Posts Tagged ‘ Assembly Roxy ’

THE REVLON GIRL

The Revlon Girl

Set not long after the Aberfan disaster of 1966 when 116 school children, along with 28 adults, lost their lives when colliery waste collapsed from an overlooking hill devastating a local school and community in one fell swoop. The fall out was heartbreaking for those who lost loved ones and with responsibility lying with those who granted approval for placing the pits in such an obviously unsuitable place there was also the matter of blame and subsequent compensation.
Based on true events this play by Neil Anthony Docking finds us eight months on from this tragedy and a town still swamped in grief and anger. A group of local women making up a support group have uncharacteristically enlisted the services of a Revlon representative to come and show them how to apply make up in the hopes of gaining some self-respect; encouraging them to feel positive about themselves by attempting to make themselves feel beautiful again.
It is a feisty production and the five actors on stage all lend the piece the necessary drama, conviction and pathos it deserves. Standout performances come particularly from Bethan Thomas as the feisty, swears like a trooper Rhona, Charlotte Gray as the eager to please Sian and the Revlon Girl, Charlotte, Antonia Kinlay who herself has hidden depths and an empathy not at first imagined.
It is however the ensemble itself which gives the performance its real innate strength and in a Fringe where one man shows and two-handers are all the rage it is a pleasure to see actors actually engage with each other and interact in a way which captures the different nuances of various individuals.
If the play does have a fault it is that the direction by Maxine Evans is a little flat and due to the lack of any stage effects or backdrops perhaps a little more imagination could have been applied to the use of space. This is a small complaint however and the performances are really what matters here. Capturing the range of emotions and how differently people adapt to them following a tragedy such as this, reveals a powerful, moving work where some people want to leave the scene of their heartache while others simply can’t.
It is also especially poignant in the wake of the Grenfell Towers disaster of a few months back when a community decimated by corporate greed pay the highest price for negligence on the part of those out to make a quick buck at the cost of human lives proving that over fifty years on not much has really changed.
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The Revlon Girl is on at Assembly Roxy until August 28th at 1pm.

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5 GUYS CHILLIN’

5 Guys Chillin’

Certainly not one for the faint hearted, 5 Guys Chillin’ makes its intentions clear almost from the outset. Throwing a non-judgmental eye over the Chemsex chill out parties that lead to group sex sessions this no holds barred production by Kings Head Theatre and Em Lou Productions is not afraid to dress its nudity, drug taking, sex chat and promiscuity up in skimpy clothing.
The scene revolves around a late night party –possibly after a club- with the five invitees having found their way there via dating apps. The intentions are implicit but they are also extremely explicit. The idea is simply to take as many drugs – crystal meth, here frequently referred to by its street slang name ‘Tina’, MDMA, Speed and of course the ubiquitous cocaine- and let things evolve, or degenerate, into a sexual scene. Of course as is expounded throughout the show that by taking as many drugs as they do it kind of dulls the sexual experience; that is if they are able to function at all.
It is a stark and honest look at a scene which remains a mystery to many and whilst it never addresses exactly what motivates those who participate into participating it does give a clear indication that those involved are unhappy, frustrated, lonely and rather desperate. Despite this they still claim that they enjoy what they are doing and the alternative-settling down in a monogamous relationship- is unlikely to make them any happier or less lonely so perhaps it is more complex than it appears on the surface.
Certainly this play offers no judgment nor does it take a moral stance either way. Based on verbatim conversations from gay men who participate in these soirees there is a gritty realism throughout. At times it is hard not to empathise with characters such as the Punjabi man whose background and culture simply forbids homosexual behaviour but somehow he has found resolve with his wife who knows of- and to some extent tolerates- his leanings but even this is not enough for him so he attends these late night parties and allows himself to engage with multiple partners.
As said at the beginning this is not one for the faint hearted. A couple of people left in its early stages; perhaps they thought the ‘chillin’ of the title referred to sitting around with a cup of tea politely chatting. It is definitely a full on show with lots of strong language, nudity and sexual references that are maybe not for the uninitiated. It is however a fascinating, entertaining insight into a demimonde which is obviously now a part of our society and culture. Be warned also that the theatre is so hot that you may be tempted to disrobe yourself!
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5 Guys Chillin’ is on at Assembly Roxy until August 27th at 9.50pm

THE GIRL WHO JUMPED OFF THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN

The Girl who Jumped off the Hollywood Sign

This one woman play both written and acted by Joanne Hariston is a powerful tour de force which captures perfectly the illusion and subsequent disillusion of the golden age of Hollywood, 1949, where in a prescient warning to the wannabe stars of today ‘Celebrity has a short memory’.
Hariston plays Evelyn ‘Evie’ Edwards a budding hopeful starlet who has suffered one rejection and indignity too many and is making a last ditch claim for fame by jumping off the capital H , part of the Hollywood sign, which gazes authoritively over the city of dreams reminding those below of their failures or, in limited cases, their successes. Following in the footsteps of Peg Entwhistle who jumped off the same sign-different letter- twenty odd years previously due to the same lack of success and subsequent humiliation, Evie believes that if she can’t be a star in life then she should make a bid for it in death and even if she fails then at least she won’t have to be reminded of it.
The brutality of the movie industry is picked at like a sore scab as Evie prepares to make that final leap and peppers her thoughts with anecdotes involving Bette Davis,Judy Garland, Jean Harlow and MGM canteen gossip. She shares what led her to Hollywood in the first place and her family background is put in the spotlight also. She tears apart the Hollywood notion of ‘creating’ stars and how removed from the reality of the real person they actually are. It is a fascinating insight into a harsh industry which so many even today wish to enter even though the chances of success are slim if any.
The dialogue is helped along by musical interludes which provide poignancy and nuance while Vince Fusco does an admirable job as director.
Starting at 11.30 The Girl who Jumped off the Hollywood Sign is a prefect way to kick off a day out at The Fringe.
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The Girl who jumped off the Hollywood Sign is at Assembly Roxy August 3-28 at 11.30am

A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE

A Streetcar Named Desire
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A Georgian version of an Tennessee Williams’ great American classic ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ is an ambitious choice for Georgia’s iconic theatre group The Tumanishvili Film Actors Theatre to bring to the Edinburgh Fringe.
Taking on an iconic and well established play such as this was always going to be a tricky sell especially when up against such stiff competition around town. This fact didn’t seem to deter what was quite a well attended show however and although the subtitles may be a deterrent for many I must admit that once the production found its feet-despite a few problems with syncing but that is negligible on this only the third performance- this was negligible and although it may not to be to everyone’s taste ,the dialogue of the original is such a defining feature, it is still a commendable show.
The actors seemed comfortable in their roles and if you are familiar with the story then after a while the action unfolding in front of you can distract from the subtitles, thus achieving a different kind of theatre experience.
Obviously the roles of Stanley and Blanche Dubois are indelibly linked with Marlon Brando and Vivien Leigh and any comparisons with these legendary actors are as fruitless as they are inevitable. Safe to say the actors playing these two roles both performed more than admirably even if I didn’t understand a word of what they were saying, proving that expression is as important as dialogue in certain instances.
The lighting, stage sets and jazz soundtrack helped out in places that dialogue usually would and atmospherically it seldom missed the mark.
Personally I would say that a Georgian interpretation of such a recognisable work may not to be to everyone’s taste but if the idea of a theatre production which uses subtitles behind the stage performance is not off-putting then this capable production may well work for you.
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A Streetcar Named Desire is showing at The Assembly Roxy from August 4th to 29th at 13.55 daily.