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Five shows to see at the Edinburgh Fringe, vol 4: Summerhall special.
The fourth issue recommending shows performing at the festival, feat. a solo show about Juliane Koepcke, a new play from Martha Watson Allpress, an Edouard Louis adaptation, and more.
Hello, and welcome to The Crush Bar, a Substack newsletter about theatre written by me, Fergus Morgan.
This issue is the fourth of a series of specials I am sending out during late July and August, all focused on shows performing at the festival. Each issue will highlight five shows worth seeing. Three will be picked by me, and a couple will be paid promotions. Hope that is okay.
Some issues will be themed, like this one. Most will not be. Some I will have seen and loved. Some I will just have heard good things about. Some artists I will know and admire. Others I will just like the sound of. Please feel free to get in touch if you want to let me know about a show you love.
One last thing: you can support this newsletter in a couple of ways. Firstly, you can share it with anyone that might be interested. And secondly, you can become a paid supporter for the cost of a cup-and-a-half of coffee a month using the button below. That’d be just great.
I have been hearing a lot of good things about TheatreGoose. Led by writer and director Emma Howlett, the company started in 2018 at the University of Oxford, where it staged acclaimed productions of Alice Birch’s Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again., Lucy Kirkwood’s NSFW and Lucy Prebble’s Enron. Now, it brings its debut professional production to Edinburgh.
Her Green Hell is a one-woman show explores the incredible true story of Juliane Koepcke, the German-Peruvian zoologist who, in 1971, miraculously survived a 10,000-feet fall from an exploding aeroplane into the Amazon rainforest, where she subsequently spent eleven days entirely alone before being rescued.
Written and directed by Howlett, designed by Eleanor Wintour and performed by Sophie Kean, TheatreGoose’s professional debut is both an extraordinary story of survival, and an examination of our fractured relationship with nature, incorporating physical theatre, puppetry and more. It was a hit at VAULT Festival earlier this year and now runs in Summerhall’s Red Lecture Theatre for the entire month. You can get tickets via the button below.
The 2021 Edinburgh Fringe was a bit of a Covid-y, rainy, outdoor washout, but one of the undisputed highlights was Martha Watson Allpress’ one-woman play Patricia Gets Ready (For A Date With The Man Who Used To Hit Her). Allpress returns to the festival this year with the world premiere of her new one-woman poem-play Lady Dealer.
Produced by Grace Dickson and directed by Evening Standard Future Theatre Award winner and Bush Theatre associate Emily Aboud, it sees Welsh actor Alexa Davies - familiar from a range of roles on the small screen - play Charly, a female marijuana dealer struggling to cope with life after losing someone she loved.
It runs in the Paines Plough Roundabout at Summerhall all month, alongside several other promising productions, including Eve Leigh’s Salty Irina and Nathan Queeley-Dennis’s Bruntwood Prize-winner Bullring Makeout Techno Jamz. You can read my 2021 interview with Allpress here, and you can book tickets for Lady Dealer using the button below.
There has been a couple of adaptations of Edouard Louis’ brutal and brilliant debut book The End Of Eddy in Edinburgh over the last few years, both as part the Edinburgh International Festival. There was Stewart Laing’s smart production of Pamela Carter’s version in 2018, and Eline Arbo’s sublime staging last year, too.
Here, though, is a chance to catch an adaptation of Louis’ equally astonishing third book, Who Killed My Father. It deals with similar themes to his debut - the poverty, prejudice and pain of living in post-industrial northern France - but focuses on his father, instead of himself, and points the finger of blame for his dad’s early death squarely at successive French governments - from Chirac, to Sarkozy, to Hollande, to Macron - and their political decisions.
I have recommended Surrogate Productions’ staging before in this newsletter, and I have no hesitation in recommending it again now. Adapted and directed by Nora Wardell, designed by Hazel Low and Blythe Brett, and performed by Michael Marcus, it first ran at Glasgow’s Tron Theatre in May 2022, then toured Scotland late last year. You can read my four-star review of its Glasgow run here, and book tickets for its short Summerhall run - it is only on from August 22 until August 27 - using the button below.
In 2017, Icelandic theatre artist Bjarni Snæbjörnsson was moving house, and found his childhood diaries. The contents, he says, were “so funny and vulnerable and awkward and silly and painful” that he decided to make a musical about it with director Gréta Kristín Ómarsdóttir, with whom he runs Reykjavik-based Perplex Theatre Company. Along the way, though, Snæbjörnsson suffered a nervous breakdown.
“I realised through dragging up all this stuff from my past that I had so much unresolved trauma from growing up gay in a heteronormative society,” Snæbjörnsson says. “Iceland is meant to be this queer paradise, but things are much more complicated than that. As a country, Iceland prides itself on being tolerant, but being tolerated by everyone is a hard pill to swallow, too.”
Good Morning, Faggi evolved, then, into a silly-but-serious one-man musical, with music from Axel Árnason, exploring Snæbjörnsson’s experiences as a gay man in supposedly safe Scandinavia. It has been a huge hit in Iceland, touring the country twice and earning a shower of awards for Snæbjörnsson’s performance, Ómarsdóttir’s staging, and Árnason’s music. It now arrives at Summerhall for its UK premiere, with the company hoping to take it further afield nationally and internationally. You can get a taste of it by listening to the soundtrack, which is available – in Icelandic – on Spotify and you can book tickets using the button below.
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Founded in 2016 by former students at the International School of Corporeal Mime, Ephemeral Ensemble is an emerging company that devises visually compelling, politically charged physical theatre infused with live music. Its first show, Carsick, incorporated the real-life testimonies of taxi drivers to explore immigration. Its second, Offstage, meta-theatrically meditated on themes of suicide and depression. Now, Ephemeral Ensemble returns to Edinburgh with its third show, Rewind.
Inspired by the testimonies of those that suffered under authoritarianism in Latin America in both the 1970s and the 2010s, Rewind is a time-hopping, multidisciplinary investigation into the act of resistance, its power and its price. Combining documentary, movement, music and more, it draws on the field of forensic anthropology – and the revolutionary way the science has been used to expose human rights abuses in Latin America – to shine a light on the timeless struggle for justice.
Developed during lockdown and during an international tour of Latin America, Rewind arrives in Edinburgh with the support of Warwick University, Chile’s Museum of Memory and Human Rights, and as the recipient of Summerhall’s inaugural Rewind Award – named after the show – for stories of decolonisation. “We want to share this story with as many people as we can, nationally and internationally” says director Ramon Ayres. “And we want to create some visibility for Ephemeral Ensemble, too.”
This is promotional content.
Thanks for reading
That is it for this issue. I will be back in your inboxes on Friday with five more shows to see at the Edinburgh Fringe. If you want to get in touch about anything raised in this issue - or anything at all, really - just reply to this email. Or you can find me on Twitter, where I am @FergusMorgan.
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That’s all for now. See you soon.