Posts Tagged ‘ Fringe 2017 ’



Originally at the Fringe in 2013 Phoebe Waller Bridge’s Fleabag in the interim has become a successful and quite brilliant BBC production. Although she does not appear in this updated outing the baton has been handed onto Maddie Rice who although she doesn’t quite sprint ahead with it certainly holds onto it firmly.
Differing from the TV show, this is a one woman show wherein Rice sits alone on stage with only a chair as a prop and only the briefest of recorded interjections from peripheral characters, I can’t help but feel that something is lost as the protagonist’s interactions with and reactions to others is what made that show so very special. It is still an outstanding show though and Rice’s adaptation of the spiky, confrontational and acerbic Fleabag loses none of her mettle.
Focusing on the lot of what it is to be a woman in the modern world Fleabag feels as if she has little to recommend her other than sex. In fact sex is the currency she uses on a daily basis in every situation she encounters other than with her family and even then it is still bubbling close to the surface. Raunchy, explicit and direct are the mediums she uses to get across her message and although she is obsessed with pursuing her desires there is a hint of melancholy about it all; as if she is going through the motions of what is expected of her and hasn’t really considered what it is she truly desires herself as she is so busy feeding the fantasy of others and what modern culture expects of a liberated free thinking woman. She has removed herself from one stereotype and simply created a new prototype.
Defiantly confrontational Fleabag often makes for awkward listening and to anyone familiar with the production the scenarios adapted here will already be familiar. In some ways it is the greatest hits compilation of the TV series. This is no bad thing as they were such wonderful hits in the first place!
Fleabag is on at Udderbelly George Square until August 27th.


Dear Home Office 2: Still Pending

Featuring ten real male refugees from Afghanistan, Albania and Somalia each playing fictional characters based on their real life stories Dear Home Office 2: Still Pending is perhaps not the most accomplished show on the Fringe but it must certainly rank as one of the most moving.
Exploring how escaping their homeland may dilute one problem but when they arrive here there are a whole other set of hurdles to overcome. Amongst these are visas to guarantee citizenship, education, housing and even the basic right to remain here at all. The production utilises various short scenarios to highlight the plight of refugees and the bureaucracy and prejudice they face.
Elgin, an eighteen year old Albanian, desperately wants to improve his life chances and enquires about business courses and realises that due to his asylum seeker status and the £16,000 a year tuition fees this is simply not an option open to him and therefore finds himself on child care course instead.
Akram has his asylum status refused and evenm though he eventually wins his appeal his eventual victory has been soured by the inadequate advice and help he received during the process.
Another has his dreams of being a Hollywood star dashed when a Syrian refugee wins the oart he is after as Syria is more current and on trend. Yet another finds the whole situation too much and drowns himself in despair.
The whole premise of this show won me over but it was more the message it put across than anything happening on the stage. The acting and scene changing are positively clunky and rather inept to say the least. However any sense of frustration I felt at its conclusion was more to do with the plight of those involved rather than any ineptitude in the performances. Uktimately it is theatre with a cause at its core and a message in its heart.
Dear Home Office 2: Still Pending is on at gilded Balloon at 2.30pm until August 28th.



A totally relevant and impressive piece of multi-media drama focusing on the worrying trend of online shaming written and performed by Belle Jones and directed by Allie Butler, Shame looks at how this harmful trend not only affects the person at the centre of it but also their family and friends and even, in this case, the actual perpetrator.
Keira-Sarah Miele- seems like an average sixteen year old who likes to party, enjoys a drink and has experimented already with sex but her life and that of her mum Vicky-Jones-is turned upside down when she goes to party gets drunk then allows two older boys to have sex with her; unbeknown to her though the two boys film the aforementioned act on their phones to later post online to ‘shame’ her.
It doesn’t take long for the video to go viral and along with it a whole world of hatred, opinions and criticism follows in a torrent of ill-will and malice. The force seems unstoppable and when Vicky is called into the school to discuss the matter things only worsen as under the pressure of being in such an abusive spotlight it transpires that Keira has disappeared.
Panicking, upset and blaming herself Vicky herself goes into meltdown but salvation arrives in the form of long-term loyal friend Cheryl-Sarah McCardie- who starts a new twitter hashtag ‘unshaming’ which involves posting a video of yourself reciting a tale of the most regrettable thing or mistake you have ever done and how quickly it can be forgotten becoming yesterday’s news.
Soon the ‘unshaming’ tales are more prevalent on social media platforms and it seems the hostilities and condemnation turn into voices of support as it becomes clear many others have something they are ashamed of and if they are lucky enough to escape having had it posted it on social media then it really is just luck and an escape.
Jones gives an impeccably strong performance in this show but the drama unfolding behind her on a video screen from Keira and other peripheral characters along with the constant twitter updates showing the reaction to the shaming and its subsequent fall out is just as equally captivating. A worthwhile play that has a clear message showing that cyber bullying and shaming which is such a harmful disease in the modern world, where people are so detached and physically removed they sometimes can’t envision the hurt they are causing, but that it can be fought with a thoughtful approach.
Shame is on at Assembly George Square at 4.15pm until August 28th.


