Friday, August 29, 2008

And here, in fact, is the David Austen piece I particularly liked.

Feel free to buy me the full set as a wonderful gift...
Oh, so this is a piece of Kay's art. (I prefered Mr Austen but can't find a nice enough picture of his art to grace this humble blog...)
For a few fleeting moments last night, I was one of the beautiful people, rubbing shoulders with Tracy Emin and a collection of the most startingly coolly attractive people I have seen all together in the same place for a long long time (oh, except obviously for at one of our monthly theatre group meetings...).

Art Late was the closing fling of the Edinburgh Art Festival which I admit I've paid no attention to with the fierse theatrical competition on offer. Various of the galleries threw their doors open from 6 - 9pm last night so the beautiful could go decorate their floor space.

We made it round 3 galleries - Stills (an extraordinary giant bookcase where visitors are invited to 'interact' with the books - which surely means read them), the Collective (a lovely almost pop art style exhibition themed around what an alien visiting our society might make of it) and the newest addition to Edinburgh's gallery collection, the Ingleby.

Now this is certainly a place worth a visit. Aside from the fact that Tracy was propping up the wall, they had some work from David Austen of whom I had never heard because I'm not cool enough but now hanker for some of his prints. And also from Kay Rosen which was quite fun.

Now of course I want to leave my job and become an art student...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Trying and trying now (not panicing of course - just mindful that rehearsals start next week...) to learn my 12th Night lines and it's not very easy.

I'm sure it must be easier than learning Sarah Kane lines but nonetheless, it seems to be taking me an inordinate amount of time and I hardly have any lines!

It would help if only I could understand a lot of what I'm trying to learn parrot-fashion of course...

Monday, August 25, 2008

At last (on Friday to be specific) they published my review (scroll down) of How the Giraffe Got Its Neck.

Again (in my super-patronising way) I hope it sold them some tickets...

Friday, August 22, 2008

I saw an amazing show on Tuesday. Mortal Engine at the Playhouse as part of the EIF. Take (if you are interested) a look at the video clips on the website. They totally don't do it justice.

It was a dance show. Though really it was a light show with a bit of dance thrown in to justify its existence. But it was the most amazing lighting I have ever seen. More amazing than a pop concert which is where you usually see your best lighting. They must have flung serious money at it.

They did this amazing thing where they somehow fit the light exactly to the dancer's body so the dancer would be lying around or standing or whatever and perfectly silhouetted with light, to the shape of hands and feet even. It was remarkable. I spent most of the show puzzling how they did it. (Pre-recorded and projectors maybe??) I need to read into it.

The dancing was pretty cool too. Some nice tableaus. But the hero was the production really. It's finished now so you won't be able to judge for yourselves. But for spectacle, it rivalled last year's Fuerzabruta and I hadn't seen anything to rival this until Tuesday so that is another box ticked.

They at last printed by Shakespod review. (Great headline - not mine.) I'm pleased as it was a cracking show and I fear they won't get the audiences it deserves. Not that this will make much difference but it's something. And I went to see it purely on the strength of my pity for a man who thrust a flyer into my hand on the Royal Mile. Just goes to show flyering does pay...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I was about to say I'd had a theatre-free day and then I remembered with my cotton wool head that in ten minutes I'm off to the Playhouse to see Mortal Engine. Which I suppose isn't technically theatre, perhaps more dance, so perhaps I'm off the hook. Cotton wool fool.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I was pleased to see they printed my Yasser review. One of the girls I work with knows the boy who's acting in it. Not that many Eve News readers will necessarily be rushing to see a show about Jews and Palestinian politics. But maybe that's disgraceful prejudice.

I care much less about them printing this as it will sell out anyway. Though I did (dangerous self-congratulatory moment ahead) like my "balletic grace"!

I thought the weariness would catch up with me sooner or later. I wrote it off yesterday as being a hangover but today, woke up feeling as if I'd been slapped around the legs (oddly) with a heavy wet fish. I dragged myself into work anyway.

Friday night I saw Arkle's Picasso at the Lapin Agile directed by one of the most charming men in Edinburgh, Ian Aldred. It featured some rather fine performances from some of the shining stars of the Edinburgh amateur scene: Nick, Matt, Caroline, Pat Hymers, lovely Karen Whytock, DG, David Helliwell. (Bet I've forgotten a dear good friend.) I did not like the play but that is just an awkward detail. And then, only one show down, I carelessly got very drunk.

Saturday was:

Coming up for Air (adapted from George Orwell's novel) at the Assembly Rooms. Very good and peculiarly poignant as he speaks of an England disappearing under housing estates and landfill sites. It was set in 1938 but could be just as true 70 years on.

