Review: Venus and Adonis – C Primo, Edinburgh

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First published in The Times, Saturday August 26 2017

Four Stars

Published in 1593, the narrative poem Venus and Adonis was a bestseller and the work that made Shakespeare’s name. The Bard obviously intended it to be read rather than performed on stage, but the actor Christopher Hunter finds an electrifying new form for the poem in this small gem of a Fringe show.

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Review: How to Act – Summerhall, Edinburgh

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First published in The Times, Friday August 25 2017

Three Stars

Legend has it that when Dustin Hoffman was filming Marathon Man, the renowned method actor stayed up for 72 hours so his performance as a sleep-deprived torture victim would be authentic. His co-star, Lawrence Olivier, was scathing: “My dear boy, why don’t you just try acting?”

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Review: £¥€$ (LIES) – Upper Church @ Summerhall, Edinburgh

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First published in The Times, Thursday August 24 2017

Four Stars

The Belgian company Ontroerend Goed is theatrical Marmite. Shows such as The Smile Off Your Face, in which audience members were tied up and blindfolded, and Internal, a one-to-one performance, in which participants were encouraged to reveal their most intimate secrets, tend to inspire everything from admiration to rage.

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Review: An Evening with an Immigrant – Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

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First published in The Times, Thursday August 24 2017

Four Stars

Inua Ellams first came to the attention of fringe audiences with his award-winning one-man show The 14th Tale, in which the poet, playwright and performer told stories of his childhood in Nigeria, London and Dublin. Passages of Ellams’s first stage success find their way into this vivid, multi-layered piece of storytelling. The autobiographical building blocks are the same, but here the performer allows his righteous anger – as well as his considerable charm and generosity of spirit – free rein.

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Review: Double Feature – Gilded Balloon at Rose Theatre, Edinburgh

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First published in The Times, Wednesday August 23 2017

Three Stars

Andy Gray and Grant Stott are best known as two-thirds of the comedy team that has made the pantomime at Edinburgh’s King’s Theatre such a winner (the other point of the performing triangle being the entertainer Allan Stewart). In recent years, they have branched out into “straight” theatre, appearing in sold-out plays at the fringe and on tour. Their show, Kiss Me, Honey, Honey!, proved such a hit in 2013 that it returned to the festival the following August.

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Review: The Sky is Safe – Summerhall, Edinburgh

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First published in The Times, Tuesday August 22 2017

Three Stars

The latest production from Dogstar Theatre, the Scottish company that created the award-winning The Tailor of Inverness, falls into two distinct parts, the one powerful and engaging, the other less so. Matthew Zajac’s script is built on stories he gathered about the experiences of women fleeing the escalating civil war in Syria. Their names initially appear on a screen at the back of the stage, and by the end of the show we feel as though we know all of them intimately; so versatile and forceful is the performance of Dana Hajaj, the actor who gives voice to these women.

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Review: Life, Death and Duran Duran – Gilded Balloon at Rose Theatre, Edinburgh

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First published in The Times, Monday August 21 2017

Three Stars

The title will no doubt attract fans of a certain age, yearning for the polished sounds of the phenomenally successful new wave band. Yet, while snatches of songs such as Planet Earth and Hungry Like the Wolf make appearances in Sam Shaber’s one-woman show, the emphasis here is very much on the performer’s own eventful life and career. Far from nostalgic, the monologue, directed by Lynn Ferguson, is frank and sometimes surprisingly tough.

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