Edinburgh Festival Fringe theater reviews: Glasses half empty | This moment in America | All alone | Richard Osman’s fan club | Mary, Chris, March | Lottie Plachett took a hatchet


Roundabout @ Summerhall (Location 26)

Playwright Dipo Baruwa-Etti’s three-handed play is a work of remarkable ease and precision, a coming-of-age tale for young Britons of color that doesn’t take a straightforward route out of its examination of elevated consciousness and revolutionary thought. Instead, it asks both tough and tender questions about how best to express one’s racial identity in society, and which even defines what might be the best way to do so. After all, different genders, races, ages, and even unique life experiences can cause an individual to see their own path to enlightenment very differently.

Half-empty glasses.

Toye (Samuel Tracy) is a schoolboy at a regular comprehensive school in London, with an unnatural talent for the piano, expressed in the play as notes ripped through the air by the actor’s hands dancing around him. He finds music effortlessly easy, unlike browsing the rest of his life; his father has just left work due to the onset of Parkinson’s disease, and the elderly man is a nebulous, sad presence in the room, voiced by the Tracy co-actors in a monotonous bass sigh in the microphone just off stage.

The 16-year-old prodigy is on track for a scholarship to an exclusive music school, but as he matures, his racial consciousness is also evolving. He begins to read Akala and Reni Eddo-Lodge, and along with his friends Remi (Princess Khumalo) and Asha (Sara Hazemi), he starts a lunchtime history club aimed at introducing all students to the pioneers and black figureheads. Yet as Toye, who wears a trench coat, becomes more radical and demands change at the top of the school, rifts occur with his friends.

Rémi is the daughter of a teacher and she sees striving for excellence within the system as the best way to express herself. Asha feels left out of Toye’s revolution, both as a woman and as an Iranian. A hugely thought-provoking and well-acted play, Half-Empty Glasses finds answers for its own characters at least, and makes a compelling suggestion that the change anyone can best make in society is the one they make from within. a place of self-knowledge. David Pollock

Until August 28 (not 23, 27)

This moment in America ***

This piece, explains soloist Clara Harris, is a work in progress. In this respect, she is very similar to her country of origin, the United States of America, of which she gives an engaging testimony. Harris explains after the show that this work-in-progress nature stems from the fact that she intends to make it a gathering of oral reflections from Americans of all walks of life. Until this process is billed as complete, it is unclear which parts are fixed and which are temporary.

Harris stands at a desk with a laptop, sequencer, music stand, and microphone, equipment she uses to add effects to her voice or change her pitch, or to trigger vocal samples. The show’s first segment feels flimsiest, where she triggers sequences of words spoken by recent US presidents — from Nixon to Clinton, Bush Jr to Trump — and reacts to them largely through facial expression alone.

As the piece develops and becomes more personal, however, her captivating ability as a vocal performer draws audiences in. to be “mountain”. At its best, it’s a beautifully dreamlike portrayal of the American dream, and there’s more than enough here to suggest an exciting project when fully completed. Let’s hope he comes back to Edinburgh. David Pollock

ZOO Playground (Location 186)

“It’s more important than ever that we take care of ourselves,” the Vlogger says on the computer screen to the real-life version of herself, sitting slumped in front, dejected, in a blanket.

In a piece reminiscent of the experience many of us have no doubt had at some point during lockdown, Jessica Bicket-Barlow’s anonymous and largely silent young woman tries to find her meaning by helping others do likewise – in particular, creating DIY videos using the lesser-known vegetable tool. “I don’t need a supply chain,” she proclaims on screen to the one on stage, who embarks on building increasingly ambitious and bizarre creations.

Watching his strange and complex work, almost in real time, is reminiscent of how life has slowed down during lockdown and small-scale accomplishments at home have become dramatic events – just like, sometimes, the simple fact of being able do anything at all.

It’s a piece that, like most of 2020, requires some patience from its audience, but as it goes from hugging a bottle of alt milk to powering its phone using a an intricately wired collection of potatoes, there’s a sense of accomplishment through perseverance that’s very relatable, despite the surreal setting. Sally Stott

The Richard Osman fan club ***

Paradise in the Vault (Location 29)

What is the lasting appeal of lanky Useless animator turned successful crime novelist? More specifically: what is the curious appeal of this deeply odd little show from Edinburgh-based company Warped Productions?

Little old lady Greta (Vanashee Thapliyal) sits on a park bench taking notes for her upcoming novel The Sunday Serial Killer Society. Spotting Adam (Steven Finley), she strikes up a conversation that mostly revolves around her obsession with Richard Osman. Adam indulges in her first but isn’t much of a fan of the hulking broadcaster and author of The Thursday Murder Club.

At 30 minutes, it’s more of a patiently paced sketch than a play, but it’s still intriguing. Writer Wendy Lap hooks your interest from the start and it never falters. He’s not meant to laugh for a minute; it’s rather clucky and oddly tense.

Thapliyal’s Greta is endearing and irritating with her clownish shrill voice while Finley’s Adam is increasingly funny the more exasperated he is in his efforts to silence Greta, perhaps forever. This oddly likeable show makes you want to see what everyone involved could possibly come up with next. Rory Ford

Mary (Cho Yeeun, also a playwright and director) and Chris (Ryu Wonjun) are two astronauts who fly into space at the same time and end up on guiding mishaps making an unplanned landing on Mars together.

Here, although they cannot communicate with each other through their heavy space suits, they manage to establish a connection and find a friendship, which is doubly important for each of them, considering that it is the day of Christmas (say the title out loud to uncover the heavy hint that this is a seasonal piece).

Presented as part of this year’s Korean Showcase on the Fringe, Trunk Theater Project’s Mary, Chris, Mars is a typical Korean series work, in that its design allows it to be enjoyed with minimal reliance on language-based elements.

With small amounts of Korean and English text used, the trajectory of the story is easily read through the lively physical performances of the young trio of performers (Park Hyeon is credited as ‘Mars’) and their poignant puppet with a Martian diorama. handcrafted.

Baek Hahyungki’s atmospheric, live electric guitar score also combines funk and post-rock to unique effect. Despite its place in the theater section of the Fringe program, it’s an understated yet evocative treat for the whole family. David Pollock

Lottie Plachett took a hatchet ***

Roxy Assembly (Location 139)

The very public trial and acquittal of Lizzie Borden for the murders of her father and stepmother in Massachusetts in 1892 left a deep and lasting impression on the American psyche.

Don’t expect to be enlightened on any aspect of it, however, by this tacky farce from young American company Sweet Nell Productions, which uses the historical story only as a very loose starting point.

The play was written, its text informs us, “by a homosexual” (playwright Justin Elizabeth Sayer, presumably), so we should expect “crazy, down-and-out feelings of all kinds.” Lauren Lopez is Lottie, a privileged young woman who also happens to be consumed by incestuous desire for her father Josiah, casket maker and owner of Plachett’s Caskets, and by envy and hatred for her stepmother “the donkey. comes to life” Martha, whose occupation is given as “meat handler”.

Lottie’s brother, Pansy, meanwhile, is a puppet child with the head of a sex-obsessed homosexual. When the young woman is finally brought to justice (by judges and lawyers calling things like “Ballsack” and “Nutbag”), the real culprit is finally revealed – the homicidal anthropomorphic puppet womb that prompted her to TO DO.

Frankly, it looks pretty dreadful when the details are written after the fact. In person, however, it’s not just relentlessly bad-taste comedy, but also a cathartic dismantling of Victorian America’s mannered period drama. David Pollock

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