Interview with Dead Lads

We caught up with Manchester based poetry group ‘Dead Lads’ about their first dramatic piece ‘Nuclear Roomates’. We posed questions to Lenni, Jasmine and their Director for this piece, Jack. Here are their responses.

GW: Can you tell me about ‘Dead Lads’?

Jasmine: We started Dead Lads for this play. Me and Lenni have collaborated quite a bit before on poetry fests and performance poetry things like that, so we thought we wanted to create a full hour show. We weren’t really sure what form it would take at that point. So we created ‘Dead Lads’ and we’re going to keep doing stuff under that title – its just collaborative work between the two of us.

GW: When did you two start writing poetry?

Lenni: We’ve both been writing poetry for quite a few years, but we’ve been writing together since we met at uni in 2011/12.

Jasmine: Then we met Jack about a year ago. When we realised the project was going in the theatre direction, we brought him on board to help us hone the details.

GW: Can you tell me a bit about the show itself ?

Jack: Ye. So bluntly, ‘Nuclear Roomates’ centres on two women ‘Salter & Riggs’ who are holed up in a small tattered house in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, trying desperately to survive. We never really see them leave the house and there’s a malevolent presence outside that keeps tapping on the window. It’s them trying to hold together a semblance of normalacy and talk about what bothers them. It’s entirely focused on their character dynamic and their fear of getting ripped apart by this foreboding presence outside.

GW: Is the whole thing performed as poetry or as prose?

Jasmine: We started off by writing a lot of full poems, but as the narrative emerged from it, a lot of it became dialogue. There’s dialogue, there’s poetic dialogue and then there’s poetry. The play goes between all three. We use poetry at the more intense moments. Then we also have some more naturalistic dialogue in there. It’s quite fluid.

Jack: Coming from the perspective of not being in the show or being part of the writing process, it’s not distinguished by, this is dialogue, this is poem, it all just blends together into this very heightened very beautiful language, that carries you through.

GW: What was the inspiration for this piece?

Lenni: Someone offered us a guest slot to do poetry together and we thought lets write something brand new especially for it, maybe with a narrative. It was a 15 minute guest slot, so we thought we would write something that was 15 minutes long. Then we decided we wanted it to be about the apocalypse. It’s just fun to write about. Jasmine is well up on nuclear apocalypses. That was your dissertation wasn’t it?

Jasmine: Ye, I wrote my dissertation on nuclear apocalypses, so I know a lot of the grisly details of what could happen. Another part of it, was we wanted to write female characters that were really interesting and weird, not necessarily strong characters, but also not necessarily two-dimensional characters. We wanted to write good female characters for stage. I think thats quite difficult to do, historically they are under-represented.

GW: There is a line in your play about ‘womb-eating’ ???

They all laugh.

Jasmine: That’s true! Jack you tweeted that spoiler!

Jack: I did. It comes towards the end. This is what’s exciting about the dialogue. All of this wasn’t in there originally. The dialogue is maybe some of the most exciting stuff. At the end, there’s a big argument between the two of them. In directing it, I got the sense that they probably have this exact same argument every day. But one of the common threats they throw at each other is about eating each other, obviosuly because they are in the apocalypse. There’s lots of grisly details. So there’s “I would eat your eyes first”…

Lenni: I scream that. Jasmine puts her hands on my belly in a really creepy way and says “I would kill you without a moments thought and be boiling you up within the hour!” and I just scream “I WOULD EAT YOUR EYES FIRST!”

Jack: And then Jasmine threatens womb-eating.

Jasmine: With the womb, there is actually a reason for that. The focus is on women in the condition of the apocolypse. While we were writing it, we were thinking about a lot of women’s choices. Here, the choice to have children is lost. They can’t really. It’s certanly not any kind of condition that you would want to have children in. The point of the argument is they are trying to rile each other up and dig really deep – so the womb eating line – it’s particularly poignant. It’s quite grisly and horrible.

Jack: “Useless womb” you say don’t you.

Jasmine: Ye I call it her useless womb. That gets a good audience reaction.

GW: Hypothetically, confronted with a nuclear fallout and a descent into a post-apocolyptic world, of the three of you, who would survive the longest?

Jasmine: Oh boy!

Lenni: I’ve been thinking about this for a while becuase I have a friend who I’ve had arguments about this before. And she always says “Wouldn’t you even try and survive Lenni?” and I say “NO, I’d just give up.”

Jasmine: I would survive becuase these guys would just lay down and die.

GW: Well, having written a dissertation on this you should probably have the edge.

Jasmine: I feel like I would probably be pretty useless. I would try gallantly to fight people off with a spade. Ultimately I would just be eaten by someone or they’d steal my possessions.

Jack: I think me and Lenni would be eaten by you!

Jasmine: Ye, (she laughs) maybe.

GW: What’s your favourite thing about being at the Fringe?

Jack: Oh gosh! It would have to be sleeping on a floor.

They all laugh.

Jack: I don’t know. At the moment I have been seeing lots of weird things that cross over between comedy and theatre. I definitely wouldn’t be getting the chance to do that anywhere else. Stuff thats pushing at the genre, that’s what I’m interested in artistically at the moment. Just the breadth of stuff I’m able to see.

