“Our stories come from our lives and from the playwright’s pen, the mind of the actor, the roles we create, the artistry of life itself and the quest for peace.”
– Maya Angelou
It was an early start to the day for me, waking up at 7.30am. Yes, I fully acknowledge that regular adults get up much earlier but I am a student so cut me some slack. I bus it into town and buy my lunch at a nearby Sainsbury’s, getting my favourite wrap, the mozzarella, tomato, and pesto wrap. My lunchtime was made. However, before I could wolf that sweet meal deal down, I snacked on a complimentary croissant with a cup of orange juice before my first show of the day:
1. Shakespeare for Breakfast (MacGary)
(devised by the C Theatre company)
Samantha, my sister, took me to see last year’s performance of Shakespeare for Breakfast’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, and I thoroughly enjoyed every moment. There is actually a funny story about seeing the 26th annual production. Nat and I were planning to go yesterday, as I put the show in my calendar months in advance to make sure I never booked over that time. The only issue was that I never remembered to book the actual show, and by the time I realised Nat had bought her ticket and that showing was then sold out. It definitely was a life lesson to always double check every show you’re seeing you have actually booked to go and watch.
The set-up is that saying the name Macbeth causes bad luck, so the cast decided to instead name the titular character Gary. Setting the show in the modern day, taking place in a northern village’s gardening society, in which Duncan is the president, and MacGary becomes chairman of the committee after his revolutionary new slug repellant. There were vegetable puns galore, which made the audience groan with every onion related gag.
I must tell you now that I was selected to participate in the show as Marjorie Malcolm, who as you might know is Duncan’s relative and rightful heir to the presidency. I won the popular vote of the audience with a 52% majority vote (a political reference to the EU referendum) and got to wear a golden chain until the end of the show. I even managed to get a picture:
Shakespeare for Breakfast is a flamboyantly eccentric production. It is definitely my sense of humour, as it is witty yet energetic in its delivery. Though I felt that the political jokes of President Trump being an idiot, and a Theresa May lookalike being strong and stable, were quite easy gags that in my eyes are overdone after many comedy shows making the same jokes. I still thoroughly enjoyed the performance though, and I have great plans for the gardening committee so keep an eye out. This production is worth the hype, and you even get food and drink out of it!
Caption: I became president.
Shakespeare for Breakfast is running until the 28th August (albeit the 14th), at 10 am at C venues, C + 1.
(written by Jim Cartwright, directed by David Bolwell)
I went to the original run of Two at the Drama Barn in York, and I loved everything about it. There were tables all around, immersing the audience in the world of the pub held by the dynamic duo, Max Manning and Evie Jones. Thrilled by their announcement of taking the production up to Edinburgh, I bought a ticket to see what they could do with a new theatre space. This production had a different layout, removing the tables but still maintaining the thrust form of seats. They also chose to mime the pub’s glasses and drinks, as I presume there was a health and safety risk that prevented them from doing so. It intrigued me as to how the new layout would change the piece.
Manning and Jones maintained their well-received performances, with fantastic multi-rolling and tearing our hearts out in the final scene between the landlords. Manning as the abusive, paranoid boyfriend was intensely intimidating, whilst his role of a young boy who lost his father was adorable. Jones effortlessly shines in the multiple maternal roles in the show but flourishes just as well as the shy, quiet archetypes in the play. Both displayed little weakness in each of their roles, making the world of the play so realistic as we see different walks of life coming into the pub.
I did feel like the new layout hindered the original blocking of the piece, as the two speak to various members of the public at imaginary tables. I acknowledged that this was to get more audience members to watch the show, but this brought a restriction on the actors in terms of how to use the small space. Though seeing it with fresh eyes you might not notice this, as the spirit and chemistry the play possesses is still there, which provides entertaining yet touching theatre for most of the family.
Caption: Almost shed a tear… again.
Two’s future performances are on the 15th, 17th, and the 19th of August, at 12.55pm at C Royale.
I got a call from Nat asking if it was okay getting 2.40pm tickets to the next show, and I thought that this okay not realising that it was a 21-minute walk and I started walking at 2.20pm. I sped-walked as fast as I could, getting ‘pavement rage’ as tourists stopped in the middle of crammed roads to plan their afternoon (please never do that). I eventually arrived at the venue, exasperated and not prepared for the next 20 minutes…
(devised by the Darkfield company)
Séance was another suggestion of Nat’s, and knowing it was only 20 minutes long made me think I was going to sit through a somewhat eerie fortune telling session and I would be on my way. However, as we entered the small van, I realised we are in for something I completely did not anticipate. There was a long table covered in a white sheet, with chairs surrounding it and headphones we had to wear whilst we were put into complete darkness.
Without spoiling the experience, the use of 3D audio was brilliantly effective with audience members, having me petrified with every loud moment of noise. Honestly, I cannot write further without spoiling the experience, but I highly recommend it for anyone who can watch it. I do need to warn you though that it is not for the faint hearted!
Caption: Very scared. So very scared.
Séance is running until the 26th August, with shows every twenty minutes from 3pm-9.20pm at Summerhall.
