The Company of Wolves

***

I’m not entirely decided what I think of this show. It was very good – four actors re-telling the story of Little Red Riding Hood, with a very different outcome. Those actors were excellent, and convincing in the multiple roles some of them played. The live music is lovely, played and sung really well, taking the place of a narrator in filling in some of the gaps. If you want to get really close to the action, you can sit on the picnic blankets on the floor/stage (and sometimes that wolf might be right behind you). It’s all very simple, and very effective.

What I’m not so sure about is the story itself. It’s recognisable as Riding Hood with a twist, and the plot is entirely clear. But I think there was also some message somewhere, which I’ve yet to work out. I suspect it was something to do with your heart’s desire – which was also the subject for the short pre-show arts and crafts session, which was definitely fun.

All in all, a lovely contemplative evening.

Reviewed by Laura

C ECA

until 27th Aug, 20:35

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Maurice’s Jubilee

****

Julian Glover, as retired jeweller Maurice, heads a strong cast in Nichola McAuliffe’s comedy drama. The play is in two acts and centres on the theme of diamond jubilees.

In the opening act we are introduced to the three principals. Maurice is two months away from his 90th birthday but is terminally ill. He and his wife Helena have taken into their employ a palliative care nurse. Though he knows death is near, he still maintains a sense of humour with quips and jokes.

In conversation with the nurse, she tells him he may only have a few weeks left. His mood turns more serious. He must stay alive until his 90th birthday which happens to fall on the day before the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee since he has an appointment to have tea with the Queen. Far-fetched or what!

He remembers movingly an evening he spent several hours alone with the young Queen on the night before the Coronation. In his capacity as a jeweller, he had visited the Palace to check the fitting of the crown. He and the Queen had formed a friendly relationship – no impropriety had taken place. Nevertheless, the Queen had made a compact to visit him 60 years later. Neither Helena nor the nurse believes Maurice that this meeting is likely to happen.

The second act opens on the day of Maurice’s birthday. He has made it. Helena goes along with Maurice’s preparations. He is dressed in his best suit. All the tubes have been removed. At the appointed time, the doorbell rings. Helena curtseys and the Queen enters – or is it?

No more details from me, except to say the play entertains right to the very end.

Reviewed by Ben

Pleasance Courtyard: 33

1 to 27 August 2012 (not 14 & 21)

16.25 – 18.05

Fringe Programme Page Number: 296

Martin Dockery: Wanderlust

****

Martin Dockery is a likeable and humorous storyteller. His show is a collection of his experiences on a journey through the countries of West Africa.

He is in his mid-thirties, single and comes from New York. Whilst working with the New York Stock Exchange he became bored with the meaningless of his existence. He decided to go on a back packing trip to a remote part of the world away from the usual destinations where Americans ventured to see what he might discover not only around him but also within himself.

Naturally, a journey into tropical Africa has its dangers in terms of insects and stomach upsets as well as being robbed. On the positive side, he did have interesting encounters with a variety of characters and he was befriended in some unlikely situations.

His storytelling style is very expressive and lively. His tall, rangy body and long arms are constantly on the move. His natural, open enthusiasm enthrals.

Reviewed by Ben

Gilded Balloon Teviot: 14

1 to 27 August 2012 (not 14 & 21)

14.00 – 15.00

Fringe Programme Page Number: 296

Towards the Moon

5 stars
*****

I really like this new work by Andrew McGregor, even in this reduced version it is still nicely crafted and works well.

The music is beautiful, very apt to the story and nicely sung by all (I particularly liked the ‘three dimensional’ opening vocals). The music is accompanied by an off-stage piano but often played on-stage by the actors on guitars – it blends in seemlessly with the piece and the excellent direction ensures it never gets in the way. Very nicely done.
Story-wise there is a lot of good character development going on and while the main storyline may be standard fayre that’s not a bad thing. There is a lot of good theatre out there which is based on standard tales and beliefs and audiences tend to like watching things they know about. In this case I was particularly reminded of Tommy McHugh as a real-life example.

I also liked the Scottish references – it’s nice to have some quality home-grown shows being developed yet which still have a wider appeal too.

Definitely a show to look out for.

Review by Alan

C
2-26 August (even dates, not 20th)
12:00-13:00

Dan Mitchell – Free Egg

***

Dan Mitchell has lots of potential, which is usually a nice way of saying the show wasn’t very good. In this case, it’s not strictly true. There are some aspects in need of attention – overlong pauses between words, a few sequences not quite up to scratch, a slightly slow start after a ludicrously (fun) ‘pizzazy’ entrance – but overall, I left with a good impression. I’d like to see what he does next year.

Dan’s comedy is fairly intelligent (it isn’t, despite his introduction, mostly willy jokes), interspersed with bits that’ll make you groan – which Dan knows and doesn’t mind. There are elements which have the potential to completely fail, but Dan manages to make even that failure funny (and deserves respect for taking the risk). He has a keen eye for the absurd, but it’s not so absurd that it loses the audience, with whom the relationship he created was lovely.

Not, overall, the best comedy show you’ll see this Fringe, but perhaps the best one next year. Despite this, it’s an enjoyable hour.

Reviewed by Laura

Assembly Roxy

until 27th Aug, 22:30

Mephisto Waltz

****

This show isn’t going to be for everyone. It does not present a conventional narrative. The soundtrack does not consist of only music – there’s noise and snippets of recordings and soundscapes. It tends more to the physical theatre than dance section of the fringe programme. You might consider it downright weird.

The company are five dancers, three women and two men, although you’ll have to look hard beyond the bald heads to differentiate. While the main character is always identifiable, the baldness and uniform costumes make the other four entirely interchangeable (which was the point. I think). There may not be a comprehensive thread, but there are some lovely moments, as with the paper butterflies, as well as some funny ones, reminiscent of clowns.

The majority of the audience had clearly not chosen to see this show on a whim. They knew what to expect and were highly appreciative – as were the company of their reception. There isn’t a huge amount of emotion on display within the piece, but the smiles at the end show this company clearly loves what they do.

A (very) open mind will be essential if you do chose to see this show – but you might be surprised how much you enjoy it.

Reviewed by Laura

Assembly Roxy

until 27th Aug, 20:00 (1hr 20)

Female Gothic

*****

In essence, this is a one-woman recounting of three creepy ghost stories. But Rebecca Vaughan doesn’t simply tell you those stories, she shows you them. She inhabits each character and place and injects life in to your imagination so that the same simple space – persian rug, wingback chair, candelabra’d table – becomes variously, a drawing room, a laboratory, a bridge over a river, and the players move across them at her direction.

The piece is very well structured, and the links between the stories are seamless. There are just enough auditory props to evoke a sense of place, and the rest is done by Vaughan’s exquisite and expressive vocal prowess alongside her physical embodiment of the characters.

Her dress must be mentioned. It’s brilliant – beautiful, well fitted and appropriate, exactly like the show.

Reviewed by Laura

Assembly George Square

until 27th Aug, 11:45