EdFringe Talk: Sad Book

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“As an artist and creator, it can be a very high risk/ high pressure environment, but it’s also where dreams are made.”

WHO: Andrea Walker: Director and Choreographer

WHAT: “‘Stand-out dance of the summer’ (Guardian on 201’s Skin). We all have some sad stuff – maybe you have some right now, as you read this. What makes Michael most sad is thinking about his son Eddie, who died. Through an intimate, visual spectacle that includes dance, storytelling, animation and original music, 201 and Choreographer Andrea Walker bring Michael Rosen’s award-winning book to the stage.”

WHERE: ZOO Southside – Main House (Venue 82) 

WHEN: 18:30 (55 min)

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Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

No, this will be our fourth time! Our first ever show – “Smother” – premiered at Ed Fringe back in 2015. We brought “Smother” back in 2016, and then followed with our second production – “SKIN” – in 2017. I feel the Fringe is such an incredible place: As an artist and creator, it can be a very high risk/ high pressure environment, but it’s also where dreams are made. I don’t think 201 Dance Company would be here today with a brand new show if we hadn’t risked it all at the festival all those years ago. The Fringe is where we really got noticed, it gave me a career and it gave the company a future.

What are the big things you’ve learned since 2019 and have you absorbed any of the lessons yet?

I feel that because of Covid-19 the way we create work has changed: We were supposed to premiere “Sad Book” – our latest show – back in 2020, so when the pandemic hit we really had to re-think how to create it in a way that was safe for everyone involved. I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved, and now that “Sad Book” is finally hitting the stage after a 2 year delay, I feel the company is stronger than it ever was.

Tell us about your show.

“Sad Book” is an adaptation of Michael Rosen’s award-winning book. It tells Michael’s personal story of losing his son, and – simply – the sadness attached to that. Sad is a very complex emotion: It can be destroying, but like Michael shows in his novel, sadness can also be beautiful and melancholic in the way we remember a moment in our life that was wonderful, yet is no longer here. We are honoured that Michael trusted us to adapt such a touching, important work. The show includes a mix of dance, animation and original music. I feel it will touch anyone who’s ever struggled with mental-ill health, or simply struggles to put their sadness into words.

“Sad Book” has been over 5 years in development, and it’s a work that is very meaningful to me. Since 2014, 201 Dance Company’s mission has been to to tell stories that matter. “Sad Book” felt like such a beautiful fit for the company the second I first read it. I directed and choreographed, and we have Patrick Collier as Associate Director, who also produced the show in its development and preview stage. “Sad Book” is now produced by Pip Sayers, and this run at Ed Fringe will be the show’s premiere. “Sad Book” will be available to tour from Autumn 2023 – Spring 2024.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

Please please please get yourself to Séayoncé: Res-Erection! Honestly one of the funniest shows I have ever seen, and I’ve seen it 4 times now! I don’t wanna spoil it for you…Go in with fresh eyes! It’s created by Dan Wye, who is a wonderful, hilarious queer artist. You can catch Séayoncé at Assembly Roxy (upstairs) from the 3rd to 28th August (no show on the 17th), 10pm.


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EdFringe Talk: The Working Girls of Soho

“Living in Soho in the 80’s like saying you were in Berlin between the wars. My life was non-stop carousing, singing and parties, mostly at The French House and The Coach and Horses and clubbing at Kinky Gerlinky and Taboo.”

WHO: Josephine Pembroke

WHAT: “In her fabulous new show The Working Girls of Soho, Josephine Pembroke, creator of Pussies Galore, the infamous club act of the 1990s and darling of the iconic Café de Paris, Heaven and the Hacienda Club, celebrates the West End’s glorious and notorious past. Be introduced to Ma’ Meyrick, the 1920’s Queen of the Night Clubs, the legendary all-female crime syndicate, The Forty Elephants, Aristocratic Annie and Sadistic Cindy in a cabaret of sparkling storytelling, characters, sentimental torch songs and saucy show tunes from the roaring 20s to the funky 70s.”

