To Fall In Love – Review

  • Star Rating: *****
  • Greenside at Infirmary Street – Olive Studio, Venue 236
  • Infirmary Street, Edinburgh EH1 1LT
  • Melpomene Productions starring Beth Gallagher and Eric Casini
  • Edinburgh Fringe Review Date: 8th August 2019

To Fall in Love can be seen at the Edinburgh Fringe from 2nd – 24th August 2019, 22:05pm (60 minutes) at Greenside at Infirmary Street, Edinburgh. Age category: 14+. £10 (full) £8 (Concessions).

 

What does it take to keep love alive? To rekindle a lost love between a couple? We are told by Melopmene Productions that Psychologists have claimed that answering 36 questions can make two strangers fall in love, couple with four minutes of uninterrupted eye contact. Will that be enough to help Merryn (Beth Gallagher) and Wyatt (Eric Casalini) who are battling one another to save what’s left of their marriage, which has been horribly and potentially fatally fractured by a horrible accident.

 

TFIL is an intensely emotional, passionate and gripping play that makes great use of a fascinating, innovative and brilliantly unique ploy of asking and answering 36 questions followed by four minutes of  silence. The questions derive from a study by Psychologist Arthur Aron and others and are extremely interesting, challenging, stretching and at times downright unfair. However that’s what makes for a brilliant story as they are integral to the unfolding story.

This powerful, emotional play features just the two characters in the solitary setting of their living room and bedroom. Although both are struggling to come to terms with their loss and its impact on their relationship, it’s clear that one of them wants to re-light the flame far more than the other. The forcefulness of that makes it seem that emotional blackmail, bullying at times tactics are being used to try and woo the other, which feels a little uncomfortable to watch, but understandable in the circumstances.

The story and writing by Jennifer Lane is fantastic, a gift for two such talented actors, who are both terrifically convincing in their roles. They bring you in so much that  you feel like intruders into the private pain and struggle of these complete strangers, yet though you’ve only just met them so to speak, you are fully invested in wanting to know the outcome.  What’s intriguing is it’s not the usual sense of wanting the classic Hollywood ending, but more wanting them to come up with the outcome that works best for both of them.

This is a great play and if you’re in Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival don’t leave town without seeing To Fall In Love.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Links

  1. Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews
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Shakespeare for Breakfast

C Theatre
Star Rating: ****
C Viva
130 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 4JZ
Edinburgh Fringe Review Date: 11th August 2019

Shakespeare for Breakfast can be seen at the Edinburgh Fringe from 31st July – 26th August 2019, 10:00am (55 minutes). Tickets £7.50-£9.50 / concessions £5.50-£7.50 / under 18s £3.50-£5.50. Recommended 0+ age group.

Most people like to read the paper, watch TV or talk whilst having breakfast. 200+ plus hardy Fringe goers preferred to eschew a lie in and enjoy Shakespeare for Breakfast, not reading the play, but watching a 55 minute, lighthearted canter through one of the great bard’s lighter plays, ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Courtesy of the C Theatre team croissants and coffee were kindly laid on for the audience so it literally was Shakespeare for, or rather with breakfast.

Shakespeare for Breakfast

A 10am start surely must make this the first show of the day. You may think a venue may struggle for an audience at that time, but that’s certainly not the case with this show as this was sold out.

As they told the story of star crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet I loved the running coffee shop and bread gags and how they shoehorned in so many pop song references including Wham! and The Police – the third reference to the band I’d seen at the Fringe – others included Me, Macbeth and I [Shakespeare again] by Clive Anderson and Milton Impossible: Milton Jones. There were also some fine topical Brexit material woven in to give it a further contemporary theme.

The 5 strong cast perform 20 roles between them. They included Roseanna Connolly, Emily Jane Kerr, Laura Beth Mortemore, John Oakes and Chris Thomson.

The production by the wonderful C Theatre crew, who also perform Dickens for Dinner (based on Oliver Twist) at the same venue, is great fun and a joy to watch. As with their other play it matters not to your enjoyment if you know the original story or not.

This is their 28th sell-out year at the Fringe and you can see why that is.  This was funny, warm hearted entertaining slapstick with clear appeal to a wide audience age range. It was a pleasure to enjoy another family friendly show in a festival where clean cut entertainment seems to be at a premium.

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Links

  1. Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews
  2. Dickens for Dinner Satisfies the Appetite – 10th August 2019
  3. Myra’s story – 13th August 2019
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Myra’s Story

Myra’s Story: Review
Actress: Fionna Hewitt-Twamley
Star Rating: ****
Assembly Rooms Ballroom
54 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 2LR
Written by Brian Foster
Edinburgh Fringe Review Date: 11th August 2019

Myra’s Story can be seen at the Edinburgh Fringe from 1st – 25th August 2019, 12:00pm (90 minutes) at Assembly Festival. Age category: 14+ (strong language/swearing). £12-14.