In Conflict which was a really outstanding production from a young American university group playing a bunch of American war veterans who'd lost limbs and the like in Iraq. They did a cracking job and the room (one of the giant ones at Assembly) was half empty so I felt sad for them. It's worth seeing purely for the jaffa cakes that they pass around the audience. But for much more than that too.

And then Crave by Birmingham Uni students. God love them. They tried hard and it was very heartfelt. But too many things made my skin crawl and not in a desirable way. They had what promised to be a set made of jelly. Which actually consisted of several small jellies scattered over the surface of the stage. Which the actors sunk their fingers into, smeared over each other and crushed meaningfully at I suppose what they felt to be pertinent moments.

Oh it's easy to be unkind. I didn't think the jelly added much. I love the language in the play but they gobbled it up and turned it into something too much like a parody of mental illness for my liking. I thought our "C" was better. The extraordinary Asha. Caroline was infinitely better than their "M". This "M" voluptuously rolled around the stage covered in blue eyeshadow (and jelly) alternately yowling like a child and groping herself supposedly sensuously.

Still, tis only that I feel protective about this play. I wouldn't rush to see it but then I'm maybe being too fussy. They were very sincere.

Saturday night was the rather anti-climactic Club Noir.

Then hungover Sunday saw me drag up and hare out to Once and for all we're gonna tell you who we are so shut up and listen at the Traverse. My first (and possibly only) five star festival show. Snatch up a ticket if you can. It's magic.

Rushed home to bed to nap and then back out again to maybe a youth group's production of Under Milk Wood. Again, a piece of writing that I love. Again, sadly butchered but again I think they meant well. It was just a bit raggedy.

And then a motley assortment of my 4:48 cast went to see 4:48 Psychosis last night. The main actress was amazing. The liberties they took with the (precious) text was amazing. Huge great chunks of it cut. The junior doctor cavalierly changed into her lover (??!!). The notorious flash flicker dabs cut cut cut much to Siobhan's outrage. Alex's demon hellish bowl cut. The cockroaches cut. The various But you have friends cut cut cut. The whole of Ross' section cut. The 100 countdowns mostly cut and turned into one single countdown which peppered the whole piece.

They at least kept the 'comedy' take an overdose slash my wrists and then hang myself section. And the oh dear what's happened to your arm? And the she gave me eight minutes to live. They used the achieve goals and ambitions section to let her count out her overdose pills, neck a bottle of red wine and pass out. Which happened before the drugs list section so a cut and paste job.

She had a male lover who had our psychiatrist lines (aside from the friends’ speech) at the start. And then a female lover who ran out of patience eventually and left her. There was one central psychiatrist. A child who crept on and lay supportively on her when she passed out post-overdose. And an old lady who crept past her a little later. Her young and potential old selves I supposed but who knows really?

It was very interesting. The set was stunning and the lighting was beautiful. Interesting choice of music and some lovely use of projected graphics. I hankered after their kinds of budgets though I don’t have the visual sense to make use of real money I suppose.

The cast and crew in attendance had very mixed opinions. I think I quite liked it. Though I keep coming back to their outrageous trimming of the text (and still it lasted an hour and a quarter – cause of all the time the main girl spent running around in her pants throwing herself at walls I suppose). Surely Sarah Kane would not be pleased???!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Sat in the Assembly Rooms this morning, slightly hungover and slightly earlier than I would have liked, a boy darted into the seat next to me.

"I was running around late because I couldn't find my ticket and at last I found it and it was stuck to my back."

My quote of the festival.

Friday, August 15, 2008

We're off to see 4:48 Psychosis in Polish in the International Festival on Sunday. So the papers today are plump with coverage of the peversity that sees Edinburgh's first performance of this work by a great British playwright coming from a Polish company.

I love how self-indulgent the international festival is. The trailer article which I sadly can't find yet on the Scotsman website says that the play has a droning throbbing soundtrack which I cannot wait to hear.

The actress playing the main part is very famous in Poland, constantly fills the gossip magazines there and talks about how difficult and emotionally draining it is to play this part - how she cries real tears every night but she "has to find the tears from somewhere". I'm glad Emma didn't make such a fuss.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Slick at the Traverse is brilliant fun. Puppets and actors and the cleverest set I've ever seen for a long time combine to tell the sort of slightly fantastical story that I love anyway. Do catch it if you can. But don't take your children as it's slightly saucy.

The Censor on the other end, oh my goodness, never go and see this. I feel sad for them. They're a new group from Glasgow. First show on the Fringe. Full of optimism. A great writer (Anthony Neilson). Interesting subject (when is enough censorship too much?). But no chemistry at all between the actors who needed (in some cases) to be sizzling with supressed sexual energy. It did not help that the man had a soft shrill voice that was quickly infuriating.

