Posts Tagged ‘Edinburgh Fringe’


Cabaret Award at Edinburgh Fringe

Friday, 15 June, 2012

Time Out and Soho Theatre are delighted to announce that they are joining forces to present the first cabaret award at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe; TO&ST launching for the 2012 festival.

TO&ST will celebrate quality and brilliance in cabaret. With one award given to the show the judges believe is the best cabaret show at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. As well as the industry recognition the winner of the award will be offered a two week run at Soho Theatre and will have a full feature about their show in Time Out.

There are three judges for the award, they are Time Out Cabaret Editor Ben Walters, Soho Theatre Comedy & Cabaret Producer Steve Lock and Artistic Director of the Glasgow Cabaret Festival Frodo McDaniel; they see all eligible shows and decide the winner of the award.

There will be a maximum of six shows shortlisted for the award; this shortlist will be announced on Wednesday 15 August 2012 with a celebratory show for the shortlisted shows the weekend of Saturday 18 August. The winning show will be announced on Thursday 23 August 2012.

Follow the awards on twitter @TOASTAward and at

Further information from Amy Belson:



Alternative Fringe at the Hive

Friday, 25 May, 2012

Expect some legendary comic experiences alongside the most exciting freaks around. Expect chaos and the unexpected.

Alternative Fringe is attempting to recreate the spirit of adventure that thrived before the Alternative went Mainstream.

Their line-up includes:- Phil Kay doing his only full hour shows, Greatest Show on Legs making a triumphant return to the Fringe after some amazingly special one off appearances at Royal Festival Hall, Leicester Square Theatre, Bloomsbury Theatre. Supurbly inventive Trevor Lock, king of the Fringe Lewis Schaffer, the very naughty Bob Slayer fresh from causing a stir in Australia. John Robertson returns, Dave Cohen (previous Perrier nominee), Godfather of Antifolk Lach, Chris Dangerfield, So You think You Are Funny winner Nick Sun, Hackney Empire new act winner David Mills, the glorious Twonkey’s Kingdom, cult This Barry Ferns Belongs To Lionel Ritchie, Internet phenomenon Devvo, Half Past Bitch, Aidan Killian, Laura Levites.

The Hive has a mix of Free and Paid Shows over two rooms (150 and 100 capacity). Paid shows £5 per show. For your £10 membership fee you get to see ALL the paid shows in the alternative Fringe with no extra costs.

You can suupport the Alternative Fringe by becoming a member


Still Spilling the Beans: Letters from East Ham Vicarage 1953-1956

Thursday, 26 August, 2010

Edinburgh 2010 – The Vault – 17-30 August – 11.30 (0.55)

Still Spilling the Beans is the third and last edition to a one woman trilogy.  Following in the footsteps of the first two shows – Spilling the Beans and Spilling More Beans – the piece makes its first appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

When Lisa Wright – writer and performer – moved from London to Connecticut as a teacher in 1953 her mother Margot wrote letters to her every day for 3 years.  It is from these letters which the show finds its life.  Fifty years on, and Lisa Wright has sifted through the hundreds of letters and pieced them together to create a dramatized reading of these rare glimpses from the past – a performance which aims to paint a quintessential picture of parish life in the East End of London back in the nineteen fifties.

The play is performed within the tiny space of The Vault theatre. On the stage was a cluttered kitchen table filled with bits of paper and two chairs just behind it.  Off to the left, an oddly placed music stand with a large fake potted plant at its base – a peculiar combination of set perhaps.  But before you could question it any further, a charming fairytale themed music began to play and out walked the tender, glowing face of a woman you could only wish was your Nan.

What ensued was fifty five minutes of a rambling story which never looked as if it were leading anywhere but which you couldn’t bring yourself to stop or interrupt for fear of appearing impolite.  Lisa Wright is clearly not a woman to be rushed as she calmly sauntered between the table and music stand – telling stories of train juries, vicars and suitable names to give a fish.  She would go into scrupulous detail of the angle of one’s hat or the fabric of a friend’s coat.

The pace of the show did add a lovely focus to several of the moments however. The understated composure in which she spoke proved impressively successful in the delivery of her jokes.  There was also a touching sincerity behind the story of how she took care of her mother as she slipped away.

It is understandable that the show may very well appeal to a small number of theatre goers above a certain age and with a particular background or upbringing.  Unfortunately for the undeniable majority of average audience members the show might come across as a vague, rather slow experience.  Nothing much happens during the hour long performance.  Nothing changes from start to finish.  No great discoveries are realized other than the occasional, unsurprising passing of a distant relative or neighbor.  You are left at the end of it with no authentic, emotional connection with any of the characters or even the show as a whole.