Jasmine: Seeing new exciting stuff is really good and converging with lots of other creative people, it’s really exciting.

GW: Of the things you have seen so far, what has stood out?

Lenni: Me and Jack saw two really great, quite absurd comedy acts, that drew on a lot of things and were amazing.

Jack: We saw ‘Cosmonaut’ by Ryan Good. He’s a storyteller and that was really great. It had such a nice vibe.

Lenni: Really really lovely. Really amazing audience interaction. He brings someone up onto the stage at the start and you think it might just be for a little while, but then over the course of the whole show, they build up this lovely bond.

Jack: The show becomes about their friendship which is lovely. We saw Zoe Coombs Marr’s show ‘Dave’. She’s a standup comic peforming for an hour as a horrible misogynistic man. Which is really funny, but it goes deeper than just a one note critique. It becomes this horrific dream sequence.

Jasmine: We saw Dominic Berry’s show. It’s called ‘Up Your Game: The Downfall of a Noob’. It’s a spoken word show, themed around his relationship with gaming and the things that come into play with that like masculinity and isolation. That was a really powerful spoken word hour.

Jack: He is really good poet.

GW: Cool. Ok final question, what does the future hold for ‘Dead Lads’?

Lenni: Well, for part of this show we have made some chose-your-own adventure books, set in the same world as the play.

Jasmine: It’s a little stapled pamphlet type thing. We wrote that with Jack actually. We brought him in on it. Otherwise, we are hoping to keep developing the play, because it’s really new. We want to take it around some festivals and look into how we can push it further.

GW: Well good luck with that and the rest of your performances and thank you for talking to the Ginger Wig and Strolling Man.

Jasmine: Great talking to you Ginger Wig.

If you want to see Dead Lads production Nuclear Roomates, they are on until the 30th of August at the Laughing Horse @ Moriarty (Venue 332) at 12:30pm. And its free !!!


Interview with Zach and Viggo

Another Gaulier trained clown act ‘Zach and Viggo: Thunderflop’ spent some time with the Ginger Wig this week. Here is our interview with Zach and Viggo and their responses to our questions.

GW: Hi Zach and Viggo. Nice to have you speaking to the Ginger Wig.

Zach: Thank you ‘The Ginger Wig’ for speaking with Zach and Viggo.

GW: That’s alright. How has your show been going?

Zach: It’s been going pretty good lately.

Viggo: Ye the last days have been good. The start though was a disaster.

Zach: The first week was a real battle getting people in, but then we started doing these cabarets and it went from fivish people a show to now like 15/20 people.

Viggo: Today we had 30!

GW: Great. Right now, first big question of the night, the biggest. Why do you two make comedy?

Zach: Oh man!

Viggo chortles deeply.

Zach: My heart just dropped.

Viggo: Wow. Why do we make comedy? I think because it’s fun.

Zach: Ye. I think it makes everything that is already so serious, much less serious.

Viggo: So if I give a serious answer here its pretty boring. I think it’s because there is so much wanky stuff in the world, we just wanted to do some non-wanky stuff. But just saying that is quite wanky. (He laughs)

Zach: I think we’re dipping into wank mode right now.

Viggo: My parents?

Zach: Ye (laughs.) People often say comedy comes from pain, but for me it’s just fun to do, it’s a break from everything else.

Viggo: I’m a happy person.

Zach: We’re happy we promise, we’re not crying right now.

GW: How does it feel performing at the Edinburgh Fringe?

Zach: It’s surreal.

Viggo: (Laughs) It’s cool!

Zach: It’s the best. It feel’s like we actually have a real job. Like our real job is to be comedians but instead is like oh ye we’re doing a free show. Barely staying alive.

Viggo: Last night I slept three hours. I woke up and a theatre director from Norway was there (in the show) and I just felt so good, adrenaline was just pumping out of my ears. It’s like a dream.

Zach: It’s crazy. When you have somebody there who suprises you it gives you that extra WOOOHOOO and wakes us up from death.

Viggo: We have to tell you about this guy who came to our show. Four days ago. This guy was just sitting in the back. We didn’t see who it was.

Zach: He was hiding in the back the whole show, taking pictures. We couldn’t really see because the lights are so bright and you can’t see that far.

Viggo: At the end of the show, while the show was still going on, he just walks on stage.

Their excitement is building.

Zach: We do this bit where I marry Viggo to somebody in the audience, and in the scene Viggo just says “father, father” and this guy from the back just starts shouting. We couldn’t really hear what he was saying. My first thought was, ah man, its 1:15 in the afternoon, there’s no way there is a drunken heckler here right now.

Viggo: Then he just walks on stage and says “No I am the father!”

Their excitement has continued to grow.

VIggo: And…

Zach: And its…

Viggo: It was my dad!

Zach: It was Viggo’s dad! He flew in from Oslo and suprised us.

Viggo: I didn’t know he was coming he just showed up in the show.

Zach: Then walked Viggo down the aisle to his own fake wedding.

GW: Awesome. Ok well considering we are on the topic of your show, how would you sum up ‘Zach and Viggo: Thunderflop’?

