REVIEW | Fat Chance | Rachel Stockdale | Edinburgh Fringe

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Festival, Reviews, Theatre

24-28 Aug | 10.30am | Pleasance Dome | JackDome | Get Tickets


The job of an actor always appears glamourous and cool to the outsider but there are few patrons of the industry who know the real story. The sad reality is that, even in these times of change driving towards equality, the mainstream arts industry in Britain is still orientated towards (for lack of a better description) white, thin, southern people.

And the truth is that this particular part of the theatre world is not well regulated, if regulated at all. Agents can pick and choose their clients based on race, gender and aesthetics and don’t have to justify their choices or diversify their books.

This is what lead Rachel Stockdale to being told:

“You’re Northern, you’re fat and you’re a woman. You can only be two out of three to make it in this industry.”

Fat Chance is her story of fighting to be an actor whilst upholding who she truly is, a plus-sized, northern woman.

And she does this brilliantly weaving in storytelling with statistics and facts to emphasis the prominence of fatphobia in our society.

Did you know, for example, that measuring your BMI is based off a singular study which was designed for Caucasian men and not only does it not take women or race into account but has never been queried since it’s discovery in the 1800s and introduction into mainstream medicine in the 1980s. Makes you think doesn’t it?

The action centres around Rachel’s living room, taking us on a guided tour of the intimate details of her life, both the professional and personal aspects. By cleverly intertwining AV, physical comedy and moment of unabashed realness she really hammers some home truths into the audience.

A remarkable first production. I have no doubt she will move onto great things,


The Arts Business Top Tips:

  • Biography: Who’s story do you know more intimately than your own? For Rachel’s first full length show she bravely explores of her own experiences in the creative industries. Not only is it the perfect topic for you debut as you always have the greatest amount of knowledge on your own life (if anything you know it the best 😉), but it illustrates the dark side of the arts sector in a story which needs to be told.
  • Social Phobias: We all have natural prejudices which throughout our lifetime seem to be inconspicuously woven into the fabric of our personalities as we grow, whether that’s racism, an aversion to the LGBT community or conceptions of body image, to note but a few. If we’re not forced to question these preconceptions, we can’t make a positive change. This is what Rachel is doing with this show. I could see this becoming a great community driven project or piece of TIE and think the show could cleverly evolve to become a teaching tool for the next generation.

REVIEW: What Broke David Lynch? | Twonkey’s Drive In Presents | Edinburgh Fringe

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Music, Reviews, Theatre

22-27 August | 21.00 | Greenside @ Nicholson Square | Get Tickets


Just when you think you’ve seen the most ‘fringiest’ show of the Festival enter What Broke David Lynch?

Follow the absurdist fever dream of David Lynch (if you can) as he takes up direction of The Elephant Man. Question what’s real and what is part of a brilliant mind overflowing with imagination as you navigate this adventure filled production.

Whether you’re a fan of David Lynch or not (and cliched as it may sound) there is something for everyone in this show.

Take for example the delicious Dorothy Doughtnuts, played by the astonishingly talented Miranda Shrapnell. David’s invisible and imaginary partner who is seemingly helping but more likely hindering our protagonist to find greatness.

Apparently random and hodge podge props become moments of comic brilliance as Sir Anthony Hopkins and Sir John Gielgud enter with surreal giant heads and bounce along to an unlikely meeting in a motorbike and side car.

Robert Atler cleverly adds a naturalistic element with a straight portrayal of John Hurt. A beautifully sung duet shows Hurt attemptting to keep Lynch’s head above the water, a rock amongst a sea of psychosis.

What is the definition of ‘Fringiest’ I hear you ask, this show! Music, mirages and complete and utter madness. Still not sure what I mean, you will have to watch to find out!


The Arts Business Top Tips:

  • The right inspiration: Taking a cult movie legend like David Lynch and telling his story means you unlocked the audience of cinema die hards who will go out of their way to see your performance. Also, if you have ever had the privilege of seeing the weirdly wonderful comic workings of Twonkey you’ll soon realise the melded minds of this eccentric stand up and the utterly perplexing direction of David Lynch combine to make the perfect creative match.

REVIEW: The Gay Train | Yellow Mug Theatre | Edinburgh Fringe

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Reviews, Theatre

Aug 14, 17-28 | RSE Theatre | Get Tickets


June each year sees the celebration of pride month. All companies transform their logos into colourful rainbow as a tribute to allyship with the LGBTQ+ Rights movement.

