Festivals · Theatre

Edinburgh Festival Day Thirteen.

Monday August 14…just the one today.

The Course of True Love - SE Theatre Company

SE Theatre Company’s The Course of True Love is a new piece by Samão Vaz, directed by Elliott Wallis, acted by Vaz and Imogen Parker.  It uses words from apparently ten Shakespeare plays (I recognised five or so) to chart a relationship between the two characters from the first flush of love all the way to it going right round the bend.

After a short preview run in Stratford it is debuting in Edinburgh.

SE Theatre Company The Course of True Love - Edinburgh 2017

It is well devised, skilfully acted and staged. What made it special for me, though, was that Vaz and Wallis are alumni of probably my favourite ever Fringe troupe, Year Out Drama Company, who would present Story Shakespeare for a week each year at The Fringe…until 2014, at least. When there was no entry for them in the 2015 programme, we found out that they had lost their rehearsal space earlier in the year so would have been unprepared for Edinburgh. Sadly they have never returned…

On top of that, Imogen Parker trained with the much lauded Fourth Monkey, probably my second favourite Fringe troupe. I would have seen her in their interpretations of Grimm’s fairy tales two years ago.

I was passing the theatre a couple of days later just as the show would be coming down, so went in the ask Elliot or Samão if they knew how Deborah Moody, the producer of Story Shakespeare was – I met Elliott who told me that she was fine and spending time with her family…Story Shakespeare is sadly now no more.

Below is our picture from 2013.

Stuart Ferguson with Deborah Moody

The Course of True Love plays at 5:10pm at C Cubed in the High Street until 28 August and is highly recommended.

Festivals · Music

Edinburgh’s festivals

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe

As always, Edinburgh in August was a blast; loads of events and shows which are never less than interesting.  I especially like the fairly run of the mill productions on the Fringe, often late at night, often with a small audience, where you know you’re not watching anything great but you also know that the actors have cared enough to come to Edinburgh to perform.  Nobody’s going to make any money to speak of – in the paper the other day, an actor from Wardrobe Ensemble, who had a hit show at this year’s Fringe (1972 – The Future of Sex) estimated that the troupe would have made about £100 each for three weeks work.  And that’s a show that had great reviews and sell-outs.  So it’s all the more delicious that, to give an example from my experience, an RSC actor would come to Edinburgh to do a one man show that he had originated at 10pm to an audience of eight.


Edinburgh International Book Festival


Some observations from this year’s festivals;

The monologue or one man show is very much in vogue.

A lot of the Fringe shows I saw by school or otherwise young companies started with fairly spectacular “opening numbers,” encompassing music, dancing and physical theatre and then fizzled out with the actual acting being pretty ordinary, a kind of theatrical front-loading which made me wonder if the emphasis in theatrical training has changed.

For the first time in Edinburgh in August, I often saw people queuing to get in to restaurants.  And by that I don’t mean super-hip restaurants but fairly ordinary ones in areas where there are plenty similar places to eat.  Must be a London thing, or maybe people are now more influenced by what is said on social media.

On the upside, I only had to shoosh somebody once (git playing with a plastic bag on his lap during first act of Lanark,)  although I would have murdered the bum whose phone went off in the quiet, intense last stretch of Antigone.  In general, thoughtless mis-use of phones during performances was less prevalent this year.  I also wasn’t aware of anyone skipping into queues before me (never a wise move,) the dread “merging.”

Spiegeltent at the Edinburgh Book Festival

Getting about on public transport seemed easier this year, I think it is an unintended consequence of the traffic routing in the city centre to accommodate the trams.  Travelling on foot still takes twice as long as normal though.

Dynamic pricing has a field day.  Some bars hike their prices in their own festival of taking the piss, as do the hotel chains; some display current prices for rooms outside on displays like on the stock exchange, which is just flaunting greed.  It would be great if the massive profits which must be made from this could be taxed for redistribution among the performers who are coming out with very little, while being the attraction that allows Ibis et al to wallow in lucre.

It was great to see Kirsty Bushell again in Antigone (one of the International Festival’s big deals this year) having seen her years ago in Filter’s Twelfth Night at The Caves, which I always remember as being a production which summed up everything that is possible on The Fringe.


Filters Twelfth Night
Filters Twelfth Night, Kirsty Bushell on the left

Finally…although the magnificent Story Shakespeare did not appear at this year’s Fringe due to circumstances affecting their rehearsal time, they did tip me off to the existence of Popinjay Productions, who are alumni of that project and whose show I got to see.


Locals at the Edinburgh Festival
Just up for the Festival, ennit…oh no, I live here!
Festivals · Theatre

Story Shakespeare – Pericles

Well, that’s The Fringe over for another year. I saw lots of great stuff and a fair bit of cack, but even the not-very good stuff was diverting.
Year Out Drama Company’s Story Shakespeare show was as great as ever I’m glad to report; a bit more sombre in tone than in previous years perhaps, but that’s probably appropriate for Pericles, with its central strands of child abuse and forced prostitution; but there were also plenty of laughs at the leaps of faith Shakespeare (or his collaborator George Wilkins) asks. An undrownable zombie queen? Floating armour?


Pericles Story Shakespeare Edinburgh Fringe
Already looking forward to next year to see what the company pull out – there does not seem to be a weak link in any of their productions.
Great to meet producer Deborah Moody again.


Deborah Moody Stuart Ferguson Pericles
With Deborah Moody, 17th August 2013
Festivals · Theatre

If you do one thing on The Fringe…

Year Out Drama Company Edinburgh Fringe

…you should really see Year Out Drama Company doing their annual Story Shakespeare show.
I’ve watched them for about the past fifteen years at C Too at St Columba’s by the Castle and have always left entranced and elated.
They take something of Shakespeare’s, usually from the bottom drawer, and present a fresh, vibrant take which, to be fair, is usually only related to the text very loosely; maybe a title, a plot and the odd line of text. From this, their alternating cast of young actors and singers create fifty minutes of something fresh and sunny which lifts the soul and the heart. They are funny and unpretentious and are always the one thing which I make sure I get tickets for before anything else in August.
This year they are tackling Pericles between 12th and 17th August at C Too.


Story Shakespeare Pericles press shot
Press shot for Story Shakespeare’s Pericles