It might be a heartwarming experience for some – but for most, it will just be another long Sunday afternoon at your Nan’s.

Cast Credits:Lisa Wright.

Company Credits: Writer – Lisa Wright. Director – uncredited. Lighting Designer – uncredited. Sound Designer – uncredited. Technical Operator – uncredited. Company – Margot Rupert and Lisa Productions.

(c) Carl Livesay 2010

reviewed Friday 21 August 2010


Showstopper! The Improvised Musical

Wednesday, 25 August, 2010

Edinburgh  2010 –   Gilded Balloon   –  4 – 30 Aug 10  –  22:50 (1.00)

Andrew Lloyd-Webber Never Dies

Every night, a different musical

If nothing else, ‘Showstopper! the improvised musical’ is a great night out, going by the grins on departing audiences’ faces.  But there is a lot more to this musical than simple fun and laughter. This is the kind of one-off show that gets people talking.

The process begins with suggestions from the audience.  Some are discounted, the best voted on democratically.  The cast then have no time at all to start acting and singing, directed by a mediator on the side of the stage who interrupts every so often, with ever increasing demands such as ‘I said more references to West End shows’ on the night of ‘Andrew Lloyd Webber Never Dies’.  Led by a keyboard player, the cast cleverly integrate humour, showstopping solos and even tuneful harmonies.  Utilising the well worn Lloyd Webber formula of wistful looks, slow steps towards and away from one another, peppered with regular smatterings of jazz hands, the result is a kind of cliché, as this is surely the only way that providing a new musical every night could work.  A funny farce of a musical follows.

The most impressive aspect of the show is the ability of the cast to think on its feet, coming up with endless rhyming couplets to tell a story that has not yet been written.  Quick thinking, talented comedians as well as accomplished musicians, this cast is at the top of their game.  Many of its members perform daily in other shows at the Fringe.  Despite the demands of improvising storyline, music and humour, awkward pauses are kept to an absolute minimum, and nearly all songs and sketches are to the standard expected in any musical.  Ruth Bratt, in particular, has a strong, versatile voice which is a pleasure to hear, and each of the remaining cast members is able to harmonise with whoever has begun singing, a peculiar skill considering that these songs have never before been sung.  Although a strategy for success which can be applied to each show must be in place, it is rather the experience and expertise of the cast, allowing imperceptible communication between its members, which paves the way for such delightful entertainment in demanding circumstances.  A word with returning audience members (and there are many) confirms that each show is, indeed, improvised and unique.

In ‘Andrew Lloyd Webber Never Dies’, the audience was treated to a story of betrayal and ultimate devotion between two sisters, hopeful to follow in their father’s footsteps and sing on stage at Lloyd Webber’s memorial gig.  With X factor style hopefuls, a sob story, baddies in the shape of directors looking for cash (singing a catchy background rift of ‘and the money keeps rolling in’), and the final realisation that neither money nor fame brings happiness, perhaps this generic sequence of characters and ideas is standard, but it is brought together by quick, commendable, stand-up style humour.

The musical talent and comic expertise of this cast is unquestionable, and the idea for the show, innovative.  However, as control comes largely from the on stage director, more audience input may be appreciated.  Cast members laughing aloud at their ludicrous of-the-cuff ideas (‘no I’m not doing that, that’s too weird’) is endearing, and authenticates the improvisation aspect, but could make an audience feel isolated if they miss the in-joke.  Occasionally these jokes become a little naughty.  Then again, this is a late night show, and political slights aside, there is nothing to offend here.

Watching ‘Showtopper! the improvised musical’ is like watching stand-up, enjoying West End wonders, and being treated to something unique all at the same time.   A great show.

Cast and company credits:  Chris Ash.  Ruth Bratt.  Julie Clare.  Dylan Emery.  Pippa Evans.  Sean McCann.  Adam Meggido.  Phillip Pellow.  Nigel Pilkington.  Andrew Puglsey.  Oliver Senton.  Lucy Trodd.  Duncan Walsh-Atkins.  Sarah-Louise Young.

(c) Claire Higgins 2010

Reviewed Saturday 21st August 2010.


Consequences, by Duncan Battman

Wednesday, 18 August, 2010

Jigsaw puzzle murder

Edinburgh 10 – Sweet Grassmarket – 5-15 August­­ 2010 – 14.35 (1:10)

Consequences is an intriguing and thought-provoking play from writer Duncan Battman which stubbornly refuses to yield its secrets.