If the answer is blowin’ in the wind what was the question?

Myra’s story is a one woman tour de force performance from Fionna Hewitt-Twamley. For the duration of a football match without a half-time interval the audience are taken on a journey through the life of middle-aged homeless Irish alcoholic woman Myra McLaughlin living rough on the streets of Dublin. The Assembly Rooms Ballroom  in Edinburgh was virtually sold out for this Brian Foster Production for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with almost 350 people packed in to see this lunchtime play.

What’s so impressive is not just the high quality of Hewitt-Twamley’s acting , but the deftness and subtlety by which she seamlessly switches between roles, be they her father or other men and women in her life. The story has depth, pathos, sadness, yet oodles of humour, or craic, too as Myra would call it. The stories re her neighbour, Tina the Tap, always on the scrounge, were well conveyed and it was wonderful to see her play a wide array of various larger than life characters who coloured her life such as heavy smoker Big Bridie and her husband Jimmy the Tadpole, innocent little Norris the Gnome, and cross-eyed Matilda and her partner, Dublin’s hairiest man, Christy.

Myra

There are plenty of references to the demon drink, referred to as the beast. Her maiden name was Hennessy, which is also, of course, a well known brand of brandy. It was probably no co-incidence that, of all popular Irish names, writer Brian Foster chose that as Myra’s maiden name. You watch with fascination knowing that the beast has got its vice like grip on her, but you become engrossed to find out if she will escape the beast’s clutches and what next will happen in her life.

Without a fightback aided by support  those in her life (or rather not in her life) or from calling on a higher source, the beast’s arch enemy, Jesus Christ, you begin to wonder how this will turn out for Myra. We see little evidence of a practical or deeply spiritual side to Myra, though one is alluded to with the frequent references to Bob Dylan’s hit protest song ‘Blowin’ in the Wind.’ You watch to see whether or not she will be able to summon up the strength and will power to take back control of a life that’s spiralling out of control. Who will fight her corner if she she can’t fight for herself?

Journalist Pascal Emmanuel-Gobry best distilled the meaning of ‘blowin in the wind’ in  The Week (2016): The mysterious answer to the song’s questions — “The answer my friend / Is blowin’ in the wind” — brings to mind nothing if not the ruach, the Bible’s Hebrew name for the Spirit of God, which means wind, breath, and spirit. Genesis describes how “the Earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the ruach of God was hovering over the waters.” In the Gospel of John, Jesus teaches Nicodemus that the Spirit of God is like the wind, which “blows where it wills, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know whence it comes or whither it goes.”

Despite the simplicity of the stage setting – one woman, one public bench, it was the acting and the pace of the story that kept you watching and listening intently to every word uttered from Myra’s lips. You didn’t need any more to to the set than that as Hewitt-Twamley vividly brought to life all the characters with all their colourful backstory purely via dialogue, acting drunk and periodic audience interaction.

However, at 90 minutes, with barely a minute separating Act 1 from Act 2, it felt overlong and could have been shortened by around 15-20 minutes. Maybe an interval would have been fitting so that the audience could join Myra and get a drink too – non-alcoholic of course for this was a 12noon performance!

Full credit of course must go to the writer Brian Foster who created the story and provided the raw material for Hewitt-Twamley to work with. It was some feat for Hewitt-Twamley to be able to remember so much dialogue without another actor to interact with. That’s rare indeed to perform in a solo production. I can barely remember what I had for dinner a couple of days ago never mind remember a 45 page script!

The show concluded with a richly deserved standing ovation for Hewitt-Twamley a standing ovation. That was only the second time I’d seen one given all Fringe (Simon Evans: Dressing for Dinner was the other). That was testimony to the strength and power of the moving performance.

If the answer is blowin’ in the wind what was the question I asked at the start? This can be interpreted in a number of ways, but I would suggest the question would be what would be the solution to Myra’s addiction, to life’s myriad of problems? Aside from the practical – AA, counselling, friends and family etc… I would go back to Bob Dylan and posit that “the answer my friend is blowin’ in the wind.“

© Tiemo Talk of the Town

Links

  1. Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews
  2. Shakespeare for Breakfast – 13th August 2019
  3. Dickens for Dinner Satisfies the Appetite – 10th August 2019
  4. Bob Dylan’s Biblical Imagination – The Week, 14th October 2016

 

Posted in Arts and Culture, Edinburgh Fringe 2019, Theatre reviews | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

Che Burnley and Black Comedian’s Killing it at Bannerman’s

  • The 3rd Annual Black Comedy Showcase
  • Star rating: ***
  • Bannerman’s
  • Corner of Cowgate and Niddry Street, Edinburgh
  • Edinburgh Fringe 2019 Review date: 10th August 2019

The 3rd Annual Black Comedy Showcase is part of PBH’s Free Comedy Fringe 2019 and is on at 13.30pm August 3rd – 25th 2019 at Bannerman’s. Free Entry. Pay what you can.

