Review: August: Osage County – Dundee Rep

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First published in The Times, Saturday September 2 2017

Four Stars

In this era of 90-minute plays, a three-and-a-half hour drama feels like a real theatrical banquet. August: Osage County, Tracy Letts’s multi award-winning play, which made its Broadway debut in 2008, features all the bristling dialogue and steady ratcheting-up of tension found in great American stage works such as Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night and Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Yet, Letts’s family saga, with its large cast of dysfunctional characters, multiple plot strands, twists and revelations, is also unapologetically entertaining, like a soap opera only speeded-up.

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Review: Letters Live – King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

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First published in The Times, Tuesday August 29 2017

Three Stars

Perhaps the highest compliment you can pay an actor is that they could read from the phonebook and still make it engaging. Letters Live, in which well-known (and not so well-known) personalities read from significant correspondence, obviously provides the performers with far greater scope than the Yellow Pages. Yet, perhaps inevitably, the show, which has toured widely, attracting A-list participants, proves something of a mixed postbag.

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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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