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About a Goth

Life is all about transitions. Moving from one stage of life to the next, sometimes gracefully, sometimes stumbling, and sometimes holding on for your life.

About a Goth explores such a transition as a young man grapples with understanding himself.

Delivered as a monologue, the plot is revealed as a series of events that would frustrate the heck out of any gay goth teen: an unhealthy obsession with a straight mate and Starbucks’ lack of Gothic options are compounded by his family’s obstinate refusal to reject him when he comes out. Selfish buggers.

Clement Charles gives a stellar performance, full of energy and life throughout. It is beautifully written by Tom Wells, and explores this young person’s journey through a transition with empathy and humour and spirit.

So far, the best performance I’ve seen at the Fringe.

 
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Posted by on Thursday, 17 August 2017 in British Theatre, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Theatre

 

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The Peablossom Cabaret

Peablossom Cabaret Sofa Press ShotAfter a false start yesterday, where the performers found out at the last minute that their venue wasn’t opening, I am incredibly glad we made it back to see this brilliant performance today. Unfortunately the alternate venue they had secured was an over 18s venue so I was unable to bring Offspring Number One along to that performance, and today we had to change our plans to get there, but get there we did, and it was well worth the effort.

The Peablossom Cabaret is cabaret improvised in response to conversations with the audience. And as such, it hinges entirely on the personalities and talents of the two performers, Dylan Townley as Mr. Pea, and Sylvia Bishop as Miss Blossom. These two consummate performers had their audience laughing before the show even started, and it only got better throughout with their clever banter, quick wit and charming voices.

The pair improvised a song about an audient’s sister reading her diary, then about a lad who admires his brother for not being boring. I could go on, but the very nature of improvisation means it would not be terribly interesting; you really have to be there. And the more people who are there the better; these splendid performers deserve all the applause they can get!

 
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Posted by on Monday, 4 August 2014 in Cabaret, Improvisation

 

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Trainspotting

trainspottingI wasn’t prepared for an immersive experience when I went to see In Your Face Theatre‘s production of Trainspotting, and when I realised there was no auditorium, I will admit to a little hesitation. The experience, however, was just as this incredibly grimy story needed it to be, and was only enhanced by not knowing where the performers were off to next.

The venue could not have been more appropriate. This former Masonic Lodge occasionally flashed up glimpses of the names of its members or phrases such as ‘trust in the lord’ all in a gold print that jarred eerily with Irvine Welsh’s confronting story of the lives of urban junkies.

Though I’ve not been able to find the names of the performers anywhere, they were all very impressive (and this is a very large cast). Rents, Sickboy and Tommy were at once pathetic and yet able to command my sympathy. And a chorus, accompanied by a very appropriate soundtrack from the last twenty years was not a mere addendum to the action, but was critically important in establishing the atmosphere and moving the audience to the appropriate part of the space (or distracting us from the set change).

While the script seemed to skim too quickly over some moments of character development, and though I felt the use of narration didn’t really suit this style of performance, in all, I was surprised at how closely this production elicited the same emotions in me as the novel and film did so long ago.

This is a story that has neither aged nor lost its edge, and remains as gritty as it was when it first saw the light of day in 1993.

 
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Posted by on Sunday, 3 August 2014 in British Theatre, In Your Face Theatre, Theatre

 

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Bunbury is Dead

Disappointed twice in a week by productions that stem from Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest? I never thought it would be possible.

Bunbury is Dead is not really about the friend Algernon Moncrief makes up as an excuse for not performing his social duties in Wilde’s play, though the character does share much of Algernon’s DNA.

As the plot unravels, it is clear that Christopher Cutting’s script has a lot to offer. The concept is unique, new and engaging. Bunbury, a character who had to be created out of source material from Wilde’s plays, is every bit as strong as Wilde’s Algernon, and his butler is an equally fine creation. But just about all of the dialogue is borrowed from Wilde, and this I don’t understand.

The play is strong, and could be set in the 19th, 20th or 21st centuries perfectly well. The plot is relatable and the characters recognisable. Wilde’s words simply have nothing to offer here, and they become a distraction. As an inspiration for a lead, even Bunbury is perfect, but as far as I can tell, Cutting really doesn’t need Wilde’s help. The story would be more interesting without being interrupted by Wilde’s words.

It is unfortunate that this didn’t live up to its possibilities.

 
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Posted by on Sunday, 3 August 2014 in British Theatre, Theatre

 

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Dracula

draculaDracula is one of those brilliant stories that just never gets old. Its universal themes seem to always thrive in the present, presenting new insight into humanity. And different wonderful people just keep imagining brilliant new ways to bring this story to life. The one I saw tonight is the work of Action to the Word, and they certainly made an impression.

Perhaps it was just Zoe Koperski’s steampunk design that made this such a memorable production. Or maybe it was the in-your-face indie rock the whole cast blasted out into the auditorium. Either way, it was an aggressive and courageous take on Bram Stoker’s gothic horror novel, and I loved it.

Despite a few prop hiccups (and did I possibly detect a line drop?), the performers were genuinely brilliant. Jonno Davies‘ Count Dracula struck just the right balance between inciting a come hither and a piss off, while Henry Bauckham’s Jonathan Harker was at once noble and vulnerable. But it was the women who genuinely shone. Olivia Bromley, Rachel Bright and Claire Petzal played Mina Murray, Lucy Westenra and Jack (here Johanna) Seward respectively and all three deserved the ovation one enthusiastic member of the audience in front of me tried to give them for their remarkable performances.

However highly polished and professional these performers were, there was one thing they couldn’t compensate for, and that was a lack of focus on character and plot. In the effort to create a great spectacle (and a great spectacle it was), Alexandra Spencer-Jones’ adaptation didn’t allow enough depth for the characters to be fully engaged, and at the end no matter how much I enjoyed the spectacle, I certainly didn’t feel I’d encountered a story.

And as a rendition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula? Well, you would do well to have another read before you go to ensure you have the plot clear. I was stretching my memory once or twice trying to remember how the plot went, and I’m a fan.

Nonetheless, this really is a great show, even if just for the sake of enjoying the cast’s amazing music and the brilliant steampunk design, and it deserves a great deal of attention in Edinburgh.

 
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Posted by on Thursday, 24 July 2014 in British Theatre, Pleasance Theatre, Theatre

 

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Filth

filthI’ve been a big fan of films that play hard and fast with psychosis over the years, and Filth is, I think, one of the best. It keeps you on your toes trying to figure put the difference between reality and the subject’s experiences, but it doesn’t do this at the expense of character and plot.

The protagonist here, Bruce (James McAvoy), is brilliantly portrayed with incredible pathos and drive. Apart from an unfortunate lull in the third quarter, which many films suffer from, he drives the plot forward brilliantly.

The super-plot is both straightforward and innovative. Frank is in line for promotion, but so are several other detectives in his Edinburgh unit. By setting them up, he manages to move himself up the ladder, building the likelihood of promotion by a steady process of elimination. His plan goes well until his own psychosis gets the better of him.

McAvoy is supported, though, by a cast of well-developed characters, all of whom are brilliantly relatable and portrayed by great actors.

The spectre of Trainspotting is heavy in the air with this film. There are familiar sequences and phrasing, but the whole is a unique and engaging story that warrants a second look.

 
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Posted by on Monday, 25 November 2013 in British Film, Film, Steel Mill Pictures

 

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