Intricate Rituals by Seth Douglas.

Intricate Rituals watches Siken, an immature love forlorn University Student stuck in a quandary as to whether he should tell his straight best friend Owen that he is secretly in love with him.

What does happens when you fall in love with your straight best friend? Surely honesty would be the best policy or is it? Writer/Director Seth Douglas poses the question in Intricate Rituals and the audience can decide for themselves whether Siken makes the right decision or not.

Combining love, relationships and a self-indulgent young adult we witness the lengths to which Siken is prepared to go to achieve his obsession. After tragedy strikes, Siken turns to a set of rules called intricate rituals of a (black magic) spell to achieve this and finally speak to Owen and tell him exactly how he feels. What are the odds of this working?

The idea of bringing a loved one back from the dead is an interesting plotline for a play and has real potential with a strong lead actor could be bought very much to “life.” However, the lead performance in tonight’s show fell flat in many areas and even when trying to suspend my disbelief it didn’t work for me.

This production of Intricate Rituals bought to the Edinburgh Fringe has two casts, the other being a female-led performance which sadly I wasn’t able to fit into my schedule to watch to compare fairly. Although from the couple of reviews I have read through it appears to have been received favourably.

Three Stars.

Skank created by Clementine Bogg-Hargroves.

Clementine Bogg-Hargroves picture credit Shay Rowan.

Clementine Bogg,-Hargroves created and performs Skank at Edinburgh Fringe 2021 in the Pleasance Courtyard. Meet Emma, a self-confessed recycling guru who is desperately searching for the right bin in which to deposit the baked beans tin into that she has been carrying around with her!

Emma is stuck in a mundane job, dealing with equally mundane co-workers, a mixture of unhealthy one night stands and balancing the up and downs of her mental health, tinnitus and anxiety.

When Emma is called back to the Doctors after her recent smear test. The events that take place afterwards were realistic and honest from the fear of finding out what is wrong with you, to the initial panic that you might have cancer, to the uncomfortable and wincing scene in which she attends a colposcopy appointment. Oh and Ladies, please attend regular smear tests, they are extremely important and can save your life.

With panic podcasts at the ready co-director, Zoey Barnes plays her part in bringing this heartfelt production to stage alongside co-producer Mark Ashmore. Emma’s story is far more common than many possibly realise and one that raises awareness about how important it is to ask for help and look after your mental health.

One thing that is clear throughout the entire performance is that Emma isn’t a sleazy or unpleasant person aka a “Skank.” She’s an educated, caring and very considerate lady who just deserves a break in life.

Skank is currently in the development stage to make its debut on to the screen. I for one would be interested to see how this would make the transition and would want to watch it and would recommend it to others.

With Edinburgh Fringe 2021 coming to a close there are limited performances left to watch Skank. Hopefully, it will continue to be performed in other venues.

Four Stars

Doctor Whom by Jake Rose and Jasper Cresdee-Hyde.

What do you get if you cross Doctor Who with the Carry On films? The answer could easily have been Doctor Whom. After sadly having to cancel a couple of nights at the Edinburgh Fringe 2021 the team are back for the last couple of remaining days at the Jenner Theatre, Triplex The Space UK.

Meet Dorlek (Jonathan Powell) who resembles one of the Martians from the “The Smash makes mash” adverts fame. Complete with whisk and sink plunger. Jeff the AI granted free will (Vicky Chiu) who accompany Doctor Whom (Nathan Galpin) on his quest armed with his “sonic spanner” and the phallic “ending machine”. Plus loyal Robot Dog by his side.

Will The Mister (Matt Davies) scupper Doctor Whom’s plans or become the permanent sex slave to Stacey the dominatrix (Iona Rogan). All will be revealed when you catch the latest episode of Doctor Whom.

The costumes and special effects are very good for a student budget production. With some promising performances from all of the cast members. They have an excellent rapport on stage, timing and executing the humour very well. Comedy can easily fall flat if it’s done badly, but the cast certainly timed it right in this production.

I especially liked the silver all in one costume worn by Chiu in the role of Jeff the robot. The outfit defined her character with a striking look that made the AI stand out from the rest on stage.

Doctor Whom is an energy-fueled farce written and directed by Jake Rose and Jasper Cresdee-Hyde. Their fast-paced, humourous production is littered with masses of innuendo one-liners. Showing the flare this duo have for comedy writing. We certainly need more laughs in this world, even time travellers.

For more information about this production check out the links below.

Four Stars.

Myra’s Story by Brian Foster.

Ask yourself this one question. How often do you walk past someone drunk who is living on the street and disregard or overlook them? Far more often than you probably realise after all “People like us need people like them to feel clean” according to Myra (Fiona Hewitt-Twamley). There is a lot of truth in her words.

However, behind everyone, we encounter in all walks of life lies a back story with various degrees of personal tragedies and despair. Myra’s story is one of these such tales.

