I keep forgetting to mention this, but I said I would: Self Criticism, a play about two women trapped in a room together waiting for love but quickly going mad, will be playing in Edinburgh at The Vault (Annexe), 21-27 August. A graceful piece which seeps steadily into Gothic nightmare, it’s worth marking down on your telephone book-sized programme as one to see.
Nick Hodder: Insert Comedy Here
Comedy flows over the Edinburgh Fringe like a deluge of blood. Stand up comics rain down like frogs telling rape jokes and lo, a plague of agents and BBC scouts and award ceremonies doth sweep through the make-shift venues of the land.
Nick Hodder wants to be a part of that multitude. Having bought the £900 CD course with supplemental books, though not having listened to it yet, Hodder bumbles through a comedy minefield like a suicidal sapper. Insert Comedy Here isn’t a stand-up show, it’s beautifully sustained satirical sketch tearing apart the identi-kit jesters currently swamping the small stages and huge arenas of Britain. A straight man to the disembodied voice on the CD player, Hodder needs do little more than react to his master’s dismissive commands, but at times I was laughing so hard my face seized up. Actually, painfully, worryingly seized up, and I was blinded with tears. It was terrifying.
Nick Hodder is the Moses of comedy. Here endeth the metaphor.
Full Stage Splash
Superhero movies, in this year alone, have made more money at the box office than every other film ever made combined. $14 trillion. That’s not just fanciful hyperbole, that is a genuine exaggerated fact. And yet comic books themselves have grown so sophisticated that it’s possible to obtain a doctorate in philosophy simply be reading them. Even the ones that still feature underwear being worn outside the tights.
Full Stage Splash is an attempt to educate the layman in the broad strokes and fiddly details of the history of comics, from the birth of Superman to the heat death of the comics multiverse and beyond. Covering eighty years in an hour means the pacing is frantic, and despite being cleverly explained by enthusiastic geeks, is more than a little overwhelming. The writing is often brilliant, managing to come across as prose hip hop and instructional poetry. Some of the performances, however much filled with a love of their subject, are more claylike than an semi-animated golem. And Kate Quinn, the one girl in the troop, is given little to do besides be the one girl in the troop. I’d‘ve hoped comics had come further than that.
An overworked BBC radio personality gives her lazy boyfriend an ultimatum to sort his life out, then zips off on her moped to interview some obscure classical musical composer. In her basket is a bottle of wine and a loaf of lemon drizzle cake. Somewhere along the way a wolfish AA mechanic redirects her from the A road to the B, to the C and on through the alphabet until she finds herself lost in the land of The Third Policeman and Kafka.
There are funny moments in Red Girl, mostly provided by a radio host and a composer sat in the corner of the stage, who occasionally get to be silly. Overwhelmingly, though, Red Girl is a meandering attempt to jam as many levels of artistic meaning, symbols, upended fairy tales, medical blather, cultural references, and cod psychology into a long, hot hour as possible. It’s needlessly exhausting. And with only a couple exceptions the cast don’t seem to be actors. Maybe friends of the director who proved able to memorise swathes of text about anatomy and the workings of major organs? There are loads of big ideas in Red Girl, but it needs a major edit, a huge injection of energy and precision from its cast, and less self-importance as a piece of art not to sink into a pit of pretentiousness.
The first true work of genius at this year’s Camden Fringe! With air conditioning! Bliss.
In the court of King Shahyar, Queen Scheherazade delays her execution for 1001 nights by telling her murderous husband bedtime stories. Some of the stories presented here are from the original compilation of folk tales, while others have been improvised and whipped up by this amazing company. This is one of the best Fringe shows- one of the best pieces of pure theatre- I’ve seen in fifteen years. Physically inventive and brilliantly funny, these folks will be the next generation of comedy stars once those blinkered TV execs tear themselves away from Edinburgh.
Hammer and Tongs Theatre Company, Emilia Petryszyn, Eddy Cottridge, Tamara Astor, Tom Alvon, Charlotte Reid, director/producer Jennifer Rose Lee, the shy guitarist/tea cup percussionist in the corner and the a/c engineer of the Camden People’s Theatre, you are all my new heroes. Enjoy your moment, as I am fickle and have the memory of a cantaloupe. However, if this show is ever remounted you, my dear dozens of readers, have to see it.
Oh, and a note to all theatre companies in this and every other Fringe. Would you all please, PLEASE, get in a professional photographer at some point during your rehearsal period and have some publicity shots taken? Put them up online. Theatre reviewers, whatever some of them might think of their own importance in the world, exist to help sell your shows. You can help them by making decent, sexy images of your show available online. A minimum of marketing effort will go a long way.comments powered by Disqus
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