Finding Peter (Gilded Balloon Teviot – Wine Bar: 12, 14-27 Aug: 10:00: 45 mins)

“The pacing is perfect. Just as one starts to wonder if the energy is ebbing, a fresh riptide of song and participation rolls in.”

Editorial Rating: 4 Stars: Nae Bad

Wendy, John, and Michael are all in pajamas, but the siblings aren’t going to bed. Not just yet. They’re telling stories to one another on familiar themes. Pirates, native folk, the Lost Boys, sword fights, and (of course) Peter Pan. Enter the fairy Tinkerbell, so small we can only detect her presence via the sound effect of a bell ringing. Peter’s in trouble, held prisoner by a mutinous deserter from The Jolly Roger, and her captain, James Hook. Wendy announces that she will go alone to save the day, despite the brothers’ whines and protests.

Upstage centre is a mess of boxes and fabric behind which costume changes and bell ringing occur. The height is perfectly judged, forcing the players to come down to the level of the wide eyes gazing back at them. The costumes are basic, student night attire occasionally highlighted with something from the dressing up box. I wanted more, but the show isn’t for me as Granny / Mother-Out-Law censoriously reminds me afterwards.

While the set, lighting, and sound are minimal (perhaps even too minimal), the performances are turbocharged and ultra engaging. From the moment we enter, the smiles are set to max. If bubbly cheeriness were a communicable ailment, we’d all be in quarantine for a month. Jenny Witford, as Wendy, leads the trio. She’s the voice of reason and authority, the Atlas holding up worlds within worlds. Think Graham Chapman in a Monty Python classic, surrounded by an unending pageant of colourful minor characters. Jessica Arden and James Tobin take turns inhabiting (with varying levels of success) each of the personalities Wendy encounters on her journey to find Peter.

The pacing is perfect. Just as one starts to wonder if the energy is ebbing, a fresh riptide of song and participation rolls in. Frankie Meredith jam packs the hour like one of these Facebook videos explaining how if you roll up all your clothes and put your toothbrush in an old water bottle you’ll only need carry on for your 6-8 month around the world adventure. Pace and performance – they’ve got to be done right and Finding Peter gives a masterclass on how to get them right.

Meredith’s script seems to exist on three dramatic planes. The first is the siblings’ collective imagination, their dressing up and acting out. The second is the actors’ interactions through the fourth wall, audience interaction and knowing winks – “Well of course I want you two to come too” Wendy tells her brothers, “but then who would play all the other characters?” The third dramatic plane is Neverland, where most of the action occurs. Perhaps the lines between the planes could have been sharper, the internal logic more rigorous – but, again, who am I to argue when Daughter 1.0 (3 years old) is having such a blast?

This show is for her and it delivers. JM Barry’s familiar themes are delivered even without the “Art budget? Was there an art budget? I thought we had an unending ocean of cash.” advantage of the 2003 movie. Daughter 1.0 comes out of the show buzzing as though she really has been sprinkled with fairy dust. She could fly off at any moment her thoughts are that happy.

The Teviot Wine Bar is a tough space to convincingly fill, especially as this show isn’t getting the audiences it deserves, half a dozen in when we were there. You can do this very talented company and yourself a favour by getting out, bright-eyed and bushy tailed, to see this rollickingly gentle tribute to a classic family favourite.

nae bad_blue

Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)

Reviewer: Dan Lentell (Seen 9 August 2018)

Visit the Assembly Roxy Bedlam Church Hill Theatre Festival Theatre King’s Theatre Other Pleasance, Potterrow & Teviot Summerhall The Lyceum The Stand Traverse archive.

THIS REVIEW HAS NOT BEEN SUBEDITED

Paddington Bear’s First Concert (Underbelly, Bristo Square – Cowbarn: 12, 14-26 Aug: 11:20: 60 mins)

“There’s balloons, inflatable fruit, Hungarian folk dancing, sing-alongs, and more than a bit of mayhem.”

Editorial Rating: 4 Stars: Nae Bad

Beloved bear. Slick marketing. Fabulous venue. Great timeslot. This was always going to be a formula that would bring in the punters. The queue stretches round the block. My heart sinks a little. Nothing this popular can possibly be any good. That’s the rule. Except of course that our Paddington Bear breaks all the rules.

We’re at the famous London railway terminus. An orchestra rushes through the audience trying (unsuccessfully) to catch their train. Their unscheduled delay provides a window of opportunity to tell the story of a stowaway bear, the family he adopts, the people he meets, and his first ever concert at the Royal Albert Hall.

