Edinburgh Fringe – Gail Bishop and the Impromptu Stage Appearance

The morning began with a slight tickle in the throat. NOPE. Going to ignore this one – I am having too much fun, and don’t have time to be ill. Nothing Dr Theatre can’t fix.

The first half of the day was a back-to-back bard binge. Mrs Shakespeare sounded good on paper: Will Shakes wakes up reincarnated in the body of a woman and proceeds to start rewriting Hamlet, and this ventures into psychosis and delusions. But for all the acting ability on display, the script just doesn’t engage the audience enough to warrant an hour of our time.

Thankfully a one-woman Richard III was both novel and well executed. By stitching all of Richard’s speeches into one monologue and utilising the audience as other characters, we get to look into the maniacal mind of a king hellbent on power at all costs. Emily Carding oozes megalomania and narcissism from every pore – chilling and inventive. I ended up dead.

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Then to Hell Hath No Fury, another diversion, this time with Lady Macbeth explaining her side of the story. Once again, a wonderful concept, and I wanted to love it, but compared to other stuff I’ve seen, it just felt a little bit nondescript, with not enough drama or variation to hold my attention for an hour.

I raced over to see the excellent Father Time (based on one of the Grimm Tales, Gambling Hans) as performed by the very talented Seckford Theatre Company. Fusing storytelling with dance, puppetry and multi-instrumentalism, this accomplished production has set the standard for youth theatre at the Fringe.

By now, that tickle had turned to a stinging soreness, and my nose had begun to run. Much like the start of university, thousands of people (and their germs), packed in close proximity to each other, and too many nights of burning the candle at both ends – the perfect recipe for the dreaded Fringe Flu.

I briefly managed to ignore this during Down And Out In Paris And London, an excellent adaptation of George Orwell’s novel, which has been spliced with Polly Toynbee’s Hard Work, about modern day poverty and zero-hours contracts, with staging reminiscent of The 39 Steps.

I finished up the night with some more stand up: the minutiae as acutely observed by James Acaster, and then I overstepped the mark. Immersive and interactive theatre have perhaps inspired in me a little too much willingness to participate. There were instructions, and I, like the foolish puppy I am, keenly threw myself into the proceedings. Which is how I ended up winning an out-of-date yoghurt and washing a man’s hair onstage. I can’t decide whether Luke McQueen is a genius or a lunatic, but he certainly had me laughing until my face hurt.

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