Drama Studio Student Fringe Reviews

These reviews were written by Drama Studio Senior students during the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe and mentored by professional reviewer Thom Dibdin.

For More reviews go to http://alledinburghtheatre.com/

Also check out reviews there of Junior student reviewer Cora Dibdin. 



Mancub and The Children


July 23, 2015 | By Thom Dibdin1 Reply

New reviews from All Edinburgh Theatre’s new writers

This August, All Edinburgh Theatre is proud to be taking on four young Edinburgh-based reviewers in a new mentoring initiative.

Working with Julie McDonald, director of The Drama Studio, Æ has recruited four of their young actors who will be taking the understanding of theatre they have learned from performance and applying it to a critical stance from the other side of the footlights.

All Edinburgh Theatre‘s coverage of the fringe this year will, as usual, be focused on theatre made in Edinburgh. But for now, here are the reviews filed by Jon White, Aran Prince-Tappe and Gregor Weir after seeing the LYT’s productions ofMancuband The Children. Annie Bird will join the team when she gets back from holiday.

I’m looking forward to more great reviews from all four in what will, undoubtedly, be a busy fringe. And look out next week, when we will reveal more news of our critics scheme.

Thom Dibdin (Editor)


?????    Great Potential

Review by Jon White

A bright, quirky comedy, Mancub at the Lyceum deals with some serious, and not so serious, issues that young people have to face.

Douglas Maxwell’s adaptation of John Levert’s book Flight of the Cassowary is being performed by young people from their Summer On Stage programme as part of a double bill with The Children.


Mancub Rehearsals. Photos: LYT

The play follows a young boy, Paul (Alexander Levi), and the various trials and tribulations he faces as a young teenager. Animals are central to this piece as Paul describes people and events in animal terms such as calling his dad ant-man and seeing the penalty box as a goalkeeper as his territory.

Paul struggles with teenage life and his identity believing that he can become different animals. This can be taken as either magical or a metaphor where he takes on their characteristics depending on the situation.

Five narrators – Gowan Mackay, Emily Ward, Anna Pidoux, Sophie Morris-Maciocia and Katherine Gardner – are on stage until almost the end with microphones. They provide a calm and clear narrative, filled with humour and at points their voices chorus together melodically.

Another outstanding performance comes from Tom Borley as football coach Susskind. He has a great presence and portrays the stereotypical over-enthusiastic, pushy and even overemotional sports coach with excellent timing and confidence.

Carson Ritchie as Paul’s best friend Jerry puts across his character’s emotions well: the friend trying to help Paul and the abused son who tries to hide his pain behind jokes about his dad. This involves an interesting sequence where Simon Williams (Jerry’s Dad) uses a voice changing microphone.

Where this production falls short is not on acting or energy but on the use of the set. Director Xena Marwick only uses small area of the stage, downstage left, where action consistently takes place and for this reason props and furniture are often being brought to and from this one area which leads to lengthy set changes. During these changes flashing lights and music are used that stop entertaining after the first change.

The stage at times feels full as many of the cast are left sitting at the back which can distract from the main action. However, for Karen (Emma Gribbon) and Paul’s date at the zoo and the big football match the stage is fully utilised and it works so well you feel more could be done with the whole stage.

A thoroughly enjoyable play which contains flashes of brilliant acting and comedy. Issues over staging and overuse of an onstage camera do detract, but not enough to stop it from addressing some of the real issues with which teenagers struggle.

The Children


Review by Aran Pince-Tappe

Lyceum Youth Theatre deliver a bleak and pessimistic production of Edward Bond’s The Children as part of a double bill in their Summer on Stageprogramme.

The play chronicles the experiences of a group of children when one of their number burns down a house upon the demand of her disturbed mother. The children find themselves wandering a desolate, deserted landscape, with no other people in sight.


Confrontation in The Children. Photo Alexander Van Der Byl

The production conveys the bleak and unforgiving tone of the story well, using a grey, stormy background and minimalist set design. The tense and sporadic soundtrack also heightens the effect of scenes, either increasing the tension of several dramatic scenes or conveying the bleakness of the characters’ situation and surroundings.

Director Christie O’Carroll brings out strong performances in the key roles. Of particular note are Caitlin Mitchard as Jo, who opens the play with an engaging, very well-performed dramatic monologue; and Jenny Barron as her mother, who convincingly portrays an utterly broken woman. Her character is memorable for her emotional manipulation of her daughter, which adds additional dramatic weight to their relationship. The large supporting cast also deliver, all giving good, believable performances.

Despite the clear hard work put into the production, however, Edward Bond’s plot feels somewhat unresolved by the conclusion of the play. A great many ideas are introduced in the middle of the story, but many of them remain unaddressed by the end. This leaves too many questions and as a result an experience that is not as satisfying as the hard work and good performances in the production deserve.

