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Edinburgh Fringe Review: Turbulence

Posted on 21 August 2013 by Devawn Wilkinson

Turbulence

Star Rating:
(2/5 stars)

Entita Company’s Turbulence, billed as a prequel to The Tempest,  asks a novel but really quite needless ‘what if..? of Shakespeare’s final play. The contested dukedom is now a ruthless business empire, complete with all the necessary advisors, employees and idiot hangers-on. Big boss Prospero’s been missing for years, shamed by the shady secret of the disastrous ‘Sycorax Project’. Unfortunately for his usurpers, it seems he’s out to reclaim what’s rightfully his when a selection of vaguely recognisable characters find themselves brought together on a commercial flight bound for an unknown destination.

It’s an innovative enough idea, if a rather muddled one, mostly because the production vacillates frustratingly between radically re-imagining and entirely relying upon the original plot. There are some pleasing touches: Stephan and Trixy, the absurd and ineffectual pair of journalists desperate for any scoop , are a witty enough rewrite of the power-hungry fools, whilst Ariel is split into two scheming stewardesses who really aren’t as interested in customer care as they should be. Miranda however, (inexplicably left behind by Prospero in Entita’s version) is a less inspiring update – an eternal little-girl-lost with severe daddy issues who, much like her Shakespearean counterpart, doesn’t really do anything interesting. A subplot concerning a rich old man (Alonso, but you can’t tell), his dissatisfied young wife (a female Sebastian… I think) and the ruthless Antonio relies on lazy and near-offensive gender stereotypes that are also a little too Shakespearean for my liking, ones that really shouldn’t be being upheld by a university-age company.

Though disappointingly limited, Turbulence is not an entirely unsalvageable production. Paul Ainsworth’s set design is really quite striking; what stands as the suggestion of the aeroplane looks like the exposed ribcage of some industrial dinosaur. Nonetheless, though the premise has mileage, Turbulence needs a far sharper and cleverer script, a lot more clarity and a stronger stylistic cohesion to deliver on what could be a promising adaptation. To be perfectly honest, I expected rather more flair and a little less cliche from Entita, especially when its facing stiff competition from acclaimed companies such as Junction 25, which is significantly younger. It is The Tempest after all, so where are all the profundities, all the grand universal themes demanding our investment? At least the concentrated use of physical theatre demonstrates the company is actively trying to cultivate an identifiable style for themselves, but overall, Turbulence remains as uneven a production as its title might suggest.

Turbulence is playing at Greenside as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival until August 24.  For more information and tickets, please visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.

Devawn Wilkinson

Devawn Wilkinson

Devawn is a London-based writer, performance poet and aspiring theatre-maker. As a reviewer, she has written for A Younger Theatre, Theatre Royal Stratford East and Exeunt Magazine.

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Edinburgh Fringe Review: After What Comes Before

Posted on 05 August 2013 by Dan Hutton

After What Comes Before

Star Rating:
(3/5)

After What Comes Before is the first of many science shows on my Edinburgh schedule this year. It follows three scientists who are attempting to build a game-changing ‘machine’, and uses humour to make some points about science and its practise. But though it’s a lot of fun, it sometimes feels like a bunch of vignettes rather than a cohesive whole.

Three scientists (played by Alex Monk, David Cartwright and Sam Berrill), who each specialise in a slightly different subject, have aspirations of grandeur. They are all fairly clueless in their own ways, and their experiments use use more and more questionable tactics on one of their number, Scott, who becomes a guinea pig of sorts.

It’s been collectively conceived and devised by the company (Manic Chord) and it shows in the show’s slickness. The trio spark off each other throughout and have clearly used aspects of their own personalities in order to maximise humour. A brilliant montage sequence shows the group at their best, as they bounce off each other and remain completely in tune.

An intelligent set design by Helen Russell Brown has many holes and secret compartments which allows new things to be discovered throughout. The four set pieces are covered in blackboard paint, as the setting itself becomes a place of thought and experiment. Stuart Mellor’s thumping, bassy sound design is sumptuously full and is timed well to add comedy.

Sometimes, however, it feels as though the trio are more adept at making sketches and vignettes than coming up with an argument through theatre. There is a moment of drama at the end as the trio have a brief conversation about ethics in science, but beyond this the tension doesn’t stretch very far. All the same, After What Comes Before is a witty piece of comic theatre which features some strong performances and doesn’t fail to raise a smile.

After What Comes Before is at Greenside until 24 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.

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Review: Fall to the Top

Posted on 07 July 2012 by Charlotte Whitehead

Shakespeare in an office? Now I don’t claim to be a fan of the infamous playwright, but Entita theatre company’s inspired version of Shakespeare’s Macbeth combines physical theatre with comedy to explore man’s obsession with money and power in an everyday office. Matt is keen to be promoted at work, but will his crush Beth persuade him to speed his way to the top? Fall to the Top uses performer’s bodies and suitcases to effectively create and move from scene to scene.

The initial office scene was a strong opening to the performance, with the actor becoming a hierarchy of bustling office workers. Sandeep Malhi effectively became office furniture, paving the way for Ben Langley’s entrance as the smarmy Duncan. He epitomises the play’s message by waltzing up the office chain of bodies.

Co-directors Jamie Wood and Katharine Hardman’s decision to recreate the character of Macbeth paid off.  Ben Ridge’s bumbling character of Matt caused a lot of laughs with his geeky exchanges and love of blue pens, so that when Matt begins to change we genuinely believe him. Although I did think his transformation was a bit fast, and could be something that’s developed more in front of an audience.

A small clan of cleaners flow in and out of the action providing us with amusement by cleaning the office left, right and centre, they even clean an audience member’s head. (What I didn’t realise at the time is that they actually represent the three witches.) It would be exciting to see if their roles could be grown into something bigger, without overpowering the performance (which would be a challenge).

Slotted into the action were bursts of physical action with smooth lines and spinning bodies.  The movement went some way to deepening the character’s situation and feelings at key points in time, with indie music playing alongside it. Hardman and Woods avoided the cliché of meaningless movement that can come with the form of the physical theatre. With more time to play with this could turn into something bigger…

Being only 45 minutes long, the preview gives a short snippet of Shakespearian action. The question is what would another 45 bring? Without ruining the ending, you’ll have to go the Edinburgh festival to find out for yourselves. Entita theatre company is a young ensemble of performers to look out for.

Fall to the Top is being performed at Greenside, Studio One from the 13 until the 17 of August, with tickets at just £5. Tickets are available from: http://www.edfringe.com/whats-on/dance-and-physical-theatre/fall-to-the-top

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