Posts Tagged ‘ Fringe 2016 ’

LUCIE POHL: APOHLCALYPSE NOW

Lucie Pohl: Apohlcalypse Now
2016LUCIEPO_GI
This fast paced comedy show crackles with sparkly wit, inventiveness, lightning speed character and location changes and high velocity humour. Raised on New York but of Romanian/ German descent Lucie Pohl makes much use of her family’s background in theatrical circles where ‘drama ala carte’ is nearly almost the household dish of the day.
Whether it be her father and his eternal frustrations with his printer- a common place problem many of us can identify with- her mothers own special dramatic flourishes or even her Romanian grandmother’s contributions they all create a hilarious mixture of sage advice or piquant observations wrapped up in their own individual theatrics.
Add to this melting pot of crazy characters an amphetamine fuelled agent, a Greek boyfriend, aptly named Adonis and a Turkish lover.
Combine the aforementioned people with a dead-end job as a waitress in a meatball joint which is abandoned in favour of a job in an ad for urinary tract infections before what promises to be the career highpoint of an acting part in a film with Michael Madsen.
Phew!
And breathe!
Well actually how Pohl finds time to breathe is a mystery as she pauses for nothing, not even breath, for the whole duration of this one hour show and somehow it never feels forced or rushed. The drama which unfolds so wraps you up in it that you simply don’t notice the hour whizzing by.
Generally I am not too much of an advocate for comedy and I don’t review it too often as general rule but I thoroughly enjoyed this show finding it refreshing and funny whilst relishing the rapid fire delivery so many character changes necessitates.
Definitely recommended!
****
Lucie Pohl: Apohlcalypse Now is at Gilded Balloon at 17.30 daily until August 29th

ANOHNI -HOPELESSNESS, THE PLAYHOUSE EDINBURGH

Anohni-The Playhouse, Edinburgh
4000
Having already released one of the best albums of the year, Hopelessness, and what also must rate as one of the most cohesive and affecting protest albums of all time Anohni delivers a live show of unparalleled strength, beauty and inventiveness.
Drawing heavily on her New York performance art background and connections, the Hopelessness live outing brings new intrigues and intelligence to rock as theater and in the process creates a live show unlike any other.
Opening with a twenty minute film of Naomi Campbell- admittedly an incongruous choice to promote a performance which centres around the un-justness of the world; a spoilt supermodel who demands diamonds as payment and hits assistants with mobile phones- dancing in a cavernous bunker clad only in a bikini, heels and a hat which resembles the crown of the Statue of Liberty accompanied by a soundtrack which sounded like a crashing wave synthesised with white noise.
Obviously timed to test the audience’s patience, it was only during the last two minutes that a restless edginess set in and people started to talk amongst themselves, they were soon silenced as the instantly recognisable voice of Anohni broke through from out of the darkness and gave a stunning rendition of Hopelessness.
It wasn’t until the second number 4 Degrees that she made her way onto the stage and then all that could be seen was a series of black silhouettes clad in what resembled a burqa crossed with a beekeeper’s outfit.
Obviously never comfortable in the spotlight- her uneasiness was apparent when I saw her before in her previous incarnation of Antony- this is as much of Anohni as will be seen throughout this performance, instead a series of women on a huge screen at the back of the stage mouth the lyrics in perfect synchronicity. It is a highly effective way of getting the lyrics across and their faces bear the pain of the emotional content in the songs. Anohni herself makes only the briefest of appearances on the screen thus letting others present the lyrics for her.
When she does move across the stage it is minimal but highly effective; during the bleak attack of ‘Obama’ she strides back and forward like John Merrick, the Elephant Man, in the David Lynch film.
The music itself is faultlessly performed by Daniel Lopatin and Hudson Mohawke creating banks of sound from either side of the stage to great effect. None of her old repertoire or recordings are aired in this show and there is neither a cello or piano in sight or within earshot; this is a whole new phase of Anohni’s career and one she obviously wishes to stand on its own very impressive merits.
It is a totally innovative show crackling with inventiveness- it does adopt a theme and stick with it but it is an extremely effective theme-and modernity. Definitely one to beat as far as live music goes as it gives the whole genre a brand new context and perspective.