A strong, well-acted piece with an effective tone, which stands out despite its incomplete conclusion.



Review by Gregor Weir

The playful innocence created by the Lyceum Youth Theatre in their hilarious rendition of Mancub will surely transport anyone back to their days of playground patter and clammy palms.

Paul is a young boy struggling to keep up with the strange and confusing teenage world. In addition to having to deal with the everyday struggles of being a teenager, Paul also finds complications in that he thinks he can transform into various animals at his own will.


Th Mancub cast in rehearsal. Photo: LYT

The plot is comforting despite its eccentricity, as familiarity can be found in Alexander Levi’s convincing portrayal of Paul’s teenage awkwardness. Levi communicates excellently the roller coaster emotions associated with being young, and handles very well the often fairly steep changes in emotion demanded by the script.

The humour in the show is innocent and youthful, in keeping with the general tone of the production. Yet the play still manages to tickle the funny bones. Freya Groves is an excellent example of this in her sarcastic portrayal of Fideles, the fed up biology teacher.

However Mancub also aims to tackle slightly more serious issues, such as abuse, in the scene where Paul’s friend Jerry (Carson Ritchie) is struck by his father. Although the acting in this scene is very good, it seems to unnecessarily depress an otherwise very light-hearted and playful production, and the plot point never really develops as deeply as expected. However, the use of a shadow screen for this scene must be applauded, as it gave Paul’s father a more ominous and beastly feel.

Mancubis a wonderful combination of wit and youthfulness that is packed full of nostalgia. The actors communicate this well, and show the Youth Theatre in a very positive light. Overall, Mancub will leave you clapping your paws together in praise.


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$11.    Marion says:

July 24, 2015 at 10:43 am

Fantastic work from these young critics. Good, constructive reviews, making well observed comments, and not just telling the plot, as many critics seem to do. They have a great mentor in Thom and I am looking forward to reading more reviews from these talented young people.


Top of Form




Back in the Woods

August 3, 2015 | By Thom Dibdin1 Reply

Æ’s young critics go Into the Woods

Edinburgh Playhouse: Fri 31 July/Sat 1 Aug 2015

Four young Edinburgh-based theatre critics will be reviewing for All Edinburgh Theatre this fringe, in a new mentoring scheme.

Before they hit the fringe this week, three of them were available to accompany Æ’s editor Thom Dibdin to the Playhouse production of Into the Woods.

Here are their reviews.

Into the Woodsreviewed by Annie Bird

????? Impressive

Intricate, magical and comical, the Edinburgh Playhouse Stage Experience’sInto The Woods thoroughly impresses with a professional feel achieved with such little time and so many cast members.

With 94 eleven-to-fourteen year-olds performing on stage, and a mere two weeks to complete their version of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s popular musical, director Peter Corry has quite a challenge, one which he overcomes wonderfully.


Kieran Wynne and Olivia Hemmati. Photo Stephen Clinton

The musical follows multiple fairytale characters, including a baker and the baker’s wife (the extremely talented Kieran Wynne and Ellie Campbell), Cinderella played by incredible singer Heather McFarlane and Little Red Riding Hood excellently portrayed by Olivia Hemmati, on their journey into a large wood where their paths cross and their tasks become intertwined.

When it seems all their wishes have been granted, the characters have to work together to solve a huge threat to their land in the form of a giant, leading to equal measures of tragedy and comedy, as the characters try to reach their ‘happily ever after’.

Fans of the recent film adaptation of the musical might have had concerns about the creation of the giant who forms that huge threat. But the large ensemble cleverly create her character by appearing among the audience, shouting her lines in unison with a voice recording.

They also create much of the set by forming shapes of trees and flowers to create the effect of a woodland. However the constant movement of the ensemble can sometimes distract from the main action of the characters on the overcrowded stage.

All the 39 named roles are worthy of praise, but Zoe Moore steals the show as the Witch with a mature and absorbing performance worthy of one you might expect to see in the West End. The Baker’s Wife is also played with incredible talent by Ellie Campbell who will undoubtedly go far in the world of musical theatre.

The voice of Freya Hoppe, who takes on the role of Rapunzel, thoroughly impresses. However due to unfortunate staging she is hidden by the curtain to many audience members. Providing most of the comedy in the show is the Mysterious Man played by Scott Coltman, whose comic timing and use of voice are simply hilarious.

Some characters could be taken further. The Wolf is portrayed excellently by Gordon Horne with the perfect amount of creepiness, but the director could have more fun with the movement of the character. Horne goes on to deliver a delightfully funny and professional performance as Cinderella’s Prince later on, which is one of the best in the show.

Corry excels at creating a show which appears as if it has months of work put into it, and the choreography (Louise Ferrier) and staging, particularly in the finale is executed particularly well. Despite the occasional confusion of accents, the acting on the whole is very impressive. As is the whole production of The Playhouse Stage Experience’s Into The Woods.


