The Great Ridolphi (Underbelly Cowgate: 3-27 Aug: 13.25: 55mins)

“Steve Turner delivers a real tour-de-force”

Editorial Rating: 4 Stars

The Great Ridolphi follows the story of Victor O’Meara, only son of the now deceased (or is he?) eponymous grand illusionist, as he seeks to unravel the hidden messages his father left him to find a missing painting: the inheritance he thought he would never get. Following an unexpected visit from a scrupulous investigator, Victor must solve the clues to uncover the mystery before anyone else can get there.

It’s a rather rollicking adventure from the quill of Chris Isaacs (not unlike a stage version of an episode of TinTin), as Victor chases across countries and meets some rather exotic characters to reach his goal. While the pace is great and the 50 or so minutes of the show absolutely fly by, it is at the expense of some of the mystery and suspense – revelations, deductions and beautiful moments are often over before they’ve barely been set up and it feels like a little bit of the joy of the story is squeezed out too soon. For an ordinary man, Victor is miraculously very good at solving puzzles, riddles, and taking risks without much thought and it is disappointing not to see more of his struggle in this regard.

The tension is helped along, however, by a couple of clever sub-plots: calls from his wife, escalating in desperation the longer he’s away; and his deteriorating health – we start to wonder whether he might drop dead himself before finding what he’s looking for. Both bring a genuine human element to the story, often missing from adventure tales, so it’s pleasing that these details are included – it helps the production feel more grounded in the here and now. There’s also the omnipresent investigator tracking Victor wherever he goes, though it’s never quite made clear whether he’s meant to be trusted or not. It seems to make little difference given the rather rushed ending, so this device feels rather wasted, and greater development of this character would add to the sense of foreboding throughout.

Victor (and indeed every character present on stage) is played by one of the piece’s co-creators Steve Turner, who delivers a real tour-de-force throughout. His performance is confident, clear and honest, never feeling like it’s all one big showman superhero act, but a man simply following his calling and interacting with whatever crosses his path. He shows great dexterity in the swift changes of scene and character, though for me he could go further to explore and expand on some of these to create more drama and individuality.

This is a witty and warming (if a little wild) performance, charming to the last second. One for the shortlist.

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

Reviewer: Steve Griffin (Seen 16 August)

THIS REVIEW HAS NOT BEEN SUBEDITED

+3 Interview: Rosie Wilby: The Conscious Uncoupling

“It’s a mix of funny and poignant.”

WHO: Rosie Wilby, Performer / writer

WHAT: “BBC Radio 4 regular Wilby poignantly interweaves comedy, memoir, love letters, breakup emails and Richard Hawley music to investigate the aftermath of separation in a post-Gwyneth world. The Conscious Uncoupling was commissioned by London’s Southbank Centre for Festival of Love and was shortlisted, via public vote, for Funny Women Best Show 2016.”

WHERE: Laughing Horse @ The Counting House (Venue 170)

WHEN: 18:30 (55 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

No. I’ve been coming up for a decade, most notably with a trilogy of shows about how we behave in our romantic relationships. It began with The Science of Sex, which has toured internationally and won awards. The middle part Is Monogamy Dead? spun off into a book and TEDx talk. Now I’m addressing relationship endings in the final part.

What’s the biggest thing to have happened to you since Festivals ’16?

2016 was the first year in many that I didn’t come to Edinburgh. I won a place on a prestigious writers’ retreat at University of Southern California and started writing my book there. The biggest thing is getting that finished and out into world. It’s in lots of shops and getting a great response.

Tell us about your show.

The show was written and developed in 2016 with my director Colin Watkeys (who has worked with the late, great Ken Campbell, Jack Klaff and Claire Dowie). It premiered at Tristan Bates theatre first festival. A programmer from London Southbank was there and asked me to perform it at their festival of love. It was also shortlisted for Funny Women Best Show and has toured to venues including Salisbury Arts Centre and Summerhall (for Edinburgh science festival).

