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Posts tagged “Performing Arts

Wrapping up my Experience at Edinburgh Fringe Fest 2014

In all, the Mister and I saw 10 performances and went to one awesome whisky tasting during our time at Edinburgh Fringe Fest, but I couldn’t devote an entire article to each one. Some things were too short for their own post or fell short in terms of quality, and I didn’t want to devote entire posts to negative feedback. But, by putting everything on my posted itinerary it looks like I am endorsing it all, and I can’t say I’d recommend everything I saw during my week at the Fringe. So here is my final set of reviews for the rest of what I saw in the order that I saw them.

21st Century Poe: Moyamensing

I was excited for this hour-long performance that promised to explore Edgar Allan Poe’s imprisonment in the Moyamensing prison in 1849. Unfortunately, within the first 10 minutes I wished I had been one of the lucky ones who sneaked out while “Poe” was off stage. The entire tale was told at a decibel level that hurt my ears, and even though the one-man show was supposed to be told through several characters, the only thing that changed about the delivery were the hats he wore. I thought that I was going to get a piece of Poe-like story-telling, with suspense and just the right sprinkling of grotesque, but the delivery was off-putting and the story just plain gory.

City of the Dead: Haunted Graveyard Tour

There are a few different City of the Dead tours, and this one takes your group to Greyfriar’s cemetery. I love these kinds of tours and the guide was just as engaging as I’d hoped. There was just the right amount of humor to offset the truly horrific details of Edinburgh’s past and their dealings with their dead. If you like true stories of the darkest pieces of history, definitely check this one out.

Arthur CDCenterConan Doyle Experience

The Arthur Conan Doyle Center is housed in a beautiful Victorian townhouse on a lovely street. The lecture took place in the sanctuary for the Edinburgh Association of Spiritualists, though the speaker was specifically not going to be talking about spiritualism. She focused instead on the time in Conan Doyle’s life that he lived and worked in Edinburgh and focused on trying to tell the audience things they might not already know. Unfortunately for me, I didn’t know much about his life at all to start with, so the lecture felt sort of scattered and there were many times when she started a sentence with “And as you already know” and ended with “so I won’t go into that.” So if you are looking for an intro to this amazing writer’s life, I’d start somewhere else. This was clearly meant for people who already had some background knowledge.

The Center itself is worth a quick look if you are in the area. The upper levels are accessible in all of their VictoIMG_0495rian splendor, and there is a gallery space that is lovely and bright. The Center offers yoga and other practices to enhance your mind-body connection, as well as studio space for artists. I thought there would perhaps be an exhibit or something about the man himself, but alas, there are just books in the gift shop. So don’t plan on spending more than a few minutes there if indeed you go at all for anything besides a lecture.

 

Dorian

This was a totally different way to present the tale of Dorian Gray from the manner of Victorian Vices. In this version the actors were all in black and white, including their painted faces. They never revealed the portrait to the audience, but used a large canvas on stage that was smeared with “blood” by Dorian’s victims after their deaths or ruination. The show moved far too quickly, even the lines were delivered rapid-fire, so it ended up feeling like the Cliff’s notes version of The Picture of Dorian Gray and lasted maybe 20 minutes total. But the proceeds go to a charity so if you are in the area and have half and hour to kill it is an interesting little show.

Lovecraft’s Monsters

I didn’t actually put this on my formal itinerary because it was an free, non-ticketed event and I wasn’t certain I’d make it there. The small but appreciative crowd assembled inside The Wee Pub in a wonderful little room complete with a beautiful old-timey fireplace and lights. Unfortunately, the large picture window overlooked Greenmarket Square and there was a lot of activity outside. The music of the street musicians really detracted from the tales of horror and made it difficult for the actor to build the kind of suspense that he was going for. David Crawford has a wonderful voice for telling scary stories, and I’d love to see him again in a different setting. He asked for suggestions after the show because he is planning to have some engagements in the US, so maybe you will get a chance.