Viggo: It’s a silly and beautiful comedy done by two stupid guys.

Zach: Ye just two stupid people showing everyone: “Hey this is my fantasy of what I find funny”. We like to play, we play fun games with the audience. Its a healthy mixture of playing with them. But also us perfoming and not letting it get out of control, but its a two-way street, its not just “Look at us, we’re so amazing!” We all play together and make something really cool.

Viggo: My dad liked it.

Zach: His dad actually liked it. His dad saw our preview in Oslo and hated it and then came to this one and loved it..

Viggo: We changed a lot from Oslo

Zach: (Laughing) Ye.

GW: Who are your comedy heroes?

Zach: Dr. Brown. He’s taught both of us and he went to our school – L’ecole Philippe Gaulier.

Viggo: Also, Philippe Gaulier, becuase he is like the funniest man ever.

Zach: He is the funniest man in the history of the world.

Viggo: He is an evil wizard.

Zach: He is an evil evil man, but the most loving evil man that ever eviled. Trygve Wakenshaw he’s another lovely good one. Johnny Wooly.

Viggo: He’s our director.

Zach: He’s also actually sitting behind us right now.

They both laugh.

GW: Whats your favourite thing about being at the Fringe?

Viggo: I have been here three years, just watching stuff, I just love being part of it and the atmosphere. There are so many cool artists that you can hang with.

Zach: I think this is the Mecca of the weirdest, coolest, most beautiful people and they all come here to do their thing for three weeks. Everywhere you look, you see someone and you’re like, ye, “I don’t know you but I feel like I get you.” We are all here for the same reason.

Viggo: Today I cried. I saw Chinese dance, and I got to hang out with Zach, who I think is the funniest guy in the world (He laughs) I was really happy!

Zach: The best thing going off what he was saying is, Viggo makes me laugh super duper hard all the time.

Viggo: Ahhh.

Zach: And so just backstage knowing that, ye, that guy is the guy I get to make a show with, it never gets stale, its always different.

Viggo: I actually cried today. ‘Every Brilliant Thing’ It’s a very good show.

GW: What are your personal picks from the Fringe?

Viggo: I want to say ‘Every Brilliant Thing’ that I saw today, beautiful.

Zach: I saw a show yesterday, a beautiful clown show by this guy called Spencer Jones called ‘The Herbert in Proper Job’. Beautiful, beautiful show.

Viggo: I liked ‘Plague of Idiots”. They are so stupid and so funny.

Zach: They are so good. They are Gaulier people.

Viggo: They are just so stupid. I love it.

Zach: One of our friends Georgia directed for them over the summer and I guess some people were saying “Oh this is just another one of those clown shows, whatever” and then they saw them and saw how stupid they were and someone turned to her and was like “Do they have an education? Are they genuinely this stupid?”

Viggo chortles.

Zach: But that is the best compliment you could ever get. Trygve Wakenshow – Kraken and Nautilus are obviously huge inspirational and fun shows for us . ‘Sam Simmons: Spaghetti for Breakfast’.

Viggo: That was cool.

Zach: That was really cool.

GW: Ok nice. Right, final question. Can you pitch me a brand new Fringe show?

Viggo: Ah, OK. So imagine you’re in a little car…

Zach: And you’re driving this car down the road. You don’t know where you’re going. You got the music on, you’re feeling good.

Viggo: Obviously this car is onstage. Literally there is a car on stage. The show is inside the car so you have to roll down the window and do the whole show from the car.

Zach: So the audience are the drive through people, you can be paying the toll or having a chat with the toll man. You could be getting arrested by somebody.

Viggo: And all the music comes from inside the car. And we have to start packing the show down 30 minutes in because the car is so heavy.

Zach: But that’s also part of the show. So at the end you’re packing everything up and it’s like you’re going on a road trip. Or you’re going off to college. Who knows where you’re going.

Viggo: And you end the show by saying in Norwegian “Turen er målet” which in English is – the trip is the goal itself.

Zach: The trip is the goal itself! And then we hand out bumper stickers and then I think we’re done.

They both laugh.

Viggo: And we can have traffic lights at the entrance.

Zach: Oh ye, so you can stop people from coming in. Then if its yellow they don’t know if they can come in or not.

Viggo: Yes!

They both laugh.

GW: (Laughing) Cool very nice guys.Well thank you very much for your time.

Zach: Thank you. This feels so fun.

GW: Thank you very much Zach and Viggo!

If you want to see Zach and Viggo: Thunderflop! They are on at CC Blooms until Sunday at 12:30

The Christians by The Gate Theatre and The Traverse Theatre at the Traverse Theatre

The final show of our Edinburgh Fringe, and what a show to leave on. Focusing on a church pastor and the repercussions of a particular sermon, this was a very interesting collaboration from the GATE and the Traverse Theatre.

Performed with full choir, and church setting, this was a very strong piece of writing from Lucas Hnath and tremendous acting from its five stars; William Gaminara, Stefan Adegbola, David Calvitto, Jaye Griffiths, Lucy Ellinson – the latter we saw in the astonishing, ‘Grounded’.

