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First Look: Pre-production images of EdFringe hit ‘All We Ever Wanted Was Everything’ as it transfers to Bush Theatre.

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Record-Breaking Year For Edfest.com – Assembly, Gilded Balloon, Pleasance and Underbelly – The Largest Grouping of Venues on the Fringe

Edfest.com
Edfest.com

Edfest.com

As the 71st anniversary edition of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe comes to a close with the announcement of record breaking ticket sales across the festival, edfest.com have reported a bumper year for the four major venues with 1,658,437 tickets sold, an increase of 9% on Fringe 2017.

Accounting for 58% of all tickets sold at the Fringe, edfest.com – where Assembly, Gilded Balloon, Pleasance and Underbelly come together to host some of the world’s best and brightest talent – continues to be the beating heart of the Fringe. Collectively, they run 97 venues, present 858 shows and employ more than 1800 staff making them the largest grouping of venues on the Fringe.

William Burdett-Coutts, Artistic Director, Assembly, said: “We have had another incredibly successful Festival this year with nearly half a million tickets sold across our 200 plus shows.  Many of our companies have enjoyed full houses, 5 star reviews, nominations and awards including, My Left Right Foot which won both a Fringe First and a Herald Angel and Casting Off which won the Total Theatre Award for Circus. I am also delighted to see  the number of international performers at the Festival continuing to grow despite our uncertain political climate, and for 2019 we will continue to work closely with our partners in Canada, Korea, New Zealand, Australia and many other European countries to ensure that we bring the very best artists and work to Edinburgh each year.”

Karen and Katy Koren, Artistic Directors, Gilded Balloon, said As we come to the end of another Fringe season, we’re reflecting on what has been an absolutely fantastic month across all Gilded Balloon venues. We were delighted to return once again to the National Museum of Scotland and Teviot Row House, and open the doors to the Rose Theatre for the second year running. Our 2018 programme put women at the forefront, with Luisa Omielan, Hot Brown Honey, Maisie Adam and The Miss Behave Gameshow just a few of the fantastic performers we hosted throughout August. Gilded Balloon remains a firm favourite on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe landscape and we take great pride in our programme which celebrates home-grown and international talents, from established acts to those with burgeoning careers ahead.”

Anthony Alderson, Director, Pleasance said: It’s been a fantastic Fringe where we have broken box office records throughout the month.  Our biggest and boldest programme ever has seen us fill a trophy cabinet of awards that include Fringe Firsts, both Edinburgh Comedy Awards, The Holden Street Theatres Award and the Filipa Bragança Award. Companies have thrived off how busy and buzzing the city is. In particular, we’ve noticed this at Pleasance at EICC where audiences have trebled this Fringe.  The Pleasance remains a hub for audiences because of the great and diverse shows found within our programme – from brilliant newcomers to the most exciting international artists to our famous family programme. Our long-running partnership with Waverley Care has this Fringe smashed through the £500,000 mark which is also an amazing achievement.”

Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam, Directors, Underbelly, said: “We are delighted that so many of our companies and artists have been recognised with awards, strong audiences and superb reviews. This year it has been about much more than numbers. It has been about the opportunity to support artists to perform here, to develop and invest in shows, to present a strong line up of new writing, innovative comedians and the best of international contemporary circus, and give space to those who want to create work which not only entertains but also addresses issues which affect us all. We are also delighted to have raised over £43,000 for charity over the course of the Fringe. Every year we are inspired by the talent, creativity and commitment of the artists, performers and staff across Underbelly, and we would like to thank 2018’s incredible team who worked tirelessly to deliver such an exceptional year.”

