Sunday, 5 August 2012

Edinburgh Fringe Festival Reviews 2012

18th August

Don Juan Venue 50 (CECA Edinburgh College of Art)

This is based on Moliere’s play and is a Jack in a Box production.  The performance lasts one hour and is well-crafted in terms of movement, lighting and characters being frozen as the Devil and the Don argue about the latter’s conquests, guilt, hell and so on.  There is a bit of slightly irritating Mozart ‘Rondo alla Turca’ which reminded me of being put on hold on the telephone! 

There is a very good sword fight and I could make out the sword/rapier glinting with the lighting and hear the sound of the swords during the fight.  Perhaps in drama school there is a fencing master similar to Thibault, who I discovered during a study day at the Wallace Collection ( ).  The choreography between four of the players was also very good. 

I thought the Devil (Luke de Belder) played his part very well.  It reminded me of Mephisto and even an old performance of Faust I had been to.  The Don was suitably wearied as the play moved from being rather funny to getting quite dark.  By the now the servant, Sganarelle (Rory Hern) appeared to have been chastened and things were getting quite serious.  The flashbacks continue as the play reaches its conclusion.  The sound and lighting cues were excellent throughout.

This venue is extremely friendly (this is my third visit) and I was escorted through the art college building.  Food and drink are available.  The crepes are worth investigating as you wait for another performance.

16th August

The Tempest Venue 9 – The Space, Niddry Street

'Miranda' (on the left) telling Prof Whitestick about The Tempest
Squeaky Door Production, Edinburgh Fringe Festival
13 August 2012

‘Miranda’ (Rebecca Denmark) engaged with me on the High Street in Edinburgh and told me about the production of The Tempest.  I knew roughly where Niddry Street was and a day or so later we went to Venue 9 called The Space.  This is quite a steep cobbled narrow street in Edinburgh and take care on the pavement / sidewalk .  The front of house staff were very good in telling me about other events in other locations and offered to help in any reservations. 

The performance itself was really good and the beginning illustrating the shipwreck was well done with sound and snatches of conversation.  The figurehead and the cast rocked and I could sense the distress when the ship went down.  The main characters were convincing and while it would be unfair to single out any particular performance, Miranda was excellent and the usually difficult part of Trinculo was wittily and imaginatively played by Jamie Bailey.   The part of Caliban moving around crab-like on the floor added a bit of sound-depth for me and most of the cast had clear voice recognition characteristics, so I could effortlessly follow the plot. 

Some of the cast of The Tempest
Squeaky Door, Edinburgh Fringe
16 August 2012

This was a really enjoyable show and presents The Tempest in an imaginative way while stressing the importance of the dialogue.  The company is called Squeaky Door ( and they can be found on Twitter on @Squeaky_Door. 

This production of The Tempest is on tour so listen out for a performance in your area. 

12th August

Peer Gynt Venue 50 (CECA Edinburgh College of Art)

Stumbled upon this treasure and finding that we (2 of us) were the only audience, admired the actor for going through his performance. 

This is a one-man show performed by Kare Conradi and jointly presented by Det Norske Ibsen Kompaniet and British Shakespeare Company.  It is a good exegesis of Peer Gynt, freed from much of the schmalz of some of the Greig music. 

It is always interesting hearing from a native about one of their cultural icons.  In this case we got the landscape, folk tales, traditions and an insight into a type who lives for the moment whether real or not.  The act went into some brief recitation in Norwegian and, with some footwork and actions, a selection of the Peer Gynt stories were told. 

I liked the story of hunting the stag and the encounter with the trolls and the Mountain King. The plot languished a bit in the Sahara and Peer Gynt’s return to Norway is hardly a nostos of Homeric proportions.  Echoes of the Flying Dutchman story can be heard. This was a Norwegian tale used by Wagner, though it had Scottish origins as did Grieg - and even Ibsen claimed to have had some Scottish ancestry.   How does Peer Gynt get saved or even redeemed? Go and attend.  It’s on till 27 August (not 15, 16, 17) at 6pm.

It was a Sunday and the Olympics had clashed, I enjoyed the show.

2nd August

The Secrets Hidden in the Beatles Rock Band, Venue 50 (CECA Edinburgh College of Art)

This venue has short performances on the 50 minutes past the hour and a group of friendly fringe goers were handing out flyers so I went in to a performance of The Secrets Hidden in the Beatles Rock Band.  This is musical performed and written by Andrew Barrett, David Edment and David West. 

The Secrets Hidden in the Beatles Rock Band
Venue 50, Edinburgh Fringe
Edinburgh College of Art
2 August 2012

This is very well performed and sung.  The two characters Mike and Alfie meet up again after a few years and perform their rock band numbers.  The dialogue uses John and Paul song titles and opening lines.  The music is well played by a pianist and a minimal set (2 folding chairs and a rug) made it an audio treat.  Sitting at the front I got most of the (rude) gestures and of course understood some Scottish words such as ‘Skelpit’

Mike is the stronger of the two and appears to be impervious to complaints about his previous manipulation of everything that happened from childhood to the pair, including a certain Rachel Neilson. 

The young audience did however miss one reference to the past.  When Mike said to Alfie “ What’s it all about Alfie?” I was the only one who laughed. Well, it was a Beatles Rock Band tribute based story.

Funny and a bit loose around the offstage Rachel character, should tighten and lose 5 minutes.

4 phials (Prof Whitestick is using a new grading system where, instead of stars, disposable phials of eyedrops - preservative free - are awarded out of 5 max)

Prof Whitestick after the performance 
Edinburgh College of Art
2 August 2012