This grandly titled show sounds like a one off show but actually is running daily during the Fringe for the 3rd consecutive year. The aim of the gig, as the blurb says is to showcase”3 top comics and 1 token white.

The show I attended was entertaining but very much a mixed bag.

Host Che Burnley

Host and show organiser Che Burnley, from Oldham (of course!) was extremely entertaining with his mix of old school Northern humour and running “ironic” joke about giving people a 12 hour pass from being racist. His difficult relationship with his father was used as a great source of comedic material especially the Windrush and boxing stories.

Londoner Travis Jay was on song with his jokes re parenthood, raising his young boy to be a man and to be able to stick up for himself. Arguably he was perhaps taking his love of boxing, there’s a theme here, a tad too far at times, but it made for hugely funny material that was both personal to him yet something many parents will doubtless identify with. Whether mothers view playground spats in quite the same way as men do is another matter altogether, but maybe they do.

The contrast between his love of the fight game versus being a kind, doting father parent was marked and amusing to observe.

White South African Conrad Koch attempted to entertain the packed audience with his puppeteering skills but I found him unnecessarily and gratuitously crude in his sweary filled material. I found his set so offensive I walked out after a few minutes along with another audience member. The puppet was a good novelty to have but the impact for me was destroyed by the language. Puppets and swearing go together about as well as oil and water.

Londoner Michelle de Swarte was funny, with some sharply observed routines. She too came across as overtly profane and aggressive which was off putting, which was a real shame as she obviously had funny bones and an interesting back story to draw upon.

Phil Kostelecky

Phil Kostelecky from Slovenia was the token white guy. His varied upbringing, included living in Austria, Slovenia and the USA resulting in him sounding like an American. He was funny and I enjoyed his set. The double finale to it was something to behold. One was apparently planned but the dramatic stage fall during handover evidently wasn’t as Kostelecky came unceremoniously tumbling down the stairs almost falling flat on his face!

Fortunately he wasn’t hurt. It was certainly a memorable end to his set, but not in the way he would have wanted. Host Che ad-libbed his way through this drama, voicing his concerns that he could have accidentally killed Phil and dreading the ensuing headlines!

Northerner Vince Atta headlined the show with an innovative set mixing reggae music with witty poetry. The audienced loved it and it was a fine way to end the show.

Vince Atta

This showcase is a great idea and neatly dovetails with the brand new Fringe of Colour concept which aims to highlight as much of the Black and minority ethnic shows on at the Fringe Festival. If you love Black stand-up comedy this is a great way of getting a taster of the wide variety of talent out there. As the Fringe of Colour spreadsheet highlights, there are many Black shows on at the Fringe. Unfortunately amongst the 1000’s of shows on they can be easily overlooked so they and the 3rd Annual Black Comedy Showcase are addressing this by shining a welcome spotlight on Black talent and shows.

Review and photographs © Tiemo Talk of the Town

Check out the daily line ups on Instagram che_burnley and Facebook/thecheburnley

Links

  1. Edinburgh Fringe 2019 reviews
  2. Myra’s story– 13th August 2019
  3. Simon Evans: Dressing for Dinner – Review – 10th August 2019
  4. Dickens for Dinner Satisfies the Appetite– 10th August 2019
  5. Emotional Black Male: Marlon Davis – 3rd August 2019
Posted in Arts and Culture, Comedy Reviews, Comedy Reviews 2019, Edinburgh Fringe 2019 | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Simon Evans Dressing for Dinner

  • Simon Evans: Dressing for Dinner
  • Star Rating: *****
  • Assembly Hall Studio 3
  • George Square Studios, Edinburgh EH8 9LH
  • Edinburgh Fringe Review Date: 6th August 2019

Simon Evans: Dressing for Dinner 20:15pm Daily until 26th August 2019. £14 Suitable for Age 14+

There seems to be a bit of a running theme with the Fringe this year – Dickens for Dinner , ‘Shakespeare for Breakfast’ and this show ‘Simon Evans: Dressing for Dinner’. The first two offer free breakfast and lunch (not dinner) with their Edinburgh Fringe offering. If you go and see Simon Evans expecting a bonus of a free meal you may leave hungry. However I’ve no doubt you will leave fully satisfied by the fare laid before you in this brilliant, very personal and emotional show.