 

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Underbelly closes successful Fringe 2018

Underbelly
  • Underbelly invested over £500,000 in 22 productions and co-productions this Fringe.
  • Three Fringe First Awards – Angry Alan, It’s True, It’s True, It’s True and dressed.
  • Queens of Sheba won an Edinburgh Stage Award
  • Break Free and OTOSOTR won Asian Arts Awards
  • dressed was shortlisted for a Total Theatre Award.
  • It’s True, It’s True, It’s True and Mistero Buffo won Stage Awards for Acting
  • Dangerous Giant Animals won the inaugural Sit-Up Award
  • Ahir Shah was nominated for the prestigious Edinburgh Comedy Awards for his show Duffer which played Cabaret Voltaire and Underbelly.
  • The Brighton Fringe Award for Excellence went to Thrown, Garry Starr Performs Everything won the Balkan/Otherplace Award, and Hot Gay Time Machine won the  Radio Reverb Out in Brighton LGBTQ Brighton Fringe Award
  • 2 Three Weeks Editor’s awards went to Maddie Rice for Pickle Jar, and Zach and Viggo and Thumpasaurus for Where Did The Love Go?
  • Killymuck’s Aoife Lennon was shortlisted for the Filipa Bragancia award for a solo female performance.
  • Over 500 reviews for Underbelly shows were 4 or 5 stars.
  • 76% of Underbelly’s 517 Fringe staff came from Scotland.

With over 200 shows 2018 saw Underbelly’s strongest year yet for ticket sales, with 422,120 tickets sold across its 22 venues and 4 sites – George Square, Circus Hub, Cowgate and Bristo Square.

Underbelly produced or co-produced 22 shows in 2018, investing over £500,000 to support artists to develop existing and new work. The companies are supported by Underbelly in a number of ways, including no risk financial arrangements, guarantees paid to artists, enhanced box office splits, reduced or waived rental fees, accommodation provided, press and marketing support and delivery, and technical and production assistance.

This year marked the return of the stunning McEwan Hall after the University of Edinburgh’s three-year £33million restoration, converted into a 900 seat venue which hosted the explosive family show Brainiac Live through to Don’t Tell Me Not To Fly, Nina Conti, Foil, Arms and Hog and Sh*tfaced Shakespeare.

One of this year’s great successes has been the award established by Underbelly, and now in collaboration with New Diorama Theatre, ‘Untapped’, which saw three theatre shows win the opportunity to present new work at Underbelly this Fringe. dressed, It’s True, It’s True, It’s True and Queens of Sheba have all played to full houses and critical acclaim with thirty-six 4 and 5 star reviews and prestigious Fringe Firsts for dressed and It’s True, It’s True, It’s True.

Ed Bartlam and Charlie Wood, directors of Underbelly said“We are delighted that so many of our companies and artists have been recognised with awards, strong audiences and superb reviews. We have a wonderful team of programmers who have brought together an entertaining, diverse and relevant programme of shows.

“We’re still not on the scale of the big boys Pleasance and Assembly but we’re delighted that  our numbers of tickets, performers, staff and stars have grown on previous Fringes. We think though, for us, particularly this year that it has been about much more than numbers. It has been about the opportunity to support artists to perform here, to develop and invest in shows, to present a strong line up of new writing, innovative comedians and the best of international contemporary circus, and give space to those who want to create work which not only entertains but also addresses issues which affect us all.

“We are particularly pleased that our Untapped Award, which we run in collaboration with New Diorama Theatre, has been a terrific success with the three plays dressed, It’s True, It’s True, It’s True and Queens of Sheba receiving a huge number of 4 & 5 star reviews and awards.”

Underbelly featured in all three weeks of Fringe First Awards, picking up gongs for  Angry Alandressed and It’s True, It’s True, It’s True: The Scotsman described dressed as full of “joy, passion and a rich flow of energy” and Angry Alan as “packs a giant punch”.dressed was also shortlisted for a Total Theatre Award.

Queens of Sheba took The Stage’s Edinburgh Award in week three of the Fringe.

Wasabeats’ European premier of Break Free smashed expectations and wowed its audience from day one – it’s no surprise they won anAsian Arts Award! Founded in 2014, this award promotes Asian artists and art forms at the Fringe, with judges looking for productions that show outstanding originality, creativity and innovation in their work.

Winner of the inaugural Sit-Up Awards was Dangerous Giant Animals, a play about what it means to grow up alongside a sibling with a disability. The Sit-Up awards are new to the Fringe, launched this year to recognise theatre that which aims to encourage audiences ‘to do something’ if they are affected by work they have seen on stage.

