GT Fringe

Oyster Eyes on the Prize

The latest GT reviews from the Edinburgh Fringe

Oyster Eyes Presents: Some Rice
Oyster Eyes are slowly becoming everyone's new obsession.  Reconstructing all we know as familiar via a cast of strange personas, the world created by this fiercely talented foursome is one I advise we all migrate to.
Unlike so many other sketch troupes of their manner, the chaos presented at no point feels lazy or under rehearsed and yet despite this the energy remains playful and unprompted. The quartet, in their signature lemon tinged turtlenecks and bright blue bum bags, are effectively balanced in their contribution and their breaking of the sketch show mould of a single gendered couple makes way for an addictive chemistry.
When something is this hilarious its usually impossible to recount why, and for this reason this review can offer nothing more than this: GO.


Nights At The Circus
Every year the Fringe offers some ghastly reworking of an Angela Carter novel, the attempts I have witnessed creations I’m sure would have the author churning in her untimely grave. Come to think of it not even the woman herself was able to visually adapt her own canon with success – although with its cult status, Neil Jordan’s movie of The Company of Wolves contained controversial differences from the original short story despite Carter collaborating on the screenplay. The movie also tried to fool the audience in to believing that a few spray painted Alsatians could substitute a pack of salivating werewolves, but I digress…
With the above in mind, Fourth Monkey Theatre Company’s interpretation of Carter’s Nights At The Circus is an admirable attempt that although not quite capturing the tone of the novel does a very fine job of covering the basics. Following American journalist Walser, the audience are granted a window in to the life and exploits of the ‘Cockney Venus’ Fevvers, a feathered winged aerialist nobody truly knows exists as fact or fiction. A certain highlight for me was the company’s exploitation of projection to reflect portions of Carter’s narrative implausible to stage in the venue, a selection of blurred and dreamlike animations cast across the backdrop that perfectly matched the tone of the scenes conveyed. All round performances were strong, and the design of the production makes a commendable effort to convey the grandeur and theatricality of Carter’s writing.
Although some of the more memorable moments from my reading of Nights At The Circus have been cast aside, Fourth Monkey pull off a commendable portrayal of a novel that will ever tempt live performance but I doubt will ever be seen successfully as such. 


Molly Wobbly’s Tit Factory

Assembly Rooms
What makes Molly Wobbly’s Tit Factory is its score, a succession of catchy songs that perfectly fit the spirit of this musical production by Lyric Theatre Belfast.  The problem is these impressive compositions are in service to a rather abysmal plot; the arrival of a stranger in the town of Little Happening heralds a surge of local women longing for breast enhancement, much to the confusion of their on looking husbands (and no doubt the audience alike).
I’m perplexed as to whether it’s meant to be some comment on superficiality or women’s objectivity, or nothing of the sort, however what is for certain is that writer Paul Boyd’s attempt to create a risqué adult storyline has flopped. An obvious comparison, but Richard O’Brian’s Rocky Horror justly caused controversy upon its premiere in the early seventies – a gently titillating tale about implants released in 2012 can hardly be billed as 'outrageous’.
Paul Boyd also happens to be the composer and director of the show, so perhaps a burden of responsibilities has blinded him with regards to some much needed editing. This being said, Molly Wobbly’s Tit Factory’s innocent wit has its charm, and no doubt the show is sure to be one of the more successful musicals at the festival. 


Unhappy Birthday
Assembly George Square
Fans of Morrissey may understand latent references, but this is not to say you’ve ever had to hear This Charming Man to appreciate what’s underway in Amy Lamé’s new solo venture Unhappy Birthday. We can all connect with the caricature of a crazed music fan and Lamé’s examination of such behaviour is an enjoyable and messy journey, even if a little tired in patches. 

Prepare to be dragged on stage and covered with cake, and to leave knowing more about Morrissey than you ever thought plausible. Above all expect to enter a party spirit Lamé’s abundance of charisma will ensure is anything but unhappy. It must be stated however that my faulting of the piece is a result of the few moments that tread closely to performance art parody – a crazed application of bright red lipstick and the stuffing of a whole burger in to Lamé’s mouth are two distinct examples. It’s a shame because there are some alternative performative gestures that both provide potent reflections on fandom and demonstrate the capability of the mesmeric Lamé and her team. Such is apparent in a scene Lamé furiously quaffs and sprays her hair, an effective questioning of the mimicry of our muses. Making way for such moments and reformatting others will provide the show with the lift it requires. 

It’s a must see for any worshiper of the great and powerful Moz, however for the rest of you Unhappy Birthday’s defects may result in a confusing experience.

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Words: Henry Petrides

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