Skip to main content

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018 Theatre - The Greatest Play in the History of the World, Traverse Theatre, Four stars / South Bend, Gilded Balloon @ The Museum, Four stars

The stage resembles a shoe shop store-room throughout Raz Shaw’s production of Ian Kershaw’s play, The Greatest Play in the History of the World. Performed by the mighty Julie Hesmondhalgh, Kershaw’s starting point is the Carl Sagan-curated Golden Record, a sonic compendium of human life blasted into space on the off-chance it will float into the hands, minds or tentacles of extra-terrestrial lifeforms.

Closer to home, it begins in a street where various bodies orbiting around each other eventually collide. Tom in number 28 and Sara who live opposite in number 27 are ones to keep an eye on, although it’s the elderly Forshaws who really have their sights set on the stars. Hesmondhalgh’s rendering of Kershaw’s story of chance, synchronicity and the irresistible power of love is as clever as Einstein, as cosy as a pair of old slippers, and a joy to watch.

Things happened to Martin McCormick when he went to America. As a Scot abroad landing in a liberal arts institution, he was loved by everybody. Romance blossomed, and when he came back to Scotland he and his beloved swore they’d keep in touch. When he returned, not to California, but to a weird middle American town, everything changed.

This is the crux of McCormick’s play, South Bend, in which he rewinds on both his love affair with America and the short-term mess the reality of it made of his youthful life. This is no poor-me affair, however, as McCormick relays his personal odyssey in Ben Harrison’s production in a Ted-talk style presentation that’s full of charm and bonhomie. With Jess Chanliau playing all the other parts and live Foley work by David A. Pollock, McCormick seems to have survived his stateside excursion and lived to tell a very lively tale.

The Herald, August 15th 2018

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 …