Review: Liz The Musical * (One Star)

Liz The Musical

Musicals and Opera

The Space on North Bridge

Aug 13-18, 20-25

21:05

* (One Star)

The criteria for us to give one star is: atrocious, boring, offensive or didn’t work. Liz the Musical was all of these, It got so bad it was homophobic, racist and mysogsnstic. Clearly, someone thought they could just stick a bunch of poorly crafted crude jokes with some terrible songs and people would appreciate it. That is Liz the Musical

Considering the night before I had seen another musical featuring the powerful woman of the monarchy I was expecting good things. The show featuring a cast of 9 young and overly enthusiastic actors the show tells the story of Queen Elizabeth, her sudden rise to queenship and then the historically famous altercation with King Phillip of Spain. Its an hour long show throwing together cheap gags, songs written in what I can only assume was some teenagers bedroom and a storyline that can be described as hollow at most.

I would really like to find out more about there casting process If they had one at all. I’m assuming most likely this is an amateur production company who have seen which of there friends are available for a month and gave roles based on least to most likely to get through an X Factor audition. The cast has a basic ability to sing, however the songs they have been given where well above any of there vocal abilities. There was a clear feeling of discomfort in the audience when the leads attempted to hit the high notes.

Now for the offensive parts, I’m no prude, all who know me know I love a crude joke and it takes a lot to offend me. This offended on a level I haven’t felt in many years and was reminiscent of my days in the closet. The cheap play of stereotypes was disgusting with the horrible profiling of gay people and the throw about the use of the word faggot made me internally scream. This surrounded by an entire song based on the C word where the cast practically screamed profanities at the crowd. It seems like they put every marginalised category on a piece of paper and asked how can we offend them. I can already hear the cast in unison as they read this review. “There’s a woman in the cast, there are gays in the cast…..”, This is no excuse for there ignorance or there clear disregard for other human beings.

I could forgive the poorly constructed narrative, I could forgive the poor vocals, What I can’t forgive is the downright offensiveness of the show. I can’t stress enough how this show should be missed and put into the history books alongside the attitudes it supports.

Taylor Crockett

Review: SIX ***** (Five Star)

SIX

Musicals and Opera

Underbelly – George Square, Udderbelly

Aug 14-27

Times Vary

***** (Five Star)

Imagine, Henry VIII’s wives get together, form an all-girl pop band and sing about their lives, that is SIX! It came to me as a recommendation from my boyfriend who threatened me with being single if I didn’t take him along to review. This was the first sign that the show was going to be good. My better half being the theatre producer he is, I’ve learned to listen to what he says when it comes to musical theatre.

Written by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss and produced by Global Musicals, the sister company to Perfect Pitch, not to mention accompanied by an all-female band, SIX tells the story of Henry the eights famous and not so famous wives through the eyes of the woman themselves. A powerful hour and fifteen minutes of non-stop foot-tapping music and goosebumps-worthy songs, you are transported into six very narratives each telling the unique stories of the Tudor wives.

OK, full disclosure, at one point I cried, It came from nowhere. In the midst of powerful pop songs, there’s an emotional ballad and I really wasn’t expecting it. I could feel the hairs on the back of my neck stand up as Jane Seymour played by the incredible Natalie Paris, gives a tear-inducing song telling the story of being the only wife he truly loved.

Although that was probably the standout moment for me, every single one of those queens gave a performance to die for (well, lose your head for) and there wasn’t a weak performance in sight. The other five queens are Alexia McIntosh as Anne of Cleves, Millie O’Connell as Anne Boleyn, Jarneia Richard-Noel as Catherine of Aragon, Aimie Atkinson as Catherine Howard and Maiya Quansah-Breed as Catherine Parr all of whom gave incredible performances. By the end, every single member of the audience was on their feet and screaming for an encore – which our ladies in waiting were more than happy to provide! Six is visually beautiful, emotional, powerful, epic and a show that will go down in history as one of theatres finest! This is most definitely not one to miss this Fringe, or on in the west end at the Arts in London.

Taylor Crockett

Review: Zoe Lyons: Entry Level Human ****

Zoe Lyons: Entry Level Human

Comedy (Stand Up)

Guided Balloon (Teviot)

17.45 until 26th August

**** (Four Stars)

As a regular touring the stand-up circuit, and frequenting the Edinburgh Fringe, Zoe Lyons need no introduction, made obvious by her sold out show, she’s appeared in, As seen on Live at the Apollo (BBC Two), Mock the Week (BBC Two), Room 101 (BBC One) and regularly heard on BBC Radio 4’s News Quiz, Just a Minute, The Now Show, to name a few.