Set in a mega church in America that has finally rid itself of debt, Pastor Paul delivers a sermon that is to change the course of his congregation’s fate and his own life. In the sermon in question, he suggests that we are all children of God and therefore everyone is welcome into God’s kingdom regardless of past sins. In tandem with this he basically debunks the existence of Hell. This sermon causes a furore when the associate pastor takes offence to it. What follows, is a slow dwindling of his followers, and a profound examination of the role of pastor, the role of the elders, and how tolerant Christianity (or anyone) really is.

The Gate have really built a triumph out of Lucas’s script. They have some extremely talented actors, and the staging is wonderful. Our only criticism here, lies with the choir. Whether it was the choice of music or the singers themselves, they slightly reduced what was on all other acounts a fantastic piece of theatre. Maybe they were only amateurs. In which case I certainly don’t wish to criticise any amateur singer who spends their spare time doing something so joyful as singing. But considering the piece opened with two songs straight in a row, that weren’t too lyrical in the first place and were backed by a synthetic organ, for them to be performed by amateur, seemingly unenthused singers, really made the opening fall a bit flat. I can only imagine the difference a professional gospel choir would have made…

Not to worry though, because as soon is it took off, this play really soared. We can’t wait to see it again back at the Gate. Well done to Lucas and the whole creative team for such a thought-provoking piece of theatre.

Highlight of the show – The congregant’s questioning of Pastor Paul.

Want to see it? The Christians – The Traverse Theatre – this Tuesday until Saturday at various times. Then again at the Gate Theatre in London – 8 September to 3 October.

5/5 WIGS

Interview with Phoebe Rose of ‘China Doll’ by Bad Habit Theatre

We caught up with Phoebe Rose who plays ‘Ana’ in Bad Habit Theatre’s – ‘China Doll – A Neuropera in Four Seasons’. We posed several questions to her about her work in this operetta and her time at the Fringe. Here are her responses.

Ginger Wig: Hello Phoebe, thank you for joining us.

Phoebe: Thank you Ginger Wig!

GW: Acting at the Fringe is one thing, but singing ever single day is completely is completely different! How have you managed with thats?

Phoebe: Exactly. So many of my friends are doing straight plays and they go out every night, get drunk all the time, stay out till 4 in the morning and here I am going to bed at 11 (she laughs).

GW: Tell us about China Doll.

Phoebe: It’s set in an Eastern European village and it’s about a prostitute who can’t have children. It follows her life and the people who are in it, like her landlady who I play, Ana, and her boyfriend. There is also the boy that she is trying to trick into staying with her, by convincing him that she is pregnant. Then there are the people in the village, their pregnancies mirror her fake pregnancy and my inability to have a solid relationship, let alone a baby. It’s all about love and relationships and loneliness.

GW: And its linked to the seasons musically and dramatically?

Phoebe: Yes exactly, it goes through four seasons. So Ana and Alexi are a lot happier at the beginning in winter, but over the seasons they become further and further apart as Vincent comes into the picture. The seasons are also mirrored throughout the piece in the costumes and sets.

GW: Can you tell us about the creative team?

Phoebe: Jakob Robertson wrote the piece. He is 22 years old. He is absolutely incredible. He is a composer/writer and he was an actor as well. He is a drag performer and he is part of a company called ‘The House of Grand Parade’ who do drag acts around Brighton and London. This is his second opera, his first one was Lolita. The Director, Bryony Maguire I think is 21. She is a director and actor. They grew up together actually, they were next-door neighbours. Bryony did National Youth Theatre, which is where I met her two years ago and that’s how I got involved in the project. Since then, she’s been acting and she directed Lolita. Everyone else in the company know each other through other jobs or through friends. Some of them grew up together. It’s a lovely mix of people.

GW: Well we definitely could see you were all good friends. This was your professional debut. How did it feel stepping out on to the stage for the first time?

Phoebe: It was amazing. This show started last year. I first got the part of Ana in December last year. This was the first version of the show. The Scratch Night previews were done at the Bike Shed Theatre in Exeter, so that’s the first time this opera was shown to the public and the first time that Jake had had a cast doing it. After we did that we then did some more shows in Plymouth. They were doing their Fringe festival. We wanted to do the (Edinburgh) Fringe but we weren’t sure how it would work out. So then we applied for the Les Enfants Terribles Award which was going to get us to the Fringe festival. We did that and we were runners-up, which was amazing. A lot of people didn’t even get on stage.

GW: Can you tell us about the Les Enfants Terribles award?

Phoebe: They are a physical theatre company, kind of quirky, just a really cool new company and they are doing a show at the fringe right now – a children’s show and another one – so their award was to give an emerging theatre company a run at the Edinburgh Fringe with financial support and that kind of thing. You should check them out because they are really cool. They were doing ‘Alice’s Adventures Underground’ in London, like a really cool piece, it had these cards everywhere, in an underground space. So they were just trying to give a new company support and a platform to show their new work. The company that won were called ‘Fine Mess Theatre’ and they are doing ‘Diva’ in the same space as us. They are in the Ten Dome as well!

GW: What do you think about opera?

