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Fringe Firsts for Allotment, Release, Plagues & Callow

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The most recent winners of this year's prestigious Fringe First Awards, celebrating high-quality new drama at the Edinburgh Festival, have been announced by The Scotsman newspaper today (19 August 2011).

Simon Callow's solo Fringe return, a dark, fun physical comedy performed on an Edinburgh allotment, Conor Mitchell and Mark Ravenhill's "music theatre experience" about the Great Plague, and a MTM: UK Award nominated musical are all amongst the eight shows to pick up awards this week.

Fresh from his limited season of Being Shakespeare at the West End's Trafalgar Studios, Simon Callow stars as Pauline, a transexual looking after her recently widowed father, in Tuesday at Tescos. The UK premiere of Emmanuel Darley's Le Mardi a Monoprix, the piece is another hit solo show for Callow.

Another Assembly show awarded a Fringe First this week was Nutshell's Allotment which is performed amongst the spuds on an allotment in Inverleith. The piece is billed as a "darkly funny physical comedy" which explore "the powerful legacy of generations of gardeners". The Scotsman's Susan Mansfield says the story of two green-fingered sisters is "charming, thoughtful and digs deep."

There are three shows given the nod at the Pleasance in this batch of the awards. Curious Directive's Your Last Breath is a real-life story about Anna Bagenholm who was trapped under ice after a skiing accident who slowly freezes. The piece combines multimedia and choreography with a live score.

Chris Larner is also awarded a Fringe First for An Instinct for Kindness which he wrote and performs, having accompanied his terminally ill wife to Switzerland’s Dignitas clinic last year. Writing for The Scotsman Susan Mansfield praises the unsurprisingly "harrowing" piece and its director Hannah Eidinow for creating a "multi-textured piece of theatre which has moments of absurdity and joy as well as sadness."

Icon Theatre's Release comes to the Pleasance Dome after a two-year research and development process. The piece explores the lives of three prisoners in their first months on the outside. The Scotsman's Joyce McMillan writes of the piece: "Icon has created one of the most compelling pieces of storytelling on the Fringe" going on to say that the work had even more relevance in the aftermath of the recent riots.

The Traverse Theatre's Ten Plagues sees Marc Almond portray a survivor of the 1665 Great Plague of London, with music by Conor Mitchell and libretto by Mark Ravenhill. Almond's performance, directed Stewart Laing (who also designed the piece), is hailed by The Scotsman's Joyce McMillan as "a person changed, and unable to connect fully with those who have not walked the same path."

At St George's West, poet Hannah Jane Walker and Chris Thorpe (who won a Fringe First last year for Static) examine mistakes in The Oh F**k Moment. The audience reveal their own mistakes in the piece, set in a messy office, which tackles times when we realise we've done something terribly, irrevocably wrong, and how we deal with that realisation.

Finally, RashDash Theatre's Scary Gorgeous sees the company return to the Bedlam Theatre after their Fringe First-winning Another Someone last year. Billed as a show about "sex and sexiness", Sally Stott for The Scotsman writes that the company's work has taken a "more subversive twist this year and is all the stronger for it." As previously reported, the show is also nominated in the Best Book and Best New Musical categories in the MTM:UK Awards which are announced on Wednesday 24 August 2011.


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