Edinburgh Fringe 2021
Updated: Jun 22
5/5 for the Digital performances!
Theatre Friends – I love a fringe and so have embarked on an Edinburgh Fringe Festival ON DEMAND mini fest of my own. Sadly, I don t have a heap of time during the week to binge but 24 hours in every day does mean shows will be seen. So far I can report that intelligent camera work and editing (which doesn’t deny any theatrical origin) is exciting me as much as the shows themselves. Jump on line and browse the on-demand program (www.tickets.edfringe.com/)
THE SAVIOUR by Dierdre Kinahan, directed by Louise Lowe and performed by Marie Mulledn & Brian Gleeson (Landmark Productions) This is GREAT theatre. A play that explodes expectations and charts an extraordinary shift in Ireland's social, political and religious life, asking questions about responsibility, how we respond to trauma and the tricky question of forgiveness. 70 minutes of theatre-bliss – beautiful writing, a tornado of a central performance, great soundscape…. Breathtaking twists and turns. GO GO GO! A double Irish Whiskey with cream on top!
AFLOAT by Eva O’Connor and Hildegard Ryan. A climate disaster hits Dublin and 2 friends are trapped. Just when you have had enough, the dramatic denouement plays a clever trick that throws the plot upside down, and forces the audience to consider, in very concrete terms, their own role and responsibility in the future of the planet. Is our most powerful resource really denial? Sidebar – I learnt that the carbon footprint of our gadgets, the internet and the systems supporting them account for about 3.7% of global greenhouse emissions, according to some estimates. It is similar to the amount produced by the airline industry globally. WOW! A couple of chilled ciders for these climate warriors!
IMPRO THEATRE’S TENNESSEE WILLIAMS UNSRIPTED - Impro Theatre starts with a single audience suggestion and builds improvised full-length play that is hilarious, yet, tender as a Southern belle's broken heart. Somewhere between satire and homage this 70 minutes flew by as these seasoned improvisors had their way with Mr Williams’ multitude of offers. A cool lemonade chased by a chilled martini with a twist!
ON BLUE BERRY HILL by Sebastian Barry. Directed by Jim Culleton and exquisitely performed by Niall Buggy and David Ganly. Fishamble: The New Play Company (Ireland)
Wrought that character, time and place leap from the text. Detail so fine that the play unfolds like a movie in the mind. A story so universal that it carries the power of a Greek Tragedy. A final theatrical gesture belies Barry’s literary hand. I swar you will laugh and cry in equal measure during this play exploring violence, compassion, and love. RECCOMENDED WITHOUT RESERVATION!!! Pionta Guinness, le do thoil
‘An absolute masterpiece…spellbinding and marvellous…one of the most transcendent experiences you can have in the theatre’ Saturday Review, BBC Radio 4
BLIZZARD. A change of pace today with FLIP Fabrique. Superior circus with a strong story-line for adults & children. Combining great image making from acrobatics (on and off a trampoline), aerial dance, rollerblades, hula-hoops, juggling, and a dollop of clowning – all with an arctic theme. I loved the nifty musical element too – a customed piano on wheels that does everything!! Daring feats made effortless and with incredible joy. Coolly brilliant and brilliantly cool. Part of the Quebec at Ed Fringe program. RECOMMENDED
AI-SA-SA: an ebullient film performance by Tjimur Dance Theatre, Taiwan’s professional company dedicated to the culture of the Paiwan people, brims with love and laughter. Part of the Taiwan Season at Ed Fringe the title: ai-sa-sa - that can translate as ‘Get over yourself!’ There’s certainly nothing pretentious about choreographer Baru Madiljin’s engaging work, which was shot in a blend of street, studio and stage locations. 30 minutes of pure joy Tjimur’s film puts a lively and contemporary spin on indigenous tribal customs.
RECEPTIONISTS - It wouldn’t be the Edinburgh fringe without a Jacques Lecoq inspired acrobatic, multi-language show about customer service performed by two Finnish clowns. Inga and Kristiina serve up a 45-minute comedy about receptionists terrified of customers. RECEPTIONISTS is by Kallo Collective in the From Start to Finnish program.
AN EVENING WITH AN IMMIGRANT - theatre maker and poet inua Ellams – yes, the guy who wrote The Barbershop Chronicles. Littered with poems, stories and anecdotes, Inua tells his ridiculous, fantastic, poignant immigrant-story of escaping fundamentalist Islam, experiencing prejudice and friendship in Dublin, performing solo at the National Theatre, and drinking wine with the Queen of England, all the while without a country to belong to or place to call home. Currently on-demand from Traverse Theatre until the end of August. A BRILLIANT TREAT – RECOMMENDED!!!
MEDICINE - In another early morning I caught the live-stream of Enda Walsh’s incredible new play “Medicine”. Landmark Productions and Galway International Arts Festival.
It is set in a hospital where patients live in limbo - they are never satisfactorily diagnosed and so never cured. The patient is John Kane (powerhouse performance by Domhnall Gleeson). It’s an annual drama therapy session and two musical theatre actors called Mary (Clare Barrett and Aoife Duffin) play out scenes from his past. John is passively accepting of his confinement and on the brink of tears at the inexpressible horror of it all. How is such an important day for him be just another day’s work for the therapists? Absurd, darkly disturbing, compassionate, deeply moving – if you like Enda Walsh you will love this production. It’s genius work. With its three charged and subtle performances, the production contains a wealth of meta-truths and internal ambiguities – as memory, madness and theatre intertwine in a world where nothing you perceive can be trusted.
Free Jazz drumming (Sean Carpio) accompanies the explosive Walsh monologues.
Directed with passion by Walsh every scene is a stand-out. A good measure of theatre jokes dramatizes big themes. One of my favorites - Mary’s contemptuous editing of Kane’s story, as if he were a second-rate playwright and not a human being, comes to stand for an institutional indifference to his plight. Frankly, I cannot find superlatives enough for this one!
VOLCANO - Luke Murphy’s Attic Projects (for Galway International Arts Festival).
Something strange has been happening. Stranger than a global pandemic? It is linked. As people muse on how long it will take for artists to make work responding to the state we’ve all been in, the reverse is happening. I seem to be responding to all art as if it has COVID related concerns at its core.
“Volcano” is a new dance theatre work framed as an unfolding sci–fi thriller. Two characters exist in a dilapidated living room without a door. Here they recreate the greatest hits of old lives – a night at a rave, a favourite game show, an 80’s music video – both passing the time and quietly clinging to distant memories of a life out of reach. Think Enda Walsh with more choreography!
Cameras and screens are integral to the performance – its made to be watched as much online as live. Performed in three episodes as a in a three-and-a-half hour saga, or can be seen separately.
How long have they been there, and why? What is the world they have been shut off from? This work, created during lockdown, is absolutely brilliant: its sci-fi premise of a time-capsule sent into space being sufficiently expansive to encompass COVID-inspired questions of what is really of value in life, what is worth saving.
Luke Murphy is the choreographer and one of the performers (the other is Will Thompson). His credits include Punchdrunk (2009 – 2017) as an original cast member of “Sleep No More” and is Artistic Director for Attic Projects – based between Ireland and NYC