WHERE: Greenside @ Infirmary Street – Olive Studio (Venue 117) 

WHEN: 18:40 (50 min)

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Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

I arrived drunk in Edinburgh for the festival in 1984, I came on my own on the train and hit the tinnies, a party evolved, this experience was going to be FUN. I lived in Soho at the time and one of my drinking buddies was Robbie Coltrane, so I hung out at his flat in Leith and saw his show. I remember being completely mind blown by Edinburgh, it was just so exciting, all the shows were on the edge. And it all seemed quite simple, you could be just one person, in a theatre, performing and that has always been my aim. A one woman show. So I am beyond thrilled to be performing my show At Edinburgh Festival the biggest arts festival on the globe! Woop bloody woop!

What are the big things you’ve learned since 2019 and have you absorbed any of the lessons yet?

After 27 years of a rocky (who’s isn’t)? marriage. It’s all over I am getting divorced I am now totally alone for the first time in my life. The divorce, this insanely different life has shook me up. I needed to get back on stage and tell stories and sing. I sat next to a performer at dinner and he suggested looking at my life, and go from there. Ta Da! An eureka moment, how about my time living in Dean St in Soho in the 80s?

Now was the time to put all those years of experience to good use. I realised that I had all the material to do a show about Soho and its people, but especially about the women who drove the neighbourhood; women who were independent, who had risked being outcasts and weren’t afraid to capitalise on the men with money it attracted. I had lived it and now just needed to piece it together in a format that could work on stage.

My formula is straightforward: I tell stories of the characters who dominated the scene, place them in historical context and add some of the big songs of the period. What do you have? The Working Girls of Soho – Saucy Tales of Notorious Women.

And it feels really good to be on the stage alone, in charge of my destiny once more. Damn the smug marrieds, damn my age, damn the critics. I am at it again, funnier and sexier than ever, I am back, come and see me!

Tell us about your show.

Living in Soho in the 80’s like saying you were in Berlin between the wars. My life was non-stop carousing, singing and parties, mostly at The French House and The Coach and Horses and clubbing at Kinky Gerlinky and Taboo. Soho in the 80s was still seedy and I evoke this in my show. I will tell you about the outlandish, self supporting females who made Soho happen. I talk about the working girls, the whores, the thieves and the nightclub Queens, I sing naughty, funny and moving songs about bad women of loose moral character. What’s not to get excited about? Come and join me for some louche relaxation, for an hour, firmly dedicated to fun. I have performed the show in Soho a few times before Edinburgh and I aim to go global with it!

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

More Than Tracy Turnblad, funny feminist cabaret.
Take it Away, Cherly about a kissing booth.
Meg is playing God at Ed Fringe 22, addiction and mental health.
THE BEATLES WERE A BOY BAND, exploring women’s safety.
BeautifulNothingPlay, against women in online spaces.
Bathroom Confession, confessions in the bathroom.
Cecil Beaton’s Diaries, fabulous diaries of the master of image.


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EdFringe Talk: Josh Pugh: Sausage, Egg, Josh Pugh, Chips and Beans

“I love the festival even though I’ve never objectively had a good one, this is going to be different though.”

WHO: Josh Pugh

WHAT: “Safe everyone. English Comedian of the Year winner and star of Comedy Central Live and Dave’s Hypothetical. Tour support for Joe Lycett and ‘almost certain future star’ (Chortle.co.uk), Josh takes us through the past two years of his life, trying to have a baby and accidently losing Captain Tom’s birthday cards in his own unique and hilarious style. Amassing over three million views on his Twitter videos and regularly headlining the biggest clubs in the country Josh is ready to f*ck shit up this Fringe (as a friend).”

WHERE: Monkey Barrel Comedy – Monkey Barrel 4 (Venue 515) 

WHEN: 14:10 (60 min)

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Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

Pfft do I look like a rookie to you? There’s nothing this city can throw at me that I haven’t seen a thousand times over *draws on cigarette*. Nah, it’s my fourth time, I love the festival even though I’ve never objectively had a good one, this is going to be different though *throws cigarette on the ground and stamps it out*. I think the things that make a great festival are the bars, the food and the shows *notices there’s still some cigarette left so picks it back up*. I’m really looking forward to it.

What are the big things you’ve learned since 2019 and have you absorbed any of the lessons yet?

Just that none of it matters so enjoy it. I also learnt that YouTube Yoga videos are largely ineffective if you’re also drinking 8 cans of lager a night.

Tell us about your show.