Along the way we meet the members of the orchestra, learn about how to conduct them, and how to make them go faster, and faster, and faster. There’s balloons, inflatable fruit, Hungarian folk dancing, sing-alongs, and more than a bit of mayhem. If you are planning on seeing a live action show replete with actual bear (or becostumed stand in) you will leave this show disappointed. If, on the other hand, you are even a little bit curious, easily excited, and unashamedly thrilled by people who can do something amazing (like playing musical instruments really, really, really well) then you will leave Paddington Bear’s First Concert more than a little happy.

A quick glance at the critical reactions to Paddington Bear’s First Concert and it’s clear that the underpaid, under-informed, overworked misery-gutses are out in force. This isn’t (shock-horror) a show aimed at a world weary 20 something reviewing 15 shows a day irrespective of genre or personal preference. It is however the real deal. Paddington’s creator Michael Bond and musical godfather Herbert Chappell wrote this adaptation in 1984. Perhaps this joyful and jovial revival ought to make more of its authenticity amid all that slick advertising?

Paddington Bear’s First Concert really is a concert. A group young musicians play a range of strings, woodwind, and brass instruments under the watchful eye of their conductor who is also our storyteller. Her performance is pitch perfect. Beside me Daughter 1.0 (aged 3) is entranced, it’s not hard to see how that stuff with that piper in Hamelin went down so easily.

Bond and Chappell’s genius, or perhaps sleight of hand, was to create a show which quietly makes the introduction – “children meet classical music, classical music meet children” – without fanfare or condescension. There is an unhealthy notion abroad in Britain that high art should be taken and endured like bad tasting medicine. Paddington Bear’s First Concert remains a guaranteed cure against all such silly, self-defeating cynicism.

nae bad_blue

Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)Star (blue)

Reviewer: Dan Lentell (Seen 9 August 2018)

Visit the Assembly Roxy Bedlam Church Hill Theatre Festival Theatre King’s Theatre Other Pleasance, Potterrow & Teviot Summerhall The Lyceum The Stand Traverse archive.

THIS REVIEW HAS NOT BEEN SUBEDITED

The Battle of Frogs and Mice (Assembly Roxy: 12-19 Aug: 16:10: 60 mins)

“Appease the Gods and pay homage at the earliest possible moment to this crowning achievement of the dramatic arts.”

Editorial Rating: 5 Stars: Outstanding

It’s the late afternoon. Daughter 1.0 and I are standing outside Assembly Roxy waiting for our third show of the day. Neither of us have had naps and one of us didn’t like the lunch they were offered and only ate half. Our energy levels are being sustained solely by caffeine (me) and a the memory of a large chocolate cupcake (her). We’re both more tired than we care to admit and it’s odds on that one of us will go bang in the not too distant. I want the next show to be good. I need the next show to be good.

Daughter 1.0 (aged 3 going on 14) picked out our first shows, Finding Peter and Paddington Bear’s First Concert. I chose The Battle of Frogs and Mice because I’m more of a philhellene than Lord Byron dancing in a bucket of equal parts taramasalata and hummus singing The Hymn To Liberty. Frogs and Mice was the original introduction to epic poetry used by ancient parents to clear their progeny a path to The Iliad and The Odyssey. An improvised epic poem after a long day, with a tired 3 year old. Hubris. Now for Nemesis. I feel like Dedalus when he first sniffed the melting beeswax from the emptying airspace above. This could all come crashing down. Oh Dionysios hear my prayer.

3 actors and 3 musicians set out to tell the tale of the enmity that grew up between frogs and mice. Of how that enmity turned violent, and how (finally) peace was restored. Puppets, movement, visual gags, and amphorae of audience participation transform the Snug Bar at Assembly Roxy into a bubbling cauldron of noise and excitement. Director Hayley Russell orchestrates 60 minutes of genuine improvisation which maintains a graceful pace and flow while enabling the kids to really feel control and ownership over the narrative’s twists and turns.

“Dad, I thought you said this was going to be educational!” laughs a boy in the row behind confident that, once again, he has outsmarted his old man just like when Odysseus convinced Laertes to buy a puppy, “so we can name him Argos and everyone will remember that you were a brave and fierce Argonaut.”

The performances are some of the strongest I can recall at any Fringe. Individually they are strong, powerful enough to complete the heavy lifting demanded by Caspar Cech-Lucas’ bold dramaturgy. In combination both the actors and musicians generate a pulsing rhythm that never once lets up, soaring on the updrafts of the combatants’ jingoism then plunging down when it turns out that war is good for absolutely nothing.

