Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Critical Summary from Edinburgh (3)

Wales at Edinburgh Fringe

Mary Bijou & Torch & Familia de la Noche , Edinburgh Fringe Festival , August-26-15
Wales at Edinburgh Fringe by Mary Bijou & Torch & Familia de la Noche Familia de la Noche’s “the Very Grey Matter of Edward Blank” had a taster of an outing at Pontardawe before heading north. 2104’s “the Greatest Liar in the World” laid the ground for bringing an audience to their new production.

Three Weeks (20th August): “Familia de la Noche have created something extraordinary here, with every element fitting perfectly. Their designer is to be highly commended: from the paintbox-bright costumes to the set, where every cupboard holds a surprise. The actors are consistently brilliant, humorous or horrifying as Edward’s mental state changes. A look at just how colourful the dark parts of our minds can be, this nightmarish fantasy might keep you up past your bedtime.”

The Stage (19th August): “There are metaphors pouring out of every orifice in Familia de la Noche's latest devised piece, from the blatant materialism of the 1970s setting to the multiple bolts on the door of Edward's flat. Despite its bold palette of colours and absurdist elements this is a remarkably gentle piece of theatre, commenting on the complex nature and treatment of mental health problems.

Sam Redway's distracted performance as Edward distills the loneliness of his lifestyle, especially juxtaposed to the colour and energy of Becca Cox, Jean Goubert and Melissa Sirol as his imaginary friends. Edward's melancholy story unfolds in an imaginative way using music, video, shadow puppetry and physical theatre, and while the ending may not be happy, it is wholly satisfying.”

Broadway Baby (16th August): ‘“The Very Grey Matter of Edward Blank” is directed by Conrad Sharp and performed by Familia de la Noche, taking place in the home and imagination of Edward Blank. It is a cacophonous riot of physical, mime and clowning theatre…Sharp’s direction is incredibly strong, with the cast moving all over the set in ever more interesting and enticing ways. Some of the physical theatre aspects of the piece could be a bit more finely tuned – on occasion a touch of clumsiness is allowed to creep in. That being said, it is a titanic effort by the cast and they should be congratulated as such.”

“Hitch” from Mary Bijou Social Club now Circus Company was reviewed on this site on its tour in March.

Three Weeks (22nd August): “Cabaret circus and Hitchcock aren’t an unlikely pair; both share a taste for mind games of the uncanny, vertigo-inducing type. ‘Hitch’ brings Hollywood thrills to the big-top in this beautiful shriek of a show, where the contortionist looks like Grace Kelly and the trapeze artist is in need of a good lawyer (spot the baroque double of the creepy housekeeper from ‘Rebecca’). “Does anyone here have any phobias?” quips the ringmaster, whose style shifts unnervingly from camp, unhinged uncle-figure to maniacally giggling bloodsucker. Add vintage dialogue recordings – including an interview with Kim Novak, playing over a striptease reinterpretation of ‘Vertigo’, with a twist of such cerebral delight that I won’t ruin it. Exquisitely spun, deliciously dark: ‘Hitch’ is one dreamy nightmare.”

Broadway Baby (14th August): ‘“Hitch” is a mix of classic circus skills, live music and performance vignettes that work fantastically well to convey the often frantic action of Hitchcock's movies. It's all held together by the charmingly likeable George Fuller who, as well as acting as Master of Ceremonies, presents many of the everyman characters portrayed in Hitchcock's work by getting directly involved in the action with some slick slackrope and acrobalance skills.

An excellent decision was to have live music hold the show together with Tom Elstob's bombastic rock guitars and digital beats blending with frantic piano and Bethan Cecil's ethereal lyrics performed by Tia-Rhian Kalmaru. Aislinn Mulligan, Anna Sandreuter and Tom Bell are all fantastic aerial performers who effortlessly defy gravity - and possibly biology - on silks, rope and trapeze but each shines individually as characters in the snippets of suspense.

…”Hitch” is a delightful show that’s filled with skill, humour, art and suspense. Just like Mr Hitchcock himself.”

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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