It’s a stand up show, I wrote it, it’s on at Monkey Barrel which I’m really excited about, previews have gone well and I’ll perform it everywhere after, Coventry, America and, if I can pull it off, Bristol!

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

Sean McLoughlin is amazing, I also love Lou Conran. Red Richardson is sat next to me right now, so I’ll say him, Good Kids, Celya Ab and Eric Rushton for some midland vibes. My guilty pleasure is university A cappella groups.


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‘9 Circles’ (Assembly George Square Studios, until AUG 29)

“Joshua Collins is an enigmatic ball of furious energy sparking dangerously off officialdom.”

Editorial Rating: 5 Stars (Outstanding)

Guy Masterson’s done it again. He’s promised something BIG and he’s delivered. In these pages I’ve described Guy as “The First Knight of The Fringe”. In many ways Guy IS the Fringe. A veteran of coming on for thirty Augusts, in good times and bad, he’s brought with him to Edinburgh shows that set the standard by which all other Fringe theatre is measured. Guy’s got one of the best eyes in the business for scripts, for talent, and for design. He can take 2 and 2 and make 10, but give him 5 and 5 and he’ll make something even greater still. This year he’s got a strong script, an even stronger cast, flawless production values, and an hour’s worth of stage traffic that goes deep and dark.

We enter to find not 9 circles but 2, one on stage, the other framing the drama from behind. Rings of LED lighting in each help to capture and distil the distressing and unpalatable truths we’re about to mishandle. Here is the story, based on real events, of a young American soldier facing the consequences for a wartime atrocity that he may, or may not, have committed. The System that under-educated him, under-employed him, and which took him into the army despite his being morally suspect from day 1 – that same The System is now going to determine whether he lives or dies, is guilty or not guilty of the appalling crime of which he is accused.

As Private Daniel E Reeves, Joshua Collins is an enigmatic ball of furious energy sparking dangerously off officialdom’s procession of army lawyers, federal prosecutors, and even a reverend pastor. Collins’ humanizes his monster so successfully we momentarily find ourselves forgetting what his character is accused of – the rape and murder of a chid, the destruction of her family. One crime in an ocean of wartime guilt. Is it right to focus exclusively on the perpetrator instead of the victim? That’s one of several tough questions not to be raised round the family dinner table in Morningside after you leave the show.

Collins’ performance sets him out as one to watch in the coming years, especially when he’s working with actors of the calibre of his current co-stars Samara Neely Cohen, Daniel Bowerbank, and David Calvitto. Bowerbank is flawless. Neely Cohen nearly steals the show. Calvitto – despite a few minor early-in-the-run slips with the heavily redacted script – brings that precision of bearing that makes him such a Fringe favourite. The three best and most successful casts in Edinburgh right now are Sir John Steell’s ‘Alexander and Bucephalus’ (outside the City Chambers on the Royal Mile); Steell’s rearing equestrian statue of The Duke of Wellington (outside Register House on Princes’ St); and the cast of Guy Masterson’s ‘9 Circles’ which fully deserves the big crowds it’s already drawing in.

 


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EdFringe Talk: Assume People Like You

“Unfortunately I can’t say that Edinburgh will be the world premier. I could perhaps say that it is the premier of the definitive version of Assume People Like You, as the previous showing featured a section of the show that I didn’t like, so it’s been improved.”

WHO: Melon the Human

WHAT: “A robot, an alien and a human… what could go wrong? Remember when you could become friends from making eye contact on the playground? Well, this is the circus show that represents the struggles of modern connections. What happens when a lonely human wants to be liked but doesn’t know how to make friends? Can a robot be liked or can an alien be a friend? With skills from a former Cirque du Soleil performer and the humour of Michael Scott (the Office), perhaps it’s easier to swipe right and just Assume People Like You.”

WHERE: Assembly Roxy – Upstairs (Venue 139) 

WHEN: 14:30 (60 min)

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Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

My favourite part of this question is the “expand on your answer” mentioned in the brackets. Purely because this gives the implication that in the past, someone has responded with a yes/no answer, and having heard how there is a battle for PR with a lot of losers at the Edinburgh Fringe… it sounds like some people in the past have wasted this amazing opportunity. But not I!!!

