- United Kingdom Theatre Critic
This year's Edinburgh Fringe has many fantastic shows. I have seen a variety of different shows, I have already reviewed SDTN's fantastic 5 star production, Propeller and The Lyceum's stunning 4 star production of Waiting for Godot. However, I have also managed to see more great shows that I would definitely recommend.
Showstopper!- The Pleasance Grand ★★★★★
It was closer to the start of the Fringe I seen this production, but due to my holidays and other work commitments I haven't had a chance to write my review for this ASTONISHING show. Showstopper is made up of a fantastic musical theatre ensemble, where every evening they create a fresh new musical on stage, thanks to the audience's suggestions. First they ask for a setting, on my evening the suggestion they went for was a gin festival, I know, fabulous right? Then they ask for musicals to use as inspiration for the music of that night's show, for instance, the musicals we got were Chicago, The Producers, Wicked and the work of Sondheim. Therefore, we had music featured which was inspired by each of these musical elements. And finally, they asked for a title, so what are you going to call a musical based at a gin festival? The G-Spot! Of course!
And just like that, the humongously talented ensemble created this musical using excellent improvisation skills and collaborating with the band efficiently. And the musical it's self, was actually rather good. Very hilarious. And featured brilliant music, which definitely featured a resemblance to the musicals featured. It is insane how they managed to do this!
This show is definitely a stand-out in the fringe, you could return every night and see a different show, which is a fantastic premise. Also I know several people who have returned time and time again, they say it gets better each time! I am hoping to return before the end of the Fringe (Monday 27th August), as this show was so good! Definitely five stars.
Don't Tell Me Not To Fly (Featuring Ria Jones) - McEwan Hall Underbelly ★★★★
Ria Jones, one of my favourite musical theatre actresses, graced the stage this afternoon at the McEwan Hall, giving us a lovely hour featuring breath-taking singing and stories from early life, plus her struggles later in life.
This is not your typical show just featuring a few stories and a few songs, this show had a structure, which was a voice from above asking the much-loved actress 10 questions which were each to be answered with a song. This was a great idea. The only issue is, the show fell flat at points with slow graphics for the questions, projected above Ria, dropping the energy in the auditorium.
However, Ria lifted the show with fabulous anecdotes, a few great laughs and of course her flawless singing. It was great to see the actress be herself and see what's behind the characters she has played. Especially after her latest role as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard being the highlight of the musical theatre I seen in 2017. It was a great piece of afternoon entertainment. Make sure to catch it before the end of the run. It is not always Ria Jones as the leading lady, the show also alternates between Danielle Hope, Janie Dee and Claire Sweeney. They are all amazing, powerful and interesting woman, so you are guaranteed a great performance.
Shitfaced Showtime: Oliver with a twist- Cow barn Underbelly ★★★★★
Okay, so hear me out here. I am not a fan of Oliver!, it's just a bit of a beige musical. Of course, unless it has an amazing cast and is done with a bit of ambition. So this production was right up my street. So here's what they do, each night they get a different member of the cast of five VEEERRY drunk and get them to try to perform the show like normal. The results are brilliant. Especially when you give one member of the audience a flute and another a xylophone, so when the actor begins to sober up they play their instrument and the actor on stage needs to drink again! It is brilliant! Also an actress also introduces the way the production works, supervises incase anything goes wrong and, if she also feels the actor is sobering up, she will also honk her horn and give the actor another drink.
On my evening it was the actor who played Bill/Mr Brownlow/Charlie that got drunk. And oh my goodness. It was hilarious, the show is mainly improvised as they plan on it going wrong, but this guy drank 3/4 of a large bottle of vodka and then during the show 3 bottles of beer. He was steaming! Forgetting lines, attempting to dance, shouting out random things, oh and spilling a pint of beer over Britains Got Talent winner, comedian Lost Voice Guy, who was in the front row, loving the show! Yes, really.
The idea of this is totally bizarre but absolutely fantastic entertainment and genuinely anything can happen. So you are always on edge in case the spew bucket is needed, or the actor is gonna fall. There was even an argument in character on stage at one point. It was so funny.
Also the sober cast are supremely talented, they manage to just about get the story of Oliver! across without mishap. The drunken actor also was talented, he just wasn’t able to show it on the night. This is a fantastic show and I would genuinely recommend going. Just maybe not with children.