Saturday, May 23, 2015

Torn. A beautiful piece of theatre from a new(ish) company called Faux Theatre

(I'm fascinated by their name. Faux Theatre. I can't decide if I think it's very wry and witty or uncomfortably self-deprecating. I don't suppose they care too much either way.)

This is the highest possible compliment I can pay to someone outside of August but this felt like a fringe show in the best possible way. Because it was imaginative and inventive and you don't see these things on show on stage very often in Edinburgh outwith August. Or maybe you do and I just don't find them. 

It's hard to say much without ruining it for you. (And it's worth the trip to Glasgow or Kirkcaldy to catch it.) But be assured the set is gorgeous, replete with lovely funny heartfelt detail. The sound, performed by the excellent Barney Strachan, is wondrous. Our lady actor performer enchantress, Francisca Morton, is excellent. She has that rare ability to convey a thing in a fractional movement of a facial muscle that I admire so much. Great costume. Excellent understated but attention to detailed lights. This is a beautifully designed production.

The story is perfectly engineered to clutch at my heart. (Assuming I read it right!) Our lady is single, lives with her cat, is looking for love. And conveys in this 45 or 50 minute piece all the wild flight of fancy optimism and the sh*t rubbishy hopeless don't want to leave the house misery of this state. To the point where you want to run up and (I wanted to run up and) hug her and say - in that wonderful quote from I think it's Sarah Kane's 4:48 Psychosis and is simultaneously a blessing and a curse: - "But you have friends. You have a lot of friends. What do you offer your friends to make them so supportive?"

I suppose most of theatre is trying to convey a state of mind. To invite empathy and understanding. To urge us to look at different people's different experiences of the world and become more kind.

This play did an exquisite job of conveying very accurately my personal experience of living on this large earth (though I never had a cat). If that is faux theatre, then I'm in.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Titus Andronicus. By Mr William Shakespeare.

Not a play that I've ever felt I needed to see. And then we read it and I felt I needed to see it even less. What a gore fest. Death after death. Revenge after revenge. Bloodthirsty person vies with bloodthirsty person to see how can notch up the biggest head (literally) count. I'll dabble with death when 'necessary' (when dead already like Nobody Will Ever Forgive Us or gracefully dead like Some Explicit Polaroids or plot demanding like Et tu, Brute) but I'd rather avoid that. There's plenty enough of it going around as it is.

But David Grimes, a Edinburgh theatre's Tarantino, feels no such qualms it seems so he presented Titus Andronicus to the world a week or so ago. 

And a very lush Titus it was too. 

Set in a hard won sandpit (the desert) with a casual set of innocent stairs sitting in one corner (soon to be gallows) and a casually veiled tent in the other, this was SUCH a beautiful production. I sat through it bursting with impressedness. Imagine that I know people as clever as this. 

There were some really brilliant performances. Helen was lovely as ever. Iain Goldie did a cracking job. I hope he'll continue acting into 2016 before he becomes too cool for school (and EGTG). Matt and Oli were great fun in their cavorting. Alan was disconcertingly believable in his - accessories. Richard G did a great blinkered and blinded to the true version of events tornado-ing around him. Titus (Charlie) was a lovely wistful try hard villain. And I was selfishly delighted that two thirds of my forthcoming Fringe show were both excellent.

But the choreography was half of the wow, the effects were all executed (again literally) with aplomb and the lighting made up the other 44% of theatre magic. The satsumas on the table in the final scene were the final 1% of fairy dust. 

Hats off to the cast and crew for abandoning themselves to this astonishly difficult show and delivering it with huge dollops of panache. And biggest hats off to David for having the guts and the stamina and the glorious imagination. If you're ever giving any imagination away because you find it too taxing, David, I'll be first in the queue.

Monday, May 18, 2015

I've been very neglectful of this blog recently for which I apologise. Too much else has been sucking up my attention and squeezed around the edges is writing and writing and writing for a 5 June deadline. But with tenacity and determination, my cultural life hasn't been too pauce. 

A National Theatre live relay of Ralph Fiennes in George Bernard Shaw's Man and Superman. Which I can see caused all sorts of delightful frissons in 1905 but plopping into the modern day courtesy of assorted denim jeans and a motor car (or am I just jealous?) does not retain the one-time power of the piece whose success hinges on appreciating that woman shouldn't have tongues in their heads and unmarried but with child women were a more shameful thing yet than women who Had Opinions. Concept aside, Ralph annoyed me so much with his panting and strutting and fretting that I felt compelled to leave a whole 40 minutes before the end. Which still saw me exit the theatre at 10pm. A play not to be taken lightly.

I caught a film called Birdman at the weekend by a director with an incredible number of vowels in his name and starring Edward Norton, a girl I know well but can't name and a man I feel I haven't seen before. Telling the tale of an actor trying to make his debut on Broadway with a lacklustre co-star who couldn't much act, it was always going to be my cup of tea. But it turned out to be better than that and an extraordinary piece of film-making to boot. See it unless you're B S in which case you might just find it strange and irritating.

Then - the shameful iced doughnut treat on amidst the self-edification. Pitch Perfect 2. But I don't care that it was a shameful doughnut treat as it was also excellent. (Three stars was far too harsh, Mark.) Now I want to be Elizabeth Banks