Skip to main content

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Review 1 - Heads Up - Summerhall, Four Stars / The Interference - C Chambers Street - Four stars / Tell Me Anything - Summerhall, Three stars

There is something Prospero-like about Kieran Hurley when he sits at a table at the centre of his performing world in Heads Up, the Glasgow-based auteur's story-telling close-up of four very different lives closing in on themselves just as the world is about to end. It's something about the way he conjures up some of the city's eight million criss-crossing stories, the lit candle in front of him the only beacon left for his creations to cling onto.

There is something spiritual too going on as Hurley taps out the alchemic pulses of MJ McCarthy's touch sensitive soundscape like a barefoot tabletop prophet overseeing his imaginary creations. The language is raw, the experiences of his characters transcendent. This is the case whether it's the off the rails futures speculator, the potty-mouthed schoolgirl, the coked-up rock star and would-be messiah who finds new life through crashing and burning, and the fast food worker who is reborn.

In a show that fleshes out some of the authorial techniques Hurley first developed in his breakthrough show, Beats, the experience of listening as much as watching feels as intense as any everyday apocalypse in a piece that burns with a dystopian terror that sounds very much like now.

At first glance, the opening tableaux of The Interference looks like the youthful twelve-strong ensemble onstage are preparing for a giant group hug in Cathy Thomas-Grant's Pepperdine Scotland production of Lynda Radley's play. For the young woman surrounded by such a huddle, however, the attention on her is an even more unwelcome by-product of an action not of her making.

Karen's rape by campus football star Smith initially seems like a cut and dried case until assorted authorities conspire to make Karen feel like the guilty party, while Smith is afforded protection and celebrity status. Radley's relentless cut-up of opinion, gossip and testimony channelled through TV phone-ins, cross-country Skype calls and online trolling exposes how social media can travel like wildfire in such a situation, picking up cheer-leaders for both sides as it goes. With a couple of perma-grinning talking heads commentating on the action, this is rape trial as spectator sport in all its frat-boy grotesquerie.

In this latest collaboration between Pepperdine University, and Scotland-based writers, Thomas-Grant's

committed cast burl through all this with ferocious drive, switching characters in an instant in a damning indictment of a warped establishment protecting its own by any means necessary.

In Tell Me Anything, David Ralfe walks through the audience with a full size blow-up dolphin on his back onto a stage area patterned with a maze-like construction of cardboard tubes. While this makes for quite an entrance, it's not as abstract as it first looks in Ralfe's solo piece of autobiographical confessional. Rather, as he engages brightly with the audience on concepts of unrequited love, what initially looks like a reminiscence of teenage kicks morphs into a far more painful rites of passage as Ralfe looks back at his fifteen year old self.

The cause of that pain is his girlfriend Kate. David and Kate can't keep their hands off each other at the start of this seventy-five minute meditation on how one person's illness can leave its mark on others. And when Kate's eating disorder gets the better of them both, suddenly there's more to life than snogging in Christopher Harrisson's production for the On the Run company. Ralfe's initially engaging demeanour soon gives way to an unravelling of emotional baggage harnessed by the subject's seriousness in a piece that's not afraid to do its growing up in public.

The Herald, August 9th 2016
ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Art School Dance Goes On Forever – Snapshots Of Masters Of The Multiverse

Intro – Snapshots – Deaf School

1

In 1980, the same year as the Manchester band, Magazine, released a 7
inch single called A Song From Under The Floorboards – a three verse
and chorus distillation of Dostoyevsky's novel, Notes From Underground
– an art school scandal occurred.

This scandal took place in Liverpool, and was based around a project
called the Furbelows, although it became better known in the Liverpool
Echo and other organs that reported it as the Woolly Nudes.

The Furbelows, or Woolly Nudes, were a group of artists who had come
out of Liverpool College of Art, who, dressed in grotesque woolly
costumes which featured knitted approximations of male and female
genitalia, made assorted public interventions around the city centre as
kind of living sculptures acting out assorted narratives.

The Furbelows project had been funded by what was then Merseyside Arts
Association, and, after the participants were arrested and taken to
court on obscenity charges after what…

Peter Brook – The Prisoner

Peter Brook is no stranger to Scotland, ever since the guru of European and world theatre first brought his nine-hour epic, The Mahabharata, to Glasgow in 1988. That was at the city’s old transport museum, which by 1990 had become Tramway, the still-functioning permanent venue that opened up Glasgow and Scotland as a major channel for international theatre in a way that had previously only been on offer at Edinburgh International Festival.
Brook and his Paris-based Theatre des Bouffes du Nord company’s relationship with Tramway saw him bring his productions of La Tragedie de Carmen, La Tempete, Pellease et Mellisande, The Man Who…, and Oh Les Beaux Jours – the French version of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days – to Glasgow.
Thirty years on from The Mahabharata, Brook comes to EIF with another piece of pan-global theatre as part of a residency by Theatre des Bouffes du Nord, which Brook has led since he decamped to Paris from London in the early 1970s. The current Edinburgh residency has alr…

Romeo And Juliet - Shakespeare's Globe Comes to Glasgow

Open-air Shakepeares are a summer-time perennial of the theatre calendar, attracting picnicking audiences as much as midges. More often than not, such romps through the grass are frothy, heritage industry affairs designed to be accompanied by strawberries and cream and not to be taken too seriously. Shakespeare’s Globe theatre company look set to change such perceptions when they open their outdoor tour of Romeo And Juliet in Glasgow next week as part of the West End festival.

For the two young actors taking the title roles of the doomed lovers, it will also be something of a homecoming. Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy both studied in Glasgow prior to turning professional. Indeed, Madden has yet to graduate from the acting course at RSAMD, and, as well as facing the pressures of playing such a meaty role in close proximity to the audience, will have the added anxiety of being assessed and graded by his tutors.

“This is the end of my third year,” says Madden following a Saturday mornin…