Edinburgh Fringe Festival Reviews #4

Edinburgh Fringe Festival Reviews #4
by Brian Merriman


Produced by: Carly Wijs de Roovers
Venue: 26  Summerhall
Time, dates: 11.30  until August 28th (not 15 or 22)
Duration: 60 minutes

Nature or nurture – what defines identity? When a circumcision operation goes wrong, what do parents do? Do they follow their religious beliefs or the certainty of a Harvard-educated doctor?

If the child is young enough can you rely on the absence of memory of the intervention, to ensure the only available identity post op, will fulfil the child through life? Ask David Reimer.

This complex story by Carly Wijs is told in a childlike fashion throughout this two-hander. The cast of a male and female parent, played by Vanja Maria Godee and Jeroen van der Van, explain in as simple a way as possible, what happens when one of their children no longer has the ‘equipment’ to be defined as a boy. Will it be easier to create a daughter and will it be a happy choice?

There are lots of complex layers teased out in this deeply complex story made all the more impactful by the revelation in the final sequence. It is first and foremost a human story.

Strange things happen in this world, science offers ‘logical’ solutions but, in the end, which triumphs; nature or nurture. A parents’ nightmare and the impact on the siblings are all set out without pulling a punch.

The concept and presentation allow us to engage and relate. It is a clever and sensitive balance between ‘the best interests’ and the reality of the child who becomes an adult.

Boy is well directed, scripted and acted. It teaches us a lot about identity and decision-makers. It made the discomfort of the arctic wind from the air conditioning gusting in the venue a minor irritation when engaging with the shocking realities of the lives presented in the story of ‘Boy’.

No Place Like Home

Produced by: Alex Roberts & Co
Venue: 23 Pleasance Dome
Time, dates: 14.55 until August 28 (not 17)
Duration:  60 minutes

Alex Roberts uses all his considerable talents to tell this story of modern gay life. Young Connor fresh on the scene encounters barman Rob and what ensues is not ‘boy meets boy’ fairytale.

This is clubland. The scene is home to many. Connor is in the middle of coming out and lands on the dancefloor of The Swallow club. The technical achievements (Virginie Taylor) of this production are hugely impressive with the graphics sweeping us from situation to situation. The club soundtrack and sound design (Jac Cooper) are vibrant and the mix of narrative styles from rhyme to dance to music and monologue is not only well delivered but provides the colour and contrast many solo shows find hard to sustain.

Roberts is an accomplished performer with a convincing range of emotions. He rapidly switches to each role forward and back seamlessly. The plot thickens from one of a young guy’s first explorations to more dark and sinister happenings in this late-night community of strangers -for many this club is home but is it for young Connor? It was Dorothy’s earnest wish to go home…will Connor succeed in getting there? Excellent storytelling through words, dance and emotion.

Rob Madge, My Son’s a Queer (But What Can You Do?) 

Produced by: Paul Taylor-Mills
Venue: 300 Underbelly George’s Square
Time, dates: 16.15 until August 29th (not 15/22)
Duration:  60 minutes

I confess that this is my first encounter with Rob Madge. It won’t be my last. This young trans/queer musical theatre performer packed a large house with a tale constructed from his home video collection. The slightly framed actor bursts onto the stage and becomes this enormous presence of truth, talent and love.

The video footage give us a glimpse of the love and support this young (wanted) baby had, not only to protect his difference as he grew up but to ensure it thrived. What a jewel of an end result! His parents went to enormous lengths to conceive a child and when the one they got was different, the difference was allowed to shine.

The premise of the story is a hilarious recreation of a Disney parade in his own childhood’s front room. We gather today to have another go, as the first iteration many years ago did not go smoothly according to its creator.

There is original music, singing, comedy, and great props but most of all a huge heart and openness in this biographical adventure. He generously passes on the environment his parents and grandparents created for him during childhood, that allowed him to be the complete West End star he is today. It is a deeply moving and uplifting joyful story and highly entertaining.

Rob warns us in advance that the show is all about ‘me’. It is deservedly, but if ever there was a moment to share the final call with his supporting cast (parents and grandparents) this was it – and they are present, in every adventure, every fantasy realised, every word of praise, every support that they gave for this ‘different’ child, not only to shine but to go on to make that difference…and a very important one at that. This story is different when parents go with the unique gifts of their child and never limit the potential to do joyful things. And this is pure joy!

Let’s Try Gay

Produced by: I birbanti
Venue: 43 Space @ Symposium Hall
Time, dates: 20.15
Duration:  50 minutes until August 27th

Two multi-lingual actors from Milan treat us to this gentle comedy in English. Two straight guys, one married, both out on the razz with women accept a dare to impress their admirers. The dare is to make an amateur gay porn movie together.

Best friends, they now book a hotel room as their stage set, with unsuccessful artist Jack hoping this might open a new fanbase for his artistry. Phil is in year four of a happy marriage.  There is a lot of fun in the physical awkwardness and the rapid-fire responses. Inhibition has to be overcome if the movie is to be plausible and though there is great ambition in filming the shots… the ‘plot’ has yet to be developed by the two friends, leading to further confusion and fun.

There is a charm and innocence in the writing and performance and once again the ability to be funny in a second language is admirable. Ultimately inhibitions are overcome but in a different way, helping the straight friends to know each other a lot better. Though I doubt their porn movie will be a hit-there Is a lot to appeal in this gentle comedy, charmingly played.


Categories: Header, Theatre, Theatre Review

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