Hidden in the depths of Underbelly’s Cowgate venues, there’s a whole feast of a programme to emerse yourself in this festival. Included in this line up is Fringe debut from LAB RATS and Trashed takes us to a fly tipping site in Yorkshire for a high speed account of Keith’s story.
Keith is in his mid thirties and has worked as a bin man since he left school. Dirty and grimy, this script is full of love and loss, and a little bit of asbestos for good measure as Keith lurks in the darkness for a lot of the performance. Struggling to come to terms with the death of his daughter, we are introduced to other people close to him as he chugs can after can of his love for alcohol, his marriages slowly falls apart and makes friends with an unlikely candidate.
There are some loop holes in the script itself and the balance between connecting with Keith and the dark humour which you are not sure whether to laugh or cry at, is a little too off key. David William Bryan has a very strong presence however, and his performance is (aptly) aggressively full on from the very beginning.
Full of swearing, dirt and plenty of strongbow, this one man show is a bit of a rollercoaster for a lunchtime. A moving but funny script, performed with grit and fury.
There is definitely no shortage of children’s productions at the festival this August, ranging from operas for babies to kids improv and storybook adaptations to clowning and circus. David Walliams book has been brought to the stage by Les Petits Theatre following their success with Captain Flinn’s and the Pirate Dinosaur last year and this one is also, highly absorbing and brilliantly good fun.
Sheila wants to be the first hippo on the moon and is determined to do whatever it takes to get there. Joined by some amazing puppet animals to help her out, this show see’s Sheila shimmy herself in to a rocket, and collect rocket fuel from the audience to help her reach the moon before her rival in the ultimate space race. With a special guest appearance from Donald Trunk to speed up proceedings, this show has something for the young at heart as well as the young themselves.
With brilliantly catchy tunes and clap along moments, this Les Petits production is entertaining enough for its target audience, although could do with being a little tighter and shorter, especially as thy have landed the lunchtime spot at the Pleasance. This hipponaut’s adventures are a true reflection of the picture book and the songs, set design and puppetry really bring the text to life.
Suicide isn’t normally a great topic of conversation, let’s be honest, and typically we don’t get the full story. Written and performed by Milly Thomas, Dust takes us on a fast paced, whirlwind journey as Alice finds herself stuck after she has killed herself… stuck to watch who she has left behind.
Up in the Big Belly of Cowgate, we are introduced to Alice in the minutes after she has left her corpse, as the doctors prod and poke away, and Alice watches in disgust. This is a ghost story but not as we once knew it… Full of crude sex stories, blunt sarcasm and quick retorts, Alice’s lifestyle will be familiar to a lot of audience members (but potentially not their parents!) as she tells of nights sliced with drugs and alcohol, and the people close to her.
The highs are counteracted by the lows and as Alice’s depression is hinted at and explored to some extent, relationships break down and emotions run free between family and friends. Switching from character to character, from Mum to best friend Ellie and others in between, Alice’s cold reaction in the face of grief and funeral planning is captivating to watch. Milly Thomas completely commands the space, and the harsh lighting and bass filled sound design work perfectly in sync to take us on a fly on the wall style trip through the aftermath of Alice’s death.
Fuelled by strong writing and fierce delivery, Dust is a must see. As the turbulence of the script takes its audience in to it’s rhythm, Milly Thomas is an absolute force to be reckoned with and the exploration of the life left behind you is honest and hard hitting. I urge you all to blag a ticket by any means possible.
There’s something lovely and relaxing about taking an hour out of the hustle and bustle of the festival to sit in a beautiful circus tent in the cenre of the Meadows whilst an orchestra masterfully plays its way through a children’s classic. The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddleduck has been brought to the Underbelly Circus Hub by Children’s Classic Concerts this summer and the tent was full of families excitedly scribbling on activity sheets and looking forward to the show.
The Beatrix Potter books are often a staple in a family home, and as Michelle Todd arrives to the stage in Potter style dress, the stories begin and Todd sings and narrates her way through with the accompaniment of an on stage mini orchestra. As Jemima Puddle-duck tries to find a spot to lay her eggs away from the farmer, and Peter Rabbit loses yet another blue jacket and shoes, the stories came audibly to life as all members of the family fell in to the Beatrix Potter world.