I’ll be performing it at Sheffield’s literary festival Off The Shelf in October. In the show, I interweave breakup emails, comedy, music and a love story to investigate how we might end relationships more compassionately. It’s a mix of funny and poignant.

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

Some of the hidden gems are on earlier in the day than my show at 6.30pm. But people could see them before or the day after.

Ada Campe, a comedy character creation of actress Naomi Paxton, skilfully weaves comedy, audience participation and magic into a compelling story – with the aid of her psychic duck.

Charmian Hughes has a lovely show this year called Soixante Mirth. It has some similarities to mine in that both involve ghosts from the past and a bit of time travel. She has several meetings with her younger self and wraps it all up in hilarious anecdotes and a wonderfully daft musical ending.


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+3 Interview: Not: Lady Chatterley’s Lover

“The company came together following testing of the script at Scratch Night, ‘On The Night’ at The Arcola Theatre.”

WHO: Lawrence Russell, Writer/Actor

WHAT: “This is the company’s first time to Edinburgh. But with the support of Arts Council England and Red Rose Chain Theatre Company we had R&D and a mini tour of the show before shortening it for the fringe. During development we worked with Stephen Harper (Told by An Idiot), Helen Baggett (Gecko) and Annie Sertich (Groundlings Main Company). We’re very excited to be here and hope to come back next year with a new show!”

WHERE: Sweet Grassmarket (Venue 18) 

WHEN: 18:30 (60 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

This is the company’s first time to Edinburgh. But with the support of Arts Council England and Red Rose Chain Theatre Company we had R&D and a mini tour of the show before shortening it for the fringe. During development we worked with Stephen Harper (Told by An Idiot), Helen Baggett (Gecko) and Annie Sertich (Groundlings Main Company). We’re very excited to be here and hope to come back next year with a new show!

Tell us about your show.

Not: Lady’s Chatterley’s Lover is a Mel Brooks style parody of the D.H. Lawrence novel. We’ve kept it sexy, made it funny and added a few twists along the way. Lawrence Russell wrote it and the company (Happy Idiot) is producing it with the help of Associate Producer, Ami Stidolph.

The company came together following testing of the script at Scratch Night, ‘On The Night’ at The Arcola Theatre. We’ve since performed the full version of the show in Ipswich, London and Shoreham-by-Sea.

Following the fringe we’d love to tour the U.K. and even take it to The U.S.A or Australia if the opportunity is there!

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

We love Annie Sertich: How Not To Kill Yourself…, Austentatious, The Secret Life of Humans, The Jurassic Parks and The Prophetic Visions of Bethany Lewis.


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Sister Act (theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall: 14-20 Aug: 16.10: 1hr 45mins)

“Energetic, harmonic and full of the gospel spirit this whole show embodies”

Editorial Rating: 3 Stars

In my experience, condensed versions of musicals generally go one of two ways: they either trim the fat from the full version and present a slick and sizzling highlights reel (as in EUSOG’s Spring Awakening last year), or they come across as a slightly misshapen patchwork quilt of musical moments. Unfortunately, Edinburgh University Footlights’ production of Sister Act falls into the latter camp. However, some of its musical moments are really rather magical.

We all know the story of the show: aspiring and audacious nightclub singer Deloris Van Cartier has to hide away with a group of nuns for her own protection, and in so doing transforms their choir into a team of sensational songstresses. Sarah Couper certainly gives it her all as Deloris, with hugely likeable sass and personality, which is more than capably offset by Tayla Steinberg’s harsh but witty Mother Superior.

It’s Alice Hoult as the timid Sister Mary Robert who vocally steals the show though, with a flawless rendition of the rousing The Life I Never Led. A masterclass in control, it’s a shame some of the other numbers lack the overall quality and power of this one: it really stands out as something special.

Yet when this production hits the sweet spot, it really does soar. The Raise Your Voice scene in particular is energetic, harmonic and full of the gospel spirit this whole show embodies. Caili Crow’s choreography is stylish, intricate and very deftly delivered, and for a few minutes here and there the performance really sparkles.

