Archive for category Adam Carver
Adam’s favourite 2012 Fringe shows were:
Bourgeois and Maurice: Sugartits (review)
This quirky cabaret double act are a fabulous blend of candy-coated satire and wonderfully witty music. Georgeois Bourgeois and Maurice Maurice offer some late night utterly different comedy combined with a killer aesthetic, and brilliant songs. They are definitely worth catching whilst you’re up here!
A Clockwork Orange (review)
Action to the World’s electrically charged production of A Clockwork Orange is incredible. It’s an all male cast of 10 incredibly attractive actors in the most homo-erotic staging of a dark, iconic classic – what more could you ask for?
Jonny Woo: Wonder Woo-Man (review)
Woo’s take on drag is irreverent, jaded and fantastic. It’s an hour of autobiographical entertainment and was an absolutely fantastic and completely unexpected performance. For me, this kind of thing is what Edinburgh’s all about.
Four teenage lads sit in an airport departure lounge waiting for their delayed flight back to the UK. This is the set up for Dougal Irvine’s musical Departure Lounge. Hardly the most dynamic of settings for a musical however Departure Lounge turns out to be a brilliantly funny and well scored coming of age story about the euro-holiday that is now a rite-of-passage for all sixth form leavers before attending university; It’s ‘Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents the Musical.
Glenn Adamson, Jamie Barnard, Michael Fletcher, and Joshua Meredith as the four likely-lads, returning from a week of sex, binge drinking and late nights, make for a wonderful team. Their friendship is utterly credible and their stage presence together is electric. Hayley Hampson as holiday romance Sophie is hilariously stereotypical and delivers each song with her fantastic vocals. They deliver a series of catchy pop driven numbers with an unrivalled energy and exquisite harmonies including a fantastic song asking ‘Why do we say gay?’ – apparently it’s because ‘wanker’s to passé’. This song introduces a coming out story for Jordan which is sensitively played by Jamie Barnard. It’s utterly refreshing to see such an earnest treatment of a coming-out story in the modern musical.
The musical is at it’s strongest when sending up teen binge drinking culture and the ‘Brits on tour’ holiday mentality. However, there are several moments where the musical tries to become serious and gives it’s relatively two-dimensional characters superfluous and under-developed back stories. The cast do their best to handle these moments but they seem to stick out and slow the piece down rather than deepen it. Regardless of these times it’s a great piece of musical theatre with five fantastic performances and some wonderful staging.
Ex-anaesthetist turned comedian Adam Kay combines dead-pan stand up with witty rewrites of familiar songs which he plays live on a white baby grand piano. Kay mixes observations on life with autobiographical humour covering his sexuality through to spinal surgery. Kay’s entertaining, crude, and witty brand of musical humour is probably best known for his ‘London Underground’ parody song which went viral a few years ago.
Kay is not the best of singers but his skill with lyrics is top notch. His show is littered with self-deprecating humour and well delivered anecdotes including the time he accidentally called his history teacher ‘Dad’ during sex. Yes it’s crude and that can be really funny however there are times in Kay’s show where he seems to be saying things purely for shock value. Unfortunately it isn’t shocking enough to deliver those kind of laughs.
Kay’s a very intelligent comedian but the best moments in his comedy come when he really manipulates a lyric and with it the audience’s expectations and these moments are not regular enough to sustain a whole hour of comedy.
Locked In is a one man play written and performed by Peter Scott-Presland. Adapted from the diaries of neo-realist painter Kenneth Vaughan it is an intimate insight into the life, love, sexuality and mind of a great an under-celebrated artist.
Unfortunately Peter Scott-Presland’s play left me a little cold. There are some moments of light and shade in the script but for the most part it remains a little too constant and flat which stops it from fully engaging its audience. What Scott-Presland captures well in both his text and performance is the absolute solitude of a man who constantly reminisces about the few brief and uneventful romantic affairs with younger men that have punctuated his life. However, Locked In smacks of trying too hard to be moving or profound. The end is poignant and sad, particularly when we are shown an imprint of the final page of Vaughan’s diary, but it isn’t as heartbreaking as it makes out to be.
However Locked In is doing something important in that it is making its audience aware of the life and work of a gay artist of prodigious talent who’s work would quite probably go uncelebrated with it. I just wonder if there are better and more engaging ways of doing that than this.