 


Review: Action to the Word’s Dracula at Ed Fringe 2014

When I got my tickets for this Steampunk rendition of Bram Stoker’s novel I had no idea it was a world premiere. The packed house was rowdy even for a 9:20pm start time, aided no doubt by the chaos in the Pleasance courtyard below. The set is composed mostly of low scaffolding that is used athletically by the extremely physical Dracula and co. I love a show where the actors are also the musicians, and this ensemble included not only the essential elements of a rock band, but also a violin, bass, flute and cello that were expertly played and nearly flying across the stage in this extremely energetic performance. The costumes were fantastic, especially those of Mina and Lucy and I coveted every corset.

Dr. Joanna Seward rocking the strings.

Dr. Joanna Seward rocking the strings.

The director, Alexandra Spencer-Jones, made some interesting choices with gender, most obviously making Doctor Seward female. One of Dracula’s ‘wives’ was male, which also added an interesting twist to the story that everyone thinks they know. This was definitely an adaptation of the famous movie, using many of the details that were added to the film that never appeared in the book. But, they made some other additions like great stage combat and a more empowered Mina for their own flavor and I really enjoyed the whole performance, which included original songs as well as covers of some unexpected ones.

The only downside was the audience itself. One girl in my row got nauseous from the special effects blood (of which there is a lot, so be prepared if you are squeamish), but the worst were the idiots who laughed over and over at inappropriate moments. For some reason just the name Van Helsing elicited giggles. These were also the same people who gave a standing ovation at the end though, which makes me think they were probably friends and family of the actors and were reacting more to seeing their loved ones acting strangely than to the acting itself, which was great. Renfield’s crazy and Lucy’s delirium were fantastic, and the manic Dracula was alternatingly sensual and spasmatic (in the best possible way).

The company, Action to the Word, has been touring all over the world with its version of A Clockwork Orange, and this is their newest addition to theater scene.

Get your Ed Fringe tickets here: tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/dracula

There is more than one Dracula at Fringe this year, so make sure you get tickets for the right one!


Review: Morgan and West Parlour Tricks at Ed Fringe 2014

I know it is cheesy, but I love magic shows. I remember snuggling under the covers in my parents’ big bed in order to watch them on TV when I was a kid, and I still get a kick out of seeing them as an adult. Not the overwrought, super dramatic ones, mind you. I like my magicians a bit cheeky and out to have a good time, and Morgan and West definitely delivered.

The description on their website is utterly fitting: “Time travelling magic duo Morgan & West present a brand new show chock full of jaw dropping, brain bursting, gasp eliciting feats of magic. The dashing chaps offer up a plateful of illusion and impossibility, all served with wit, charm and no small amount of panache. Be sure to wear a hat – Morgan & West might just blow your mind.”

Me and Mr Morgan after the Aug 14 performance

Me and Mr Morgan after the Aug 14 performance

I saw some great tricks that I have never seen before, and their concept of Victorian-era time-traveling magicians is hilarious and oh so Steampunk. I won’t go into details because I don’t want to ruin the fun for people want to go and see them at Fringe and on their tour, but let me just say the diary trick still has my head spinning. Their onstage chemistry is great, and make sure to queue up early before their show so you get a chance to interact with them while you are waiting in line.

One tip for you Fringe goers. Try to sit in the front half of the theater. I was sitting in the back and the sight lines were fine, but I could hear a msucial act going on in a different venue and it was a bit distracting and they deserve your undivided attention.

Get your Fringe Fest tickets here: tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/morgan-west-parlour-tricks

They will be appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe Fest now through Aug 25, but if you can’t make it all the way up to Scotland never fear! They start their UK tour in September with their show from last year’s Fringe (plus 30 minutes of new content in case you caught them last year). Check out the dates below, or visit their website for more information: www.morganandwest.co.uk/

11th September Chipping Norton

A Grand Adventure

Chipping Norton, Chipping Norton Theatre, 7.45pm show.