The music itself is beautiful but there were several restless moments and something visual to entertain the younger members of the audience could be of benefit here. However, the score soars as danger approaches from the fox or Mr McGregor, and the stories are wonderfully told via classical music. There is no doubt that Todd’s voice is a brilliant addition to the instrumental backing.
Whilst this performance lacked visual aids and interaction with the audience, CCC have created a brilliant introduction to classical music for children and the orchestra beautiful bob along between duck footprints and the sound of the nasty Mr McGregor approaching.
The Tales of Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddle-duck | Underbelly Circus Hub
Have you ever tried to catch a hippo? Didn’t think so! This show is an interactive family show slightly out of the norm from your standard children’s peformance, and despite a bold as brass and slightly restless audience, Dr Zieffal, Dr Zeigal and The Hippo that can never be caught went down a storm in the early morning slot at Assembly Roxy.
As we are introduced to Dr Zieffal, whose assistant has gone awol, we are also introduced to her hippo hunting tactics and tool kit, all wonderfully colour coordinated in a very special area of the stage. Imagination is key in this one, and even the adults in the audience had their hippo google goggles on ready to hunt for the escaped mammal. Members of the audience are invited on stage at various points to help in the mission, and there was a really touching moment when one young boy picked up the scientists umbrella as she attempted to stack and carry everything to no success.
With a very relaxed feel to the whole performance, as the children shouted out suggestions and tried to help as much as possible as a brilliant chase ensued across and around the stage. Although some longer pauses and wordy scripted moments caused several younger ones to lose focus, the overal chaotic and fun nature of the performance kept the audience hooked throughout.
Brilliant fun and a whole load of hippo hunters in the making, this is a treat for the early morning slot and one for children not afraid to get involved!
Dr. Zeiffal, Dr. Zeigal and The Hippo That Can Never Be Caught! Mouth of Lions – Assembly Roxy
Paines Plough are back with the beloved roundabout and a stellar line up once again at the festival this year, and their early morning kids offering is a total gem. How to be a Kid is just what any one needs first thing, young or young at heart, and the messages of not growing up too quickly resonate with a lot of the audience.
Molly does all the cooking and cleaning, and looking after of younger brother when their Nan’s passes away and their Mum is struggling to cope. But Molly is only 12, and with everyone telling her different things about whether she needs to grow up or that she’s just a kid, one day it is all just too much. This show takes us on a break out adventure to find Molly’s inner kid once more, and with some help from Vera and a well timed promo voucher.
Although the story itself could do with a little more background into the family set up, the performances and messages are insightful and heart warming to see, as the bus zooms around the space, they dive in to the pool out of hours and Joe’s diplodocus moves hijack Molly’s cool levels on the walk home making two brothers down the front roar with laughter. With no props or set, the lighting design is crucial and works brilliantly to help us set the scene, from a dark house in the middle of the day to the bright lights of the Golden Arches.
With chocolate cake, happy meals and a large dose of Taylor Swift, How to be a Kid is a wonderful piece on upside down family life, with a whole lot of heart and the roundabout stage suits the three hander brilliantly. How to be a Kid | Paines Plough Roundabout @ Summerhall
Pleasance dome is a greenhouse haven from the showers this August in Edinburgh and tucked away in the Jack Dome, is Liz Richardson and Tara Robinson’s production of Gutted. A real life account of Liz’s bowel condition, this is a brace and brazen account of what goes on behind closed bathroom doors.
Liz Richardson is a twenty-something, living with a chronic bowel condition called ulcerative colitis, and as we were are introduced to several relations, as well as nurses and doctors, the extent of her condition becomes apparent to the audience. As audience members are invited on to stage to play the parts of parents and others, bribed with cupcakes and beer, Liz gives a bold and shamless insight in to appointment after appointment and the reactions from complete stranger, to delve into how we deal with invisible illnesses.
Well created and brilliantly told, as Liz switches from character to character, and eats yoghurt after yoghurt, she gives an upfront and engaging account into the condition and her experience dealing with embarrassing symptoms, as well as a grateful nod to the NHS. Not your standard show content by a long stretch, but a relevant and truthful account, scented by tomato ketchup, of an invisible illness which is so rarely spoken of.