Set against a lobe park bench, we meet her after a long drunken night in which she had been celebrating the night before for her Forthy eight-year-old Irish born Myra living on the streets of Dublin. Desperately trying to scrape together enough money for her next drink.

Myra’s heartbreaking tale of losing her mother at a young age, losing her father to alcoholism and the sad destruction of her marriage to Tommy through her “medicine” also known as alcohol, predominantly vodka.

Breaking the fourth wall on many occasions by asking members of the audience asked for any spare change. Her tale of tragedy and heartbreak was shared openly with us as if we were all individuals interacting with her.

Meeting all the characters through the eyes of Myra, with a plethora of voices to match each one from her colourful neighbours, the GP, right down to disapproving Norris the Gnome who argues with Vladavar the vodka bottle regularly in her kitchen.

Combining comedy, personal tragedy with an honest and open tale Myra’s performance descends into a drunken state as the day/play progresses from morning to night. Writer Brian Foster has captured the very heart and soul of Myra the homeless drunk with an air of kindness, empathy compassion and lots of devilish humour.

Please check out Myra’s Story on the Facebook link below and follow them, as the show would like to take go on tour and it would be a shame if Myra’s tales couldn’t be shared with future audiences.

Five Stars.

It All performed by Cameron Cook.

What does it mean to have “It All?” I am not sure the answer to that question can ever be answered as it means something different to everyone. Cameron Cook raises this point several times throughout his debut solo show It All.

Many references to the earth and elements are described in detail throughout the show. I felt these were used as markers to ground Cook’s emotions back to earth at several points during his performance. Referring to the “earth shifts” as his character changes direction and takes on yet another journey.

Musician Claire Parry accompanies Cook on stage with a range of musical instruments that add the perfect accompaniment to the production. Listening to live music again after the many months of lockdown was simply “music to my ears.” Their close working relationship was apparent by how perfect their timings were throughout the hour-long performance.

Although I wasn’t particularly sure in places as to where the storyline was heading Cooks ability to change the tempo in an instance kept the audience with him at all times and using art to reflect life as nobody can always know where they are heading next and who we will meet along the way.

What I witnessed is an extremely talented actor who delivers a surreal, unpredictable and entertaining one-man performance. It All is on at Assembly Roxy until Sunday 29th August. For more information use the links below.

Four Stars

Madhouse by M Craig

Madhouse is a new piece of writing from M Craig. The coming of age play highlights what life can be like as a University student complete with the stack of unwashed dishes, sour milk, unhealthy habits and possible unwanted pregnancy.

We meet the five housemate students Billy, Annie, Sonya, Ollie and Goose plus his regularly visiting girlfriend Lisa the social media influencer nightmare. The group share their student house and meet around the extremely messy and chaotic kitchen table daily. Life, sexuality, love, debt and their plans are all discussed amongst the clutter and debris.

Each of the characters develops throughout the play and as their personalities reveal themselves it’s hard not to like them all one by one. Growing up isn’t easy and living with strangers who are going through similar trials and tribulations throws up many challenges along the way.

This is a play that will echo to many students past and present with their memories of sharing a student house. With characters, they will recognise either in themselves or other people they know or have known along their University path.

Madhouse is funny and entertaining a perfect student production for the Fringe. Where they have combined a cross-section of students from the sciences to English degrees. It’s fair to say that these characters have probably been based on personal experiences from the “world” of student houses.

If you are looking for a fun and light-hearted performance then Madhouse fits the bill perfectly. Showing at The Space@ Surgeons Hall please check out the links below for ticket information.

Four Stars.

Picture credit to Madhouse at Nottingham New Theatre.

Love Fool by Rachel Thorn.

Failed IVF, failed marriage and failed relationships. Doesn’t sound like a positive background story for a play or life! However, Love Fool is far from a depressing woe is me tale. Instead, Rachel becomes empowered through the heartache and decides to take charge of her life and face it alone, well with a little help from her Mum.

Dating in the world today is a daunting task as Rachel learns very fast after splitting with her husband of twenty years. Turning to “Bumble” instead of “Grindr” (other dating apps are available) Rachel very fast becomes overwhelmed by the attention and after receiving her first “dic pic” quickly deletes the app and decides it’s not for her.

Love Fool delves into the depths of the 90’s media looking for love advice to help her in the quest to find love. Will this be found within the numerous pages of her old copies of Sugar magazine that Rachel finds in her Mum’s attic?

Trolls, a Nat West pig, a few dolls and copious amounts of Sugar magazine articles feature along the way. I liked the use of the dolls Rachel chose to represent different people in her life. It was very clear who she was in conversation with at each point during the play. It reminded me of being a child again and “playing dolls” to make sense of different situations I was going through at the time.

I think many other people will recognise something in themselves watching Love Fool. After all it’s okay to be confused in the world at times and feel lost. As Rachel proves we need to get lost in order to find ourselves again.