Book Tickets
12th September Uppingham

A Grand Adventure

Uppingham, Uppingham Theatre, 6.45pm show.

Book Tickets
13th September Uppingham

A Grand Adventure

Uppingham, Uppingham Theatre, 6.45pm show.

14th September Braintree

A Grand Adventure

Braintree, Braintree Arts Centre, 4pm show.

Book Tickets
19th September Chorley

A Grand Adventure

Chorley, Chorley Little Theatre, 7.30pm show.

Book Tickets
20th September Reigate

A Grand Adventure

Reigate, Harlequin Theatre, 7.30pm show.

Book Tickets
30th September London

A Grand Adventure

London, Pleasance Islington, 7.30pm show.

Book Tickets
3rd October Taunton

A Grand Adventure

Taunton, Quay Arts Festival, 7.30pm show.

Book Tickets
10th October East Grinstead

A Grand Adventure

East Grinstead, Chequermead Arts Centre, 8pm show.

Book Tickets
11th October Great Yarmouth

A Grand Adventure

Great Yarmouth, St. George’s Theatre, 7.30pm show.

Book Tickets
16th October Harrogate

A Grand Adventure

Harrogate, Harrogate Theatre, 7.30pm show.

Book Tickets
18th October Salford Quays

A Grand Adventure

Salford Quays, The Lowry, 8pm show.

Book Tickets
19th October Brighton

A Grand Adventure

Brighton, Brighton Comedy Festival, 4.15pm show.

23rd October Colchester

A Grand Adventure

Colchester, Colchester Arts.

Book Now
25th October Southampton

A Grand Adventure

Southampton, Hangar Farm Arts.

26th October Lyme Regis

A Grand Adventure

Lyme Regis, Marine Theatre, 6pm show.

Book Tickets
29th October Cardigan

A Grand Adventure

Cardigan, Theatr Mwldan, 7.30pm show.

Book Tickets
30th October Builth Wells

A Grand Adventure

Builth Wells, Wyeside Arts Theatre, 7.30pm show.

Book Tickets
31st October Stourport

A Grand Adventure

Stourport, Civic Hall Theatre, 8pm show.

Book Tickets
4th November Inverness

A Grand Adventure

Inverness, Eden Court, 7.30pm show.

Book Tickets
8th November Reading

A Grand Adventure

Reading, South Street Arts, 7pm show.

Book Tickets
12th November Aberdeen

A Grand Adventure

Aberdeen, Lemon Tree Theatre, 7.30pm show.


Review: Dolls of New Albion at Ed Fringe 2014

cover imageI saw the trailer for the Oxford run of this show about 2 months ago (you can watch it by clicking here), and I would sometimes find myself singing the haunting melody from the promo without even realizing I had started. I was so excited for the concept, a steampunk progressive rock opera, but I made sure to keep my expectations in check in case I had to get let down. I am very happy to report that I did not need to take that precaution. The music was consistently fabulous throughout and the story, though complex, was rich with subtlety and interest beyond the main plot. I had the opportunity to meet with a few members of the cast and crew the next afternoon to get further insight into the show.

I don’t usually do a full synopsis of the books, movies and shows I review because I don’t like spoilers. But, in my experience with traditional opera one usually knows the story before the performance, which allows the audience to enjoy the beauty of the music and acting without struggling to understand a plot when there are no spoken words.

Synopsis:

The story takes place in the city of New Albion, which grows and changes into a more industrial and more frightening place as you follow four generations of the McAlistair family through their tales of love, loss and the pursuit of power. The first, Annabelle, is a woman haunted by the voice of her overbearing father and the death of her first love. Though she is expelled from school and shunned by the medical community, she discovers a way to bring back the soul of her dearly departed Jasper and place it into a clockwork body, thus creating the first “doll.” For awhile Annabelle is happy, but Jasper is miserable after being ripped from Elysium and paraded on Annabelle’s arm. As the narrator so poignantly expresses, “that which pleases may not content,” and in the end Annabelle gives him his release in death, and packs away her notes and the clockwork body in the attic.