Greeted by a host of white polo-shirt clad men with a cheery ‘welcome to Buttlands’ Hi-de-homo, presented by the London Gay Men’s Chorus Ensemble, is exactly what you would imagine. Full of campy, bitchy humour, plenty smutty puns and some wonderful close harmony singing Hi-de-homo is a thoroughly enjoyable hour of entertainment.
The chorus performs a wide variety of music with a mix of some camp classics such as ‘Fame’ and more recent numbers such as Mika’s ‘Happy Ending’. They also draw from the contemporary musical theatre repertoire with numbers like ‘Show Off’ (The Drowsy Chaperone) and ‘Hear My Song’ (Songs for a New World) being personal favourites. Together they create the wonderful rich sound that only male close harmony singing can bring and the harmonies and routines are tight and slick.
During last night’s performance one member of the audience when asked to go and sit with his friend on the stage for one number snatched his arm away from the compere and stormed out the theatre. I have to question what he expected when going to see a show entitled Hi-de-homo?! The company handled this unexpected drama so professionally entirely ignoring the incident and moving on with show. Accordingly the audience went wild as they did for every number.
The storyline is expectedly weak and occasionally the dialogue is a little cringey. Nonetheless this is a great show, although apparently not to everyone’s tastes, delivering everything you would expect and more and is bound to be a sell-out during its limited run!
Peter Panic is a dark and profoundly chilling piece of new writing from James Baldwin. Set in a dystopian London the play elegantly captures the anxieties of contemporary society; exploring violence, population, childhood and civil unrest. It is a world based on Peter Pan where the lost boys are children abandoned by the state and pirates are extremists’ hell-bend on killing Wendy’s husband, Stephen the Prime minister.
Richard Popple as Stephen captures the essence of a political figure in distress and delivers a strong and detailed performance. Similarly Jack Johns as Peter is magnetic, both disturbing and endearing in equal measure. The real star of the play, however, is James Baldwin’s script which is almost poetic in its economic free verse. His dialogue perfectly captures both the childlike nature of Wendy and Peter but also the violence and unease of the setting without being over written. He is a prodigious talent in new writing and will definitely be one to watch.
As the play draws to its chilling conclusion the audience are silent pulled along with the dark and gruesome story that Peter brings in with him through the open window. With the nation so united in a post-olympic community feeling Peter Panic’s country united in unrest and anger is all too easy to imagine. This is a wonderful, dark piece of new writing whose questions linger in the mind long after leaving the theatre.
Gilbert & Sullivan in Briefs attempts to go where no performance has gone before and perform all fourteen of their operettas – which is an enormous feat considering one of the scores has been lost forever! Direct from New York, it’s a very American treatment of a distinctly British art form, but is a must see for anyone with an interest in G&S.
The company of four represent each of the four stock G&S characters: the leading young tenor, the soprano ingenue, the patter-song comedic baritone, and the mezzo ‘of a certain age’ character role. They devote four minutes to each operetta which includes a wonderful medley of every single song in the Mikado. Each performer is an exceptional singer and they hilariously and beautifully deliver each song (and all thirteen surviving finales!).
Gilbert & Sullivan in Briefs’ greatest success is that they are fully prepared to embrace the ridiculous nature of G&S and inject it with the comedy needed to make the operettas work for a modern audience. Although if you were expecting Gilbert & Sullivan to be staged in briefs you might be disappointed – underwear only make an appearance once on the stage! Nonetheless this is an hour of great musical fun and is regularly greeted by cheers from its audience, myself included.
Australian beat-boxer Tom Thum is a man with an exceptional talent. It is impossible to believe that what you are hearing is coming from one man’s voice. Thum is a master of this unusual art making not just beats but brass, strings and reeds with just the unfathomable ability of his larynx.
Using just a microphone and a mixing desk to record and loop his own vocals, accompaniments and sound effects the show is an hour of music which draws its inspiration from hip-hop, drum ‘n’ bass, acoustic, and world music. There is no denying that thum is at the top of his game and a musician of immense skill, and as a host is charming. But after the initial impact of his beat-boxing prowess the show can become a little repetitive and maybe an hour of solo-work is too long. When he brings out an acoustic singer-songwriter his skill takes on another dimension, but this moment is all two brief.
Beating The Habit is one of the most unusual performances I have ever seen and Tom Thum is an undeniable talent. Although it is perhaps too long, it is undeniably brilliant and worth seeing purely because it is so utterly different.