The Brighton Fringe Award for Excellence went to Thrown, a thoughtful and stand-out piece of sci-fi theatre. One of the most popular shows this year at Underbelly, Garry Starr Performs Everything won the Balkan/Otherplace Award, and Hot Gay Time Machine won a Brighton Fringe Award for the second year, taking the Radio Reverb Out in Brighton LGBTQ Brighton Fringe Award.

2 Three Weeks Editor’s Awards winged their way in Underbelly’s direction. Maddie Rice won an award for Pickle Jar with Three Weeks describing it as “Brilliantly written and highly relevant” and Zach and Viggo and Thumpasaurus for Where Did The Love Go?

Over 500 4 and 5 star reviews for shows across the programme including One Woman Sex and the City, Rhys Nicholson, Steen Raskoplous, Pickle Jar, Little Death Club, Tabarnak, Myra Dubois, Abandoman, Josh Glanc, Brainiac Live, Vessel and Dick and Dom marked a successful summer for many who invest in the opportunity to present their work here, on this high profile platform.

This year saw the first company from Khazakstan make a successful debut at the Fringe with their production OTOSOTR (On the Other Side of the River). The List gave it 4 stars and described it as “a gripping, revelatory show” and it picked up an Asian Arts Award.

This year saw Underbelly’s largest programme of accessible performances with 48 performances in step free venues, captioned, BSL interpreted, Relaxed or Makaton signed.

Underbelly held the Big Brain Tumour Benefit for the second year, this time in the magnificent 900-seater McEwan Hall. The line-up included Susan Calman in her only Fringe appearance this year, joined by Joel Dommett, Nish Kumar, Zoe Lyons, David O’Doherty and Rhys Nicholson. The event sold out and all ticket income (£15,000) is going directly to the BrainTumour Charity, matched by Underbelly announced to raise a total of £30,000 on the night and more in online donations.

A further £13,250 was raised through benefits with Stand Up For Cancer, Austentatious presents Crosstentatious! for Waverley Care, Werewolf: Live…Charity Spectacular! Bongo Club Cabaret vs Cancer and Naked Cabaret for Body Gossip. The grand total raised for charities amounted to over £43,000. The online giving page for Brain Tumour Charity is still open and still rising, please do give what you can to support their seriously underfunded and yet so important work. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/underbellyedinburgh

Alongside plays addressing violence against women and the metoo movement, it was a strong year for women actors, comedians, playwrights, singers and directors at Underbelly with Clare Sweeney, Ria Jones, Janie Dee, Danielle Hope, Don’t Tell Me Not To Fly, One Woman Sex in the City, Louise Beuvnik, Providence of Neighbouring Bodies, Croft and Pearce, Not Yet Suffragette, Alice Fraser, Su Pollard and Athena Kugblenu leading the way.

This year we marked the 250th anniversary of circus and the 4th year of the Underbelly Circus Hub on The Meadows by showcasing and celebrating the very finest contemporary circus from across the globe. The Circus Hub programme this year welcomed circus companies from Colombia, Australia, Canada, America, Cuba, Africa and the UK to dazzle and delight audiences both young and old from The Lafayette and The Beauty with the very best traditional and contemporary circus performance.

This year Underbelly employed 517 staff to deliver its programme, 76% of whom were from Scotland (58% from Edinburgh), 18% of them students at Edinburgh’s colleges and universities. All of whom were paid national living wage, paid breaks, paid training, 100% of their tips, and none of which were on zero-hour contracts.

Charlie Wood and Ed Bartlam, Directors, Underbelly said: “We’re immensely proud of our 2018 programme and how well it’s been received by audiences, industry and media. In particular, we are delighted that we have been able to raise over £30,000 for the Brain Tumour Charity through the fantastic Gala at McEwan Hall and our audience’s generosity. Thank you to everyone who took part, bought a ticket or donated cash.

