Actually saw a couple of shows last week. Both were at the Lantern Theatre and so interesting. The first one – not having been out in ages, I just wanted to enjoy it. The second: “Duty”, was so good, I wanted to write about it.
Written by Bomafabia Wokoma, directed by Laura Rinati, Bomafabia Wokoma and Lenette Randall, and Produced by “A Little Twisted”. Here’s my review on Broadway Baby – enjoy!
To end this year’s Fringe I saw four shows in three days. Yes, three of them were children’s shows and one of those I didn’t even bring Mia to as she was double booked – but I had committed to reviewing it.
We started with a retelling of “Beauty and the Beast” on Friday which was delightful and charming. I wanted to give this 3.5 stars but the star rating won’t give halves. It was really lovely though and Mia loved the beast and having her photo taken with them! Review here.
Friday evening I was at Brighton Little for “The Pride”. I wouldn’t and couldn’t review this being a member of the Little. OH MY GIDDY GOODNESS I can’t even begin to tell you how absolutely brilliant it was. Superb script, beautifully and sensitively directed with perfect understanding of the material, and the acting was incredible. Sometimes BLT produce absolute class, and this was one of these moments. This is NOT a forgettable play, or a forgettable evening. This will stay with me. Wow. If I could have reviewed it I would have given 5 stars.
Saturday, this time without Mia, I saw “Ogg and Ugg and Dogg” about how early humans first connected with wolves and tamed them, thus creating one of our most beloved pets. Sounded great, and it started really well but after about 20 minutes just kind of fizzled out slowly through to the end. I really wished more for it as it had potential. I reviewed this and if you want to find it do search but I won’t put the link.
Sunday, the best at the last: my favourite has to be “This Noisy Isle” which was just brilliant. A fun non patronising children’s show which as a deeper message. More of these please! Mia absolutely loved it and so did Andy and I. Read my review here.
I also saw another play which I thought was awful, the publicity was misleading yet I really do admire the director who I think did a decent job with the awful script and an actor who failed to connect with the material, at least at the performance I saw. This is of course perhaps controversial because there were two in the audience who it obviously resonated with as they were sobbing; however some were yawning and looking at their watches. What I wanted to write in the review but couldn’t was that it was all terribly up it’s own arse.
Then there was “Hysteria” at New Venture Theatre (NVT) which was an interesting script of absolute darkness and details of child abuse juxtaposed with farce. It wasn’t my favourite script as I don’t think you can mix those two successfully in theatre, but if anyone was going to make the show a poignant and enjoyable event it was director Bob Ryder and lead actor Dan Dryer. And yes, they are friends of mine and I feel honoured that they are, but this is my honest opinion of the calibre of their skills: if I did not believe what I’m writing I simply wouldn’t write anything.
NVT always provides a quality detailed set, lighting and sound and it’s always a pleasure to go there. The direction and all the actors were superb. Huge well done to everyone involved.
I also went to see “Damien” the week before – a one man show about the true story of the minister of Molokai the Leper Colony, which might sound like a dire thing to watch but it was the most extraordinary theatre, an emotional roller coaster including humour and heartbreak. Absolutely superbly acted by Daniel Finley and directed by Janette Eddisford. Clearly I could not review this show officially as I trained at ACT (Academy of Creative Training) with those two incredibly talented awe inspiring people! But Fringe Review and Fringe Guru agree with me: 5 stars, ‘Must See Show’. I urge you if you have time, catch this if you can.
This coming week is a little less full of theatre due to other commitments and half term… but how we love Brighton Fringe, oh yes, how we love it.
Wednesday “The Death of Ivan Ilyich at the Rialto in Brighton. A profoundly moving piece of Theatre experienced on so many levels. There is a surprising amount of humour as well as a brilliant look at the taboo of talking about death and trying to carry on as ‘normal’. Why you need to watch this: Kevin Cherry’s amazing performance in the title role, as audience members you feel his pain, and the picture of his reaction when he sees himself in the mirror is poignantly haunting.
Friday “9 to 5 – the Musical” at the Barn Theatre. If you love the movie then without a doubt you would enjoy this. The audience were whooping and cheering at the end. Not the slickest production in the world and some issues with timing, tech and some numbers seeming under-rehearsed – but, the professional performance of Lea Spells as Doralee, the part played by Dolly in the 1980 film, raises the quality of the whole show. Shoreham Herald review says “she is as punchy and strong as the energetic star”.
Saturday “Damien” at the Lantern Theatre in Brighton. I was literally speechless after watching this emotional and beautiful performance by Daniel Finley of a remarkable true story. Absolutely well deserved 5 star reviews. I can’t recommend this highly enough, and Fringe Review “Must See Show” this year, calling it a masterclass in making quality Fringe Theatre. I could not agree more.
Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is my favourite of his comedies so I lept at the chance to go and see it last night in the Minerva Theatre in Chichester (last minute spare and cheap ticket). This is my first experience of this particular theatre and what a beauty it is, absolutely lovely, intimate yet it looked like quite a huge amount of seating.
Flute Theatre had their cast of 7 portraying all the characters in this abridged version of the play, adapted by Kelly Hunter. It was a polished piece, despite one of them slipping over on water at one point, and the actors were drilled. It was a very physical piece too, all the actors had to display their fitness with the way the play had been directed and choreographed. They also played all the instruments and there was music accompanying the performance for almost the entire time. This gave a feel of almost street theatre which was sometimes appropriate and sometimes not.