Daughter 1.0 is dancing on stage, hurling ping-pong balls during the volley of arrows loosed by the mice against the frogs, keeping the mouse princess stuffed toy so safe and quiet that everyone forgets about the regal rodent and she isn’t included in that day’s telling of the tale.

The Gods of the ancient world had punishments both cruel and unusual for those headstrong mortals who displeased them. Why take the risk of incurring the wrath of a petulant Fringe deity? Why risk spending eternity drinking from an endless glass of G&T that contains no gin, or constantly eating artisanal honey that’s actually made by wasps? Appease the Gods and pay homage at the earliest possible moment to this crowning achievement of the dramatic arts.

outstanding

StarStarStarStarStar

Reviewer: Dan Lentell (Seen 9 August 2018)

Visit the Assembly Roxy archive.

THIS REVIEW HAS NOT BEEN SUBEDITED

+3 Interview: Falkland – The War the World Forgot

“My wife, partner, and playwright decided we didn’t have enough to do so we needed to fix the nation. Well, at least the state of Maryland anyway. So in January she decided to run for House of Delegates and I became her treasurer.”

WHO: Luke Tudball, Director & Performer

WHAT: “On a hovercraft, no one can hear you bark… Fringe legend and Olivier Award winner Guy Masterson’s uproarious tales of woe, a dog and transcontinental wedlock. The dog came with a package… it could not be abandoned in Paris, and the next eight years tested everything: marriage, career and sanity. A tormented, often hysterical life of poo, piss and pooches.”

WHERE: Greenside @ Nicolson Square – Emerald Theatre (Venue 209) 

WHEN: 13:50 (55 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

Edinburgh is an old friend at this point, a wonderful place to return to and celebrate whenever we can. Sure, we’ve had our ups and downs but like any good relationship we kiss and make up, we walk, we get soaked in the rain, and then we make wonderful things happen. This will be my nineteenth Edinburgh Fringe and the fourth with Tasty Monster Productions – a crazy journey but one which I have learnt from, grown with, and been seduced by.

I first came to Edinburgh as a drama student over twenty years ago and since then have brought many productions to the city including in recent years SINGLEMARRIEDGIRL, Ferdinand, and this year, FALKLAND – The War The World Forgot. The Fringe is eclectic, ridiculous, challenging, and exhausting, but I can’t seem to stay away or resist the call of the fest.

What’s the biggest thing to have happened to you since Festivals ’17?

As a company, this year we were lucky enough to take FALKLAND to Pittsburgh Fringe where we won the Selke Award for Best Show in the Fringe and that was amazing. Though awards aren’t the reason we do what we do this one was especially meaningful because I was able to work with the inspiring woman who the award was dedicated to and we are very honored that our show was recognized in her name.

For me personally, something quite big and unexpected has been working on a political campaign because my wife, partner, and playwright decided we didn’t have enough to do so we needed to fix the nation. Well, at least the state of Maryland anyway. So in January she decided to run for House of Delegates and I became her treasurer. Her treasurer and treasure, she calls me.

Tell us about your show.

Tasty Monster Productions came about, as many things do, in a bit of a whirlwind in 2011. After meeting while working on a show, Heather Bagnall, my now wonderful wife and partner, and I knew we wanted to produce new writing of our own and challenging productions which change how people perceive and think about storytelling. Over the last few years we have created and produced five original plays including FALKLAND which was inspired by the uplifting and moving stories of the people of the Falklands and their experiences of the Falklands War in 1982.

Originally premiered in Orlando, Florida, the show honors and commemorates the people whose lives were forever changed by the ten and half week conflict in which almost a thousand people died. This is not a history play – rather a play about people, politics, and power. It’s an eerily timely reminder of the damage that can be done when politicians are careless with their influence. It’s impossible to view it in a vacuum so it has become somewhat of a cautionary tale for for what is happening in our world right now.

As a person with family and friends in many nations of the world, including Britain and the United States, it is hard to not draw parallels and be wary of the road our leaders are taking us down. After Edinburgh, FALKLAND is traveling to Scranton Fringe in Pennsylvania and Charm City Fringe in Baltimore, Maryland and we hope to tour it all over the United States ahead of the midterm elections.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

I will confess that for me the Fringe is a bit of a family reunion and one of the things that is so exciting is seeing so many friends and collaborators bringing their best work to the largest arts festival in the world. I’m especially looking forward to Gavin Robertson’s poetry-meets-standup one-man show GREG BYRON: WORDSHOW as well as Nicholas Collett’s unique look at Shakespeare, YOUR BARD, and as a huge fan of mystery and thrillers, I can’t wait for Guy Masterson’s THE MARILYN CONSPIRACY – a new look at the death of the iconic actress. Having seen and been wowed by Box Tale Soup at Brighton Fringe this May

