Village Pub Theatre

For those of you not lucky enough to live in Edinburgh all year round, Village Pub Theatre (VPT) is a regular “let’s put the show on here” brand of new theatre based in the function room of the Village Pub on South Fort Street, Leith. Their (usually) monthly shows offer new short works from local writers, performed by professional actors with scripts in hand and a bare minimum of props and rehearsals. It's all incredibly rough ’n’ ready, but when it works, it really does work – and, yes, that’s despite the juke-box music, chatter and general noise coming from the main bar next door.

An excellent taster for the season of work yet to come.

For this year’s Fringe, the VPT team have put together a programme of individually-themed events featuring a different roster of writers, actors and scripts each evening. Admittedly, the first night was unique in one respect: the performances were co-directed by Mark Thomson, whose normal business card identifies him as Artistic Director of the Royal Lyceum Theatre. Just for context: the following day, Thomson was due to start rehearsals with Brian Cox and Bill Paterson for his forthcoming production of Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. His willingness to be involved with VPT is proof of how seriously Edinburgh’s indigenous theatre folk already take what’s happening here.

As themes go, The Village Pub Theatre Will See You Now was not among their strongest, with most writers taking from it some aspect of ‘new beginnings’, either in terms of situations or characters. Jonathan Holt’s Singing Set Me Free was a humorous take on how men can find happiness by being in touch with their emotions, while Belongings by Belle Jones underscored the different levels of possession in our property-fixated world. Tim Primrose’s Pussywhipped, meantime, focused instead on a new beginning for a relationship between two women, one of whom clearly considers the other to be a social and emotional “doormat” – until the tables are turned, quite spectacularly.

After a short interval, The Consecration of the Bishop by the acclaimed theatre maker Tim Crouch certainly grabbed the attention by disturbingly mixing the imagery of the anointment of a female bishop with the preparations for a suicide bomber – all in five minutes! In contrast, Sylvia Dow’s Annus Mirabilis was much more grounded in the everyday; a dinner date for two older people, Rose and Peter, who are each looking for some “agreeable company” to distract themselves from their post-divorce, post-bereavement loneliness.

Initially, at least, Medio Pollito and the Jesus of Leith appeared to have the least connection with the theme of “new beginnings”, being essentially two boys telling different stories about their homes: one, a Mexican fairy tale about a one-eyed, one-legged “half chicken”, the other a version of Leith filled with bus shelter zombies, piss-smelling “superhero” Majestic Man, and the shaggy Jesus who stands outside a local pub with his dog.

Together and separately, actors Jamie Scott Gordon, Jonathan Holt, Belle Jones, and Sarah MacGillivray gave energy and focus to their roles. All in all, this was an excellent taster for the season of work yet to come. Which is appropriate enough; by a show of hands, a majority of the audience had never been to a VPT event before. They will surely have been impressed by what they saw.

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

Multiple Venues

Nests

★★★
Dundee Rep Theatre / Macrobert Arts Centre

The Yellow on the Broom

★★★
Underbelly, Bristo Square

Tom Neenan: It's Always Infinity

★★★★
Assembly George Square Studios

Police Cops in Space

★★★★★
Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Rik Carranza: Still a Fan

★★★★
Gilded Balloon Rose Theatre

Marmite

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

VPT is Leith’s acclaimed, year round pub theatre. A different programme of new short plays from some of Scotland's most exciting playwriting talent, served script-in-hand each night. ‘A brand new vortex of powerful theatrical activity in Edinburgh; everyone in the city who enjoys the raw energy of theatre should sample it, and remember to leave plenty of room for cake’ (Joyce McMillan, Scotsman). ‘VPT has quietly become a significant force on the theatre scene... All of the works on show displayed just how powerful short plays can be in an increasingly vital form of presentation’ (Herald). www.villagepubtheatre.co.uk