Zoe has a fast pace energetic style with a great friendly personality and is known for her razor-sharp wit. She flows through the topics perfectly without any boring or dull moments, bringing you back to various sections of the hour, without repeating but that will have you laughing all over again and you still will be long after you leave.

From travelling, hotels, Brexit and other current news topics, internet connectivity problems and intruder flies, Zoe glides through her routine effortlessly, not to mention the various impressions and practically flawless Glaswegian accent, with every topic relatable.

Entry level human is a show mostly complaining about the annoyances of other people (including herself) and something we can all relate to and of course the message is clear, to think about our actions and have consideration and manners in the world we share.

We have all encountered “Entry Level Humans” and we are also one of them at some or several points in our lives.

Entertaining, hilarious, witty and charming, for a laugh a minute hour, Zoe is impressively funny and one of a kind, she’s not to be missed, the Fringe crowd adore her and you will too.

Susan Clark

Review: LOVE SONG TO LAVENDER MENACE ****

THEATRE

LOVE SONG TO LAVENDER MENACE 

Summerhall (Venue 26)

August 1st to 26th (Not 6,13)

**** (4 Stars)

This is a vibrant and joyous celebration of the LGBT bookshop that opened in Forth Street in Edinburgh in 1982, at the height of the Thatcher period, at the time of the Falklands War, and when Channel 4 was brand new. A very different time.

This was only a short time after the partial decriminalisation of male homosexuality that happened in England and Wales in 1967 had been made legal in Scotland – in 1980. The fears that were so widespread then are emphasised at the opening of this show as we see a young male figure walking, passing the shop, seeing the lights and the books, but fearing to go in, fearing even the names he may be called for loitering near it. This was reality then.

But soon we are in the vital, welcoming environs of the shop itself as shop assistants Glen (Matthew McVarish ) and Lewis (Pierce Reid) prepare to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the opening of the shop. They look back to the opening by Rob and Sigrid in 1982, and they discuss events since that stay in their memory – like a staff member becoming a papier mache orange ( no prizes for guessing which novel this relates to.)

As they argue and discuss they may reconfigure your ideas about such significant writers as James Baldwin and E M Forster. Yet this is no kind of heavy lecture. They reflect on happy times at Fire Island, a club at the time. There is dressing in different guises and dancing. There are the sounds of Jimmy Somerville and others. Plus there is emphasis on what a very positive effect the shop had on LGBT life in the city at that time, and how it no doubt reduced the number of scared walkers in the dark.

Writer James Ley and director Ros Phillips are to be congratulate on this delightful and exhilarating show, presented in association with the Royal Lyceum Theatre, where it has already had a very successful run.

Catch it while you can at this Fringe; it is a bright and enlightening and fun visit to part of our past, and one to be treasured.

Tony Challis

Review: The Johnny Cash Story ****

 

The Johnny Cash Story

Music (storytelling)

The Space @ Symposium Hall

17.00 until 25th August

**** (4 Star)

The Johnny Cash Story takes us through the career of the 18-time Grammy winner. We are introduced to Johnny’s life by a documentary style film played on a projector with Jamie Rodden and his band on the stage in front, the film is paused along the way for us to enjoy Jamie’s tribute to Cash where he talks as if he is Cash, with snippets of his life and performing some of his most loved songs.

The show allows you to enjoy powerful renditions of Folsom Prison, Ring of Fire, Man in Black, Hurt and many more favorites.

I did prefer the parts when Jamie would share parts about Cash’s life rather than the filmed documentary, which let’s face it there are plenty of, but it was still very interesting to learn about the life and times of the American singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor, and author and the video interaction didn’t overtake from this outstanding production.

The audience was filled with everyone from children to fun-loving seniors enjoying every moment of the show, as we were encouraged to sing along the atmosphere was vibrant and had the perfect feel good holiday feel.

Fabulous music, touching, entertaining, and held at an ideal venue, you really can’t go wrong with buying a ticket for this fringe show.

You could enjoy this performance many times over and I believe the group is to be touring with a longer show, and I’m sure the fringe audience would have loved more songs. Jamie and his supporting trio did Jonny Cash proud. Highly recommended for all lovers of music.

Susan Clark

Review: Hamilton (Lewis) **

Musicals and Opera

Hamilton (Lewis)

George Square Studio One

21:30

 ** (Two Star)

 

In the room where it, didn’t happen.

