Advert
Advert

Tag Archive | "C Venues"

Tags: , , , , ,

Edinburgh Fringe Review: Repertory Theatre

Posted on 15 August 2013 by Dan Hutton

Repertory Theatre

Star Rating:
(3/5)

CONTAINS SPOILERS.

After a successful run at last year’s festival, Elephant and the Mouse has returned with Repertory Theatre, its bizarre, absurdist Hamlet-inspired two-man farce. It’s a lot of fun and I don’t doubt its intelligence, but something about it left me feeling quite cold and I failed to find it as funny as the majority of people in the auditorium.

The play is split into two halves, both of which take place in the office of a repertory theatre’s Artistic Director. The first half an hour sees said AD berating Richardson, a playwright whose father was killed on stage during a production of Hamlet. The director spends much of the time shouting odd phrases and noises, making inexplicable gestures and generally being a pain as Richardson gets more and more agitated before losing it. For the second half – and here’s the twist – we see the same thing again, this time with Richardson standing in for the ghost of his father, who annoys the director throughout and explains the odd movements. It’s an incredibly smart piece of stagecraft and keeps the performance fresh, acting as the source of most of the comedy.

Repertory Theatre therefore makes a point about the ghosts of theatre and of the repertory system itself, which sees different actors taking on different parts. By using Hamlet as a source, we also get an interesting commentary on Shakespeare’s representation of fathers and enemies. The whole thing is delicately structured and tightly rehearsed.

But that doesn’t detract from the fact that I found the first half of the play just plain annoying, sending up the repertory system without really scrutinising it and relying on cheap sight gags for laughs. More than that though, I failed to care about these two characters, both of whom come across as incredibly arrogant and completely clueless. Though Richardson acts as the straight-man in this double act, he’s just as unbearable as the tyrannical director.

This is a play which revels in its own childishness and puerility before turning those things on their head. It doesn’t stretch much further than the central conceit, and is an interesting experiment in comedic theatre, but ultimately lacks the substance to be a must-see.

Repertory Theatre is at C Venues until 26 August. For more information and tickets visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.

Dan Hutton

Dan Hutton

Dan recently graduated with a degree in English and Theatre Studies from the University of Warwick. He is a theatre-maker, freelance theatre critic and a company director of Barrel Organ Theatre.

More Posts - Website

Comments (2)

Tags: , , , , ,

Edinburgh Fringe Review: Sheriff Wayne and the Sundance Cave

Posted on 12 August 2013 by Lauren Mooney

Sheriff Wayne and the Sundance Cave

Star Rating:
(2/5 stars)

Children’s theatre isn’t easy and it’s naïve to assume that a littler audience will automatically be a kinder one. Lincoln Company is about 75% of the way to a properly good kids’ show with Sheriff Wayne and the Sundance Cave – but it’s the ingenuity, the fun and the unpredictability of other children’s theatre that is missing here. That last 25% is alchemical and essential.

Sheriff Wayne is the last hope of Nowheresville, which, despite being a Wild West town with presumably no great reliance on electricity, is inexplicably having some kind of energy crisis. Wayne and his rival, Cowgirl Jane, are forced to join forces when the town Mayor sends them on a quest: to locate the beautiful Sundance Cave and harness the energy contained inside it. No problem – as long as they get there before the evil Doctor Nisi, who needs that self-same energy for reasons of Miscellaneous Evil. So, okay, there’s basically not much of a plot, but that needn’t be a problem as long as the songs and the set pieces are good. And some of them are.

The audience interaction is nicely done, especially a sequence in which they get two young volunteers to help them perform a dance, but they feels just a little too few and far between. It seems that with children’s theatre, you need to either have a story that is moving, hilarious or enchanting, or if your show is plot-light you need to have thrown a bunch of other ideas at it. With Sheriff Wayne, The Lincoln Company hasn’t quite committed to doing either.

There are some nice songs and some funny performances, though having a caucasian girl with blonde hair play the last member of a Native American tribe does actually feel a bit conspicuous. Obviously they’re not going for high-realism here, with evil genii and lonely robots floating about in the desert, but it’s still a little uncomfortable to see someone playing a member of a different ethnic group.

As a whole, Sheriff Wayne is enjoyably high-energy and feels a bit like watching an intense, hour-long Golden Nuggets commercial. The script is meandering and could do with some overhauling. The likeable cast, on the other hand, reveal themselves to be semi-comfortable improvisers when interacting with the audience or whenever things go wrong, and these moments are very funny indeed. It’s then that you see the potential of this team of performers, but it’s a potential that is often, sadly, wasted.

Sheriff Wayne and the Sundance Cave can be seen at 11.00am at C Nova, every day until 26th August. For more information and tickets, visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.

Lauren Mooney

Lauren Mooney

Lauren graduated with an English degree from the University of Liverpool before moving to London. Aside from reviewing for AYT and her day job at Free Word, she also writes for Exeunt and TheatreGuide London, and helps make the London Horror Festival happen.

More Posts

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , ,

Edinburgh Fringe Review: Oresteia

Posted on 11 August 2013 by Harrison Kelly

Oresteia

Star Rating:
(1/5 Stars)

Cambridge University ADC’s production of Oresteia takes a stab at revamping Aeschylus’s trilogy into an Oceans 11-style drama-comedy, about Las Vegas casinos. The concept sounds like an innovative interpretation, but the finished production is just too incongruous and awkward to succeed.

Take the in-your-face introduction which is intentionally tongue-in-cheek, yet still manages to be derisory. During a brief prologue, Agamemnon, dressed in jailbird’s orange overalls and sporting a mock-US accent, announces that it is “eight years before the fall of Troy” in the manner of a US television drama. Spotlights introduce the characters one by one in what looks like a gaudy credit-sequence, during which each strikes a distinguishing pose (a sinister smirk, a placid nod, an unnecessary karate kick, etc) while Jay-Z’s 99 Problems blares inexplicably. There is a limit to how facetious a sequence like this can get before everything just becomes inharmonious.

