Click here!


Fringe Reviews: Round-Up #1

Michael Cox reviews After the Act, Bloody Elle, Havana Street Party, Lightening Ridge, Concerned Others and Stuntman.

After the Act ****

After the Act is a musical verbatim piece that looks at the infamous Section 28 bill that prohibited the so-called ‘promotion’ of homosexuality in the UK. It looks at multiple lives both before and after the passage of the ‘act’ and its devastating consequences.

It is a much more theatrical piece than any description can make it sound. Historical moments are depicted verbatim—and sometimes as musical numbers—and real individuals’ testimonies are given. The emotional turmoil the legacy of Section 28 has created is clearly expressed.

The ensemble—four actors and two musicians—are excellent in their performances, and the production manages to find humour—both warm and sarcastic—throughout. It’s rightfully angry and sincere without lecturing. It also makes it clear how far we’ve come in equal rights—and how far we still have to go.


Bloody Elle ****

We’ve seen and heard this story before: a crush that turns into the heartache that comes with first love. We’ve watched countless ‘opposite attracts’ stories. We’ve also seen confessional shows where the artist in question recounts a moment in their life and relives it by narrating key moments and playing all the parts.

What we haven’t seen is a piece that does all of this with as much heart and soul Lauryn Redding gives in her one-woman show Bloody Elle. Playing her original music throughout, Redding takes us through her first love affair with Eve, a posh woman who awakens Redding to who she really is.

Bloody Elle is a joy from the start. The music is excellent, and the story is wonderfully told. But it’s all down to Redding, who is a tremendous stage presence and tells her story with an admirable vulnerability that packs emotional punch.


Havana Street Party ****

The story behind getting Havana Street Party to the Fringe is as impressive as the show itself: a group of street dancers had to overcome crushing bureaucracy from multiple countries just to make it to Edinburgh. It’s a tale worthy of staging within a Fringe venue itself.

So, it’s an utter delight to report that the show itself is a full-on crowd pleaser from start to finish. The idea that Cuban officials don’t recognise these young people as ‘real’ dancers (as they haven’t officially ‘trained’) is completely absurd. Their stage craft and connection with the audience is infectious, and their ability is terrific.

Holes could easily be poked—the recorded music is a bit repetitive, and the lip syncing is half-hearted at best. But no matter—Havana Dance Party is about the vibes it creates with the audience, and for that it’s a rousing success.


Lightening Ridge ****

Catherine Wheels’ newest production Lightening Ridge seems simple: one performer tells the story of a British family living in the titular community, taking on multiple roles and using items to create a larger scenescape. The father is mining for opal, and his obsession with striking it rich is having a negative effect on his wife, son and daughter. But things are about to get even more complicated—and emotional.

It feels like giving too much away to say any more about the plot—even if publicity goes much further. The story takes a lot of surprising twists and leaps of faith, and sometimes it charts into dark territory. But it is a rich story with characters that are easy to empathise with.

It is also brilliantly performed by co-creator Gill Robertson. Robertson creates a wonderful ambiance for the start, passionately telling the story while maintaining a constant engagement with the audience. It is a moving story that is well-told.


Concerned Others ***

There is no denying how well-meaning Tortoise in a Nutshell’s production of Concerned Others is. It wears its heart on its sleeve throughout its 45-minute running time, using video and audio clips as well as animation and model work to depict the lives of Scottish addicts and the effect addiction has on their loved ones.

The excellence of the stage craft is also undeniable—Tortoise in a Nutshell has always excelled in creative staging, and the subject matter is treated with dignity and respect.

However, what is presented comes across more as a detached educational piece, meant more to inform than engage. The audience are constantly hit with information but given little time to absorb anything. The interviews are enlightening, but so much is presented that it’s hard to connect to any one moment or individual. A solid example of the ‘less is more’ ethos, unfortunately.


Stuntman ***

‘See you in hell: motherfucker!!!’ Crash—boom—splat…and scene.

Stuntman could be seen as a 70-minute hodgepodge of action film tropes. Performers Sadiq Ali and David Banks give the audience a kaleidoscope of action film deaths, each performed with skill and a knowing wink to the audience. Anyone who’s watched children play at film and TV re-enactments will recognise the glee that many of these produce.

Much more interesting and impressive are the moments Ali and Banks speak about violence: how they feel when watching it, acting it and (rather poignantly) when faced with it in reality. There are some sobering moments, particularly when ‘play’ violence and reality collide.

The skill in staging Stuntman is easy to see, and the energy displayed throughout is commendable. It’s just a shame that the repetitive re-enactments take the focus away from an emotional beating heart.


After the Act and Bloody Elle are part of this year’s Fringe Festival at the Traverse. After the Act performs in the Traverse One at alternate times until August 27, 2023. Bloody Elle has completed its run.

Havana Street Party is part of the Underbelly Fringe programme and performs at McEwan Hall at 5.30pm (not Mondays) until August 27, 2023.

Lightening Ridge is a Catherine Wheels Theatre Company production. Its run at Summerhall has completed.

Concerned Others and Stuntman are part of Summerhall’s Fringe programme and also part of the Made in Scotland 2023 programme. Concerned Others performs at 2.45pm until August 27th and Stuntman performs at 5.50pm until August 25th (both dark on Mondays).

Comments: 0 (Add)

To post a comment, you need to sign in or register. Forgotten password? Click here.

Find a show

Search the site

Find us on …

Find us on FacebookFollow us on TwitterFind us on YouTube

Click here!