Mommy’s Dead and They Buried Her in Moscow | Nervous Theatre

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Reviews, Theatre

Aug 6-30 | On Demand | C Arts | Get Tickets | Learn More about the company

Three siblings are desperately questioning whether or not there is more to life as they navigate love and death, wondering if there truly would be more to their existence if they could move back to their vibrant hometown of Moscow or ‘What if we’re just three miserable people who would be miserable anywhere…?’

Told in an empty theatre and filmed in a single shot this show does an amazing job to replicate the feel of seeing something live on a stage without actually being there, more so than anything else I’ve seen this pandemic.

This talented group of actors and musicians have a knack for modern storytelling finding an original and exciting way to reimagine Chekhov’s Three Sisters for a young audience whilst still maintaining the cynical witticism of the text.

Integrating music and focusing on the siblings with no other cast is a clever way to maintain the core values of the script, looking at the family relationships and asking if there are really helping or hindering each other.

Remarkably complicated direction comes across as simple and effortless thanks to the brilliant cast and beautiful design.

An electrifying company who I hope will attend the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in real life soon! I will be queuing up for tickets!

The Arts Business Top Tips:

  • Reimagining old pieces for a new generation (especially canonical works like Chekhov) is a great way to attract the attention of the press or a traditional repertory audience, especially when it’s done this well. Once this crowd is attracted, others will follow! It’s although worth mention how tricky it is to make Chekhov this accessible. I remember reading his back catalogue at uni and it can be pretty dry, to say the least. I’ve never felt more connected and come out with a clearer understanding of his work than I have watching this production, so well done Nervous Theatre! An exciting new company that I will be sure to keep a close eye on!

Spontaneous Potter: The Unofficial Improvised Parody | The Spontaneous Players

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Comedy, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Reviews

Aug 22-29 | Varied Times | Gilded Balloon | Learn More about their UK tour

For anyone who doesn’t know (or has spent their entire life with their head in a cardboard box) J. K. Rowling lives in Edinburgh and it’s where she wrote the majority of the Harry Potter series. This is why, unsurprisingly, ANYTHING Harry Potter related does very well in Scotland’s capital!

And what does really well at any fringe, theatre or comedy festival? That would be Improv!

So, basically, The Spontaneous Players are onto an absolutely winning formula here. With some simple marketing and the existent following of this comedy troupe they are bound to sell out every fringe! It doesn’t really matter if the shows any good…

…which it is! It’s brilliant.

Just pick a title, which in our case was Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Andrew, and away we go.

The clear experience and unity of this group shines through in their performance. They have a great knowledge of the films and books (bar one which is used as a hilarious gimmick). They’re a little too focused on gags rather than story so it did drag in places and they need to work on the corpsing, but it’s great fun and well worth a watch especially if you’re a fan of the Harry Potter universe and even if you’re not!

The Arts Business Top Tips:

  • In general, to produce content or products around existing ideas that are still in copyright you need to pay a licensing fee. This is unless you create a parody! Therefore, it is well worth learning your parody laws. Parody is viewed as an art form in itself, and iconic Fandoms like Harry Potter, Game of Thrones or Doctor Who, already have a following which is an existing market and audience for you to tap into. To learn more about Parody Laws check out this awesome article from the Copyright User.
  • Location is key! Harry Potter has strong links with Edinburgh which is why it works well in the city. The Spontaneous Players have previously performed Spontaneous Sherlock also iconic in Scotland as Arthur Conan Doyle, author of the Sherlock Holmes Series attended the University of Edinburgh. So, think about your location and use it to your advantage: for example, I live in Birmingham which is renowned for being home to J. R. R. Tolkien who wrote the Lord of the Rings.

Tom Brace: Eat, Sleep, Amaze, Repeat | Play People Productions

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Magic, Reviews

Aug 11-14 | 5pm | Underbelly George Square | Learn More about his upcoming UK Tour

 

In any other year, there is no way Tom Brace would be in Underbelly George Square. But this year at the Fringe is different. This year has given the underdog an opportunity in the big venues, to play to the biggest crowds they’ve ever performed in front of and to grow their following and reputation. It’s a delight to see and it’s exactly what the Fringe should stand for.

