Posts Tagged ‘ The Pleasance ’



I think it’s a scenario most of us are familiar with; the re-telling of a story from our past embellished with intricate details but which, although we believe it ourselves during the re-telling, in fact turns out to be a false memory. If what defines us are our memories and we are defined by such memories then how can we trust ourselves if said memories are false?
This is the subject Eamonn Fleming sets out to tackle in his one man show Confabulation! – confabulation being the psychiatric word for fabricating memories which lodge themselves in our brains as truths.
With Fleming it began with a Motorhead gig in his early teenage years which he can describe in vivid detail even down to the set list, who he was with and how it made him feel. There is just one problem however; he wasn’t actually there! In fact he was prohibited from going by his parents but several of his friends went and he seems to have involuntarily assimilated their experience to the point it has become his own.
An amiable and pleasant show Confabulation! takes a light-hearted look at this phenomena using scientific research-nothing too baffling or incomprehensible- shot through with humour and anecdotes.
All in all Confabulation! is a pleasant enough show which looks at something which effects most of us even if we are unaware of it. Fleming is a capable enough performer with a great delivery who holds the audience’s interest but his material and subject matter is hardly earth shattering.
Confabulation! is on at Pleasance Courtyard until August 27th at 1.40pm




Testosterone by the Rhum and Clay Theatre Company is quite probably one of the best shows you will see at this years Fringe with its unique and singular perspective on what it is to be ‘male’. Taking the intriguing step of looking at masculinity from a trans-man’s perspective and drawing attention to how minor incidents can become major issues very quickly in a world where trans-etiquette is still trying to find its own place and set of rules. Written by Kit Redstone who plays himself and directed by Julian Spooner, Testosterone is a fun fantastical ride which addresses some very serious issues.
Kit is a trans- man who has been transitioning for about a year after starting hormone therapy and has decided to take a huge leap forward in his attempts to be accepted as a de facto male by entering that exclusive enclave only open to ‘real’ men; the gym locker room. To Kit this is a place that engenders fear in him as it is a scary place for the uninitiated and as he is not privy to the behaviour patterns which pass as acceptable he is wary of any encounters or making a faux pas which might reveal that he is not a genetically born male; for him the simplest social situation can become a social minefield.
Having engaged in the standard fare of social interactions which seem to pass as changing room manners things then become rather more complicated when he mistakenly picks up a towel belonging to a Marlon Brando muscle type- Julian Spooner- who demands it back immediately. This causes concern and panic for Kit as by removing the towel he will be quite clearly revealing himself in his naked form and the secret that he had not planned, sharing or revealing in these particular circumstances will be out.
In the meantime the drama delves in and out of fantasy situations with dance routines and musical interludes throwing up such favourites such as It’s Raining Men and Kelis’ Milkshake, delivered by semi-drag of The Diva, Daniel Jacob, while the sportsman played by Matthew Wells completes the quartet of different types of male on display.
To say Testosterone is a fun play addressing serious issues is selling it short somehow as it has so much more than this to recommend it. It takes different ideas of men and dresses them in clichés but simultaneously it sets out to debunk said clichés quite effectively. It is a fascinating work which had the audience on its feet cheering on the afternoon I attended and I feel it could be one of the big hits of this year’s Fringe as it approaches Trans issues with verve, intelligence, humour, pathos and ultimately, defiant strength.



An imagined re-fashioning of Ken Loach’s social commentary film of 1966 Cathy Come Home, this production by Cardboard Citizens written by Ali Taylor and directed by Adrian Jackson called simply Cathy is a powerful and thought-provoking work which looks at how although we are supposed to be a civilised society it is still possible for someone to be failed by the system, through no discernible fault of their own. It captures perfectly one person’s spiralling descent into a nightmare situation from which it seems there is little chance of resolution, escape or halting.
The drama revolves around a Cathy, a single parent, and her daughter Danielle who have lived in private accommodation for years but recently she has got behind with her rent. Her landlord, spotting an opportunity of new tenants at increased prices due to the recent gentrification of the area, hands her an eviction notice unless she can meet his demands.
Unable to meet this ultimatum Cathy gathers Danielle, who is close to sitting her GSCSE’s and could really do without such upheavals at an already stressful time, and moves into emergency housing for supposedly 33 days when a more permanent solution will apparently be offered. Of course 33 days becomes 97 days and when an offer is made it is for another part of the country and if it is refused then social services will become involved and mother and child could be separated.
Suffice to say that the situation becomes progressively worse and Cathy’s predicament worsens and worsens until she hits rock bottom.
This production is a very powerful work and Cathy Owen in the title role is quite outstanding and she is ably supported by a small but effective and flexible cast: Hayley Wareham, Amy Loughton and Alex Jones. It certainly gives you something to consider in that on the surface there have been huge changes in social care but not so many that situations, such as Cathy’s, can still occur. It feels unnecessary and the system which is supposedly in place to prevent things such as this occurring can, if abused or not thought out properly, sometimes do more harm than good.
A powerful, thought-provoking work !
Cathy is on at Pleasance Dome Aug 5th-26th (not 14th) at 3,30pm


