Beyoncé's bringing home the Bacon
GT's penultimate selection of Edinburgh Fringe reviews
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Luisa Omielan: What Would Beyoncé Do?
Laughing Horse @ Meadow Bar – Free
Judging by the numbers turned away due to a full house, the festival buzz around Luisa Omielan is apparent. In fact when mentioning I was seeing the show I was always met with positive approval, and rightly so, as What Would Beyoncé Do? is the show that is sure to fast track Luisa to wider acclaim.
Omielan’s energy instantly puts you at ease, emanating an unnatural level of confidence that is engaging and infectious. The gags come thick, fast and fabulous, as Omielan preaches her hilarious philosophy to an audience that hangs on every word. Her clumsy physicality and manic vocal impressions cast Omielan as some living cartoon, and yet the material also harbours moments that are heartwarming and affecting. This careful balance is clearly a winning combination.
As the show draws to a close you not only feel ridiculously guilty that talent like this has been offered up free of charge, you also want Omielan as your best friend and life coach.
Please go. I’m sure it’s what Beyoncé would do.
MUSICALS AND OPERAS
C Venues – Chambers Street
Parodying London’s ‘hipster’ scene is nothing new and even when it was the wealth of failed attempts proved how hard it was do successfully. With this in mind, Leeds based theatre company The Hungry Bitches perhaps need to reassess the value of their production Facehunters and set about taming the show’s astray potential.
It would seem that to be cast in Facehunters one had to demonstrate the ability to not only shout for long periods of time but to overenthusiastically mime dancing in a club. This provides an apt description of around eighty percent of the piece, the overabundance of chorus members never failing to interrupt moments of possible salvation with violent stamping. Soon tiring of trying to distinguish the plot amidst this constant sea of manically paced movement it was easy to forgive the obviously distracted audience members that were chatting amongst themselves.
The attempted satire is rather lacking and obvious, and if this is the case for me as a resident of London’s East End I dread to think how the production translates to those further removed. Apart from the rather predictable costume choices I failed to see much parody or comment in the script itself, a peculiar occurrence, as I cannot ignore the possibility in the company’s fusing of Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray with this contemporary scene. The lyrics of the mostly unmemorable songs could be to blame for this, for as well as failing to carry the plot are made up of a series of base mantras that repelled humour or focus.
If anything Facehunters made me long to be back on the night bus through Hackney as opposed to questioning its trendy passengers. I can’t falut this young theatre group for trying, but the same could be said for Lisa Scott Lee and her solo career and just look what an embarrassment that was.
Ethan Addie : Rookie Mistakes
The Street – PBH Free Fringe
All too often stand up comics believe that a simple retelling of real life anecdotes is all that is required entertain an audience. In Ethan Addie I believe I have found the worst offender. I’ll stand down in my accusation if informed that Addie’s material is fictionalised, but without a single joke in the set suggesting there has been no thought in the show’s development whatsoever I find this highly unlikely.
I’m completely lost as what to say. Addie’s show offers nothing a brief reading of his flyer won’t do, in fact if anything the flyer has the capability of providing far more entertainment than the show in the form of an origami crane.
What with the Free Fringe programmes appearing to have stepped up their game this year, catastrophes such as Addie’s are becoming harder to forgive. Hosted by one of the city’s gay venues and with Addie centering the majority of the show on his sexuality, Rookie Mistakes may seem attractive to some members of Edinburgh’s scene however I’d suggest prioritising acts that have taken the time to refine their craft.
I’ll admit that on paper the set up of Lady M does sound a little hackneyed, the production a one woman retelling of the tragedy of Macbeth from the point of view of a bit part. Despite this Annemarie De Brujin’s electric performance has allowed for one my most enjoyed hours of theatre at the festival this year, the piece a refined and considered adaptation that sustains engagement and humour.
De Brujin’s energy remains constant, and from the off we are granted to a character whose telling of Shakespeare’s trajedy retains the essence of the orignal script and yet provides an insight both amusing and affecting. Breaking the fourth wall is always a risky theatrical decision however being aware of the appropriate moments to do so and remaining in control of her audience De Brujin is able to successfully manipulate the tempo of the piece, as well as reference the asides of Shakespeare’s original. What is also to be commended is the production’s manipulation of lighting and sound, the soundtrack especially in its employment of a discordant merging of old and new instruments and samples. The white washed set may be a little expected of a contemporary adaptation, but its effective operation by De Brujin softens this criticism.
An imaginative translation of the Scottish play that must be the best production C venues has ever hosted. Lady M’s run at the festival will have culminated by the time this is published, however after some dates in Netherlands I believe the production will be returning to the UK. Out, damned punter and buy a ticket I say.
The Wolves Descend
MUSICALS AND OPERAS
Paradise in Augustine’s
What with the arrival of Fifty Shades of Grey and the break up of R-Patz and Kristen, the Twilight saga appears to be on its last hairy legs. Whether this an appropriate time for a satirical opera of the franchise or whether it’s a little late I am unsure, although what I can be sure of it that Little Room Productions’s The Wolves Descend is a solid and enjoyable show that has restored some of my confidence in young musical theatre.
The plot provides a concise and suitably subtle parody, located in a Croatian village that has transformed itself into a tourist destination for lovers of the supernatural. In the suitable manner of a Hammer Horror, the presented stock characters provide a balance to the script, a feature I have found all too lacking in the self penned efforts of other young writers this Fringe. Having the tourists caricatured in their delivery and visual styling may have exploited their potential for humour, though one does question how this may have translated within the operatic framework.
Librettist Henry Benfield and Composer Matthew Pearson have provided a score that constantly impresses, performed admirably by both the instrumentalists and singing cast. It’s an uplifting experience to witness such a young company effectively explore music that isn’t some ugly by-product of the Glee generation, and having witnessing it performed with quality only adds to one’s respect. Obviously the requirement to sing the entire script will affect the natural flow of physical movement, although I feel the company is yet to locate confidence in their commanding of the performance space. This being said, the peculiar layout of Paradise in Augustine’s would be a challenge to many.
A charming and aware production.
The Francis Bacon Opera
MUSICALS AND OPERA
An operatic translation of the Melvyn Bragg’s notorious 1985 interview with Francis Bacon may sound novel, however after experiencing Stephen Crowe’s The Francis Bacon Opera I fail to reason how the adaptation extends or appropriately reframes the original transcript.
Successfully estimating a production’s set design is never a great sign, especially if it is attempting a heavily stylised presentation. Coupling this with the show’s wearing consistency in tempo one couldn’t help but feel that certain decisions were made too hastily, and these shortcomings sit awkwardly with the unavoidable enjoyment of the verbatim script. The vocals are impressive in parts, and the piano score does foster moments of gorgeously inharmonious composition, though overall I cannot shake my uncertainty as to the show’s direction.
Book tickets from edfringe.com
Words: Henry Petrides