This is why seeing Tom Brace was an absolute joy!

A family entertainer who is redefining what a magician is for a new generation, incorporating personal videos through projection, TikTok Challenges and loads of opportunity for audience participation.

Tom has a wonderfully relatable and infectious personality which creates instant engagement with the audience. A new kind of magician for the new normal.

 

The Arts Business Top Tips:

  • Just go for it! Especially at a time where no one else is. This Fringe has been like no other. With limited in-person performances, it means smaller acts who might ordinarily have been in smaller venues desperately flyering for a crowd have received upgrades. Regardless of whether the audience is there because they have chosen your show or because there is literally nothing else on it has still worked out as being great exposure for the performers, especially if you have provided a great quality show like Tom Brace.

Kate Smurthwaite: The Last Major of Fihalhohi | Kate Smurthwaite

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Comedy, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Reviews

Aug 9-29 (not 17) | 7.20pm | PBH’s Free Fringe @ Banshee Labyrinth | Get Tickets

Kate Smurthwaite diverts from her usually politically driven comedy at this year’s fringe (because let’s be honest, we’ve all had enough of that over the last few years) to take us on a hilarious journey of a lockdown spent in the Maldives.

There’s a certain amount of jealousy felt when you hear that in January the day before the UK resumed a complete closure of the borders Kate, now working online as a tutor with no stand-up venues open, called a hotel in Fihalhohi, booked an incredibly cheap deal in a three-star hotel (as unsurprisingly they were not fully booked) and flew off, literally, into the sunset

This diversion into storytelling rather than satire is quite the risk but has really paid off. With a PowerPoint photo album in the background and her naturally funny performance, Kate is constantly engaging as the audience is taken through soaring highs and devastating lows experienced on these tropical islands.

Hilarious, moving and weirdly relatable as it’s basically the same shit, different (albeit better) island! I hope we see more comedy like this from Smurthwaite in the future alongside her politically driven shows.

The Arts Business Top Tips:

  • Not only is Kate a comedian, a writer and an activist who has diversified her show content, the pandemic led her into tuition (both comedy and posh kids from private school), video production, online shows, gaining a catamaran license and generally putting a lot of work into the expansion of herself as a business. She’s a complete badass businesswoman as well as a great storyteller and hilarious comic. Anyone looking to work in performance can and should take her as a great role model!

Hear. Speak. See. | Expial Atrocious

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Reviews, Theatre

Aug 16-30 | On Demand | Fringe Player | Get Tickets

 

Is this the dinner party from hell… or is it limbo? Is that your conscience talking to you or is it so bizarre that, in a strange twist of fate, it might just be real.

Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland meets Stephen Berkoff’s Metamorphosis in this newly devised production from Midlands-based company Expial Atrocious.

Half delirium, half horror movie and filmed through a fish-eye lens from the point of view of you, the guest, you’re immediately immersed into this twisted tale.

Faye, Ez and Nic give carefully examine how to characterise the concepts of Hear, Speak and See no evil through different dynamics and distinctive, individualised performances whilst serving this doomed driver their last super.

A truly original show executed to the freakiest and most fantastic standard.

 

The Arts Business Top Tips:

  • This play experiments with cutting edge technology. I imagine it has been designed to work in a virtual reality headset. When cutting off senses so the tea party is all you can see and the creepy dialogue and eerie effects are all you can hear the action can only be enhanced. The perceived glitches to different areas of the room would add to the paranormal feel of the piece.
  • Another added bonus is the fact it can be directly streamed to headsets in your home and create the same if not a better experience than if you were actually on location. This has a huge budget impact as once it has been filmed the costs can be kept relatively low for online, on-demand streaming.

