August 26, 2009
I’m always amazed how many people in Edinburgh in August see nothing but comedy – in fact, if I’m honest, it makes me really angry! (I haven’t had much sleep and am easily riled just now – you’ve been warned.) But, of course, the flipside hazard applies to theatregoers who, desperate to see as many plays and musicals as possible, stand up the comedians entirely.
That’s a shame, too, given the Edinburgh Fringe represents one of the world’s greatest concentrations of comic talents of all descriptions. (Though, if we’re going by the Edinburgh Comedy Awards shortlists, announced today, that doesn’t include women.) Read more
August 20, 2009
At yesterday’s event at George 3 to announce the shortlists in this year’s Musical Theatre Matters: UK Awards, an interesting debate kicked off about naming rights, or rather choosing the right name. Does adding ‘the musical’, with or without a hyphen or colon, devalue a show? More than one attendee felt strongly that it did; ‘the musical’ addendum, they said, acts as a turn-off for many people, and often signifies a send-up.
Does that mean ‘the musical’ as an artform still isn’t taken seriously enough? That the very use of the word is somehow an insult? Producer Richard Jordan, one of my fellow judges in the MTM Awards, who was also speaking at yesterday’s event, noted how often people say things to him like “West Side Story is a musical for people who don’t like musicals”, though they’d never dream of saying “Hamlet, that’s a play for people who don’t like tragedies”. Quite. Read more
August 18, 2009
I felt Edinburgh-ed out before I even got to Edinburgh last night. What with dealing with all the hassles of commissioning, allocating, editing etc 100+ reviews. It felt especially bizarre that, having gone cross-eyed looking at so many spreadsheet schedules for others, I stepped off the train with nine days stretching out ahead of me, having not a clue what my own schedule would be.
Well, except for my meeting first thing this morning, which was with the organisers – and other judges – of the Musical Theatre Matters Awards, which Whatsonstage.com is sponsoring (and, as a result, I’m a judge). We received the shortlist. I can’t tell you much about it – it’s embargoed until the official announcement at mid-day tomorrow so do check back then in news – except to say that there are 11 productions on it, we have just under a week to see them and many are in clashing time slots. Yikes. Read more
August 7, 2009
Last night, Michael Coveney and I had a drink at the bar of the Tricycle Theatre following the press performance of the London premiere of Simon Stephens’ Pornography. Afterwards, Michael was going home to pack for his train to Edinburgh and I was going home to load some more content to this Festival site of ours – so we both had Edinburgh on the brains.
We weren’t the only ones either. Pornography had its UK premiere at last year’s Fringe as part of the programme at the Traverse Theatre, where this year Simon Stephens’ Sea Wall is running. In fact, Simon – who Michael and I also chatted to in the Tricycle bar last night – had to more than run to catch up as Sea Wall’s press performance was this morning at 11.15am at the Traverse. He was hopping a plane rather than train to get him north of the border in time this morning. Read more
July 25, 2009
For the 2009 Edinburgh Festival, we’ve appointed a collective of more than a dozen bloggers to give you a broad, insightful and highly entertaining perspective on life on this year’s festival frontline.
- BABA BRINKMAN – Baba is a rapper and performer returning to the Fringe for the fifth time. His previous Fringe hits include The Rap Guide to the Canterbury Tale and The Rebel Cell. This year, he’s reviving The Rebel Cell (Underbelly’s Hullabaloo, 7-31 Aug) and also presenting his new show The Rap Guide to Evolution (Gilded Balloon, 8-31 Aug). Both are being produced by the team behind Fringe and West End hit Into the Hoods.
>>Click here for Baba’s blogs
- COLIN HOULT – An acclaimed writer-performer who recently appeared in Al Murray’s Multiple Personality Disorder (ITV1) and the play Pete and Dud: Come Again (West End), Colin makes his Fringe solo debut with Carnival of Monsters (Pleasance Courtyard, 8-31 Aug). The new show – combining theatre, comedy and storytelling to evoke a strange twilight world of inimitable creations – follows sell-out runs for Colin as one half of comedy double act Colin & Fergus, and last year’s action-terror-comedy-adventure Zimbani. (What’s more, Fergus of Colin & Fergus is also blogging for us this year about his solo debut – scroll down…)
>>Click here for Colin’s blogs
- CHRIS GRADY – Chris was undoubtedly our most prolific and committed blogger from Edinburgh 2008 so we begged him to return this year. When not blogging, he’s the programme director for the Musical Theatre at George Square, working closely with the University of Edinburgh and Pleasance Theatres. The three-auditoria venue, now in its second year, is the first space dedicated totally to musicals at the Edinburgh Fringe. Grady is also the founding chair of the professional theatre network organisation Musical Theatre Matters, which runs the Musical Theatre Matters Awards. Now in their third year – and sponsored by Whatsonstage.com – the MTM:UK Awards are the only prize-giving specifically dedicated to the musical genre at the world’s largest arts festival. Click here to read our recent festival countdown interview with Chris, and visit the theatre’s listings page for further details about the George Square programme.