The occasionally darkly-comic drama opens with two policemen arriving at a house to discover the rotting body of an elderly man.  The younger policeman, Danny (Mark Butt), finds a suicide note in the fridge confessing to the murder of a prostitute – a crime which was attributed to a local man who later committed suicide in jail.  Alan (Martin Pritchard), Danny’s sergeant, was involved in the original case but insists that the procedure of the day was followed, much to the disgust of his younger colleague.

The story is taken up by the apparent murderer, a librarian called Norman (Tony Broughton), who appears on stage in a spotlight – an apparent ghost – who explains how he ingeniously hid the body and his need to “attempt to put things right” with his confession.

He is joined by the spirit of Cilla (Sarah Roberts), the dead prostitute, and they tell how the unlikely pair met when Cilla found refuge in Norman’s library, hiding from the drug dealers she owed money to.  Norman agrees to let her stay at his house, where he lives alone following his mother’s death a decade earlier, and their friendship begins to grow.  It is only whent they start to become close that the possible reasons behind Cilla’s grisly end begin to become apparent.

As this tale is told the action occasionally flits back to the policeman arguing over the morality of destroying the confession and the multiple victims of the crime.  Stark contrast is made between the modern police force and the way suspects were treated in the good/bad old days.

The writing is sparky and effortlessly moves between the two plots without ever becoming confusing.  Duncan Battman shows a fine ear for language, with natural and unforced making all the characters three-dimensional and absolutely believable.  There is not an ounce of flab in the whole performance – with each line advancing the story or the ongoing moral battles taking place withing the minds of the protagonists.

The cast are uniformly exemplary, but Tony Broughton stands out, instilling the spirit of Norman with great dignity, undertones of sadness and the occasional spark of menace.

The set is a simple affair, mocking up a kitchen where all the action takes place, while lighting is cleverly utilised to switch between the two levels of the story.

The conclusion of the play is somewhat sudden and leaves much unresolved but is no less satisfying for that. It is a jigsaw puzzle of a performance and it is satisfying to try to piece together all the possible conclusions.

Cast Credits: Tony Broughton – Norman.  Mark Butt – Danny.  Martin Pritchard – Alan.  Sarah Roberts – Cilla.

Company Credits: Writer – Duncan Battman.  Director – Mark Butt.  Assistant Director – Val Watkinson.

(c) David Hepburn 2010

Reviewed Friday 15 August / Sweet Grassmarket, Edinburgh, UK


Hamlet! The Musical

Friday, 13 August, 2010

Edinburgh – Pleasance Courtyard – 4 – 30 Aug 10 – 17:00 (1.00)

A cast of six brings Shakespeare’s Hamlet up to date in Hamlet! The Musical, playing in a balmy venue in Edinburgh’s Pleasance Courtyard.  As the five supporting actors move skilfully and seamlessly between multiple characters, the result is a fast paced and funny show.

This is not so much ‘Hamlet’, as ‘what Hamlet is about’, so it is not necessary to know the play in advance.  Rather, an introduction of sorts is on offer for children or adults alike.  Sharp and witty, the light-hearted humour and teen speak help to move the focus from the old English usually associated with Hamlet.  Along with catchy pop and rock tunes, and over-the-top camp characters, the way is paved for some feel-good fun of the musical variety.

Is this a picture of the cast I see before me?

However, fast, funny and farcical does not equate to hasty here, as the cast is clearly well rehearsed, with all lines perfectly learnt and scene transition smooth.  Throughout, every actor gives it his all, from vocal projection to body language and facial expression, resulting in some energy fuelled performances to raise spirits.  Jack Shalloo as Hamlet and Jess Robinson as Ophelia are exceptional in their convincing portrayal of today’s troubled teens facing timeless parental problems.  On top of the usual hang-ups and dating dramas any teenager might encounter, this pair finds it really annoying that their parents keep betraying one other, leaving the teenagers with difficult dilemmas.  But Jack Shalloo’s Hamlet is less the tortured existentialist and more the Harry Enfield teenager, sulking and huffing at his parents, and indulging in fantasies of being cooler, leading to some enjoyably obscure songs and hairdos.  His character appears in dress, stance and attitude, as a likeable rogue, who might have stepped straight off a council estate, complete with a regional cockney accent.  Rosencrantz and Guildenstern provide slapstick humour which will appeal to children, with their falsetto voices and oversized human heads perched on puppet bodies.  An atmosphere of pantomime prevails.