Simon Evans: Dressing for Dinner

It was intelligent, thought provoking and extremely funny no punches pulled comedy topped off by a shocking and fairly unbelievable denouement. The overall theme was one of identity – gender and family identity. The call and response to his question re how many children are only children elicited an interesting answer. It wasn’t a subject I’d especially thought about before, but it was fascinating to observe how Evans had given this some considerable thought about the impact that can have on one’s identity, communication skills and ability to navigate the world as he grew up and found his place and role in the world.

I won’t spoil the shocking denouement of this show but it’s shocking and hugely personal as mentioned earlier. It’s clearly something of a relatively recent observation that Evans is possibly struggling with judging by his strident, but emotional charged delivery of this segment of the performance.

There are many fantastic shows to see at the Fringe, but if you like your stand-up comedy a not just big on laughs, but a little more challenging and thought provoking, I can’t recommend this show highly enough.

Review © Tiemo Talk of the Town

Simon Evans: Dressing for Dinner 20:15pm Daily until 26th August 2019. £14. Suitable for Age 14+ at The Assembly Rooms, George Square.

Links

  1. Edinburgh Fringe 2019
Posted in Arts and Culture, Comedy Reviews, Comedy Reviews 2019, Edinburgh Fringe 2019, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Dickens for Dinner Satisfies the Appetite

  • Dickens for Dinner Satisfies the Appetite
  • Star Rating: ****
  • C Venues – C Viva
  • 130 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 4JZ
  • Edinburgh Fringe Review Date: 7th August 2019

Dickens for Dinner 12.30pm Daily. Further information and Tickets £7.50 – £9.50.

Right from the start you could sense you were in for a fun hour. The Dickens for Dinner cast run through the famous Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist with the emphasis on fun and updating it with topical modern day references. Even the dreaded B word… Brexit gets a little look in, but fortunately in a brief, but hilarious topical joked … which you never know, but hopefully won’t still be relevant this time next year!

I especially enjoyed how they played it fur laughs with various characters not particularly known for their injection of humour into this classic story. The audience with a little encouragement it has to be said fully embraces there role in the call and response parts of the show. Well done Richard in the front row who was a very good sport and joined in with gusto when called upon.

The main roles of Fagin and Bill Sykes were well acted and I enjoyed the knowing looks from them as they baited the audience. I loved the way they styled out any hiccups with quick thinking ad-libbing. The cast looked to be genuinely enjoying themselves as they threw themselves into their performance, sometimes quite literally!

This was theatre as entertainment, not simply a faithful replication of the story. It was for that reason that the show worked on two levels, for those who know the story well and those far less familiar with it.

I was thoroughly entertained by the passionate acting, witty wordplay and physical comedy in this funny Oliver Twist.

The 5 strong cast perform multiple roles between them. They included Roseanna Connolly, Emily Jane Kerr, Laura Beth Mortemore, John Oakes and Chris Thomson.

The venue was very classy indeed, one of the best I’ve come across at the Fringe, including a beautifully, garden themed restaurant and bar. A nice bonus was the free bread and soul provided as a starter before the show.

Please Dickens for Dinner can I have some more?

Review © Tiemo Talk of the Town

Dickens for Dinner can be seen at the Edinburgh Fringe from 31st July 2019 – 25th August 2019, 12:30pm at C Venues, 130 George Street, Edinburgh EH8 9AJ. tickets £7.50- £9.50.

In fact, the answer to the closing question is actually yes, for the cast behind this play also perform Shakespeare for Breakfast at 10.00a.m. every morning  at  the same venue until 26th August 2019. Tickets £7.50 – £9.50.

Links

  1. Edinburgh Fringe 2019
  2. Shakespeare for Breakfast review – 10th August 2019
  3. Myra’s story review – 13th August 2019
Posted in Arts and Culture, Edinburgh Fringe 2019, Theatre reviews | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Stephen K Amos: Talk Show

Stephen K Amos: Talk Show
With Marcus Brigstocke, Shappi Khorsandi, Alun Cochrane and Catherine Bohart
Star Rating: ***
Gilded Balloon Teviot – Night Club
Teviot Place
Edinburgh EH8

Edinburgh Fringe Review Date: 6th August 2019

Stephen K Amos Talk Show can be seen at the Edinburgh Fringe from 31st July 2019 – 25th August 2019, 16:00pm at Gilded Balloon Teviot – Night Club, Teviot Place, Edinburgh EH8 9AJ. Tickets £14.

