Over the first weekend I was supporting Musical Theatre Review running around catching a dozen new musicals which could be in line for the annual Musical Theatre Award. Head to for all the posted reviews by the various guest assessors in this early round. Some of the work will go forward to Fiona Orr’s panel of judges for 2019 and, in time, there will be a shortlist of work which is highly recommended for many different reasons. I am so glad that the Awards we started in 2008 still offer new writers and new companies an assurance that they will be assessed and, where appropriate, celebrated.
For the last week I seem to have been seeing too many shows to have time to write about them, so I thought I’d offer a roundup of Week 1 focussing on some of those non musical works which I am enjoying talking about in queues and whenever I get asked. In alphabetical order…
Ariadna (C Aquila / Roman Lodge 11:55) – Alyona Ageeva’s PosleSlov. I caught up with this Russian company having seen Some Body last year A company using the naked and draped human form to explore Greek myths through stylised tight repetitive forms which haunt you to add meaning, but still you into acceptance. It is partly distancing and partly engrossing. Go and explore one of the works and I’d love to hear what dance specialists think
Canary and the Crow ( Summerhall 19:50) – Middle Child Daniel Ward, a charismatic storyteller, leads this company in a piece of theatre blending gig style, sounding, song, character creation and in the round atmospheric realisation to give us his story of growing up black in a white world, the privilege of the private/public school system, and connect into finding his path to being on stage and sharing the poem of The Canary and the Crow which has flown with him through life. It is angry and inspiring, challenging and uplifting. It is powerful musically driven theatre.
Conspiracy (Underbelly Cowgate 16:45) – Barrel Organ. My first time seeing the work of the Barrel Organ collective of creative artists and I love a good conspiracy. Here I loved being taken into what felt like a well researched exploration of one iconic picture and the world from which it came, although it may all be made up around a lunchtime sandwich. The three artists challenge each other in a dangerous and rather joyful way and we touch on JFK, Princess Diana, Moon Landings, Area 51, JFK and 9/11 to enrich the core exploration. So pleased to follow the producing career of Ellie Claughton and her Assistant Grace Dickson as they work on this as one of three companies they present at EdFringe and tour nationally.
Einstein ( Pleasance Cortyard 14:00) – Pip Utton This is a gentle hour with a genius and a man so in love with science and his own ambition to uncover and invent that he has to reveal to us his deep flaws as a husband and father. Pip is a deeply experienced monologue creator, engaging with us, guiding us through the science and life of the man. It is fitting that he is also presenting his show on Adolph Hitler which, if you have never seen it, is an unforgettable piece of theatre.
Moonbird (Pleasance Courtyard 10:30) – Handprint Theatre I was so pleased to be part of a small but delighted audience for this bilingual completely enchanting piece of storytelling offered in BSL sign and spoken/written English. The small children in the front row relished the warmth of the welcome into the Handprint world, and the older children in the audience like me enjoyed the inner complexity of helping us understand what it is to be separated from one of our senses and the need to listen with all our available skills and from our hearts You don’t need a child to see this company – but I will look forward to being in a buzzing full house at a school performance sometime.
Red Hour Glass (Storytelling Centre 18:00) – Alan Bissett I am late to the party, this is my first chance to see one of Alan Bissett’s shows and I will catch up. I just wonder how the chat went around a beer which led to Alan become a house spider and a tarantula, amongst others, in a research lab. I am so glad this 2012 hit has returned to the festival, and I look forward to exploring more of his rich characterisations and warm storytelling.
Who Cares (Summerhall 18:20) – Lung Theatre Company This is necessary theatre at its best. Lung bring together many testimonies from young people who are carers for parents and siblings and fashion it into a piece of drama which hits hard and hits deep. Today they also launched a petition to seek changes from the Government which would support and require local authorities to do more for the thousands of young carers who are slipping through societies safety nets. Do try and grab a ticket or just check out the production and their work for a future booking to your theatre, festival AND please sign the petition