Into the Woodsreviewed by Gregor Weir

????? Magical

Edinburgh Playhouse’s Stage Experience impresses with its talented cast in their performance of Into The Woods. The spellbinding vocals, combined with enchanting acting, does the great script the justice it deserves.

“Once upon a time”, the time-honoured opening line to all fairytales, serves equally well in this plot-merging fairytale extravaganza. The plot combinesCinderella, Snow White, Jack and The Beanstalk and Rapunzel (plus a few more) and puts a fresh spin on stories we all know well.

The Witch (Zoe Moore). Photo Stephen Clinton

The script and plot works well overall, although the second half drags somewhat, as the characters are having to work together to solve one problem, relieving some of the tension present in the first act that helped to keep the plot moving.

A stand-out performance is delivered by Ellie Campbell as the Baker’s Wife. Campbell perfectly balances wit and sorrow to create a woman desperate to lift the curse that had made her infertile. This strong performance, and the added layer of grief, lifts the show to a level that is difficult to achieve from a fairytale plot that screams pantomime.

Another excellent performance is given by Zoe Moore as the Witch. She attacks the role with energy that makes her stand out and gives the character an extra layer of life. It’s particularly interesting how Moore distinguishes between the “ugly old” Witch, and the “beautiful young” Witch, adjusting the character to be more gentle and slightly more kind after the transformation.

Furthermore, the heavenly singing voice of Freya Hoppé, as Rapunzel, hits every note with delicacy and lightness, just as would be expected of a princess role. Although, quite frustratingly, director Peter Corry sticks her on a tower right up at the top of the back of the stage, so that for many it is impossible to see where that golden voice is coming from.

It is difficult working with a cast of over 100. However, it would have been nice to see more movement sequences and use of the ensemble as more than just human props. However, the ensemble as the giant is creditable.

Into The Woodsis made great by the hard work of the young people who have made it, displaying excellent vocals, great acting and lots of fairytale fantasy. It is a production to delight.


Into the Woodsreviewed by Jon White


Funny, slick and thought-provoking, Edinburgh Playhouse Stage Experience’s production of James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim’s Into the Woods strikes a balance between the idyllic happily ever after and what really happens when the fairytale ends.

The boundaries between classic Grimm fairytales are blurred when Little Red Riding Hood (Olivia Hemmati), Jack (Ross Tucker) and Cinderella (Heather McFarlane) go into the woods following their well-known goals.

Some of the ensemble. Photo Stephen Clinton

However, they are pursued by a seemingly ordinary Baker (Kieran Wynne) who under the instructions of the hideous Witch (Zoe Moore) must retrieve four objects in order to lift the curse she has cast upon him.

Director Peter Corry’s use of the ensemble is outstanding. He uses it to create the furniture and bring the set to life – even fulfilling the age old drama cliché of being trees. Corry chooses to have the ensemble in the auditorium to be the Giant, but with all the voices shouting at different times – and a distorted voice coming over the speakers – it is a strain to hear the lines. Nevertheless, the ensemble provides a slick, well-rehearsed base for the production.

Zoe Moore as the Witch has a great presence onstage in both the first act as the haggard, powerful old Witch and in the second after her transformation back to youth. Moore’s forceful manner is complemented well by the subtle brilliance of Ellie Campbell as the Baker’s wife. She performs with great timing and emotion to create a quietly pushy character similar to Lady Macbeth.

At the beginning of Act 1 the voices of both Jack and Cinderella feel strained but they quickly find their feet and produce excellent performances – especially Jack’s solo Giants in the Sky. Heather McFarlane makes Cinderella’s story one of the most interesting and real as in Act 2 she and her husband (Gordon Horne) become tired of royal married life. The airhead Jack grows on you as Ross Tucker’s performance progresses: his dopiness, general vacant expression and good heartedness make him a very endearing character.

A gem hidden in this production is Scott Coltman, who gives one of the most hilarious and generally enjoyable performances as Mysterious Man. From the moment the first strange rhyme comes out of his mouth he brings great energy and grabs your attention. Towards the end of the play the Mysterious Man and the Baker (Kieran Wynne) perform a duet of No More where Coltman’s excellent voice shines through.

Act 1 contains many humorous moments such as the appearance of the Three Little Pigs jumping out of the belly of the wolf which gives the whole thing a very light, happy atmosphere. Act 2 turns dark and, with the number of deaths involved, verges on a tragedy but the Act feels slightly off. Despite slick scene changes and a well-rehearsed company, Act 2 does drag.

An amateur company producing such a professionally performed production really is a showcase of the great community work being done at the Edinburgh Playhouse.


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$11.    Susan Wales says:

August 3, 2015 at 1:52 pm

What interesting, insightful and mature pieces. Well done all three young reviewers.