Built for Two, presented by Somebody’s Theatre, is an intimate bathroom sink drama which is instantly familiar to anyone who has ever lived in a shared house. Four friends – Peter, Julie, Andrew, and Liz – are getting ready for a night out to celebrate Julie’s Birthday but it soon becomes very clear that these ‘friends’ share more than just a bathroom.
What starts as a student lifestyle situation comedy rapidly moves into quite an emotional exploration of adultery and misplaced love. It’s well performed by four actors who create instantly familiar characters. Particularly Stuart Gresham as Andrew who exudes laddish charm and captures and Kate Butler as Liz who gives a strong emotional performance.
There is a great deal of potential in Built for Two however the script feels a little over written and is occasionally a bit clunky and the lack of resolution in the plot is a little frustrating as we only start to care about these characters towards the end of the play. Nonetheless Built for Two is a funny and tender drama which displays a great deal of potential.
Georgeois Bourgeois and Maurice Maurice are a wonderfully comedic musical cabaret act who ask all the important questions such as ‘what happened to Rick Moranis?’. They ooze charisma as they sing and narrate their way through an hour of androgynous irreverent neo-cabaret comedy. Working by their own definitions of Cabaret they are a fantastically witty pairing delivering a biting, sugar-coated satire of middle-class anxieties.
The evening of entirely original music is rife with catchy, well written melodies which explore the ‘tropical optimism’ of Sarah Palin, global warming, emotional distance, the eroticism of taxes, social media, and the phone-hacking scandal to name a few. Ending the show with a wonderful number which is both hilarious and cuttingly satirical saying ‘it’s OK to be gay, but don’t be disabled… it’s OK to black but don’t be foreign’.
Complete with extravagantly detailed costumes, heels and false eye-lashes Bourgeois & Maurice are an incredibly talented and gracious pairing of cosmic performers aiming to ‘turn the ozone layer into vintage lace’ and taking Edinburgh by storm whilst doing so. An absolute must-see.
Bat Boy is a kitsch, campy, mock-horror musical from American composer Laurence O’Keefe, of Legally Blonde fame, which tells the story of Edgar the half boy half bat who is found in near a small American town. Durham University Light Operatic Group’s minimal staging of this musical proves to be a two-hour (rather than the advertised one hour) romp which although a little baffling was highly entertaining.
The music is for the most part catchy and well written and the cast use it to their advantage creating an electric ensemble sound with some fantastic solo work. The principal cast are generally strong and their excellent vocals easily match the demands of the score. Hannah Davenport as Meredith and Simon Lynch as Dr. Parker are a wonderful pairing of exceptionally talented vocalists who give powerful performances. Joe Leather as the titular bat boy, Edgar, is a pleasure to watch and is utterly endearing in his impassioned performance.
I must confess that at one point I thought I had temporarily gone mad when the company filled the stage dressed as animals and Pan, the Greek god of nature, appeared – it really must be seen to be believed. Additionally although the show was funny it needed to be more kitsch, more tongue in cheek to achieve its full comedic potential. But for a musical whose plot features incestuous twins, bestiality, characters in drag, some suspect thriller-esque choreography, and a lot of mock-horror bloodshed Bat Boy was wonderfully entertaining.
Facehunters is a new musical by Hungry Bitches Productions which can best be described as ‘We Will Rock You’ meets ‘The Portrait of Dorian Gray‘. Set in modern day hipster-centric east London with a lesbian love triangle conceptually Facehunters shouldn’t work but surprisingly turns out to be a really entertaining and excellently staged piece of new writing.
The score is an infectious blend of synth techno Gaga-esque pop tunes which really tap into the contemporary sound of east-London and are delivered by a powerful, large cast of contemporary vocalists. The satire of the east-London scene is painfully accurate from the tie-die self studded t-shirts to the velvet cover Doc Marten’s boots. It is these moments of parody in which Facehunters is at its best. The ensemble is fantastically energetic and relentlessly delivers an explosive performance of some intricate and well staged choreography. There are some fantastic performances from the principal cast and matching cameos from the ensemble including a leopard-print haired drug dealer who is reminiscent of male Grace Jones.
The script and storyline, although very loosely based on Wilde’s classic, are a little blatant but the tongue in cheek satire of the piece poses some valid questions about vanity, youth, identity and the fickle nature of fashion. Facehunters is a fast-paced, clever, catchy, and dynamic piece of new musical theatre from a young and exciting company and is definitely worth checking out.
