This is the first of my reviews for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2013!
FRINGE RUN: 1/8 – 26/8 (not 12) @ 15:10; Assembly Checkpoint (322); [£10.50/£8.50]
Who, Where and When: Patch of Blue Theatre, Assembly Checkpoint, Thursday 1 August 2013, 3.10pm
[title of show] is a show about writing a show about writing a show. You might want to read that twice… and yes, it is a bit surreal. In fact, my friends and I were not sure if it wasn’t too surreal.
The dialogue is very cleverly constructed to model real conversations, phonecalls and events which happened as the show was created. To the best of my knowledge, the show is more or less true to life, as the show did open at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, and then off-Broadway at the Vineyard. The script and character names have also been adapted, changed and expanded to chronical the play’s journey.
There were some very funny moments, and I loved the way the scripted interrupted songs, and questioned itself. Some of the songs were excellent – quite possibly the best thing in the show. The theatre geek in me particularly loved “Monkeys and Playbills” – a song made entirely of the titles of Broadway flops.
The frustrating thing about this show is that its postmodern and deconstructed nature is what makes it both brilliant and also terrible. It can be difficult to engage with at times and lacks some of the character and plot engagement that makes musical theatre so addictive.
In stark contrast to the show itself, the cast of this production were brilliant. They threw themselves right into the action and were not afraid to make fantastic use of space and physicality. Both Robbie Towns (Jeff) and Ricky Johnston (Hunter) captured their characters’ identity as gay Broadway writers perfectly – it would be easy to “over-camp” these parts. The girls (Carley Stenson as Susan, Jamie Lee Pike as Heidi) also did a brilliant job of showing the transition from strangers to friends throughout the show.
The sheer enthusiasm of the team was utterly infectious and this alone made what might otherwise have been a mediocre show an enjoyable way to open this year’s Fringe experience.
- Monkeys and Playbills – Company (could be sung as a solo) (Medium)
- Die Vampires Die – Susan (Hard)
- Secondary Characters – Heidi/Susan (Medium, Duet)
The cast were the real stars of this show, and they were marvellous. They are, of course, pros, so that helps. I immensely enjoyed many of the theatre in-jokes, but for a musicals newbie, much of the comedy comes from the physical movement and the judiciously sliced up script which is interspersed with voicemails, sudden stops and backstage scenes that reflect the nature of the plot. I probably wouldn’t both to see this show again, but I am glad I have seen it and I’m confident any and all theatre aficionados out there will enjoy it. If you can get in on the Half-Price Hut when it opens next week, so much the better.
Rating ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ (4/5) [Show 3, Cast 5]