Practice 99 by Emilia Morgan.

Practice 99 is a new comedy by Emilia Morgan. When the brass section begin meeting up for the warmup practice before their forthcoming album recording takes place. Things are not particularly amicable or running smoothly.

The group are so busy embroiling in petty arguments from an ongoing feud. One member of the orchestra is missing and amid the chaos tmthey hardly notice a box containing a trumpet appear in the corner of the orchestra pit. Until unexplainable things start to happen.

A haunted musicians’ space due to is quite a unique idea for a short theatre performance. The mysterious arrival of the instrument box containing the trumpet certainly worked very well. Each of the characters was cast well and they all came across as a genuine quarrelling orchestra.

Is the trumpet haunted or not? That’s for the audience to decide to watch as the events unfold. The short piece doesn’t expand completely and has great potential to be expanded if the production team decided to.

A smaller black box Theatre venue would add another depth of atmosphere to the spooky plot line. Creating a few more shadows. Perhaps this woukd be a good play to think about staging around Halloween.

For more information on Practice 99 please use the links below.

Three Stars

https://www.edfringe.com/event/2022PRACTID_AMQ

Menopause Party by Debbie Baisden.

Landlady Dolly Slatemen alter ego of real-life Essex landlady Debbie Baisden. Be prepared to be edutained as menopause is brought to the stage by songs, comedy characters and some arty expressions by Dolly. Soon to be seen in an art gallery near you.

Approaching perimenopause and then menopause certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted. The symptoms and severity are different for every woman ranging from mild to severe. There isn’t a one size fits all response to helping them through this period although we hear a lot about HRT please do your research as other options are available, which are mentioned in the performance.

Menopause Party is lighthearted and jovial, with a large splash of leopard print thrown into the mix. However, the research that Baisden has collected offers a very balanced and informative approach to helping women understand that “this is normal” and you’re not losing your mind or abnormal.

Raising awareness of menopause is extremely important and a subject that deserves more publicity. With so many women (half the population) going through it and approaching it why hasn’t it been spoken about sooner?

The highest suicide and divorce rate are found in women during the menopause stage in their life. Awareness and understanding of the symptoms and the help available need to be addressed by the government.

I know theirs some high-profile ambassadors currently on the case. Davina Mccall and Mariella Frostrup are two such celebrities. The Menopause Matters link is attached below along with other helpful links.

For more information on this production please use the Edfringe link below.

Four Stars

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/menopause-party

https://www.menopausematters.co.uk/

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/menopause/

Mind Games by Mason King.

Mason King returned to the 2022 Edinburgh Fringe with a brand new show named Mind Games his charamatic personality winning the audience around with impressive slight of hand and mind blowing tricks.

Whether you believe in magic or not isn’t necessarily important as King’s performance will certainly leave you questioning “how did he do that”.  How can he know what sequence of colours will be chosen at the end, the number on a dice chosen and hidden under the hand of an audience member!

Reading people’s body language to know the answers in the short time King has them on stage is impressively accurate. As of yet, I haven’t watched him get one answer wrong.

As one of the sceptical audience members, I don’t particularly believe in magic tricks. However, magicians such as King and another Fringe magician Kevin Quantum. I am in awe of them as superb entertainers who I thoroughly recommend going to see and will watch again in the future.

Mason King is also available throughout the year to book for weddings, parties and other functions. Please check out the links below for more information.

Four and a half Stars. (In honour of Craig Stephenson)

https://www.edfringe.com/event/2022MASONKI_RD

Home

https://m.youtube.com/user/MasonKingMagic

https://directory.the-wedding-industry-awards.co.uk/united-kingdom/magician/mason-king-mind-reader

Porcupine by Stella Graham.

The prickly exterior of a Porcupine is the aptly named show by the charismatic half Sri Lankan comedian from Coventry, Stella Graham. Perhaps the world needs to stop annoying her and drivers especially need to stop being rude when let out. On second thoughts don’t stop or her act will become slightly mundane

Who doesn’t love a good resting b**** face and let’s face it when we say that, everyone knows exactly what one of those faces stands for and if they’ve got any sense will give the person wearing one a rather wide birth.

Graham’s take on life resonates with some of my own opinions. Especially the lack of courtesy when you’re driving and give way to another car. Although I am not sure I would follow the guilty driver to Aberdeen to ask for a “thank you”.

