HOTTER

I’m so damn excited to write this review because oh my GOSH I loved this show. Number one I would like for Ell and Mary to be my best friends please they are amazing. Also they are totally and completely talented and beautiful. I just love seeing women succeed. It’s so fulfilling and gives me so much goddamn joy.

HOTTER, as well as being a defiantly feminist show, is also a very skilled piece of verbatim work. The precision and dexterity with which the performers manoeuvre around and with the voices of the people they’ve spoken to is as admirable as it is innovative. I’d also like to take a quick moment to talk about THE OUTFITS. Each layer of clothing is a new look that I can only hope to aspire to with excellent shades of pink, sunglasses to die for, and layering that is, frankly, ingenious.

Both Ell and Mary deliver shattering monologues addressed to people they interviewed, but also to themselves. Both about body image, both about not really being happy with it. Ell’s punched me in the stomach because she looks like me so everything she was saying felt like it could be me saying it to myself, to my sister, even to my mother. I felt the jealousy and self-consciousness they were talking about when I walked into their show because these were two very cool, stunning women and I can never live up to that. Just like Ell and Mary I’m not looking for sympathy. It’s not about that. I love these girls and I loved every single girl in that room, and all the ones not in the room.

At the end, we learn a dance and I don’t feel worried when we get up to dance. I’ve gone to the show on my own because it was quite late and my friends were doing other things. But it’s okay and I feel safe. I will be taking all my wonderful, intelligent, flawed, fabulous friends with me to this show because I want us all to celebrate and dance to Dev Hynes*

*An absolutely stellar song choice (I love Dev) and a stand out playlist in general really.

See HOTTER @ Paradise in Augustines, 10.45pm, 5-27th (not 13, 20)

threadbare

Taking place in the Hilton hotel, this show was completely sold out on the day I saw it. That’s fantastic. It’s great seeing new student work doing well. Massive congratulations to the company for that.

threadbare follows the story of a victim of revenge porn which is essentially when someone posts revealing or naked pictures without consent. It’s a common crime and it’s pretty horrific. This point was very much drilled home during the show, although by the end I’m not sure what angle they were trying to take. The story follows a family and it centres on the revenge, but Maddy Barnes’ script seems to be more concerned with the other problems in her life. I loved her best friend, played by Lily Millar; she shined with humour and honesty.

It’s very difficult to make a show about social media that doesn’t stereotype or assume. It could have been easy for Minotaur theatre to fall into these traps, in some places they did. It’s difficult to feel connection to a show where the teenagers seem to be being told they’re always on their phones and that’s wrong. I also think it could have been slightly more forgiving to its female characters. We hear about mothers who leave, girls who bully, girls who take revenge, girls who cheat, while the male characters (save a classic f*ckboy character) were all let off pretty easy. It’s just something to think about.

I understand this is a contentious topic, and the show covers a number of really difficult issues, from body image, to Facebook privacy, to whether freeing our nipples is empowerment or exploitation. I don’t have all the answers, and I didn’t expect this show to either. It was a solid job and I hope the show has a really good run, and keeps up the good numbers.

See threadbare @ theSpace Northbridge, 12.20, 4th-19th August

Morale is High (Since We Gave Up Hope)

This latest innovation from Powder Keg is a fuck off, head banging, dark, celebratory gig/show/fortune telling/revolution. That’s a lot of words. You need them to try and encapsulate the joy and anger everyone in that room (I think) felt. We’re going to be okay. We aren’t okay yet, but we will be.

Ross has woken up in the future and he’s here to tell Jake, and us, everything. He’s got a futuristic silver sparkly jacket from Primark and he looks super cool. He tells us tomorrow’s headline (and he’s right about it – go on, look it up). He tells us about his local pub, about coming back home.

Ross and Jake are our guides for the evening, leading us through Manchester from today, to tomorrow, to 2020 where none of the things we want to have happened have actually happened but there’s a sense that’s they could, and maybe we’re alright. The frustration that comes with not being listened to, being interrupted, being given £50 for the train fare by Michael Gove after you wake up in his house when it’s actually £75, is articulated pretty well in PK’s show. There’s a tug between collective resistance and hopelessness (despite what the title might suggest). The protest in 2020 is going really well (says Jake), except it’s not (says Ross).

It’s really really hard to make a coherent, well formed, funny, sincere show about politics without making people shy away. Powder Keg manage to help us escape and bring us to action. They join us together in jeers and laughter, help us share in our anger at jobs disappearing, at benefit cuts, at gentrification.

See this show for many reasons, but also see it for the music: the super catchy, spangled banner, rock heavy anthems that you want to scream along to. On the last night I want to have a dance party on the stage, holding our middle fingers and placards to the elite, and hugging tightly as we scream and laugh our way into the apocalypse, or maybe just into a pub in the year 2020.

Roaming Collisions

Lamplit, a company of three clowning women and a cardboard tech box, have created a precious show for kids and adults alike. I hope they collaborate on a children’s book so that I can read it to my kids one day. The three stars, Lilith, Molly, and Lissy all live on Comet, but when Comet crashes to earth, and they no longer have just each other for company, they have to start making friends.

This is a show that is so pure and human that it would take a true cynic to turn their nose up at it. It’s utterly joyful and the skilled precision of the company makes it a pleasure to watch. The humour of the show so often comes from mishaps, improvisations, and funny faces that one feels quite taken in by their offer of friendship. We all find it hard to make friends (if you don’t good for you, I’m glad) and so this expression of the absurdity we put into human interaction allows for some much needed comfort and warmth.

