A Day at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – Short Reviews of 3 shows @mattforde @DaveBibby @russellhoward @edfringe #Edinburgh #Scotland

An Evening at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival

There is always fun to be had at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, from street performers to full shows performed by comedians, actors, musicians starting out their careers to those who are more established and some household names and some return having starting their careers at what is the largest arts festival in the world. There really is something for everyone. Yes it is busy as the world descends on the Scottish capital over August, but the atmosphere is amazing and everything from pubs to theatres and everything inbetween is a venue. There are plenty of places to eat too in the majority of the streets with various cuisines. This is one of many trips into Edinburgh over the years.

Fringe sign
SIGN SHOWING THE WAY TO SOME OF THE VENUES


I present to you a short reviews on these 3 shows I saw with a Fringe going friend.

Dave Bibby – Crazy Cat LAD-y
Globe Bar
On until 25th August at 4:45pm

Dave loves cats. Sit and enjoy random pics of his cats, which are cute and fun. The show isn’t all about his cats. The pictures are interspersed throughout witty banter throughout the show.
Take a journey with Dave through his favourite 1990’s childhood film of Hook. Please note this is very much an adult show. He takes the audience through Hook with a bit of funny acting and songs set to well known music. There’s a bit of audience participation, but in the main it is the audience as a whole.
The show is also about growing up as a man when the age 30+ hits.
In the main it is hilarious and worth taking a chance on.
He also encourages audiences to send him pics of their cute cats.

Where will you have seen him before? In the main in various adverts on tv but also Netfix, Comedy Central, Channel 4 and others, plus radio.

Tips: It is a small venue and because it is free and non-ticketed, it is worth joining the queue early. The area of the pub he used filled pretty quickly.

Russell Howard – A Working Progress
Assembly Hall – Main Hall
6:30pm

My friend and I saw Russell Howard last year and had lots of fun, so decided, since we knew the content was going to be different, to see him again. We were not disappointed. His show is called Working Progress because he is trying out different jokes and anecdotes to work out what works and what doesn’t so well for his arena tours and tv shows. He also tells some anecdotes that are only for a Fringe audience too.
His anecdotes covered family, school days, social media trends and influences, politics and a safari trip. Some worked better than others of course, but that’s the purpose of the show, but on the main his stories were very funny. He has some serious points to get across but does this well, in a comical way.
So was it worth seeing him a second year running? Yes it absolutely was.

Where you have seen him before? Various stages, Tv panel shows such as Mock the Week, Good News and Live at the Apollo etc.

Tips: It was a sell-out performance when I was there. If he is all sold-out, it is worth looking for returned tickets. You just never know your luck.
The venue is very hot, so take water with you.

Matt Forde – Brexit, Pursued by a Bear
Pleasance Forth 
8:30pm, various dates until 25th August.

Matt Forde gave a show of satire that was polished and full of humour, which was brilliant. He seamlessly balances the fun with the serious messages he was trying to get across. He has satirical fun with all the main parties with aplomb. His impersonations of politicians were great. His comic timing is excellent.
My friend and I decided to see him because we had seen him around a lot in the grounds of the Pleasance and decided we really ought to see one of his shows. We were very pleased we saw his show, we were not disappointed.

Where you have seen him before: Around the Fringe, On Tv shows as Matt Forde Unspun and is on radio.

Tips: Wear good shoes as there’s a number of stairs to this part of the Pleasance. Queues also build fast. He has announced a couple of other show slots on Friday 16th and Friday 23rd August

Scot Monument  SCOTT MONUMENT AT NIGHT

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Les Miserables – by Cameron Mackintosh, Boublil and Schönberg A Tale for Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow @Captheatres #LesMiserables #Edinburgh #Theatre #Musical #Review

Les Miserables
Rating: 5 Stars *****

 

les mis

I recently saw the touring production of Cameron Mackintosh’s  Boublil and Schönberg’s acclaimed musical Les Miserable at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh. I won’t go on too much about the story as I reckon most people know it by now, how it takes place during a French Revolution to bring about change. It’s the musical that invites audiences to join their crusade with heartfelt songs along with some humour and rousing songs too.