Top of Form




August 10, 2015 | By Jon White5 Replies

?????      Smashing

Young critics scheme review
Broughton High School (Venue 207):
Sat 8 – Sat 15 Aug 2015

Fun and entertaining, Honk!, Anthony Drewe’s modern adaptation of The Ugly Duckling performed as part of Captivate Theatre’s three week Fringe Experience, adds depth to a timeless classic.

The play follows Ugly (Alex Gavin)’s journey from when he hatches as an outcast and then finds himself lost. He is hunted every step of the way by the not so cunning Cat (Jamie Duffy) and his diligent mother Ida (Molly Constanti). Full of heart-warming moments and humour, this is a truly emotional story of an ugly duckling’s transformative journey.


Ida (Molly Constanti) and ducklings. Photo Tony Cook

Scenes with the whole cast are a testament to director Sally Lyall’s hard work. They are well-organised and clever – especially the sequence to create the blizzard and aid Ugly’s transformation. Musical Director Ian Sutherland excels at conducting his band and, despite the large numbers, each member of the cast gives their all during songs which helps create a well-rounded choral sound.

Molly Constanti as Ida is a wonderfully strong female lead as she creates a very mumsy character and displays her emotions beautifully. Her outstanding voice is complemented by Henriette (Holly Foxwell) and Maureen (Iona Meier) inThe Joy of Motherhood. Alex Gavin, as Ugly, really shines when singing – especially in his duetHold Your Head Up Highwith Ida.

On his journey Ugly meets a whole host of different characters: the goose squadron leader Greylag (James Stark) and his wife/air hostess Dot (Frankie Blair) who promise to help him find his farm. He has an interesting encounter with domesticated pets Queenie (Lily Constanti) and Lowbutt (Orla Faith Ryan) which highlights the divide between the welcoming wild animals and the snooty domesticated ones.


Ugly (Alex Gavin) and the Bullfrogs (Callum and Joshua Grant). Photo Tony Cook

He then goes on to meet the Bullfrogs (Callum and Joshua Grant) who, through their humour and song, help him to come to terms with his looks and to not feel so downhearted. Ugly comes close to realising his swan heritage when he frees Penny (Robin McGillvray), a young swan, from a fishing line.

Drake (Aidan Cross), Ugly’s father, pulls focus well at the start of the play as he stands out amidst the farmyard chaos. His singing is excellent and he delivers some of the more humorous lines with egg-cellent poultry puns. The other ducklings (Rosy Constanti, Sophie Gee, Maddie Gee, Matthew Gavin and Lily Ewing) are adorable and perform their role of outcasting Ugly well.

A production full of outstanding performances, Captivate Theatre does this little known musical great justice. Full of jokes, enthusiasm and great songs you can’t help but leave with a smile on your face.

Running time 2 hours 15 minutes
Broughton High School (Venue 207) 29 East Fettes Avenue, EH4 1EG
Saturday 8 – Saturday 15 August 2015
Odd dates: 2pm; even dates: 6.30pm.
Book tickets on the EdFringe website:
Captivate Theatre website:




May I Have The Bill Please?

August 11, 2015 | By Jon WhiteReply

?????   A comical faff


Young critics scheme review
The Boards (Venue 59a):
Wed 5 – Sat 29 Aug 2015

Witty middleclass middle-aged comedy, May I Have The Bill Please? by Robin Mitchell overanalyses what happens when a group of adults are given the bill for a meal.

The play looks at how two couples attempt to split a bill after a meal out in a restaurant. While being served by an almost helpful waiter (Blair Grandison) every possible time-consuming scenario happens: forgotten wallets, wrong bill and much more.


Emma (Lindsey Lee Wilson) and Samuel (Blair Grandison). Photo: Playhouse

Director Liam Rudden’s decision to set this in The Boards, a bar attached to the Edinburgh Playhouse, is effective as it creates a relaxing restaurant-esque atmosphere with audience seating consisting of chairs and bar stools arranged around tables.

There are interesting dynamics between the couples. Emma (Lindsay Lee Wilson) and Michael (Edward Cory) are a sweet couple who seem to agree on most points. On the other hand Chris (John McColl) and Sandra (Donna Hazelton) have a love-hate relationship – with most of the hate directed towards Chris.

Hazelton portrays a very strong character with a hilariously scolding nature who seems to have something to say about everything. McColl as her husband gives a generally good performance but his character feels much more two dimensional and lacks emotional depth. However, his boorish interaction with the waiter is very entertaining.


Michael as a quiet, awkwardly funny man is a good pacifier for Chris’ boorish nature as the two men joke around in a classically childish way. Cory is definitely the funniest of the five as he has the best lines but they aren’t always excellently delivered.

Blair Grandison as the waiter Samuel displays a characteristically polite nature but given the clever staging it can be seen as just a façade. This adds a subtlety to some of the humour.

Although it is not quite a joke-a-minute this is still a thoroughly enjoyable, very relatable, and well-written piece.

