If you’re off to Edinburgh this month, why not catch a few plays/shows by female writers, including My Mind is Free by 17Percent’s Sam Hall. Here’s a short roundup of a few that have been brought to our attention. (Other plays are available – if you see something written by a female playwright and would like to send us a review, please do!)
After over 30 years of working in, under and around the British Fringe Theatre Circuit, Gillian Beak finally bares all and shares a lifetime of theatrical insights and anecdotes. Beak Speaks is a character comedy based on the life and times of Gillian Beak. Accompany the doyenne of the Fringe as she takes you through her masterclass, reminiscing about the infamous techniques that shaped her young protégée, how it all went wrong with one frightfully well connected man as well as one young upstart who she claims she taught everything he knows. Beak Speaks is staged by kind permission of Sarah Thom, heard frequently as Joan on Radio 4’s Clare in the Community. Finally, Beak speaks…. Underbelly Cowgate (White Belly) from 3rd August at 16:00 (not 14th, 21st). Comedy
Brutal Cessation is a savage new play by Milly Thomas (Clique BBC3, A First World Problem and Clickbait, Theatre503) exploring violence in relationships, our expectations of gender and what happens when we’re no longer in love but refuse to let go. Laced with dark humour, Brutal Cessation is a unique exploration of traditional power play as the actors swap roles throughout the sixty minute show, offering a refreshing perspective into both men and women’s experience of victimhood as their reality becomes emotionally and physically unsafe. Assembly George Square (The Box) from 4th August at 16:20 (not 14th). Theatre.
Dust by Milly Thomas (Clique, BBC3; Clickbait and A First World Problem, Theatre503) is a refreshing, caustic and comedic treatment of one woman’s depression, suicide and everything that happens afterwards. In an unflinching examination of a suicide, this stripped-back monologue for one woman explodes the myth that death is a quiet affair, as it inspects the unavoidable practicalities, alongside the heart-wrenching decisions and pain – and the laughter. Underbelly Cowgate (Big Belly) from 3rd August at 16:40 (not 15th). Theatre. (Read our interview with Milly Thomas about Clickbait)
Lucy Roslyn’s new play, Goody, winner of Les Enfants Terribles ‘Greenwich Partnership Award’ 2017, is a striking and darkly funny exploration of the extraordinary, heart-breaking world of performing apes and the humans who live with them, love them and break them. 1934, Dustbowl America. Backstage at the travelling circus, the complex relationship between one man and his performing chimpanzee is revealed. Marooned in a world she does not comprehend, Goody finds comfort with her only companion – her trainer Frances. How do they communicate? How do they cohabit? Who is in control? Pleasance Courtyard (Beside) from 2nd August at 14:15 (not 15th). Theatre.
Liz Richardson shares her real life experiences of living as a twenty-something with a chronic bowel condition called ulcerative colitis. A shameless tale of love, laughter and lavatories, Gutted is a pastiche of the many people Liz has met on her journey, from hospital staff to complete strangers, patients to friends. With a contemporary aesthetic, visceral moments and a love story bubbling underneath, Gutted is an engaging investigation into how we think about illness and the boundaries that cause us to feel shame, how we treat each other and form relationships, the nature of hidden disabilities, femininity in the face of an embarrassing physical condition. Pleasance Dome (Jack Dome) from 2nd August at 14:40. Theatre.
When a fiercely independent, workaholic police officer finds herself on the street where her brother once lived, she is propelled back to her vibrant childhood and forced to confront his tragic suicide. Replay is an intimate, moving and ultimately uplifting new monologue, written by Nicola Wren (501 Things I Do In My Bedroom) and brought to you by Edinburgh Fringe favourites DugOut Theatre (Swansong, The Sunset Five, Fade, Inheritance Blues). Heart, honesty and humour are at the core of this moving play in which Wren explores what it is to grow up, accept loss, be vulnerable and celebrate the past, however painful. Pleasance Courtyard (Bunker One) from 2nd August at 14:15 (not 15th). Theatre.
Sara Juli’s Tense Vagina: an actual diagnosis
Sara Juli’s Tense Vagina: an actual diagnosis is about motherhood – its beauty, challenges, isolation, comedy and influence on the human experience. Using humour, movement, sounds, songs, text and the audience, this show seeks to reveal ‘all that is awesome and all that sucks’ when it comes to being a mother. Tense Vagina focuses on the seldom-discussed and taboo aspects of motherhood, such as loss of bladder control, libido, tears, monotony, loneliness and dildos. This is a poignant and hilarious feminist work, empowering women to think about their lady parts while highlighting the underbelly of motherhood. This show is perfect for anyone who has a mother. Underbelly Cowgate (Iron Belly) from 3rd August at 16:10 (not 9th, 14th, 21st). Theatre.
Tamar Broadbent: Get Ugly
Did you know that when you go through a break-up you become 25% uglier? Newly single and living in a trendy part of town, Tamar is nervous about leaving the house. How do you become a strong, independent women when your confidence deserts you and you’re too busy dodging hipsters, envying gym girls and just trying to keep your body hair under control? Fresh from a five-star sell-out run in 2016 and a Best Comedy Award-nominated tour in Australia earlier this year, Tamar returns with Get Ugly, a musical comedy about re-discovering your awesome-ness and embracing life without a filter. Underbelly Med Quad (Clover), from 2nd August at 17:30 (not 14th). Comedy
Setting the modern obsession with putting your own child first against our responsibility as a society towards our children as a whole, this dark tale, written by and starring BAFTA award-winning actress Monica Dolan (W1A, Appropriate Adult, The Witness For The Prosecution), explores how far one mum will go to put what her child wants first. Dolan’s first solo play, a searing ‘What If?’ production, explores the pornification of our culture and the sexualisation of our children. In a society where sexuality and gender are such a huge part of who we are, how we identify, and how we are defined, The B*easts looks at how soon is too soon to strive for perceived sexual ideals. Can the journey to reach that supposed perfection start before we are even consciously aware of the journey we have begun? Underbelly Cowgate (Big Belly) from 3rd August at 18:00 (not 14th). Theatre.
Tumble Tuck, written by Sarah Milton and presented by BackHere! Theatre, tells the story of a young woman struggling to accept herself and realise her strength. It explores what it means to be successful in a world where medals matter. Daisy’s relationship with water is complex; it’s the only place where she feels safe so why must she be judged for how well she performs in it? This funny, brutal and heartfelt piece seeks to examine the pressure we put on young people, when sometimes just taking part is truly an achievement. Tumble Tuck questions the system that tells us that if we’ve not got the best result we’ve failed. Underbelly Cowgate (Iron Belly) from 3rd August at 13:30 (not 14th). Theatre.
And of course, there is My Mind is Free by Sam Hall. Playing at various times from 7th – 18th August 2017, at Venue 405, The Salvation Army Edinburgh City Church & Community Centre, 1 East Adam St, Edinburgh EH8 9TF. The play tells the harrowing stories of 4 victims of human trafficking. More info.