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What's on at Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2017

While going to the Edinburgh Fringe at the end of the month means I get jealous seeing everyone already up there, it also means I get the benefit of all the buzz and reviews - making my list of shows I'd like to see ever longer.

So I thought I'd share some of the shows I love the sound of. If you've seen any of these, or have any other recommendations, let me know!

TheatreFirst a couple of shows I know I can recommend as I've seen them before (meaning you may well have heard of them too)...
Theatre Ad Infinitum have won countless awards and critical acclaim for their stunning show Translunar Paradise - a story of love, loss and letting go, beautifully played out through mime and mask, and more moving than I could have imagined.

Uplifting but honest about depression and a one-of-a-kind theatrical experience, Every Brilliant Thing is back at the Roundabout for a limited run from 23-27 Aug.

The Big Bitesize Breakfast Show is a great way to start the day, kicking off at 10.…
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school memories

pulling on winter tights. uniform a little too large, room to grow.

new stationary. the idea of choosing a 'cool' pencil case. friendships formed on silly jokes and an unspoken solidarity. trying not to be embarrassing. bunsen burners and lab coats, and a smell of a substance I hadn't bothered to learn the name of. sandwiches not eaten. a packet of crisps and a penguin. well-intentioned assemblies with meanings I was too bored to grasp. playing sports, unwillingly, out in the cold. the smell of the changing rooms. coach trips. having so much to take in and it being completely normal, all we've ever known. teachers that felt unknowable - and not caring, and teachers that felt nearly knowable, and all kinds of wonderful. parents' evenings, presuming the worst.

gathered together to receive news of events we were too young to understand.

safety in stories, in english class, in putting your hand up because you knew or wanted to know, all about it. the click of a cart…

Jesus Christ Superstar review, Open Air Theatre

Jesus Christ Superstar started with the music: a concept album from Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, that led on to endless adaptations all facing the challenge of bringing this epic story (that ends in a crucifixion) to life.

This new production takes on that challenge with a real sense of excitement and energy, with fresh eyes and a stunning outdoor space to work with, and - a focus on that music that began it all.

After brilliant reviews including from critics where I wouldn't expect a positive reaction, I went in with perhaps dangerously high expectations, then came out with mixed feelings.

Where the show succeeds is in the musicality, the production values and Drew McOnie's choreography. There were so many clever touches throughout that made me smile with their simplicity and innovation: Judas' hands turn silver with the taking of his reward and his guilt, apostles pause into the Da Vinci Last Supper pose, and a microphone cord hangs in place of Judas himself.

There…

1984 review, Playhouse Theatre

Adaptation can be a story straight from page to stage. The first line is the first line, the structure remains, scene to scene we see what we expect to see. Or, it can be something more. Something capturing the spirit of the story. Something that knows it can't bring the book to life without really bringing it to life and letting it breathe, and play, in this new space. This is that.

As such, it messes with you. It knows what you come in expecting and it doesn't hand it over without a fight. It's intense, surreal and really rather impressive. It's not an easy ride.

We open with a man and his diary, a nervous act, and a group discussing a book. I think it's one thing then it's another. It's 1984 itself ("it changes everything, and yet the world is still the same?"), it's the book within the book, it's another book altogether. It's all of the above or none of the above: it's doublespeak in action.

I worried a little we weren't …

What to see at Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2016

With the festival kicking off this week I thought I'd share what I'm most excited about and can recommend. I'm heading up the last week of the Fringe so any suggestions do let me know!

Theatre

Shows I can recommend as I've seen and loved them before include...

Vamos Theatre's Finding Joy tells a story of a lovely old lady called Joy who has dementia. Through mime, the production flits between the present (the relationship with her grandson is just beautiful) and her past. It was so much more moving than I ever could have anticipated.

Exploring depression in a funny and uplifting way, Every Brilliant Thing is performed by Jonny Donahoe. We watch his character grow up and navigate life and mental illness, both within his family and also his own. It's playful and profound.

If you're looking for big laughs check out Kill the Beast's He Had Hairy Hands. They're outrageous but also very clever - it's theatre that is fun while also impressive in how it …

A Midsummer Night's Dream, Southwark Playhouse - review

It's a silly story really, and a silly set-up. Young lovers lost in the woods, mistaken identities, a man becomes a donkey. And yet it delves deeper too, exploring the anxieties of love. Previous productions I've seen of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream have captured the magical nature of the play but never truly its playfulness, and here is where this production at Southwark Playhouse succeeds - inducing genuine big belly laughs and smiles throughout.

This new production by Go People adds another layer to the play-within-a-play construct of the original text: here we have a play within a play within a play, which is much less confusing than it sounds. We meet the actors (the "real" actors, not imagined - Maddy, Freddie et al) as they greet eachother with excitement and get allocated the roles they'll play. Then slowly, seamlessly, we move into the play itself - with everyday modern dress remaining, with a few additions of simple props.

Very quick…

What I read in May

Amidst moving house and enjoying London life while I was still there, I read a lot less this month - but what I did read I loved.

Crossing the Sea: With Syrians on the Exodus to Europe - Wolfgang Bauer★★★★
I realised recently that while I know when the media are giving prejudiced misinformation about refugees, I know very little about what is actually happening and why. So I was keen to pick up this book by Wolfgang Bauer, in which he goes undercover and joins a group making the journey from Syria to Europe, and I was glad I did.

I gained an understanding of what was happening, and was gripped by the stories of the people within the group. Bauer unflinchingly explains the horror and the necessity of these dangerous trips, taking you along the journey with them - the waiting, the fear and uncertainty of it all.

At just 144 pages, I feel though I learned a lot, and was shocked by what I did, I was still only getting a glimpse into the situation. I'd like to read more about what is h…