REVIEW: Any Suggestions Doctor? The Improvised Doctor Who Parody | Any Suggestions Improv | Edinburgh Fringe

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

15th – 27th August | Pleasance Dome | Ace Dome | Get Tickets

You’ve seen them in planets across the galaxy, you’ve seen them adventure through the eras, you’ve even seen them spend an inordinate amount of time in modern day London, but you’ve never seen The Doctor take on the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Enter Any Suggestions Improv.

Immediately recognised as a true whovian in the crowd (having nerdishly donned my TARDIS hoody) we were presented with pen and paper and asked to write down an episode title and upon providing a location (of Sir David Attenborough’s Scalp) we were off into a never before seen and never to be seen again episode of Doctor Who entitled The Destruction of the Jelly Babies.

The Doctor was portrayed superbly by Harry Whittaker as, after many decades of seeing this British icon on the screen, we finally get to see him as a Welshman! And after years of Tom Baker’s Doctor carelessly consuming Jelly Babies we finally see one get their own back attempting to rise up against the human raise and convert them all into gelatinous masses just like them.

On a whirlwind tour through the BBC Studios Dermatoglogical Department, The Doctor, with the help of his companion, Fiona Bruce and Brian Cox, *SPOILER ALERT* saves the day and planet earth is once again safe from Complete Takeover.

All of the cast are clearly incredibly knowledgeable on this classic sci-fi show but also excellent at their craft of improvisation and quick-witted comedic timing. Of all the offerings of improvisation at the Fringe (0f which there are countless) this has to be up there with the best of them. Any Suggestions Improv have a level of finesse like that of the greats, a young Mischief Theatre springs to mind (creators of The Goes Wrong Shows.)

But Doctor Who is about so much more than just The Doctor, it’s about the caring companions and the terrifying baddies, it’s about travelling through time and space and an awful lot of running.  Any Suggestions Improv really find the heart of this TV series and the reason it’s been running for nearly 60 years. The remind us of all the reasons we love Doctor Who and as part we can only love them right back.

The Arts Business Top Tips:

  • Popular Parody: I mention this every year at the Fringe but pick a popular show and it sells. As a mega whovian (as I may have already mentioned a few times,) I seek out Doctor Who shows on at the Fringe every year and I guarantee I’m not alone. By picking out TV shows like Friends or films like Harry Potter which already have a major fan base behind them you are bound to find an audience! And, parody has its own copyright laws which means it is seen as its own artform (so don’t worry, you won’t get sued).
  • Quality Crew: Fully improvised shows are made or broken on the quick-thinking ability of their technical crew and they deserve a massive shout out here. During my training I was once told the best way to gauge quality sound and lighting is to find a way that the crowd doesn’t notice it, where it blends into the background perfectly complimenting what’s happening onstage. This is exactly what is achieved here. The sound effects and lighting seamlessly move with the action as if this was completely rehearsed which is a difficult feat perfectly executed throughout this performance.

REVIEW: Making a Murderer: The Musical | Smart Entertainment | Edinburgh Fringe

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Reviews, Theatre

22-29 Aug | 17.40 | Underbelly @ Bristo Square | Get Tickets


The Netflix true crime phenomenon of 2015 is back, and this time, it’s musical.

Open with a tour guide trying to sell a trip around the now notorious town of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, desperately attempting to attract tourist to view the town on its merit instead of by its associations with a man framed for murder.

And so, the tales of Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey are told.

Often musicals of this nature take a comedic approach, pointing fun at the stereotypes created within whatever it may be they are interpreting. Making a Murderer: The Musical however, brings an element of taste to the proceedings, the careful script constantly alluding to the fact that these are real people who have been exploited by the American Judicial System.

Due to the subject area the show finds itself a little ballad heavy, with moments of light relief taken to poke fun at the tourism industry, corrupt lawyers and police brutality. I know what you’re thinking, doesn’t sound very light, but how can it be when discussing such a delicate topic? It is very cleverly written juxtaposing classic techniques from Musical Theatre to best illustrate the point that sometimes society needs to stand up for the underdog.

With impeccable singing, beautiful ballads and a live band this show is a tantalising spectacle of musical theatre at its best.