The difficulty of making the plot up-to-date regularly threatens to turn the production into a caricature of itself. For instance, turning the iconic Helen of Troy into a computer fundamentally changes the drive of the plot. H.E.L.E.N. is a counting system that was stolen by the owner of a rival casino “Troy” under ridiculous circumstances, ostensibly involving Agamemnon being framed for fraud, for which he seeks vengeance – the interface that launched a thousand ships, if you will. Similarly slapdash ‘updates’ include justifying Electra’s desire to see her mother killed through her apparent addiction to violent video-games. Likewise, the death of Agamemnon’s first daughter Iphigenia can no longer be blamed on the demands of Ancient Greek Gods, and so is instead loosely attributed to her father’s refusal to “negotiate with terrorists”. Despite being conscious of the rehashed contemporary American setting, these scenarios are only superficially expanded and feel like crude attempts to modernise.

Also seemingly incompatible with present-day America is the fantastic bloodlust of the Oresteia. After murdering Agamemnon, Clytemnestra does not revel in the sensual, bloody, God-like imagery about stabbing her husband in the bath, as she usually does in adaptations. Here the circumstances of the murder entail the couple shuffling around the stage, some kissing, her handcuffing him to a chair, some ineffective dialogue and her pulling out a knife before a blackout. The direction could benefit from more consideration, as could the costuming: at one point Orestes is insipidly established as being “in training” by donning jujitsu attire and doing press-ups at the side of the stage.

I suspect there are some decent actors among the cast but the play is so chaotic it does not really showcase talent. When the acting is bad though, it is telling. Half-hearted shrugging and muttering of lines often leaves the audience struggling to hear, let alone understand, what is going on. It also causes confusion, because an unenthused performer and a performer feigning dry apathy seem markedly similar. Hence an aside like Orestes’s “I’m just going to stand over here for a while so they don’t recognise me” donning a hoodie over his jujitsu robe at his father’s grave so that sister Electra will not recognise him, becomes unintentionally ambiguous. Was it an attempt at sarcasm? Or was it just a flatly delivered line?

The consequences are weighed up in the third part, The Eumenides, satirised in a Judge Judy-style TV trial hosted by Athena and Apollo. This feature is actually the most interesting part of the play, and can boast genuine humour. However it is so short it is essentially a sketch, and does not occur until the final five minutes. Whether you know the play or not, this performance is difficult to sit through until then.

Oresteia is at C venues until 17 August. For more information and tickets, visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.

Harrison Kelly

Harrison Kelly

Harrison is a freelance critic, writer, journalist and researcher with a penchant for arts, entertainment and media. Aside from contributing to various publications and websites, he currently studies at Dundee University where he is deputy editor of the student-run magazine, The Magdalen.

More Posts

Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Edinburgh Fringe Review: Take It Interns

Posted on 10 August 2013 by Lauren Mooney

Take It Interns

Star Rating:
(4/5 posts)

A few years ago, Take it Interns wouldn’t have existed; it concerns a curiously modern phenomenon. The people who fought for workers’ rights such as minimum wage would have been appalled at being expected to work for free, but internships seem to be something almost every young person today has to do to get anywhere – though only those who can afford to, of course.

The team of writers behind 1945 Productions’s new musical seem to be broadly aware of both the class tensions and the absurdities associated with internships, and while their script is not the last word on this cultural oddity, it succeeds at a far harder task. Take it Interns is a very modern musical, complete with pithy title; you’d to expect it to be a shallow cash-in on the Zeitgeist, a flash in the pan and fall flat on its face. It isn’t and it doesn’t. 1945 Productions has created a musical that is funny, entertaining and impressive: Take it Interns is far better than it has any right to be.

When five young interns are taken on by an advertising agency, the staff don’t know what to do with them. Eventually, in a plot development slightly reminiscent of an episode of The Apprentice, the young people are given the task of coming up with an ad campaign for empty bottles of water, to keep them out of the way. Clearly defined characters played by a strong cast, especially Eliot Salt, hilarious as the bright but charmingly recalcitrant Amber.

Interns aside, there’s also a surprisingly sensitive portrayal of the CEO’s PA Fiona, played by Daisy Jacobs. Fiona is still stuck in the first job she got as an adult and silently desperate to leave, not because it is hateful but because she is beginning to be crushed under the weight of her boredom, of being made to do something every day that is of no interest. Fiona isn’t angry, she’s just quietly disappointed, and at moments like this Take it Interns puts its finger on some fairly universal problems with understated profundity.

It doesn’t quite ring true that all the interns are recent school-leavers, shanghaied by their teachers, as the really culturally significant thing about internships is generally that so many interns have already done a degree, which they were told would be enough to get them a job. The plot is riddled with holes, too – but nobody minds, because it’s also riddled with decent jokes, and both the comedy and the music are surprisingly tight and well-rehearsed.

With catchy songs, well-written music played live by an orchestra and impressive young performers, who can – and this is rarer than it sounds in amateur musicals – both sing and act, Take It Interns is plenty of upbeat fun.

Take it Interns can be seen at 22.00 at C, every day until 26 August. For more information and tickets, visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.

Lauren Mooney

Lauren Mooney

Lauren graduated with an English degree from the University of Liverpool before moving to London. Aside from reviewing for AYT and her day job at Free Word, she also writes for Exeunt and TheatreGuide London, and helps make the London Horror Festival happen.

More Posts

Comments (0)

Advertise Here
Advertise Here

Join our E-Newsletter

---
Exclusive offers, opportunities and updates from AYT.

---


Supporting: