Camden Fringe Update

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The story of the 2002 Cowgate fire is told through the lives of 3 fragile lives shattered by the event.

‘Succinct’ – Paul Vale of ‘The Stage’


Etcetera Theatre, Camden High Street – July 30th 12.30 – £7 (£5)  Book Now


Flames burn for 52 hours after a spark devastates a city.

A young girl goes missing, destroying the lives she touches as the safe places she once hid in crumble.


Abbi Douetil – Mila  (above)

Laurie Duncan – Max

Elizabeth Menabney – Emily

Book now for this show > here


When an explosion rips open Edinburgh’s Grassmarket, vulnerable lives fracture.

Mila’s foster mother clings to the wreckage of a burnt out caravan and searches for her.

When Mila’s foster father is released from prison the city is in melt down.  His daughter is missing.

Her foster mother knows the girl is being stalked but refuses to speak to Police.

Mila runs away and tries to remain safe by giving her stalker the slip in cafe toilets.

Fringe shows fill the city making it hard to spot a dangerous face in the crowd. Can Mila be found in time?



Writer/Director – Lita Doolan

Lighting – Laura Bradley

Design – Johney Fatimaharan

Film – Arco Parkin

Costume – Jo at


Stockwell Playhouse Cast – Jessica Rose, George Turner, Abbi Douetil


Rehearsal pictures from previous production:


George Turner – Max

Jessica Rose – Emily

Rehearsal pictures from ‘Time for Tea’:

Tea time will never be the same again.

‘Succinct’ – Paul Vale of the Stage

See this July 30th 12.30 Etcetera Theatre, Camden Fringe

Selected for Stockwell Playhouse One Act Festival

This play was part of London’s longest running one act festival 




Bestseller Book Alert!

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Political Theatre – Edinburgh

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A host of Fringe musical premieres include official Brexit show Brexit the Musical by Chris Bryant from Strong and Stable Productions. New comedy musical Trump’d from Two Thirds Comedy and Cambridge Footlights sees Supreme Dictator Trump finally facing a unified resistance in 2030. The Marriage of Kim K from Leoe & Hyde re-imagines Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro in a topical setting. Colla Voce Theatre’s new musical Buried at C too investigates what transpires when two serial killers meet through online dating, while The Poltergeist of Cock Lane investigates the only time in legal history that a man was charged with murder based on evidence given by a ghost. From Korea, Monkey Dance: The Rockapella Musical combines a cappella, beatboxing and martial arts in a fusion of physical musical enjoyment for all the family. Climar Productions’ Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story returns to C.


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Carbon – REVIEW

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Creative Worked Reviewed


CARBON – Oxford Brookes Fine Art Degree Show

The dynamic nature of this show is immediately present in Jessica Dickins’ iconic work that suspends three blocks of ice left to slowly melt onto the floor next to Hannah Burrows’ vivid coloured lines of wet paint physically dripping like slime from the ceiling. In the background is the sound of water swirling to create a multi-sensory experience that continues through out the show. Traditional fine art painting technique is present in the closed sleeping eyes captured by the diverse range of Katherine Summers’ brush strokes. A complete face is presented along with diamond like stars in the effervescent layers of Beth Brookes’ ‘Constellation’.

A variety of textures are seen through out the show and notably in the dirt and bone fragments photographed in Ellen Mcaleavey’s richly layered ‘In Memoriam’. Amy Dyer demonstrates ‘Technological Overload’ with a busy repetition of square shaped graphics that demand attention. The small boxes appear like pixels on a screen and have a collage quality to them.

Stepping into the accomplished installation by Holly Daizy Broughton sets off the noise of a spring coiling. Displayed on a platform are the wire coil springs of a mattress. Hanging on the wall are charcoal sketches of the coils. The unlit room lets in only grey natural light giving the work shadowy overtones. The work is inspired by the long time the Artist spent recuperating in bed from chronic illness and evokes the moods of that experience. The sense of confinement is echoed in Anne Hoxey’s intriguing film, ‘Self Contained 2’. It plays in a bell jar nearby and reveals a personal testimony about the impact of telling the truth and the difficulties of creating boundaries in open relationships. Her brutally honest magnetic work blows open the nebulous nature of self-esteem and the devastating effect of betrayal.