Glitter Punch

Perfectly capturing the awkwardness of adolescent teenage angst and the joys and heartaches of first love Glitter Punch, by Some Riot Productions, is a convincing tale with several underlying stories which contribute to the tale as told by Molly Shannon Davis aged 16 who with frequent regularity in a self-deprecating way reminds us she ‘is shit with words and my tits are too small’. Flawlessly played by Emily Stott one thing that can be said of her character is that she ‘is shit with words’ as the dialogue is almost poetic in its delivery and articulates everything she has to say quite comprehensively.
Commencing on Molly’s first day outside college where she is having a cigarette before going inside but finds herself drawn to John- Anthony Fagan- a 21-year-old who fascinates her with his conventional footwear and ,to her at least, his posh accent. Deriving that he is not from around Salford, where the play is set, it is established that he is from London and has recently lost his father which has brought on a serious bout of clinical depression that he is trying to work his way through.
We learn most of our facts about John via Molly’s discourse as he remains enigmatic and uncommunicative meaning we only know what we know by what wants Molly to know.
The burgeoning relationship starts to develop into something more and the two inevitably fall in love. During the course of related events a sexual relationship occurs and the awkward ness and sense of achievement on losing her virginity- from Molly’s viewpoint she loses nothing and gains so much more- is brilliantly enacted by Stott.
In fact Stott’s performance is a veritable tour de force and definitely rates as one of the most impressive I have seen on the Fringe this year. Written by Lucy Burke the dialogue is equally impressive and the direction is simple but highly effective. The simplicity of complex emotions reveal a depth in this work and the twist in the story towards the end is highly unexpected.
Glitter Punch is showing at Assembly George Square at 1.15pm until August 28th



Extremely relevant in the current climate with the fear over pensions and how future generations are going to cope left to the devices of a government who don’t feel they can sustain the ever-growing elderly population much longer. Assessment takes a dark look at how a future government could provide one way of solving this seemingly unstoppable problem and it does so with wry, curmudgeonly humour but also a worrying hint of truth.
Alan McDonald(Stephen Clyde) has reached his 77th birthday-celebrating may be too strong a word- and his daughter Karen(Karen Bartke) is trying to galvanise him into some semblance of party celebrations with little success. The icing on the birthday cake arrives in the form of the slimy government ’salesman’ with nearly as much oil in his manipulative manoeuvering as there is in his hair Amrit Roy (Taqi Nazeer) who is under strict instructions to make Alan commit to a new scheme the government is trying to implement.
This new scheme is on the surface an attractive one- so attractive that unbeknownst to him Alan’s daughter Karen has arranged for Roy’s visit- and involves a lump sum of £30,000 to be paid in place of the weekly pension he is already in receipt of. There is only one catch to this seemingly generous offer and that is that Alan will not be around to benefit from it.
Certainly the idea of voluntary euthanasia is initially abhorrent to Alan but Roy’s persuasiveness not to mention the added sucker punch of his superior Siobhan Clarke (Selina Boyack) soon makes him reconsider although obviously nothing goes quite the way anyone planned.
Written by Robert Dawson Scott the script is taut and full of dry witticisms despite the gravity of its subject matter. If it falls short anywhere then it is in the slightly pedestrian direction which at times feels flat-especially during the scene changes where some momentum is lost- and a little dated. It is however an extremely enjoyable production and the acting talent on display is highly commendable.
Assessment is on at The Gilded Balloon Rose until August 28th at 2.30pm