I’ve studied this play and there are many themes in it but I don’t remember water being one of them. So what huge tubs of water dotted around the periphery of the playing area were doing there is beyond me. There was obviously a reason but it wasn’t drawn out in the playing, although a couple of them did use one of them. The actors did convey an understanding of most of the words that they were saying, meaning that even the most new to Shakespeare could probably follow it, however there were some meanings that were very important that were lost and it didn’t seem like the actors understood those particular lines. What was the most detrimental to my enjoyment was the actress playing Viola – the main role, had such a strong accent that when she spoke quickly I just couldn’t understand what she was saying and that took me out of being able to enjoy the production.
There were some sections just devoted to physical acting with no words where I wanted to shout “get on with it”. I’m not sure why music needed be played throughout the play either. Shakespeare has such beautiful and clever wording particularly in this play and the gaps meant some of this delicious language was left out, when it was abridged already it felt like these things were just devices for the sake of it.
The actor playing Malvolio acted his part beautifully, bringing in a masochistic side to the character which I hadn’t seen before but fitted perfectly. His attempts at smiling were both funny and sad. The actor playing Sir Andrew and Sebastian moved seamlessly in a few seconds between them and that was brilliantly done.
Some strong performances, some interesting ideas, some not so. I’ve never felt so sorry for Malvolio in any production as I did in this one. So some positive, some negative: not the best production of Twelfth Night I’ve seen, but not the worst.
Trying to schedule everything in this crazy Fringe bubble is tricky – well actually it’s impossible. I couldn’t see everything I want to see.
Helen and I went to see “Sisterhood”: a 3 hander, one was the fabulous Jules Craig. Set in Tudor times, 3 very different women through a few hours contemplating the same fate that awaits them all, interspersed with true tales of their own modern lives. It affected us so profoundly we had to go and sit and have a cup of tea afterwards. It’s so incredibly sad that in some ways things are very different but in others: attitudes towards women who “go their own way”, attitudes to women as objects – not much has changed. So moving, lump in throat trying to hold on to tears and gulping. One that will haunt me. And I’m glad about that.
Then I navigated the mad mile to get to the Box Office for my ticket for “a joke”. Which was so very far away in a completely different part of town. Didn’t look that far away on the map… so this was a play in the Assembly Rooms Ballroom – and yes it was a ballroom. With chandeliers.
“a joke” was with famous actors, one Robert Picardo who I remember as the cantankerous doctor from Star Trek Voyager and then Star Trek films. Also Sylvester McCoy. So I saw a play with a member of the Star Trek cast and a previous Dr Who – or 2 doctors, actually. It was a brilliant production. And so much so say about life. It was such a multi layered play it reminded me of “Waiting for Godot” in that at first, you leave the theatre and wonder what the hell you’ve just seen and what it was about. Is life a joke, with a punchline, or s story and in that case tragic in places? And many many other questions and musings. “Sing and the music will come” is a mantra that will stay with me. Which is pretty much how I live most of my life.
Then I bumped into Robert Picardo in the foyer and had a picture with him, he was just heading out the door but he waited which was nice. Must be a bug bear to live ‘normal’ life and be famous. But hey! Here we are!
So I was round the corner from “The Ivy” which had been advertised on Facebook so I thought I’d give it a go, especially as it was chucking it down. I only wanted a snack. I thought it was a café. Turns out it’s uber posh, there’s me in my hoodie and backpack. I had some beautiful messages from friends on Facebook when I posted that, made me feel like a million.
Blackened cod. Rosemary lemonade. Then a cranachan (we are in Edinburgh after all) with white chocolate. Which came looking like a little globe, then the waitress poured hot whisky sauce on it and the white chocolate melted, missing with the icecream , raspberries and everything else inside. Oh my god it was so lush. I’ve only seen that presentation on Masterchef, it was so great to experience it.
I walked chuffing miles on Friday – the play was miles over the other side of the city! Nice to get around a little bit!
Antling was brilliant of course. After that we went to Bristo Square (we love it there) and got flyered by a New Zealand woman in a 50’s dress for a comedy show “Ladylike”. But I think that actually happened on Thursday… Antling had a crowd in that laughed on Friday evening which was fabulous. One guy who is also performing at the Fringe talked to Helen after and we went for a drink – or rather he took Helen for a drink and I toddled behind very much like the third wheel. Made me smile. We ended up in a private bar though talking to the owner and the members of the cast and crew (and the son and daughter of the writer) which was really lovely, hobnobbing with professional actors and everything…
Saturday. 2 Michael Morpugo plays. You can take the girl out of – oh who am I kidding. I’m just interested in history, especially in the first and second world wars. So we went to see “An Elephant in the Garden”: a one woman show which was so brilliant. I loved it. Especially her body movements of the elephant – so clever. Then “Private Peaceful”, a one man show which was an incredibly powerful performance, standing ovation at the end. That made everyone gulp and tears were free.
My last Fringe show I went and found the Sweet Venues and bumped into the lovely JD and had a quick catch up. Unfortunately, my last show of the Fringe, something I was reviewing, was the worst thing I’ve ever seen. I had not thought I could ever give a 1 star. I was wrong. It was just the most hideous puerile crap I’ve ever had the misfortune of having to sit through. One person got up and left. I was jealous.
This was in yet another different part of the city and what a beautiful place it is.
The last night of Antling. What a crazy adventure we’ve had. We met Elaine (who taught at ACT) who came to see it and then 4 of us then 3 of us went for a drink at Bristo Square again. We ended up standing bopping to the strangest eclectic mix of music ever.
This morning we went for lovely breakfast – veggie haggis! – at Spoon before heading off separate ways.