The personal connection art can make is shown figuratively in digital portraits by Rachel Dent in her touching ‘Gratitude to the Eternal Guard’. Her portraits are made to thank a group of people that made her feel for the first time part of a social group while playing Dungeons and Dragons.

The corridor is permeated by the sound of someone breathing whilst expressing a full body release. These echoes are from Rosamund Yip’s work in an adjacent room. Yip pulls her body along the front as a paintbrush to smudge charcoal lines and extend her arms in broad gestures to create lines in ‘Separation of Consciousness’. A video shows how she creates a wall-mounted drawing by moving herself over a sheet of white paper to draw the graphic on display. Opposite this is a tiny room taken over by Charlotte Hazell’s ‘Predetermined Perception’ in which 3D shapes appear to move towards the eye and are suspended in mid air because of the illusion created by the black and white fractal graphics that plaster the wall. This work shows the power of an image by upturning preconceived reality.

In S. R. Lawson’s 6-minute film he shows his own interaction with a robot the size of an artist’s hand-sized wooden mannequin. Lawson tweaks the robot during film as its moving body develops a life of its own and begins questions the world around it in a gripping story line. Close by on the brightly lit walls Karma Lama offers impressionistic portraits made with a heavy sepia tone that notes a bold urban style. The tones of colour used echoes dirt and the broad-brush strokes is reminiscent of an immediacy that is continuous with the experience of being homeless. Next to this are Olivia Wheatley’s textured blue canvases that use big contrasts in colour tones that generate a sculptural quality. The busy foyer area uses a notice board to display sections of personal letters written in black ink on transparent paper in Alice Preston’s moving ‘Close Reading’.

I warmed instantly to the sheer humanity and unstoppable honesty of Beth Arscotts’ installation of flesh coloured tights that hang on a wall next to a pink wig and scattered cheap make up that are placed on the floor. Entitled ‘Ecstasy Beyond Pleasure Series’, this stands next to Karin Christina Hurley’s detailed embroidery of botanical graphics stitched onto fabric.

In Sandy Cluff’s ‘Oceanic Cries’ colourful plastic waste is shaped into what looks like a beautiful sea urchin’s tail that explodes from the corner of the room. Through a draped doorway, Christine Surridge creates a softly focused film showing words dissolving and reforming as a response to loss entitled ‘When words become inmaterial’. By contrast, Danielle Clarke portrays everyday reality on a life-sized oil canvas in the piece ‘Kay in the cafe’ where the routine of studying in a cafe is immortalized. On a larger scale Orianne Pierrepoint captures elderly people in a profound thoughtful moment using fine lines and great detail in a series of black and white portraits.

A world of nature-inspired escapism is the experience that Abigail Lark’s ‘Lavender Hour’ offers using polystyrene beads underfoot as fake snow which is side lit with violet hues as soft winds blow opaque nets draped from the ceiling over the viewer. Lights from the ceiling are toned to imitate sunlight reflecting off the snow. I return three times to this virtual mountain-top and enjoy the generosity of the Artist in designing a blissful analogy of freedom inspired by T. S. Eliots poem ‘The Wasteland’.

The immersive quality of art is further represented in other work on show, including Andra Stavarache’s film and soundscape that reveals a woman treading water to stay afloat. Stavarache’s ‘Hydroself’ leaves the viewer with the note ‘we are all bodies of water’. Mariana Acevedo’s ‘Velux Book’ presents textures of nature in fine detail. The series of images includes reflections bouncing off water and movement of clouds passing. A triptych of paintings by Freddie Davies offers a darker journey through nature. The series displays blue-black inky canvasses entitled ‘The Eye of the Night.’  Nearby, Katherine Small’s textured fabrics mounted on the wall pop out at the viewer with wrinkles and a dynamic that suggests movement of the body.

In the connecting space are the dynamic multi-layered over-sized blue canvases of Sibtay Shaheed with bold text swirling on the surface. Text is used in a number of contexts through out the show. In her work, ‘Flowers’ Jasmine Stonehewer offers expansive instructions for each month. In this wall mounted collage January reads, ‘Expect a bright star. Be careful. Watch the olive tree.’ Lines of text are used by Laura Barton-Fox in a rolling digital display. Each sentence refers to inner conflicts and personal judgments that would result in a limited experience of life. The minimal installation reflects this. It is freeing to read such destructive comments openly revealed in a public setting.