With catchy, original tunes, belted out to the accompaniment of a live orchestra, the musical talent heard here will rival any else to be seen at the fringe.  Hamlet’s rich singing voice is a sweet surprise, incongruous to his rough and ready appearance, and Ophelia’s voice is impressively powerful with an extraordinary range.  The remaining cast support with a variety of strong solos, tuneful harmonies and rousing chorus numbers.

While puppetry, pop songs and limitless laughter abound, the result may be a little too slapstick and slapdash for anyone expecting a serious piece of musical theatre. However, with its musical and acting talent, and pantomime style signed with a singalong ending, Hamlet! The Musical should prove to be a great show for the family to enjoy together.

Cast credits:  Phile Cole – Polonius / Gravedigger.  Virge Gilchrist – Gertrude / Gravedigger.       Mark Inscoe – The Ghost / Claudius.  Jess Robinson – Horatio / Ophelia / Rosencrantz.  Jack Shalloo – Hamlet.  Stephen Web – Laertes / Guildenstern.

Company credits:  Writers – Ed Jaspers, Timothy Knapman and Alex Silverman.  Director – Ryan McBride.  Musical Director – Leo Nicholson.  Choreographer – Abigail Rosser.  Set Designer – Simon Scullion.  Costume Designer – Mia Flodquist.  Lighting Designer – Ben Cracknell.  Sound Designer – Richard Ryan/Mike Walker.  Puppet Designer – Simon Buckley.  Stage Manager – Molly Campbell.  Sound Operator – Robin Conway and Tom Pickering.  Production Manager – William Hill.  Publicity Designer – Pete Le May.  Photographer – Steve Ullathorne.  Producer – Eleanor Lloyd.

Reviewed Wednesday 11 August 2010, / Pleasance Courtyard Edinburgh UK

(c) Claire Higgins


Free Fringe Music – Flutes en Route

Friday, 13 August, 2010

Edinburgh – National Museum of Scotland – 9–29 Aug 10 – 12:45 (0:40)

Flutes en Route

Free Fringe Music is a free showcase of young Scottish musicians which takes place daily at The National Museum of Scotland. The event was co-created by Live Music Now, a company which sets out to ‘promote standards of excellence in young musicians’.  Every year a running theme is picked for the showcase.  This year it focused on the Lewis Chessmen.  The theme originated from ‘The Lewis Chessmen: Unmasked’ exhibition which is currently on display at The National Museum of Scotland.  Performers were asked to prepare a set inspired by the tales and travels of these famous chess pieces.

The guest artists of the day were Flutes en Route. Four Scottish performers make up the  notably attractive all female flute quartet.  Their performance began with a selection of lyric pieces by Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg.  The collection of five rather bright and chirpy pieces was just the thing to lift ones mood on a wet and dreary Edinburgh afternoon.

It was quickly evident however, as to be expected with a group restricted by a limited variety of instruments, that there was a significant lack of variety in tone.  When the women hopped over to Ireland with Hamilton Harty’s ‘In Ireland Fantasy’ it became hard to imagine that the song would not have been best left in its original format as a duet for piano and flute.  Hats off nonetheless, to performer Jo Ashcroft who proved she was not just a pretty face with her skillful arrangement of both this, as well as their next piece of work ‘Fingal’s Cave (The Hebrides Overture)’ originally by Felix Mendelssohn.

Sarah Hayes soon stepped into the spotlight to establish that this was in no way a one woman  band with her arrangement of the final piece entitled ‘The Lewis Chessmen Suite’.  The song displayed the groups’ wonderful array of talent and easily left you wanting more.  Further mention must go to Lee Holland and Yvonne Paterson who held their own and where by no means overshadowed by the others.

One might question the appeal of a quartet made up entirely out of flautists.  Flutes en Route however have effectively and skillfully added a fresh feel to a traditionally classic instrument.  Their extensive understanding and expert command of the flute is evident throughout.  It is no wonder the girls have gone so far in the short three years they have been together. Overall, it was an enchanting addition to the music scene at this years Edinburgh fringe.

Cast Credits: (alpha order): Musicians – Jo Ashcroft. Sarah Hayes. Lee Holland. Yvonne Paterson.

Company Credits: Company – Flutes en Route

(c) Carl Livesay

Reviewed Tuesday 10 August 2009 / National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh UK


The Aspidistras

Thursday, 12 August, 2010

Edited review can now be read here:

The Aspidistras - Gerardine Coyne and Maria Hodson


Kooky Babooshka

Monday, 9 August, 2010

The edited review can now be read here: