Inheritance Blues: when student theatre goes right

Inheritance Blues would have been an impressive Edinburgh Fringe play coming from a fully professional group. To have come from a group who were recently students is outstanding.

Student theatre carries a certain notoriety at the Edinburgh Fringe, and it’s not entirely unwarranted. It’s the one kind of production I make an effort to avoid. They usually fall into one of two categories: mediocre productions of well-known plays, and new plays where the group over-estimates how good their writing is. To be fair to student groups, the Edinburgh Fringe is an environment stacked against them – you really need years of experience before you’ve got a realistic chance of being up to standard of the rest – but the fact remains that most student productions live down to my low expectations.

So it is with great pleasure that I name Dugout Theatre as proof that it doesn’t have to be this way. I stumbled across Dealer’s Choice a few years back, stumbled across Fade last year, and impressed by both of those, and wanted to see how Inheritance Blues compared to these two. And, my God, it’s even better. It’s even in my top three plays of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.

Continue reading

The Incubator protests are not about justice for Palestine

Demonstration outside Underbelly

COMMENT: I’ve stopped believing the people protesting against Israeli theatre care that much about Gaza. The real motive is all about hate figures.

People who know will will be aware I have opinions on lots of things, not just theatre. I sometimes hint about my opinions in theatre reviews, and I sometimes speak out on wider issues which have relevance to arts. But, on the whole, I try to keep politics out of this blog – people should be able to enjoy theatre regardless of anyone’s political views. On this occasion, however, I’m left with no choice but to attack the politics of an unpleasant bunch I can no longer ignore: the protesters who want Israelis banned from the Edinburgh Fringe. So far, I’ve confined my views to my opposition to political censorship in theatre, but sadly, this isn’t enough. It seems that then people supporting these protests think that “justice for Palestine” is more important than freedom of speech, and therefore political censorship is okay. The reason they keep citing is that this is exactly how Apartheid was brought down in South Africa. That is bollocks for all sorts of reasons (for a start, every man and his dog claims credit for ending Apartheid), but that isn’t the point. I’m going to attack this argument at the source: I don’t believe these protests really care that much about Gaza.

Continue reading

Lumiere will be back in 2015

Picture of Lumiere from 2011

I’m interrupting my Edinburgh Fringe coverage for one quick bit of news back in Durham. It’s been expected for a months or so ever since Durham County Council got its dream Arts Council national portfolio grant, but it’s just been confirmed now: Lumiere is coming back to Durham next year. Ever since 2013, Durham County Council was hinting in the strongest possible terms that this is what they wanted to do if only they got the money.

Still lots of questions up in the air. Probably the most pertinent one is: what’s happening to all the extra money that Durham County Council gets? I have some thoughts about that, but they can wait for another day. But today is a champagne moment. It’s good to have you back.

Edinburgh Fringe 2014 – as it happened

This is an archive of my live coverage of the Edinburgh Fringe 2014. All plays reviewed below have been written up in my roundup of Edinburgh Fringe 2014. However, I have retained this as an archive of what my thoughts were at the time …

Thursday 07/08, 9.15 p.m.: Hello, and welcome to my coverage of Edinburgh Fringe 2014. This is where I’ll be giving updates throughout my visit to the Edinburgh Fringe. Continue reading

What’s worth watching: Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Okay folks. I know the Edinburgh Fringe started proper today, but I’m still on holiday and I’ve had limited time for theatre blogging. I was going to write this last night but another event arose that I had to write about first. But now that I’m spending this evening at Rosslare Harbour where there is absolutely nothing to do, I’ve got a good chance to catch up.

So, for those of you new to these articles, these recommendations are for plays or groups that I previously heard of, where the endorsement is based on the strength of previous work. I will also be recommending plays I see during the course of this fringe, but that will come up in my upcoming “As it happens” article. For a guide on how the fringe works in general, rather than recommendations of specific plays, you can also see my guide on making the most of the Edinburgh Fringe.

And remember, there are gazillions of plays at Edinburgh and I can only discover a fraction of them, so these recommendations should be looked on as a cross-section of the good stuff on offer rather than an exhaustive list. There will be many more excellent shows out there that I’ve never heard of – some I may discover this year, but most won’t.

So, are you sitting comfortably. Then I’ll begin … Continue reading