The ill-fated Annabelle with doll, Jasper

The ill-fated Annabelle with doll, Jasper, at the Greyfriar’s photoshoot

Years later, Annabelle’s formula for raising the dead is discovered by her son, Edgar. He has been recently rejected by Fay, who leaves him for another man. He is committed to winning her back through any means possible, and upon discovering his mother’s secret he creates a commercial empire by selling people the means to bring their loved ones back from the grave. He raises Fay’s father, who it turns out was Annabelle’s Jasper and places him in the same mechanical body. But, Edgar won’t allow Fay to see him unless she agrees to marry him. She is angered and sickened by his manipulation but agrees, and the twice-raised Jasper is trapped once again in his clockwork prison, unable to speak through any means but by channeling radio signals.

Their marriage is fraught with anger and resentment, and their son Byron grows up hating his father and his commercial empire, but loving Jasper, his ever-present companion and surrogate father figure. Meanwhile, the city has become overrun with dolls and their exploitation. Death has no longer become an ending, but a transitional phase, and the youth culture has embraced a hedonistic, devil-may-care attitude. Byron is the ring-leader and is trying to lead a political revolution against the corrupt government by actually running a totally disinterested Jasper for mayor of New Albion. Jasper, through his years of taking in songs through the airwaves, creates a lamentation that is soon taken up by all the dolls as they long for an end to their servitude. The sonorous sadness reaches the ears of Amelia, one of Byron’s followers, whose home life and unrequited affections lead her to a feeling of solidarity with the disenfranchised dolls and eventually to her suicide. The angry parents of New Albion turn on the dolls, blaming them for corrupting the youth and riots ensue where the dolls are rounded up and killed.

Byron manages to save his dear Jasper from the clutches of the martial law that follows, and then is never lifted. New Albion has become a dark and dangerous place where dolls are killed on the spot and anyone harboring one disappears. Within the walls of his mansion, his daughter Priscilla grows up with Jasper as her dearest friend, and Jasper feels love for her, his great-granddaughter, for the first time since becoming a doll. He doesn’t want to leave her, but longs for his death just the same. He is willing to sacrifice himself for her happiness, but when she finds out about his desire to die she is devastated and can’t stand to keep him against his wishes. She makes the bold and irreparable decision to report herself to the authorities, who arrive swiftly with death on their heels. One soldier hesitates when she looks into Priscilla’s eyes, awash with love and acceptance of her death, which leads to the soldier’s expulsion from the army. She is so moved by her experience that she starts to question an authority that would require her to kill someone just for loving something, and vows to bring the government down. But, as the narrator says, that is a story for another time.

The cast at their Greyfriar's photo shoot

The cast at their Greyfriar’s photo shoot

Review:

It would be a misnomer to call the music of Paul Shapera “catchy” because that sounds too much like a pop song. I think the best, though somewhat graphic descriptor is the German ohr-wurm (earworm) because the songs burrow their way into your brain via your eardrums and come to roost. When I did my interview with some of the Dolls team, Zoe McGee, one of the directors and choreographers of the show, asked me what my favorite part was. I told her it was the song “The Movement”, which comes in Act 3, but after the interview I kept coming up with other favorites and other scenes that I liked just as well. The play is based on a concept album by the same name in 2013, and I think that starting with music that had to stand on its own really added to the overall quality of the songs.

The show was first done as a workshop, and later performed with a cast of 14. At Ed Fringe, the cast was cut in half and the roles double-cast in order to have a more compact and portable piece. The space at Venue 45 was compact and definitely would have been too crowded with a larger cast, but I couldn’t help but envision this show on a big stage with an elaborate clockwork New Albion rising in the background. The cast handled the quick changes very well and there was never a break in the action except for occasionally within a song when a larger set or a little bit more stage “business” would have given them a chance to keep moving. But, that is often the case with Fringe shows which need to be able to be put up and taken down in 10 minutes to make way for the next show. In lieu of a large set, they cleverly use a pop-up book to show the progression of New Albion as it becomes larger and more industrial, and as a paper artist I especially loved this convention. Emma Fleming (Annabelle, Amelia), says that she prefers the show in the more intimate setting of the small theater, but I could definitely see it being a grand spectacle as well.

