The Trench – Les Enfants Terrible

5 Star

*****

One can always be assured with every production staged by Les Enfants Terrible and that is that the performance will be spot on, well written, brilliantly staged and their inventive use of multi-mediums will be exploited to the full. And of course this years offering is of the same high standard.

Set in the trenches of World War I initially Bert, a miner determined to serve his country no matter what, and is played by writer and co-director Oliver Lansley. He loses far more than he could ever imagined and grief leads him to make a pact with the supernatural. This excursion allows plenty of scope for the creative juices inherent in this company to come to the fore and their spectacular use of this latitude is just amazing,

As always the blending of puppetry, shadow puppets, delightful music which is totally atmospheric and such a mesmerising, versatile set that’s wonderfully lit, together with tight direction really make this a production to be savoured.

Even though the Fringe is rapidly winding down for 2012 this show is still selling out and as there is only one more chance to see it you better be quick.

Reviewed by Geoff

Pleasance Two

Until 27 August

13-10 to 14-10

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News at Kate 2012 – Kate Smurthwaite

4 Star

**** 

Kate Smurthwaite is an atheist leftie feminist comedian, but that is no reason why she should not be taken seriously. In spite of a venue with a Mussolini quote on the wall, hardly conducive to her show, she regularly attracts a mixed gender crowd, and one of all ages too.

And so she should. She is opinionated but in a good way, and is an engaging personality and an eloquent speaker, it is little wonder that she is much in demand in the media for opinions and discussions.

Don’t expect an all out assault on men, far from it she is just a passionate performer who has no problem in dealing with those she sees as villains be they Daily Mail writers, politicians both British and American, radio presenters or even her mother-in-law, but none of these make the nomination of villain of the show.

It is however totally ‘safe’ to sit in the front row of her shows, even if you work in the financial sector, or even a PR in the defence industry. Any argument she may have is with others not in the room.

Reviewed by Geoff

Ciao Roma

Until 25 August

20-20 to 21-20

Big Sean, Mikey and Me

****

Ruiraidh Murray’s solo play contains a brilliant re-enactment of growing up in the working class suburbs of Edinburgh well away from the posh areas and the central commercial and tourist areas.

There are effectively three characters in the play. There is the 36 year-old Ruiraidh as himself now living in London; there is the voice of Sean Connery who inhabits his mind and there is Mikey Anderson, Ruiraidh’s best mate and charismatic hard man.

Ruiraidh tells his story flashing backwards and forwards in time as he remembers his schooldays and his scrapes with Mikey. There is much humour in these incidents as they vividly and realistically catch the language and culture of Scottish working class youth.

Also worked into his story are his relationships with the opposite sex and here his alter ego Sean Connery becomes his sex adviser. Contrasting with the humour are dramatic moments of mental turmoil and sadness. There are many admirable qualities in Ruiraidh Murray’s performance. The two I would select above all are energy and sincerity.

Reviewed by Ben

Gilded Balloon Teviot: 14

1 to 27 August 2012

13.30 – 14.30

Fringe Programme Page Number: 260

A Modern Town

***

Business efficiency versus community values is the main theme of A Modern Town. It is set in the sleepy little town of Newton Basset. It represents many seaside resorts which have seen better days.

The action centres on Joe Webber who is the third generation owner of a general store which is just about surviving, not enough customers and too many disgruntled staff. There appear a bunch of shady investors offering loans to revive the town’s businesses.

The play is well acted and there are a number of good individual scenes but in many ways the plot development did become obvious. There was a definite emphasis towards the tragic and the lighter moments of intended comedy didn’t sparkle.

Reviewed by Ben

Pleasance Courtyard: 33

1 to 27 August 2012 (not 14)

16.00 – 17.10

Fringe Programme Page Number: 300

Duality

**

Duality is billed as an abstract representation of how technology shapes our lives. This may be so, but I don’t think I have seen a Dance and Physical Theatre show so lacking in live action.

The opening routine by a lone male dancer is an interesting start. He is then joined by four female dancers. It is obvious to me that only one of the four has a strong talent in her fluidity of movement.

The show is in two parts. After part 1, that is it as far as the live action is concerned. Part 2 largely consists of a naff 3D film of dancers performing in a studio. Most of us by now have witnessed in the cinema how this technology has moved forward in recent years. Why are we watching such a poor version of this when we have a large stage not being utilised? Nor was the dancing on the screen little more than a fast cut mishmash. True, the live dancers do reappear to pose before some 2D visuals right at the end.

Maybe, I missed the whole point of this underwhelming production, but from the tepid applause at the end, I was not the only one who was underwhelmed.

Reviewed by Ben

Zoo Southside: 82

21 to 27 August 2012

18.40 – 19.30

Fringe Programme Page Number: 179

Andrew J Lederer – Cold Comfort

4 Star

**** 

I have known Andrew J Lederer for a number of years now and have always admired him as a performer. He is not a flash performer, he is an honest to goodness journeyman, but the New York City born guy always gives himself a mountain to climb. And no more than this year.

Cold Comfort is just one of three shows that he is performing this year, more than enough for most, but just three months ago he underwent massive surgery so how does this man cope?

He does however and in his own inimitable style, tells the story of this traumatic event, his trademark style of mesmerising prose as always to the fore. Even with the Fringe drawing to its conclusion and the audience numbers not so high, this charismatic performer entertains for his full hour making light of the very serious situation he found himself in by weaving in funny material throughout.

I feel he should get some recognition for the hard yards he has put in over the years for little reward. He really is what the Fringe should really be about.

Reviewed by Geoff

The Royal Mile Tavern

Until 25 August

17-00 to 18-00