A musical about spelling is admittedly an unusual concept for a musical however Patch of Blue Theatre prove what a wonderful basis it can be! William Finn’s relatively new musical was a smash on Broadway, last year in London, and is now having a similar effect here in Edinburgh. This fully immersive ensemble staging of the show is a comedic treat and far surpassed my expectations.
The cast of 10 young actors perfectly capture the essence of this wonderful and bizarre American tradition the Spelling Bee squeezing each moment for comedy and engaging the audience with rare skill. The actors are joined by three unsuspecting audience members who also take-part in the bee to great comic effect. What’s most impressive is just how developed and intelligent each of the actors portrayals are particularly Janette McManus as Logaine Schwartzandgrubenierre, complete with two gay dads in tow, delivers a wonderful and utterly charming performance. Similarly Tom Mackley as William Barfee, Ross Cobbold as Leaf Coneybear, and Josh Dowen as Chip Tolentino each give wonderful comic performances which are uproariously rich with wit and presence.
This hour and a half long performance is a masterclass in how to stage a musical at the fringe. Although there are a few minor flaws, at times the choreography leaves a little to be desired, I defy anyone to see this show and not fully enjoy every single minute of it! The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is without a doubt the best musical I have seen at this year’s fringe and absolutely deserves the high praise it is receiving.
‘Life’s a Cabaret, unless you’re homeless’ crows Bernie St. Clair one of Cabaret Whore Sarah Louise Young’s three characters in this remarkable hour of musical storytelling. Returning to the Fringe again this year Cabaret Whore: Her Finest Hour is a celebration of some previous characters and some new incarnations each one more entertaining than the last.
What is so remarkable about Young’s performance is not just the intelligence of her writing, or the absolute power she has over the audience, but her vocal ability to emulate what seems to be any style with flawless perfection. Moving from country singer Sammy Mavis Jr, to ‘Diva of a certain age’ Bernie St Clair it is as if we are watching two different singers. as Ms. St. Clair, Young appears like an inspired cross between Carol Channing and Liza Minelli and vocally combines the qualities and characteristics of Ethel Merman, Judy Garland, and Elaine Paige. But the jewel in the Cabaret Whore crown is her latest and final character the jilted best friend of Edith Piaf la Poule aka ‘The Frumpy Pigeon’ and parodies the great Piaf perfectly.
Cabaret Whore: Her Finest Hour is a fabulous evening of perfectly timed, intelligent musical comedy. It is relentlessly funny and exquisitely delivered, I didn’t want it to end.
Direct from down under and returning for its second year at the Fringe Briefs is all all male sexy neo-drag burlesque show offering a distinctly different evening of variety. Covering just about everything from plate spinning, to strong men, to a drag queen with hula-hooping skills to rival those of Grace Jones “it’s a little bit of butch, with a fuck load of camp on the side”.
As you would imagine from a show called Briefs the men very quickly strip down from suits to their briefs, and less in some cases. featuring the tightest tuck I have ever seen it’s a thoroughly pleasurable experience which has the audience screaming for more. Structurally it’s very simple; each act is introduced by the host and they impress every time. Johnny Domino’s strong man act is potentially the most impressive. Entering the stage dressed as the sexiest postman I have ever seen his strong man routine includes rolling up a frying pan, carrying two drag queens on a steel bar and bending an iron bar with the sheer power of his buttocks.
Despite the immeasurable amount of talent these men have the show itself seems to have a little too much filler which is particularly frustrating when the quality of the performances is so high and the hosting is a little sloppy. Nonetheless it’s a fantastic night of vegas-style showboys, circus, gymnastics, entertainment and stripping which, for the most part, is an iridescent wet-dream. Go along, prepare for a generous measure of muscle, and whatever you do make sure you buy a raffle ticket – you’ll thank me later!
Boy in a Dress is an intimate auto-biographical three hander written by and starring La JohnJoseph alongside Erin Hutching & Stephen Quinn. The piece explores ‘third-gendered renegade’ La JohnJoseph’s life from dysfunctional Liverpool council estate childhood to the hedonistic New York club scene. It is a crucible of philosophy, music, vaudeville, and performance art and is refreshingly original.