Phoebe: I love opera, but I’ve never done any opera before. Obviously this is an operetta so its sung in a musical theatre style. I’ve trained in musical theatre my whole life so this is kind of second nature. But because it is an operetta we wanted it to be a play with song. We have really worked everything like a script. Especially for my role, apart from her flamboyancy at the beginning, she is a real person with real feelings, she puts on a show, but she is incredibly vulnerable.

GW: Can you tell us a bit about the rehearsal process?

Phoebe: Sure, so when we first got the script, we learnt most of the melodies with Jake. Then we would go through it line by line with Bryony looking at the intentions, really looking at it, as a script, really thinking about the thought processes, what are they saying to each other. Then we would put it up on stage and explore it. We did lots of things that you would do in normal plays, we did thought tracking, hot seating and we also did improvisations. When the chorus do their ‘We’re having a baby’ thing, they are caricature’s. The idea of the chorus is that they are these ridiculous people which is ridiculous compared to Nina who is incredibly truthful. We put them on stage and then Bryony would say “Ok, so you need to tell Otto that you are having a baby. How are you going to say that?” Then we watched them play it out and how they would say it truthfully. Then we would work it in with the music. We all learnt together and it has changed since it started in January. It’s a long time ago. We did it at the Bike Shed and then we had to do it in Plymouth which is a much bigger space. Then we did it at Egg London which is a club as part of the Tête à Tête Opera Festival, but it was a very different space. It had poles and columns and that was more in the round than this, which is head on. We had feathers at one point around the edges, which was so beautiful, but that wouldn’t work for a fringe venue because you have to get out in ten minutes. We really worked on things with Ana and Alexi pretending we were a couple and the things that you say to each other, things you don’t say. Also, before we did the Fringe, we did half a day in our character’s lives. We’d lie on the floor and then Bryony would say “Ok, so its 7am. It’s winter” and then we would all have to literally play out the whole day, just as characters, talking, being with each other. Things like that were really useful because from doing the piece you know how you feel, but having your own voice to kind of work on things, explore and just improvise, that was really good.

GW: What is your favourite thing about being at the fringe?

Phoebe: I think it’s all the incredible theatre, the people you meet, the things you get to see that you wouldn’t see. Most of the stuff at the fringe is new writing, which I think is just unbelievable, like the direction from the scripts that people come up with. It’s just being constantly surrounded by so much inspiration!

GW: Have you got any personal favourites of things you have seen at the fringe?

Phoebe: I would say ‘Trainspotting’ by ‘In‘Your Face Theatre’ which is at Assembly which is amazing. I would say, ‘The Solid Life of Sugar Water’ which is at the Pleasance, done by a company that work with deaf and disabled actors which is incredible. And ‘Molly’ which is at the Pleasance and that is absolutely incredible and kind of physical with a really good script. I’ve seen a lot of amazing things.

GW: What are you future plans?

Phoebe: I have a couple of things in the works, but nothing is a definite at the moment, which is classic acting. So a couple of potential projects. This is not the last you will see of me!

GW: We hope not! Thank you very much for speaking to us Phoebe. Good luck with the rest of your run.

Phoebe: Thank you, nice to speak to you. And thank you for saying you loved the whiskey sandwich!

If you want to see China Doll it is on at the Pleasance Dome at midday until the end of the fringe!

Paris Communal Shower at Yurt Locker @ Free Sister

There really is no show quite like this one at Edinburgh. Absurd clown tomfoolery is presented by four students from Philippe Gaulier’s renowned clown school. Under the command of their scout master, three young scouts learn to tie ropes, go to the bathroom in the forest and develop their interrogation techniques. And did we mention? It’s completely FREE!

Standard scout practices were subverted by these wild clowns, skewed out of all recognition into some off-the-wall crazy comedy, that left the crowd roaring with laughter. This reporter did not stop laughing throughout, a testament to their comedy. This was unique, original and different from anything else we had seen at the Fringe.

The only downside was the venue in question. Squeezed into a yurt is no problem at all, and could definitely add to the mood and intimacy of the piece. However, when you have a whole bar being served food and drinks outside, playing music and showing sports games on giant screens, it could make it hard for some to fully enter the world of the piece inside the yurt. At the end of the day though, all this shows, is that this group deserved a bigger and better stage!

Not a problem anyway though, for those of you who truly care about great comedy. You will find youself transfixed by the madness presented by the four scouts; Neil, Sami, Maddy and James. Each one of them brings something distinct to this troupe as they presented their series of sketches individually, in pairs, or as a whole group, clothed or unclothed…

Hilarious and unconventional comedy from this brand new comedy group. Squeeze yourself into the yurt locker and let the clowns do the rest.

Highlight of the show – Waiter service to the song, The girl from Ipanema…

Want to see it? – Yurt Locker @ Free Sister – 21:30 until the end of the fringe excluding Tuesdays.

5/5 WIGS

One for my Baby by Now You Know Theatre at theSpace on the Mile

Very strong performances from this young cast presenting us with a picture of real life moments of Frank Sinatra and his wild marriage to Ava Gardner. Presented by Now You Know Theatre Company, this was a very good production and definitely one to catch.

