Posts Tagged ‘ GILDED BALLOON ’


Lucie Pohl: Apohlcalypse Now
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.
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


Horse McDonald in Careful
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.


The Elephant Man
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


Confessions of a Red Headed Coffee Shop Girl
Back at The Gilded Balloon again after last year’s successful run of the show- I unfortunately missed it due to time constraints so was glad to hear it was back in an updated version this year- is Confessions of a Red Headed Coffee Shop Girl written and directed by Rebecca Perry.
However unfortunately my enthusiasm was dampened within the first five minutes when I realised that the show was going to be on the ‘zany’ side. This is just personal taste but it is a form of theatre which palls very quickly for me and no amount of enthusiasm emanating from the stage ever manages to grip me quite as much as maybe it should.
This is not to decry the production outright though as Perry is obviously an extremely talented young lady who puts her all into her performance and the musical numbers are all brilliantly executed and stunningly delivered. However these stray into musical theatre territory and again this is something I am not to partial to although versions of Joni Mitchell’s ‘California’ –adapted as Caledonia for a Scottish theme- and Judy’s ‘Don’t Rain On My Parade’ were faultless.
The storyline revolves around the recently graduated anthropology student Joanie Little leaving her dead-end job at a coffee shop intending to follow her dreams by travelling to Tanzania to work with her anthropological heroine Jane Goodall at her renowned institute. The adventures which follow are all delivered at a quite relentless pace which allow little time for contemplation but are all well crafted.
Obviously a lot of work has gone into this show and Perry is an accomplished performer but the show just didn’t gel with me and often it lapsed into Gang Show Territory although no-one can deny Perry’s determined enthusiasm but I would prefer to see her in something a little less forced and frantic.
Adventures of a Red Headed Coffee Shop Girl is showing at The Gilded Balloon Aug 3-29 ( not 10th , 17th 20th) at 16.15


The Club
Always a Fringe highlight, Ruaraidh Murray returns to The Fringe with his fifth consecutive show and it is as compelling, dark, twisted, toxically humorous and thought-provoking as all the other works he has brought to the Gilded Balloon over the last four years.
Like last year’s offering which saw Murray moving on from the one-handed show this year he again enlists the help of another, Mark Farelly, to take his writing into new and even more impressive areas.
Focussing on one particularly trying day and night in the running of the Tardis club where a series of marauding underworld menaces, family members and girlfriends past and present are always lurking in the background although they are never actually seen.
George (Murray) and Nick (Farrelly) have managed to get themselves into financial straits; or at least George has, however even that becomes more tenuous as the play unfolds. Owing £100,000 plus to the ruthless gangster Dave Sharky desperate measures are required; being tied up with the threat of torture followed up by the likelihood of probable death is about as desperate as things can get.
Not that this stops George and Nick from bickering and revealing secrets they have never shared before including some interesting dialogue from Nick time serving in the Falklands War which he has never felt comfortable discussing before. Meanwhile George reveals a family secret which impacts on their relationship forever.
The impressive thing about this play is the speed in which the dialogue shifts creating different moods without you even noticing. It is something constant in Murray’s work and it is wholly effective in ensnaring an audience and keeping them gripped throughout.
The staging and direction are also faultless – effective and hilarious use is made of the dildo as award prop- and the performances nuanced and among the best you will see at this year’s Fringe.
Murray scores again and along with Farrelly has created yet another Fringe highlight not to be missed!
The Club is showing at The Gilded Balloon <strongfrom August 3rd -29th at 17.00


This new play by former Fringe First winner Henry Naylor contrasts the plight of two different women who find themselves colonised by their circumstances and tied to their plights through laws and restrictions despite being separated by a one hundred and seventy-five year time frame. The two-handed drama is intense and clear in its aims from the outset and the two characters, both seventeen and both hailing from Ispwich, Tillie ( Felicity Houlbrooke) the Victorian who is sent to India as some form of breeding machine to help build the empire and Samira (Filipa Bragança) who is recruited to become the wife of a fighter for the Islamic caliphate both start out as idealists looking for escape but instead only discover horrors and feel even more imprisoned than they did previously.
Their various observations, thoughts and fears are acted out alongside each other and although their personal circumstances are radically different it transpires as they find themselves enmeshed in situations where men make all the decisions , have all the freedoms and mete out any form of justice they consider to be right in their eyes that women have really not come very far in certain cultures.
This is an extremely intense and rewarding work which focuses on the parallels of two different women’s lives and whilst many will find Tillie’s experiences difficult to comprehend because of the Victorian values she espouses others will find Samira’s cultural differences just as hard to fathom. It is a play of complex emotions and the perfectly nuanced performances lend it depth and intelligence.
Echoes is on at The Gilded Balloon daily at 5.30pm until August 31st


Derby Day
Festering family secrets lie at the heart of this impressive fast paced drama by Samuel Brett Williams. Focussing on the three Ballard brothers, Frank (Robert M. Foster), Ned (Malcolm Madera) and Johnny (Jake Silbermann), who arrive at the races following their father’s funeral earlier in the day, each with their own grievances and secrets. What starts off as barely civil swiftly degenerates into accusations, recriminations and alcohol fuelled confessions followed swiftly by outbreaks of violence as the day progresses and the alcohol flows.
It transpire that none of the brothers has been wholly successful in his life choices with Johnny fresh out of jail, Frank a recovering alcoholic and several failed marriages and Ned the archetypal womanising hard-drinking loser who suffers from the indignity of believing he was adopted. It seems there is little love between these three brothers and even less for their recently departed father referred to not so affectionately as The Old Bastard. Added to this dysfunctional trio is their waitress for the afternoon Becky (Teresa Stephenson) who, as an outsider, is able to spot the sibling rivalries, jealousies and competitive streaks then subsequently offers condolences, sympathy, advice and reprimands as and when they are appropriate.
This is an extremely strong ensemble production with all the actors giving stand out performances. A spare set and simple but effective lighting provide the right atmosphere and never detract from the dialogue or the acting. Moments of humour are handled as well as the serious issues here and provide a welcome relief when all the back biting and fighting seems like it is spiralling totally out of control. No easy answers are offered as a solution at its conclusion as this type of family issues never wholly resolve themselves anyway. Definitely a theatrical highlight at this year’s Fringe, Derby Day is a sure-fire winner!
Derby Day is on at 3pm daily at the Gilded Balloon until August 31st