The Orchid and the Crow (Assembly Roxy, 6-30 Aug : 16.10 : 1hr 15 mins)

“Utterly compelling”

Editorial Rating: 4 Stars: Outstanding

It’s becoming an alarming trend that there’s one show every year that I see in the opening weekend in Assembly Roxy Downstairs that leaves a bit of an emotional mess. Last year it was Mary Lou Quinlan’s The God Box, this year it is The Orchid and the Crow.

One of the great things about my job is that sometimes you turn up at a theatre and have no idea what to expect at all. And when Daniel Tobias slightly awkwardly walked on stage delivered a few questionable funny lines, picked up a guitar and started performing a rock song (not my personal taste), I thought it was going to be a hard slog. However, after a dodgy first few minutes it turned into the sort of show where one’s cup floweth over with emotion.

To put it bluntly – this is one man’s deeply honest cancer survival story, which also explores his identity as a non-Jewish Jew and the stories we tell each other “just because”. It’s frank, it’s personal, and it’s incredibly well-delivered.

Tobias starts the show, with a discussion of his atheist Jewish (yes, you read that correctly) identity, admitting how is family were “crispy fried bacon Jews”, before giving a potted Biblical history of Abraham. He then sang the hilarious Show Me You Love Me, which was about circumcision. Yes, you read that correctly too.

There were a few songs scattered throughout the performance, and while I wasn’t particularly mad on Tobias’s singing, the recitative in Italian describing the operation he had to remove his tumour was absolutely mind-blowing. Performed while wearing nothing but a surgical gown and with the English lyrics projected on screen, it was a hard-hitting yet beautifully delivered account of his toughest moment and was the absolute highlight of the performance.

Tobias’s storytelling is utterly captivating without being overly theatrical or self-indulgent. He knows how to deliver highs and lows, pace and pause. Being a cancer survivor he can also tell the story without getting caught up in the emotion, but deliver facts and anecdotes clearly and with conviction.

The show has some gloriously comic moments and these are perfectly balanced with the hard-hitting and emotive messages. It’s not just a story, it’s a well-developed and impressive full theatrical piece, well worth a watch. Bring tissues.



Reviewer: Steve Griffin  (Seen 9 August)

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Going Viral (Summerhall, Sat 8th Aug – Sun 30th Aug: 14:10 : 70 mins)

“Daniel Bye’s energy and wit are utterly infectious”

Editorial Rating: 4 Stars  Outstanding

There was no better way to set the tone for Daniel Bye’s storytelling show “Going Viral” than the way in which he began: simply appearing covertly from the audience, charmingly and verbosely commentating. A one man show such as this one requires charisma, boundless energy and utter command of a room to be pulled off correctly: and I am very happy to say that Bye did so with flying colours.

Without revealing too much, the story revolves around two themes: grief, and viruses. It tells the story of a worldwide epidemic of a disease which causes uncontrollable weeping, and along the way the audience expect to learn a surprising amount of information about viral biology. This was the only show I’ve encountered so far which listed a doctor of Epidemiology in its crew, and the touch of real-world expertise lends rock-hard substance to Bye’s tale.

And what a tale it was: intercut with inventive illustrative examples (my favourite being an extremely clever metaphor involving an unholy amount of liquorice allsorts), Bye’s seventy minute story took the audience on a journey through both medical conditions and the human condition, with an atmosphere so thick and engrossing that I often forgot to make notes. As someone who is often disappointed by the predictability of many plots both written and spoken, this realistic and unpredictable tale was a breath of fresh (if pathogen-laden) air.

And by far the most entertaining facet of the story was Bye himself, who approached what for others would be a daunting subject matter with razor-sharp humour and a seemingly ineffable confidence – but his greatest trick was to pull this off whilst still retaining that touch of the everyman which had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand from beginning to end. In short, Daniel Bye’s energy and wit are utterly infectious.

Combined with subtle but theatrical lighting, the drama was solid enough to break a pool cue over.

However, without giving too much away, I was left slightly disappointed by what seemed an oddly enigmatic and anticlimactic ending. After becoming so wrapped in the world Bye creates, it was almost akin to disappointment of the last bite of a cake dropping from your fork and onto the floor.

However, this did little to affect the rest of what was a noteworthy and slick performance. Daniel Bye and his team should be extremely proud of what has proven to be one of the best storytelling performances I’ve seen at Fringe yet. This is not one to be missed.




Reviewer: Jacob Close (Seen 8 August)

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