Chris Grady: Edinburgh - a few more recommendations
Despatch Sunday from Adam and Eve, through Ben Moor, Peter Straker, Bristol Revunions, The Bridge and into early Monday morning with The System from South Africa. A day of high points and deep emotion. Here's a quick update.
Adam and Eve will be in my WhatsOnStage Musical Theatre Review and Musical Theatre News review pack and so I will just say the ticket is worth it for a great Lucifer in Gerard McGrate and some very witty storytelling. However, given the badge we take away repeats the words of the final number - "Sexual Love, the greatest gift of heaven above" - this is not a show for children. It is a show for people who enjoy childlike storytelling and feel an affinity with Godspell, Honk or Hair (now that's an unusual combination).
If I only had an invitation to see one more new play by a solo performer at the Fringe, or ever again, then I would buy a ticket for whatever Ben Moor has written. He has an immense heart which beams out to his audience, and a poetic and cerebral flight of fancy which introduces themes and ideas which are both completely impossible, and completely plausible. He's a must for me when I come to Edinburgh. The Each of Us is in Pleasance Courtyard 15:30.
Then I hot foot to see another Edinburgh master - Peter Straker giving us a show about Jacques Brel with all the passion and power which makes him one of the great interpreters of cabaret material, in Peter Straker's Brel. I had not known Brel had played in Man of La Mancha and to hear "The Impossible Dream" was an extraordinary joy.
35 years ago, I think I was at Lauriston Hall with a Bristol company of technicians and opera singers, whilst my colleagues from Bristol Revunions were packing a venue in Leith Walk and Bristol Express were opposite the Lyceum. There was a massive programme of shows from Bristol so I had to check out Revunions again.
This time, just four performers working through a range of sketch shows as they re-position Elegant Nymphs in its rightful place of fame amongst goblins and fairies, as worthy of film stardom. Not sure the Nymphs are quite up there with Tolkein and JK Rowling yet, but hopefully each of the four will go forward to make Bristol proud. Check them out in Just the Tonic at The Caves at 19:35 if you are thinking of going to the best University in the UK... or if you went there.
Its been an odd day tinged with sadness and reserve for me. I learned first thing that my mother is in the last stages of life and I'm waiting as I type this to know whether her soul has moved on and fled the horrors of alzheimers. So maybe I was in a particulary susceptible mood, when seeing both Ben Moor and Peter Straker, to weep and feel the power of human frailty.
So my final show of the night took me all the way to washing my face with tears. Benjamin Scheuer's one man 13-song cycle, for man and 3 guitars, tells his life from childhood with his first banjo, through the loss of his father, the finding of love, and the realisation of the biggest challenge anyone can face and survive. He survived and tells his story in the most beautiful, heartfelt and open way possible. A packed audience at C Nova 21:10pm were equally moved to tears and cheers by this consummate performer and writer from New York. Thank you Ben - a pleasure to witness your story.
And just because I'm typing this as I start a new day... I grabbed a ticket at 10.30 this morning for The System; a five-hander physical theatre storytelling piece at Just the Tonic from African Tree Productions. I met the producer at the Promoters Breakfast on Sunday and was delighted, at last, to have an offer of a show which I could easily slip into the beginning of my day. I am so glad I went. A beautiful piece of simple highly professional storytelling of the lives of three men who try to escape the system, and escape from prison to find their lives once again. Rich in detail and important in content. I recommend the show to anyone interested in theatre who can make an early start.
The System was playing in The Big Room which is where Kath and her Authentic Artist Collective presented Wolf three-or-so years ago. It was haunting and lovely to be back there and hear the calls, this time not of wolves, but of rich deep South African souls in harmony.