-if not days- after.
Totally mesmerizing!
*****
My Land is on at Assembly Roxy at 8.10pm until August 26th.

FREE & PROUD

Free & Proud

Written by Charles Gershman and directed by Peter Darney Free & Proud explores the ins and outs and ups and downs of a relationship between two gay men who come from totally different backgrounds with different values and the problems this engenders.
Essentially a two-handed production between the two characters Hakeem( Fasiz Mbelizi and Jeremy ( Michael Gilbert) the show pulls no punches from the outset when Hakeem’s death in a bus crash is passed onto Jeremy who sadly finds he doesn’t know how he feels about this nor even what emotions he should summon up.
From here the drama utilises flashback mode as we see the beginning of the couple’s relationship and get a sense of its organic but awkward growth culminating in the pair getting married. However the audience already sense the marriage is rushed and the relationship founded on different principles and expectations from both parties involved: Hakeem who has had to work for everything in his life is serious and committed whilst Jeremy is more privileged and is more frivolous and lax in his attitudes.
Almost from the early days of their marriage problems are exposed and although an open relationship is agreed upon to heal inflicted wounds it merely serves to open them further resulting in a split which is more final than either one realises at the time.
A very intense production with a few light moments along the way Free& Proud is a well observed and thought out insight into gay relationships- a couple of gay themed shows I have seen this year focus on the problems monogamy within gay relationships causes- that is wholly credible. The performances are excellent and so much so that when the actors spoke in their own accents after the show’s denouement I was quite shocked as they had been so thoroughly authentic and convincing. Definitely a show worth checking out.
****
Free & Proud is on at Assembly George Square until August 27th at 2.55pm

LOVE SONG TO LAVENDER MENACE

Love Song to Lavender Menace

It is hard to envision in these times of gay marriage, civil partnerships, Pride marches in so many major cities and a whole new level of understanding that at some point in our recent history a bookshop which sold gay themed literature could cause such a stir in its local community especially considering that community was Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh.
But we need look back no further than 1982 when Bob Orr and Sigrid Nielsen rose to the challenge of taking their makeshift bookstall in the cloakroom of the legendary gay club Fire Island to new premises in the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town and in the process naming it Lavender Menace.
Written by James Ley and directed by Ros Phillips the witty and well observed script centres around two main protagonists Lewis (Pierce Reed) and Glen (Matthew McVarrish) as they prepare to celebrate the shop’s 5th birthday and pay homage to Sigrid and Bob. It is a celebration tinged with conflicting emotions however as the shop is closing and moving onto new premises under the name West and Wilde.
Alongside this change Lewis and Glen have some unresolved issues between each other that have been lurking beneath the surface since their very first encounter –which incidentally is acted out brilliantly with skill, wit and verve.
Juxtaposed alongside the main storyline are several others including a closeted married man who can’t quite cross the threshold of the shop to explore his desires he believes lies in the literature held within until it is too late; the shop has closed and its owners and stock have moved on.
Several flashback scenes capture the energy, excitement and new freedoms of being gay that started to emerge in the eighties. The soundtrack includes many anthems and favourites of the era and they work brilliantly in the context of the stories as they unravel.
Definitely a Fringe highlight for me this year Love Song to lavender Menace captures not only an era but for me personally brings back so many evocative memories of the times, the bookshop itself and even some of the characters mentioned in the play. You do not have to have a personal interest in the story however as the emotions- happy, sad, proud and defiant- it captures are universal and the story is likely to touch anyone who sees it due to its great performances, fast-paced drama, tight direction and cleverly written dialogue.
A must see!
*****
Love Song to Lavender Menace is on at Summerhall at 12.55pm daily (except Mondays) until August 27th

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