“Every year we are inspired by the talent, creativity and commitment of the artists, performers and staff across Underbelly, and we would like to thank 2018’s incredible team who worked tirelessly to deliver such an exceptional year.”

E

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Edinburgh Festivals Diary: Day 4

Meek

Meek

It has been a heady few days – and of course – nearly the end of the festival.

Saturday brought new levels of misery at Traverse Theatre as I settled down for Meek –Penelope Skinner’s dystopian new play for Headlong in association with the Birmingham Repertory.

Everything is directed by Amy Hodge with an overly-serious tone. It has the potential to be an interesting story, and one that deserves to be told and retold, albeit in rather more adventurous fashion. But the performances are strictly daytime soap. A play that should be a challenge feels relentless. And bleakness is the opposite of what makes theatre interesting.

Meek is, for the most part, a toolkit for stage-haters.

Paines Plough’s vibrant Roundabout programme in the Summerhall Courtyard includes new plays from Tom WellsMiddle Child, and more.

Sticks and Stones is a really, really fun hour. Vinay Patel’s play thrusts virtue-signalling and offence taking centre stage and unpacks how comically disarming vivacity can be. This is a tightly written story about workplace politics that widens into an exploration of free speech. In an exceptionally strong cast, Katherine Pearce is a knockout as the misguided B, who uses a word as part of a misfiring joke fuelled by regret and fury.

Sticks and Stones is one of this year’s coolest shows.

Build a Rocket has been awarded the Holden Street Theatres’ Edinburgh Fringe Award 2018, which gives winning shows the chance to take part in the Adelaide Fringe, which is absolutely idea.

Stephen Joseph Theatre’s production is a showcase for Serena Manteghi’s theatrical dynamism: the way she attacks Christopher York’s monologue.

This charming show follows a disillusioned young mum punching hard against a miserable world. York’s writing manages to strike a clever balance between humour and pathos as they recount a young person’s experiences in austerity Britain. Bold, minimal and surging. The story is wonderfully told, full of deep compassion, scalding rage and surprising humour. It’s not to be missed.

If you aren’t careful, the Fringe can feel like one never-ending theatrical treadmill. It is important to remember this is a marathon not a race; pacing yourself is essential.

I pop to a café by Pleasance Dome for a panini and a cup of coffee.

“Surviving the Fringe?”, I ask the owner.

“Just about,” begins the man I speak to. “There seem to be more people than ever in the city; not very many of them are spending money”, he adds.

“Interesting, why do you think that is?”, I ask.

“Ticket prices. They seem to go up and up and up every year. Most of them are £12-15.00 now. If you are taking a punt on an unknown company or work in progress and it is shit then that is a lot of money,” he says, sighing.

He has a point. Many individuals that I talk to keep telling me 2018 has been more challenging than ever to get full-price paying audiences, particularly for shows beyond the city centre.

I retire to the apartment where I am staying in just off George Square and get ready for Alan Cumming’s triumphant return to the International Festival with his Club Cumming at Leith Theatre.

Cumming delivers a raucous night of songs, guest stars and anecdotes. Anyway, the first guest was bearded baritone Le Gateau Chocolat in a gold lamé dress. Swish-swish.

The centrepiece – to these ears, anyway – is ‘I Who Have Nothing’. Desolate and jarring. At its heart it was a shrewd way of Le Gateau recognising – then owning – the space he occupies. The truth is, nobody else is delivering musical theatre quite like this.

The end time is 2.45am but Edinburgh peaked, for me and it’s 1.30am.

Way past my bedtime.

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Edinburgh Fringe Diary: Day 3 

Fringe Awards 2018

Fringe Awards 2018

I start the day by heading to the Fringe First Awards at Pleasance Courtyard. The weekly awards recognise new work at the Edinburgh Fringe and The Scotsman have been hosting the awards since 2004; they continue to be the most important awards at the Fringe.

Jason Donovan took time out of his short festival appearance to help present this morning’s Fringe Firsts. Summerhall and the Traverse have each won six awards this year, which is kind of remarkable.

