Edinburgh review: Everything I Do – Summerhall

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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

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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

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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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Review: A Fortunate Man – Summerhall, Edinburgh

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First published in The Times, Thursday August 16 2018

Three Stars

It was the year that England won the World Cup and swinging London became known as the centre of pop culture. Yet for several months in 1966 John Berger, the iconoclastic writer and cultural critic, opted for a quiet life in the Forest of Dean, documenting the work of a rural GP.

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Review: After the Cuts – Summerhall, Edinburgh

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First published in The Times, Wednesday August 15 2018

Three Stars

Most speculative writing takes its inspiration from the way we live now. The action of Gary McNair’s two-hander begins in 2042, but there is nothing high-tech about the playwright’s vision of the future. His protagonists, Agnes (Pauline Knowles) and Jim (George Docherty), live in a tiny house surrounded by threadbare furniture. The greatest luxury the couple can afford is a rare Blue Riband biscuit, ordered online and cherished like vintage malt whisky.

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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: 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: Sasquatch: the Opera – Summerhall, Edinburgh

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First published in The Times, Thursday August 17 2017

Three Stars

An opera based on the Bigfoot legend is precisely the kind of off-the-wall creative fare on which the Fringe was built. The fact that said experimental opus is the brainchild and passion project of Roddy Bottum, the musician, composer and keyboard player for the hard rock band Faith No More, gives the piece a further curiosity value it might not otherwise have had.

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Review: Instructions for Border Crossing – Northern Stage at Summerhall, Edinburgh

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First published in The Times, Monday August 14 2017

Two Stars

The writer and performer Daniel Bye has a track record for staging performance lectures that wear their hefty subjects and the depth of his research admirably lightly. He is best known for Going Viral, his award-winning exploration of viruses (in every sense of the word) and his multi-layered look at the idea of value, called The Price of Everything.

 

Bye’s performance style, which combines affable audience interaction with elements of multimedia, has always been something of an onstage juggling act, with lots of ideas thrown up in the air at once. His new piece, which deals with border crossings, in all their menace and absurdity, feels stylistically overstuffed, befuddling his message.

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