This will be my third Edinburgh Fringe having attended in 2017, 2018 and soon, 2022. When I first came to the Ed Fringe in 2017, I was a fresh faced street performer who just wanted to experience the magic of this huge event and I was blown away. I got to see 28 shows, perform 31 street shows, I saw shows that shaped my creativity in ways I never thought possible, made a best friend and a few normal friends and just had an overall amazing time. The plan for 2018, try and get spotted by someone, just anyone… Well! It turned out I had already been spotted, at the 2017 Fringe, a video of my cube spinning act fell into the hands of Cirque du Soleil and midway through the Fringe, I was selected to join them in three months time. This is why Edinburgh Fringe will always be special to me, every time I’ve attended, I’ve been given an opportunity to further my career. I wish I could say I’m the type of artist who actively chases opportunity, but I’m not, which is fine because it seems that Edinburgh Fringe is an amazing melting pot of artists, producers and audiences looking for that special thing, hopefully in 2022, it’s me.

As for the difference between being a punter vs being a producer. As a punter, I turn up with a budget, go through the Ed Fringe guide like a shopping list of the shows I want to see and I go and check them out. I’m there to be entertained and inspired. As a producer, I’ve already spent thousands of dollars on the hope that someone comes to watch me show (it’s called Assume People Like You), and I lie awake at night thinking of the all of the worst case scenarios like: no one buys a ticket, I forget how to do circus, I forget my passport, I get Covid, an ATM steals my bank card, I sleep in, my show is universally hated or worst of all, one of my favourite artists watched my show but leaves midway. Being a punter is much more fun.

What are the big things you’ve learned since 2019 and have you absorbed any of the lessons yet?

Well 2019 was the greatest year! That was the year I toured with Cirque du Soleil around Europe, created my first solo show and was all set for a 2020 tour of South East Asia. Then Covid. I’m not really a “life lesson” type of person. For me it’s more “oh this is happening now, guess I’ll adapt,” and adapt I did. I have learnt things over the age of covid, but they’re just not that exciting: the perfect omelette, new circus tricks, I’m not too bad at high school teaching but I could be better, online teaching is hard, investing is easy, investing is hard, making a one man show is hard etc etc

Tell us about your show.

The show is called Assume People Like You (or APLY for short) and it is the circus interpretation of that feeling when you go to a party where you don’t know anyone so you mentally plan how you will approach the friend making process but this only makes you a little more anxious. The main circus skills within the show are cube manipulation, broom juggling, flexibility and the robot. To break up the action, I also do a lot of awkward comedy. Note that I do awkward comedy in the professional way, and not the amateur comedian way – please reference this review as evidence. https://www.theatretravels.org/post/review-robot-dance-circus-at-arcana

I wrote the show, and the primary challenge was merging the feeling of awkwardness at a party with nifty circus skills – “oh I’m feeling awkward, better do some juggling.”

APLY is being produced by Cluster Arts and I sometimes feel like my version of our partnership is skewed, but here’s my interpretation of how we came together. I was performing my old show and I invited Cluster to come and see, with the hidden intention of working with them. Cluster Arts thoroughly enjoyed the show but couldn’t understand why my face was on all of the props and why Skrillex was featured so prominently, but my skills and performance style was at a high enough level that they saw something sparkle deep within. So we joined forces, but I had to make a new show with no Skrillex and no face on my props.

The company is Melon the Human and it features one person. I am Melon the Human.

Unfortunately I can’t say that Edinburgh will be the world premier. I could perhaps say that it is the premier of the definitive version of Assume People Like You, as the previous showing featured a section of the show that I didn’t like, so it’s been improved.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

I love this question however I feel my expertise should only focus on the world of circus and the absurd, so here we go.

If you loved APLY:
Blink by Joz Norris: everything he does is unpredictable and hilarious. This show reaches a level of absurdity I could only dream of.
Play 3.0 by Sirqus Alfon: lot’s of fun with great characters, music and vibes. Their shows always feel like a party and also reach a level of randomness I could only dream of.

if you’ve got kids:
Chores and A Bee Story. I’ll put these two in the same recommendation because they’ve got a strong similarity that I love. They feature the level of humour you would want for a kids show, but the skill levels of these performers are incredible and break any stereotypes of naff children’s shows.