Running time: 45 minutes
The Boards (Venue 59a), Edinburgh Playhouse, Greenside Place, EH1 3AA
Wednesday 5 – Saturday 29 Aug 2015 (not Sundays)
Daily, not Sunday, 2pm.
Book tickets on the EdFringe website:




Skins and Hoods

August 10, 2015 | By Gregor WeirReply

?????   Intense

Young critics scheme review
Institut français d’Ecosse (Venue 134):
Fri 7 – Mon 31 Aug 2015

There is an interesting perspective on discrimination and identity in Skins and Hoods at the French Institute.

Although sometimes tricky to interpret, the plot is well constructed and nicely communicated by the actors who are present both on-screen and onstage.


Moyo Akande. Photo: Albie Clark

George (Moyo Akande) is an eight year old girl who is lacking a sense of self fuelled by her mother’s lack of compassion. Her friend Mamadou (Thierry Mabonga) relates to her, which makes her wonder why they physically and culturally differ, in ways including skin colour.

As the plot develops, George is seen by others in different lights as she physically changes herself, and the main message of the play becomes apparent: nobody can change their skin colour and nobody should judge anyone based on skin colour.

The highlight of the performance comes from the blend of technology with on stage action. By having George’s mother as an on-screen projection and George being present onstage, there is a struggle to relate to her mother, creating empathy for George and communicating the idea that their relationship is far from close.

Director Matthieu Roy perfectly conducts the scenes where real actors and projected actors mix – ensuring everything is timed correctly and making for a seamless feel to the performance.


Some parts of the show can seem somewhat confusing, however. Although the basic skeleton of the plot is very apparent, the line between metaphors and key plot points can become blurry, which can be a little distracting.

The show works well with the small cast of onstage actors. Thierry Mabonga as Mamadou stands out, conveying a sense of longing and despair whilst also retaining the childhood innocence that serves us as a reminder that the story is seen through a child’s eyes. His performance seems natural and, although he features relatively briefly, he shines in a simplistic way.

Overall, the show works well as a new way of narrating familiar themes, however falls short, by being slightly confusing. The quirky, tech-heavy direction helps tie together some of the main issues faced by the characters, and makes for impressive visuals.

Skins and Hoodsis a fast-paced, surreal, but inventive, production that is sure to surprise. You will have never seen anything similar.

Running time: 45 minutes
Institut français d’Ecosse (Venue 134), 13 Randolph Crescent, EH3 7TT
Friday 7 – Monday 31 August 2015
Daily (not Mons 10, 17, 24): 2pm.
Book tickets on the EdFringe website:


Bottom of Form

Bottom of Form

Bottom of Form






August 16, 2015 | By Jon WhiteReply

?????  Obtrusive Masterpiece

Young critics scheme review
Assembly George Square Studios (Venue 17):
Wed 5 – Mon 31 Aug 2015

Visceral images, bombarding music and the classically sorrowful plot, In Your Face Theatre immerses you in Irvine Welsh’s drug-fuelledTrainspotting.

The play deals with Mark Renton’s (Gavin Ross) relationship with heroin. In the closed-off space of Assembly George Square’s Underground the audience is close to the action as the effects of substance abuse and poverty are spewed out.


The Trainspotting cast get in your face. Photo: Christopher Tribble

True to their name the company gets in your face. They draw the audience in through whispered conversations, shoving you off your seat and screaming in your face –challenging you, the boundaries of actor-audience relationships and society. The audience stops watching and starts living the performance.

Gavin Ross as Renton is outstanding. He lays bare the character and through every deliberate stare, step and breath you see the stark detail of this lost man. His commitment and confidence are unflinching.

Phil Ryan as Simon Sick Boy, an addict friend of Renton’s, starts less strongly as he portrays a hard-nosed yet reserved character. However, he quickly gains momentum as he delivers a fixating, desperately emotional performance.

Directors Adam Spreadbury-Maher and Greg Esplin make excellent choices. The set is both grotesque and realistic which disgusts and adds to the discomfort. Throughout there is narration from Renton and the whole cast – this builds pace and tension.

claustrophobic atmosphere

In-the-round staging and the unconventional seating arrangement create a tense, claustrophobic atmosphere as characters can be surrounded by both the cast and the audience.

Alison (Erin Marshall) shows the two-faced nature of substance abuse. Marshall is completely believable as she portrays a care-free and happy woman who becomes a devastated, emotional wreck.

Swanney (Calum Douglas-Barbour) lacks believability. The Mother Superior drug-supplying character comes off as too posh and the physicality of the character suggests someone in good health.

The tension is palpable as this production bombards your emotions. Beautifully acted, well-directed and slick, this is a must-see.