Fairytale 20/20 | body portal theatre

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Reviews, Theatre

Aug 16-30 | On Demand | Greenside @ GreenScreen | Get Tickets

 

This beautifully made short film examines exactly what it means to live ‘Happily Ever After’.

Choreographer, Sarah Lee, and actor, Ella Jung, are looking to produce their Fairytale show for a performing arts festival, but quickly realise, coming from the world of theatre, they have no idea how to make a film.

Considering this they have successfully managed to make a documentary meets storytelling extravaganza packed full with stunning content and superbly put together.

Interweaving their process into every step of this film body portal theatre takes us through external workshopping their ideas to creating a series of tales reflecting both what they’ve learnt and their own opinions on the meaning of ‘Happily Ever After’.

They use innovative mask work, flowing costume and simple choreography to tell these modern folk stories with the gorgeous settings of Hawaii as a backdrop, you can’t help but feel positive after watching this! They may not have known how to make a film but they have most certainly nailed it.

 

The Arts Business Top Tips:

  • If you don’t know how, just give it a go. Sure you can sit around discussing it until you’re blue in the face but that’s not actually going to create any work (unless you put it in the documentary like body portal theatre have). We live in a golden age of technology and online education so if in doubt Google what to do or check out a YouTube video. Then get your work out there! And you might just make yourselves a little gem of performance art, a new entity in itself, carving out your own path and developing your own techniques for your own work, like Fairytale 20/20.

It Kind of Looks Like a Doughnut | Holly Boyden with Curve Theatre and Pleasance

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Reviews, Theatre

Aug 6-30 | On Demand | Pleasance Online | Get Tickets

Two ‘sort of’ friends from the East Midlands navigate the confusing and sometimes scary world of sexual health clinics and sexual preferences as one embarks on childbirth and the other is diagnosed with advanced HPV.

The show closely follows the story of Eva and Jo as they struggle through life with the additional appearance of an intermediary character who is part narrator, part multirole player and part Greek Chorus explaining and commenting on the action as it unfolds.

This excellent new writing from Holly Boyden has been distinctly designed for the stage using tables and choreography to transition from scene to scene allowing the audience’s imagination to fill in the gaps.

It’s no wonder this piece of theatre won the 2021 National Partnership Award with Curve Theatre. As a Midlander, it is easy to see why a Leicestershire Theatre would want to back this. As a semi-autobiographical writing it is immensely informative at times and mightily moving at others.

As a recent graduate, this is Holly’s first visit to the Edinburgh Fringe (albeit virtually) and I suspect not her last. A strong start is bound to have an exciting future.

The Arts Business Top Tips:

  • Keep your sets simple! This show (I’m pretty sure I’m right in saying) is designed with Lack Tables from IKEA, which is a stroke of genius! Not only do they cost next to nothing, they flatpack down making this show crazy easy to tour and are cunningly adaptable to create almost any location needed for the play. They can also be quickly modified to account for any shape or size venue this performance may enter. And they are available from any IKEA in the world, so if you lose or break them they are very easy to quickly replace.
  • Having the two main characters supported by just one other cast member who multirole plays all other needed characters and narrates the story is very shrewd. Not only does this keep cast costs low but also creates a somewhat mystical element to the storytelling that would otherwise be lost.

Femme Ta Bouche | A Drunken Sailor

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Reviews, Theatre

Aug 16-21 | 7.35pm | theSpaceUK@Triplex | Learn More

 

Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome to the stage, the fabulous, the feminine and the fantastically inspiring Femme Ta Bouche.

Now, SHUT YOUR MOUTH and listen up!

Femme Ta Bouche is from the southern states of America. A new kind of performer who is wowing the world with her gender-bending cabaret act. And for what may be her last performance, at least for now, she intends to break into a Christian, Gay Conversion Camp, on film, and expose their secrets.

Although it got off to a bit of a slow start (I felt the first scene could have been about half the length) after twenty minutes I was completely engrossed in the story. An intelligently written metaphor reflecting the beauty and fragility of love splendidly ties together the beginning and end and keeps you hooked throughout.