This is the musical with themes of romance, loss, strife, death, prosititution, suicide.

It was brilliantly done with the minimalist scenery, especially the barraks.
The use of projected scenery depicting tunnels of sewers, streets, fight scenes etc was very effective and used very well, to bring more depth to the scenery and to give the realistic impression of things like running through tunnels etc. It was a very clever use of this technology.

All the cast were excellent. There were some outstanding cast members who played main characters: Jalvert, the young Cosette and I could go on, but it was a big cast and they all performed spectaularly well.

There are things that perhaps people can carry with them today from this musical. In the French Revolution we see that really, no side wins. Everyone has their own crusade about something that’s going on in the world. Perhaps sometimes there can be winners and losers, but if this has anything to go by, there are times when it seems there should be a winning and a losing side, but the reality is both sides can pay a price, including the ultimate price.

Whether you have seen it once, twice or more or not at all yet on stage, it is still worth seeing.

_____________________________________________

Festival Theatre – Edinburgh

Running Dates and Times

Tue 22 Jan to Sat 16 Feb 2019

2pm Sundays, 2.30pm Thursdays, Saturdays and Wednesday 13 Feb, 7.30pm Tuesdays to Saturdays

Running time (approx.): 2 hours 55 minutes (Inc. 15 minute interval)

Currently Tickets are sold out but you can contact them to see if there are any Returns.

This is a musical that is touring round the country. The websites for the musical and your theatres will have listings.

ART by Yasmina Reza – An award winning, fun, feel-good play. It’s more than what it initially appears to be. Coming Soon! @captheatres @Arttheplay #YasminaReza #NigelHavers #DenisLawson @StephenTompki19 #theatregoers #plays #comedy

Art by Yasmina Reza
Rating 5 Stars *****

 

Synopsis

When Serge spends an extortionate amount of money on an all white modernist painting, his close friends Marc and Yvan are baffled. But does their violent reactions to this provocative canvas mirror more dangerous antagonisms towards each other?

Art is a phenomenon and one of the most successful plays ever. Having opened in 1996, it took both the West End and Broadway by storm, won Olivier, Tony, Moliere and every other major theatre award, and has been packing in audiences worldwide for more than twenty years.

Soon to be heading to the Kings Theatre in Edinburgh
Address: 2 Leven Street, Edinburgh South, EH3 9LQ
Dates: 11th Feb 2019 to 16th Feb 2019
Times: Evenings 7.30pm, Matinees Wed & Sat 2.30pm

CAST

Serge played by Nigel Havers
Marc played by Denis Lawson
Yvan played by Stephen Tompkinson

art pic

Review

Art is heading to The King’s Theatre in Edinburgh. It is worth the trip to see this award-winning, humourous and quirky play that has themes of art, friendship and tolerance. I first saw it in Glasgow Theatre Royal in 2018 with the same cast performing as this time (Stephen Tompkinson, Nigel Havers and Denis Lawson) and couldn’t believe my luck when it was touring outside London, so just had to go and see it. I highly recommend that anyone who missed it then, takes the opportunity to see it this time round.

Art is a fairly short play, which is unusual, but don’t let that put you off seeing it. You will be enthralled and have lots of fun. Time, I found, passed by so quickly that I couldn’t believe it had reached the end already. It has a lot of wit and substance to this play and it captured my attention from beginning to end. It is the perfect antidote to the darkness and cold of winter.

Art is a quirky, fun, feel-good play with a lot of substance. It is about 3 friends, played by Nigel Havers, Stephen Tompkinson and Denis Lawson It all begins with a piece of art. A white painting. The question is this: Is it really white or is it not? That is the debate that the 3 friends have between themselves. It’s enough to test any friendship. There is also the matter of relationships and outlooks of life, loved ones and family that strategically weave throughout this play.

There is a lot of humour in this play that sits very well with the poignancy that comes through and a good twist at the end, which left me feeling more than satisfied.

The format of the scenes and the writing of the play really is incredibly good. The acting is exceptional by all 3 actors. This is a must see play that has lots of fun and the actors themselves look like they have lots of fun on the stage performing Art too, which adds to a very comfortable, very natural feel to the performance.