The main strength of this production overall is comedic characterisation, and director Ansley Clark has done a great job in bringing the best out of each individual throughout the performance. Nicola Frier is a revelation as the excitable Sister Mary Patrick, delivering laughs aplenty with every utterance; Adam Makepeace is a wonderfully dorky TJ; and Mhairi Goodwin brings a whole new level of vibrancy to Sister Mary Lazarus that I didn’t think was possible.

This production is quite hit and miss though, making it difficult to stay fully engaged with it throughout. While I won’t go into details of the technical issues which unfortunately blighted this production, other factors such as the (at times) awkward staging, the very choppy nature of lots of different quick scenes, and lack of palpable tension in the big moments all detract from what has the potential to be a really outstanding show. It all feels a little rushed and a bit too rough around the edges.

This a very commendable effort from the cast and company, but perhaps slightly too ambitious too pull off.

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

Reviewer: Steve Griffin (Seen 15 August)

THIS REVIEW HAS NOT BEEN SUBEDITED

+3 Interview: Merrily We Roll Along

“This is a classic piece of theatre which deserves to be brought in front of audiences again.”

WHO: Paul Murphie, Producer/Director

WHAT: “Kaufman and Hart’s groundbreaking play sees its first revival in decades, telling the story of Richard Niles, a playwright who seemingly has it all – but what sacrifices has he made for fame? The play travels back in time, beginning in 1934 at the peak of Niles’ success, through the Great Depression and the roaring 20s, while he abandons his principles to fulfil his ambitions. The play that inspired the iconic Sondheim musical, this is a story of friendship, aspiration and betrayal, set in a glittering age of American culture.”

WHERE: theSpace @ Symposium Hall (Venue 43)

WHEN: 13:10 (90 min)

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Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

This is our first time at the Fringe as Our Time Theatre company. We are a brand new theatre company based in Edinburgh and are super excited to take part in the 2017 Edinburgh Festival Fringe!

Tell us about your show.

Our show is a brand new adaptation of the 1934 play, Merrily We Roll Along, originally written by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. We have been working with U.S producer and director, Christopher Hart (who is the son of Moss Hart!), to create this adaptation – and we are extremely excited and proud to be producing the first revival of this play in decades. Many people will be familiar with the 1980s Sondheim musical of the same name, which was based on the original 1934, although with some changes to the characters, storyline and era in which it was set.

We believe this is a classic piece of theatre which deserves to be brought in front of audiences again. It was a groundbreaking play when first released due to the reverse structure in which it is told – as we move forward in the play but backwards in time ,we see snapshots of our protagonist’s life, the important events and decisions that led him to where he is when we first meet him in 1934. This play is truly unique, charming, clever and thought-provoking; a moving story set in the glittering era of 1920s America, packed full of sensational drama as well as sparkling comedy with a poignant message.

We are Our Time Theatre, a new venture with the aim of providing actors with opportunities for creative and professional self-development, through the production and performance of new or lesser known work: which in turn, we want to bring to greater cultural prominence to audiences.

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

We are planning to see as many shows as possible during the Fringe and are very excited that we are in Edinburgh for the whole summer. We would recommend that audiences see as much as possible – there are a many great and wonderful (and weird!) things to see! We love the whole atmosphere of the Fringe, and our favourite thing to do is get out the Royal Mile and see what flyers we pick up! One show we will not be missing this year is “It Shoulda Been You” – a musical being put on by our good friends at Room 29 Theatre!


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+3 Interview: Over the Garden Fence

“We love to perform in both theatrical and non-theatrical settings and hope to continue to do so, the Edinburgh Fringe is amazing platform for us to reach new audiences.”

WHO: Hayley Riley, Co-writer/perfomer

WHAT: “Over the Garden Fence follows the story of Annabelle and her gran Dolly. Annabelle and the audience are taken on a nostalgic journey through Gran’s life, sharing memories of happiness, sorrow and joy. It is a fast-paced, uplifting and comical exploration into family, life and relationships. The stories within the play are based on personal experiences. The play engages audiences in the discussion of not only dementia, but family life as well: including the ups and downs, the highs and lows and everything in-between.”