The script is intelligently written and references broadly from Foucault to RuPaul – ‘You’re born naked, and the rest is drag’. It’s an intense and frank exploration of feminist theory, gender politics and acceptance, or the lack thereof. It is fascinatingly theatrical using song, movement, strip, and costume to move anachronistically through La JohnJoseph’s life story. The piece blurs the lines between theatrical work and performance art seeming at times more like an installation performance which is rife with both evocative and challenging visual imagery. A scene using UV light to reveal hidden graffiti all over the performance space being particularly memorable.
La JohnJoseph, named after the pope, is a most unusual performer. He appears disconnected from her own story which is utterly fascinating to watch. It offers a bleak and detached poignancy but can at times read as nonchalance which unfortunately stops the audience from always engaging with the subject matter.
Boy in a Dress is a unique exploration of gender, it’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch meets council estate Liverpool meets high art in a unique fusion of performance and makes for compelling theatre.
Sweeney Todd is a musical thriller set in Victorian London with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim. It is menacing, bloody, tense, and beautifully scored – or at least it is supposed to be. Unfortunately The Lincoln Company’s condensed staging leaves a lot to be desired.
Cuts to the book and score have inevitably had to be made in order to squeeze what is usually a 3 hour epic into an hour and a half but along with the dialogue and score the drama and menace seem to have also been lost. The chorus are underused in this production and sadly misused when on stage – they perform ‘The Ballad of Sweeney Todd’ with gusto but there is no threat, no tension. Part of the problem lies in the set which could be drastically improved by the removal of several multi purpose painted flats at the back of the stage which give the production a distinctly amateur look. It’s a shame because the scenes are clearly and interestingly staged by director Gemma Smart and would work just as well without them.
Dean Graham as Sweeney Todd is satisfyingly dark and broody commanding the stage in skin-tight black jeans, waistcoat, multiple belts and trench coat and superbly performs Sweeney’s plight. Similarly Amy Szypusz as Tobias is thoroughly endearing. There are some fine performances in this Sweeney but for others in the cast the music is too difficult and doesn’t sit comfortably with them. It is a shame to see what could be a fine company not as ease with what they are performing and the result is, rather unfortunately, not the best.
Morning is a dark and provocative story which explores the lives of two friends at their coming of age. It is fragmented, childlike, and at times confusing but utterly transfixing.
The stage is bare, an enormous industrial space with only a few pieces of a set: a computer, a metal cage-like shed covered in plastic sheeting, a fridge and a tank of water. The action primarily follows Stephanie, beautifully played by Scarlet Billham, and her relationships with boyfriend Stephen (Ted Reilly), friend Anna (Korein Brown), and an act of violence which will bind them all. Stephen’s script is wonderfully written both natural and theatrical at the same time. The seven strong cast of young actors from the Lyric Hammersmith’s ‘Lyric Young Company’ are exceptionally talented, they each understand their characters and deliver performances with depth and integrity.
The real stars of this production however, rather unusually, come from behind the scenes. Hyemi Shin’s design is beautiful, simple and elegant and serves the production flawlessly creating a challenging and striking performance space. Similarly Charles Balfour’s lighting design perfectly compliments the text and Shin’s design providing some visually stunning moments. The inclusion of live electronic music by Michael Czepiel, who also plays Mikey, is also inspired and lifts the performance to new levels.
This is a challenging and highly original piece of theatre which questions the extent one person will go to keep her friend from leaving. But it is more than this, Stephen’s text raises questions which resonate with the audience long after leaving the theatre. Visually striking and beautiful it is a piece worthy of the praise it is receiving.
Assassins is a rarely performed musical gem by Stephen Sondheim which satirically explores the lives and minds of the nine people who attempted to kill the president of the United States of America. TwoSquared deliver a wonderful and intimate staging of a challenging and vital piece of musical theatre which questions what it takes to kill a man and, most importantly, be remembered.
It is refreshing to see a full 8 piece band who support a wonderful cast of 16. We enter to a room full of FBI styled actors and Tom Collins as an unnervingly sinister Proprietor and from this moment onwards the audience are transported into the world of the Assassins. Jimi Mitchell’s direction is consistently inventive and brilliant, each number is staged with class and brings Sondheim’s wonderful score to life perfectly. Each of the 9 assassins gives a fine performance which wonderfully balance both the musical’s wit and darkness perfectly. Hamish Colville as John Wilkes Booth is a commanding presence onstage and gives an earnest performance which is matched by his rich baritone voice. Similarly Sarah McGuinness as Sarah Jane Moore is impossible not to watch in her hilarious performance.
