Any list of famous Belgians must include the trio Georges
Simenon, Audrey Hepburn and Jacques Brel.
For traditionalists, this is a heartening time for new
writing in the theatre.
Rebecca West was one of the supreme journalists and travel
writers of the 20th century, caustic and sharp-eyed.
The title of Luke Benson and David Hardcastle’s show can easily give rise to the fear that it will be a rather patronising pastiche of working class culture for the benefit of a …
‘The Merchant of Venice’ has always been a problematic play, with its Elizabethan anti-Semitism rubbing shoulders with almost fairy-tale elements (the three caskets) and Shakes…
The Heights of the title are Washington Heights, a
Dominican-American neighbourhood of New York at the top end of New York.
‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’ is the
third of Frank Loesser’s trio of Broadway masterpieces, following ‘Guys and
Dolls’ and ‘The Most Happy Fella…
Harvey Fierstein, before he branched out into writing books
for straight musicals, was a kind of theatrical barometer of gay life.
“Blues in the Night” is
a compilation revue, a tribute to the black performers and music of Harlem in
the 1920s and 30s.
Bizet’s one-act opera
‘Le Docteur Miracle’ is a fine and fizzy confection cooked up at the age of
only eighteen as an entry to a competition for a comic opera organised by
‘Above the Stag’ (ATS) is one of the most distinctive and
necessary production houses in London.
Archimedes’ Principle is a recent (2012) play from
the young(ish) Catalan playwright and director Joseph Maria Miro i Coromina.
I was worrying about the cat.
There are no three words more calculated to make a critic’s
heart sink than Amateur Operatic Society.
Charles Strouse and Lee Adams’ ‘It’s a Bird etc’ is
something of an oddity.
“Everyone is Welcome – No Exceptions” is the motto of
Rachel’s Café in Bloomington, Indiana, a university town with a liberal and
artistic ambience and pretensions.
Theatre Uncut is a shoe-string operation aiming to provide immediate dramatic response to current crises.
Fools Play is a young physical theatre collective reworking the Macbeth plot with a mixture of movement and script.
Bob Kingdom is an Edinburgh institution.
On paper, it looks like a dream team.
As we walk into a rather austere hall at the French Institute, two girls are giggling and practicing a song.
This cabaret of 1920s and 1930s Berlin songs is billed as an homage, a reclamation, of the female cabaret performers of the Weimar Republic.
It is a brave company which puts on the first Fringe production of the Gershwins’ ‘Crazy for You’ so soon after the Regents Park Open Air production, which transferred succes…
The gimmick for this showcase show is that it’s meant to be ‘Yorkshire’ comedy, whatever that may be.
Bears, in dream interpretation theory, are a symbol of renewal and rebirth.
St Paul’s School Theatre take a series of testimonies from former Death Row prisoners in the States and, through interweaving monologues, create a powerful story of police brutal…
No Turn Unstoned gives you no idea what to expect from Beth Vyse’s show.
‘Mydidae’, according to Wikipedia, are a group of large flies with a short lifespan and a large sting.
When Judy Garland gave her last concerts in Copenhagen in March 1969 she was 48 and a wreck.
Martin Sherman’s ‘Passing By’ has an assured niche in gay history, being one of the first plays mounted by the pioneering Gay Sweatshop, and the first that seemed to have no …
Frank Loesser’s 1950 musical, ‘Guys and Dolls’, dates not a day in this charming production by SEDOS, the thespian arm of the Stock Exchange (I kid you not).
Thanks to the vagaries of Lothian Buses I missed the first number in this multi-company showcase of short dance items.
We live in something of a golden age as far as Fringe productions of music theatre are concerned.
‘Makar’ is a medieval Scots word for poet.
The split of a long-established duo is like a marital divorce.
‘Making Dickie Happy’ is set in March 1922.
Dickson Telfer’s solo play, in which he also appears, charts the struggle of a teacher to impose control on a rogue class in so-called Higher Education.
‘Jekyll and Hyde’ is such an archetypal folk myth by now that it’s hard to believe in an imaginative world without it, or that someone actually sat down and wrote it.
Dear Noel and Cole,Put down that celestial martini and stop fondling those cherubs.
Tales from the Sauna opens with a voiceover from a 1960s psychiatrist about how all gays are socially and sexually inadequate borderline pyschopaths.
It takes some chutzpah to present the Fringe premiere of a West End musical that played 2000 performances over five years and across three theatres, and only closed less than three…
The French have a word for it, and that word is ‘chanson’.
Sophocles’ ‘Oedipus’ is probably the oldest text in the world which still retains the power to shock, excite and move us in a thoroughly modern way.
Churchill is about the only politician in British history who can be referred to only by his first name.
James Saunders is one of the forgotten playwrights of the 60s, sandwiched between, and elbowed aside by Osborne, Pinter, Stoppard etc.
Sue Casson’s musical adaptation if Oscar Wilde’s short story, “The Happy Prince” is billed as a family show, but it’s difficult to see children appreciating it.
An aspect of the Fringe that is sometimes passed over is the indigenous shows for the local population, which, heaven knows, puts up with enough to deserve something good of its ow…
Pity the composer who gets there first: Auber’s opera ‘Manon Lescaut’ eclipsed by both Puccini and Mascagni; Nicolai’s ‘Merry Wives of Windsor’ by Verdi’s ‘Falstaff…
A Tapestry of Many Threads is a 19-song cycle commissioned by the Dovecote Studios for its centenary from Alexander McCall Smith (words) and Tom Cunningham (music).
Drew McOnie, the inventive deviser and choreographer of ‘Drunk’, straddles worlds.