A fun night out:
Briefs: I mean, it’s Briefs. Briefs. Surely you’ve heard of them.

Feeling cool:
Collision: Circus is hard to make cool, but collision does it. The combination of street dance and circus was just waiting to be explored in a full show and they’ve done it and it’s a joy to watch the elements crossover.


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EdFringe Talk: Shelf: Hair

“Fringe is one of the only places you can get a really intensive, near deadly amount of stage time as a comedian, even if you’re new.”

WHO: Ruby Clyde & Rachel Watkeys Dowie

WHAT: “Shelf are a musical comedy double act. Sort of. One of them is tone deaf, so technically they’re a musical single act plus guest. Hair is their highly anticipated debut hour about one bizarrely life-changing haircut. Over 1 million views on BBC Three. Founders of The LOL Word. Musical Comedy Awards finalists, 2020. Funny Women finalists, 2019. ‘Cool and relevant’ (Skinny). ‘Clever and catchy’ (Bruce Dessau). ‘The talented twosome find belly laughs in heavyweight topics like mental health, sexuality and gender’ (DIVA).”

WHERE: Pleasance Courtyard – Bunker Three (Venue 117) 

WHEN: 19:15 (60 min)

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Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

No, we gained much of our performance experience on the Free Fringe! Fringe is one of the only places you can get a really intensive, near deadly amount of stage time as a comedian, even if you’re new. Or a little bit weird, and when we started out, we were both.

What are the big things you’ve learned since 2019 and have you absorbed any of the lessons yet?

We’ve learned to adapt our style to musical comedy as that works best for us, and has made it much easier to gig on different bills than when we did sketch comedy. We’ve also learned that we should listen to scientists and be prepared for future pandemics or something (not totally clear on that, haven’t fully absorbed that last thing).

Tell us about your show.

Our show Hair is a very fun, energetic stand up show / concept album about two completely different experiences of looking like handsome young boys. We wrote it ourselves and are forever indebted to our director, Phoebe Bourke who helped us mould it into the handsome production it is today. Our production company is called Berk’s Nest, and we love them dearly- they produce a lot of our favourite comedians.

Technically, we’ve had a version of this show in the works since 2018, but then there were global events. So far we know we’ll be taking it to Aberystwyth comedy festival, to extend its already long life.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

Well, first you should come see The LOL Word, our queer mixed bill at the Monkey Barrel. It’s on all weekend form midnight to 3am, and it will be an absolute rager.

Once you’ve done that, go see: Britney, Jodie Mitchell, Chloe Petts, Sophie Duker, Olga Koch, Helen Bauer, Catherine Bohart, Ania Magliano, Sarah Keyworth, Katie Pritchard, Lara Ricote.


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EdFringe Talk: Isabelle Farah: Irresponsabelle

“I’m learning at the moment that selling a show is easier when the audience have less choice about what to see.”

WHO: Isabelle Farah

WHAT: “British-Lebanese comedian Isabelle Farah’s sell-out Edinburgh Fringe 2021 show Ellipsis later transferred to the Soho Theatre and was listed by Chortle in the Top Ten shows of 2021. Isabelle returns with her debut stand-up hour about (not) growing up, terrible decisions and desperately failing to be a responsible adult. An ode to every irresponsible choice she’s ever made. ‘Promising newcomer’ (Telegraph). ‘Woke Millennial… very funny’ **** (Daily Mail). ‘Spellbinding’ **** (Chortle.co.uk). ‘Devastatingly funny’ **** (BritishTheatreGuide.info). As heard on BBC Woman’s Hour.”

WHERE: Assembly George Square – The Box (Venue 8) 

WHEN: 15:45 (60 min)

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Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

No! I brought a show last year that was a theatre/comedy hybrid and a split bill in 2018. I came in 2007 to do a Very Bad Student Play. I saw my first ever stand up gig that year, it was Paul Sinha somewhere with Pleasance, I believe!

What are the big things you’ve learned since 2019 and have you absorbed any of the lessons yet?

The pandemic has taught me compromise, to slow down, resilience. I’ve learned to make really good hummus and falafels. I hope I’ve absorbed some real lessons but my brain’s not very spongy anymore and I can’t think of anything particularly deep so perhaps not? I’m learning at the moment that selling a show is easier when the audience have less choice about what to see.