But the nail in its coffin (though I shouldn't be so prudish - me??!!) was what I delicately referred to in my review as a 'scatalogical moment'. I have never seen the like on stage before. Ucck. Do not do not do not go and see this. Even though the tickets are only £5. I feel a bit scarred.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Oddly, they printed one version of my review of Saint Joan on Monday and then a second version yesterday. (Terrible title is not mine!)

Despite the oddness I'm pleased because god knows they need the audience so this might make some small difference (there were 10 of us there on Friday and there are 17 in the cast!!) and I 'gave' Robin a name check which they didn't print in the Monday paper.

And then what must be most of my Waterfront review made it into today's paper. It's almost turning into a small portfolio.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

So research groups in Dundee tonight and as one man cavalierly threw his pint over the precious work that I was wistfully trying to gauge their collective opinion on, I thought suddenly of how much they would laugh if they knew that I'd been sitting almost continuously in various theatrical venues for the past fortnight. A nice reality check.
So at the weekend I saw:

Scaramouche Jones (Assembly Rooms - brilliant)
Krapp's Last Tape (Assembly Rooms - dull dull dull but that was how he wrote it so a good production given that)
Trangression (C Soco - BMXs, bladers, free-runners - great fun)
Married to the Sea (Assembly Rooms - also brilliant. Do try and catch this)
An Expert at the Card Table (Assembly Rooms again - great magic, bit of a thin excuse for a show but nicely done)
ShakesPod (C Venue - great company, nice little play, proper Fringe stuff - and somehow sponsored by Jim Haynes whose house Ross and I gatecrashed when we were in Paris last year)
Architecting (Traverse - extraordinary but three shows later, I perhaps wasn't best placed to appreciate it)

And then yesterday I took the afternoon off to catch On the Waterfront directed by Mr Berkoff in what I see is a co-production with Nottingham Playhouse so I felt very patriotic towards to it. It was astonishingly beautiful so easy to feel patriotic.

And then a fun production of She Stoops to Conquer which I haven't ever seen and felt I should. Predictably I was fairly bored but they did it well enough, even despite being a leading man down poor bastards.

Day off today as I am Dundee bound with work. Phsew.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I feel I'm sadly neglecting my blog in the face of this continual stream of words I'm issuing to the Evening News. Poor blog.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

I wrote a long thoughtful post last night about Saint Joan (the play rather than the saint herself). But then there was some problem with blogger and it was lost forever. Probably for the best.

Anyway, I saw it last night - Bernard Shaw's version - at Duddingston Kirk, or rather in the loch-side Kirk gardens. I love the play anyway. The production was very good. And it happened to feature Robin Thomson (as a very good Inquisitor) which I might've figured out in advance if I'd really thought about it.

Go see it. But take a jersey.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Yasser last night at Assembly. Very good. Proper theatre I would venture to say.

And then The Virtuous Burglar. Lorraine was brilliant.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

And by the way, I am delighted to see that Joyce Macmillan seemed equally bemused by Fall.
Today's review. Just the one, sadly. Versus the original 300 words.

Terminus is an extraordinarily seductive play. Written in what must be pretty close to rhyming couplets, the script is initially almost irritating in its self-indulgence but by the end of the piece, close to magnificent.

The story is told through a series of monologues from three characters. Revealing very much of their back story would spoil the surprise but each is, in essence, lonely and looking for a way out.

Their ensuing antics are entertainingly recounted by a talented cast. Andrea Irvine is the endearingly practical mother. Eileen Walsh is by turns, coy and then daring, closed and then painfully open to possibility. Karl Shiels is impressively charismatic, presenting the least sympathetic of the three characters but managing to retain the audience’s sympathy throughout his increasingly gory exploits.

Each character’s isolation is beautifully realised with a stark but striking set. A huge picture frame surrounds the action with shards of mirrored glass reflecting the characters’ fragmented lives. The static staging places a weighty burden on the shoulders of both text and actors. Both rise to the challenge though it would be interesting to see whether more movement might have provided a more for the audience to engage with.

This is an author / director and a group of actors who know how to have fun with words. The actors use their mastery of the script to present a tale which, even at its bloodiest, is still strangely charming. The language lulls you into believing in an increasingly fanciful, even surreal storyline as it unfolds and enjoys the humour (how many words can you make rhyme with honey?) as it skips through the twists and turns of the plot.

Terminus is a beautifully told and compellingly recounted tale of three misfits who just want to fit in. A magic piece of theatre.

The most terrifying thing about this reviewing is giving the star rating. I wasn't given any criteria for how you judge which is what. So have been going at it with a plump dose of cruel realism.

So I am very relieved to see (for all that it matters!) that Joyce agrees with me on Deep Cut.

(Although I'm a star out on Finished with Engines...! But I would stick to my guns on that one.)
So I now appear to be available online as well as in print which is completely surreal.

You can compare and contrast if you have the energy...