Being a big Frank Sinatra fan, this was on the Ginger Wig’s list from early on and without reading too much into it, we didn’t know quite what to expect. What we got was unique and mesmerising. Told in the late hours of the night by barman ‘Joe’ and Frank himself, flashbacks drift in and out showing us a completely different side to Frank Sinatra that we knew little about: his fear of losing fame, his recklessness, things we wouldn’t guess at from listening to his songs.

Acting-wise it was very strong. Special nod to Anthony Orme for writing, directing and starring as Joe the barman. He has produced a great insight for those who don’t know so much about Frank’s personal life. However, the performances from the entire cast was very powerful; Matt Concannon as Frank, Holly Sumpton as Ava Gardner and Ryan Heenan in several supporting roles. Music was provided by pianist Colm Molloy and saxophonist Monika Valkunaite and played as if they were a jukebox, being switched on and off by the actors when they needed some musical respite from the troubles of Frank’s life.

Here and only here lies my only regret for this piece. As well as being strong actors, Holly Sumpton and Ryan Heenan also provided the most beautiful singing to accompany the piece. Hearing them sing I can only say it was a shame we didn’t have more more musical interludes to accompany the action of the play. At only 45 minutes long, it certainly could have been a little bit longer, as we left very much wanting more, not that this detraced from it.

This was a wonderful account of Frank Sinatra’s whirlwind marriage to Ava Gardner that has been beautifully retold by a group of very talented young performers. Asking for more is just a compliment to this production. Well done to Anthony and the whole team. Get along to this one !

Highlight of the show – Holly’s opening number – What was it ???

Want to see it? One for my Baby – theSpace on the mile (Venue 39) at 19:40 until the 29th.

5/5 WIGS

Interview with Paris Communal Shower

On Thursday, we caught up with three quarters of Paris Communal Shower, a group of current and former students from Philippe Gaulier’s renowned clown school in France. We posed several questions to Maddy, Sami and Neil outside the Gilded Ballon, to find out more about them and there off-the-wall free show-in-a-yurt at the Free Sisters. Here are their answers.

Ginger Wig: Thank you very much for joining us here.

PCS: Thank you Ginger Wig.

GW: Ok first question. Where did your name come from?

Maddy: Oh! (laughs) First question…

Neil: Oh, its how we all met. We all met, in a communal shower. In Paris.

GW: You met in a communal shower in paris?!

Neil: No, I’m joking.

Maddy: We basically came up with our name before we had come up with our show. Our whole entire show was never scripted, it was invented through playing games.

Neil: We have a whatsapp conversation with about 50 or 60 alternative names or more…

Sami: Every single one was shot down by someone…

Maddy: But you just kept putting colours. We had, ‘Fried Chips’, ‘Sniff and Scratch’ and then suddenly Sami would come in with, “Guys – Purple”.

Neil: Ye ye.

Maddy: ‘Grey’? ‘Red’? ‘Green’ perhaps?

Sami: That was arduous finding a name actually.

Maddy: And then we realised we all lived in Paris. Where communal shower came from is beyond me. Our show has nothing to do with paris, or communal showers, but it’s still good (laughs).

GW: Can you explain to us a bit about your creative process?

Neil: Firstly we got two directors. One would direct the first bit and then the other would direct the second bit, but they’ve got two very different ways of working.

GW: Does that not make things tricky?

Sami: No it was fine actually in the end, because it was a nice mixture of the two. We had a basic structure, basic theme down, suggested by a friend actually and then once we decided to do that, one director Sean, he likes the physical stuff, so he made us do physical things to try and devise things and then Sam, he does more game based things, so he’ll say “play a game, do this” again that was physical too, but more in a game way.

Maddy: Sam makes you find an image through an improvisation game, like swinging your ponytail round in a circle “What are you? – I’m a helicopter!” So he turns an image into a scene. Our show is very image based, so it looks nice. There’s a lot of nice things to look at.

Niel: Sean is a director that likes to take things far to far…

Sami: I’ve been naked running against James (the fourth member of PCS) on the floor, he made me sing out of my naked bottom, some opera! He made me do a lot of things, none of its in the show, it was all for his own pleasure.

Niel: (Laughing) It was all for his own pleasure. But we got some things that you would never really think of, because it would be too extreme, some of which we managed to actually keep in the show.

Maddy: I think the funniest part of that asshole singing, was that Sean tried to cover up the fact that it was an asshole, by saying “Look its fine, if we just hold up two coconuts next to Sami no one will know which one it is.

Sami: Basically we started out with something that was fun and then worked backwards into making sense out of it, rather than sitting down and having ideas. I think you can really kill things quite quickly if you try and have interesting ideas. You need to have fun first.

Maddy: We learnt that at school, never have an idea. Just go! Go! Go! Go!

GW: That leads us on nicely to my next question. What has going to clown school taught you?

Neil: That I’m worthless. That’s what it taught everyone. That you’re not funny, you’re not a good actor.

Maddy: It’s genius. For me, its really listening to the audience. If the sketch isn’t particularly funny, its not the audiences fault, YOU have to change. Find something to get out of the flop.