WHERE: Greenside @ Infirmary Street (Venue 236)

WHEN: 19:45 (55 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

Yes we are Edinburgh Fringe Festival novices, this is our very first time and we still have so much to do, hand out fliers, plan our route, and master setting up and down in under five minutes, not an easy feat when you have two fences, a suitcase, a rug, a china tea set, 14 books, numerous photographs, Christmas crackers, a turkey tray, various hats and scarfs, three pairs of glasses and a banana!

Tell us about your show.

A runaway turkey, gossiping neighbours, uncovered memories. A fast-paced, uplifting and emotional roller-coaster ride on the topic of dementia. The play follows Annabelle and her Grandmother Dolly on a beautiful nostalgic journey through Grans past, her treasured memories re-discovered and shared. ‘Over the Garden Fence’ co-written and performed by Hayley and Louise of Haylo Theatre is about life, family and love. Join these two women who will have you laughing one minute and crying the next.

It’s January 2013. Louise picks Hayley up from the station; a routine played out daily. It’s raining. A girl walks past them. Her green coat and the squeaky window wipers spark a conversation; a conversation about days gone by and a memory we thought we had forgotten; a memory insignificant to the girl in the green coat and the other wet commuters passing by, but in that car in that moment, that memory opened up a new chapter of our lives. We were going to find a way to share our memories and create stories not easily forgotten. Enter Haylo Theatre.

We wanted to create theatre that others would watch and see something they recognise of themselves or their own lives. Our characters and their stories in ‘Over the Garden Fence’ are an amalgamation of our own grandparents and some of their stories. With ‘Over the Garden Fence’ we wanted to help combat the stigma some people still feel by giving dementia a human face.

– Where have we been and where are we going?

We have been touring Over the Garden Fence for around three years. We have performed for various organisations, including:

Age UK, The Christie, Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia Action Alliance, E.D.U.C.A.T.E., Francis House, St Augustinian Care and Hospice UK, Dementia Congress, Worcestershire Palliative Care Conference, Hospice Enabled Dementia Care conference and the International Alzheimer’s Conference, Budapest.

We love to perform in both theatrical and non-theatrical settings and hope to continue to do so, the Edinburgh Fringe is amazing platform for us to reach new audiences.

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

Go and see Skimstone Arts The Ties that Bind a combination of performance, original sound and potent visuals. It was commissioned by Edinburgh University and based on their latest research along with stories collected from people living with dementia. This show challenges our perceptions of dementia, which is something we hugely support and are passionate about!


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+3 Interview: Cloud Avenue

“The show explores childhood imagination through these puppets, along with incredible video art and an original soundtrack from electronic artist ZOU.”

WHO: Isobel Lewis, Producer

WHAT: “Violet has had the ability to travel back in time since a young age and has utilised her gift in her writing career. On a round the world trip into her childhood, she stumbles into the world of her emotions. How far will her relationship with the past jeopardise her existence in the present? Cloud Avenue is a multimedia puppet show which illustrates the vivid world of childhood imagination for all ages.”

WHERE: Greenside @ Nicolson Square (Venue 209)

WHEN: 23:05 (50 min)

MORE: Click Here!


Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

Yes, and we’re so excited to be here!

Tell us about your show.

‘Cloud Avenue’ is a multimedia puppet show from the University of Manchester Drama Society. The play is the brain-child of Cara Looij, an incredibly talented writer, storyteller and puppeteer. Cara makes all the puppets herself (predominantly from recycled materials) and they are used to tell the story of Violet, a girl who has had the ability to travel back in time from a young age.

The show explores childhood imagination through these puppets, along with incredible video art and an original soundtrack from electronic artist ZOU. The show premiered in Manchester in February, where it won three Manchester In-Fringe Theatre Awards. ‘Cloud Avenue’ challenges the idea that family-appropriate theatre must be dumbed down and cannot be challenging or experimental, whilst remaining accessible.

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

No Show at Summerhall – life-changingly amazing circus performers putting on a hilarious and fascinating look into the industry.


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