August 19, 2009
The trouble with leaving the Edinburgh Festival is that, although you’re glad to be home, you start missing it, too. Mind you, I’m still recovering form the shock of seeing Princes Street dug up for the new trams that won’t even be running until 2011.
If Scotland was Germany, this work would have been finished months ago, and no-one would have allowed it to deface the annual festival. But Edinburgh, like most British cities, is now in a permanent state of road works hideousness. Read more
August 17, 2009
I had a great time in Edinburgh, but it’s good to burst out of the bubble and come home.
Nine days away is a long time if you’re not near a beach, your wife or your own bed. And there’s a mountain of mail and other chores to deal with, not least preparations for my son’s wedding in Liverpool this weekend.
Among the mail is a letter from Maria Dafneros, the stunning young lady in the Belgian theatre company Ontroerend, who took me to a cubicle and stroked my skin in the meekly controversial fringe production Internal. Read more
August 13, 2009
Something extraordinary happened last night in the George Square Theatre: a review I had written of a non-existent musical was improvised on the spot as an hour-long, hilarious entertainment by the brilliant Showstoppers.
It featured a lascivious film director called Spatchcock and his blonde dipsomaniac bird of prey, Tipsy Hardon. As performed by Adam Meggido and Pippa Evans, this duo, vaguely resembling Alfred Hitchcock and his The Birds star Tippi Hedren, were beast and beauty, locked in a lustful tango, except that Tipsy dislikes the idea of slavery, human or animal. Read more
August 12, 2009
Musicals are written in all sorts of ways. There’s even going to be one tonight based on a review I’ve written of a non-existent original.
But the likeable Radio One disc jockey Scott Mills has initiated an even more extraordinary method: Scott Mills the Musical has been interactively written with his own listeners after he perpetrated a hoax that he would appear in Edinburgh as a string of showbiz divas.
Instead, he appears as David Hasselhoff, the Baywatch hunk, and a complete nonentity – found in the radio station’s Search for a Scott – plays the DJ. Read more
August 11, 2009
I was chatting with Lionel Blair and Clarke Peters yesterday afternoon – not a combination of showbiz luminaries I ever anticipated coming across – when Kate Copstick, editor of the Erotic Review, assailed us from the rear and threatened to take a photograph. What she would then have done with it, had she done so, I can’t imagine. There’s nothing much erotic about me and Lionel, though Clarke still cuts a pretty figure.
He is such a completely nice man, Clarke. He even pretended he didn’t know that I didn’t think much of the Denise van Outen show he’s just directed and started to ask what I thought of it. So there I was, in the middle of the Pleasance Courtyard, giving him notes of a slightly more extended nature than my tart paragraphs on this website. Read more
August 10, 2009
Since sitting painfully through the one-on-one blind date and encounter group show Internal, I’ve discovered that all sorts of things are happening in the cubicles.
I was offered a sip of liqueur, some touchy-feely caresses and an invitation to leave my address. Others have been given a topless eyeful and a detailed conversation about sexual preferences.
Joining in, like breaking up, is hard to do for most theatre audiences. The director Richard Eyre always says that one of his life’s regrets is turning down the chance to have sex on stage with the Living Theatre when they came to London in the late 1960s. Read more
August 8, 2009
The weather is holding for the first weekend, and Simon Stephens made it to Edinburgh immediately after the opening of his brilliant Pornography at the Tricycle on Thursday night. More or less 12 hours after Pornography opened, Simon’s in the Traverse for the Friday morning premiere of Sea Wall, a short piece he wrote for the Bush last year while the theatre was without electricity.
By the time I hit the Traverse, Simon’s all done and dusted and chewing the fat at the bar with Bush director Josie Rourke and his agent, Mel Kenyon. A bevy of critics have spent all day watching press shows.
They have not been joined by Stephen Daldry, who’s been on the beach eight miles away at Portobello. Daldry looks almost indecently healthy. His charm and gusto, unaltered with the changing years, reminds you what a great theatre manager he was, and how rare it is to have an audience’s enthusiasm ignited by a presence in the foyer before the show even starts. 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