‘Hamilton Lewis’, the parody musical spinoff of Broadway and west end sensation ‘Hamilton’. Kings Head Theatre London has made its mark on the theatre industry as a forefront leader of theatre within the LGBT community, Hamilton: Lewis, although led by a female (name of female) did not make pole position, unlike its other productions, have in the past, this production was let down by the low budget and almost tackiness of the design of the show.

A production which was drowned by the space it took on at Edinburgh struggled to survive, with audio drowning the cast as they struggled to portray the somewhat troubled like of Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton. The production’s designs were potentially one of the most baffling things of the entire performance, for a show which spent less than 10 minutes overall based on a racetrack to be entirely designed around didn’t make much sense, but again I feel like it complemented the low budget of the production.

Fiona English’s book brought together the format of Lin Manuel Maranda’s mastery and the somewhat boring life of Lewis Hamilton, which also make sweeping judgments about both Hamilton and Nicole Scherzinger’s life.

Overall I feel like this production was pulled together last minute in order to try and rival ‘Spamilton’ currently playing at the Menier Chocolate Factory, London. I also believe this piece of theatre was alike the pieces created in GCSE Drama, but sadly should’ve been left in GCSE Drama.

Reviewed by JF

Review: Glamoor! The Kweer Kabaret ****

Drag/cabaret

Glamoor! The Kweer Kabaret

21:00

The Street – Free Fringe!

**** (four stars)

Ladies and gentlemen! We are living in a neo-fascist, neo-dadaist state! And Gender. Is. Dead!’ proclaims Mystika Glamoor, the aptly named host of Glamoor! The Kweer Kabaret, as she opens up her monstrous menagerie of gender illusionists/performance artists. As the mistress of ceremonies’ moniker would suggest, Mystika and her cavalcade of colourful curiosities evoke the mystery, the glamour, and the enchanting excess of the traditional German cabaret of the 20th century. The level of theatricality is not diminished by the intimate milieu of the downstairs section of The Street bar, but actually enhances the magical and, at times, outrageous tapestry woven by its cast and crew throughout the wildly entertaining 60 minute run. Bolstered by a rotating cast of performance artists from a variety of different styles (drag queens, drag kings, and live singers to name a few), The Kweer Kabaret is a multifaceted mosaic of queer artistry which forces its audience to bask in the glow of the weird, the wonderful, and the camp. Drag queens mimic barn animals and offer the illusion of ingesting their own vomit on stage for the audience’s savoury bemusement. Others perform licentious acts on adult sex toys to modern queer anthems, the audience luxuriating in the carnivalesque pageant of paganism which they see before them.

Offering a detour from the long-winding road of slapstick entertainment, there is also entrees into the political; for instance, the night I had the pleasure of seeing the show, a drag king (gracing us with his debut performance) performed a number which concerned Donald Trump’s radicalisation of the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), performed to Foreigner’s rock ballad Cold as Ice. This number is just one example of many which showcase the Kweer Kabaret’s penchant for not only the marvelous and the macabre, but also topical political art which illustrates why, in today’s increasingly intolerant society, spaces of creativity and openness such as this are very much needed as a release from the oppressive Western world we find ourselves inhabiting. Mystika herself closes the show with a hauntingly comedic rendition of Blue Velvet, a welcomingly reserved yet decidedly zany denouement of the Kweer Kabaret.

Mystika and her guests invite the audience into the world queerness and cabaret, a world wherein weirdness and difference are celebrated and tensions and anxieties within culture at large are negotiated via the medium of performance art. Glamoor! The Kweer Kabaret undeniably invites audiences to embrace the weirdo, the freak, and the mysterious glamour inside themselves… but, above all, it appeals to its audience to be one thing: whatever and whoever they want to be.

Jordan Phillips

Review: Colin Cloud: Psycho (Logical) *****

 

Colin Cloud: Psycho (Logical)

Comedy, Magic

Pleasance Courtyard 20:00

Until 27th August, excluding 14th

***** (Five stars)

As seen on the Royal Variety Performance with 2017 & appearing on Michael McIntyre’s Big Show on the BBC as well as ITV’s this morning, Colin Cloud has been making a name for himself by stunning audiences worldwide.

Feeling a little bit skeptical, I watched as selected members of the waiting audience at the Pleasance Grand were given pieces of paper to write down a word and as Cloud’s specialty is mind reading it creates an intrigue in the crowd and a sense of what’s to come.

As the audiences get seated Colin is in a locked glass box on the stage with the keys outside the box but that’s pretty much all I am going to reveal about the content of the show.