This is not just a musical which showcases it’s principals however, each member of the chorus gets their time to shine and their 11 o’clock number ‘Something Just Broke’ is close to musical perfection. Sometimes the actors are a little quiet which is sad because the audience hang on their every word and if you’re over 6ft I would advise getting an aisle seat. Assassins is a beautiful show which is elegantly performed by TwoSquared and left me questioning why this musical isn’t performed more regularly!
Sex, Drugs, and Vaudeville is a dark, debaucherous, and seedy hour of hilariously filthy Cabaret. It’s confrontational, in your face and utterly fabulous. Set by candlelight in The Sapphire Rooms (a gentlemen’s club) it is the perfect setting for Joe Black’s unique brand of absurd, dark, and deliciously witty music.
Aesthetically Black is fantastic treading the fine line between pantomime villain and artiste perfectly. His hour long performance is best described a decadent mix of Adele, Marilyn Manson, and Sharon Needles and is twisted and perfect. His bizarre gravelly tones fill the intimate setting with a combination of songs of his own writing, which range from anal sex to cannibalism and everything in-between, and reworked covers of classics. His ‘Jolene’ is at once haunting and mesmerising. Furthermore he is a brilliant musician alternating between piano, accordion and ukelele with ease.
A Fringe newcomer, Black deserves to be selling out nightly. His show is like nothing I have ever encountered before – it is absurd, terrifying, and brilliantly original and I desperately want to go again, and again. If this is the future of modern British cabaret then I am 100% behind it. Go, order yourself a large gin, take a seat, and be taken on a musical journey you hadn’t even dreamed was possible.
A naked man enters the stage, he passes a cloth over his muscular body and winces with pain. Each of his movements are laboured and difficult, he limps, it is painful to watch. In the first silent, five minutes of Steven Dawson’s Monstrous Acts we witness two men masturbate and a brutal rape. The audience are deathly silent, devastated by what’s happening on stage. Finally they speak and what unfolds is a simultaneously tender and harrowing story of two men in jail, both sentenced to death, forced together who eventually fall in love before their inevitable fate is delivered.
Mathew Gelsumini as unjustly imprisoned Sebastian Richet gives an exquisite and sensitive performance of a man who is both physically and figuratively stripped down to nothing. His performance is all the more heartbreaking set against Kevin Dee’s tortured Gilles De Rais. Dee captures the essence of a broken man clasped by guilt for the ‘monstrous acts’ he has committed. Their scenes together are tender and passionate creating an intensity which fits beautifully into the intimate setting of the theatre. At the end of the play when we learn of the atrocious crimes Gilles has committed, the pain and tension that permeates through the audience is almost audible.
This challenging work is at times difficult to watch and the albeit slow pace of the scenes brings with it an almost painful sense of the play’s impending brutal conclusion. It is a difficult but fascinating work which successfully questions love, morality, and redemption through two brilliant performances.
Streets: The Musical is a new piece of writing from young Scottish writer/composer Finn Anderson. It tells the story of the lives of twelve people living on and around a council estate and their struggles with money, drugs, sex, and alcohol. Describing itself as ‘gritty, fast-paced, and hard hitting’ Streets is sadly about as edgy as a bouncy ball.
It feels like a bad episode of Eastenders and reads more like a check list for angsty teen drama than anything with real substance: sex, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, domestic violence, alcoholism, unemployment, and depression all feature. The main issue with the show is that the treatment of each of these themes is superficial, clichéd, and seems to almost pastiche the groundbreaking work that other modern musicals have done. The music itself is dubious. Although Anderson has an great skill for harmony there are too many songs which don’t really go anywhere and are unfortunately unmemorable and derivative.
But, this is an incredibly young company brimming with talent and potential. To be able to write, create, stage, and perform a show and bring it here at such a young age is a terrific achievement. Rosemary Stanford as wayward mother Joni shines, delivering a performance that carries with it a wisdom way beyond her years and exudes star quality alongside her exceptional vocals.
Streets does have its merits but they are few and far between. It is a show that smacks of trying to hard to be ‘gritty’ but is doesn’t fully understand the subjects it addresses.
