Edinburgh Fringe Reviews

Posted by Luke Jones

Edinburgh Fringe Reviews

Key Change *****

Perhaps my most favourite piece. Written and created through working with female prisoners, this performance offers a moving and powerful insight into the lives of female prisoners. It documents their stories before, the men and the institutions that let them down, and then their lives, each day, sitting inside their prison cells whilst their loved ones, children, family and friends, are on the outside. The piece is a mix of verbatim, theatre and a small section of dance, involving 5 performers. It was performed at the Northern Stage in Summerhall.

When I walked out of this piece, I immediately wanted to bring it to Gainsborough. I do not want to sound too judgmental or patronising, but having spent a fair amount of time in Gainsborough, I understand that there are young people who are in the same circumstances that the characters in Key Change are. The power of this play, as well as its humour, could, I hope, have a real impact on some young people.

Moreover, I also think this performance would be suitable across the LOV network. I was significantly moved by the very humanistic nature of this piece, stripping aside the circumstances of these women and showing us their basic human worries, fears and joys. And in terms of practicality, this piece could fit in essentially all the venues, and will appeal to both young and old, male and female.


Here is the news from over there *****

This was perhaps the most unique piece I saw at the fringe. Each day performers, hosts and musicians receive brand new material from the middle-east. This comes, mainly through twitter, in the form of prose, short stories, film, short scripts and songs. The cast then weave these collections into a single 1hour show that combines all of the varying art forms in one incredible, radical and new form. It also means each show is completely unique. Moreover, some parts of the show or performed in Arabic and then translated through the hosts. I found this piece to be immensely powerful, and offered a radical check on western theatre. At times the mini-performances were moving, harrowing and also hilarious. We were greeted upon arrival with hot, sugary Arabian tea, and I felt transported, however briefly, from the hustle and bustle of the festival.

I certainly think this piece could be suitable for some of the LOV. Drill Hall naturally springs to mind, although a gallery space such as with the Usher could also be applicable. The catch, however, is that this performance would need a run of nights in order to work. At the fringe this piece was performed over 22 nights, with each night being its own unique chapter of the 22 night ballad. This is likely to prove difficult, although a solution could be to provide a series of performances across the LOV, each therefore being unique but connected.

Going Viral *****

Daniel Bye’s Going Viral was an incredible solo performance. This piece takes the form of story-telling, lecture and drama. Daniel Bye tells the story of a crying epidemic that breaks out from following a flight from India to England. But, through this quite unique performance he engages with ideas on hysteria, emotion, western/eastern divides and broader society. Bye’s performance was captivating, not least for how the show starts and he sits among the crowd, only to then say out loud ‘Hey everyone, how are?’. The way Bye educates, challenges and makes you laugh is remarkable. Part of the performance is a small lecture/question-and-answer-session with the audience on the notoriety of certain diseases and how they spread, before he then proceeds to, comically, pass out anti-septic lotion amongst the crowd.

In terms of LOV, this is another piece I believe would be suitable anywhere. It only requires seating for around 50 audience members surrounding the one performer who moves and stands amongst the audience. Although not specifically for young people, certainly accessible, and perhaps given Bye’s interesting engagement with the space and the audience, suitable for students study drama- so should be sent to drama departments across secondary schools.

Brush *****

A beautiful and charming piece of Korean theatre for children. Follows the story of a young boy who wants a little brother, so travels with his pig through the woods to find three fairies. This incredibly charming story-telling is done beautifully, with a large 8m by 2m canvas as the backdrop, enabling the characters to draw/paint their scenery, then tearing it down and redrawing it with each scene. Live accordion music, simple mime and traditional Korean costumes create a lovely show- all of the kids in the audience I saw thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

Once more, the practical aspect of this performance is relatively easy. A space big enough for the canvas backdrop (of which all venues have), and seating for anywhere from 20-75, is ideal. I really, really enjoyed this show too, I thought it was cute, charming, and would be welcome across the Lincolnshire venues.

Boxed In ****

A two-woman show that explores the childhood of two twins, one a girl and a one a boy. The piece explores ideas about gendering, and how their childhoods shaped who they are today. The show has a really good heart, and tries to challenge gender stereotypes with humour. The siblings return to their old house, and unpack the last few boxes of their childhood belongings, triggering memories, re-enactments, songs and arguments from the past. All-in-all, a lovely and accessible show, with a good heart.

Practically, this piece has almost no complicated logistic. Performed by two actors, simply unpacking two boxes from their child and taking the audience through their memories. This piece is highly accessible for young people across the county.