Colin has great stage presence and moves quickly between routines, keeping everyone on the edge of their seats. He is full of charisma and confidence while he charmingly shares the secrets of his audience nothing in your mind is safe. Often with magic shows you can think it’s all been set up and the participants preselected but with Colin asking his audience to post a selfie on social media and for friends to comment it allows other people from outside to get involved with no way on knowing before who will take part.

The grand finale is mind-blowing and you will come out believing in magic, mindreading and constantly thinking “how did he do that?”

Impressive, funny, skillful and entertaining this show is not to be missed and I hope he continues to perform at the Edinburgh Fringe.

Susan Clark

Review: THE MAIDS ***

 

THEATRE

THE MAIDS 

Greenside@Infirmary Street. (Venue 236)

August 3 to 11 20.45 & August 13 to 18 23.05

*** Three Stars

This, at fifty five minutes, is a condensed version of the famous play by Jean Genet, the French gay novelist, playwright and polemicist. This is the play of his most often performed, though others, such as The Balcony, have more expansive themes.

In this production from Sudden Impulse Theatre Company, using a translation by Bernard Frechtman, Solange is played by Saul Bache and Claire is played by Sam Bates. These two maids serve Madam ( Louis Hayward). Often the three female characters are played by men, usually in a way that emphasizes the male bodies beneath, as here, where female clothing reveals the male bodies, almost but not quite with full frontal nudity.

It is the maids who are on stage most of the time. Madam here is something of a cameo. They act out loathing and violence. In turns, one maid becomes Madam and beats and abuses the other – very realistically. ( And with Fringe audiences who have little experience of this sort of theatre this may result in much laughter, as was the case when I saw the play.) The two hate Madam enough to want to kill her.

There is loathing of servants pronounced by the pretend Madams, but this loathing may well be interpreted as that of servants qua servants, and as a hatred of the social order. Genet was no friend of the way in which society was organized. There may also be a loathing of the maids’ despised sexuality, as in amongst the stripping and whipping and kicking there is much homoerotic sexual play.

This is a memorable production, of which director Simon N W Winterman should be proud, and the cast definitely give it their all. Saul Bache and Sam Bates are thoroughly involved in their parts and thrust themselves into every line and action.

This is not a show for the faint hearted. It shows us intense mutually dependent relationships, but the sickness of society and perhaps of humanity prevents love being shown in other ways. This is one to see for a truly arresting experience.

Tony Challis

Review: BULGARIANS BUGGERY BROKEBACK AND BEYOND ***

SPOKEN WORD

BULGARIANS BUGGERY BROKEBACK AND BEYOND 

TheSpace @the Surgeon’s Hall (Venue 53)

August 3rd to 24th (not 18th)

*** Three Stars

This is a cheerful and entertaining speedy power-point lecture from Geoffrey Brown, covering the way in which gay male characters have been portrayed on stage and screen over the past hundred years. This is a great deal to cover in fifty minutes, but we get there with some time to spare for questions.

Examples, starting from the early days, appear rapidly on the screen, with a score relating to Geoffrey’s Queerometer, which scores each item according to whether this piece of LGBTQI entertainment still means stereotypes, misery, villains or death. Scores range from 0 to 8. I did not notice anything getting more than an 8.

The focus is almost entirely on gay male material, as Geoffrey says he is only qualified in that area and it provides more than enough to be going on with. When I mentioned Terrence Rattigan at the end I was told that that was a slide that had to go because of lack of time. I expect there were many such slides.

The impression I gained from this talk was the familiar sense of how negative the portrayal of homosexuality in society – in press, academia, religion, psychiatry, as well as in the arts, has been historically, and still is to some extent. Even those plays and films that we see as “our” classics sometimes carry negative messages. Others – like “The Boys in the Band” from the early 70’s – were seen as “achievements” largely because they put three dimensional gays out there in the public realm, but still showed us a pretty neurotic.

The colourful title stems from the focus on what we do together – hence Buggery, and the way our sex lives were almost seen as the whole of us, Bulgarians from a comment attributed to Samuel Goldwyn, Brokeback from that Mountain film, which, as Geoffrey said, is maybe really about bisexuality, and beyond, up to the more positive but not unthreatened present.

This is a humorous and fairly light hearted romp through the years, but as gay villain follows gay villain, gay suicide follows gay suicide, the picture emerges of a society terrified of accepting gays as people with rights to be respected. The message surely is, that those of us at all involved in making gay images, for now, need to respect and cherish our image -, not make our image goody-goody, but make it real and true in all its variety.

Tony Challis