The scenes were interspersed with backstory told through simple and skillfully edited projected film enabling us to understand the finer details of the action.

An important premise and informative show well performed. With a bit more workshopping I think this could be refined into a prolific theatre show.

 

The Arts Business Top Tips:

  • It’s hard to believe that these horrendous atrocities still take place, especially in the Western World. I think theatre can find a place of importance in education to ensure as many people as possible know about these camps. Hopefully, awareness will bring change.

Semi-Toned Presents: A Study in Burgandy | Semi-Toned

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Music, Reviews

Aug 16-28 | 6.30pm | theSpaceUK@Symposium Hall | Get Tickets

 

I know I’ve said this about improv but you also can’t do the Edinburgh Fringe properly without seeing a bit of A Cappella. Usually, you can do this by swanning up the royal mile and checking out the mobile stages but alas this year it’s a little more difficult to come by. That’s why I was so delighted to see fringe regulars Semi-Toned back on the bill at theSpaceUK this year!

As ever they intertwine witty banter and panto style comedy with flawless A Cappella arrangements of classic and modern hits in a choreographed performance in which you can’t help but smile all the way through.

The standout song for me was a medley of James Bond songs, and performers worth a special mention include incredible beatboxer Max, who is so good he gets his own percussion solo and Jacob who is wonderfully consistent and engaging from beginning to end.

What makes this show even more amazing than usual is that, due to covid restrictions, the lads only had a week to rehearse in real life. I mean, damn! That is incredibly impressive! If they’re that good after a week I can only imagine how fantastic it’ll be next year!

 

The Arts Business Top Tips:

  • Semi-Toned used to be just another one of these university A Cappella groups and (although admittedly on the upper end of the quality scale) used to blend in with the rest of the unaccompanied music scene. That was until they got involved in some Reality-TV shows, winning BBC2’s The Choir in 2016 and becoming finalists on Sky One’s Sing in 2017. I’m not saying it’s easy to do Reality-TV but it has created an amazing platform for this group to perform shows year on year with massive audiences. So never disregard platforms that could act as launch pads.

Triple Bypass: Three Ten-Minute Plays About Living for Death and Dying for Life | Hardly Working Promotions LLC in conjunction with Aberdeen Community Theatre

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Reviews, Theatre

Aug 6-30 | On Demand | Online@theSpaceUK | Get Tickets

Enjoy three plays in one with this smorgasbord of new writing from Deena Ronayne. This year it’s online and being virtually cast to 14 festivals worldwide but next year the intention is to return to the fringe with a cast of locally sourced Scottish actors.

The selection opens with Seeking Dignity a desperately dark narrative between a mysterious man who is seeking death and the girl next door who wants to drag him through the pain of life for as long as possible. When you’re already dying is that punishment enough for the mistakes of life?

We conclude with Tango-ed Web paralleling human existence with the natural life cycle of insects, exploring what is the meaning of life and we can ever really dodge fate and avoid our true destinies.

These pieces sandwich my personal favourite Close to Black where two very different women meet outside a nightclub. Elements of this show reflect Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, as two women (who we assume are Amy Winehouse and Karen Carpenter) have a conversation wondering what awaits them in the afterlife.

There’s some great writing here and all these short stories have enough substance to be explored as long-form plays. Take Close to Black, for example, I can see this with additional characters like Janis Joplin, Marilyn Monroe or Britney Murphy all discussing problems they’ve had through life and how these are overcome with death.

A dark yet strangely optimistic series giving you countless reasons to live!

The Arts Business Top Tips:

  • If you’re experimenting with writing styles and ideas this is a great way to showcase your scripts and workshop your ideas. By bringing scripts alive with a cast and crew you may discover more than you ever could have working alone. This way you can establish which concepts you want to focus on.
  • It also allows any potential collaborators out there to see a wider array of what you’re capable of! These scripts are written in three very different styles showing the breadth of Deena Ronayne’s writing styles.