The title for Graham’s next production could be “Angry Beaver” after describing how her face acts like a beaver’s dam when the waves of anger sometimes need to be held back before the inevitable eruption.

Being performed as part of the free fringe comedy circuit Graham’s performance is worth a tenner of anyone’s money. One to watch out for in the future. For more information please check out the links below.

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/stella-graham-porcupine-1

https://www.stellagraham.com/edfringe

Dreamphone by Eva Hudson.

The Merlin Pub in Morningside probably isn’t one of the places you would automatically think of as a Fringe venue being about a half-hour bus ride during the festival from all the main venues. However, it hosts a wealth of talent as part of the free Fringe collective and is one to look out for in 2023.

Dreamphone has been based on the true story of Magdalen Laundries’ church scandal and corruption. Where two young Irish girls Aisling and Saoirse are desperate to leave Ireland for a new life of promised excitement. However, the pair are cruely exploited by their local priest, Father Malcolm who promises them a fantastic new life working for a glossy magazine!

Once they arrive all the promises turn out to be horrendous lies and they are subjected to appalling cramped living conditions, long days and no pay. Both of them soon learn not to trust anyone, not even each other as they cannot be sure who is listening to their conversations.

I liked the company’s use of a laptop to project images onto the wall behind the cast in the venue depicting the church, the family home and other outside images. Although it could have benefited from being projected to one side of the cast. As all the action was taking place in front of the images and it wasn’t clear what you were being shown.

Storyline wise it’s potentially a very hard-hitting storyline with some editing and with a smaller venue suitable for the intimacy this production requires it could be a powerful piece.

Three Stars

DREAMPHONE

A Rose by any Other Name by Rose Loughlin.

Shakespeare’s authenticity has been the subject of an academic argument for many years. Writers who moved in Shakespeare’s literary circles are rumoured to have perhaps been the creators of some or all of the vast array of works credited to his name. Rose Loughlin presents the case for Edward De Vere 17th Earl of Oxford.

A Rose by any Other Name concentrates entirely on the life of Edward De Vere. Extensive research across Europe has been used to argue in his defence that he could have been the real author of the plays and sonnets. Tracing back to places and houses which can be identified for their provenance in the exact era when the text had been scribed. Shakespeare’s travel documentation records suggests he never visited the sites!

This particular fringe production is unlikely to appeal to the masses. However, for Shakespeare fans and those looking for something more high brow this production could be exactly what you are looking for.

I was suitably impressed with the details, research and evidence that had taken place creating this production.

However, it’s competently delivered and arguing I was impressed with the vast quantity of dialogue that … learned and delivered from sonnets, quotes and personal reflection on her research.

The only criticism of this particular Fringe production is the running time. The normal running production length is around 60 minutes. An hour and fifty minutes felt far too long and would benefit from being edited, especially as many people have very tight schedules.

Due to the production being part of ongoing research. I have abstained from issuing stars instead I would like to say that it is a highly recommended production.

For more information on this production please use the links below.

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/rose-by-any-other-name

Finlay and Joe:Perpetual Hype Machine.

Finlay and Joe have been long-term friends and comedy partners. In an attempt to make their lives easier Finlay decided to create a perpetual hype machine in order to help the duo create comedy faster and easier. All he needs to do is convince Joe that it’s a good idea. What could possibly go wrong?

Littered amongst the comedy antics has been placed a brilliant amalgamation of popular 90’s children’s characters from Thomas the Tank engine and his friends going on strike to Paddington saving the station rehoming animals.

The comedy pair have exceptional charismatic and likeable personalities. They worked in time together throughout the performance and created some excellent double-act sketches, equally as talented and funny. Although Joe’s robotic skills were fantastic.

There’s a darker message hidden amongst the array of comedy. The Hype Machine is an AI creation made by Finlay and the longer they perform the more the machine begins to take control of the comedy duo, leaving them desperately scrambling to destroy it and reclaim their act.

It’s a cracking great show to start the day off at 11.10 am. It’s the sort of show and humour that would easily fill venues in a later slot. If they had a late show there’s plenty of scopes to add darker more suggestive adult humour into the plot. One to get up earlier for.

For more information on the show and ticket information please use the link below.

Three and a half Stars.

