Camille O’Sullivan : Feel

5 Stars *****

The lights dim on the packed auditorium, the twinkling fairy lights glisten on a stage festooned with dresses, doll’s house, glitter balls and of course red shoes when a caped vision in red sidles to centre stage. She starts to sing, the audience are hushed as her almost ethereal voice is initially heard. She has one and all in her palm for the next 70 minutes and never lets them go.

Camille has become an institution at Edinburgh Fringe over the last seven years, each year in a bigger venue to cope with her popularity. And little wonder. If the voice was not enough the theatrics that are introduced add another layer to what has already become a sublime artiste.

The song choice this tour is a mixture of well know stuff mixed together with new to most numbers but all given that touch of uniqueness that she brings to proceedings.

She is the complete package as far as I am concerned. A singer par excellence, she has the innate ability to flirt with 800 souls and make it seem personal and although a fairly small lady has the personality to swap the venue.

The songs where varied, but for me she was at her absolute best when performing Brel and Cave numbers, not everybody’s cup of tea maybe, but in her hands they are magnificent.

It will be a long wait until next year’s extravaganza, but I for one can’t wait.

Reviewed by Geoff

Pleasance Grand V 33

3 to 29 August

20:00 to 21:10

Fringe Brochure P 193

Like a Virgin: Zoe Lewis presents

3Star ***

Way back, in 2006 I think, it was when I saw Zoe Lewis perform for the first time with her one woman play ‘Touched for the very first time’. I subsequently saw he next years offering ‘Doing my Bit’ which I enjoyed even more so after a few years absence I was looking forward to seeing her again with this Production, albeit on a two day run only.

It was Lesley again, the character that Ms Lewis has starred as in the previous two productions, but like us all she has moved on and is now a woman in her late thirties.

With the biological clock ticking loudly and still single Lesley decides to cryogenically freeze some of her eggs with a view to artificial insemination on the cards in the future, but who will be the donor father and how will it all work out?

The story is told in ‘blog’ style entries so the time line can be easily followed and the multitude of cameo characters that flit in and out of the story are all voiced by this versatile actor.

I felt although this was an interesting piece it was somewhat rushed in the telling. I like Zoe Lewis as an actor and writer, yet felt that there was more mileage and substance in the story than was delivered on the day. Okay I know there are time restrictions in the Fringe, but feel this detracted from what would have been a really first class performance.

Reviewed by Geoff

Udderbelly Dairy Room V 300

15, 16 August only

Times vary

Scene of the Titans

2 stars

**

If it wasn’t actually based on a true story, you could easily think the plot of this show was completely improbable and verging on farcical. However given that the premise is true, this could have been a gritty piece of theatre… unfortunately it’s not. Some of the acting and singing is okay but the production values are poor. For example there are a couple of really poignant moments at the end but the rest of the show doesn’t build up with any sort of respect to this conclusion.

The choreography is dreadful and the monotonous music (literally) is basically pointless. This story would work better as a serious piece of theatre, not the fluffy musical it seemed to end up as.

Review by Alan

C, 17:45-19:15.

Until 29th August.

11

4 Stars ****

11 is a new musical composed by Ian Hammond Brown with book by Suzanne Lofthus and is presented by Cutting Edge Theatre.

From World War one to our present day the scenes paint a picture of stories that confront war, terrorism and our nature towards life.

Ian Hammond Brown’s music is well constructed, playful and varied played by himself with Alan Gibson. It is contrasted lightly to it’s dark subject matter.

The 6 strong cast hold the piece together with the fantastic songs and skilled singing, particularly the accapella sections, which are finely harmonised, all without the mic.

Where the piece confuses is in it’s way of cutting back and forth through the choices of historical moments making it hard to follow it’s drama, however the piece is bold and not short on depth and it is encouraging to see more musicals going for this kind of concept.

Reviewed by Andrew Gourlay

Jamie Blake

4 Stars

****

Ravenrock Theatre Company’s production of Jamie Blake, written and directed by Ashley Scott-Layton, works on several different levels. It is a neat blend of realistic, coming of age drama, humorous sketch scenes, catchy and soulful songs and clever choreography.

At its core, it is the story of Jamie Blake, a young man in his early twenties, falling desperately in love. After a short and intense relationship in which he believed his love was being returned in equal measure, he was shattered by his girlfriend’s rejection. He narrates these events in the opening scene and what follows is how he reached this state of despair. At first, we can empathise with his loss but as the action unfolds, it becomes apparent that there are other sides to Jamie’s personality.

Enhancing the action is the original music and songs by Rhys Lewis. He is on stage in the background throughout either singing solo to his own accompaniment on guitar or being joined by a chorus of singers with the amazing beatbox of Grace Savage. There are particularly strong performances from Rupert Lazarus as Jamie and Ekow Quartey as Eli, Jamie’s best friend.

Dealing with the fundamental questions of what constitutes love and friendship, it is a play that absorbs throughout.

Reviewed by Ben

Fringe Programme Page Number: 314

Vinegar Knickers: Sketchy Beast

3 Stars ***

A blonde, a brunette and a redhead walk into a venue and perform a sketch show.  It sounds like the start of a trite gag. The Sketchy Beast show that is subsequently served up sometimes feels trite as well.

The three performers, Katie Burnetts, Samantha Baines and Harriet Fisher are good enough actors, they can dance and sing, but some of the material they use is not up to standard. Some tired old scenarios, ginger gags and chav skits do detract from some of the better original material. I was particularly impressed by the acting abilities of Katie portrays one of Adolf Hitler’s old girlfriends. Genuinely funny and different that one.

The show is very pacey, the presentation more than adequate and the enthusiasm from the stage was evident even towards the end of a long, long month.

I think this group have it in them to be a real quality act, the main requirement would be some consistently stronger material and given that, I’d be more than happy to visit their show next year.

Reviewed by Geoff

C SoCo V348

Until 29 August

16:35 to 17:25

Fringe Brochure P 163

A Man’s a Man

Unrated.

I really don’t think it’s fair to actually review this show. While all credit goes to people trying to perform a show in a language foreign to them, this is amongst one of the worst shows I have ever seen.

The story is dire, the direction poor, the acting utterly appalling. The uninspiring music is too loud and drowns out the singing – and while they do sing in tune you can’t actually hear the words as the diction is incredibly bad. Take for example the opening number, something to do with Paris but I’ve no idea what.

This is advertised as a ‘good old fashioned musical’ – by this I would think of maybe Carousel if American or, shudder, Brigadoon if Scottish (it’s a Scottish/Spanish production) but it’s neither. And saying that, the music isn’t Spanish either!

I couldn’t believe that Emma says to the wheelchair-bound Andres that she loves him in spite of that, because “A man’s a man”. Cringey if not patronising.

I’d much rather give constructive comments but I struggle to actually find anything in this production to be positive about I’m afraid.

Review by Alan.

Paradise in Augustine’s, 17:45-18:45.

Until 29th August.