Overall, I thought this was a fantastic show. It was the best thing that I have seen so far at the Fringe Festival and I would highly recommend it to not only Steampunk fans, but to anyone who wants to see a dynamic new musical. And who knows, maybe like Jaime Loyn (Edgar, Byron) you will find yourself falling in love with Steampunk because of this show! (Not familiar with Steampunk? Read more about it on my About Steampunk page.) I have done some acting and directing myself, and my mind is whirring with possibilities.

A big thanks to the cast and crew who met me at the Conan Doyle to discuss the show! From left to right: Jamie Loyn, Emma Fleming, Zoe McGee, Filip Ferdinand Falk Hartelius.

A big thanks to the cast and crew who met me at the Conan Doyle to discuss the show! From left to right: Jamie Loyn, Emma Fleming, Zoe McGee, Filip Ferdinand Falk Hartelius.

Even though the show starts at 10:45pm, the house was packed, so make sure to get your tickets ahead of time and get their early. There is a little cafe in the lobby and comfy couches so don’t worry about getting stuck out on the windy Edinburgh streets while you wait. The seating area covers two sides of the semi-thrust stage, so I doubt there is a bad seat in the house.

You can find the soundtrack available for purchase through Bandcamp,  where you can also preview the songs.

You can watch the vimeo video about the original workshop here: vimeo.com/58431554

And of course, get your tickets for the Ed Fringe production here: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/dolls-of-new-albion-a-steampunk-opera

More to come:

The composer, Paul Shapera, has also completed two more “punk” operas, and the Clockwork Hart production team tells me they hope to come back to fringe again soon to perform at least one, though it could present some challenges. Filip Ferdinand Falk Hartelius, another director/choreographer of Dolls, told me a bit about the Dieselpunk show and I am very intrigued. It is meant to be less of a stage show and more of a radio show, which could make staging more difficult. It also goes a bit more “meta” with lyrics sung by characters about staying character. I will definitely be checking out this soundtrack, as well as the Atompunk finale to the trilogy of operas by the talented Shapera.

Dieselpunk cover

Atompunk cover

Find out more about Clockwork Hart and the Dolls of New Albion at their website: www.newalbiondolls.co.uk/ 

Find out more about Paul Shapera and his other albums at his Bandcamp page: http://mochalab.bandcamp.com/


Review: Victorian Vices at Ed Fringe 2014

The Durham-based company, Another Soup, has two back-to-back shows this year at the Space on Niddry St. Both are promenade musicals, meaning that the actors move in and out of the audience to give them an immersive experience. I have never seen a show like these before and I thought the approach was interesting, though better suited to Sweeny Todd and the String of Pearls than to a Picture of Dorian Gray. In Sweeny Todd, the ‘ladies of the night’ and other patrons of Mrs. Lovett’s shop wend their way through the audience going through purses and trading hats with members of the crowd, which was engaging and silly fun during a tale of gruesome murders. But the side characters in Dorian Gray were aristocrats (though similarly gin-soaked by the end) which didn’t lend itself to the same treatment, and the larger crowd made it difficult for a short person stuck in the middle of the pack (ie, me) to see most of the action.

The lighting situation was also more favorable to Sweeny Todd, and faces were never lost behind the shadows of the audience, where Dorian Gray could have benefited from even one light in Dorian’s chambers when tall patrons between the single bank of lights and the small but lovely set sometimes totally obliterated the well-executed efforts of the cast. The audience is expected to stand and move about during the shows, as well as occasionally dancing with the actors, something I wish I had known before spending the whole day at the National Museum of Scotland and then seeing the shows one after the other. By the time I got home my feet were killing me! So be prepared if you are planning to see them both. (People with health issues are welcome to sit during the performances but they will definitely miss some of the action.)

