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.

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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

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.

Toulouse-Lautrec: The Musical

2 stars

**

This was less musical theatre and more a musical story. I saw the Japanese version and despite the highly energetic performance by Jun Sawaki, you spend most of the time reading the English translations and waiting for the action to catch up.

The music and songs are quite beautiful at points with the very sympathetic piano playing in the corner and the show is filled with some interesting facts about the painter’s short life. But ultimately it’s a strange experience, however one ideally suited to the whole Fringe ethos.

Review by Alan.

C aquila, 16:10-16:50.

Until 29th August.

Spring Awakening (EUSOG)

4 stars

****

This was a very competent production of a sadly cut-down version of Spring. As it’s written, there is just enough character development to hold the various threads together and unfortunately when you cut important bits of the lib out it becomes disjointed and confusing at times. Add to this the increase in tempo of various numbers (for my taste at least) and it felt a bit rushed.

Anyway, there were many positives – Moritz is outstanding and Ilse’s song is very nice. Okay, her acting voice is completely different to her singing one but that issue afflicted many of the cast. I don’t have a problem with cast members using their own accents but when there is little consistency in their own characters it is annoying.

I liked the clever use of all the chairs – some really nice touches there.

Some niggles – the costumes seemed a blend of authentic period ones and modern-day underwear, but the biggest issue was that the cast need miced. All too often they spoke and sang up-stage, if you’re more than a few rows back you can’t hear them. This is particularly annoying in ensemble numbers when the cast are going round in circles for example – you hear whichever harmony line is facing you at the time…

The band is excellent, especially the strings. Their balance is good although they drowned out the singing at a couple of points – this is a cast sound issue though, not a band one.

Overall a good interpretation.

Review by Alan.

Paradise in Augustine’s, 22:25-23:55.

Until 29th August.

The Melody Blog

3 stars

***

Once you get over the sheer improbability of the whole premise (and the copy of the Truman Show) this actually starts to become quite a good show. This is mainly due to the music and the musicians, who are great and play with a commitment to the story and it’s this which held the whole thing together for me. The actual music is very good and really varied, showing off the talents of the cast.

Singing-wise the diction could be greatly improved, particularly in the opening number and the characters need more developing (is this is cut-down version?). There are a couple of genuinely funny and poignant moments but otherwise it’s average fair – good to see something different though.

Review by Alan.

Zoo Roxy, 18:30-19:30

Until 27th August.

Pollyanna

2 stars

**

I must confess I have no idea who Eleanor Porter was or her Pollyanna character which inspires this show. But as an audience member going to see a show I shoudn’t have to. So it takes a while to adjust to the whole scenario, especially when you have background ensemble/stage crew who look like a cross between Black and White Minstrels and the Oompa Loompas. And then strange ‘creatures’ come in and talk very quietly and sing even quieter under the too-loud music… and so it goes on.

The general story is a run-of-the-mill one about an orphaned girl causing problems… I must say that the girl playing said girl (Pollyanna) is adorable and a wee star. She carries the show, being the only person with energy. But the whole show suffers from bad diction, bad direction (some good ideas but please cut the silly walks) and the vicar in particular is quite incomprehensible.

The music is bland and not a harmony in sight, even for the finale!

A strange show and too long – it has to be said, the company would have been better doing Annie, even though it’s a show done to death… sorry!

Review by Alan.

C, 15:00-16:30

Until 26th August.