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Edinburgh Fringe Festival Reviews #3

Edinburgh Fringe Festival Reviews #3
by Brian Merriman

A Eulogy for Roman

Produced by: Written and Performed by Brendan George, conceived and directed by Peter Charney
Venue: The Space at North Bridge
Time, dates: 10.55 until August 20
Duration:  60 minutes

This American play is simply staged and very cleverly created. We are met by a charming, anxious Milo (Brendan George) who is a master at settling his audience and putting us all at ease. He particularly succeeds in this as Milo himself is far from at ease. He is under pressure to do his departed friend Roman justice in his eulogy.

His scatter-brained start requires the assistance of the audience to keep this obviously emotional task together. His mayhem is funny, naive and totally engaging. He wins us all over in minutes. Then we are taken on a funnily disjointed tour of his friendship with Roman, beginning with a kindness in childhood and continuing until Roman passed away recently, as Milo becomes an adult and leaves their childhood playground of Springfield Falls in PA for New York City.

We journey through episodes where they stood with each other through isolated adolescence, a bucket list written by teens, and a friendship that supports Milo as he stumbles to adulthood. Milo, now an adult, retains his childhood charm which beguiles his audience. George performs with humour and ease throughout. Despite the constructed chaos, it flows with a narrative that is focused and sustained by George as he connects his audience to his friend.

Audience participation (and we are warned in advance) does not appeal to me, however, the manner in which it was done was so entertaining and appropriate, that at one stage 70% of the audience joined him onstage willingly to fulfil another bucket list challenge. There was no hesitation or hiatus that often accompanies a request from the stage – this was now a gathering of supportive friends.  If all audience participation was as well handled as George and director Charney achieved, there would be no need for seats in the auditorium!

A Eulogy is deeply personal. Milo made this personal to us all. It was a performance of memory, love and joy. We all made friends with Roman and Milo and their special form of friendship. We all loved our own life a little more afterwards.

Dorian

Produced by: KCS Theatre Company
Venue: 21  C Arts C Aquila
Time, dates: 14.10 until August 21

Duration:  60 minutes

KCS Theatre Co is ‘a dynamic and youthful theatre company from King’s College School in Wimbledon, known for their innovative approach to theatrical storytelling. An Edinburgh Fringe favourite at C ARTS for over 25 years, KCS Theatre Co continues to produce famous actors and theatre directors, including Christopher Luscombe, Khalid Abdulla and Ben Barnes (Dorian Gray film, 2009)’. Such is their reputation that there was a full house for their first performance and the expectant audience was well rewarded.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is the play Oscar Wilde never wrote. He authored the novel that was used throughout his trials to demonstrate his immoral character. Many have tried to turn this novel into theatre and this adaptation is one of the best approaches to this complex tale. This multi-talented young ensemble moved seamlessly through this well-crafted adaptation. The staging is engaging and the performances by the talented ensemble were hugely impressive.

The story of the beautiful man (well played) who beguiled so many and sold his soul to keep his youthful beauty is reborn in this flowing production, where each line delivered shows the artistic depth and quality of this company. The young adult cast are physically and psychologically engaged in the darkness of the plot and convey it through an hour-long energetic and sinister presentation that makes for compelling viewing. The lighting, soundtrack and choreography all enhance the drama and tensions that ultimately lead to the finale of reckoning.

There are ways to re-tell a well-known story and this is the way to do it. A memorable hour of great ensemble theatre. It will sell out.

Brother’s Keeper

Produced by: Woodstock Fringe
Venue: The Space On the Mile
Time, dates:  Until August 27 (not 21)  16.10
Duration:  65 minutes

Brother’s Keeper, from Woodstock Fringe in the USA, presents a resonating and courageous story of the empowerment of a child, now an adult, seeking out his abuser from the sanctuary provided through safe houses by the Catholic Church.

Wallace Norman strongly plays the central storyteller William Young and he pitches his delivery from child to adult perfectly. There is a crush here and his boyhood friendship evolves to go two different routes. William becomes a gay man but his best friend wrestles with his demons from childhood exploitation. There are stories of the cruelty of boys in school, the magic of finding the best friend to sustain and defend you, academic achievement, literary quotes and paths that part.

Norman tells a good and important story. The production values are high in a small venue. He is courageous in his response to tragic outcomes. The slight boy becomes a brave man and seeks justice for his damaged friend.

It reminded me of going back to my childhood home and seeing the high wall that I could never climb to access the playground of freedom. As an adult, I could see over the top with ease.

Norman creates that sense of scale with magic. He has strength, courage and passion. He is doing more than ok and that’s good to know too.

You can get a venue ticket to see both of these storytelling dramas for only €25. It is a great night out.

The Silver Bell

Produced by: Alan Flanagan in assoc with Jessie Anand Productions
Venue: Pleasance Courtyard
Time, dates: 12.55pm until August 28th

Duration:  60 minutes

THE SILVER BELL is an Irish/ UK production full of positive assimilation. Longford’s Alan Flanagan took home the ‘Best Scene’ gong from the British Soap Awards this year, for his work on ‘Hollyoaks’. In ‘The Silver Bell’, an Irishman makes his home in London, mixes in, gets a job, and falls in love. Flanagan’s theatre work is known for exploring multi-themes and this play brings us into many new dimensions on a search to recover from loss. He frequently combines love, relationships, loss and challenging illnesses and these again drive this latest work. Equally, his complexities are infused with quick humour and plot quirkiness.

Motor Neurone Disease is cruel and incurable, and quality care is vital and comforting. We meet two young men, Dr Mico (Flanagan) a physicist and actor/builder James (Brendan O’Rourke). They sometimes finish each other’s sentences and at other times refuse to let the other speak, in their quirky, charming edgy relationship.

The law of attraction states ‘opposites can attract’ and Mico uses and stretches every law of science to pursue loss and to discover that though things may look the same, even one small difference makes it quite different. Following the passing of James, he time travels or pursues him through parallel universes. We know they are real because Cilla Black and Margaret Thatcher are still remembered and Hamilton the musical is still running. But they are also different as each new dimension emphasises its own identity and time.

There is great onstage chemistry between the actors under the choreographic direction of Dan Hutton, who maximises trust exercises throughout, to good effect. There is a lot of humour, excellent lighting and answers to complex questions. The play is about a relationship – and the extraordinary lengths those left behind will go to, to meet again. Flanagan thrives in themes like this and his Intelligent writing, believable acting with O’Rourke, and the funny and heart-warming story make the Silver Bell chime sweetly.

 

 

 

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