The trouble with watching all my Edinburgh Fringe Festival content online is that it becomes difficult to differentiate what’s going on at each individual venue – as far as I’m concerned, I simply go the same place every time to get my entertainment. So, I’d like to give a particular shoutout to Summerhall who offered about 30 on demand and streamed shows alongside their actual live content. Among these is what I considered, in my humble opinion, to be the best online show of the Fringe – Metamorphosis by HiJinx; another Summerhall show in my overall top ten would be Darkfield’s site specific audio piece, Knot.
A third now joining this illustrious pair is My Left Nut which originally played at the Fringe in 2018. This particular version was actually filmed for Shedinburgh last year, when I missed it; it was worth the year long wait. The narrative is based on a true life event which occurred to writer/performer Michael Patrick who discovered a swelling on one of his testicles during his teenage years. As his father had died of cancer he was naturally anxious and suffers some mental anguish at the thought that he might be going down the same route. Did I mention that this is a comedy? Because it is and a very funny one too. Granted most of the laughs come from the context in which the main events take place. Mick is a fifteen year old growing up in Belfast and looking for all the sorts of things that one might expect, girls, booze, kudos from his mates. But harbouring his big secret is blighting his life and, with no dad to talk to, he eventually has to confess to his mother who gets him to the doctor straight away.
Patrick has great fun with all the characters he is called on to play in his and co-writer Oisin Kearney’s well-paced script. And the performance to camera is full of vitality with the actor bouncing around like Tigger and keeping up a manic pace in tune with the teenager being portrayed. There’s plenty of drama behind the laughter and it’s as much a piece about the burgeoning mother/son relationship as it is about the issue highlighted in the title. It’s a funny, incisive show about teenagerhood which well deserves its repeat showing and will hopefully surface again for anyone who missed it. Actually, if I’ve whetted your appetite you don’t, like me, have to wait a whole year; the play has been expanded into a three part mini-series available on BBC iPlayer – click here. Oh, and I loved the visual joke of the carefully placed Space Hopper in the background.
And that was going to be it for reviews at the Fringe, but I had such a charming personal request from its author Kirsty Halliday to watch and review Till Love Do Us Part that I couldn’t resist squeezing in just one more event. The first surprise in the show is that there’s a real live audience watching and reacting – sometimes quite vocally. Although there may have been others it’s the only Fringe show that I’ve seen this year where that has been the case. For this is a filmed version of a staged event which took place at the Prospect Theatre in the Cayman Islands earlier this year – possibly that wins the prize for most exotic online location of the year for me. Having an audience gives a much more traditional feel to the play than many of the more experimental pieces I have seen and that’s no bad thing – indeed, I confess that it made a refreshing change.
For some reason the title of Yeats’s most famous poem kept popping into my head: Things Fall Apart. For this is a very universal tale of the relationship between Jen and Simon which grows, blossoms and comes to fruition, then withers and dies. The turning point (and now the run has actually finished I think I can use this particular spoiler) is the miscarriage of their unborn child which leads to some manic behaviour from her and induces a wandering eye in him; the outcome is, alas, inevitable. Lorna Fitzgerald and Liam Oko play the couple capturing well the changing mood with a look or inflexion. The direction from Halliday also helps here as the relative distance between the pair is first narrowed as they come together as a unit and then considerably widened as the end approaches – by the end they are on opposite sides of the stage. This is a brave piece of writing from Halliday who has used her own sad experience as the basis of the narrative; knowing this makes the situation all the more moving.
And that really is it for the Edinburgh Fringe this year. There are still some shows playing today but by the time I saw those and reviewed them it would all be too late. Besides I think reviewing about thirty Fringe shows probably means it’s time to move on to something and somewhere else. As they say in Scotland (apparently) “Haste ye back!”; I’m not quite sure what they say in the Cayman Islands.
Today’s bonus Scenes For Survival piece is Happy Ark Day 😊 by Andy Edwards. A woman bakes bread while outside there’s the constant noise of a hammer and the rain continues to pour down. It’s the original survival story with a twist as mother and daughter (Liz and Jasmin Ewing) consider whether to stay and support the man outside or just pack their bags and go to Aviemore. Fair to middling.
My Left Nut and Till Love Do Us Part are part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival click here
Scenes For Survival pieces are available from the NTS website – click here; a number are also available on BBC iPlayer – click here
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