At the festival
This weekend I am bound on a train to Edinburgh for what is, incredulously, my first experience of the Fringe festival, and I’m hoping to see as many productions/performances as physically (and emotionally) possible over the course of the next four days, with the intention of reviewing several of these for 17Percent. There is some enticing work being generated by women at this year’s festival, including an abundance of one-woman shows, and, in my best Lyn Gardner impersonation, here are a few of those shows that I’m most looking forward to:
Tamar Broadbent – Brave New Girl (Cowgatehead) One of my favourite solo performers – Tamar blends her musical talents with her stark and hilarious outlook on getting through life as a twenty-something. She mixes song (mostly upbeat keyboard and vocals) with a few crazy anecdotes, tied together but a general narrative or theme. I first saw her perform a preview of her 2013 Edinburgh show, Almost Epic, which traced a troubled trajectory from Surrey schoolgirl to professional rock star. This year, her 1-hour slot at Cowgatehead is all about toughening up and facing whatever the world throws at you, even when dressed in a mini-skirt – it should be a hoot.
Lily Bevan – Pheasant Plucker (Med Quad, Underbelly) An established writer and director – she is currently working on ‘Talking to Strangers,’ a BBC4 Radio programme with Sally Philips –Lily is also an incredibly funny woman. Pheasant Plucker promises to be a bizarre and entertaining series of character observations, from enigmatic yoga instructors and a woman who channels her relationships through Sylvanian families.
Lucy Grace – Garden (Pleasance Courtyard) I recommended Garden last month in my preview here. Its sensitive portrayal of modern city life and individual isolation feels immediate, and I’m sure that this tale of unexpected office horticulture will have grown into its own all the more by the second week of August.
Camilla Whitehill – Where Do Little Birds Go? (Underbelly Cowgate) Where Do Little Birds Go? is the story of Lucy Fuller, a 24-year old East Londoner who, in the 1960s, was kidnapped by the notorious Kray twins when she was just 18. It won the People’s Choice Award at last year’s Vault Festival, and has been picked as one of Natasha Tripney’s Top 3 shows for the second week of the Fringe, and is now selling out at its (now) limited sixty-seat Underbelly location.
Victoria Rigby – Girl from Nowhere (Pleasance Courtyard) I am really excited to see Girl from Nowhere, most of all for its setting – Texas in 1969, a time when the country ‘is bursting with peace, love, and rock ‘n’ roll.’ In the midst of this excitement, rock singer Jeannie is desperately trying to escape her oppressive hometown, and the pressures of being a Southern girl, in search of fame and legacy. Written and performed by Rigby it promises a dark account of celebrity culture and the desire to have your voice recognised.
Gina Moxley – TeaSet (Pleasance Courtyard) A solo performance by upcoming actor Amy Molloy, this piece tells the story of a young and an elderly woman, who become tied together in the wake of the terrible trauma suffered by ‘Mrs A’. It explores loneliness, death and being a burden on society.
Corn Exchange – A Girl is a Half-formed Thing / Sonya Kelly –How to Keep an Alien (Traverse Theatre) It’s wonderful to see a continuing presence of new Irish work at the Traverse theatre this year, who previously generated a lot of interest around Dead Centre’s production Lippy. I have been waiting to see Corn Exchange’s production of A Girl is A Half-formed Thing since it premiered at the 2014 Dublin Theatre Festival, and which has received a huge amount of praise for Aoife Duffin’s performance (she has already won The Stage award for Acting Excellence in her Edinburgh appearance). Director and adaptor Annie Ryan has said that as soon as she read Eimear McBride’s heartbreaking novel, she knew she had to make it in to a piece for the stage. Also on at the Traverse is Sonya Kelly’s one-woman play, about Kelly’s struggle with the Irish immigration office, to prevent her Australian boyfriend being deported, which looks like an interesting exploration of love and visa applications.
Brigitte Aphrodite – My Beautiful Black Dog (Underbelly Cowgate) A glittering musical that tackles the surging themes of depression and mental health, which seems to be underlying much of the work presented at this year’s festival, Aphrodite wants to encourage audiences to own their black dogs. Many artists currently in Edinburgh have created a focus on breaking down the stigma that surrounds depression, anxiety and other, perhaps less well-known or understood conditions. This show features, among others, as part of the Sick of the Fringe, an initiative conceived by Brian Lobel that is running alongside the festival, and invites audience members to respond to shows dealing with mental health issues. Lobel is interviewed by Hannah Ellis-Petersen in a Guardian article, which also discusses Aphrodite’s production here.
(c) Joanna Lally, 2015