Kings

4 stars

In a collection of tents beneath a railway arch, three homeless people spend the night.  Gentle, thoughtful Ebi used to be a plumber, while the combative Bess is clearly leader of the gang; the trio's completed by Hannah, who ran away from a broken home and whom Bess seems to have taken under her wing.  It's a night like any other, a night the three friends live through again and again… except that on this night, a stranger, Caz, suddenly appears on the scene.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Sunday 5 March | Read more

BADD

4 stars

Resplendent in pastel-pink trouser suit, Pam welcomes us to her seminar.  We're in a church hall, somewhere in small-town America; judging by that suit, it must be the 1980's.  And we're there because we're concerned parents – worried about a godless game that's sweeping the nation's youth.  We're the "good BADD", Pam reassures us… we're Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Saturday 4 March | Read more

The Many Crimes Of Hector Cartwright

4 stars

Here's something you won't often find at the Fringe: a period mystery thriller, played with a perfectly straight bat.  No sly subversions, no fourth-wall shenanigans, no heavy-handed modern parallels; just a well-conceived and satisfying riddle, starting with a body on a railway track.  Set shortly after the Second World War, Kieran O'Rourke's script studies a society grappling with hidden truths, yet he never allows his subtly-handled themes to get in the way of an engaging storyline.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Saturday 4 March | Read more

Cornwall vs China

2 stars

Having voted to leave the UK, a newly independent Cornwall runs into economic crisis; the EU's turned down a trade agreement, and border controls imposed by the UK begin to bite. The solution? Start a war with China, promptly surrender, then negotiate inward investment and preferential trade terms with the magnanimous victor. At least, that seemed to be the plot; it all became a bit confusing and silly, let down by crude stereotyping and overpowered by some genuinely funny slapstick.

Review by Stephen Walker published on Tuesday 21 February | Read more

Seven Crazy Bitches

4 stars

All the stage’s a stage, as Holly Morgan might once have said. Seven Crazy Bitches is Morgan's one-woman show – though it's a one-woman show which also has a man in it. Despite the silly title, the concept behind this show is an entertaining whistle-stop tour through the Seven Ages of (Wo)man, the essence of each portrayed for us in the cabaret style of modern song.

Review by Mike Lee published on Monday 20 February | Read more

Mars, Actually

4 stars

Born and raised in the first human colony on the red planet, three “Martians” have returned to Earth to tell the story of life on Mars and their impressions of our own planet. Superbolt Theatre’s follow up to their highly successful Jurassic Parks is funny, warm-hearted, and surprisingly thoughtful.

Review by Stephen Walker published on Sunday 19 February | Read more

On The Crest Of A Wave

3 stars

Camilla Whitehill's grandmother died before she was born.  Her father doesn't talk about it much.  Here, at the head of a four-strong cast, Whitehill has set out to unlock hidden memories like her dad's: to tell the stories of diverse past lives, as boldly and as brightly as she can.  After all, as she explains towards the end, you're only truly gone when you're forgotten – and the pain of loss can perhaps be eased just a little, if we find the will and courage to keep memories alive.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Sunday 19 February | Read more

Circle Line

2 stars

In Circle Line, six disparate characters gather for a group therapy session.  But the therapist is late – and as they wait for him to arrive, they discuss their mental health issues, bicker, and ultimately help each other. It’s a promising premise for an hour-long show, but it’s fatally undermined by simplistic stereotypical characters and a script riddled with cliché. I genuinely couldn’t decide if it was a farce addressing serious issues, or a purportedly serious treatment of mental health with inadvertently farcical moments.

Review by Stephen Walker published on Saturday 18 February | Read more

Claustrophilia

2 stars

Alice is standing, alone and unprotected, on an almost-empty stage.  She's happy to tell us her story; insists on telling us her story, reclaiming it, owning it, moulding the pain of her past into an edifice of strength.  Alice was kidnapped as a teenager, and spent her adolescent years imprisoned in a suburban home – but the experience hasn't broken her, as actor Eleanor Croswell makes abundantly clear.  Crosswell's performance is commanding, every word punchy and purposeful, every move evocative and full of intent.  The problem is… I can't say the same about the script.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Saturday 18 February | Read more

I Need To Vent

4 stars

Nick (Sean Rigby) is sound asleep, in his usual spot on the sofa. In bounces Allie (Loren O'Brien), slamming down her suitcase and messing up the flat. She spots the strange man on the sofa, and closes in – leaning over, face to face, to identify him. And so we are introduced to a nicely-balanced black comedy, where the need to vent could apply to each and every character we meet.

Review by Mike Lee published on Monday 13 February | Read more

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