Tell us about your show.

I wrote it and am producing it and performing it! This is because I have a god complex and am always optimistic how much time I have and what I can achieve! On the plus side, I do know the quality of my own work and know if anything goes wrong I only have myself to blame. My worst nightmare is nagging people for things to be done or finding sloppy mistakes when I’m paying someone to do something.
I’ve been previewing the show but it’s full premier will be at the Fringe! We’ll see what happens after…

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

Rob Copland, Thick n Fast, Lily Philips, Christy Coysh, Sikisa, Chris Hall and Mark Bittlestone, MY OTHER SHOW (*ahem* it’s called Ellipsis and it’s at Underbelly Cowgate) Rajiv Karia, Tatty Macleod.


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‘Alasdair Beckett-King: Nevermore’ (Pleasance Dome – JackDome, until AUG 26)

“This is bardic levels of storytelling. It’s Socratic monologue – if that’s a thing.”

Editorial Rating: 5 Stars (Outstanding)

The queue for Pleasance JackDome is so long it’s doubled back on itself. We’re excited. We’ve been waiting three LONG years for this, for our chance to see THE UP AND COMING ACT of our time. Alasdair Beckett-King is not so much an acquired taste as a taste once acquired, never forgotten. “I’m drinking stars,” is what Dom Perignon is supposed to have said after his first sip of champagne. It’s the same feeling you get watching ABK in one of the last small spaces he’s likely to play.

It’s his material. It’s his delivery. It’s his persona. It’s his hair. Samson must have had hair like that before Delilah got her shears out. It’s hair that should be insured by Lloyds of London. There’s so much of it and it’s so ginger. That’s an obvious thing to say and obvious is the last thing you get with ABK. He comes at you from all angles. This is three dimensional comedy, four if you believe in that sort of thing. It’s clever, it’s insightful, it’s occasionally naughty, but always nice. The appeal is universal.

This is bardic levels of storytelling. It’s Socratic monologue – if that’s a thing. Word on the street is that ABK’s Buxton Fringe outing this year was a bit ropey, and he admits to misordering some of his bits tonight. But this rope has been re-braided strong enough to haul up the mainsail and plenty of topgallants besides. This is a voyage you don’t want to miss. Your last chance to see ABK before he goes supernova. Sell whatever surplus body organs you have to spare and get yourself a ticket.

 


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‘Winston and David’ (Underbelly Dairy Room, until AUG 29)

“What Nick has done is to add wings to Robert’s racing horse. What they’ve got is a Pegasus and it’s a joy to watch their creation take flight.”

Editorial Rating: 4 (Outstanding)

Their friendship was as unlikely as their climbs were steep. One was the obscure son of Welsh nonconformity. The other was a scion of one of Great Britain’s most prominent aristocratic families. The first trained as a solicitor. The second readied himself for war. By the time they met, each had carved out a place in the unfolding drama of national life. They were each looking forward into a bright future in the public spotlight. At home, their combined talents would bring forth harvest after harvest of reforms in the grand old liberal tradition. Overseas they would make war and they would make peace. Kings, sultans, emperors, and presidents would look to these two titans for counsel and comradeship. Their names will live as long as the civilization which they preserved. But this play, despite the title, is not all about Winston Churchill and David Lloyd George.

She was Lloyd George’s typist and had been the close friend of the eldest daughter he mourned. She became his lover, confident, and friend. She would see him at his greatest and at his shabbiest – up close and very personal. From her unique vantage spot in his-story, Frances Stevenson could intimately chronicle the defining events of the early 20th century.

The play was adapted by Lloyd George’s great-great grandson, Robert, from his own 2005 book of the same title. What Robert produced was a thoroughbred script capturing the power of his subjects’ political horseflesh with an attention to detail and accuracy that would do credit to George Stubbs at the height of his powers. But EdFringe is turf like no other. The field is crowded. The going tough. It takes a certain something to get a script, especially one so rooted in verisimilitude, out of the starting gates. Just as Lloyd George and Churchill complimented and compensated for each others’ faults and faculties, Robert and Nick Hennegan, the show’s director, have found a perfect balance between essential drama and necessary detail. What Nick has done is to add wings to Robert’s racing horse. What they’ve got is a Pegasus and it’s a joy to watch their creation take flight.