So now is the time for you to have the most magnificent fun and see if the 3 friendships survive or not and what happens within their personal lives as well of course to enjoy the debate of the white painting.

 

Kings Theatre in Edinburgh
2 Leven Street, Edinburgh South, EH3 9LQ
Dates: 11th Feb 2019 to 16th Feb 2019
Times: Evenings 7.30pm, Matinees Wed & Sat 2.30pm

Review of: The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. 5 Star-Rating

The Importance of Being Earnest

5 Star Rating *****

The Importance of Being Earnest is a play I wanted to see for a long time and Classic Spring company happened to be doing this as part of their Oscar Wilde season. It was to be the last play Oscar Wilde wrote, before his death in 1900. In this particular production, the Director is Michael Fentimen, who, in my opinion has done an excellent job.

                     The Cast

  • Fehinti Balogun plays Algernon Montcrieff
  • Geoffrey Freshwater plays Lane
  • Jacob Fortune Lloyd plays John Worthing (Jack/Earnest)
  • Sophie Thompson plays Lady Bracknell
  • Pippa Nixon plays Hon. Gwendolen Fairfax
  • Stella Gonet plays Miss Prism
  • Fiona Button plays Cecily Cardew
  • Tim Gibson plays Moulton
  • Jeremy Swift plays Rev. Canon Chasuble

 

15398721253722621607279709738992     oscar

The play is about love, relationships and class. It is a witty and yet somewhat satirical play that covers all the aforementioned themes. It’s as deep as it is light.

Is the principle character John or Jack or Earnest? Where did he come from, besides a handbag? A very ordinary black handbag at that.

The play consists of 3 acts with a interval after the first.

 

Act 1

The Vaudeville Theatre Set is minimalist but effective. The first act has a lovely backdrop to suggest a sitting room with, most notably a piano within it.
There are laughs to be had from the beginning opening lines, after wonderfully played piano music has filled the air.
The interactions between Algernon, Earnest and Bracknell are brilliantly executed and witty in the first act. There is a great conversation about fools and cleverness.The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool”, is one of the great quotes from this act. As are the interactions with Gwendolen Fairfax who is played, somehow better than I expected by Pippa Nixon.
Lady Bracknell, is snobbish and aristocratic. Suitors had better beware as they are practically interrogated as notes are taken. The character is theatrically played by Sophie Thomson.
Jacob Fortune and Fehinti Balogun, who play John (or is he Jack or Earnest?) and Algernon Montcrieff, give a sustained strong performances throughout the entire play.

Act 2

The scenery has changed to that of a garden with flowers and grasses at the back, and a table and chairs. Again it is a minimalist set, but effective. Here is where the audience is first introduced to Miss Prism, played by Stella Gonet and Fiona Button. The acting from both is strong. Fiona Button plays a very emotional and sentimental character, which she does convincingly and well.
Stella Gonet plays Miss Prism very well. She is an absolute delight to watch on stage.

Act 3

Set in an empty hall, but again the scenery designers have done it well to give the stage a sense of place with wooden surrounds and garden outdoors as Christenings and proposals are discussed.
The scene also completely answers all the questions that I reckon, appear to be posed at the beginning of the play.
The play was witty, cleverly written by Oscar Wilde that still very much has as much relevance today as it did back then. It was worth the hundreds of miles I travelled to see this play. It was well directed and very well performed by all of the cast.
My only quibble is that the production was not going to tour to all quarters of the UK. A real pity, in my opinion because it is certainly good enough and has a great cast and production team. I believe they did film a performance, but for me, live screenings of plays are never the same of actually being in a theatre seeing the cast properly in person. It always provides a reason not to try to tour, of which I am sure one day will have some unintended consequence. That aside, the play is definitely worth seeing and for me, it was worth the hundreds of miles travel and was worthy of my “bucket list” and I was impressed by the quality of the Classic Spring Theatre Company.
The final date of this run is Saturday 20th October. As much as this is a popular play, there are, at time of publishing, a few tickets left.
I am sure The Importance of Being Earnest will still be shown many, many times, so if you don’t manage to catch the play this time, it is worth looking out for in the future. I highly recommend this production of the play, the play itself and this theatre company.
The Classic Spring Theatre Company are also collecting at the end of each performance for a charity which helps prevent young people committing suicide.