>>Click here for Chris’ blogs
- EDMUND DIGBY-JONES – Another Fringe alumnus, Edmund is appearing this year in the world premiere of The Play About Charlotte (C soco, 7-31 Aug), care of Dark Horse Theatre. Set in 1968, Hannah C Patterson’s play revolves around the gifted Cathy, whose battle with mental illness is alleviated only by her close friend and muse Charlotte. Edmund has patented his technique for flyering on the Royal Mile…
>>Click here for Edmund’s blogs
- FERGUS CRAIG – The winner of the Hackney Empire New Act of the Year 2009 award and star of Channel 4’s hit comedy Star Stories admits to still watching Neighbours and happily takes audiences on a very personal guided tour around Ramsey Street in his new solo show Carnival of Monsters (Pleasance Courtyard, 8-31 Aug). The new show follows sell-out runs for Colin as one half of comedy double act Colin & Fergus, and last year’s action-terror-comedy-adventure Zimbani. (What’s more, Colin of Colin & Fergus is also blogging for us this year about his solo debut – see above…)
>>Click here for Fergus’ blogs
- HANNAH SPENS-BLACK – Hannah hasn’t let the fact that she’s an Edinburgh virgin daunt her from mounting four new productions with her Tangram Theatre Company (www.tangramtheatre.co.uk): Almost 10 (Pleasance Courtyard, 8-31 Aug), Art House (Zoo, 8-31 Aug), F**ked (Assembly @ George Street, 8-31 Aug) and The Origin of the Species (Pleasance Courtyard, 7-31 Aug). Hannah trained as a chartered accountant with Deloitte and then worked in the Young Vic finance department, before joining Tangram full time.
>>Click here for Hannah’s blogs
- JENNIFER ROWLAND – Jennifer is a Los Angeles-based playwright whose US credits include The Indians are Coming to Dinner, The School Plays and Ice Girl in Bungalow B. She makes her UK debut, and her first trip to Edinburgh with the world premiere production of The Contest (Gilded Balloon, 8-30 Aug), fresh from a critically acclaimed, sell-out US run. Set in New York’s art scene, the play charts the journey of three characters from hopeful youth to disillusioned adulthood over 15 years.
>>Click here for Jennifer’s blogs
- LISA WELLS TURNER – Lisa returns to Edinburgh this year with the world premiere of The Opposite of Waiting (Venue 13, 8-30 Aug), her new physical theatre solo show, which combines movement song and text. Locked in, Rebecca dreams of escape and adventure. Who are we and who do we feel we should be? Lisa’s previous self-penned show, an adaptation of Iphigenia was mounted at Zoo Venues in 2006. >>Click here for Lisa’s blogs
- MARK MATTHEWS – Mark, an Australian actor and director, is the course director of the Sydney Theatre School. He’s bringing a cast of his graduate students to the Fringe with This Mortal Coil (Quaker Meeting House, 10-15 Aug), which was devised by the group through a Mike Leigh-style of improvisation. It’s directed by Mark who also penned the script. This is the first time Mark has brought a production to the Fringe (although he attended as a visitor last year) and, for most of his cast, it will be the first time they have ever left Australia.
>>Click here for Mark’s blogs
- SAMMY J – Following an extended sell-out season in Edinburgh last year and a stint at the West End’s Leicester Square Theatre, Sammy J in the Forest of Dreams (Udderbelly, 14-30 Aug) is back at the Fringe ahead of a UK tour. In the cult-adult-comedy-musical, Sammy J and his fellow puppeteer Heath McIvor embark on an adventure in a magical forest with a cast of 14 puppets.
>>Click here for Sammy J’s blogs
- TRIONA ADAMS – A former showbusiness agent – and still an occasional Whatsonstage.com reviewer – Triona has written and performs the new one-woman show Nun the Wiser(Gilded Balloon, 8-31 Aug), in which she tells her own true, and truly hilarious, story of how she swapped premieres for prayers and spent a year in a nunnery trying to get into the habit. The experience was also Triona’s inspiration for the BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play The Lemon Squeezer, premiered earlier this year.
>>Click here for Triona’s blogs
- MICHAEL COVENEY – Whatsonstage.com’s chief critic and contributing editor will be at the festival from 7 to 16 August and blogging regularly – as well as reviewing and tweeting.
>>Click here for Michael’s blogs
- WOS EDITORS – Whatsonstage.com’s other key editorial staff – editorial director Terri Paddock, deputy editor Theo Bosanquet and Scotland editor Joe Pike – will also be contributing to a joint blog.
>>Click here for the WOS Editors’ blogs