‘One Touch of Venus’ is Kurt Weill’s most ‘commercial’ American score, attached to a kind of variation on the Pygmalion theme, in which an ancient statue of Venus, brough…
There was a fashionable word in the 1950s for a certain type of female performer, which was ‘kooky’.
Reviews of ‘Fleabag’, which won a Fringe First Award at Edinburgh this summer, tended to treat it as a kind of scabrous stand-up routine on the subject of Sex and the Single Gi…
Just sometimes, the best of amateur companies come up with a production which puts in the shade all those numerous Fringe productions with pretentions to ‘professionalism’ put …
The 1985 South Bank Show interview with Francis Bacon is a television classic.
Michaelangelo Drawing Blood is a 75-minute dance piece with an arresting score by Charlie Barber.
Treasure in Clay Jars is listed in the Theatre Section of the Fringe Programme.
There is a film of the life of Lope de Vega, in English The Outlaw¸ but no film could do justice to his extraordinary life.
‘Dear World’ is one of those problem musicals, beloved by its creator Jerry Herman but, like his other sickly child ‘Mack and Mabel’, never quite taking off.
David Mulholland is a former Wall Street Journal hack and this is a show driven by the passion of a good journalist for getting the story right and a hatred of bad journalism and t…
‘Little Me’ is the musicalisation of a cod autobiography by Patrick Dennis.
‘Shelf Life’ is an interactive, site-specific piece which makes use of the labyrinths of the old BBC Radio London studios in Marylebone.
neTTheatre are an experimental Polish physical theatre company, who here produce what they describe as ‘the Clinic of Dreams’.
The ‘last days’ of the title is used in a Milennarian sense – we are at Judas’s Judgement Day, at a trial which ostensibly will determine whether Judas should be released f…
Florence Foster Jenkins is alive and well and living in Edinburgh.
The set is made up of suitcases.
Ivor Novello was the Andrew Lloyd-Webber of his day.
The BBC is the Church of England of the media.
On paper, any musicalisation of the story of the Titanic looks like sailing to disaster.
You shouldn’t always believe the flyers.
PopUp Opera – not Pop Opera, they insist – has a mission to take ‘real’ opera into new places and reach new audiences.
Annie’s Room purports to be a biographical show about jazz singer Annie Ross, but there is very little biography in this apart from a bald statement of a few facts which could ha…
Fuerzabruta (Brute Force) has been touring its acrobatic, surreal spectacular for nearly ten years now, which is proof of its enormous popularity.
Berthold Brecht was never averse to biting the hand that fed him, as long as it didn’t harm his career prospects.
Fans of Would I Lie To You? will need no prompting to visit this ingenious variation on the theme of Spot the Porker, in which four storytellers by turns deliver 10-15 minute solo …
There is a moment in Sheridan’s ‘The Critic’ when Mr Puff and Mr Dangle are watching a play-within-a-play about the Spanish Armada.
The Jekyll and Hyde is a lousy venue to play: poor acoustics, bar noise and seating split so the audience is in two sections which can’t see or hear each other.
Showstoppers have been improvising musicals for several years now and an edited version has had a series on BBC Radio 4.
Leslie Bricusse is a distinguished name in the songwriting pantheon, with a string of Oscars and Tony Awards to his name.
Tina Macfarlane has a first in Actuarial Maths from Glasgow University - ‘A real university, not a polytechnic like Strathclyde’ - but there’s a recession on, so it’s not m…
Ovation has a distinguished track record for musicals at the Gatehouse.
Gay playwright John van Druten is now almost completely forgotten except for ‘I am a Camera’, his adaptation of Isherwood’s ‘Goodbye to Berlin’, which was also the basis …
Port Dover, a Canadian High School, brings a simple and charming cod Arthurian fable to Church Hill.
In these times of galloping Islamophobia, the Shubbak (Window) Festival, celebrating Arabic arts, is most welcome.
Fans of Garrison Keillor will know the territory covered by this show, the semi-folksy world of Lutheran Minnesota.
Ed O’Meara has some of the scariest flyers on the Fringe, with a teasing tag, ‘Follow Your Nightmares’.
On 6th March 1988 a group of SAS men ambushed three IRA members (Mairéad Farrell, Sean Savage, Daniel McCann) on a petrol station forecourt in Gibraltar and killed them.
First, a declaration of interest.
I’ve never bought into the distinction between ‘amateur’ and ‘professional’, at least on the London Fringe.
To some, history is a search for reinforcement, basically about people like ourselves: theatre as a lifestyle accessory.
Pop-Up Opera are a (very) small-scale touring company taking opera with piano accompaniment to unusual venues in the hope of creating new audiences.
Dave Baucett is a puppyish like-me-pleeease comedian in his early twenties.
Michel Tremblay is a French Canadian playwright who was an Angry Young Man in the 60s and shook the stuffy Anglophone artistic establishment by introducing Quebequois working class…
There was a time when I was a lad when Lionel Bart was everywhere.
We file in crocodile formation from the Pleasance, clutching a collective length of rope to keep together.
It occurred to me watching Neil LaBute’s 90-minute four-hander, that he is the nearest thing America has to George Bernard Shaw.
The BBC has a lot to answer for, not least the wiping out of great swathes of our cultural heritage from the 50s, 60s and 70s.
American High School Theatre Festival is a regular in Edinburgh, and there are several reasons to check them out.
Probably our best knowledge of Victorian farce comes from WS Gilbert’s topsy-turvy world of the Savoy operas, where an absurd premise leads with impeccable logic to an even more …
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