Anyway, rules for the prize were simple. It doesn’t pretend to cover all genres – it would celebrate theatre, as theatre tends to suck in the best bits of other genres anyway.

Many congratulations to all the winners and nominees.

A quirky tale themed around extra-terrestrial sightings, Lights Over Tesco Car Park offers up the perfect theatrical fit for Oxford-based Poltergeist Theatre’s inimitable melancholy. These bright young things have crafted with charm and humour a simple but multi-faceted interactive show that works so superbly on so many levels. The whole thing is staged with infectious youthful seriousness; really enjoyable.

The production is staged with visual sophistication and is emotionally engaging. But, watching this playful study of outsiders, I too felt a sense of alienation. Clever stuff.

I head off to the Pleasance Cafe to have a chin wag with Lyn Gardner. We have a mint tea and discuss several shows that we have both seen. Gardner has been here all month: writing a daily blog for The Stage, participating in podcasts, reviewing for The Independent and seeing up to six shows a day.

She’s kind of amazing.

Clown Show About Rain explores the unpredictable nature of mental health. Clowning, beautiful visuals and physical theatre, this is a quietly enjoyable hour. A poignant piece that borders on the saccharine yet still contains some subtle theatre magic thrown in – there’s a vibrant dance scene with mops and the cast deserve an award for their facial expressions. Not awful.

I’m not quite sure how I ended up at a show about about a woman who has vaginismus, which is a fairly brazen set up. But Skin A Cat at Assembly Rooms, is a clever and frank drama. Isley Lynn’s comic play about one woman’s sexual identity was certainly an eye-opener.

Actually, the moments that do feel a little commonplace here are vastly outweighed by moments that allow uniqueness to shine through. A story that compels its audience towards strong feeling but keeps spectators at a distance. Worth a look.

David Greig’s expanded revival of Midsummer – originally a Fringe two-hander in 2008 – is inexplicably at the Hub for the International Festival. This spirited chamber musical is a thing of joy. It occasionally feels like hard work, though.

There are strong performances from Henry Pettigrew and Sarah Higgins, with a supporting on-stage band delivering a sweet soundtrack. But the dissonance between the forgettable songs and a man having a midlife crisis amidst a haze of hangovers is just too jarring to work. It goes on a bit.

I ended the night at Summerhall with Mark Fisher (The Guardian) chatting about life, Fringe fever & other things. Such fun.

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Edinburgh Fringe Diary: Day 2

Edfringe Diary -Day 2
Edfringe Diary -Day 2

Edfringe Diary -Day 2

What’s worse than

Pippin? 

Pippin without an interval. The Stephen Schwartz musical, originally directed by Bob Fosse, ran for 2,000 performances on Broadway. In London, it managed only 85.

This turgid youth-led production manages to be relentless and unforgivably off-key: the vocals are all over the place and the costume looks like someone has raided a clothing bank. Do you know what, this musical is not bad if you like this sort of thing, which I don’t and you probably don’t either. But still.

The whole thing seems like a massive ball-ache to be honest.

Ambitious themes pay off for Strictly Arts’ and Camilla Whitehill new play: Freeman at Pleasance Courtyard.

The piece explores the link between racism and mental health in a vibrant, uplifting, major-key 60 minutes. Regressive views on race are still dangerously pervasive. But this cast just clobber you.

Freeman can’t help but serve as a rallying cry, but it is more than a clarion call. It’s an exciting theatre thing. I.e. quite simply, totally good.

The End of Eddy opened this week at the Edinburgh International Festival ahead of its run at the Unicorn and Dublin Theatre Festival.

This slick coming of age two-hander is analytically adapted from the autobiographical novel by Édouard Louis. The two wide-eyed performers, Alex Austin and Kwaku Mills, work in tandem to deliver a profound and deeply moving 90 minutes that examines class, bullying, identity & homophobia. It really spoke to me.

Overall, a thoroughly intelligent, inspired and good-natured piece of theatre. A festival highlight for me.

