Edinburgh review: Cassie Workman: Aberdeen – Just the Tonic Nucleus

First published in The Times, Friday August 12 2022

FOUR STARS

Edinburgh may be sweltering in the glare of a heatwave, but in the main room of the Charteris Centre (temporary home of Just the Tonic) we are in rain-soaked Aberdeen. Not to be confused with its Scottish namesake, the industrial city in the Pacific Northwest is notorious as the crime capital of Washington state and was once nicknamed “the hellhole of the Pacific”. It has also produced a startling number of artists and musicians, most notably Kurt Cobain of the rock band Nirvana.

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Edinburgh review: Blood Harmony – Traverse Theatre

First published in The Times, Wednesday August 10 2022

THREE STARS

Three sisters gather in their childhood home following the death of their mother, to bid farewell, tie up loose ends and hunt for a missing will. There are long-held grievances to unpack and sort through, along with mum’s belongings.

The disparate siblings navigate their grief in different ways. Anna (Philippa Hogg), the eldest, newly returned from the US, is in practical mode, making plans and taking charge, much to the irritation of middle sister Maia (Keshini Misha), a self-described “hot mess”, who couch-surfs and drifts between jobs.

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Edinburgh review: Counting and Cracking – Lyceum Theatre

First published in The Times, Wednesday August 10 2022

FIVE STARS

A stage epic is a rare beast in Edinburgh, where audiences are accustomed to shows of one hour tops in makeshift venues. Counting and Cracking is novelistic in its scope and ambition, featuring several storylines that sprawl over two continents and nearly half a century. Its three-and-a-half-hour running time goes by in a blink.

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Edinburgh review: Rajesh and Naresh – Summerhall

First published in The Times, Tuesday August 9 2022

THREE STARS

This romantic comedy about two men, one a British-Indian, the other a Mumbai cricket-bat craftsman, is so sweet and sincere that you almost overlook its slightly rough edges. Rajesh (Brahmdeo Shannon Ramana) is a smooth, handsome Londoner torn between a domineering mother and a demanding job while tentatively looking for love on dating apps and out on the scene.

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Edinburgh review: Boris the Third – Pleasance Courtyard

First published in The Times, Tuesday August 9 2022

TWO STARS

As things stand, we don’t know precisely how the final chapter in the saga of the prime minister will play out. In some ways an X-Men-style origin story seems surplus to requirements: there has long been a prurient fascination with Boris Johnson’s backstory, and his shambling ascent to the highest office in the land.

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Edinburgh review: Everything I Do – Summerhall

First published in The Times, Friday August 23 2019

Three Stars

Zoe Ní Riordáin’s solo show is one of those Fringe oddities that defy neat classification. From the moment the doors to Summerhall’s Demonstration Room open to reveal the performer wearing a gleaming spacesuit and bouncing on a trampoline, we know we’re in for something a little out of the ordinary.

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Edinburgh review: The Afflicted – Summerhall

First published in The Times, Thursday August 22 2019

Four Stars

Groupwork is a new Scottish theatre initiative led by the co-directors Finn den Hertog and Vicki Manderson, who collaborated on last year’s Fringe award-winner Square Go. On the basis of this unnerving, atmospheric dance-theatre piece, the company appears to have arrived fully formed.

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Edinburgh review: Bystanders – Summerhall

First published in The Times, Wednesday August 21 2019

Four Stars

Cardboard Citizens has been making theatre for and about people with experience of homelessness for 25 years. Lately the company’s work has acquired an increased sense of urgency. In a poignant moment during this new show the cast passes around a list of the nearly 600 people who died on the streets or in temporary accommodation in England and Wales in 2017.

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Edinburgh review: Four Woke Baes – Underbelly Cowgate

First published in The Times, Friday August 16 2019

Three Stars

At various points during Jonathan Caren’s new play (set at a bachelor party on the Colorado River) the simmering tension that the writer and his cast work hard to sustain threatens to boil over. The script even includes its own backwoods equivalent of Chekhov’s gun: a hunting rifle that gets waved around with intent, only to finally go off in the most apologetic of ways.

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Edinburgh review: F.Off – Underbelly Cowgate

First published in The Times, Thursday August 15 2019

Four Stars

This ensemble piece from the National Youth Theatre, which addresses burning issues of social networking and misappropriation of data, began life as a workshop participated in by 30 members of the company. Its origins can be seen in the show’s freewheeling structure and multiple narrative threads, but the playwright Tatty Hennessy has done an admirable job of focusing these conversations and experiences into a chewy, compelling production.

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