Playing at the Counting House until the 28th August 2021 at 8pm. Love Fool is a nostalgic look in the future as Rachel discovers “what she wants, what she really really wants”.

Three Stars.

Dino Land presented by Faux Fox Theatre.

If you ever wondered who was inside the character suits at a theme park or what the staff get up to behind the scenes Dino land by Bethany Fox might just be able to answer some of your questions.

Dino Land is an extremely funny and romantic story set behind the scenes of the children’s theme park between co-workers Dylan (Oliver Burkill) the park manager and one of the parks children’s entertainers Emma (Bethany Fox).

There are a few co-workers that also feature who are all introduced as the voices through Dylan’s walkie talkie. Where we witness quite a few personal overheard conversations take place which quite frankly shouldn’t have been which add a lot of comedic value to the performance.

Disillusioned Dylan started at Dino Land as a stop-gap job eight years ago and would like to get back to University. However, he is stuck in an unfulfilled role that has job security for him. Art reflecting life as many people find themselves in these positions without realising it until it’s too late.

The onstage relationship between Fox and Burkill is wonderful their timings, body language and affection for one another appears to be genuine. It’s always a real pleasure to watch comedy performances that come across are real and unscripted although I know they were.

Although this is a child themed play it is definitely not recommended for children with strong language from the start and mild references to adult themes. Although this is one show adults can happily claim for themselves this Fringe. You can catch them at the Symposium Hall at 3.35pm until Saturday.

Four Stars

Rosetti’s Women by Joan Greening.

Dante Gabriel Rosetti’s raunchy, eccentric and outrageous sex life has been written and bought to the stage by writer and director Joan Greening in Rossetti’s Women.

Rosetti had been the founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a renowned painter, poet and translator. From watching this performance I understand that his personal life would have certainly befitted the pages of a nineteenth-century debauchery novel.

The audience is cast back in time as we hear Dante’s life is explained through the thoughts and conversations held between his long-standing fiancee and wife Lizzie Siddal (Emma Hopkins), Fanny Cornforth (Julia Munrow) one of his muses and prostitute mistress and the social climber Jane (Sarah Archer). Each desperate for his undivided attention and affection.

After a traumatic time in their marriage and in a desperate attempt to secure his attentions Lizzie takes too much laudanum (a popular drug of its time) and accidentally commits suicide. This does not stop Fanny and Jane to continue their quest to vie for Dante’s affection. Lizzie’s ghost continues to haunt their consciences from beyond the grave.

Sarah Archer put together each of the beautiful costumes worn by the three ladies. Each one befitted the character’s status from Lizzie dressed in white reflecting her naive innocence, Fanny in a low cut semi revealing blue dress, to Jane’s rich purple satin dress with a full skirt finished off with a hat worn by ladies of a higher status. It’s this attention to detail that adds depth to Fringe performances.

The question asked in the programme “which muse did Rosetti love the most?” Is left for the audience to decide for themselves and I am personally unsure as he appeared to use them all for his own needs as and when it suited him. Although watching this performance, in my opinion, it was Fanny who felt the deepest affection towards Dante.

Fringe theatre performances such as these in which a time in history is bought to life and I learn something new are an absolute pleasure to watch. I would highly recommend catching Rosetti’s Women at the Edinburgh Fringe this year in The Space@Surgeons Hall.

Five Stars

1902 by Nathan Scott-Dunn.

The atmospheric setting for 1902 has been set in a disused arches space in an industrial area of Leith. It’s a bit off the Fringe beaten track but I can assure you it’s well worth the trip.

The stripped-back walls of the arches venue have been customised with a purpose-built scaffolding mezzanine level where we find the casts musician (Sandy Bain) nestled at the top. Based in the Dog and Duck pub where a sturdy wooden table is a central focus for the performance of the play. The outside setting adds to the play rustic atmosphere where the other “arches” units in the road are still in everyday use.

Deeks aka Derek (Nathan Scott-Dunn) will go to any lengths to attend the 2016 football match between Rangers and his beloved Hibernian. They last beat them in 1902 and missing this final isn’t an option. However,  borrowing a grand from the local psychotic loan shark Craig Turnbull (Jonny Tulloch) could be a step too far. Can his estranged brother Tony (Sands Stirling) be the answer to his escalating violent situation?

As a member of the audience, we are fully submersed within the action to the point that you can see the whites of the actor’s eyes in several aggressive scenes, especially when a fight breaks out between Craig and Tony. There is no escape for the audience at any given point during the performance as we are fully immersed in the storyline and witness every violent blow.

Described by Saltire Sky as “a play 114 years in the making” 1902 certainly packs a hard-hitting punch into how far a football fan is willing to go to share in person a historical moment in their team’s momentous occasion.

Saltire Sky creates immersive theatre which they hope will have a lasting memory on audience members. I can safely say this had to be one the most powerful performances I have ever watched. Leaving the arches I was completely blown away by the entire experience which is exactly what live Theatre is all about.

Five Stars.