Safe Place

This interesting production focuses on the discordant dynamic between a well-respected elder generation feminist, Maxine, who has come under the spotlight of criticism and controversy with her views on transgender women’s rights and a young transgender woman, Rowan, who turns up on her doorstep claiming she needs a safe place to stay after reading a newspaper article wherein Maxine claimed she would feel compelled to offer shelter to a homeless person should she ever come across one in need.
Of course things are rarely as they initially seem and Rowan’s appearance and pleas for help although seemingly genuine come with an agenda all their own. What follows is a barbed battle of wits with both sides making convincing cases for their argument. Maxine as a long serving feminist- Germaine Greer is an obvious reference point and Greer herself has spoke disparagingly of the transgender issue- still feels the struggles she has suffered and the fights she has fought for women to be accepted on a more equal footing although she doesn’t feel that fight is anywhere near over yet. Her attitude to Rowan whilst not wholly unsympathetic is definitely not empathetic and the idea that a male having lived sixteen years as a male suddenly deciding to become a female is something she views as a male right; Caitlyn Jenner in a corset on the cover of Vanity Fair, coming from a position of privilege and money, is thrown up as an example of how suspiciously she views the idea of transgender rights and equality.
Rowan however tries to explain that it is not that simple and before she actually came out as trans she had struggled daily in her life beforehand and only found any solace after she had made the admission to herself and then to others.
Written and directed by Clara Glynn, Safe Place is an intriguing thought-provoking work that looks at an issue that is very relevant in our culture today. The cast, Jennifer Black, Nalini Chetty and Shane Convery as Rowan, all handle their roles with skill and nuance. It is a worthwhile play which raises interesting questions and gives a balanced idea that life as a female-transgender or biological- is never easy and by creating subdivisions and categories this merely weakens the battle as it creates unnecessary distractions.
Safe Place is on at Gilded Balloon Rose at 12pm until August 28th.


This is not Culturally Significant

Stripped naked streaked only in seemingly haphazard white paint enshrouded in darkness with only the starkest of lights revealing his taut, wiry figure Adam Scott- Rowley lays himself bare both physically and emotionally in a densely intense powerful work that is mesmerizing from start to conclusion. A reminder of what the Fringe once was in terms of innovation, inventiveness and new talent.
Right from the outset this show is confrontational as Scott-Rowley, playing with his genitals, acts out the part of female webcam porn star pleasuring herself and on the brink of orgasm in what must surely be one of the bravest starts to a show which lays clear its intentions from the get go.
This is merely the beginning and Scott-Rowley then embarks on a journey into the various twisted psyches of more than ten other characters including a podium dancing ‘on the spectrum’ gay man, a homeless Scottish person, a chain-smoking theatre person, a mischievous lesbian and the threatening and aggressive voyeur of aforementioned porn star. Often switching characters mid-sentence and even on occasion mid-word every syllable of the various dialogues is punctuated with meaning and poignancy. It is a barrage of intentions which never lets up and acts as a constant assault on the senses.
Not one for the faint hearted as it is not always easy to watch but at the same time it is fascinatingly compelling, making it impossible not to. Jarring, distorted, contorted, visceral, emotional, intense, disturbing and ultimately stunningly beautiful, This is not Culturally Significant is an amazing piece of work which will leave you quite exhausted but also exhilarated.
This is not Culturally Significant is on at Gilded Balloon Museum until August 26th at 11.45pm