As Frances Stevenson, and several other characters, Alexandra Donnachie is wondrous. She’s smart, sexy, kind, and confident. Her scenes of heartache are deeply touching. Few actors could manage to hold their ground between two such larger than life personalities, Donnachie not only holds, she takes centre stage and gives back as good as she gets. Peter Swales is a very believable Churchill. The scene on the golf links is a masterclass in just enough. As DLG Geraint Rhys has a choice to make and now would be a good time to make it. Was his character a sincere and driven man of vision, or a grubby chancer with an outsized appetite for sex à la Bill Clinton? Or was he both? Rhys tiptoes around the question. I’d like to see him dive in.

The staging is an understated star. Nick Hennegan, a thirty-year EdFringe veteran, has brought his A Game to the properties, lighting, and sound design. This is Fringe theatre at its absolute best. It’s what the Festival is ultimately for. A new production finding its feet starting with a walk, stretching to a trot, working up to a canter, and (maybe, just maybe) crossing the finish line at a full gallop. Only it won’t be a gallop because this production is a Pegasus.

 


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EdFringe Talk: Bee Story

“We have made a very physical and fun show with important environmental themes and want to share it with the awesomeness of Edinburgh Fringe and the world.”

WHO: Robbie Curtis

WHAT: “It’s a sticky situation. Queen Bee and Worker Bee need to work together to rebuild their hive, but things never quite go to plan… A Bee Story is a uniquely Australian physical theatre show for children and families incorporating a kaleidoscope of circus, acrobatics, dance and live music. It tells the story of Queen Bee and Worker Bee who must work together to rebuild their hive after being destroyed by a bushfire. Join the bees on their buzzy adventures and be enchanted by their pollen-collecting skills, honey-making abilities, and super-bee strength. A Bee Story has themes of environmentalism.”

WHERE: Underbelly, Bristo Square – Cowbarn (Venue 302) 

WHEN: 11:45 (60 min)

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Is this your first time to Edinburgh?

My name is Robbie Curtis and I’m the Director of Arc Circus based on the Gold Coast in Australia. I’ve been performing internationally for over 15 years with Cirque Du Soleil, Circa, Circus Oz, Australian Ballet and more. Arc Circus has been running for the last 3 years, and it came out of a passionate pursuit to tell important stories through Circus, Dance and Theatre.

Second Time at Fringe. At Arc we are passionate about our work reaching a wide audience, and Edinburgh Fringe is an incredibly well regarded festival showcasing some of the world’s best work. We have made a very physical and fun show with important environmental themes and want to share it with the awesomeness of Edinburgh Fringe and the world.

Edinburgh Fringe brings great exposure for shows internationally. Edinburgh is such an inspiring festival, for many reasons but mainly because of the sheer quantity of work being performed at the festival. The city is incredibly buzzy, and we want to add to the buzz with A Bee Story.

What are the big things you’ve learned since 2019 and have you absorbed any of the lessons yet?

We used the pandemic lockdown time to make a lot of new work with our company. We wanted to use the time as productively as possible, and we did that by making 5 shows in 2 years. We have learnt that time is precious and for me the best use of my time is being a buzzy bee and doing amazing acrobatics and sharing that with the world.

Tell us about your show.

A Bee Story is a uniquely Australian physical theatre show for children and families incorporating a kaleidoscope of circus, acrobatics, dance and live music. It tells the story of Queen Bee and Worker Bee who must work together to rebuild their hive after being destroyed by a bushfire. But things never quite go to plan…

Join the bees on their buzzy adventures and be enchanted by their pollen-collecting skills, honey- making abilities, and super-bee strength. A Bee Story has themes of environmentalism, sustainability, and community spirit, and was directed by performer Robbie Curtis (Circa, Cirque du Soleil, Circus Oz, Australian Ballet), and co-created with musician and performer Lizzie McRae.

What should your audience see at the festivals after they’ve seen your show?

There is so much great stuff to see at this year’s fringe. From Late night cabaret like Briefs to hilarious and poignant clowning like Assume People Like You, as well as other fantastic kids stuff like Chores. One not to miss is Collision by Casus, a super new acrobatic work mixing dance and circus. Cannot wait!


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