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Chris Grady: 'Cobblefoot' and other Edinburgh discomforts

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Sandel at The Space @ Surgeons Hall
Edinburgh. Day four. 24 shows in four days and that most Edinburgh-like of discomforts is setting in – cobblefoot. I am short on vegetables, short on sleep, and powered by people's passion for their show and a bit of lager to lubricate.

On Monday I bring you views on South African physical theatre storytelling, Martine McCutcheon and Emma Thompson played by a 6'5" mancunian poet, a disturbing piece on schoolboy grooming, a lesson in unready shows, a Korean wedding, and a once in a lifetime musical about happy orcs – welcome to Edinburgh…

Yesterday's blogged highlighted The System as a slow-burn show to watch. I'm delighted my review has been picked up by WhatsOnStage and given them a four-star kickstart. I hope others find as much pleasure as I did in discovering this troupe from South Africa in the cellars of Just the Tonic at The Caves at 10.30am. It's also a useful reminder that you never know who is going to be in the audience and a company has to give 110% every show, and fight for audiences until the very last performance, as African Tree Productions are certainly doing at the moment.

From there it was my second visit to Monkey Poet to see his one man "sequel" to Love Actually. We were introduced to Emma Thompson, Alan Rickman, a Glaswegian rough Martin McCutcheon, and a very dangerous Liam Neison – all delivered by Monkey Poet in his new play Love Hurts Actually. If you have time then see his one-man standup poetry show first so you get a feel of the man and his deep powerful passions for a better world, and then see this new play which is settling down through the early performances.

As an aside – the Free Fringe is wonderful, but its also the most expensive area of the Fringe for promoters and press. If you go to the paid Fringe performances you can get passes and see the show for free. But at the free fringe, I would feel guilty not donating to get out – I must remember to budget a bit more for next year !!

Next over to The Space @ Surgeons Hall for a very warm welcome from the management and staff, and a quick cup of tea before going in for a very well written, directed and acted, but very disturbing, play.

Sandel is adapted and directed by Taggart creator Glenn Chandler and features three heartfelt and well considered performances by Tom Cawte, Callum Fleming and Ryan Penny. They tackle the subject explored by Angus Stewart's 1968 novel about the grooming (as it would be called now) of a young boy and his teacher, or maybe the snaring of the teacher by the young boy. Who is to blame, what is right and whether the love of a boy in his early-teens by a young-adult teacher be acceptable, are all prevalent themes.

It is difficult not to feel disturbed and to be reminded of current news stories, and stories we all know. Good theatre should be confrontational, and this very gentle and heartfelt piece kicks a punch. (Great to see Callum and Ryan who graduated from Mountview during my time working there this Spring… fun times).

Ahhh! – run out of time – next meeting – will have to do a 4a !!! sorry!