Running time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Assembly George Square Studios (Venue 17) George Square, EH8 9LH

Wednedsday 5 – Monday 31 August 2015
Daily (not Tues): 6pm and 8.30pm.
Book tickets on the EdFringe website:




The Outsider

August 11, 2015 | By Gregor WeirReply

?????   Eccentric

Young critics scheme review
New Town Theatre (Venue 7):
Thurs 6 – Sat 30 Aug 2015

A humorous combination of clowning and multimedia magic makes The Outsider appeal to children and adults alike and produces a show unlike any other. This one man show is certainly a spectacle.

An alien has just landed on earth, with no concept of how humans operate. The show follows the alien as it discovers various aspects of human life, such as love, violence and work. As the show progresses the alien clones itself and we discover more about its nature.


Janne Raudaskoski and Janne Raudaskoski. Photo: Heikki Toivanen

On paper, the plot seems largely silly, but when you are witnessing a green man in neon leggings blowing bubbles at you from Planet Bubbles, it’s relatively easy to just go with the flow. The plot could, however, be a metaphor for feelings of alienation or distance that Finnish performer Janne Raudaskoski may be feeling.

Raudaskoski does a sterling job at managing 40 characters, and portraying a high level of both comedy and emotion, all through mime. However, he is merely the prop to the magical theatrics that accompany him on the two screens at either side of the stage, which he uses to make it appear as though there are many actors. The illusion works well, although can sometimes be repetitive and after the first half of the show the novelty begins to wear off.

impressive technological trickery.

One down side that comes from the performance is the pace. Although plays from continental Europe generally tend to be slower,The Outsiderdoes seem to drag a bit. At times, it feels as though the plot has to take a back-step to show off the impressive technological trickery. It would have been nice to see the two married together slightly more seamlessly.

Nevertheless, the play is filled with jokes and is very impressive in terms of the technology on display and the performer working with it in perfect harmony.The Outsideris truly funny, but it is no joke.

Running time 1 hour 10 minutes
New Town Theatre (Venue 7) Freemasons’ Hall, 96 George Street, EH2 3DH
Thursday 6 – Saturday 30 August 2015 (not Tuesday 18)
Daily, not Tuesday 18, 5.30pm.
Book tickets on the EdFringe website:
The Outsider website:




Zanna, Don’t

August 16, 2015 | By Annie BirdReply

?????  True Excellence

Young critics scheme review
C venues – C (Venue 34): Wed 5 – Mon 31 Aug 2015

Colourful, comical, and unashamedly camp, MGA’s production of Zanna, Don’t is a credit to the work of the original writer of the musical, Tim Acito.

Director Drew Gowland has also added a huge amount of hilarity with excellent casting and a vibrant overall design for the show.


Jack Nixon and the cast ofZanna Don’tPhoto: AJG Photography

The musical addresses issues of labelling, homophobia and prejudice, in a light-hearted and corny manner. It leaves you with sore ribs from laughing so hard, but also considering issues in today’s society.

It is set in the parallel world where gay is the new straight, heterophobia is the new homophobia, and everyone wears bright colours and falls in love instantly. Zanna, played by Jack Nixon, is the cupid of Heartsville High, bringing gay couples everywhere together. But when a forbidden straight couple emerges, Zanna has to face his biggest challenge yet.

Admittedly, this show may not be for everyone, but for anyone with an open mind – who doesn’t cringe at the ridiculous cheesiness of it all – it is stupendous. The scene in which the students of Heartsville High are performing a musical about straight people in the military is particularly side-splitting, and it showcases the talented ensemble which make the dance routines and songs so tight.

The acting is perhaps what makes the musical such a roaring success. Nixon, although not the strongest singer, more than makes up for it with extreme dancing talent and an acting ability worthy of the West End. Another central character is football team captain Steve, who Thomas Doherty portrays as the only male in the school who isn’t camp. This provides a great deal of comedy, and with Doherty’s acting skills the character becomes all the more memorable.

untiring energy

Elly Jay, who plays the bubbly Roberta, stands out as one of the best actors in the whole show. Her untiring energy throughout attracts the eye from the minute she first appears onstage.

The actor who makes the production the hilarious spectacle it is, is Scott Colman. He plays Arvin, the campest member of Heartsville. A boy who, despite being walked all over most of the time, still has his fair share of sassy outbursts. Colman’s use of voice and comic timing is impeccable. Kirsty Allen plays Candi alongside Colman, and her excellent, unique portrayal of this bossy school try-hard provides the perfect double act with Arvin.

It is hard to fault the production However, Gowland strays from the sweet romantic aspect at times, making it more sexual than it needs to be. For example, when the straight couple are beginning to fall in love, they both remove their tops during a song which feels unnecessary and slightly uncomfortable. However this is a small imperfection on an otherwise fantastic spectacle.

This is a vibrant must-see for anyone who loves all-singing, all-dancing explosions of camp hilarity – with a few touching moments along the way.

