Play Time

4 stars (previous review)

Who pushed Charlie off the climbing frame?  A cloak-and-dagger mystery is gripping the local primary school, and erstwhile teacher's pet Elton is firmly in the frame.  He waits now outside the headteacher's office, his dreams of future eminence twisting slowly in the wind.  But he's not alone: another child is with him, a troublemaker whom the goody-two-shoes Elton would normally shun.  Will this odd couple unite in the face of a common enemy?  And more importantly... will Elton ever learn to play?

Review by Richard Stamp originally published at the Vault Festival in 2017 | Read more

We Are Ian

4 stars (previous review)

Ian is a talking lightbulb.

Faceless dancers, with multi-coloured flashing-light shoes, move at individual pace behind a projection screen; only their arms, legs and feet are visible. As they slowly synchronise, we are being transported back to 1989, a time before these performers were even born.

Review by Mike Lee originally published at the Vault Festival in 2017 | Read more

The Elephant Girls

4 stars (previous review)

The Elephant Girls is a one-woman show written and performed by Margo MacDonald. MacDonald plays Maggie Hale, a career criminal and an enforcer for the all-female Forty Elephants gang, which terrorised London for over a hundred years from the late 18th Century until the 1950s. This play takes place in 1937, a decade after the heyday of the Elephants, in a London pub.

Review by Caroline Cawley originally published at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2016 | Read more

James Veitch: Game Face

5 stars (previous review)

Gentle, fresh, entertaining, quirky and very, very funny, I'd happily have stayed through at least another hour of Game Face. James Veitch brings a kind of devious pedantry to the world of comedy. He plays what could be described as pranks – but the kind of pranks that come to fruition when mischievous boys grow up, learn advanced IT skills and develop a sense of irony. For these pranks are imaginative, witty and often hilarious, especially when illustrated by a PowerPoint presentation and some seriously geeky graphs.

Review by Tamarin Fountain originally published at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2016 | Read more

Fake Hip Gnosis

4 stars (previous review)

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 originally published at the Brighton Fringe in 2016 | Read more

Hurricane Michael

4 stars (previous review)

The weather map is hanging there, dominating the back of the stage. If you grew up at the right time, one glance will trigger a sunny glow of nostalgia: a memory of the days when jumpers were in fashion, temperatures were in Fahrenheit, and presenters reminded you to turn off your TV set before you went to bed. One man bestrides the stage in front of the map, poking its symbols, caressing its curves. This man is an icon. This man is Michael Phish.

Review by Richard Stamp originally published at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2016 | Read more

Deep in The Heart of Me

4 stars (previous review)

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 originally published at the Brighton Fringe in 2016 | Read more

BADD

4 stars (previous review)

Resplendent in pastel-pink trouser suit, Pam welcomes us to her seminar.  We're in a church hall, somewhere in small-town America; judging by that suit, it must be the 1980's.  And we're there because we're concerned parents – worried about a godless game that's sweeping the nation's youth.  We're the "good BADD", Pam reassures us… we're Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons.

Review by Richard Stamp originally published at the Vault Festival in 2017 | Read more

I AM BEAST

4 stars (previous review)

Struggling to cope with a devastating loss, Ellie retreats into a fantasy world – imagining herself as superhero Blaze, on a mission to rescue her idol Silver from the clutches of Doctor Oblivion. But what happens when her imagination begins to take control, and crosses over into real life? With I Am Beast, Sparkle and Dark have produced a dazzling theatrical spectacle, with a comic book aesthetic, a tender story, and their trademark life-size puppetry.

Review by Stephen Walker originally published at the Buxton Fringe in 2015 | Read more

The Unknown Soldier

5 stars (previous review)

If there was one thing I was certain we didn't need this Fringe, it was yet another play about World War One.  But this play is different: partly because actor-playwright Ross Ericson was once a serving soldier, and partly because it picks up the story where other scripts leave off.  The imagery you expect is all there – the claustrophobic billet, the hammering rain, the tales of chest-deep mud – but there's something unfamiliar too, something that doesn't quite add up.  So when it finally dawned on me just what this particular soldier was doing in the Somme, the desensiti

Review by Richard Stamp originally published at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2015 | Read more

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