A Final Day Fringe Selection

Camille Claudel (Theatre) ****

Oliver Reed: Wild Thing (Theatre) ****

Bad Musical (Comedy) ****

Celia Pacquola – Delayed (Comedy) ****

On this the final day of the Fringe and having completed my reviewing schedule a few days ago, on something of a whim, I shed my reviewer’s lanyard and bought a bundle of tickets, some from the Half Price Hut.

I began at the Pleasance Courtyard with Gael Le Cornec’s portrayal of artist and model Camille Claudel – a beautiful and moving performance capturing the mood of the Parisian art world during the final years of the 19th century.

Then, it was off to the Gilded Balloon for the remainder of the day. Rob Crouch as Oliver Reed is spot on as the hard drinking, charismatic actor. The next two shows have been fully reviewed elsewhere on this site. Bad Musical is a delightfully silly and very funny send up of Musicals. Finally, Celia Pacquola is a comedienne whom I have seen before and I thoroughly enjoy her style of warm ‘feel good’, conversational humour.

Four contrasting shows to round off a most enjoyable Fringe.

Reviewed by Ben

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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

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

The School of Night

****

The concept of the school of night goes back many centuries. In Shakespeare’s time, a mix of nobles, writers and poets met in secret to discuss forbidden subjects. This modern troupe of five ‘Fraters’ perform many impressive feats of improvisation in verse.

For a warm up, as the audience is seated and preparing for the show, the Fraters request books. Lines are selected at random by audience members and the Fraters build humorous stories in verse.

The main event is the performance of a play in the style of Shakespeare and in iambic pentameter form. Suggestions as to the nature of the play and as the scenes in the play are being enacted come from the audience. It is uncanny how quickly their minds work as the bounce dialogue of each other. Naturally, being improvised theatre, each day the play will be different. The play I witnessed was a very funny amalgam of the themes and character types drawn from various plays. A modern twist was brought to one scene when audience members were asked for 20th century authors and the scene had to follow the style of that author.

A Shakespearian play has a good resolution and this was no exception. This was a most entertaining show with the audience fully entering into the spirit of recreating a form of theatre that first delighted audiences all those years ago.

Reviewed by Ben

Pleasance Courtyard: 33

2 to 26 August 2012 (not 15)

15.05 – 16.15

Fringe Programme Page Number: 316

One Night Stand:- West Avenue Theatre Company

3 Star

***   

Alice and Brian are work colleagues. No more, no less in spite of Alice’s hopes. Then one drunken work night out the dynamic is changed. Or has it.

Brian wakes up hung-over so badly you can feel his pain only to discover Alice’s presence in his new flat. He can’t remember her being there or what may have happened. Alice thinks they are now a couple, but there is a twist or two yet to play out.

A pregnant Megan, a farcical internet gut Ross, Sam, Brian’s significant other and Carole, Sam’s mother are all added to the mix as the comedy turns to elements of farce.

This play is fun but is not earth shatteringly hilarious. The devices have all been seen many times before, but the characterisation was good, the pace didn’t let up throughout, but maybe all the blame landing on one character in the end was a little unfair.

Reviewed by Geoff

The Space on The Mile

2 to 18 August

14-05 to 14-50

Punch: Little Dog Productions

4 Star

****

Initially set in The Cock Tavern Covent Garden where John a comedian ‘with no material’ is playing an offensive set, where he is later arrested.

Cut to a cell and Anne the harassed social worker sets about trying to get answers as to why things were said, why things were tweeted where is the child’s mother and how did the child get injured.

This play although very well written by Steven Bloomer and the acting skills of Matthew Jones and Kirsty Mann are spot on did not make for easy viewing. It was a very dark piece at times and the occasional Punch and Judy links really failed in me anyway to lighten the mood, I guess it wasn’t meant to anyway.

The questions as to what was acceptable to say as a stand up a la Lenny Bruce, Frankie Boyle et al will always be up for debate, and production really will not answer them. However as a ready well performed piece of new writing and fine acting it is certainly a play to check out.

Reviewed by Geoff

Underbelly Cowgate

Until 26 August

15-40 to 16-40