Attempted brevity at the Edinburgh Fringe

Over the summer, I worked as an intern at The List, an arts review/events listings magazine for Scotland.
 
August, the festival month, was a busy one at The List. As well making sure the stream of reviews coming in all reached the website (accompanied by appropriate pictures), I wrote theatre reviews of my own.
 
I had to learn to keep it brief. Here’s a few of my 75-worders:
 
THE GRIND SHOW (4 stars)
 
Circus freaks and profound questioning from the TBA Collaborative
 
With a mix of slick physical theatre and naturalistic dialogue, The Grind Show follows the journey of wide-eyed ‘boy’ through a surreal circus. Underworld characters, including the double-bodied Miss Von Ambourg (whose act involves splitting apart to throw daggers at her other half), vie for boy’s attention. But when he asks difficult questions – ‘Why did she stab herself?’ – the surface begins to crack. Beneath the demented bravado of their ‘Hurrahs’ lie the recognisable pressures and fears of life.
 
Grind-Show-Junes[1]
Miss Von Ambourg
  
 
IAGO (4 stars)
 
A chilling portrait of the unknowable villian
 
From a dimly-lit cell set after the action of Othello, Iago re-performs his soliloquies and conversations in a one-man abridgement of Shakespeare’s tragedy. The other characters, filtered through Iago’s perspective, become caricatures and his own pathology is thrown into relief.
 
This production resists the urge to humanise Iago, to psycho-analyse away his murderous ambition. Here, he is perfectly indifferent. Iago is chilling, claustrophobic and eminently watchable.
 
  

THE FALL OF MAN (3 stars)

Paradise Lost in a bedsit

Though inspired by Milton, this play is less a narration of our fall than an exploration of our fallen state. The blossom and decay of an affair between middle-aged, middle-class Peter and his children’s Slavic nanny is told with contemporary dialogue and passages from Paradise Lost recited as private thoughts.

Milton’s long lines feel rushed and therefore unlike real-life musings, but powerful body language, unnerving music, and the clash of native and non-native idioms and priorities create loaded moments.

Fall-Spoons-I-025The Fall of Man

 

KILLING ME SOFTLY (3 stars)

Karaoke and tears

In this one-man verse play, we are guests at a ‘welcome-home party’ for Sylvia complete with ’80’s pop and cheap decorations. Slowly – in rhyming couplets that feel remarkably natural – we learn why we’re invited.

With the cringe-worthy inappropriateness of David Brent, our host is chatty, evasive, and, ultimately, pitiable. But the venue is wrong to play this in the afternoon: the smut is enough to induce a gag-reflex in the most seasoned late-night comedy goer.

***

Here’s the  full list of my reviews…

~ by Griselda Murray Brown on September 4, 2009.

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