Happy 70th Ed Fringe!

So my time up in Edinburgh may have come to an end but with two weeks to go, there is so much still to see and do. The atmosphere in Edinburgh throughout August is impossible to describe and is possibly the best kind of chaos you’ll find anywhere in the world. 

From children’s shows to alcohol fuelled Shakespeare, and one man shows to stages brimming with ensemble, 30 shows filled my schedule interspersed with bacon rolls, orange juice and lemonade, Lidl bakery treats and a pint or two for good measure.

I laughed until I cried with Tamar Broadbent’s and her newly single lifestyle in her new show, Get Ugly and survived the front row as Shitfaced Shakespeare‘s production of Romeo and Juliet took a turn towards a Hebrew wedding with an inflatable dinosaur as a guest. Gecko’s The Dreamer was mesmerising to watch with stunning imagery, whilst Translunar Paradise from Ad Infinitum showed a heart string tugging story of love and loss. The Paines Plough Roundabout hosted some brilliant performances from Dirty Protest’s Sugar Baby (a fab take of Cardiff life fuelled with energy and the words of Billy the Seal), to the wonderful three hander Out of Love, exploring growing up and growing apart with an honest and heart warming script from Elinor Cook.  

How to win against History is a huge dose of fabulous over at Assembly George Square, back for another year by popular demand, and the Stiff and Kitsch duo had us cackling with laughter in their highly relatable show Adele is younger than us. 

There was a distinct whiff of alcohol based wisdom during The Thinker Drinkers (the gin was most definitely my favourite!), and there were belly laughs galore during Jenny Collier’s, Fantastic Beasts and where to find Jen. Traverse Theatre once again had a super popular and stellar line up, with an endearing script and on stage relationship during Jess and Joe forever, and an absolute powerhouse of a vocal performance from Josette Bushell-Mingo in Nina: A Story about me and Nina Simone. Secret life of Humans from New Diorama is brilliantly staged and The Nature of Forgetting is beautiful in it’s choreography and live soundtrack as it explores dementia and the memories that stick with us.

The one (wo)man shows are out in force this year, with a fast paced, hard hitting hour from Milly Thomas and Dust, a grim and dirty take of a bereaved dad in Trashed, a high five for the NHS in Gutted and the highly important journey of Seline Thompson in Salt among many others. Over at Zoo Southside, Wanna Dance with Somebody! Or a guide to managing social anxiety using theoretical physics was one of my impromptu decisions and it was a diamond of a show which was impossible not to get up and dance along to at the end. 

I managed to catch Part One of The Divide as my first experience of Edinburgh International Festival and had massively mixed feelings but would be intrigued to see Part 2 at some point in the future if it’s set to tour. Despite the length, the staging itself is brilliant and my jaw dropped multiple times during Act 2. The Conti Ensemble are ones to watch as The Laramie Project was tense viewing with strong vocals from the ensemble throughout as witness statement after witness statement was presented following the horrific events in Wyoming. 

There is a brilliant concoction of productions for children and young people across the venues, with brilliant slapstick fun from Three Half Pint’s rendition of The Three Musketeers, and a great introduction to classical music from CCC in The Tales of Peter Rabbit and Jemima Puddleduck over at the Circus Hub out in the Meadows. How to be a Kid made me feel all fuzzy inside as the importance of staying young and dancing to Taylor Swift became apparent, and there were songs and rocket fuel galore with Les Petits Theatre The First Hippo on the Moon. Dr Zeiffal, Dr Zeigal and the Hippo that Can Never Be Caught! had the hippo hunters in the audience roaring with laughter and suggestions for catching a hippo, whilst Oskar’s Amazing Adventures took us to the snowy mountains for a puppies mission to make friends and explore. 

Whilst that’s my main round up out the way, there are thousands of productions at the festival which I didn’t get to and I had more than a few time clashes and ran out of hours in the day unfortunately! I’ve heard wonderful things about Jack Rooke over at Underbelly, Theatre Ad Infinitum’s other show Odyssey is sure to be brilliant, and Nassim at Traverse has had a fantastic response from audience members and critics alike. Monica Dolan has just won a Stage Award for her performance in The B*easts, and the awards will surely start to roll in across the board now as You’ve changed also picks up a gong. All we ever wanted was everything is said to be really strong gig theatre, Cosmic Scallies was on my wish list but clashed and DollyWould has had lots of recommendations from the twittersphere. Back by popular demand, Lemons, lemons, lemons… and Every Brilliant Thing are back again at the Roundabout, both excellent pieces which I have seen in previous years (take tissues for the latter!), and following its success at The Other Room, Cardiff, the incredible Seanmhair is over at Bedlam. And towards the end of the month the renown Fleabag is back again, so we’ll have to hope for a regional tour for that one! 