Relatively spooked by that experienced, Nat and I went t the Secret Gin Garden and had cocktails to treat ourselves. I wait until I have to leave for Notflix, when I realised that my calendar said the show started at 4. The ticket and website said it was 3 o’clock. I already missed the entire show. Nat suggests instead we go and watch some free stand-up at a nearby pub, the Peartree house. After me realising my stupid error, I very much needed the comedy.
4. Jimmy McGhie’s Tribal Gathering
(written and performed by Jimmy McGhie)
We sat at the back of the room in the comfiest sofas imaginable. McGhie announces himself onto the stage and begins to ask various audience members questions about their life and what they do. As McGhie announces he was from South London, my inner Londoner cheers in support. McGhie hears Nat correct me that I now live in the Epsom area, which is obviously not in London. McGhie then decided to always reference me in the gig as ‘Epsom’. I had never been heckled before, and it was a hilarious experience.
McGhie’s style of delivery is passionate, yet relaxed in a way that it is easy to listen to him tell his humorous tales of traveling to an island, where there happened to be an EDM festival going on. He also took opportunities to talk about the generation divide in the baby boomers and the millennials, and also the divide in left-wing and right-wing politics. It was a peaceful way of talking about politics, rather than referencing President Trump as the punchline for any political joke. I highly recommend seeing McGhie and donating whatever you can, he’s a down-to-earth yet exciting comedian that I hope to see again in future.
Caption: Forever known as ‘Epsom girl’.
Jimmy McGhie is performing until the 27th August, at 4 pm at the Peartree HouseGilded Balloon Teviot.
I stayed for a couple of hours at the pub, Nat and I sitting outside buying various rounds as time progressed. There was peaceful, live music being played, making it a wonderfully chilled afternoon. Both chilled in that it was relaxing, but also it was getting cold. We scurried inside and keep warm before I had to part ways and trek to my next show:
5. I See You – Live
(written and performed by Sam Gore)
Learning that the production was based on a gothic comedy stories about celebrities, the decision to put this as a live performance intrigued me. I am always fascinated by originally written stories being transported onto a theatre stage, and as I stepped into the cavern-like room, I could see that it was already looking promising. The soundproofed room had little dinosaur skeletons taking centre stage, with a table of old-fashioned trinkets and books. I sit front row after the Front of House say no one in the room is safe from death, so I thought I may as well take my chances.
The start of the live show started off with a bang, as a demonic creature terrified the audience and Gore entered the room to tame it. Gore then proceeded to tell satirical stories of mostly British politicians, with the occasional one liner about a well-known celebrity. There are a lot of stand-up/comedy shows right now that are mocking British politicians in an attempt to get a cheap laugh from audiences of how ridiculous the situation is. Whilst I agree that that is the case, I am getting whithered with comedians making the same type of jokes all the time. Unfortunately, I See You – Live falls under that category.
One thing I liked about it was that Gore made clear points about the structures of most stand up shows, asking an audience member’s name/occupation in an attempt to seem friendly. After seeing a few stand up shows it was amusing to hear stand-up tropes being called out. Apart from that, I did feel quite underwhelmed. There is a unique twist as these stories are told with a horror theme attached to them, but after a while, the punchlines become predictable and less interactive. It is a unique concept, but this play is not a theatrical translation of the original material, but rather some eerie text spoken on a stage.
Caption: Great concept, but not theatre.
I See You – Live is running until the 27th August (albeit the 14th), at 6.40pm at Just the Tonic at The Caves.
With a 20-minute turn around to the last show of the day, I sped-walked again to the Pleasance Courtyard, Nat is already eagerly waiting in line with my ticket and I go and buy a round of drinks for us. The queue begins to go into the theatre, and I hand over my ticket to the FOH staff, and the woman practically (and accidentally) rips my ticket in two. My scrapbook is ruined! But that does not compare with what happened during this performance:
6. Tom Allen: Absolutely
(written and performed by Tom Allen)
Tom Allen greets every audience member as they enter the room, making us all feel welcome and familiar before the show even begins. Musical show-tunes are playing as Nat and I sit in our seats, gearing ourselves up for a flamboyant evening. Allen greets himself onto the stage and again starts asking the audience questions about their life. Allen’s interactions seem effortless as he invents witty quips about every occupation thrown at him.
The show primarily was about Allen’s childhood and reflecting on what it is like growing up now compared to how it used to be. Though Allen’s performance seemed quite meticulous in terms of telling those stories, it was still vastly entertaining for us all. I even got called out again for living in Epsom, which had the audience roaring with laughter (and me feeling a tad embarrassed, but still laughing).
Unfortunately, the fire alarm went off 10-minutes before the end of the show and we all had to be evacuated. Allen dealt with the situation well and even finished his performance out in the street (even though Nat and I could not find him). We could tell he cared a lot about his audience and wanted them to have a good time, and I hope I can see a full show of his at some other time.
Caption: Forever known as ‘Epsom girl’. Again.
Tom Allen is performing until the 27th August (albeit the 14th), at 8 pm at the Pleasance Courtyard.
I have been heckled twice in one day about where I lived, and whilst I took the joke and found it hilarious, I am worried about ever opening my mouth at a standup gig again. I have also learned to not give myself only 20 minutes to get to places as I may just collapse from exhaustion when I get home. Still, it was an interesting day, and I gear myself up for my last day of shows…