Carl Woodward and a Drag Queen

Carl Woodward and a Drag Queen

Prom Kween in the Piccolo Tent is actually quite good, you know. The best zeitgeist satirical comedy in this year’s set of hopefuls, anyway. It feels basically like a show about becoming a drag queen. The subject is enticing: our hero Matthew wants to win his High School Prom and ends up competing against the stereotypes associated. A satirical and anarchic 60 minuted ensues.

The Ru-Paul inspired production doesn’t work quite as well as it should but this is a solid piece in a fun sort of way. It has a talented ensemble cast in teeny shorts, and who slip in a second from America hillbilly to Cher and reflective to wigged-up and glam and there are some real laugh out loud moments, but more light is required.

You better werk, etc.

A fun day.

Here is a photo of me with a drag queen. You’re welcome.

 

Total Theatre Awards 2018 winners announced

Total Theatre Awards

Since 1997, the Total Theatre Awards have been recognising innovative and artist-led performance at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.  The winners of the Total Theatre Awards 2018 have been announced. Over the course of this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe 29 peer assessors, comprising of artists, producers, programmers, curators, critics and academics assessed 461 shows across the first 11 days of the festival, from which a shortlist of 22 nominated shows was announced on 16 August 2018.

Following this, the nominated shows were viewed by a panel of 22 judges who have awarded seven awards across five categories – one Total Theatre & Theatre Deli Award for an Emerging Company / Artist, two awards for Physical/Visual Theatre, one Total Theatre & Jacksons Lane Award for Circus, one Total Theatre & The Place Award for Dance, and two awards for Innovation, Experimentation and Playing With Form. One Significant Contribution Award is also presented.

Speaking about the award winners, Co-Directors Jo Crowley and Becki Haines said;

Total Theatre continually and rigorously re-evaluates what performance is and what it can be by championing artists who are committed to innovation. The shortlisted artists and winners in 2018 have all built upon our understanding and articulation of this. The Shortlisted and winning shows evidence the creative potential that can be found in providing space for visionary artists and theatre makers to create without censors, and to share their voices directly and unfiltered to an audience.

Total Theatre Awards is not alone in identifying underrepresented practitioners and voices in this festival and is moving forward on tangible steps with partners, to explore how they  might provide resources and opportunities to better support and develop the artists, critical voices and leaders who are not a part of the conversation at this point.

The  details of all the winners below

The Total Theatre Award Winners 2018 are:

Total Theatre & Theatre Deli Award for an Emerging Company / Artist

Cock, Cock… Who’s There?
Samira Elagoz in association with From Start to Finnish (Finland)

Summerhall

Physical / Visual Theatre

Another One

By Lobke Leirens and Maxim Storms
Vooruit, Arenbergschouwburg, Big in Belgium, Richard Jordan Productions, TRP, Summerhall (Belgium)

Summerhall

Backup
Chaliwaté Company and Focus Company (Belgium)

Summerhall

Total Theatre & Jacksons Lane Award for Circus

Casting Off
Sharon Burgess Productions and A Good Catch (Australia)

Assembly

Total Theatre & The Place Award for Dance

Void
V / DA and MHz, in association with Feral (Scotland)

Summerhall

Innovation, Experimentation & Playing with Form

Natalie Palamides: NATE
Soho Theatre (England/United States)


Pleasance

Pussy Riot: Riot Days
One Inch Badge (England/Russia)

Summerhall

Significant Contribution Award

Le Gateau Chocolat

 

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Fringe Diary – Day 1: Edinburgh, I am amongst you.

I land at Edinburgh International Airport and hopped on a tram and to my utter delight was greeted by critic Matt Trueman who had spent 3 days in the Hebrides. We discussed shows and various other things and it came to light that he still hadn’t seen Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again…

“What!?,” I say – in disbelief.

He smiles.

“But Matt you’re the only person I know who could intellectualise Mamma Mia! (Matt recently appeared on a Channel 5 documentary chatting about the ABBA jukebox musical).

Actually, I did offer to take Matt to the cinema to see the film. But I won’t hold my breath.