The Arts Business Top Tips:

  • Make it a musical: Take something, like a dark, true crime documentary from Netflix which became an international phenomenon and turn it into a musical! I’m incredibly surprised that the 2022 Fringe hasn’t seen Tiger King: The Musical too, an idea there for next year! Over the years I’ve seen musicals inspired by everything from reality TV shows like Love Island and Bake Off famous books like Harry Potter and Fifty Shades of Grey or even just buzz words like Dyslexia: The Musical or Trump: The Musical. And if you have anything like this I will be going to see it, as will a plethora of other like-minded musical theatre fans. It doesn’t matter the quality, you will likely have a bestselling show on your hands.
  • The Barbershop Flyerer: Some of the most successful flyerers are those of the a cappella world, their tuneful harmonies and sheer volume these performers immediately attract a crowd who will stand and watch and feel socially obliged to take a flyer at the end. Admittedly these are usually fresh faced uni students who are on holiday with their choral society but it totally works for a professional company singing about how DNA will set you free too.

REVIEW: Winston and David | Maverick Theatre Company | Edinburgh Fringe

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Festival, Reviews, Theatre

22-29 Aug | 13.25 | Underbelly @ Bristo Square | Get Tickets


On their own, Winston Churchill and David Lloyd George are two of the most prolific politicians of the 20th Century. Stick them together and BOOM! You’ve got a fantastic fringe show.

Peter Swales is the perfect young Churchill with a performance which sits with enough stereotype that the character is instantly recognisable, but bringing in soft touches of sensitivity and realism which leaves you completely immersed in his story.

David Lloyd George is a naturally gentler character, the liberal, Welsh politician brought delicately to life by Geraint Rhys.

Together true political bromance is uncovered, the ups, the downs, the successes, the fails and the unyielding bond which kept these two connected for a lifetime.

But the most interesting aspect of this play is the integration of the great women behind these men, often unrepresented in the telling of history, but heavily responsible for the triumphs of these modern-day legends.

From Pussy, the mistress of DLG to Clemmie, the true tour-de-force of these men, Alexandra Donnachie, is the perfect multi-roleplayer. She perfectly portrays a woman’s innate ability to adeptly manipulate the actions of a man whilst they seemingly believe it was their idea all along.

All in all this was an entertaining interpretation of a relationship that spanned decades and had a prolific impact on society as we know it.


The Arts Business Top Tips:

  • Period Politics: Taking inspiration from period dramas like The Crown or political biographies, for example The Darkest Hour, you are bound to attract the upper, middle class crowd to your show which, if you happened to attend the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, is the predominant audience.
  • Versatile Set: I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, there is a lot you can achieve with IKEA furniture. Theatre is made to trigger the imagination and by keeping your set simple, not only do you keep your costs down, but you ignite the creative minds of your audience and can develop something pretty special.

REVIEW: Hiya Dolly! | Andy Jordan Productions, Swine Palace Theatre and LSU Theatre | Edinburgh Fringe

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Music, Reviews, Theatre

22-28 Aug | 20.00 | theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall | Get Tickets

“Hiya, would you like to see a show regaling the story of Dolly the sheep told to the backing of Scottish folk music?”

Why yes Mr Flyerer, yes I would.

And it’s safe to say I was not disappointed, far from it.

Dolly the sheep herself takes centre stage acting as the narrator and clad in a kilt and an arran knit jumper with a curly blonde wig, the perfect personification of the cloned legend. In her down time onstage she can be seen hilariously knitting a jumper of her own, or taking up a guitar to participate as part of a three piece live folk band who add a certain je ne sais quoi to the performance.

The story follows the team of scientists who worked together through the ups and downs of creating Dolly, juxtaposing the science which is broken down into manageable and easily digestible chunks and personal stories which took place alongside.

There is no stand out performer in this show. The entire ensemble works together effortlessly to bring the tale to life, each actor complimenting the other, bringing out the best in their team, both narratively and literally.

The only problem for me? It wasn’t long enough. I can absoloutely see this becoming a full length show, delving deeper into the relationships between the characters and adding more music to boot.

You’d be baaaaa-rmy to miss it.