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/finlay-and-joe-perpetual-hype-machine

I Just want to be a Good Dad by Anthony Schuman.

Fitting in with “other parents” with small children isn’t as straightforward as those who’ve tried and failed will fully understand. Whichever activity you attend there are always stereotypical groups lurking within.

Imagine being a stay-at-home Dad surrounded by stay-at-home Mums and various repairs, nannies and childminders. All of which have labels they fall under. However, for the full-time Dad group, statistics would suggest there are not that many.

The openness from Schuman regarding his children well being, taking them to clubs and making sure they are happy resonates with me.

Bringing a comedy act based on the perspective of a stay-at-home Dad is a first for me. Although there is a proportion of the community that does this are

There are times when things get lost in translation. Using different words for example. References to television shows that are not as popular or common in the UK.

However, I fully commend anyone fulfilling their dreams and staging a show in Edinburgh, it’s a huge commitment and sacrifice, especially leaving the family behind.

For more information and tickets please use the links below. This show iI felt is a work in progress and I haven’t given it a star rating.

https://www.edfringe.com/event/2022IJUSTWA_BNT

9 Circles by Bill Cain.

What happens when a US Private goes rogue in Iraq? How do the Government and Army respond to disciplinary action? Character names have been changed as the storyline appears to have been based on the real-life trial of Steven Dale Green.

Private Daniel Reeves (Joshua Collins) commits the most heinous crimes while serving for his country during the Iraq war. While on trial in the US he questions why should be on trial in America for the crimes committed on foreign soil. In principle the question is reasonable, yet these acts should never go unpunished.

Training the perfect soldier who views shooting the enemy as much a part of his job as he would putting on his boots. Inevitably risks installing a mindset that can lose sight of rational thinking and crosses humanity’s boundaries.

9 Circles has been separated into nine sections examining all the events one step at a time that lead to the why what and how he has ended up in this situation and is facing the death penalty.

Placing the storyline in the structure of Dantes 9 circles of hell turns out to be a clever device. Two large circles dominate the stage one for the cast to perform in and the other to add light from behind. By the time you too have experienced verbally the events that took place in Iraq through the sixty-five-minute performance. It leaves you feeling that you have had a short trip to the circles of hell.

Although a powerful, hard-hitting and unnerving storyline the entire cast delivers exceptional performances which will leave a lasting impression and are an absolute credit to director Guy Masterson.

For more information and tickets please use the links below.

Four Stars

https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/9-circles

You’re Dead, Mate by Edmund Morris.

The journey through death is far from easy especially through the eyes of the writer Edmund Morris in his new play You’re Dead Mate. How would anyone know when they are dead? Furthermore, how does someone as well versed in helping people as Death help you come to terms with accepting it?

The 70-minute performance has been brilliantly written and edited that you hardly believe that you haven’t been in the theatre a lot longer. It’s so tightly scripted and acutely delivered that you are in the moment at all times throughout the play.

The exceptional performances of both actors Harry Duff Walker and Edmund Morris bring a new outlook and exceptional humour to a subject which everyone has in common, dying.

When Death arrives to finalise the paperwork for Walkers character to move onto his next chapter. Death is confronted with hostility and accusations of kidnap with some strange fears that follow. Has he been taken to be used for sex? Or being held hostage in Coventry? These fears are far more fanciful than the cold harsh reality that at 23 it’s game over!

The strong language doesn’t feel that it has been added because the writer can. It reflects the frustration being felt by both parties. One who does not want to accept he is dead. The other for dealing with every dead person regardless of age, gender and status who comes to him before moving onto their next journey.

Director Millie Boardman has bought Morris’s play to life in a sensitive and heartfelt production. This extremely moving, funny and thought-provoking play exploring the transition through death is a difficult subject to stage as nobody actually knows what happens once we die!

An absolutely incredible example of what the Off West End theatre’s have to offer and I hope this play will be taken on tour further as it certainly deserves to be seen. The standing ovation at the end of the play speaks for itself.

Cast

Edmund Morris

Harry Duff Walker

Director

Millie Boardman

Production Assistant-Georgia Bisbas

Lighting and Sound Design Technician-Louis Caro

Five Stars

Playing from 2nd-5th June 2019

KATZPACE Studio Theatre
At Katzenjammers bierkeller,
24 Southwark Street