STARMAN

Starman
Starman-Landscape
Eight months on since the shocking news of David Bowie’s death and somehow it still doesn’t seem real. More than a rock star Bowie’s influence and presence are so ingrained in our cultural DNA that his spectral presence still hovers over us informing our thoughts and his music is as potent, poignant and essential as ever.
This show by Sven Ratzke places some of these songs in a cabaret setting and accompanying narrative. It is not such a shock to hear some of Bowie’s greatest works given the cabaret treatment as Bowie himself was as influenced by cabaret as any other genre.
I mean what are Five Years and Rock and Roll Suicide –the opening and closing tracks of his classic Ziggy Stardust album- if not cabaret informed by the currency of rock and roll and even this show’s title song Starman leans so heavily on Judy Garland’s Over the Rainbow that it could be considered grand theft. That was always Bowie’s genius though, being able to steal all the right elements and put them together in a totally new and imaginative way.
The songs that Ratzke features in this show include a jazz tinged Rebel Rebel, a beautiful Lady Grinning Soul, a Weimar influenced Time, Space Oddity and a strident Heroes.
I wasn’t quite as keen on the inter-song banter however and found it overplayed and on occasion meandering. It was never quite as funny as it aimed to be and often felt added on and unnecessary.
The songs however speak for themselves and who cares if Ratzke is no David Bowie as there never was and never will be another like him, so trying to compete is pointless. The show has its moments and when it shines it really does sparkle in stardust. It is a shame that the dialogue in-between doesn’t match these moments as if this wasimproved upon it would make the difference between merely a good show and a great one!
***
Starman is at The Assembly Spiegletent at 20.45 until the 28th August

HORSE MCDONALD IN CAREFUL

Horse McDonald in Careful
2016HORSE_AVZ
This extremely affecting autobiographical piece of theatre is at various times heartfelt, touching and very emotionally raw. Only occasionally does it stray into over sentimentality-I am thinking particularly of the inclusion of the concrete slab of bombast that is Snow Patrol’s ‘Run’ over-killed by Leona Lewis which accompanies her wife’s wedding proposal- but most of the time steers a course in comprehension into her loneliness and isolation.
Describing growing up in the rather reticent town of Lanark in the nineteen seventies where glam rock, as portrayed by Bowie and Marc Bolan and the experimentation it encouraged, probably died as the end credits to the weekly dose of Top of the Pops fade from the screen raised her hopes briefly but eventually helped to perpetuate her loneliness.
Gender fluidity was not such a hot topic for discussion in those days and any thoughts of re-assignment was met with horror, dismay and questions about her sanity. Psychologist followed psychiatrist and talking about dreams led to filling in questionnaires before ECT was offered up as a ‘cure’.
Even her relationship with her parents which had always been good until this point suffered although it is clear that the deep love between all parties was ultimately unbreakable.
Basically a spoken word piece incorporated into theatrical prose aided by musical interludes- the Snow Patrol moment aside these are usually well chosen and fitting to the dialogue it surrounds- Careful is an extremely worthy production.
Horse herself gives a great performance never losing her stride even when describing situations, times and emotions which have obviously been harrowing and upsetting. Definitely a form of catharsis it often feels like the audience are the psychiatrists and psychologists who permeated her youth only now they are listening to what she has to say rather than languishing in their own preconceived ideas and notions.
****
Horse McDonald in Careful is showing at The Giled Balloon Museum until August 29th at 19.30 daily.

