Daily Archives: August 21, 2014

Fringe First Winners 2014 – Complete List

Here’s the complete list of Scotsman Fringe First winners for 2014 – congratulations to all of them!


CUCKOOED by Mark Thomas, at the Traverse Theatre
CONFIRMATION by Chris Thorpe, at Northern Stage @ King’s Hall
MEN IN THE CITIES BY Chris Goode at the Traverse
CHEF by Sabrina Mahfouz at the Underbelly, Cowgate
THE COLLECTOR by Henry Naylor at the Gilded Balloon
SPOILING by John McCann at the Traverse Theatre


THE CAROUSEL  by Jennifer Tremblay Stellar Quines at Traverse Theatre
THE DAY SAM DIED  Armazem Theatre Company at New Town Theatre
THE INITIATE  by Alexandra Wood Paines Plough at Summerhall
LIPPY by Bush Moukarzel with Mark O’Halloran Dead Centre at Traverse Theatre
THE OBJECT LESSON  by Geoff Sobelle Aurora Nova/ Geoff Sobelle at Summerhall
PIONEER    curious directive at Zoo Southside
SANITISE   Melanie Jordan and Caitlin Skinner at Underbelly Cowgate



HAND MADE IN CHINA: MOONS, MIGRATION AND MESSAGES  Hua Dan – Dumpling Dreams Theatre and Migration Project at Summerhall
LETTERS HOME by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Kei Miller, Christos Tsiolkos and Kamila Shamsie Grid Iron and Edinburgh International Book Festival at Edinburgh International Book Festival
NO GUTS, NO HEART, NO GLORY   by the company   Common Wealth at Sandy’s Boxing Gym, Craigmillar
PONDLING  by Genevieve Hulme-Beaman Guna Nua at Underbelly, Cowgate
SPINE by Clara Brennan  FoolsCap at Underbelly, Cowgate .
TRAVESTI  by Rebecca Hill Unbound Productions at the Pleasance Dome.



Fringe First Winners 2014 – Week 3

Hand Made In China: Moons, Migration and Messages Hua Dan – Dumpling Dreams Theatre and Migration Project at Summerhall
Letters Home by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Kei Miller, Christos Tsiolkos and Kamila Shamsie Grid Iron and Edinburgh International Book Festival at Edinburgh International Book Festival
No Guts, No Heart, No Glory by the company Common Wealth at Sandy’s Boxing Gym, Craigmillar
Pondling by Genevieve Hulme-Beaman Guna Nua at Underbelly, Cowgate
Spine by Clara Brennan FoolsCap at Underbelly, Cowgate .
Travesti by Rebecca Hill Unbound Productions at the Pleasance Dome.


4 stars ****
Summerhall (Venue 26)

THEY ARE THE whining, terrifying alarm signals that precede air raids and natural disasters; and then again, they are the gorgeous seductresses of ancient myth, with a song so beautiful that they lure passing mariners to their doom.  And both aspects of the idea of the siren are present in this challenging new 60-minute show from Ontroerend Goed of Belgium, in which six young female performers, dressed in gorgeous ballgowns and standing at music-stands, examine their own attitudes to feminism, more than 40 years on from Germaine Greer’s Female Eunuch.

What emerges – from a script written by the performers and directed by Alexander Devriendt – is a vividly episodic show, in which sequences of pure voice, wailing, singing and shrieking at sometimes ear-splitting volume, alternate with a range of reflective monologues and images.  There are glimpses of male sexuality at its most gross (with accompanying porn video), of the kind of everyday sexism and brutal misogynistic “humour” women still endure, and of the struggle of this generation of young women to square their sexual needs and fantasies – which may include graphic Fifty-Shades-style fantasies of submission and abuse – with their sense of themselves as the absolute equals of men.

The play finishes with a monologue by Charlotte De Bruyne that sums up some of these tensions, and should perhaps have been the show’s starting-point, rather than its ending.  Yet despite what sometimes seems a disturbingly confused line of thought, Sirens emerges as a tremendously vivid piece of work about young western women in the early 21st century, checking their privilege, identifying the battles still unwon, insisting on the right to express their own blazing sexuality; and using their voices in ways that break new theatrical ground, and mark this show out as a fantastic theatrical experiment, perhaps still searching for the text that would do full justice to its astonishing performance style.

Joyce McMillan
Until 24
p. 350


No Guts, No Heart, No Glory

No Guts, No Heart, No Glory
4 stars ****
Sandy’s Boxing Gym (Venue 215)

THEY’VE NEVER performed their show for a live audience before; but on Monday lunchtime in Craigmillar, at the beginning of a short Fringe run, the company of five young Asian women from Bradford who make up the cast of No Guts, No Heart, No Glory deliver a theatrical experience to remember, raw, heartfelt, blazing with energy, and sometimes absolutely beautiful.

Presented by Common Wealth – who won acclaim last year for their study of domestic violence, Our Glass House – this new theatre project began when  director Evie Manning heard about a group of Asian women boxers in Bradford who train together, fight together, and compete in the national Muslim female championships.  The show’s aim, though, is not only to dramatise that process of empowerment, but to ensure that the story is told through the words of the young cast, brought together through auditions in Bradford schools.

The result is an episodic and sometimes fragmentary hour of theatre, which mixes intense periods of physical movement – fighting, training, running – with eloquent bursts of monologue and dialogue, conjuring up the pressures on young Asian women in Britain today, their concerns about issues like the war in Gaza, and their blazing ambition to make more of their lives.

If the performers own the material, though, there’s plenty of quiet artistry in writer Aisha Zia’s shaping of the script, and in director Evie Manning’s staging, which allows the audience to wander freely around the gym throughout.  There’s powerful live sound and music by Wojtek Rusin, and fine lighting design by Ivan Mack, highlighting the women – ofte helmeted like science-fiction warriors –  in pools and shafts of blue, gold and white light; and although No Guts, No Heart, No Glory feels like the start of a conversation rather a perfect piece of theatre, it unleashes young voices that matter, and does it with skill, passion and power.

Joyce McMillan
Until 25
p. 335



3 stars ***
Traverse Theatre  (Venue 15)

THE GENERATION who died in the First World War tended to believe in service, and self-sacrifice for a greater collective cause; the aesthetic of 21st-century performance art, by contrast, is often about the self-expressive individual.  And it’s perhaps because it involves such a sharp collision between these two worlds that Valentijn Dhaenens’s SmallWar – a 70-minute meditation created and performed by one of Belgium’s leading theatre artists – is both fascinating and frustrating, in equal measure.

Articulated as much through film, recorded sound and light as through live performance, SmallWar shows multiple images of Dhaenens, both as a mutilated and dying soldier lying in a hospital bed, and as the many versions of the same man who rise up – in thought, at least – to walk across the floor, to speak to loved ones on the telephone, or to remember happier times.

Meanwhile, Dhaenens himself, dressed as a female nurse, stands by the bedside, sometimes singing sad 20th century torch-songs, sometimes delivering a devastating monologue about loss.  And if this prolonged immersion in the image of Dhaenens – male and female, alive and dying – seems like an oddly self-reflexive way to commemorate the deaths of four million and more, the show remains a vivid and hugely accomplished evocation of all that is lost, when just one human being among so many passes into oblivion.

Joyce McMillan
Until 24
p. 352