Posted by andrealockes in 3 stars, Adam Carver, Somewhere Under the Rainbow: The Liza Minnelli Story, theSpace on August 7, 2012
Sharon Sexton’s hour long one woman show is a detailed and intimate portrait of one of the world’s most famous gay icons, Liza Minnelli, and her life ‘under the rainbow’ of her mother, Judy Garland. It spans from her childhood, to Tony Award, to Cabaret, to shortly after her mother’s tragic death.
There are flashes of the real Liza throughout Sexton’s performance and from certain angles it is near impossible to tell the two apart. Similarly she emulates Minnelli’s vocal mannerisms flawlessly with each emphasis and stress exactly correct. If a criticism of Ms Sexton’s performance is to be made it’s that she falls into the trap that many Minnelli impersonators do in that she is too good a singer. Her vocals are wonderfully rich and powerful but they are superior to those of Liza.
Sexton intersperses Minnelli’s life story with appropriately chosen broadway standards including ‘Some People’ and ‘Maybe This Time’. The pinnacle of her performance is a touching and beautiful rendition of ‘Losing My Mind’ (a song Minnelli made famous with the Pet Shop Boys). We watch a woman break; it is a tender and devastating moment which has the audience transfixed. This is what the audience have come to see – the Diva battling through her pain and performing and still delivering.
Although occasionally the intimacy of the performance is lost in theSpace@ Symposium Hall, which is not an ideal setting for this piece, Somewhere Under The Rainbow is a charming and thoroughly enjoyable hour of diva worship and a must-see for any Liza fans.
It would be very easy to dismiss Lashing’s of Ginger Beer Time‘s ‘queer feminist burlesque show Alternative Sex Education as badly staged and averagely performed. I have to admit that upon entering The Bongo Club I was both terrified and a little awkward about what I was watching. However, almost against my will, I actually ended up thoroughly enjoying the one hour show. Most importantly I was left with the overwhelming sentiment that something needed to be done about LGBT ‘SexEd’ in our schools – which was, of course, the show’s aim.
Through song, readings, enactment, and several very personal life accounts Alternative Sex Education is an irreverent, humorous and impassioned campaign for an all encompassing queer embracive curriculum. The performance is littered with contemporary pop culture references including a wonderful ten minutes devoted to deconstructing gender roles and LGBT characters in The Lord of The Rings, Doctor Who, Harry Potter, Buffy, and an unexpectedly brilliant ‘Bad Romance’ parody of Twilight.
What is clear to the audience is that each person on that stage has suffered and is contagiously passionate about changing the lives of future generations of LGBT children in the UK. I must confess to having a small, unexpected epiphany realising that its taken me far beyond my school years to even start to understand the mental minefield of gender and sexuality and to question why this wasn’t available to me as a confused pubescent gay teenager.
As a performance alone Alternative Sex Education isn’t going to win any prizes but for all its flaws it really addresses some huge and vital issues for the LGBT community. It is worth seeing purely on the off chance that you, like I, may come to the realisation that actually things do need to change (if you haven’t already). Aside from that it really is an enjoyable hour of Cabaret from which you have very little to lose (£6.50-£9.50) and potentially a great deal to gain.
‘This is the modern world – sick, sick, mortally sick’. This is the world of Action to the World’s A Clockwork Orange which explodes horrifically onto the pleasance stage. Returning for its second year in Edinburgh A Clockwork Orange delivers an immeasurable performance of disenfranchised youth that is painfully current for a post 2011 riots Britain.
This all male staging is charged with an electric homo-erotic violence which surges the action forwards to its harrowing conclusion. The choreography is less expressive movement and more a release of pent-up sexual frustration and blood lust which flows throughout the piece. Each of the 9 actors are both talented and terrifyingly beautiful in equal measure. They dominate the space lead by the incomparable Martin McCreadie as tortured adonis Alex DeLarge who is more classical statue than 15 year old and oozes malevolent charm and an aggressive sexuality that is frightfully magnetic. Stephen Spencer, playing Dim, the Minister of the Interior, and Alex’s father, is also fantastic, utterly transforming himself for each role. He is at once measured and irrational, placid and volatile, and a pleasure to watch.
Once or twice the power, precision, and impact of the play’s musical sequences leave the scenes a little flat but this is rare and brief moment in a performance which intensely burns with sickening beauty. A visceral, violent, sexual, steamroller of a production which does more than full justice to the mastery of Anthony Burgess’s text and Stanley Kubrick’s film. It is indeed ‘real horror-show’.