Mirandolina, Hill Street Theatre.
A bright start to the day with Theatre in the Square’s production of Carlo Goldoni’s Mirandolina in the version by Ranjit Bolt. Originally written in 1753, this is a gem of a comedy that mocks hypocrisy, class and the role of women in society and is neatly performed by its cast of eight. It’s funny, revealing, and features a superb performance by Samantha Charles as Mirandolina herself. If for no other reason, it’s worth seeing just to fill one’s knowledge gap of eighteenth century Italian drama. Great fun!
In Conversation with… Jack Monroe, The Stand’s New Town Theatre.
Several things strike you about Jack Monroe after listening to her being an interviewed for an hour. Firstly, as she herself admits, she is intensely chaotic; autism and ADHD almost certainly guarantee this. Secondly, she has been nearly destroyed by online trolls who continually find ways to undermine her and destroy her confidence. Perhaps most of all, it’s her genuine humility and honesty that comes through with every sentence she utters. When someone tells a story about something that Jack Monroe has done or has written, which has transformed another person’s life, she takes no credit for it; saying it’s purely down to the individual’s bravery and she’s just a tool in a toolbox. She’s very open about her alcoholism, and how she has spent over two years in recovery; and she says she does not attend too many personal appearances because she fears the repercussions from her haters. She needn’t have worried today. A hero for our time.
The Real William Shakespeare… As Told by Christopher Marlowe, Greenside @ Riddles Court.
Shaul Ezer’s play starts from a clever premise; that the plays of William Shakespeare were actually written by the Moroccan ambassador Ahmed Bilqasim and were translated into English by Christopher Marlowe, at the same time that he was writing his own plays – which accounts for the similarities between The Merchant of Venice and The Jew of Malta, for example. It’s nicely performed with a charismatic performance by Nicholas Thorne as Marlowe, and Kirsty Eila McIntyre as Laura, who’s writing a thesis on him in the present day. Unfortunately the play itself is a little underwritten and not that interesting – a musical jester interrupts the flow from time to time and I found my attention was distracted. I must admit, that this particular venue (the Thistle Theatre) has poor sightlines if you’re not in the front row which also makes it harder to get involved in the show. Certainly a germ of a good play here, but not quite there yet.
Olaf Falafel: Look What Fell Out Of My Head, Laughing Horse @ The Pear Tree.
An hour in the company of Olaf Falafel never fails to be entertaining and his latest show is packed with silly jokes, stupid games and lots of laughter. With many of the show’s threads being similar or identical to last year’s show, I wonder whether the always ecstatically hilarious Mr Falafel might be starting to be come a little formulaic. Either way, the man’s a genius.
I Killed My Ex, The Space @ Niddry Street.
As you enter the auditorium, Tina and Lola are shifting a dead body under cover of darkness; Tina is wearing a bridal dress spattered with blood. As the story develops we discover that her wedding day came to an unhappy end when she was jilted at the altar by Matthew, who decided he needed to “find himself” on the beaches of Greece instead. Tina has other ideas about how to deal with Matthew – or was it Lola? It’s a brilliant set up and starts so promisingly. However, the plot development and the writing are both very disappointing, and apart from an agonising crossing-your-legs moment (especially if you’re a man), it fails to realise the potential of those opening few minutes.
Paved with Gold and Ashes, Greenside @ Infirmary Street.
In 1911, the deadliest industrial disaster in New York City took place, with 146 people dying in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire – either from the fire itself, the smoke inhalation, or by jumping to their deaths. Paved with Gold and Ashes tells the story of five women caught up in this awful event. The rabbi’s daughter Rose, the two sisters Lucia and Rosaria, the fiancee Ida and the optimistic Annie, all give us insights into their private lives; their hopes, dreams and aspirations, their home and family lives, and all the little things that keep them going. ThreeDumb Theatre’s production of Julia Thurston’s play seizes your emotions and lays bare the personal tragedies that befall these women, and stokes your fury at the injustice, and their impotence to save themselves. What the Fringe is all about, an unexpected treasure trove of writing and acting excellence. Stunning.
Why I Stuck a Flare Up My Arse for England The Space @ Niddry Street.
Everyone remembers that famous picture of the England football fan who stuck a flare up his backside during the Euros; it was funny, it was moronic, it was dangerous! Alex Hill has written and performs in this extraordinarily insightful play, getting into the character of a man who might do such a thing. It shows football supporting as a group binding exercise, a way of making sure you can finally “belong”; you have to be in – the only alternative is to be out, and no one wants that. However, you can never be sure about the other members of your group – their motivations might not be the same as yours. Billy and Adam are inseparable from childhood until Billy’s uncontrollable passions and behaviour start to push Adam away. Still, it’s just a game – isn’t it? An incredibly moving story, but also riotously funny and totally believable. The Les Miserables sequence is pure joy. Alex Hill plays Billy in a hugely engaging, athletic and boisterous performance which knocks your socks off. Terrific play, terrific performance; bring tissues. A must-see!