Neil: Save the flop!

Sami: He’s very brutal (Gaulier) He tells you what you are. You find out what you are. Whether you can change it or not…? Often you cant. You are what you are – which is liberating in a way because it gives you a direction. This is what I am, this is what I have to work with.

Maddy: It gives you a certain amount of freedom when you are on stage.

Neil: Also he stops you from acting. He stops you from being ‘the actor studio of his balls’ as he says. Stop acting! That is very liberating on stage not having to act.

GW: What’s your favourite thing about being at the Fringe?

Sami: I can eat quite cheaply here, which is good. I’ve been buying organic eggs, so I’ve been eating really good eggs. I have been eating well for a reasonable price.

Neil: There is a really good fruit a veg shop across the street from us. Its run by volunteers and its all local produce, so ye, I love that.

Sami: The shows and everything are good as well.

They all laugh.

Maddy: Just the eggs! Edinburgh just makes me happy, there’s so much going on, there’s performers everywhere and its a time for people to just come and try stuff out and just give it a go. Even first time performers can just get on stage and say “Here I am!”. Its the perfect place to do that becuase everyone is really accepting.

GW: Does stand up comedy make you happy as well?

Maddy: Not particularly since being at clown school, my mind has changed a bit about stand up. Neil was actually a really famous stand up comic (through her laughter).

Neil: Well, er, (shyly) I was in Australia and I won a couple of competitions. Stand up comedy is still great when it’s done well, but you get to realise, how few people do it well, how boring and self-obsessed it can be.

Maddy: Me, me, me, here I am! I think the reason I don’t like stand up comedy anymore is because of clown school and Philippe and what he teaches us. The best way to describe this is with an example. We saw this stand up night in Paris and the MC of the night told some really, really, really bad jokes. Like REALLY bad jokes. But there was one moment when he told a joke, that he thought was literally the greatest thing he’d ever come up with, and it flopped. Nobody laughed because nobody even knew it was the end of the joke. It was that bad. But there was a moment straight after this when his face went from so proud of what he’d done into total human vulnerability. It just dropped. It was so natural. “I’m acting” just went. And the room erupted with laughter. He was really unsure why, but we could see it was because it was him being himself and reacting in a really funny way to how badly he had just flopped. But the reason it then annoyed me was because he should have kept going, living in the flop, swimming around in it. Instead, he threw it away – “And now on to my next joke la la la” – and went straight back to stand up comedy – here’s a joke, here’s a laugh, here’s a joke, here’s a laugh. It was so interesting for that split second. It was so funny. Thats why I believe in listening to the audience more.

Neil: Stay in your failure for longer, thats where people laugh, that’s where you are vulnerable

GW: Who would be in your dream comedy group?

PCS: Thats a good question…

Neil: Tony Hancock would be in there. I like Tony Hancock. He’s a 60′s comedian – “Hancock’s Half Hour” – brilliant! Birth of the sit-com really.

Sami: I’d put Nosferatu in. I think he has very good stage presence and he’s very funny. He doesn’t have to do much, he just needs to look confused… as he does.

Maddy: If I could be in comedy-sketch group with Rik Mayall I’d probably be the happiest person alive. He had something, f***ing good. Sorry for swearing.

GW: No problem. Now have you got any personal picks from the fringe?

Sami: I’ve seen Sam Simmons, which was excellent. I haven’t seen this, but I think I’m really going to enjoy ‘Calypso Nights: Juan, 2?’. I really really want to see that. I think he may be my favourite at the fringe once I see him.

Neil: Nautilus!

Maddy: Nautilus!

Neil: Oh my God – just an hour and a half of effortlessly hilarious mime.

Maddy: Best thing I’ve seen so far.

Neil: The drumming show…

Maddy: ‘Fills Monkeys: Incredible Drum Show’, its just these two guys on drums and they’re pretty funny, they’re from France. It was a pretty epic hour of just amazing synchronised drumming.

Neil: Just funny drumming.

Sami: Very difficult to explain.

Maddy: We have some friends from our school performing in the Underbelly “Plague of Idiots”. Their show has been going amazingly, I haven’t seen it yet, but they have been getting some incredible feedback, selling out left right and centre, and they’re just four clowns from our school. Who else do we love? We love everyone! ‘John-Luke Roberts: Stdad-Up’, seen it in the vaults but haven’t seen it here yet, again amazing feedback. My dad went! Thats a big deal.

They all laugh.

Maddy: Zack and Viggo!

Neil: That’s a beautiful little show. First timers, midday, just in a bar underground, just out of town, its crazy but its nice, really good show.

Maddy: Its called ‘Thunderflop’. Spencer Jones is apparently incredible as well. ‘Rhinoceros’ by Harry Carr. It’s very fun, It’s basically a game show on saving Rhinos! And its very playful and very silly. Thats quite a lot, we could go on…

GW: Final question, although its not a question at all. Pitch me a new fringe show!

Neil: AHH…


Niel: “Awkward Sex Stories from Behind a Fern” – where members of the audience come out and go hide behind a fern with a microphone and tell their awkward sex stories.