After 4 years away from the Edinburgh Fringe it’s great to be back in Scotland’s capital city for this year’s festival.

Seeing Fringe stalwart Stephen K Amos seemed like a good way to open my Fringe this year and the line up was a strong one so expectations were high. The Night Club venue at Gilded Balloon was not surprisingly sold out for this line up featuring Marcus Brigstocke, Shappi Khorsandi, Alun Cochrane and Catherine Bohart.

Stephen K Amos & Marcus Brigstocke

Marcus was very entertaining with his discourse on privilege and political comedy. We learnt a lot about his background and interest in developing a career in political comedy. He was one of the first following the alternative comedy scene and Tony Blair breaking the Conservative party’s stronghold on governing the UK. It was funny watching him and breifky succeeding in trying to teach SK Amos to beat box.

I was a little uncomfortable with the vivid example of racism he used to make the point about freedom of speech and crossing boundaries when discussing the role the likes of social media giants like Twitter and Facebook have regarding posts made on their sites. Even he “joked” it would have worked better if SK Amos wasn’t there. I get the point he was making and I guess he was just being an “edgy” comedian, nonetheless it came across as a bit too near the knuckle, even a tad disrespectful to do such a joke in front of and technically “using” SK Amos almost as the “innocent” butt of the joke to make the point, however well intentioned.

He has two shows running at the Fringe and he spoke mainly about ‘The Red‘ re the relationship between a father and son. The son, Benedict, has been sober for 25 years (not unlike Marcus Brigstocke himself) – how uncanny! This contrasted with his father who loved collecting, drinking and sharing wine with friends and family. “On the day of his father’s funeral, Benedict receives an unsettling final bequest: a bottle of exceptionally fine red wine. Will he drink one final toast to his father?”

Marcus Brigstocke wrote and directed this bittersweet drama of family and addiction, based on his own recovery.

Shappi Khorsandi was on fine form sharing stories of her time in the jungle in ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me out of Here’. It was funny and impressive to hear how she viewed “losing” as really winning on that show.

We learn a lot to re her family background and how she got into Stand-Up comedy – as a 4 year old child she used to be wheeled out by her father to perform impressions in front of family guests at parties. Apparently she did a very good Margaret Thatcher. I’m sure audiences would love to see this Shappi. Please revive Mrs T … for comedic, non-political purposes!

Stephen K Amos and Shappi Khorsandi

She told the story of her first live stand-up show at the sadly now defunct Comedy Cafe in Shoreditch where, upon seeing a female comedian mercilessly booed off stage before she could even utter a single word, never mind so much as one joke, led Shappi to promptly decide ‘that’s the career for me.’ As she jokingly said, perhaps that was an indication of a slight “personality disorder!”

It was revealing to hear how she felt a pressure to do political comedy considering her father’s political activism and it took many years for her to let this go and not fight the fact that political comedy in a deep, politically conscious way, wasn’t really her forte.

It was great to see SK Amos interviewing his comedy peers and hearing Shappi praising him for supporting her after some of the tough gigs she endured when starting out.

Both SK Amos and Shappi were in agreement that TV panel shows weren’t really their bag, but served a useful purpose in raising their profile and enabling them to tour nationally. Shappi is in Edinburgh with Skittish Warrior: Confessions of a Club Comic until the end of August 2019.

Alun Cochrane was another interesting guest. His heritage is a real ethnic mash up – Scottish, English, a bit of Welsh! He had a lovely calm presence and dry wit about him.

I wasn’t so enamoured by final guest Catherine Bohart who was given 5 minutes to sing a song. She had a fine voice, it’s just a pity she chose to use it on a period song that lowered the tone a little … and no I don’t mean a great old classic either!

This was a very good introduction to the festival and a 4pm show is a nice way to break up the day and find out about a wider range of acts than you might otherwise have seen.

SK Amos’s Talk show and solo shows are on in Edinburgh throughout August, as are shows by all the guests on his show. I’d highly recommend them.

Review and photographs © Tiemo Talk of the Town
Stephen K Amos Talk Show can be seen at the Edinburgh Fringe from 31st July 2019 – 25th August 2019, 16:00pm at Gilded Balloon, Teviot Place, Edinburgh EH8 9AJ. tickets £14.

Links

  1. Edinburgh Fringe 2019
  2. Shappi Khorsandi – Skittish Warrior: Confessions of a Club Comic – Tiemo Review – 8th June 2019
Posted in Comedy Reviews, Comedy Reviews 2019, Edinburgh Fringe 2019 | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment