East

4 stars

Playwright Steven Berkoff described East as “a scream or a shout of pain” – and certainly, this portrayal of the East End of his childhood is a brutal and uncompromising one.  But still, this is an entertaining and enjoyable production, thanks both to Berkoff’s writing and the slickly-delivered efforts of a talented ensemble.  The end result might tend more towards comedy than darkness, but the five characters’ stories still prove thought-provoking and, sometimes, poignant.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Friday 20 May | Read more

Wanna Dance with Somebody! Or a Guide to Managing Social Anxiety Using Theoretical Physics

3 stars

He’s scruffy and chaotic, but he’s dancing his heart out as we walk in. Running Dogs’ first ever performance of Wanna Dance with Somebody! takes you round the planets of the solar system, round that disco in the village hall and back to the last place you danced in. It’s a good-hearted entertaining piece, with plenty of gentle humour; the technician’s slightly sardonic instructions to our hero on the stage are beautifully timed, with just the right amount of tired exasperation to make them very funny.

Review by Bill Parslow published on Friday 20 May | Read more

The Bald Prima Donna

3 stars

The Bald Prima Donna is a challenging play for everyone: actors, audiences, critics.  The first major work by Eugène Ionesco, it’s a seminal example of the Theatre of the Absurd, often argued to be a warning about what happens when existence has no meaning and communication itself breaks down.  It’s filled with nonsensical dialogue and blatant illogic – and there’s no real consensus on what Ionesco was aiming to achieve.  So what are we to make of this version?

Review by Richard Stamp published on Friday 20 May | Read more

Tenors Unlimited:The Rat Pack of Opera

4 stars

A fantastic venue, an enthusiastic audience, and three good-looking men with confident stage presence – all in well-cut suits. It’s a recipe for a good evening for sure.  The three tenors introduce themselves simply as Paul, Scott and Jem, and from the start it’s clear that they have a relaxed and easy way with each other. They’ve worked as a group for ten years, they reveal, and they look like they’re still having a really good time singing together – and that easy-going atmosphere proves infectious.

Review by Tig Land published on Friday 20 May | Read more

Aphrodite in Flippers

3 stars

The stage is set for the arrival of Georgie (Georgina Roberts), whose fortieth birthday is today. Her best friends Vicki (Vicki Manderson) and Sarah (Sarah Goddard) are determined that Georgie will celebrate with them… but she has other ideas. For her, this big birthday equals a mid-life crisis, the planting of a large seed of doubt about whether there is any point to life from here on. After all, she argues, dreams that haven't yet been fulfilled will probably now never happen.

Review by Tig Land published on Friday 20 May | Read more

The Thermos Museum

1 star

I hadn’t known quite what to expect from this half-hour promenade show.  It’s listed as a comedy, is clearly themed on vacuum flasks – and according to the blurb on the Brighton Fringe website, involves “twelve suitcases [which] unfold to reveal numerous astonishing displays”.  Hmm.  That’s not quite what actually happens.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Thursday 19 May | Read more

Hardly Still Walking, Not Yet Flying

3 stars

The opening sculpture of white chairs is striking; the slow, hesitant entry of the four female protagonists slightly less so. Port in Air’s performance builds slowly, in ways that are sometimes wildly beautiful and lyrical, but at other times more weak and prosaic. It’s an experimental mix of sound, singing, speech and physical theatre – with a thread of philosophical questioning, as evinced by the strangely evocative title that signals the narrative rather than the telling of a conventional story.

Review by Bill Parslow published on Thursday 19 May | Read more

MorbidAbnormalMe

4 stars

A girl in a yellow rain cape sings from the floor, lying on her side yet still possessing a powerful voice. It’s as if Lisa Minelli were one of the Babes in the Wood but had the crooning tones of Ella Fitzgerald. Nora introduces Shea, and tells us a little about her life-defining problem – an extreme fear of death. Still prone, Shea is gently woken up, and persuaded to do the show.

Review by Bill Parslow published on Thursday 19 May | Read more

Fire Burn: The Tragedy of Macbeth

3 stars

No Fringe is complete without at least one Macbeth, usually offering some innovative twist on the Bardic original.  Fire Burn’s selling point is that it’s performed by the Three Witches; or more precisely, by three female actors, who start out as the Three Witches but soon switch into other requisite roles.  Look beyond that gimmick, though, and it’s actually a very faithful rendition of Shakespeare’s text, albeit one that adds a few stylish tricks to enhance the telling of the tale.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Thursday 19 May | Read more

Louise Reay: Que Sera, ??

3 stars

When you see the tagline ‘Comedy in Chinese for people who don’t speak any Chinese’, several thoughts may cross your mind. Thoughts like: “This could be the greatest idea ever”, “This could be worst idea ever” and “This could be quite racist.” Whatever you think about the tagline, it’s a bold gambit and it certainly drew a crowd of curious, non-Chinese speaking spectators to the Komedia on Saturday afternoon.

Review by Vivienne Egan published on Wednesday 18 May | Read more

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