Of course there are always companies which push the boundaries of promotion and June 2020 saw Avanti West Coat launch a special carriage manned by LGBT+ staff proudly boasting the biggest pride flag seen on the side of a train and making a statement about the equality and inclusion.

But is this enough?

The Gay Train looks to answer this question opening with a delightful ukulele accompanied dedication to these gestures juxtaposed with satirical observation querying the true dedication of these companies to the cause.

As a first draft this show is definitely a step in the right direction exploring important current issues of gender rights which heavily affect our modern society.

Although it lacks focus, the mass quantity of ideas being thrown at an hour-long production becoming a muddled at time, this piece contains so really moving moments, a mother learning to accept their child, a non-binary young-adult fighting for change and a journalist seeking political engagement.

With more workshopping and script development this play could be a great commentary on trans rights, raising awareness through a drive for change.


The Arts Business Top Tips:

  • Find a cause you’re dedicated to – one thing the vast amount of content thrown into this show clearly demonstrates is the colossal amount of passion that Yellow Mug Theatre has driving their work towards encouraging positive change in the trans community. This seeps out into the performance.
  • Using Viral Stories – although I think we can all agree 2020 was a pretty slow year, one thing people do remember is ‘The Gay Train’ making the news. By using this as inspiration for new writing, a piece which could otherwise seep into the background at a busy arts festival, suddenly becomes relatable and appealing, standing out from the crowd.


Bad Day Good Story: The Fallen Soldier

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Bad Day Good Story, Entertainment

“The cars we drive say a lot about us.” – Alexandra Paul

It was an idyllic summers day. I had just finished a long and hard job full of eighty-hour weeks and rainy days (as are the qualms of working in outdoor theatre).  It was time to sort my life out before my next contract which was merely one week away.

The morning had been a constructive one.  First thing I drove to Warwick to drop off my car for her MOT before continuing to the office to retrieve my remaining belongings and say my final goodbyes.

It was 9.30 am.  The sun was shining, and I had already achieved so much!  Nothing to do now but wait until the garage rang and informed me that Lisbeth (my green Nissan Micra) was ready to collect.  Time to treat myself!

I headed for Jephson Gardens book in one hand, Magnum in the other and set up camp under the dappled shade of a beautiful beech and began to read.

I hadn’t felt this completely relaxed in months.  Ice cream demolished and first chapter smashed I lay back, cushioned by the grass, completely at peace…

… then my phone rang.

“Ruth?” It was my mum. “I’ve got some bad news.”


I quickly fell from nirvana and back to earth with a start.

Whenever my Mum says “I’ve got some bad news” it was serious.  This means someone I love is dead or dying.

I trod carefully. “OK?”

“It’s Lisbeth.”  My heart plummeted right through the bottom of my stomach.  “She’s not gonna make it through her MOT.”

* * *

Lisbeth was my first car.  The car I learnt to drive in.  She had been with me through thick and thin.  Trips to and from college during the week and parties for 18th birthdays on the weekends.  My uni companion, accompanying me to Edinburgh, playing the moving van for countless students ferrying possessions from flat to flat, a key member of Cobweb Theatre Company carrying costume, props and sets, the late-night taxi service for emergency cake runs and the best hotel when long, late-night drives were too much. Then essential to my stage management freelancing career, cruising from venue to venue, company to company, theatre to theatre, an essential asset and a firm friend. And now, she was gone!

* * *

I had a few more days with her before the MOT certificate expired. A few more drives.  A few more mixtapes to blast out that killer stereo system.  And then the mighty Lisbeth breathed her last.

But that wasn’t enough for me, I needed something to remember her by.  A keepsake.

I left the house, screwdriver in hand, ready to remove her number plate.  Something I could keep forever.  I popped the caps off to reveal the screws and took a firm grasp on the bottom of the plate… and it fell off in my hand.

Hmm, on the other hand, it was probably time.

Illustration by Kirstie Notman – Illustrator & Artist

PRESS RELEASE: Runt of the Litter presents Little Things You Learn

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Press Release, Theatre
Tuesday 28th September at 7pm
Wednesday 29th September at 7pm
Tickets: £6.50 | Concessions: £4.50
Running Time: 45 minutes

Audience warnings: Single bad word, flashing lights.