Anyway, Edinburgh in August plays host to a vast amount of theatre and culture. But it’s the quality of the experience that counts for both industry figures, critics and residents, not the 3,000 plus performances. For me the Fringe is like Christmas and as Lyn Gardner put it recently: “Edinburgh Fringe is a great time to stock the larder for my theatrical year.” Truly.

My first show was Chris Goode’s sell-out site-specific show for Dante Or Die: User Not Found. This charming piece takes place at Jeeliepeace Cafe and is performed by Terry O’Donovan. We are handed headphones and a smart phone while Norah Jones plays.

It has something to say about memory and mortality and how we manage our social media footprint when we depart this world.

User Not Found could bring immersive theatre back from the dead. (I’m not usually a fan). Being simultaneously life-affirming and death-focused, however, is a tough act for any theatre-maker, but O’Donovan more than manages it. Beautiful.

European Citizen Popsong

European Citizen Popsong

Following the success of five previous seasons, Big in Belgium season at Summerhall always manages to produce some theatrical gold. Unfortunately, European Citizen Popsong is terrible.

This show doesn’t need any encouragement to be a preachy, right-on bore. Potentially, this could be a charming and cutting show that is bold enough to dish out stick to everyone, not just Brexit and Euroceptics and then progress to stage two of its development as a musical-comedy show: making it funny.

I walked out after 40 minutes.

HOME

HOME

In a terrific stroke, Geoff Sobelle‘s HOME is a quirky installation-slash-art-slash-theatre piece involves assembling a two-up, two-down house. It also involves unprepared audience members as co-performers.

A UK premiere at the Edinburgh International Festival this year, yet the show itself swarms with contradictory life. Much of it is terse, fuelled by low-key suspense and playful imagination. It’s a slow fragmentary show about an over-populated society.

I didn’t love it, though.

As late nights go, sticking All We Ever Wanted Was Everything in a 11.30pm slot – for one week only – Roundabout @ Summerhall is pure genius.

Middle Child’s forensic gig-theatre show is a heroic full-on piece of work that examines youthful dreams beautifully. The raucous live music and the lives it puts on stage, and the way you listen to dialogue. There is a sense of urgency and striving to bring about change in Luke Barnes’s engaging and ambitious play. All We Ever Wanted… makes you feel you can do anything. Everyone should sample it.

Edinburgh is amazing.

Headlong in association with Birmingham Repertory Theatre present Meek by Penelope Skinner 

MEEK by Penelope Skinner Credit and Copyright: Helen Murray

Penelope Skinner’s mysterious new play, Meek, opens at Birmingham Repertory Theatre from 4 – 8 September following its première at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August. A haunting vision of ruthless state control, tense friendships and one woman’s determination not to be broken, Meek is a tale which reflects on our own fraught times.

In a society where private lives become political and freedom of expression is not an option, Irene finds herself imprisoned.  As tales of her incarceration spread overseas and her growing exposure becomes a threat, she is forced to make a brutal decision. 

Penelope Skinner says of Meek:

On a small-scale, it is a story about friendship, faith, shame and betrayal. On a wider-scale, it is about the ways in which spirituality can be co-opted for political gain, and the impact of that on our personal freedoms.  It is also a play about love.”

Penelope Skinner is an award-winning writer recognised as one of the UK’s leading voices in contemporary theatre.  Her theatre credits include Linda and The Village Bike for the Royal Court andThe Promise for Donmar Warehouse. Penelope is Winner of the 2011 George Devine Award, the Charles Wintour Most Promising Playwright Award at the 2011 Evening Standard Theatre Awards. She was also nominated for the 2012 Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre.

Amy Hodge, Associate Director for Headlong, directs Meek and the cast is Scarlett Brookes, Shvorne Marks and Amanda Wright.  It is designed by Max Jones with Lighting design by Zoe Spurr and Sound and Composition by Melanie Wilson.

Listing information

4 to 8 September 2018, 8pm.  2.30pm matinee on Sat 8 Sept.

The Door, Birmingham Repertory Theatre
Tickets from £10

Box Office:  0121 236 4455