I’m also eagerly anticipating their new adaptation of Henry James’ TURN OF THE SCREW and no Fringe is ever really complete without the horrific and hysteric poetical rantings of Dandy Darkly who brings his newest foray into the macabre, DANDY DARKLY’S ALL ABOARD!, to the Underbelly at Bristo Square. And if you’re looking for something wacky, fun, and totally unique, you should not miss Peter Michael Marino’s SHOW UP – a show entirely about you which even has a kid-friendly version at noon every day. I never cease to be astounded at Peter’s slightly maniacal energy and supreme showmanship.


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+3 Interview: Queer Words

“Expect real, authentic, colourful characters in a flamboyant, funky and fabulous show!”

WHO: Johnny Autin, Choreographer/ Director

WHAT: “Queer Words: stand-up comedy meets dance theatre! Performed by an all-LGBTQ cast of three exceptional performers, Queer Words is a bold, provocative, and multidisciplinary performance. Combining storytelling, spoken word, dance and physical theatre, Queer Words investigates toxic ideals and the crisis of masculinity at an open mic night. Brutally honest, darkly funny and at times controversial – Autin Dance Theatre is tackling a culture of violence and insecurities with sketches about personal stories around the male perspective, feminism, gender inequalities, and homophobia. You’ll be sure to enjoy an epic, vibrant and outspoken slice of pride, hope, activism, and courage.”

WHERE: Greenside @ Infirmary Street – Forest Theatre (Venue 139) 

WHEN: 16:15 (45 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

This is the first time the company will be bringing a show to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. We are keen to present this brand new show to audiences in Edinburgh and go on this crazy experience that is The Fringe! Queer Words is the ideal performance for us to make our mark at The Fringe. Our show is not what you’d expect from a dance show, and in the best possible ways! Queer Words has something for everyone, dance, music, poetry, singing, and a lot of sass! We are not shy, and tell it like it is. Expect real, authentic, colourful characters in a flamboyant, funky and fabulous show!

What’s the biggest thing to have happened to you since Festivals ’17?

A lot had happened to us since Festival ’17 but the main 2 successes that we’re super proud of it are:

We’ve been touring and presenting ‘Dystopia’ our new dance theatre duet for outdoor and unusual spaces to International Dance Festivals to great acclaim. A dance theatre duet with a fashion design twist. ‘Dystopia’ is a show-stopping and thought-provoking performance, looking at our human need for connection and belonging, in opposition with our modern anxieties based on fear and violence. Striking physicality and an exciting soundscape take the audience on an intense journey through hell and back.

We’ve been awarded funding from Arts Council England towards further touring of ‘A Positive Life’ (22 tour dates in 2017) an immersive theatre experience for teenagers about sex, love and relationships with an uplifting and engaging message on self-love, sexual health topics and sex ed’ stories.

Tell us about your show.

I have had the ideas of making a show about toxic masculinity from a queer point of view for a couple of years. We did a call out for an all-LGBTQ cast of dancers and poets, and selected our fantastic cast through an audition process! We have been working on this show (devising and rehearsing) since February this year, and it will be premiering for the first time at The Fringe. I directed the rehearsals and worked in collaboration with the performers and our whole creative team of composer, dramaturg, producer, costume & lighting designers.
This production was commissioned by Dance Hub Birmingham as part of their artist commission programme, and with the support of Midlands Arts Centre – MAC.

We believe our show is very relevant for audiences in 2018, looking at homophobia, toxic ideals of masculinity, gender roles, and sexism. We unpick some of those issues and themes in the piece by making taking them to some extremes and making fun of them.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

Dance show wise, I look forward to seeing ‘5 days of falling’ by Sam Amos, and The Troth by Akademi, but also Jonny Woo’s All Star Brexit cabaret, and the ever-so-sexy boylesque’s Briefs! And so many more, the whole company will binge on shows and make the most of the festival’s activities!


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+3 Interview: American Idiot

“The amount of passion and work put into this show is honestly astonishing and it promises to be 90 minutes of raw, visceral entertainment where the audience won’t have a second to catch their breath.”