Running time: 1 hour 25 minutes
C venues – C (Venue 34), Chambers Street, EH1 1HR
Wednesday 5 – Sunday 30 August 2015
Daily 7.30pm
Book tickets on the EdFringe website:


Shakespeare in the Garden: Brave Macbeth

August 14, 2015 | By Jon WhiteReply

?????     Childish Brilliance

Young critics scheme review

The Famous Spiegeltent (Venue 87):
 Fri 7 – Mon 31 Aug 2015

Funny, fast and exciting, Shakespeare in the Garden: Brave Macbeth is an excellent example of children’s educational theatre done right.

Full of references to the original text and other Shakespeare plays, this simple adaptation ofMacbethis great fun for all the family. All the songs by musical director Tommie Travers and director Sarah Lyall are relevant and have a very reassuring children’s TV programme feel to them.

Macbeth (Malcolm Cumming) is portrayed as a stereotypical, cocky hero – full of himself in every way. Cumming does well at showing the dual-personality of Macbeth, in this production a strong, hot-headed warrior and a snivelling, stroppy child. His solo at the end of the play is one of the highlights of the show where he displays his versatility.

The Witches (Meg Laird-Drummond, Stacey Mitchell and Ellen McBride) are appropriate for children as they aren’t too creepy and their song and its lyrics are reassuringly stereotypical. Max Reid as Malcolm is adorable playing a young boy with his bear – Reid and Laird-Drummond’s voices stand out during songs featuring the whole cast.

Lyall’s choice of a sheet and board for various scenes is very effective. They are used by the witches to show their prophecies to Macbeth and as a table for the Banquo ghost scene. Most ingeniously they create a stage for puppets that represent MacDuff’s children and while playing they reference lines and scenes from the otherShakespeare in the Gardenproductions.

modern references

The production tries to make death funny so as not to upset children. Despite infantilizing Shakespeare, the catchy songs, modern references and even the classic Monty Python coconut horse gag make it enjoyable for adults. The pace is kept fast by humorously cutting out Macbeth’s soliloquys and omitting blackouts.

As Lady Macbeth, Sylvia Cowie does well at being persuasive and goading the men – causing them to run away crying like children – but she lacks power and hides behind good lines. Ali Robertson as MacDuff gives the most emotional performance and creates a deep and entertaining character.

Old-fashioned with modern references, the production is slick and entertaining. Most importantly it engages the audience well teaching young children about Shakespeare in an enjoyable show suitable for anyone over the age of four.

Running time: 1 hour

The Famous Spiegeltent (Venue 87), St Andrew Square, EH2 1AF
Fri 7 – Mon 31 Aug 2015
Performances: 7, 9, 11, 12, 14, 15, 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 26, 29, 31 August
The three 
Shakespeare in the Gardens shows play two a day, daily (not Mons 10, 17 & 24) at 10.30am and 11.45am.
Book tickets on the EdFringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/shakespeare-in-the-garden-brave-macbeth

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Release Your Inner Cartoonist

August 14, 2015 | By Annie BirdReply

?????    Creative fun

Young critics scheme review
Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33), 
Sat 8 – Thurs 20 Aug 2015

Imaginative, amusing and jam packed with helpful tips, Harry Venning’s workshop Release Your Inner Cartoonist is great for any kids with an interest in comics and cartoons.

Or for anyone, for that matter, who simply wants to learn how to take their doodles to the next level and have a laugh while doing so.

Although the workshop is primarily for kids, every audience member is encouraged by the warm and witty Venning – an extremely successful cartoonist and comedy writer – to get scribbling and then share their work. And with the experience of drawing cartoon strips Clare in the Community for The Guardian and Hamlet in The Stage every week, he has a fair few tips to share with any aspiring cartoonists.

As Venning points out from the very beginning, no drawing skills are required, just an imagination and a sense of humour. Even parents end up sketching out a cartoon character or two, and receive positive words of encouragement as they go.

An audience member can expect to carry some cartoon drawing exercises on the clipboard and paper provided, and gradually build up skills demonstrated by Venning until, at the end, you have your very own cartoon strip, which he encourages you to share with him and the rest of the audience at the end of the workshop.

The presentation is simple, it consists of a man, a large pad of paper and some pens – but somehow it is very informative and entertaining. Perhaps not for very young children as the humour can be crude, but for ages 8 and up the workshop is engaging, helpful and a lot of fun.

Running time 1 hour
Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33), 60 Pleasance, EH8 9TJ
Saturday 8 – Thursday 20 August 2015
Daily: 11am
Book tickets on the EdFringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/release-your-inner-cartoonist
Show website: harryvenning.co.uk 

Harry Venning’s exhibition of Hamlet cartoons is in the Pleasance Courtyard for the whole fringe.



Our House

August 14, 2015 | By Aran Prince-TappeReply

?????      House of Fun

Young critics scheme review
Broughton High School (Venue 207): 
Sat 8 – Sat 15 Aug 2015

Captivate Theatre deliver a smart, energetic young amateur productionOur House, performed in Broughton High School.