Captured surreptitiously but posted with permission during Sweeny Todd

Captured surreptitiously but posted with permission during Sweeny Todd

So let’s take them one at a time.

Sweeny Todd and the String of Pearls is adapted from a serialized tale called The String of Pearls: A Romance, which took place in 1785 and was first published as a serial in 1846-47. The story has been adapted for stage and screen many times over, but in case you aren’t familiar with it, here’s the short version. Sweeny Todd is a barber on Fleet Street in London. He kills his victims (sometimes through breaking their necks and sometimes giving them too close a shave with his straight-edge razor) and then disposes of the bodies by giving them to his neighbor, Mrs. Lovett, to bake into meat pies at a time when meat is very scarce in the darker corners of the city. In Another Soup’s version, the story takes place in the 1850s during the Great Stink and the Cholera epidemic of 1858 but the main plot is still the same. Depending on the adaptation, Todd and Lovett are business partners, friends or lovers, and in this version they are most decidedly the latter, sometimes carrying on their affair while the main action of the show takes place elsewhere. It is Todd’s affection for Mrs. Lovett, who commits the first two murders, that leads him to help her with the cover up and makes him her “supplier” for her meat pies. Business is booming so Lovett needs an assistant, which eventually leads to their discovery and downfall.

Captured surreptitiously but posted with permission during Sweeny Todd

Captured surreptitiously but posted with permission during Sweeny Todd

The music was played by a live band including an accordian that sometimes was in the thick of it with the actors. The enthusiasm of the cast was infectious and the singing was well blended and balanced. I enjoyed having the sound come from all around me when the actors were sprinkled throughout the crowd. Todd and Lovett were very well cast and did a splendid job, as did the playful smaller parts. Unfortunately, if you are right next to the band you lose a lot of the lyrics, which were in general much stronger writing than the dialog. The music is clearly the focus of the show, but when the actors don’t have mics it can be hard to follow.

For the best experience, I would suggest that you stand near the corner of the room where the two sets come together so you can get the most out the singing but still hear the music clearly. Be prepared to move during the show and come back together in a different configuration. I loved this aspect because it allowed people who had not had as good of a vantage point in the beginning to see more of the show later. So even if you start out at the back, be patient and you will get a chance to see, plus more of a chance to interact with the side characters. The crowd for this show was smaller than for Dorian Gray, and I think the group of 30 or so in the audience is the right size for the venue.

_2014VICTORK_AJXAfter about a 30 minute break where we rested our feet by sitting on the stone steps outside, we went back in for round 2. The Picture of Dorian Gray was the first show I found on the Ed Fringe docket to write about for Victorian and Steampunk inspiration and I was the most excited to see it. Sweeny Todd I had seen as a musical before, but never Dorian Gray and I was intrigued. The story centers on Dorian, a lovely youth seduced by the delectable debaucheries of the Victorian age, his mentor, Lord Henry Wotton, and the painter of his portrait, Basil Hallward. Upon seeing his portrait, he wishes that he could always stay as young and beautiful as it is, and in wishing makes a pact with the devil. Dorian falls in love with an actress, but later rejects her when she wants to quit the stage, which leads to her suicide. When he later looks at the portrait, it has changed and started to become ugly to reflect the decay of his soul while he remains the same.

The three main male roles were perfectly cast, though I think the strain of so many performances was starting show in their voices (and who can blame them!). The music and especially the female chorus voices were lovely (and the “sisters” steal the show), though they sometimes overpowered the male soloists who were singing very low in their ranges, which makes it harder to project in a room without very good acoustics. They were all very true to their roles and stayed in character, even when I saw one audience member start to giggle in Henry’s face during a dramatic moment in the closing number. So, well done to the cast for making the most of a less than ideal situation.