Maddy: We did it last night in our cabaret and it went so well. It lightened the mood a lot. But I think to make it a show we would need half comedians and half audience members…

Neil: We need to develop it a bit… Also, “The One Man Tattoo”! I just want to do the Tattoo as a one man show, I think that would be quite funny.

GW: Sami pitch me a show!

Sami: Um, er, pitch you a show, er, the… a show where I have to think on my feet… and its generally made up of silence, um, and maybe theres a microphone involved maybe recording it, um, and then somebody writes it down and puts it on the internet. (He laughs)

Maddy: Can we absolutely add in a mention that we forgot. Our fourth cast member is in another show called “The Dream Sequentialists” we have to put that in, otherwise HE’LL KILL US! And he won’t be in our show anymore! And Paris Communal Shower! (laughs)

GW: Cool. Thank you all very much for your time. Good luck with the rest of your fringe

PCS: Awesome. Thank you Ginger WIG!

If you want to catch Paris Communal Shower they are on at the Yurt Locker at the Free Sisters, every night except tuesday at 9:30pm !

Down and Out in Paris and London by New Diorama Theatre at Pleasance Courtyard

Inspired by the memoirs of George Orwell and Polly Toynbee’s ‘Hard Work’ this is a very interesting piece of social commentary theatre that highlights the similarity of poverty that existed in the past and still exists today.

Combining these two works, the writer and co-director David Byrne has made a unified piece of theatre, effortlessly joining the experiences of George Orwell, then known as Eric Blair with those of Guardian journalist, Polly Toynbee.

The play shifts backwards and forwards between Paris in the 1930s and modern day London, as Orwell recounts his time living on the breadline in Paris and Polly recounts her exploration into living on the minimum wage in London. The action seamlessly moves between these two tales with a lot of help from a swinging pair of double doors. A good group of actors have pulled together this work from New Diorama Theatre, and all the performances are extremely accomplished.

Overall the work is very engaging and successful. We are left feeling that many of the problems are the same and therefore much is still left to be done in order to correct the situation. As the programme says, “We haven’t come as far as we think.”

Great production based on two very important pieces of writing. Well Done New Diorama Theatre!

Highlight of the show (London) – Polly trying to understand the concept of signing up for an agency that could, but might not, provide her with work despite it going against her EU workers’ rights.

Highlight of the show (Paris) – Boris longing for sleep so he won’t have to walk, then bettering it by wishing instead to be dead so he would never have to walk ever again.

4/5 WIGS

Captain Morgan 2: The Sea of Souls by Tap Tap Theatre at the Pleasance Dome

From the boys that brought you ‘Captain Morgan 1: The Sands of Time’ comes their follow up, ‘The Sea of Souls’. Part of Tap Tap Theatre, these lads bring you a high-powered, fast-paced, action-packed adventure comedy all in the space of an hour.

Performed at the Pleasance Dome, the premise is simple. Two actors perform a host of different characters while a third performer plays music to accompany the adventure. All three performers were extremely talented, and the laughs did not stop rolling in.

One performer seems to have the most elastic of faces, contorting it into many different shapes in a manner not dissimilar to the great Jim Carrey. The fact that both actors were dripping with sweat at the end of the show is testament to how much energy they put into their performances. Both were literally jumping from character to character as Captain Morgan and his rum crew try to reclaim Morgan’s soul from the dastardly World Association of Time Continuum Handlers (WATCH).

The music was fantastic, provided by the violinist come accordion-thingist. Adding effects to his music with with some tech, he managed to create the perfect mood for wherever Captain Morgan found himself.

Non-stop entertainment and laughs from these guys. Get on down and see it. And if you want the full experience catch the revival of their 2013 Edinburgh show ‘Captain Morgan 1′ at the same location, on different days.

Highlight of the Show – The Sirens

4/5 WIGS

Institute by Gecko Theatre at Pleasance Courtyard


Where, oh where, to begin with this fascinating piece of theatre. Gecko theatre have created something truly memorable without me really being able to tell you what it was.

Four men ran, jumped, danced and flung themselves across a stage surrounded by giant filing cabinets – filing cabinets that contained much more than just paperwork.

One man seemed to be struggling with creative block, another with getting over an ex-girlfriend, another with the loss of his father and a final one with who knows what. Two were English, one was German and the fourth was French, although he used a touch of Italian. They all moved around the stage with a mad precision and they were all completely bonkers!

The show was extremely physical, but also had some lovely moments of humour, the two men dealing with the corporate machine controlling their lives had some great moments, and there was incredible use of the entire space.

Nod to the lighting as well, as we are yet to mention it at this year’s festival, but it really was great here, creating different spaces and different moods. The sound too worked really well, with all the men being mic’d, so we heard all the words clearly as well as their panting and breathing. This was coupled with a soundtrack that often contained a panting/grunting soundtrack to accompany some of the physical dance moment parts.

Don’t really know what else to say about this one. It was absolutely loco! Go see it and see if you can make any sense of it. You won’t regret it.

Highlight of the show – the architect trying to get to his drawing board to draw something, anything, only to be carried back, or spaz out, or be distracted by the others. Fantastic movement.

4/5 WIGS