Skip to main content

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Theatre 2014 Theatre Reviews 14 - Every Brilliant Thing / Bill Clinton Hercules / The Initiate

Every Brilliant Thing
Summerhall
Four stars
How life-affirming can you get about suicide? If that’s not an easy
question to answer, try asking the hero of Duncan Macmillan's solo
play, who probably has it filed away in his list of great things in
life that keep you going. The motivation for this was when his mother
attempted suicide and he began a list to help remind her of why she
should be alive. As performer Jonny Donahoe leads us through all the
love, loss and messy twists and turns of our hero's own life, his
ever-lengthening list becomes part diary, part totem of survival.

Goethe and Daniel Johnson all make an appearance by way of the
meticulously numbered epigrams that come to life when Donahoe asks the
audience to recount them throughout the course of George Perrin's
production for Paines Plough. The audience too become assorted key
players in the unfolding drama as they go willingly onstage in what may
be the gentlest form of audience participation ever. This is largely
down to Donahoe's skill as the jolliest of hosts in what, despite its
starting point, is one of the loveliest shows of the year.
Until August 24th

Bill Clinton Hercules
Assembly
Four stars
“You don't want to be hero-worshipped by me,” says the former President
of the United States at one point in Racheal Mariner's solo play cum
TED talk. “It guarantees you an assassins bullet.” Bill Clinton is
talking about pressing the flesh with JFK and hanging on every
inspirational word of Martin Luther King before both men were gunned
down out of history.; He doesn't make such an observation with
sombreness, but, as played by Bob Paisley, with a positive spring in
his step.

This sets the general tone for an insightful portrait of the
jazz-loving hippy whose flight into the establishment was only
inevitable if you pay heed to the classical yarns of Odysseus and
Hercules which he treats mores as a lifestyle choice than literature.
Kosovo, the Arab Spring, Lewinskygate and his later playing second sax
to Hillary are all in the mix in the sort of speech that Tony Blair
would kill for.

Despite its factual root, Mariner's script lifts things beyond dull
political biography to a sort of
self-deprecating poetry, replete deadly one-liners delivered by Paisley
with aplomb in Guy Masterson's production. Speaking out in support of
the Occupy movement, this is the one-time Slick Willy as born-again
radical, a wannabe hero who only ever wanted to be one of the good guys.
Until August 24.

The Initiate
Summerhall
Four stars
Life is just one long series of negotiations for the Somalian mini-cab
driver at the heart of Alexandra Wood's punchy new thriller, that
twists and turns its way around the back-alleys of the psyche as a
driver taking the 'scenic' route around London might. This is the
trouble. There's not enough wide-open spaces, everyone is in too much
of a hurry and, above all, there simply isn't enough money to make it
big in multicultural London. When the cab driver's son son is teased
about Somalian pirates kidnapping a local couple, some kind of meaning
beyond being an invisible migrant.

One of several presentations of new work held in Paines Plough's new
Roundabout venue housed in the grounds of Summerhall, Wood's play is an
intricately woven thriller, in which the driver navigates his way
through his home life with wife and child, to his country-men and the
hostages he becomes a go-between for. With a trio of performances  from
Andrew French, Sian Reese-Williams and Abdul Salis that fizz and
crackle their way through George Perrin's production, Wood's prime-time
narrative simmers with a tension that says something quietly profound
about the complexities of cultural roots in twenty-first century
Britain.
Until August 24th

The Herald, August 22nd

ends



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Suzy Glass – Message from the Skies

Freedom of movement matters to Suzy Glass, the arts and events producer currently overseeing the second edition of Message from the Skies.This animated literary derive around the city forms part of this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay programme, and runs right through till Burns’ Night. Glass’ concerns are inherent in the event itself, which has commissioned six writers from different disciplines and experiences to each pen a love letter to Europe. Each writer has then paired up with a composer and visual artist or film-maker, with the results of each collaboration projected in monumental fashion on the walls of one of half a dozen of the capital’s most iconic buildings.
With venues stretching from the south side of Edinburgh to Leith, and with one city centre stop requiring a walk up Calton Hill, there is considerable legwork required to complete the circuit. It shouldn’t be considered a race, however, and audiences are free to move between venues at their leisure, visiting each site on d…

Kieran Hurley – Mouthpiece

Things have changed since Kieran Hurley first began writing the play that would become Mouthpiece, which opens at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh this weekend. At the time, Hurley was, in his own words, “quite new on the scene.” As a writer and performer, he had already scored hits with Beats and Chalk Farm, two pieces that put him on the map with a new generation of theatre-makers steeped in an equally new wave of grassroots opposition that drew from the iconography of revolutions past. Where Beats looked at the politicisation of 1990s club culture, Chalk Farm, co-written with AJ Taudevin, focused on a teenage boy caught up in the 2011 London riots.
More plays followed. Some, like Heads Up used the same solo story-telling aesthetic to look at an everyday apocalypse. More recently, Square Go, written with Gary McNair, dissected toxic masculinity through a school playground fight.
All the while as Hurley developed as a writer, from new kid on the block to established provocateur, this…

Rob Drummond – The Mack

Rob Drummond was at home in England when he looked at the news feed on his phone, and saw a post about the fire at Glasgow School of Art. It was June 2018, and the writer and performer behind such hits as Grain in the Blood, Bullet Catch and Our Fathers initially presumed the post was to mark the fourth anniversary of the 2014 blaze in GSA’s Mackintosh Building, which was undergoing a major restoration after much of it was destroyed.
As it turned out, the news was far worse, as reports of a second fire were beamed across the world. As someone who had taken Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s iconic construction for granted while living in Glasgow, Drummond was as stunned as anyone else with even a passing relationship with the Mack.
While emotions continue to run high in response to the disaster, Drummond channelled his thoughts on all this into what he does best. The result is The Mack, a new play that forms part of Oran Mor’s A Play, A Pie and a Pint lunchtime theatre season in Glasgow prior …