When four strangers that were once siblings are reunited by an unfortunate event, they are plunged into a fantastical world. A place where their memories are a reality and their childhood is revived. A safe space to explore what happened all that time ago. Little Things YouLearn uses children’s imagination as a vessel to explore attachment in its many forms.

This whimsical world is a visual feast of colour and makeshift storytelling. Little Things You Learn is a reverse coming of age tale stooped in nostalgia, full of bittersweet accounts that will make you both laugh and cry.

REVIEW: 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 piece examines exactly what it means to live ‘Happily Ever After’.

Choreographer, Sara Lessmann, and actor, SheenRu Yong, 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.

REVIEW: 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.

REVIEW: 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.

REVIEW: Disrobed – The Virtual Event | Troy Matthew Peterson Productions and The Southern Californian Naturist Association

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

Aug 6-30 | On Demand | Fringe Player | Get Tickets

We’ve all suffered through countless Zoom calls over the past few years but I doubt as many would be been as awkward or eye-opening as this one.

It’s time for Eric to meet the family as his fiancé Skye wishes to formally announce their engagement but little does he know he will see a lot more than he bargained for as Skye has overlooked the fact that her family are naturists.

Eric, played by Troy Peterson, has skilled comic timing displaying natural expertise in his delivery which carries the show from start to finish, alongside its clever and incredibly relatable formatting reflecting the way we have all experienced social events over the last 18 months.

The intention of the show is for the audience to come away feeling like we wanna give naturism a go but the second half of this script needs a little more retargeting in favour of the central character. As a majority of the viewers will relate with Eric more so than the others some of the content, like drawing constant attention to his slight stomach, can come across as a personal attack in which the family seem to be bullying, more than encouraging, but with a little tweaking here and there this could easily go the other way.

A light-hearted and easy-going watch so if you’re looking for an escape into a few laughs then give this show a go.

The Arts Business Top Tips:

  • The marketing of this show is excellent, from their modern and original show branding, their hilarious and informative social media content and their additional behind the scenes content including interviews and outtakes. If you’re looking for advice on how to max out your social engagement then Disrobed is the perfect example of this!
  • It’s a collaboration between Troy Matthew Peterson Productions and The Southern Californian Naturist Association. This means double the overall coverage for your show: double the social media , double the funding, double the existing audience, double the cause, you see where I’m going with this. This is a perfect collaboration for a project like this one and something to considered when creating your own work.

REVIEW: Arthur J Peabody | Amanda Dempsey-Laughlin

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

Aug 6-30 | On Demand | Fringe Player | Get Tickets

A young girl admires a bird perched on her window wondering what his story might be… until he begins to talk.

Join legendary bird Arthur J Peabody as he tells the tales of his adventures in the circus, his flights around the world and just how he ended up at this small farmhouse in Canada.

Clearly created from zoom with the use of green screen and multiscreen to recreate locations from Arthur’s travels it worked well with simple animation techniques used to explain more elaborate plot points.

The show is led by talking bird Arthur, confidently played by Arthur Baxter wearing a phenomenally, elaborate magpie costume designed by Laura Vradenburg.

Something has to be said about the bravery and commitment of a man in his home office set up for a hard day’s work dressed as a bird! In the battle to create productions during covid, I defy anyone not to picture this and smile!

An original children’s play told simply but effectively.

The one thing I would consider is lowering the age range to allow for families to watch all together. It is more suited for the 4-8 age group.

The Arts Business Top Tips:

  • It doesn’t matter where you or your team are in the world, using basic, mainstream technology you can bring them together completely online to tell a story together. Long may these types of performances continue post the pandemic.
  • Amanda Dempsey-Laughlin uses classic storytelling techniques to tailor this show for family viewing. If you’re creating shows for children keep in mind the rule of three, whether that be three separate stories in one (like we see here) or the importance of a beginning, middle and end.
  • If ever in doubt, stick in a minute of a dancing bird at the end! Hilarious! Including outtakes can or a credit sequence reminds audiences they are watching theatre and make them feel as though they’re a bigger part of the action.
  • This show used extras to add depth to certain scenes, for example, a sleeping passenger in the back of a train carriage waking up at various shocks in the dialogue. I loved this! Such a nice touch and a great way to evoke in the viewer how it may be performed in a theatre in the future.