From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads

‘From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads’ borrows its title from one David Bowie’s greatest and most loved songs and cleverly opens with Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’, the song Bowie wrote ‘Life on Mars’ as a retaliation to after having his lyrics rejected –Paul Anka won out- and this one man play focuses on a teenager who is not only a Bowie obsessive but also suffers from mental health issues including an eating disorder.
Martin, played by Alex Walton, is the confused teenager at the centre of this work, which may actually disappoint Bowie fans expecting a musical homage to their hero but it is still a compelling drama in its own right. It is in essence a voyage of discovery for the teenage misfit as he tries to make sense of his dad who abandoned him at an early age but who left him a box to be opened on his 18th birthday which retraces the steps of both his life and that of his idol David Bowie.
Written and directed by Adrian Berry the production is not always easy to follow but it is always compelling. Likewise the use of Bowie’s music is slightly on the sparse side and more use could have been made of it in order to sustain a narrative thread.
In fact one scene which uses the isolated vocal from Ziggy Stardust track Five Years loses its momentum slightly as the impassioned vocal is set alongside a hysterical outpouring from Martin which distracts rather than adds to the drama. The vocal alone would have been more effective and I found myself more gripped by it than the dialogue.
At the end I was unsure of what conclusions had been reached and at times it felt as if the whole production was slightly under developed. I have seen this play before-about 15 years ago I think- and I felt much the same then. That said it is still worth seeing just don’t go along expecting it to enlighten you in any way about David Bowie as his role is a minor and at times inconsequential one even if he is the subject matter at its heart.
From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads is on at Pleasance Courtyard August 5-28 at 13.55pm


Cold/ Warm
There is very obviously a lot of talent in this production, not least the outstanding performance by Ieuan Perkins , but ultimately the whole thing is frustrating. The script meanders a little too much in the first half and although it picks up somewhat it takes too long to establish itself and by the time it does the audience may already be lost.
Trying to win an audience back after their attention has wandered and no matter how Perkins tried to hold our attention unfortunately the script let him down a little so his endeavours were somewhat fruitless even if they were effective.
Focusing on the mental breakdown of an isolated youngster lacking the guidance he had relied on from his mother until the authorities intervened and placed her in care. Perkins does an excellent job of mimicking these authoritarian figures but meanwhile his life is becoming more and more internalised until he is only able to observe it from his high-rise council flat. The ritual abuse of a neighbourhood dog simultaneously fascinates and horrifies him and he is at once emotionally involved but somehow detached.
The dialogue in this play is extremely clever but it is also more than a little clunky. Trying hard to make a point it seems to forget to involve the audience or even consider entertaining them. As a lunchtime show it is extremely difficult to digest and although it picked up and had a suitably climactic ending it still felt as if it was just slightly too little too late.
Cold/ Warm is at Pleasance Courtyard until 29th August at 12.45 daily.


Teatro Delusio
Teatro Delusio is essentially a theatre within a theatre and the experiences of technicians and backstage operatives performed by the extremely talented Familie Floz. It is a show with no words –although musical accompaniments by the likes of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninov amongst others provide an intelligent and atmospheric dialogue of their own- and twenty nine characters portrayed by three actors with only the use of exquisitely crafted, occasionally spooky, masks and lightning quick costume changes.
The narrative hinges around backstage life in the theatre where technicians play practical jokes on each other and dangers the audience are blissfully unaware of lurk in every situation; props, lighting rigs, construction and electricity all conspire to create hidden dangers.
Moving along at its own pace this is a very confident production which is aware that skill and craft are important tools in creating an ambience and are just as effective as big bang effects.
The three actors certainly have their work cut out for them and it often seems unbelievable that there only three of them as they manage to inhabit and portray different characters at lightning speed. The masks adorning their heads are exquisite and expressive but also, as mentioned before, at times a little spooky.
However the show does drag a little towards the end – it is one hour and fifteen minutes long- and I sensed restlessness within the audience around the fifty minute mark thus making the last fifteen minutes superfluous. It is also a show which might not appeal to everyone –although it was a sell out on the day I attended- as its slow pace might not be what everyone is looking for at this early hour of the day and the promise of so much hustle and bustle on the streets. Personally I found it to be an oasis of calm and a welcome relief from the manic activity out there on the streets.
Teatro Delusio is at The Pleasance Grand until August 29th at 13.45 daily


Boris: World King
Post Brexit this show is probably the most relevant at this year’s Fringe and Tom Crawshaw’s script attempts to capture the ruthless, arrogant, pompous, sexist megalomaniac behind the jovial, blustering buffoon who manages to charm his way into positions of power and then out of the messes he leaves behind him.
David Benson as Boris is superb; although Boris is possibly the biggest gift to any British actor in a long time and the more absurd they make him the more realistic and accurate the portrayal seems to be.
Presented in the form of a TV show the arch media manipulator runs a gamut of clichés from the spinning wheel to the picking attractive females out of the audience to indulge in some sporting activity with him.
Ably assisted by Alice Mc Carthy in a variety of roles –from Johnson’s beleaguered assistant to frustrated wife and many others in-between- the script ever lets up or disappoints. Like the character it portrays the more absurd and surreal the situation the closer to the truth it becomes until the idea of Boris as World King is maybe not such an unlikely proposition after all.
This is a very entertaining show which not only nails its subject but hammers the nails into him like skewers and it shows that the Tory Party is basically a game of Truth or Dare for old Etonians; with the truth part removed obviously!
Boris: World King is a thoroughly entertaining and clever show which captures the man who is at the heart of the nation’s mood at this time, even if he doesn’t hold a place in the nation’s hearts at the present moment. Highly recommended!
Boris: World King is at Pleasance Dome August 4th-29th at 17.40