Monday, October 08, 2007

Life after the fringe

OK, this was mainly written a long time ago, I've only just got around to sorting / finishing it…

Well, it's all over – more's the pity. Had an amazing time in Edinburgh – I saw some truly brilliant shows,
met some new people, got to know some people much better, did a lot of work, and got ill; as ever in
Edinburgh time seems to compress itself so that the whole month can feel like a lifetime;
I'm quite glad I was only there for a week!

I guess I should continue the show reviews; it's been a long time now, but I'll try to remember them in order!

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Despite living in their flat, I'll try to be impartial, but it's hard to criticise this amazingly well produced show – There were concerns about the integrity of the script, but after it had been cut I didn't feel it was a problem at all. The children's characters were very appealing; Rob Frimston as Edmund really managed to pull off his sulky character well, and Emily Hardy was a beautifully enthusiastic Lucy. I had some reservations about Megan Prosser's costume as the white witch (it looked amazing, just didn't somehow work for me) – I think though that this was due to preconceptions of the role rather than anything concrete.

The Absinthe Monologues

In a phrase – Delightfully random. At times a little crude, but not so much so that it stopped me wanting to watch (and given the title and setting, crudeness is to be expected). The show was a very pessimistic but quite amusing view of life. Each part slid fairly seamlessly from one to the other, and the recurrence of characters / sketches through the show kept a nice familiarity throughout. Oh, and the free absinthe was a bonus…

Eurobeat – Almost Eurovision

Amazingly camp, brilliantly inventive, and true to form. My only gripe was that the show was too long. In order to be realistic, the show chose to go through the entire round-up of 'countries' 'voted' for. This was a mistake in my opinion, as the jokes / characters over the 'videophone' were overplayed and frankly irritating. On the other hand, the acts themselves were brilliant; caricatures, and yet believable to anyone who had seen the real Eurovision (may we all be pitied) – not too offensive to supporters of the countries concerned, yet clearly tongue-in-cheek the acts, the choreography and the music combined to produce an incredibly enjoyable show. The whole thing was a little commercial; with flags and clappers being sold for extortionate amounts outside the venue, but this added to the effect of the show being closer to 'the real thing'.

Adam Hills – Joymonger

New, gritty and delightfully current, Adam again surpasses himself with a brilliant bit of stand-up. His down-to-earth character as ever immediately serves to put the audience at ease, and by the end of the show we all felt like we could talk to each other, stand up and dance; he can pretty much get an audience doing anything he wants. Thoroughly recommended!

Mikelangelo - The Nightingale of the Adriatic

Immaculately dressed is an understatement for this guy, and not many people could pull off a vocal number about the merits of pomade; somehow he does it. He sung a number of tunes from previous shows as Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen, which the entire audience knew and loved, and also added some of his own solo numbers as well. His immense stage presence and amazing voice, combined with the various talents of the pianist, accompanying singer (who's name I embarrassingly can't remember), and the comedy folk musician who came on and played a saw a few times. Brilliant!

Tony Blair, the Musical

I've worked with James Lark a couple of times, and have always respected his writing skills. This time he's surpassed himself – the timing, the music and the direction all combine to give a thoroughly enjoyable and amusing show from beginning to end. Interestingly this wasn't the only Blair-based show at the fringe; Tony – The Blair Musical (which unfortunately I didn't see) also had good reviews; it seems though that as the shows covered different subject matter neither was competing too much with the other. I hope James is able, to move the show into a London space as I think the show would benefit from a longer running time – giving James more chance to add to the characterisation and plot that shows much promise in this unfortunately short setting.

Auto Auto

Two mad Germans playing music, with a car. The description sounds insane, and the show basically was… Their comedic talents notwithstanding, these guys are incredibly inventive musicians who clearly can make music out of anything – Inspired, amusing and great fun from beginning to end.


I've never seen a show as physically exhausting as this – part dance club, part physical theatre, it engaged the audience so brilliantly. We were made to stand in a dark, cavernous auditorium, while music played and the set pieces were dragged on – parting the audience. The cast were full of energy – energy which made its way to the audience, who by the end were all (myself included) jumping up and down and dancing. The biggest set piece was the massive overhead swimming pool, which held enough water to sag downwards (rather alarmingly) over the audience while the cast members dived, splashed, and spun their way through it. At one point, the pool (and the actors on it) was close enough to touch with our hands above our heads. All in all, Fuerzabrata was an amazing showcase for what can be done with no limit to the imagination – combining so many brilliant elements of acting, dance, design and technical toys to create a breathtaking experience.

The reason I haven't blogged for a while is partially laziness, partially life running away with me, and partially being in Cornwall for HMS Pinafore in the Minack theatre. I haven't been to the Minack for three years now – it was lovely to be back there and help out. I had a nominal production role as 'Executive Sound Designer' which meant I could at least pretend to be on the production team… However, I didn't really feel I was necessary, Andrew J and his team of glamorous assistants (Hazel and Tamsin) did an amazing job – one of the best organised designs I've seen for a long time, and the design patience paid off – producing an amazingly rounded, well balanced sound with minimal problems. All in all this year's cast and crew were one of the nicest groups of people I've ever worked with on a show. It was a great fun trip – despite having to juggle long noiseboy hours, a busy working week, and having fun.

I wrote a small bit of this on a train on the way back from a lovely dinner with Gemma at 'Le Garrick' in Covent Garden last week, which comes highly recommended. I haven't seen Gemma for a while, and it was lovely to catch up with her – despite us being more than a little sleepy it was a really nice evening.

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