Friday, July 31, 2009

Highlight #8 - Socially Retarded by Tomfoolery

We humans can be a cruel bunch. Often, we love nothing more than revelling in people's misfortunes, whilst at other times we seem fascinated by the ineptitudes and embarassing failures of others. As long as it's not happening to us, it's funny, right?

Thomas and Thomas of Tomfoolery understand this, and selflessly exploit it for our entertainment and enjoyment with Socially Retarded - The Fringe Cringe Comedy, in which they parade a series of increasingly desperate and toecurling characters in a fast-paced sketch show that's already becoming one to look out for.

Morris dancers, men in y-fronts, gangsta wannabes and builders struggling with their feminine sides - all these and more are here for your voyeuristic amusement, portrayed with some cutting observational comedy and (intentionally) cringeworthy moments which you may have to watch from behind your fingers.

With their infectious enthusiasm (at least one Thomas has been known to yelp like a girl) and affable personalities, Tomfoolery will be hard to miss this year: whether they're flyering on the Royal Mile, tweeting incessantly about their show (but hey, we're all guilty of that...) or just genuinely enjoying the fact they're here in Edinburgh with everything it has to offer at this time of year.

Hopefully they remember to actually turn up and perform their show...

Socially Retarded runs from 7th - 22nd August (not Sundays) at the Spaces @ Royal College of Surgeons, price £7

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Highlight #7 - The Grind Show

In a way, The Grind Show was born here. Founder members of the TBA Collaborative, filled with a desire to create original, compelling drama, visited the Edinburgh Fringe in 2007. They left, inspired by what they had seen and went home to work on creating The Grind Show, a startling and innovative piece of contemporary physical theatre which receives its world premiere at this year's Edinburgh Fringe.

Featuring a driven and motivated ensemble of current and postgraduate students from the University of Washington, The Grind Show takes place on the peripherary of a strange, freakish circus, amongst its constantly 'grinding' sideshow acts. An innocent child adrift finds himself in the midst of this surreal, nightmarish troupe and is forced to make a decision that will impact the rest of his life.

Physical and visually arresting, The Grind Show takes its cues from a variety of commendable inpirational sources, with the spirits of Tim Burton, David Lynch and Neil Gaiman watching from the ringside. However, it is to TBA Collaborative's credit that their show looks unmistakably their own and promises to be a uniquely memorable experience that encapsulates the true feeling of Fringe theatre.

In a programme that's increasingly becoming full of big-name comedy acts and easy crowd-pullers, it's reassuring to know that there are groups like TBA Collaborative with a vision and passion that is driven by artistic expression. For that alone, they deserve your attention - the fact they are bringing a work as original and interesting as The Grind Show is almost a bonus.

So - what circus act would you perform for eternity?

The Grind Show runs from 5th to 31st August (not 17th) at the C Venues, Chambers Street, various prices from £7.50.

Review to follow on 14th August.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Highlight #6 - Venus and Mars and Other Myths of Mr and Ms

From ancient times to the present, the differences between man and woman have long fascinated and inspired poets and playwrights, who have employed their artistry to weave timeless, emotion-drenched portrayals of the human condition.

To my knowledge, none of them have so far done so using the medium of comedy aprons.

Fortunately, that gap is admirably addressed by Venus and Mars and Other Myths of Mr and Ms, a 50-minute whirlwind tour of some of history and literature's greatest couples, wardrobe changes being limited to one swift swapping of aprons after another.

Swoon as Romeo and Juliet express their emotions for each other wearing novelty aprons with pictures of boobs & willies on them. Gasp as Anthony & Cleopatra spiral towards their fates with only plastic household apparel for protection. And shudder as Lord and Lady Macbeth (pictured - although which one is Lord and which one is Lady is up for some debate here) try to extricate themselves from their self-spun web of greed, deceit and pvc prints of sexy underwear.

Featuring two young actors with obvious energy and chemistry and some pithy writing & direction, Venus and Mars and Other Myths of Mr and Ms has been generating some great preview run feedback and looks set to be a fast-paced and funny romp through familiar territory everyone can relate to. And it must've been a blast buying the costumes.

Venus and Mars and Other Myths of Mr and Ms runs from 7th-29th August (not Sundays) at The Spaces on The Mile, various prices from £6.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

There's a kind of buzz all over the town

Although it doesn't all really kick off until next week (apart from the Jazz Festival, which starts on Friday), there is a tangible sense of expectancy and industrious preparation about central Edinburgh at the moment.

The legendary purple upside-down cow of the Udderbelly (pictured) has its torso in place, and lighting and banners are being hoisted up on the surrounding venues of The Gilded Balloon and the Pleasance Dome. Not long before this area is jam-packed with punters, performers and princesses (see previous post) and transformed into one of the places to be during the Festival.

Elsewhere, the much anticipated Hullaballoo is being erected in George Street Gardens, the C Urban Socco is again making use of the derelict burnt-out area in the Cowgate and the grass of Charlotte Square Gardens is freshly mown in readiness for the Book Festival tents.

1001 other preparations will be going on behind the closed doors of other venues as well, all working hard to ensure Edinburgh is dressed in its finest Festival best. And it's looking damn good already...

Monday, July 27, 2009

Highlight #5 - Princess Cabaret

Many successful shows are built around a "what if...?" premise.

Princess Cabaret is one such act, asking the question "what if...those demure, graceful and stereotyped Disney Princesses were actually brazen, post-modern feminists with a wicked line in biting satire, song & dance routines and potty mouths?".

Seven comediennes from Sydney University's Women's Revue take the likes of Belle, Cinderella, Tinkerbell, Jasmine and the rest and drag them screaming and kicking (or flapping like a mackerel, in the case of Ariel) into a wonderful world far removed from anything Uncle Walt dreamed up for them.

Promising a show full of musical parodies and wicked, stereotype-busting humour, Princess Cabaret looks set to parade its own particular style of sassy glamour around Edinburgh this August, giving us a glimpse of a world where The Beast is shackled to the kitchen sink, Aladdin is a sympathetic listener and Prince Charming really knows how to please a woman...

Princess Cabaret runs from 5th-31st August at the Gilded Balloon Teviot, various prices from £5.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Plans for the Festival

Not long now.

Once it all begins, this blog will feature the following on a daily basis:
  • A photo of the day - either from a performance shoot; or from my daily photographic expedition to the Royal Mile (other shots will be on my Flickr site or my photography website)
  • Breaking news / gossip / word-of-mouth tips etc
  • And from the 8th to the 31st inclusive, reviews of the shows I'll be seeing
Bookmark or subscribe now and join me in another wild, unpredicatble and fantastic Festival experience.

Bring an umbrella.