The Arts Business Top Tips:

  • Tourism: Edinburgh is famous for being the birthplace of Dolly the Sheep, the first ever mammal cloned from an adult cell (which I learnt in this show, thanks!). Reproduced from the mammary cell of an adult sheep and dutifully named after Dolly Parton because of this, she represents an important moment in global scientific discovery. Although long dead, living on in a her taxidermic form, Dolly can now be seen in an eternally revolving glass display unit at the National Museum of Scotland, a must see for any tourist visiting the Scottish Capital. And yes, you’re welcome for all those fun facts. But my point is: by creating and dedicating an entire show to this is a great way to tap into the travel and tourism market.
  • Tailor your content to its location: linking to the above, if you tailor make a piece of theatre with its place of performance in mind you are also more likely to appeal to the locals. In Edinburgh specifically, other topics that work that generally go down well include: Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry Potter, anything Charles Darwin or more tenuous but still important to consider links, like Celtic music or whiskey tastings (or bashing out some Scottish classics like this show does so well). I know this sounds hugely stereotypical but it can really work!

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 Little Glass Slipper as Performed by the Queen of France and Her Friends | The Miles Sisters | Edinburgh Fringe Online

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Festival, Reviews, Theatre

Watch onDemand (available from 5 August) | Fringe Online | Get Tickets

Want the Fringe Experience but can’t make it to Edinburgh? Well, following with the program of 2020 and 2021 the Edinburgh Fringe has continued with its online shows… enter The Miles Sisters.

It’s the eve of the French revolution and Marie Antoinette has trapped herself in her dressing room, not because of the riots, but because she is nervous for the opening night of her show The Little Glass Slipper. Follow the story as the courtiers struggle with the ultimate decision, to remain and support their Queen or to flee and save themselves.

The play combines a onstage and offstage conflict in an imaginatively filmed performance. While onstage the cast does what they can to continue driving the action of the Queen’s play forward, often to hilarious consequences. Backstage they are scared, frantically arguing about the rise of violence in Paris which is coming for them in Versailles.

The gaggle of ladies maids have a comedic vibe which harks to that of the three witches in Hocus Pocus levering comedy within a dark story as both relief for the audience and the character of Marie Antoinette. Clever writing from Carla Johnston portrays farcical moments from the companions distracting our heroine from the true problems at hand to allow her to continue with her retelling of Cinderella.

Marie Antoinette is poiniently portrayed growing from a naïve and selfish actor whose only worry is how the audience will enjoy their play to a willing victim climaxing with a brave and dignified self sacrifice for the good of the country.

Overall, a great offering to Fringe all of which can be witnessed from the comfort of your living room!

The Arts Business Top Tips:

  • A Unique Combo – By combining a reimagining of a classic Fairy-tale with an iconic moment in history, not only does it make your offering unique but it creates intrigue in potential audiences turning it from a maybe into a must see.
  • Using Dark Theatres – Remember theatres are predominantly only used during the evening, that means during the day, they can be up for grabs (assuming they don’t have some enormous set plonked on them.) Remember something like this can be a great opportunity for both your company or brand and your chosen theatre so work out something mutually beneficial to allow you to use the space outside of peak time.

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.


REVIEW | The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage | Bridge Theatre | NT Live

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Reviews, Technology, Theatre

I can’t believe it was 18 years ago that I saw Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials from the National Theatre with incredible puppets provided by Blind Summit. I can still remember it vividly. I was gripped from start to finish and sat for 15 minutes after the show weeping in the stalls with my friend… until an old lady came and jabbed us with her stick… which I think was her way of gently encouraging us to leave.

Anyway… It’s safe to say I had immensely high hopes for this show!

And, wow, I was not disappointed!

by Manuel HarlanA prequel to the Northern Lights saga, La Belle Sauvage is the first in The Book of Dust trilogy, and shows Lyra’s start in life told through the eyes of Malcolm Polstead, portrayed wonderfully and seemingly effortlessly by Samuel Creasy.

As the Magisterium rises, so does the water level and Malcolm, along with his childhood enemy Alice, are forced to set off on an adventure protecting Lyra and the prophecy that comes with her.

Though relatively simply staged this production was brought to life with exquisite puppetry and seamlessly intertwined AV.