Here is my Deep Cut review as trimmed down by the Eve News.

And this is what I actually said:

18 year old Private Cheryl James was one of four young soldiers found shot dead at Deepcut Barracks between 1995 and 2002. She had been an Army soldier for less than 6 months. All 4 deaths were recorded as suicides.

Deep Cut tells the story of the investigation surrounding her death through the eyes of her parents with contributing verbatim testimonies from a journalist, a forensics expert, a lawyer and a contemporary recruit.

Ralph’s play smartly and seamlessly interweaves material from interviews with James’ parents along with excerpts from reports, speeches, interviews and media coverage of the events surrounding the deaths. Treading a careful line between the facts and the human story, Deep Cut questions how this investigation could have been abandoned so inconclusively.

Mick Gordon’s sensitive direction prevents the play from sinking into the sentimental. Superb performances from Ciaran Mcintyre and Rhian Morgan as James’ parents convey a miserable stoicism as they battle for some kind of resolution. Rhian Blythe brings a lovely lightness of touch to her portrayal of Cheryl’s contemporary at the barracks, demonstrating that life there neither unremittingly miserable nor anywhere near perfect.

A compact set, skilfully manipulated by the cast, proves a convincing backdrop to what is both a heartrending personal story and a horrifying political one.

The announcement of the closure of Deepcut in January this year provides a neat post-script to a play commissioned in 2005. An uneventful announcement in a still unresolved case. The point that this play makes is consequently powerful. That in many cases, for many people, it’s easier not to find out what really happened. The real tragedy is the number of people left to deal with the consequences. Cheryl’s father has the last line of the play: “It stops when it’s over”. We can only hope that it isn’t yet.

The Gruffalo review is an even more brilliant exercise in editing.

I must be one of a very select band of people who have never read the enormously popular children’s book, ‘The Gruffalo’. But what a lovely introduction to the story this was.

This is the seventh year that Tall Stories have brought their sellout production to the Fringe and it’s clear why its popularity endures.

The cast’s enthusiasm is infectious. They bring enormous energy to the tale of the feisty mouse who invents a terrifying monster to ward off the threat of being eaten by a Cockney fox, a decorated owl and a salsa-loving snake. But then the Gruffalo appears in the flesh and the inventive mouse has to start improvising all over again to save herself from becoming mouse-aka.

Caroline Garland is a lovely mouse, bold enough to scare off the hungry fox but vulnerable enough for you to worry for her when the forest gets dark. Ross Hugill is an endearing narrator until he dons the Gruffalo suit and growls - but he still grins enough to calm the jumpiest children. Alex Scott Fairley does a brilliant job as the array of predators though my highlight was the bolero’d snake admiring himself in the mirror.

The clever script takes full advantage of the audience’s love for the book, giving them ample opportunity to tell the actors what happens next. A series of songs and musical pieces helps to keep the children entertained. A neat set that provides plenty of opportunities to hide the hazelnut, inventive costumes and imaginative lighting help to provide this production with plenty of light and shade.

By the end of the play, the mouse’s invitation to the audience to growl to frighten off the predators, is taken up as enthusiastically by the adults as the kids. A good indication of a production that thrills kids but still keeps adults very happily entertained.

Thank god he's reduced the word count.

Last night was a lovely production of Blue Remembered Hills by Edinburgh Theatre Arts. Starring as it turned out, Iain Kerr. It was very good. Go see.

Monday, August 04, 2008

I'm in print! It's very exciting!
Praise the lord, the editor has just reduced the desired word count from 300 to 200 words a piece.

Not before I discovered how tortuous it can be to eke out words about a play that you neither liked nor wholly understood.

And of course I faithfully wrote 3o0 words about Finished with Engines (really don't bother going to see it) but no matter.

Lazier days ahead.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Today, Free Outgoing (good), Nocturne (very good) and The Real Inspector Hound (pretty bad and so not worthy of a weblink).

In half an hour, I'm off to Finished With Engines.

I feel fresh and lively....
Today I have seen Terminus at the Traverse, The Gruffalo and How the Giraffe got its neck, both by Tall Stories at C Too and Pornography, also at the Traverse.

I've just emailed off reviews of 3 of these to the Evening News. Pornography stumped me.

Bed now.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Ok, so I somehow need to find time to review 19 shows over the next three weeks in between holding down a day job and seeing another 13 shows for my own pleasure.

I picked up my press pass at lunchtime.

I am Carrie Bradshaw!!
I did what I swore I'd never do last night. Fleetingly crossing paths with Ross in the Trav bar (I love Festival time), he asked me what I thought of Fall. And it seemed only prescient to ask whether or not he'd read my blog entry. Just so I didn't repeat myself, you understand. And I immediately hated myself for it.

Anyway, I went to see Deep Cut. Very excellent.