The crowd was larger, and I think on the whole taller, which meant I could not see nearly as well as during the first show. At least half of the action takes place right in front of the band, and so directly in front of a bank of stage lights which also made it harder to see. I would love to see this show again staged as a traditional musical where I could get all the action from start to finish. (I think the best place to stand for this one is near the free-standing gas lights on the near wall as you enter the space.) Because I knew the basic story already (though I haven’t read the original yet) I wasn’t surprised by the turns of events, but I didn’t feel that the dialogue did enough to move Dorian from one stage of his thinking to another. I would have liked to see him first fall in love with his painting and then become jealous rather than his first reaction to be disdainful. I also liked that the homosexual undertones were brought to the forefront, but I found the scene where Dorian and Basil kiss to feel strange and I expected to see Basil more swept up and given hope rather than saddened. But on the whole the acting was very good even if the actors made different choices than I would have.

If you only choose one Victorian Vices show to see, I would say go with Sweeny Todd for the dynamic staging and charismatic Todd and Lovett. Dorian Gray was very well done, it just didn’t work as well in the space. If you have comfy shoes, they are great to see back-to-back for a great night of entertainment. The soundtracks for both shows will be available soon, and I highly recommend them!

Both shows are running from now until the 23rd, so don’t miss your chance to taste a little vice.

Get tickets here: tickets.edfringe.com

Learn more about Another Soup at their website: www.anothersoup.co.uk


Review: Jekyll and Hyde at Ed Fringe 2014

Jekyll and Hyde is in the “Dance, Physical Theater and Circus” section of the Ed Fringe catalog and I think that is an apt descriptor. When I think of a dance performance, I think of lots of movement, lots of music and little to no speaking. This show, on the other hand, is a fully scripted hour-long play that uses dancerly movements to punctuate the emotions, relationships and of course, the transformation of Henry Jekyll’s world. There is only a little bit of dub-step music when Jekyll is on his benders, and the rest of the dancing is done in line with the dialog.

The story is set in the present and deals not with the original Jekyll character’s desire to extricate his other half, but centers around his desire to treat mental illness. He has anxiety attacks himself, but it is his sister’s crippling agoraphobia and memories of his mother’s condition that drives his research and eventual self-testing of a drug. In my review of the book The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde I said that one thing that remained constant through all of the adaptations I had see was that Jekyll transforms into another person, Hyde. In this show, however, Hyde is a person only Jekyll can see who wields power over Jekyll’s movements and can send him crawling across the floor or paralyzes, leaving him watching helplessly as he murders.

I thought this show was absolutely great. I highly recommend it! The whole Headlock Theatre company did a wonderful job, and both Jekyll (Nathan Spencer) but especially Hyde (Tom Boxall) were totally brilliant. You can learn more about them here: headlocktheatre.co.uk/.

Get tickets: tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/jekyll-and-hyde

But here’s a tip: make sure you sit in the first few rows of the theater. The stage is not raised, so even at 4 rows from the front we lost a lot of the floor work behind the heads of those in front of us. Sitting close to the stage and off to the side is better than being in the center and farther back. Also, don’t forget to look up! The ceiling of the theater in Merchant’s Hall is a magnificent piece of 19th century architecture.

And if you’re lucky, you might run into the friendly cast at the Jekyll and Hyde bar down the street like I did. The atmosphere was dark, but the people were all having a great time so it was really a fun place to stop by. I especially loved the bathrooms hidden behind a false wall of books, and the variety of chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. (Click on any photo to see larger pics)


Gearing up for Steam Tour: Sweeney Todd and the String of Pearls

London, 1859. Holborn’s shameless streets are awash with unsavoury individuals, wiling away their lives practicing the variously sordid Victorian vices of the times. On Fleet Street, Mr Sweeney Todd runs a reputable barbershop, shearing the whiskers of the gentry and clergy of London town. His sweetheart, Mrs Cornelia Lovett, spends her days managing an ailing pie shop, constantly on the brink of bankruptcy and plagued by belligerent bailiffs. What will they do to survive? Original, immersive promenade musical.

Get more info at the Edfringe website.