Edinburgh can sometimes be really lonely. This show made me feel less lonely for an hour, and it also made me realise that everyone feels alone sometimes and that’s fine. We’re all here to love and support each other, and if you haven’t come up to the ‘Burgh with anyone, see Roaming Collisions and make three wonderful new friends. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

See Roaming Collisions everyday (except Wednesdays) until the 27th (FOR FREE) in the Serenity Cafe @ 7.10

Action at a Distance

Action at a Distance is a new piece written by Rory Horne, from Argonaut Theatre. It is, quite frankly, a stunning piece of writing. The dialogue is sharp and its edges are well defined. My mind didn’t wander once and that’s very impressive. I was reminded of Grounded and how we can parallel love and drone warfare. It shows great promise from the whole company.

Chris and Josh, played by Rosa Caines and Dom Luck respectively, are stuck in deep Nevada. Their worlds are different and yet they become connected through the internet, which is also what tears them apart. The ethical crisis at the centre of the play is punctuated by the relationship between the central characters.  It means we fall in love with them and then suddenly we’re complicit in their amoral decisions.

The play is a fascinating look at obsession, detachment, and love. The printer in the corner of the room is the only tangible connection to technology on stage, but when Chris sees the photos and prints the money, it’s the only time she experiences something real, not on a screen.

In a world where everything is virtual, it’s nice that the whole show is a tape recording, or a CD, in fact. We have to knock back layers of virtual reality to get to the humanity. This company are Ones To Watch (if that’s something I can say, I don’t know) but they’re great.

See Action at a Distance @ ZOO Southside, 10.10am 4th-22nd August

Iphigenia Crash Land Falls on the Neon Shell That Was Once Her Heart (A Rave Fable)

Without a doubt this show has the best title of the Fringe. Clumsy Bodies are a group of queer, disabled artists who look to retell the famous Greek Myth with Iphigenia’s voice at the centre. In theory this is a beautiful idea. Caridad Svich’s script is allegorical and magical. It’s beautiful to listen to and consume. The visuals of Clumy Bodies’ first production are similarly fascinating. They’re a mixture of rave culture, self-made video art, and archive clips from the likes of Twin Peaks, NASA, and CNN.

The show is a cosmic blast of space. It’s long and it does feel long. This is about creating space and giving space and although might not always make for a fast paced show it does do something politically very important. Jess Rahman-Gonzalez as Iphigenia is ethereal, and Sam Kindon as Achilles is stunning. Both characters are played by non-binary, deaf actors. This is about giving a voice to those previously silenced. Iphigenia is not given a voice in the Greek Myth and so Svich’s words aim to gift her some of that agency, as is the production aiming to give voice to marginalised people. The space in which we sit is shared and generously opened to us by these young people who are unapologetically visible.

The company is, at times, held back by the script they have chosen. I can see glimpses of a different kind of creativity wanting to emerge, perhaps that is devised or perhaps it is something they have written themselves. There’s a lot of potential here and I’m excited to see what their next production, film, piece has in store.

Also, as a short message to the company; please pay no attention to the people who walked out. They were silly and boring and rude. You’re all wonderful.

See Iphigenia Crash Land Falls on the Neon Shell That Was Once Her Heart (A Rave Fable) @ theSpace on Niddry Street @ 10.10pm, 7th-12th August

THE END, THE END, THE END…

We start outside. A group of performers greet us, and smile. My arm is taken by the effervescent Toritseju Danner and she guides me to her childhood utopia. We go around the back of the steel box theatre and sit under a gazebo. She holds a Barbie in a plastic bag and she tells me that I am now her. I’m in her home and her mother is making stew; I can smell it coming from the kitchen. Tori then says that she doesn’t feel beautiful and says that she, we, take bleaching soap and rub it on her, our, skin. As a white woman, I will never understand this feeling, emotion, memory. I felt immense gratitude to be let into her world for a short moment. It was devastating. Each audience member was escorted by a performer and told a story. We hear a glimpse of those stories in the show itself, but it is only a sliver of a moment.

Then the show begins and the performers have moved into a boxing ring. Green tape lines the walls and floors. This show asks what America is via a multimedia whirlwind. I have never seen a piece of art which so encapsulates our modern condition, in particular, the American modern condition. A white American family from New York sat in the front row. I wonder what they think of it. I have spent a fair amount of my late teens in America and it is an isolated body. A body of greed, fat from the money stuffed in his pockets. But I believe it can also be a body of sweat and love if we let it. There is a long way to go but perhaps we may be able to see a better utopia.

The End is a revolution of hope and love and fear and bodies.

The show was difficult to watch and twisted in ways that were uncomfortable. It repeated itself. It didn’t let us understand all of the words. It didn’t let us understand all of the metaphors.

Resistant art often feels like it contorts itself to move out of the shapes the system has made for it. The End did that. It didn’t conform. It created a show which did none of the things it was supposed to, and therefore made a show in which the performers could exist and live. Of course, it wasn’t perfect and there were moments I would have changed but it wasn’t my show. It wasn’t my place to make those changes and I would never try to.

I have found it hard to fully digest my love and connection to this piece.

I’ve made some lists instead.

Things I Loved:

  • The microphone and small speaker
  • The purple jumpsuit
  • The trampoline (AMAZING)
  • Flip cards
  • B. Ehst’s boots. Yes.
  • The Teddy Bear's voice

Performers I Loved (in no particular order):

  • Toritseju Danner
  • B. Ehst
  • Gabriel Jimenez
  • Jinglin Liao
  • Tyler Riggin
  • Henita Telo
  • Carolina Ignacia Vargas Romero

Moments I Loved:

  • Conversations with the mothers
  • Flip card advertisements
  • American isms
  • Crawling under the tape
  • Being under the gazebo and on your balcony
  • The projection of play text
  • Descriptions of the audience with the microphone
  • The Teddy Bear

 

See THE END THE END THE END @ Venue 13, 5.30, 4th-28th August