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“I am not my reproductive system”: ‘Yerma’ at the Young Vic

“Regret – not now, maybe later”, says the unnamed Her (Billie Piper). She thinks it might be a good idea to try for children because… because they’ve got three floors in their newly-purchased house, because she’s thrity-two, because why not? This is only chapter one, and we’ve got a lot of regret to go. Yerma (meaning barren) was originally a 1934 play by Spanish writer Ferderico Garcia Lorca. It’s about a woman unable to conceive in a particular culture at a particular time. It’s also a personal tragedy, rendered timelessly relevant and...

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Gender, Shakespeare, and Dance: ‘Rosalind’ at the Edinburgh Fringe

The James Cousins Company presents a retelling of Shakespeare’s As You Like it for The Place’s dance showcase at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Taking its origins from the play’s female protagonist, Rosalind was produced in collaboration with South Korean artists in Seoul, where the play premiered in 2016. The dance traces Shakespeare’s story of Rosalind who, after falling for the aristocrat Orlando, is exiled with her love to the Forest of Arden where she resides disguised as a shepherd named Ganymede. Originally commissioned as part...

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‘This Really Is Too Much’: Exploring the Absurdity of Gender Norms

At this year’s Edinburgh Fringe I watched a man loudly brush his teeth and gulp down a huge amount of foaming toothpaste on stage, so the competition for most gross show was fierce. However, I feel the winner has to go to the vibrant This Really Is Too Much, for covering the stage with water, face cream, cleaning product and lettuce, and then smearing it on their bikini clad bodies while pleasant, supermarket music plays, in a grotesque parody of commercial sex appeal. This Really Is Too Much was chosen for the Edinburgh Fringe as part of...

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Paula Varjack’s ‘Show Me The Money’: Finance and the Fringe

As anyone who has been to the Edinburgh Fringe knows, if you walk up the Royal Mile in August you will be bombarded by flyers for a plethora of shows. What those without seats to fill may not have considered, is the true cost of bringing a performance up to Edinburgh. All of those flyers you looked at for a millisecond before throwing away add up, using frequently meagre budgets production companies hope to get back in ticket sales. It gets harder each year to make money from the Fringe,[1] due to an increase in the commercialisation of...

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Joan Clevillé Dance’s ‘The North’: Surreal Northern Plights at the Fringe

If you’re fresh off the train/plane/automobile and eager to fit at least one “quintessentially Fringe” production into your schedule, look no further than Joan Clevillé Dance’s The North. For a rough idea of just how fringey this piece gets, here is a non-exhaustive list of items that feature in the hour of combined dance, drama and physical theatre: gold trousers, reindeer antlers, a self-constructing tent, toy cars, an unreliable (possibly magical) miniature radio, and a tiny Christmas tree. “Rather than describing a realistic environment,”...

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‘A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad)’: The Complexities of Exploring Depression on Stage

One of the main advantages of Fringe theatre is the element of difference. Not having to comply with mainstream preferences, new combinations can be created without as much of a risk for investors or venues. Interestingly, this does mean that you sometimes see a few Fringe shows exploring similar borderline “non mainstream” topics – in this case depression. A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad) is a musical about Sally, a girl we meet at sixteen and follow through the next ten years of her life and her journey with mental...

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‘The Shape of the Pain’: Staging Chronic Suffering

It’s almost impossible to comprehend what pain feels like when you’re not currently experiencing it, and it is especially hard to understand what someone other than yourself physically feels. This demonstrates a limit to the empathy others are able to give to those who live with pain every day, and forms the basis of The Shape of the Pain. In this one woman performance the audience is taken through the everyday life of a person with chronic pain, which has no injury or source. This pain comes from the mind exclusively, and during...

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‘Border Tales’: Humanity for Humanity’s Sake

Going back through reviews of Border Tales from its initial March 2014 run is fascinating — it almost beggars belief to see that one begins with “Is multiculturalism still a sensitive issue?”[1] All of them connect this hybrid of live music, dance and spoken word to an ominous backdrop of increasing hostility towards immigrants. Three years later, with some new cast members and an avalanche of very real threats towards free international movement, the arrival of physical theatre choreographer Luca Silvestrini’s Border Tales at the Edinburgh...

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‘How To Win Against History’: Bizarre Aristocrats and Musical Metatheatricality

How To Win Against History Assembly George Square Until Aug 27 at 19:25 Box Office Adults £13 / Concessions £12   How to Win Against History started thirty minutes late at the Assembly Square George Gardens during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. This happens frequently during the Fringe, so is kind of part of the territory, but it does make the audience apprehensive going in: will this be worth the wait? Luckily, How to Win Against History is so fantastic that the accidental delay was quickly forgotten. How to Win Against History is a new...

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‘Gone Off’ at the Camden Fringe: Exploring the Erosion of Queer Club Culture

Gone Off is a show dedicated to the history and vibrancy of the LGBTQ social scene. In the last half a decade there has been a gradual disintegration of iconic queer spaces and within the confines and aspirations of the show, the company behind the show, TOBYLikesMILK, seeks both to celebrate these spaces and also to highlight their historical significance and their resolute importance decades on from their naissance. Hosted at The Cockpit in London, it was always going too be interesting to see how the company would link this studio theatre...

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