He Gave Me Heroin by James Aden

4 stars

I have to say, He Gave Me Heroin is a pretty misleading title for this particular play.  It suggests something gritty and bleak; in fact, it’s a warming portrayal of companionship in older age.  The whole script takes the form of a single, everyday conversation, taking place one morning between lifelong friends Marion and Sadie.  The heroin, it turns out, is just a misunderstanding… an invention of the elderly Sadie’s confused and fading mind. 

Review by Richard Stamp published on Wednesday 25 May | Read more

Daggers MacKenzie

3 stars

This charming, engaging one-woman musical clocks in at just 45 minutes, but still finds time to showcase performer Melissa A Kaplan’s remarkably varied talents. The tale of a winsome American girl who runs away to join the circus, it features a bit of juggling, a touch of puppetry – and, of course, plenty of songs. From the moment she appears on stage dressed as a rosy-cheeked frontierswoman, the title character of Daggers MacKenzie is easy to warm to, and the story also makes some interesting points about what it means to be in search of a home.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Wednesday 25 May | Read more

Grey Skies

4 stars

An ill-judged outburst has cost twenty-something Danny his job – but before he has a chance to tell partner Lisa, she reveals that she’s expecting.  Danny’s layabout mate Sam is peddling knock-off cigarettes, in a plan which may ensnare his bright-but-naïve cousin Johnny.  Lisa’s sister Shauna, meanwhile, is looking for reasons to prise the couple apart… and in the midst of all this turmoil, Sam’s dreamed up an audacious plan to rob the local drug dealer.  What could possibly go wrong?  Plenty, of course – but perhaps not quite what you’re expecting.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Tuesday 24 May | Read more

Seven

4 stars

A fascinating and at times mesmerising project, Seven offers an innovative take on the well-worn theme of the recent conflict in Afghanistan. An ensemble of actors tell the true stories of seven real-life British servicemen – each of whom has seen active service within the last few years. But in the first of several creative twists, the men explore their memories and emotions through a series of interviews: interviews which are piercing, even intimate at times… because they’re being conducted by their genuine wives and girlfriends.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Tuesday 24 May | Read more

Thorn

3 stars

I’ve seen a lot of Fringe and alternative theatre in my time, but rarely have I seen a piece that takes on the topic of faith – unless it’s ironic, or highly critical. For whatever reason, authentic belief is somewhat taboo in the artistic community. But it’s exactly this topic that Thom Jordan, the son of a minister from outback Australia, has chosen to probe in his solo performance piece.

Review by Vivienne Egan published on Tuesday 24 May | Read more

Sellotape Sisters by Lee Mattinson

4 stars

There’s a lot to enjoy about this comic production, which engaged me right from the start with both characters and storyline. The date is 1966, and we see Ethel (Charlotte Weston) and Phyllis (Kellie Batchelor) in their dressing room, discussing the very last episode of Werewolf Hall – a long-running soap opera they have starred in for years. It seems that there is a shock twist planned for the finale, and Ethel isn’t happy about it at all. Cue Rupert (Johnny Freeman), who is equally disgruntled, and struggling to accept he may not have a future career after the show is over.

Review by Tig Land published on Sunday 22 May | Read more

And The Rope Still Tugging Her Feet

5 stars

A teenage girl graduates from a Catholic school, in rural County Kerry.  We learn of her endearing innocence: her delight at the discovery that men and women can share a joke together, and how much she enjoys the simple pleasures of her newly independent life.  There’s the giggly advent of first love, and the flattering attentions of an older man.  There’s an office party and a ride in the boss’s car.  We know this won’t end well.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Sunday 22 May | Read more

Austen Empowered

2 stars

Jane Austen-themed shows are popular. You just have to look at the success of improv troupe Austentatious (they play to sold-out venues around the country and have spawned a slew of imitators) to know that popping Austen in the title is a safe bet. And I confess that it was what drew me, a diehard Austen fan, to the show.

Review by Vivienne Egan published on Saturday 21 May | Read more

Deep in The Heart of Me

4 stars

This sweetest of Fringe treats is, at its core, a straightforward love story: a holiday romance set on a Greek island, which we earnestly hope will survive the return to the rains and stresses of England. It really doesn’t matter that the island is Lesbos, and the adorable couple we’re cheering for are a pair of gay women. But for Janet and Rosie, the path to true love isn’t a smooth one… because it’s taken Janet a lifetime to accept her sexuality, and she has a husband and two teenage kids back home.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Saturday 21 May | Read more

Limelight

2 stars

The fictional open mic night at The Iron Duke – the actual location for this Fringe show – is home to a rag-tag group of wannabes and has-beens. There are the regulars, the newcomers… and an unexpected stranger whose presence has the potential to change everything.

Review by Vivienne Egan published on Friday 20 May | Read more

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