ATTRAPE MOI

Attrape Moi
2016ATTRAPE_AT
Attrape Moi is essentially Flip Fabrique, a six piece dance and physical theatre group from Quebec, whose show is never anything short of impressive.
Whether it be hula hoops, juggling balls, trampolines and yoyos all combined to create a thoroughly entertaining show.
The loose narrative revolves around six friends re-uniting an playing tricks on each other whilst involving themselves in escapades.
If I have a criticism of this show it is that the venue-Assembly on the Mound- lacks intimacy preventing involvement or engagement with the audience; particularly if you are up in the balcony as I was. At times it felt I was watching something on an exceptionally small television screen.
For these shows to be successful the audience has to sense some kind of tension- I saw Closer by Circa last week at the Udderbelly and you could almost bathe in the perspiration, concentration and intensity of the performance whilst getting caught up in the total palpable atmosphere- but this was non-existent for me at this show.
Yes, I was impressed by the skill and ability of the performers and of course the trust they must place and have in each other is beyond words but ultimately I felt quite disconnected from it all.
Despite this it is still a worthwhile show although I would recommend getting there as early as possible so you on’t feel you are watching the action from a distance.
***
Attrape Moi is at Assembly Mound at 18.00 until August 29th (not 22nd)

GROWING PAINS

Growing Pains
2016GROWING_N6
This is truly an excellent show!
Not only has Tom Gill-surely a major talent in the making- written and produced the work but he also uses it as the platform, to give what is possibly the stand out solo performance of this year’s Fringe.
By avoiding settling into any singular genre –at one point he declares how musical theatre ruins any authenticity before bursting into song himself- and deconstructing the elements of traditional theatre then assembling them in his own unique and singular way, he creates a wholly original and thoroughly cohesive work which is compelling throughout.
The narrative hinges on his own personal bildungsroman and the characters and situations which help shape the person. Slipping out of characters and accents seamlessly- although his Jamaican accent often veers towards Irish but Gill uses this to comic effect by drawing attention to it and conversely somehow manages to add to rather than distract from the work- it is a total tour de force which sees sweat dripping off Gill as he inhabits each moment of this production with intense conviction.
The musical interludes are not anything like traditional musical theatre- thank Go- as Gill puts a totally contemporary spin on them and uses these sequences as another form of transmitting the dialogue driving the tale. They are easy to follow and not once during the show does either his or the audience’s attention waver.
I could go on and on about how impressed I was with this show- it is compelling, funny, intense, involving and so much more- but in the end the best advice I can give is go see it for yourself. Yes, go see this show!
*****
Growing Pains is on at The Underbelly Cowgate at 16.30 until August 29th

THE ELEPHANT MAN

The Elephant Man
Elephant-man-343
The tragic tale of John Merrick, born with extreme physical deformities, has become a familiar one thanks to David Lynch’s classic 1980 version and David Bowie’s performance in the lead role on the Broadway stage from around the same time. Whilst obviously a more low-key offering this production from Fringe Management and Canny Creatures is no less affecting with strong, touching performances which capture the essence of the tale.
It is a beautifully paced adaptation which is perfect if you are looking for a late lunchtime/early afternoon show to see. It captures in an extremely concise manner how Merrick went from being a prize exhibit in a travelling freak show to being the toast of Victorian London society-itself something of freak show in itself- even winning admiration from royalty due to the patronage of a star of London stage and theatres, Mrs. Kendal.
Great performances all round especially from Michael Roy Andrew as Merrick who uses his body to capture the sinuous awkwardness and deformities of Merrick rather than relying on the grotesquery of make up or prosthetics. My one concern is that all five female roles were played by Kirsty Eila McIntyre when each male character had a different actor assigned. Not that McIntyre was less than capable in each of her roles-she actually excelled- but in some ways it spoke to me of women being interchangeable and indistinguishable from each other. Of course I could be wrong and it was all down to a matter of economics and practicality.
Definitely a show worth seeing and even if it doesn’t add anything to its more famous interpretation be glad at least that it certainly doesn’t detract from them either.
****
The Elephant Man is on at the Gilded Balloon until August 28th at 13.15 daily