To everyone lucky enough to still be in Edinburgh or is heading up over the next two weeks, have an amazing time. I am back home for the first night in my own bed and despite this still have massive fear of missing out on anything and everything.

See you next year Edinburgh: Happy 70th you beauty! 

David Walliams: The First Hippo on the Moon

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.

The first hippo on the moon | Pleasance Courtyard

Edinburgh, you beauty!

That’s it, another fringe over for me, and although the magic and chaos may still be continuing up in beautiful Edinburgh, I’m back to work tomorrow and a major bout of the fringe blues have kicked in. Although I didn’t manage to spend the whole month up there, I did squeeze in over 20 shows around working the box office (because I’m basically a ninja…) Here’s a run down of my top five and some other highlights:

Key Change: Open Clasp Theatre. Northern Stage @ Summerhall.

An incredibly authentic and refreshing take on female prison life, put together brilliantly and portrayed by a first class set of performers. Moving, funny and a bit rough round the edges: Key Change powerfully sings out loud the voices of female prisoners stuck in the system. 

Every Brilliant Thing: Paines Plough. The Roundabout @ Summerhall

This show left me an emotional wreck, an incredible performance and moving narrative, which had the audience involved from their first seconds in their seats. An insightful and beautiful piece, highlighting depression and self awareness, and reminding us of the little wonderful things we’re surrounded by… Number 14: Bed

Party for One: Christina Bianco. Assembly George Square Gardens.

Hilarious. Christina Bianco is a genius, and despite being one of the first shows I saw, still makes me laugh hysterically when picturing a Ariana Grande song, sang in Julie Andrews voice… Spot on impressions, sung beautifully with a heart warming and relatable story to match. 

A Girl is a Half Formed Thing: Traverse Theatre. 

An intense and gripping performance, with a lot of grit and a lot of heart. I left the Traverse with my heart in my mouth and in awe of such an emotive and epic performance from Aoife Duffin.

Ross and Rachel. Assembly George Square Theatre. 

She’s his lobster, and Molly Vevers was completely on it in her portrayal of any couple which start off with their happy ever after planned for forever. Switching between both sides of the couple, a couple which are now seen as an item, the clever script is laced with references and full of emotion. 

I also loved The Solid life of Sugar Water at Pleasance Dome: a heartbreaking story, expertly handled, and Jenny say qua from Jenny Collier made me cackle with laughter at the Three Sisters. Echoes at the Gilded Balloon was a brave and insightful comparative piece and last years NSDF winners, Naughty Corner and their production of The Bastard Queen was gritty, funny and a brilliantly polished production. Shitfaced Shakespeare was hilarious as The Merchant of Venice took to the cheap prosecco and beer, and Man to Man was an epic performance from Maggie Bain, and well deserving of all the rave reviews. Our Teachers a Troll made for another fantastic, fun morning at the Paines Plough roundabout as audience members young and old cowered and laughed as one, whilst Flossy and Boo was a fabulous pick me up for a Monday, proper feel good fun for all the family! 

As always, I had an absolute ball and Edinburgh was full of magic, chaos  and the wonderful team that is the Space UK family. I would definitely recommend checking out any of the shows above if you’re lucky enough to be heading up to the Scottish capital or if these companies ever decide to tour! 



It’s very nearly the best time of year again…

…this time tomorrow I’ll be back in beautiful Edinburgh, ready for round three of fringe chaos and I can not wait. Sorry for the recent silence, I’m not really sure where the year is going or how it is now August… but I’m currently packing the last few bits, in prep for 10 days of theatre, tickets, audiences and a few pints for good luck!

It really is impossible to describe the fringe atmosphere to anybody who hasn’t been… I would recommend it to anybody, avid theatre fanatic or not! There’s something incredibly reassuring about walking down the street, playing costume or real clothes with the person next to you, bumping in to someone you know from previous years, swigging from a Black Medicine takeaway cup and seeing up to five shows in one day.  Completely and utterly knackering but the best way to spend August, I guarantee you.

I’ve got my show wish list lined up, with ten days up there, I’m hoping to fit quite a few productions in around my shifts managing the box office of three venues. There are sure to be some familiar faces up there this summer too with a brilliant Welsh contingent as always… Sherman Cymru’s incredible Iphigenia in Splott, the Centre’s powerful production of Man to Man, Living Pictures’ endearing one man show Diary of a Madman, the chaos of Flossy and Boo’s Curiosity Shop and Torch Theatre’s well received Grav to name just a few!