Duet For One. @WolvesGrand #DuetForOne @realhughfraser #theatre Rating Duet For One 5 Stars.

Duet For One is a play I saw on a very cold November in 2017 in Edinburgh King’s Theatre. This play however, is still touring and there are a few days left with tickets available in Wolverhampton Grand Theatre. When I was informed of this play touring again, I couldn’t help but think about blogging about it (and thinking that my day job doesn’t give me time to see it again). The play tells, what I think, is such an important story that isn’t often portrayed and not in the way that it is and with so much wit and humanity.

The play is written by Tom Kempinski and performed by Belinda Lang and Jonathan Coy, who replaces Oliver Cotton. Since I have not seen it with Jonathan Coy, as much as I would love to have seen it again, I have to assume his acting on stage is as strong as it is on tv. It would be unfair of me to comment on his performance as it would be all assumptions then and not based on reality. So, what I am able to do is comment on Belinda Lang’s performance as Stephanie Abrahams and the body of work.

Synopsis:

Stephanie Abrahams, a brilliant concert violinist who seemingly has it all, is forced to re-evaluate her life when struck down by an unforeseen tragedy. Faced with a truth too difficult to comprehend she consults psychiatrist Dr Feldmann and through a series of highly charged encounters is led to examine her deepest emotions and finally to consider a future without music.

Review:

This really is an incredibly well written and thought out play, that has a lot of depth, poignancy, humour and humanity within it.

Stephanie had it all and then suddenly she was struck by Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and has to find a way to come to terms with it. She ends up in a psychiatrists office – that of Dr. Feldmann, where the play takes place. Stephanie is there because she is depressed, but more than that she is very angry. Angry because she doesn’t actually want anyone to be delving into her inner feelings and her life. The audience are taken through a thought provoking journey through this stage of her life.

It sounds like a grim play, after all it’s a grim disease that takes over a person’s life and changes it. This play however shows that there is still life to be grasped. The play shows great humanity and it shows that life isn’t always black and white, just because you have MS. There are a lot of laughs to be had. It is actually a very funny play with many poignant parts within it too.

The relationship between Stephanie and Dr. Feldmann is an intriguing one and I guess, unless you have been in therapy, it isn’t something audiences see being portrayed a lot of. When I saw it, and I wouldn’t think this would have changed much, it is an intense psychiatrist/client relationship, with a lot of angry energy, projected from Stephanie mostly. The intensity is built up by a few silences and also the remarks made as well as some of the movement. Dr. Feldman wants to help, tries to be patient, but even he is only human and has limits, but gradually the audience can see a turning point.

Belinda Lang’s performance as the protagonist – Stephanie Abrahams is absolutely brilliantly done. I never feel I can praise her high enough for her performance. What is so well portrayed is the MS. I couldn’t help but watch her movements carefully and to catch all the nuances, perhaps because I was interested, not just in the story-line but to see if someone could pull it off, not that I had any doubts whatsoever, but being a person in the know about MS, it was rather close to home, more so than anything else I have ever seen. So, what Belinda Lang brings is what looks like an effortless accuracy to her performance in her movements, and a dark wit as well as showing some pain, but without lingering on it before moving on. I use the term effortless because it looks it when she performs, but really it wouldn’t be at all. There is so much energy that she puts into the performance, and with it being a two-hander with most of the focus on her, you realise that what she is doing is pure skill at such a high level. It is a brave performance and one that is pulled off exceedingly well. It is one I know I won’t forget in a hurry.

Anyone seeing this play will not be disappointed. Yes, the subject matter is dark, but the material has some light within it. You will feel the emotion, but also the humour. So for anyone wondering whether to see this play or not, I would say, just go, take a chance on it and you may find yourself being pleasantly surprised.

*At the time of writing, there were still tickets left to be bought.

 

Here I will add that if you have MS or are a carer of someone with MS needing support/advice or need to see what groups there are in your area, the MS Society  can help.