InOur House, a jukebox musical based on the songs of Madness and adapted by Tim Firth, two concurrent stories are told. Both are possible futures for Joe Casey who grows up in London, watching as old residential homes are torn up to make way for new developments.

In one future he makes nothing but good choices, in the other only bad ones. In one version, Joe becomes a miscreant and young offender, in the other a young entrepreneur with a thriving business. But is it possible that there’s more to life than a binary choice between the right and wrong paths?

Our Househas a very successful story, able to organically incorporate the songs into the plot without them feeling forced. Not only that, but the story manages the far from insignificant feat of running two plots simultaneously, with the same cast of actors and characters.

The two are used effectively to contrast one another, and hammer home the central message of the musical – the choices we make define us, but it’s still possible to do the wrong things for the right reasons, and vice versa.

great chemistry

Director Sally Lyall delivers a slick and effective production as part of Captivate Theatre’s summer schools programme, with smooth transitions between scenes and between the play’s two stories. However it must be said that the transitions, while smooth, are a little confusing – it is largely left to the viewer to ascertain exactly which story one is watching, which is initially a little disorientating. Although the stories become clearly distinct as the play progresses, to begin with only very minor set changes used to signify the transition.

Strong performances are delivered by the show’s eleven-strong cast. Sandy Bain is empathetic and charismatic as Joe, and has great chemistry with the show’s other lead, Stephanie Cremona, who plays Sarah, the female lead and love interest of Joe with compassion and wisdom.

The supporting cast are also excellent; Les Fulton as Joe’s regret-filled absentee father who ties the story together is a particular standout, as is the sleazy Reecey (Max Reid). The musical numbers are delivered with skill and enthusiasm by both the small cast of main characters, and the large ensemble.

Our Houseis a well-crafted exploration of morality, delivered with energy and humor by a strong cast – thoroughly entertaining.

Running time 2 hours 15 minutes
Broughton High School (Venue 207) 29 East Fettes Avenue, EH4 1EG
Saturday 8 – Saturday 15 August 2015
Even dates: 2pm; odd dates: 6.30pm.
Book tickets on the EdFringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/our-house
Captivate Theatre website: http://www.captivatetheatre.com/





Shakespeare in the

Garden: Romantic Romeo

August 13, 2015 | By Jon WhiteReply

?????   Family Fun

Young critics scheme review
The Famous Spiegeltent (Venue 87):
Fri 7 – Mon 31 Aug 2015

A cheesy, child-friendly adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, Captivate Theatre’sShakespeare in the Garden: Romantic Romeo is a fast-paced musical will appeal to all the family.

Abridged with lots of original songs by musical director Tommie Travers, this production retells Romeo and Juliet’s famous love story in a simplified way. The production lightens this tragedy by poking fun at some of the play’s more serious scenes.

Scripted by director Sarah Lyall the production strays far from the original piece but is peppered with original lines. Tom Mullins is a sarcastic Mercutio, present during the balcony scene questioning all of Romeo’s supposedly romantic lines.

James Leggat overacts entertainingly to create a loveable, airheaded Romeo. This display of melodrama is well-balanced by Stacey Mitchell’s performance as Juliet especially her wonderful voice. Their relationship in this piece is less romantic and feels more like a cute playground affair.

In this small, well-rehearsed cast there is great conviction for their joker roles but this does not distract from their singing and the wonderful choral sound they create – Meg Laird-Drummond’s voice as Lady Capulet is outstanding. The cast engages well with the audience; Ellen McBride as Rosaline and Hag acts well and catches the eye in all of her minor roles.


The most hilarious and impressive performance of this production comes from Ross Hunter as Juliet’s Nursey. Hunter provides an outstanding female voice – both speaking and singing – and seems extremely comfortable and confident in the dress. As Nursey he becomes the source of much of the humour and the Nurse’s song is incredibly catchy. Some of the other songs, though catchy, are slightly too fast-paced, meaning that many of the lyrics are missed through poor enunciation.

The production is childish but the way that it pokes fun at Shakespeare and the constant foreshadowing of Romeo and Juliet’s deaths will appeal to an older audience – even if the song justifying their deaths is patronising. A great, gentle introduction of Shakespeare for any child over the age of four.

Running time: 1 hour
The Famous Spiegeltent (Venue 87), St Andrew Square, EH2 1AF
Fri 7 – Mon 31 Aug 2015
Performances: 7, 8, 11, 13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 30, 31 August
The three
Shakespeare in the Gardensshows play two a day, daily (not Mons 10, 17 & 24) at 10.30am and 11.45am.
Book tickets on the EdFringe website:
Or the ARfringe website:http://www.arfringe.com/show/1930/shakespeare_in_the_garden_romantic_romeo
Company website:


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