Posts Tagged ‘ Broke ’


‘And They Played Shang A Lang’ ended my run of good productions by a very long mile! By far and away the worst thing I have seen this year its banality was not really enhanced by its late night slot and the fact the venue was less than a quarter full. I tried to enjoy myself and force myself into liking it- honest!- but it just wasn’t happening and the less I tried to cringe the more I felt the need to.
On first inspection the idea of drawing events of seventies Edinburgh together with a narrative driven with some of the best music of the era-as well as some of its most turgid- seemed like an entertaining idea. I am just unsure how a ramshackle production such as this made it to the Assembly Rooms whilst shows which probably have a fraction of its budget but twenty times its professionalism and innovation languish in tiny theatres or even on the Free Fringe.
It seemed like every random idea had been thrown at this show in trying to create something out of the flimsiest of premises. Therefore as a means of covering all bases the musical interludes include ‘Block Buster’, ‘Waterloo’, ‘Shang A Lang’, ‘Chirpy Cheep Cheep’ and –God help us- even ‘Anarchy in the UK’.
Just when I thought the show had reached its nadir and things could only improve- a Nativity scene which was more tortuous than the real thing- a moment of sentimentality was tracked with the turgidity of a drawn out version of that pile of steaming shit, ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. No edited highlights were offered up as a salvation for this particular lowlight. Oh no, a full length drawn out unedited version was served up lacking even the emotional void the original tried to cover up with bombastic excess and florid musicianship.
I felt sorry for the cast who I felt did not understand the material they were working with but I sense they realised it was not going to be their finest hour so in turn responded with performances which resembled a non stop infant stomping party. At times I wondered whether I was merely witnessing a series of tantrums held together by musical interludes.
Definitely not a show I would recommend to anyone I like-even those I don’t particularly care for merit more than this it must be said- it certainly has been the worst show I have seen so far this year.



This show by The Paper Birds-namely Jemma McDonnell, Kylie Walsh and Shane Durrant- focuses on an issue which affects most of us in our pursuit of keeping up with modern life as well as contemporaries, namely borrowing money via various means and the debt that this automatically incurs. Canvassed from real life members of the public, the facts and stories related throughout this show may be random but they relate to a vast majority of the public as each tale is laced with a sense of familiarity and whilst waking up in the middle of the night in a sweaty panic is far removed from simply putting it out of your mind and ignoring the problem at the same point both have a remarkably similar outcome in that they don’t actually deal with the problem in any active way.
Well presented the show is basic but effective-it would be churlish if it was a big budget production- and one feels that a lack of funds available to the participants has provided an active muse. Each of the trio on stage inhabits their various roles with consummate ease and the whirring sounds and motions which represent the being caught up in more debt, financial misunderstanding and encroaching cash chaos is extremely effective and summarises the feelings many of us have inside our heads when presented with our own financial situation; confusion blurred with even more confusion all operating at a seemingly breakneck speed.
The production offers up the neat summary that constant spending will only lead most of us into more debt but, at the same time, only constant spending can rescue the economy so it is a vicious circle our society and culture can’t get out of. More importantly it is a circle those in overall charge of our finances cannot afford to let us out of. Not exactly an appetising thought is it?
‘Broke’ looks at contemporary issues in an intelligent and entertaining way with minimal fuss. It certainly provides food for thought; even if the food for thought comes not from that least trusted of financial institutions, the bank, but instead from one of those current saviours of society, a food-bank.