Paris de Nuit

Taking its inspiration from Brassai’s photographs which documented the decadence, glamour and sex of Paris in the 1930’s, this show by Hungarian troupe Recirquel Company Budapest is possibly the sexiest show on the Fringe this year.
From the high sleaze of the opening number, from the faultless six piece live band, it is clear that this is a show which lays its appeal, intentions and actual performers squarely on the table. A stunningly gorgeous bunch they are too in various states of black undress highlighting beautifully sculpted bodies and rippling muscles. Immediate stand out is Renato Illes, who in his vertiginous high heels that most women would even struggle to walk across a room in, somehow manages to perform acrobatics and trapeze stunts that take your breath away.
The sex and sass are ramped up from the outset with boy on boy, girl on girl and boy on girl action, a tightrope strip tease concluding with a splits routine, slinky choreography, a passionate tango sequence which was strictly sizzling, juggling hoops all interspersed with moments of humour and light relief when things get really steamy.
This is definitely a show which has the ‘WOW’ factor and wow it certainly does. High sleaze, passionate drama, dangerous erotica and stunning visual treats all conspire to make this a physical manifestation of an era that has only previously existed in photographs and imagination.
Paris de Nuit is on at Assembly George Square Gardens until August 27th(not 21st) at 8.30pm


Letters to Morrissey

Although Morrissey is featured prominently in the title of this show by Gary McNair he doesn’t actually feature too strongly throughout which will be a relief to those who view the erstwhile rock icon as a flagrant narcissist who should learn to keep his mouth shut on topics he is ill-advised to comment on.
Of course there is the other train of thought which views him as a spokesman for generations of maladjusted misfits and remembers that he came only second to David Attenborough amongst a poll of the British public when the BBC set out to find the greatest cultural icon roughly ten years ago.
I lie somewhere between the two camps finding Morrissey an extremely talented and observational lyricist and one of our greatest musical heroes but have no inclination to ever meet the man. What is ironic about this however is that I did actually send letters to and receive them from Morrissey many years ago pre-Smiths fame via a correspondence about his –and mine also- beloved New York Dolls.
However I digress, and Gary McNair’s show is less about Morrissey and more about the importance of having something to believe in. Set around the time of the Queen is Dead-1986- and that thundering opening with its pounding drums opens the show proper although I must confess it was cut too short and a slightly less edited version may have had more dynamic impact. Instead McNair has a tale to tell which involves several amusing and touching anecdotes about being an awkward adolescent and finding a place for himself in the world via the music of The Smiths and more importantly in Morrissey’s lyrics which were defiantly about embracing difference and stepping away from the norms.
The show harks back to a time when music was an important ingredient in shaping most young individuals lives and indeed what type of music you listened to was almost tribal. For Mc Nair he found The Smiths music spoke as much to the school racist and thug, close friend Jan ‘The Lesbian’ and even the school counsellor as much as it did to him.
It is an entertaining show though at times it felt as if it were not quite attaining its full potential. As said before it harks back to a time when figures such as Morrissey and before him the likes of Bowie, Dylan and Lennon wielded great power over the youth of their times which musicians nowadays no longer possess and while the show plays on this it never really captures what exactly was so special about these people that allowed them to be elevated so highly. McNair does give a convincingly understated performance however and it is certainly a very pleasant and enjoyable show.
Letters to Morrissey is on at Traverse 2 until August 27th. Times vary daily.



Now this is what you call a show!
Gripping from its slow erotic beginnings, as sinuous bodies twist and meld into almost inhuman forms to the beautiful strains of a soothing violin which becomes more intense then frantic as the bodies become even more mellifluous, right through until its exhausting conclusion when all ten bodies roll around in choreographed unison.
Focusing on how much the human body can take and how far it can push itself the ten acrobats onstage push themselves to extremes creating human towers, throwing themselves across the stage, contorting and twisting into fantastical shapes, gliding and hanging from ropes and relying on each other and their own primal instincts continually whilst making it all look so effortless.
To say that I was spellbound by this performance would be an understatement. There was not one moment where I felt I could take my eyes away from the many things that were happening on the stage; often simultaneously. Obviously in peak condition the ten performers seemed to not even break sweat as they shifted gracefully from one routine to another until the whole show seemed seamless.The dynamism and obvious silent rapport the performers have with each other never fails to impress and the trust between them is obvious to any spectator.
Certainly a Fringe Highlight Circa have become a regular fixture and every year not only do they deliver but every year they seem to take things a step further. Definitely a show I would recommend to anyone and probably the best thing I have seen yet this year. And this has been a good year!
Circa: Humans is on at Underbelly Circus Hub on The Meadows until August 28th at 8pm