Police Cops in Space, VAULT Festival

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by guest critic Tom Brocklehurst

The Pretend Men return with a ridiculous sequel to their action-packed police parody. Don’t worry if you missed the first one – you should still get a ticket to this! Done with parodying cop shows, we now get references to The Terminator, Blade Runner and Star Wars – to name but a few of the references.

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The Nassim Plays, Bush Theatre

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An actor stands on stage. They are handed a script they have never read before. A frank look at suicide, choice and learned behaviour unfolds after a menagerie of animal impressions.

An actor stands on stage. They are handed a script they have never read before. An hour of hilarious and revealing Mad Libs ensues.

An actor stands on stage. They are handed a script they have never read before. It’s a recipe that the actor must prepare whilst reflecting on the cultural importance and ritual of food.

An actor stands on stage. On the screen behind them, a script is projected they have never read before. Then there’s a live feed, a language lesson and a tender reflection on the meaning of home.

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Martin Creed’s Words and Music, Edinburgh International Festival

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by guest critic Tom Brocklehurst

This show does what it says on the tin.

We spend an hour in the company of Turner Prize-winning artist Martin Creed, who plays some of his songs, and talks through some of the things he finds troubling about modern life. In this respect, the show is more like a performance poet set – John Hegley meets Professor Branestawn.

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101, Theatre N16

101, Theatre N16 (1)

By an anonymous guest critic

Interactive theatre is hard work. Horror theatre is also palpably difficult to get right. In this case, the combination of the two proves too much for this able company of actors. Oneohone – a company specialising in interactive pieces – showcase a series of six shows, and I can only imagine that the other pieces were more successful than the piece that I see, which was at times a stilted, awkward affair.

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Droll, VAULT Festival

img_0177By guest critic Jo Trainor

“Let’s all dance ‘round the shitty faced baby.”

Drolls (director Brice Stratford explains) were short, raucous, illegal plays from the 17th Century. Oliver Cromwell and the Puritan interregnum banned theatre from 1642, but drolls were performed in pubs and alley ways to keep theatrical traditions going. Stratford says no one has put on a droll for 400 years, and boy, have companies been missing a trick because these sketches provide a hilarious evening of entertainment. There’s sex, there’s adultery, and you’re given a shot of whisky when you come in the door.

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Wunderkammer, VAULT Festival

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by guest critic Jo Trainor

6 performers, 2 musicians, 1 speaker; Do Not Adjust Your Stage’s Wunderkammer is its own wonderful world of improv insanity.

Wunderkammer works by having a professional make a speech in front of the audience and performers, and from that the ensemble and musicians take ideas, stories and characters and make a series of comedic sketches. Think a funky extension of a TED talk.

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In Fidelity, Edinburgh Festival Fringe

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Rob Drummond and his wife Lucy are celebrating their fifteenth anniversary. As a gift to her, he made a show where two single audience members have the opportunity to go on a first date there and then in the hope of finding the sort of love he has with Lucy. Though the bulk of the production centres around the selected couple on stage, there is plenty of audience interaction as we guide them down the path of getting to know each other. Part TED talk, part talk show, part slumber party, In Fidelity is as informative as it is heartwarming and fun.

Drummond’s extensive research on brain activity, hormones and psychology drives the framework around the first date and is consistently present throughout the show. The pop-science is easy to understand and his presentation style makes this content all the more engaging. After a series of questions he selects the two audience members who will have their first date, the focus becomes on facilitating the introduction of these two people. Each performance will undoubtedly be different and have varying degrees of successful matchmaking, but this makes it all the more exciting.

There’s a gleeful voyeurism that In Fidelity satisfies and even though Drummond gives the audience and the pair on their date quite a lot of freedom, he keeps a tight grip on discussion and interaction so it never feels that he will lose control of the show’s progression. This restriction ensures that everyone in the room feels safe, and its remarkable how quickly people feel comfortable answering very personal questions about their love life. Drummond’s onstage persona is warm and strong, a great balance that encourages the audience to open up. His incorporation of personal anecdotes, adventures in the research process and his own relationship’s journey also help.

The show ends happily the day I see it, with the couple clearly having some degree of chemistry between them. Even if that doesn’t happen, Drummond ends with some fantastic news of his own, leaving the audience with a warm, fuzzy feeling as they leave the theatre. This theatrical experiment is a wonderful exploration of form and its benevolence is a wonderful thing to be a part of.

In Fidelity ends 28th August.

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