Review: Love Song to Lavender Menace Rating 79%

Review: Love Song to Lavender Menace

Love Song to Lavender Menace is a two-man show about Lavender Menace, the radical feminist and LGBTQ bookshop that made a lasting impression on Edinburgh’s west end in the 1980s. We open with Lewis (Pierce Reid) and Glen (Matthew McVarish) in 1986, packing up the final few books and lamenting the close of Lavender Menace, telling stories about its existence, its founding, its patrons, and the city and cultural climate in which they found themselves. To say something completely obvious, Edinburgh has changed a lot in thirty years, politically as much as in any other way: for some, this is a trip down memory lane. For the rest of us, it’s a celebration, a reminder of how far the world – and Scotland – has moved in the meantime.

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Review: Thingummy BOB Rating 72%

Review: Thingummy BOB

The studio behind the Festival Theatre is, in my opinion, a hidden theatrical gem in Edinburgh. Whatever gets put on there is invariably interesting, invariably unusual, and always worth seeing. And this time, it’s struck again.

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Review: The Kite Runner Rating 82%

Review: The Kite Runner

The first half hour or so of The Kite Runner is an odd affair, because it feels rather slow to warm up. It feels like a small mountain of exposition, of introductions, it feels like the pace is slow. And then suddenly you realise how completely invested you are in everyone onstage. It creeps up on you. The Kite Runner is really good theatre. It’s powerfully moving, thoughtfully designed, intelligently directed. The cast are great. It’s an excellent way to spend an evening.

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Review: A Streetcar Named Desire Rating 55%

Review: A Streetcar Named Desire

Tennessee Williams’ drama, while deceptively simple, is notoriously difficult to stage. Or, rather, notoriously difficult to stage well. For a Williams’ play is, above all, a balancing act. To stay true to the playwright’s vision, each production must be rooted in human emotion but elevated by glamour, passion and a dose of fantasy. It is all too easy for a director to get swept away by the poetics or to land, with a dull thud, in the land of stultifying realism. Perhaps in its attempts to reconcile these disparate parts, Rapture Theatre’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire ends up falling short.

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Review: Jury Play Rating 85%

Review: Jury Play

Learning by experience is arguably the best way to understand. Here Grid Iron in association with the Traverse Theatre, give us the opportunity to see, hear and feel a murder trail through the eyes of a jury.  I’ve seen Making a Murderer and watched bits of Oscar Pistorius’ lengthy court drama and I like many others believed the business of a murder trial to be gripping and fascinating. Not so, for we soon discover in this production that a high court trial is an interminably dull affair. As a staged piece it has to be clever though, to walk us through the essence of the tediousness involved, while still being entertaining. Director Ben Harrison and legal expert and writer Dr Jenny Scott ensure that this happens, simultaneously raising questions, exploring areas for change, presenting the reality of jurors’ journeys and making us laugh – a lot more than you’d expect with so much talk of murder.

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Review: Sunset Boulevard Rating 98%

Review: Sunset Boulevard

Sunset Boulevard in its musical theatre form first saw the light of day at the Sydmonton Festival in 1991. Andrew Lloyd Webber had long used the private festival in the grounds of his home, to test the viability of new shows, before a private audience of theatre and media bigwigs. This might seem irrelevant information twenty-six years on, but in this incarnation of Sunset Boulevard it’s highly relevant – the actress who played the role of silent movie star Norma Desmond, was the relatively obscure Ria Jones.

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Review: Pleading – A Play, A Pie and A Pint Rating 65%

Review: Pleading – A Play, A Pie and A Pint

A Play, A Pie and A Pint is back after its summer hiatus. For those not formula with the format, it’s fairly self-explanatory. If you do find yourself running late for the start, your pie and pint (or wine or soft drink) will still be available at the end. The Traverse Bar is a great place to hang out, so a pie and drink before or after adds to the experience and offers a cultural alternative for city workers’ lunch breaks.  

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Review: Velvet Petal Rating 67%

Review: Velvet Petal

Watching contemporary dance often reminds me of wandering round a sculpture gallery, in the sense that there’s always a part of me wondering what the person next to me is seeing. You take your cues wherever you can find them – in the costuming, the staging, any programme notes – but ultimately what’s going on in front of you is a hook, and you hang your own interpretations, your own trains of thought, off it. This probably makes me out to be a terrible amateur. But there’s something intensely personal, I find, about shows like Velvet Petal, in just the same way as there’s something personal about abstract art, ambient music, Rorschach tests. I wonder, I always wonder, what the person next to me was seeing.

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Review: Spamalot Rating 80%

Review: Spamalot

Spamalot has been with us for twelve years now, standing the test of musical theatre time. As one of the most successful Monty Python spin-offs, the show gives opportunity for their extensive and adoring fanbase to revel in the iconic songs, jokes, characters and silliness that made Monty Python a comic institution. Much of the show is taken word for word from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, resulting in the gloriously reminiscent experience that comes from anticipating favourite gags.  

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Review: The Coolidge Effect Rating 72%

Review: The Coolidge Effect

Immersive, educational, political, Jack Nurse and Robbie Gordon’s The Coolidge Effect combines various ingredients into the performance, getting teenagers and twenty-somethings to think about sex and pornography. Using engaging dialogue, interaction and scientific methods, they’ve created an impactful and visceral piece of work which will hopefully open up the conversation about various aspects to porn such as exploiting, addicting and reclusive sides to it.

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Review: Yerma Rating 90%

Review: Yerma

Having gasped at Angels in America, Yerma is the latest virtual experience of live theatre watched in a cinema hundreds of miles away.  The two could not be of more contrast. Angels in America soars with hyper-real and verbose movement through the otherworldly.

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Review: Cilla The Musical Rating 65%

Review: Cilla The Musical

The musical theatre version of the life of Cilla Black has been hotly anticipated for some time. After a hit TV series featuring the songs and stories of the Liverpudlian singer’s rise to fame took the nation by storm, a stage production is bound to be high profile. There’s a plethora of biographical shows doing the rounds at the moment with Carole King and Rod Stewart’s musical life stories coming to the Edinburgh Playhouse soon, so it appears to be a format that’s here to stay.

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