Barnaby Dixon’s puppetry makes its stage debut with incredibly delicate daemons (or animals whose souls and beings are interwoven with their humans, for those of you who haven’t read the books) are beautifully made in all white, lit from the inside and adding new dynamics to the Manuel Harlan

The video and animation from Luke Halls bring the stage to life with illustrations inspired by the book taking you on a journey from realistic locations to magical realms naturally and organically.

Strangely apt for the moment with undercurrents of extremist political rising, it is incredibly dark and powerful with the right amount of comic quips throughout, provided by writer Bryony Lavery, to lighten the mood and make this show an enchanting reimagining of Philip Pullman’s enthralling novel.

In these dark times we live in I encourage everyone to get lost in this fantasy universe in this production of pure brilliance.


The Arts Business Top Tips

  • I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before but it certainly bears repeating. Get creative with existing Children’s books. They already have a pre-existing fanbase and often authors are more than willing to work alongside theatre companies or creative businesses to help bring their work to life on a new level. And if not you can always take books from the canon, traditional classics, that are out of copyright and available to reinterpret to your heart’s content.
  • Utilising projection is a simple way of creating settings without having to design and build an enormous amount of scenery. Don’t get me wrong, the projection in this show is far from simple. You’d need a pretty solid team of animators and technicians to work wizardry like that created for La Belle Sauvage. But you can still achieve a similar aesthetic with a lower budget and think of the benefits. You’re spending a similar amount of money as you would upfront for set design and construction but when it comes to touring your show you have saved colossal amounts of space, time and therefore budget!
  • In case you hadn’t realised by now… I frigging LOVE PUPPETS! In my opinion, they make a great addition to literally any project ever! But it’s the puppets seen in La Belle Sauvage which are so exquisitely engineered which really take this production to the next level! Most of these puppets are created to be incredibly lifelike in their movements but, in most cases, are controlled with only one hand. This means they can be manipulated by the actor (from a budget perspective negating the cost of additional puppeteers) in a way that benefits their overall performance and characterisation. Beautiful and Brilliant!

REVIEW: Saving Britney | Fake Escape | The Old Joint Stock, Birmingham

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Entertainment, Reviews, Theatre

For those of us who grew up in the nineties and noughties, it is nigh-on impossible that Britney Spears hasn’t been on your radar at some point or another. And in recent times Britney has come back to the forefront of our minds with the rise in the #FreeBritney movement.

Well, Fake Escape have really capitalised on this with their latest venture Saving Britney, a one-woman show following teen Jean through the tribulations of puberty with the legend that is Britney Spears by her side every step of the way

Jean is portrayed fearlessly by Shereen Roushbaini, who gives an accurate depiction of celebrity obsession integrating with a teenager navigating mental health problems and learning about sexuality, with a childlike naivety.

David Shopland, director and writer of Saving Britney, seamlessly intertwines this fictional biopic with Britney’s own story, told by an American journalist, and dance sequences where the audience can reminisce nostalgically about their youth spent singing along to Britney with a hairbrush in hand, drinking blue WKD.

This show is a must-see for anyone who loves Britney Spears or simply misses the simple days where we were listening to Walkmans, eating Kellogs Ricilcles and playing Snake on our Nokia 3210s.

Saving Britney is touring the UK until the end of March so head over to the Saving Britney Website to see if it’s coming to a venue near you.


The Arts Business Top Tips

  • It’s always a good idea to look to Current Affairs and in this case Celebrity News for what’s big when coming up with new ideas for your next project. The #FreeBritney has been at the forefront of showbiz affairs, as well as trending over socials on and off since it launched in 2008. From the topic choice alone Fake Escape has a great chance at organically boosting their SEO and utilising popular hashtags which will directly find the right target audience… which leads me to my next point…
  • Knowing your Target Audience: This show has pretty much nailed this criterion. Not only are those who were teenagers when Britney was bringing out music (which, whether they’re in denial or not is basically every nineties and noughties kid) but it also means their parents who were forced to listen to the tunes of Spears blasting out a cheap boom box from their child’s bedroom. And this Target Audience was reflected in the crowd at The Old Joint Stock.