ED FRINGE 2023 Reviews: The Strongest Girl In The World, Wasteman, Prick, Distant Memories of the Near Future, 50 Midlife Crises to Try Before you Die, Boy out the City, My Last Two Brain Cells
FERN STUDIO, GREENSIDE VENUES, NICHOLSON SQ
Shows revolving around family grief isn’t a new thing to the fringe, which is why a performance with such topics hinder on the performer’s personal story; Truly Siskind-Weiss’ tale is one that merges her childhood annual visits to Lochearn Camp, nursery rhymes, and a fictional story of the Strongest Girl, that captives throughout, thanks to the charisma of Truly, and the constant use of props to navigate the story beats, all a brain-child from Director Ellie Jay Stevens.
ASSEMBLY GEORGE SQUARE STUDIOS, UNDERGROUND
There’s times at the fringe where you see a show where you know what’s coming next; Wasteman is one of these shows. Whilst we may not have seen a show that surrounds a binman at the brink of bankruptcy and dreaming of being a drag queen, there is a moment earlier on, when we see a dream envisioned on stage, that the climax almost feels ruined. Wasteman is also let down by the mock up stage set in what looks like a downstairs bar, where acoustics are limited, and voices must be raised to really understand every word, like when the musical numbers are present, but there’s no microphone to enhance Joe Leather’s softer voice.
THE SPACE ON THE MILE, STUDIO 3
Stylistic with stunning puppetry of cats, foxes, birds and miniature versions of the character’s represented on stage, Laurie Flanigan Hegge’s ‘Prick’, a new play looking into three witch trials, is paced with ease and boasts a strong ensemble who shine most when all on stage in the interludes between the three witches that we are introduced to. Director Meggie Greivell mentions how she wanted to voice the nearly 4,000 wrongly accused in the Scottish witch trials, and that’s evidently shown throughout, whether that’s the Pricker drawing constant blood from the victims, in a stressed temptation to really the dry spots, or when the play draws a conclusion and mentions the trail in February of 2023 with two elderly women. It’s an essential watch and one that will be remembered for its strong performance leads from Carys Turner, Lisa McIntyre, and Abigail McDonald.
DISTANT MEMORIES OF THE NEAR FUTURE ★★★
SUMMERHALL - RED LECTURE THEATRE
With similar qualities to last year’s ‘We Need More Honey’, David Head takes us into the future of apps, the thing that has taken over our electronics devices. More notably, we are shown the future of a dating app called Q-Pid, which will categorically give you every human in the world you are guaranteed to have a connection with, and how that affects one man’s journey to discover if their true love is out there. David Head holds the room in deep thought and brings a calmness to proceedings which makes it easy to sit back, even through the more physiological moments in the show. Definitely one for those who enjoy the possibilities of what our future may have in store.
50 MIDLIFE CRISES TO TRY BEFORE YOU DIE ★★
SPROUT STUDIO, GREENSIDE STUDIOS
Edinburgh Fringe always brings a personal first every year, and ‘50 Midlife Crises…’ is no exception; It’s a bit embarrassing when you find that the audience participant, who stands on stage for no more than 10 minutes in the show, is way funnier than the supposed ‘hilarious’ comedians are. Also, this is a title that tells a little porky, as in no way are we given 50 crises in the whole set. With a running time of 50 minutes, I think we expected witty one-liners to relate to the show's title, but instead we get disgusting lactating jokes, and a comic who thinks joking about breast cancer is funny. Online the company boasts about sell out shows, but the real reason behind this is because the Sprout Studio, a new space for Greenside this year, only holds a max of about 25/30 seats, and if there was a chance of leaving the show between the two acts in the show, judging by the audiences reactions in this particular performance, I have a feeling the show would resume with single figures.
BOY OUT THE CITY
UNDERBELLY COWGATE, BIG BELLY ★★★★
If I was Declan Bennett, I would be having a nap after pushing through Boy Out the City’ his one hour play which puts the foot on the pedal and throttles at a mile-a-minute; It’s pacing transcends as the performance grows, with transitions cleverly intertwined, as mentions of Choirs, School shows, and other haunting memories of his childhood, creeps in during the loneliness of lockdown in suburban Oxford. It boils over to breaking point near the end of the play, as we finally have time to breath, but our memories of this show may never fade - this really is the Declan Bennett show.
MY LAST TWO BRAIN CELLS ★★★★★
GILDED BALLOON PATTER HOOSE, NIP
Gary is dying, and it's up to the last brain cells inside Gary (Cell 12 and Cell 64,928,460,784) to find a way to save him. With hints of Mission Impossible and Love Actually thrown into the mix, you've got yourself an hour of quirky, fast paced comedy that throws the audience right into the action (you're even given stickers as you walk in, which is a nice touch to proceedings). Performers Joe and Tom have slick chemistry with each other, and with creating this show together with no producer or director attached, it comes with true amazement as My Last Two Brain Cells could be considered the best comedy show The Edinburgh Festival Fringe has had to offer in recent years.
To book for any of these shows, you can visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.