In Conversation with an Acid Bath Murderer

5 stars

Before I saw this mesmerising play, I’d only vaguely heard of John George Haigh – the 1940’s serial killer who dissolved his victims’ bodies in acid, in the mistaken belief that destroying the corpse would preclude a charge of murder.  This well-travelled production, which returns to Brighton Fringe after an absence of five years, certainly fills in the details of the notorious real-life tale.  But it’s more than a documentary: it’s an engaging character study, and despite its hideous subject matter it proves deceptively watchable, too.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Friday 13 May | Read more

Runts

4 stars

Youth theatre can often feel a little too earnest, a little too zealous – but from the first minute, the Hungry Wolf company proved beyond doubt that they were the exception to that rule. This is a group of extremely talented and versatile performers, who’ve created an engaging and absorbing piece of theatre.

Review by Tig Land published on Friday 13 May | Read more

Glengarry Glen Ross

3 stars

Though it’s now best-known as a feature film, Glengarry Glen Ross was originally a Pulitzer-Prize-winning stage play.  This new production, from well-regarded local company Pretty Villain, is a faithful treatment of David Mamet’s script – bringing out its themes of dog-eat-dog competition, and of aggressive masculinity untrammelled by humanity.  Set in a real-estate agency somewhere in Chicago, it charts the corrosive effects of a mercenary culture, where everyone’s job is always on the line and salesmen will stop at nothing to gain an edge on their peers.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Thursday 12 May | Read more

It's Okay, I'm Dealing With It

5 stars

Physical comedy and dance are stupendous companions when they work – and Chess Dillon-Reams and Cristina MacKerron have the energy and the intelligence to make it work here. Their dance is skilled, their timing is spot-on, and their comedy is, well, hilarious. It’s a fantastic mixture.

Review by Bill Parslow published on Thursday 12 May | Read more

Fake Hip Gnosis

4 stars

It’s hard to explain what makes Fake Hip Gnosis so entertaining; partly because its slow-burn humour relies on the mood and the moment, but mainly because explaining anything about the funniest bits would automatically spoil them. Ostensibly a masterclass from an international theatre company – the type of people who perform blatant knob gags, and call them high art – the show soon descends into a farcical parody of self-help hypnosis, with an increasingly colourful cast of characters progressively roped in.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Wednesday 11 May | Read more

Ceyda Tanc Dance

4 stars

Ceyda Tanc’s choreography combines Turkish folk-dance motifs with contemporary forms – a mix that gives a recognisable traditional shape to many of the pieces, echoing old patterns which then metamorphose into a more modern feel. The male preserve of folk dance in Turkey features stomping martial steps and joined arms, designed to show off a male virility; and seeing these movements adapted for female performers, made more sinuous, is both virtuoso in its execution and fascinating to watch. The gentler women’s dances, with their waving arms, are also seen, so these two traditions are melded into something new.

Review by Bill Parslow published on Wednesday 11 May | Read more

Ghost Sex

3 stars

Her name’s Sally, she’s a confident and earnest woman… and she often has sex with ghosts.  What do you mean, you don’t believe her?  Just look at the evidence: the succession of men who’ve disappeared from her life, the number of times she’s woken up to an empty bed.  There’s just one possible explanation, as Sally points out to us: it can only mean that her vanished lovers were actually never there at all.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Wednesday 11 May | Read more

Hip

4 stars

Hip was a sell-out on the night I attended, perhaps because it feeds into our deepest curiosity about the real people who live around us. It’s the story of a building in the centre of Brighton, the woman who moved in to squat there, and the person who lived in it before.

Review by Bill Parslow published on Tuesday 10 May | Read more

Groomed

5 stars

Patrick Sandford’s Groomed addresses an extraordinarily difficult subject – and the fact that it is always watchable, even at its most intense, is a real achievement. Sandford tackles the story of his own abuse by a male teacher intelligently, emotionally and unflinchingly. It helps that he is a very accomplished actor, with a rich voice reminiscent of David Attenborough, and this measured detachment enables an almost forensic unfolding of the arc of his abuse and its impact on his life. At the same time though, you never lose contact with the man on the stage: a warm, feeling, very human being.

Review by Bill Parslow published on Tuesday 10 May | Read more

Adrienne Truscott's Asking For It: A One-Lady Rape About Comedy Starring Her Pussy and Little Else!

4 stars

Adrienne Truscott’s one-person show takes one of society’s taboos – maybe not the last taboo, but a pretty strong one all the same – and faces it unflinchingly, never veering off towards mere safe, tasteful display. Before the Fringe began, someone said to me: “No, I’m not going to see that show; it’s just exhibitionism, she’s naked from the waist downwards”.   And so she is.  But hey, it’s the Fringe; I’m up for a bit of exhibitionism, especially when it’s so masterfully played for laughs, and exploited to make points that a heterosexual male just wouldn’t get around to.

Review by Bill Parslow published on Monday 9 May | Read more

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