I’m like a kid at Christmas, my rain mac, comfy shoes and hangover hiding sunnies are at the ready, and I’m super excited to see my SpaceUK family and get lost in the magic chaos of the fringe once more.

There’ll be some #tweetsizereviews coming your way over in the twittersphere so feel free to give me a follow @chaotickirstyy – Feel free to holla if you’re around and I’ll be doing my yearly round up when I return!

2014: The favourites and highlights

Wow what a year for theatre! 2014 has flown by in a complete blur and according to my calculations and well used diary, I have seen 121 productions in the past 365 days…making my top ten incredibly difficult this time round!

I have basically spent the majority of my year inside a theatre having worked for five different companies in one capacity or another and spending my spare time checking out what Cardiff and the surrounding area have to offer, as well as a wonderful Fringe filled summer and a few trips to the Big Smoke!

I’ve followed soldiers over the top of a trench in Usk, watched stand up comedy in a pub basement, and watched circus performers whilst eating my dinner… it’s been a pretty great year for theatre so thank you 2014! Here are some of my favourites: my top ten of the year, some which made an impression, made me cry or made me cackle with laughter and all of which you should all look out for if they ever tour again!

Maudies Rooms: Roar Ensemble in co-production with Sherman Cymru
An incredibly enchanting and touching production from start to finish, with wonderful performances allowing the audience to interact with the weird and wonderful characters of the past.

Lungs: Paines Plough
An honest, heartfelt and witty production which had the audience laughing and crying as one. My one standing ovation of the Fringe festival!

Once: Phoenix Theatre, London
A subtle and beautiful Irish folk tale of a musical which left me an emotional wreck, proving that not every musical needs jazz hands and a flash dance routine.

Travesti: Unbound Theatre Company
Incredibly thought provoking and heartfelt verbatim theatre which knocked me sideways slightly – embracing a subject matter which others have previously shied away from.

Gwyn: Cwmni Fran Wen
Full of giggles, bright colours and enchantment against a truly gorgeous set design: a true reminder of how magic children’s theatre can be!

Mametz: National Theatre Wales
An immersive and emotional journey back in history, entering the hearts and memories of those lost at war in a beautiful setting in the middle of Usk.

Bianco: Nofit State Circus
A crazy concoction of beauty, chaos and amazing skill: Bianco left me in complete awe and wanting to watch again and again!

Dark Vanilla Jungle: Supporting Walls
Full of power and passion: A completely on it and bare faced performance from Gemma Whelan, portraying the highs and lows of one girls life.

A Streetcar Named Desire: Young Vic (via NT Live)
A gripping and tragic portrayal of the classic Tennesse Williams play with incredible performances from all cast members: brought to cinemas nationwide via the magic of NT Live.

And last but by no means least…. Tiger: Barrowland Ballet
A beautifully unconventional piece of dance and physical theatre which left my mouth in a wow kinda shape at this years Fringe.

And there you have it, my favourites of the past year for you all.  I’ve already started my wish list for next year and I can not wait to see what else is round the corner.  The theatre and arts scene in Cardiff is going from strength to strength, and it’ll be great to see what The Other Room has to offer, as well as the exciting programmes lined up for the Sherman, the Centre and National Theatre Wales amongst many others.

Happy new year all and I will see you in 2015!

Fringe Fever

theSpace UK

This year I spent my summer in beautiful Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival and it was possibly the best decision I’d ever made.  During the month, I managed to squeeze in over 40 shows, under 5 sober nights in and met some amazing people from all over the world, from Adelaide to Aberdeen.

I’ve heard nothing but good things about the Fringe, ever since I started working as an Usher in 2012, and I was more than excited to actually experience the buzz… but nothing could have prepared me for the atmosphere in the slightest: People juggling fire outside Starbucks, hundreds of people of all ages flyering, performances in the most bizarre locations ranging from hotel rooms, to a high school, to derelict buildings and a huge sense of community with the friendliest strangers.

You may think that working the Fringe might ruin the festival a little; definitely not! I was lucky enough to work as part of the mighty Space family and got a chance to chat with theatre companies from all over the country and from across the pond, whilst selling a few tickets of course!  It gave me a great chance to experience the Fringe first hand, leaving me plenty of time to enjoy a wide range of productions and many a night out!  Its crazy how adrenaline can see you through most of the month, with a lot of cups of tea and a few powernaps for good measure!

It was a month of little sleep, many a takeaway, dancing until dawn and I can not wait to do it all again next year!