WHO: James Hart, Co-Producer

WHAT: “Green Day’s visceral and provocative Grammy and two-time Tony Award-winning musical. Three disillusioned men search for meaning in our broken world. Will tries to care for his pregnant girlfriend but dissociation wins. Tunny, captivated by the American Dream, joins the army. In the city, Jonny finds purpose with rebellious activist Whatsername but in his intoxication and apathy, finds a reflection of himself that won’t let him be. Ninety minutes of breathtaking raw energy and electrifying music that is not to be missed. Edinburgh University Footlights return to the Fringe following their sell-out 2017 production.”

WHERE: C venues – C – +3 (Venue 34) 

WHEN: 13:45 (95 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

Edinburgh University Footlights returned to Fringe last summer, after a 20 year hiatus, with our 2017 production of ‘Sister Act’ which I was also the producer for. As an Edinburgh-based company, most of us have experienced the Festival before and could not be happier to be coming back this year with ‘American Idiot’. Last year went so well for us, we sold out our 7-day run and hope to do the same again this year with lots of familiar talent, and some fresh new faces!

What’s the biggest thing to have happened to you since Festivals ’17?

Our term-time show, ‘Fame’ in February was a huge success for Footlights, as was our Showchoir’s production ‘Encore’. We received 4* and 5* reviews for both, being dubbed a “professional level show at amateur prices” with it being “difficult to distinguish these young performers from professionals”. Finding an incredibly talented cast for ‘American Idiot’ and working towards this show, has also been incredibly rewarding.

Tell us about your show.

‘American Idiot’ is a musical based on Green Day’s concept album of the same name. The album has been adapted, with additional script written by Billie Joe Armstrong and Michael Mayer, and the show follows the story of Johnny, Will and Tunny as they leave the suburbs to pursue big dreams in the city. I am producing the show alongside Annabel Reid, and it is being directed by Maddie Flint. The amount of passion and work put into this show is honestly astonishing and it promises to be 90 minutes of raw, visceral entertainment where the audience won’t have a second to catch their breath. The show only runs for 1 week during the Festival and so shouldn’t be missed!

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

Our fellow university society EUSOG are putting on ‘The Drowsy Chaperone’ which promises to be incredible, as well as EUSC’s production of ‘Much Ado About Nothing’, Room 29 Theatre’s ‘Dogfight’, and Bare Productions’ ‘You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown’. I also wouldn’t even be in Edinburgh at university or doing this show were it not for Young Pleasance who I first experienced Fringe with in 2012. This year they are putting on ‘The Red Shoes’ which I’m sure will be stunning, as their shows always are!


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+3 Interview: Glasgow ’14

“I have had personal experience of male mental health problems and know the isolation and anxiety it can cause amongst family and friends, male and female of those affected.”

WHO: Sally Lewis, Writer

WHAT: “From award-winning director Benet Catty, this one-man show examines the ‘unseen’ illness of male mental health through the eyes of four different male characters, coping day to day, when an unexpected trauma sets the picture unraveling. Writer Sally Lewis, who scored a hit at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016 with How is Uncle John?, returns by popular demand with an equally sensitive take on an overlooked subject, inspired by real life stories. All four characters are played by master of the monologue, actor Neil Gwynne.”

WHERE: theSpace @ Surgeons Hall – Theatre 3 (Venue 53) 

WHEN: 20:10 (60 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

I made my Fringe debut in 2016 with ‘HOW IS UNCLE JOHN’, a powerful story about modern day slavery, but Ben Catty, our director, is a Fringe veteran having been here with 6 plays,of which three won London Fringe transfers and four featured on multiple Critics Choice lists. Neil Gwynne, actor and master of the monologue makes his debut playing four characters in this one-man show.

What’s the biggest thing to have happened to you since Festivals ’17?

For me its the opportunity to write this play and work with mental health charities such as Brothers In Arms Scotland to get male mental health out into the open and start the conversation. It’s been vital to me to see how men can find support and know they do not have to suffer alone, since Festivals ’17 I have had personal experience of male mental health problems and know the isolation and anxiety it can cause amongst family and friends, male and female of those affected.

Tell us about your show.

Neil, the actor brought ben (the director) and myself (writer) together. Neil and Ben were old friends who went back to theatre school days, I was the newcomer. Neil already had an idea about looking at male mental health as a subject and we chatted. He had read my script for HOW IS UNCLE JOHN and liked the style of my work. Together we collaborated on what is now GLASGOW ’14. We had one performance back in Neil’s home town of Romsey and are delighted to say it went down well. We are all keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for a tour after Edinburgh.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

They should visit the bar firstly. There’s nothing like a drink and a chat to let the play really seep into the consciousness. Then they should head off to see My Left/Right Foot – the musical, and the Underground Railway Game @The Traverse.


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