Skip to main content

Edinburgh Festival Fringe reviews 2 - E15, Summerhall - Four stars / Equations For A Moving Body, Summerhall - Four stars / People of the Eye, Summerhall - Three stars

When twenty-nine single mothers living in sheltered housing on an East London estate were given notice to quit after Newham Council agreed to sell the flats to private property developers, it sparked a mini revolution that highlighted the ongoing disgrace of the UK's housing problem in London, Edinburgh and beyond. As the full shame of Newham Council's bully boy tactics is made clear in E15, the Lung theatre company's verbatim drama drawn from interviews with the women who instigated what became the Focus E15 campaign. Beyond this, it also demonstrates in an infectiously vibrant fashion how a fully politicised sense of community spirit can be galvanised in the face of authoritarian adversity.

The audience walk in to a stage full of noise generated by a cast of five flanked by colourful banners in a way that captures the riotous spirit of the sort of old-school protest that is so necessary right now. Co-scripted by Helen Monks and directed by Matt Woodhead, where the play could end on a false note of triumph, the action id disrupted in a way that jars such expectations, even as it evokes the full exhausting potential of people power and a will to change that may bring down governments yet.

Runs to August 27.

There is a moment mid-way through Equations For a Moving Body, Hannah Nicklin's personal reflection on how she came to swim, cycle and run her way to a triathlon finishing line, when the words stop and Nicklin sits at a desk where her laptop is placed. The images she googles which are projected behind her speak volumes about some of the personal drives behind both the show and its inspiration.

The moment is an unexpectedly moving impasse in a work that begins with Nicklin's amused sense of curiosity about what it might mean to complete such a feat of human endurance, slowly but surely gathering momentum, first from a scientific and mathematical distance, then in the thick of it, racing for dear life itself.

Nicklin captures the sport's adrenalin rush in this way that should rightly see it be made a central part of fitness campaigns around the land. But her show too is a contemplation of a very private need to achieve that sees her breaking through the pain barrier to hit the finishing line with what might just be a personal best.

Runs to August 27.

The science fiction styled title of People of the Eye may be deceptive in Erin Siobhan Hutching's personal look at how having a deaf person in the family turns its domestic world upside down. When its narrative veers off into a melange of home movies, animation, inter-active games with the audience and the correct use of sign language, however, it makes for a heartfelt and amusing topsy-turvy dramatic collage that goes beyond words to make its point.

Performed by Hutching with Emily Howlett and devised by Hutching with Sophie Stone for Jennifer K Bates' Deaf and Hearing Ensemble production, the show looks at life with a deaf child both through the parents' point of view and that of her sister who can hear. This makes for some poignant moments, as well as educational ones in a show that draws from real life experience that entertains without ever sentimentalising.

Runs to August 27.

The Herald, August 10th 2016

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ceildh

Tron Theatre, Glasgow Three stars
One kiss is all it takes for everyone to understand each other in Catriona Lexy Campbell and Mairi Sine Campbell’s new play. Linguistically that is, as ancient and modern are brought to rollickingly intimate life by the Gaelic-based Theatre Gu Leor (Theatre Galore) company in the Tron’s Vic Bar en route to an extensive cross-Scotland tour. The set-up is the sort of ghastly tartan-draped corporate function whose perma-grinning hostess Lisa makes bogus claims of preserving culture while blatantly intent on flogging it off to the highest bidder. Think McWetherspoon by way of Trumpageddon.
With the audience ushered into a cabaret table arrangement by Lisa’s step-daughter Eilidh and serenaded by Eddie’s oh-so-couthy accordion playing, the dirt from Harris is unearthed along with a bottle of David Beckham-branded whisky. This causes the corporate shindig to be disrupted on an epic scale by seventeenth century poet Mairi Ruadh. Which is when both the kissing an…

The Duke

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Four stars
Shon Dale-Jones seems like a very nice chap. You can tell from the way he welcomes each member of the audience into the theatre, shaking them by the hand to a soundtrack of energising 1960s feel-good soul. Such a personable approach helps create a warm and intimate atmosphere, so when he sits at a desk with only a laptop, a volume control and us for company, you can’t help but be charmed from the start of this hour-long foray, both into his own fantastical mind as well as the discursive set of first-world contradictions it lets loose into the world.
It begins with a Royal Worcester porcelain figure of the Duke of Wellington on horseback, which Dale-Jones’ dad bought in 1974 for £750. This would make it worth more than £8,000 in today’s money if his mum hadn’t broken it while dusting. This is just one more thing for Dale-Jones to think about as he attempts to apply a script doctor’s ruthless critique onto a film script he’s been working on for a deca…

This House

Festival Theatre, Edinburgh Four stars
Five years is a long time in politics just as it is in the theatre. When James Graham’s epic reimagining of one of the most pivotal eras in late twentieth century British democracy first appeared in 2012, its depiction of the aftermath of the 1974 hung parliament in Westminster chimed with a then current coalition. Half a decade and a couple of referendums on, Graham’s dramatic whizz through to 1979’s successful vote of no confidence in the Labour government now looks like a warning.
Jeremy Herrin and Jonathan O’Boyle’s touring revival of a production first seen at the National Theatre begins with both sides of the House marching en masse in their grey suits and twin-sets down the aisles of the auditorium before cutting a well-choreographed rug in formation. As the Labour and Tory whips mark out their territory away from the chamber, this proves to be one of the few moments of unity in a breathless yarn that picks at the old-school gentleman’s agree…