The darker side of social media is explored in Emily Hawkings’ installation. A small room becomes mildly intimidating as male voices narrate their intentions by reading out their tinder statuses that are also projected onto the wall.

If the intentions of all graduates on show are to expand the viewer’s experience and enrich our personal connection then they have done this beautifully. The art world feels more spacious and expansive after engaging with these fresh ideas.


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Global Edinburgh Fringe Highlights

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Summer in Edinburgh means you can enjoy theatre from around the world.  Here are some ideas.

C Venues hosts an unprecedented dance, physical theatre and circus programme from around the world. JSLN Dance (Germany) return to C with VirtuosityDon Gnu (Denmark) present A Snowball’s Chance in Hell, and Martin Kent (Spain) performs Slipstick. From Switzerland, Vanessa Cook Dance’s Creature at C south provides a unique free-fall experience for performers and audience. Kallo Collective (Finland) perform Helga – Life of Diva Extraordinaire. Rogue Play’s Taking Flight is outdoor immersive aerial theatre for the visually-impaired, open to all, and free workshop.

Pick up Fringe Guide at your local Arts Venue, check out the listings online or pay to have one sent to you from the Fringe office.



Summer Highlights of British Theatre

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pattern-03The sun is beating down and all sorts of mixed media shows are delighting the cities.  There are dance shows made famous by TV dazzling the stages.  Tribute acts honouring American legends like Dolly Parton are thrilling people.  The contemporary dance shows filling the local Playhouses are forthright in their ability to mix media like theatrical dialogue next to acrobatic skills and yet it all makes sense.  Even though the weather is beautiful there are many good reasons to be in a darkened room with the highlights on offer in our cities.

Journeys – REVIEW

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The square canvases of Claire Wiltsher’s work accentuate the dimensions of the dramatic global scenery she captures with oil paint and mixed media.  Materials collected on her worldwide journeys are incorporated into some of the pieces to generate a 3 dimensional experience when viewed from a distance.  In exciting abstract pieces, such as ‘Spatial risks’, concentric layers of paint circle outwards to represent the dizzying dynamics of large buildings.  Circumnavigating the spherical O3 gallery, destinations such as Cuba, Belize and Kathmandu are embraced.  ‘Isolation’ and ‘Structure’ depict landscapes closer to home in the format of a small square canvas.  The Artist frequently chooses colour tones that successfully tell the story of each location.  Vivid blue hues draw down the New Zealand sky and ocean in ‘Phenomenon’. There is a feeling that the fired earth tones of Australia have been lifted from the land and onto the paintbrush in ‘Shipwrecked’.  The image of the penetrating white Mediterranean sunlight breaking down the architectural lines normally visible to the naked eye is captured in ‘Translation’; a composition of an Egyptian side street.  Oil impasto is built up to embrace the colour and energy of Nepal in ‘Memento’.  ‘Alluring Light’ of Cuba shines with gold tones and mixed media.  In contrast, other works are pure oil paintings that are notable for their predominant grey colour such as the English ‘Seascape’.  The techniques Wiltsher has honed may inspire the budding Artist to liquidate all assets, pursue global journeys and experience the colours shining through these 20 paintings.  ‘Journeys’ is certainly an exhibition to make your feet itch!


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Forgotten Voices – REVIEW

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Strangers meet over coffee in a lobby after giving interviews of their experiences of World War I in this 90 minute performance that embraces the suffering inflicted on the survivors of man’s bloodiest conflict to date.  Kitty, widowed early in life, loses the capacity to fall in love again, ‘It was all over for me.’  Colourful anecdotes of working in munitions factories where the yellow powder taints the girls’ skin yellow are told.  The ‘bevvy of beauties’ being so proud of the men at the front, push white feathers into the palms of ‘conchies’.  It is the domestic details that pull hardest on the heartstrings.  During a Music Hall number, the chanteuse starts marching around the room as everyone follows, but pauses before putting a hand on Kitty’s husband’s shoulder.  The men are lead towards a recruitment table and given the King’s shilling.  After Kitty’s husband’s brief 6 days leave he shares his fear with a relative that he may not return.  Belinda Lang plays Kitty with a soft, powerful humanity.  Matthew Kelly plays jocular Private Harris, who eventually lands a bit of luck when a piece of shrapnel lodges in his kneecap.  The hierarchy of the military is imbued in the blood of its personnel.  Harris addresses the next veteran to join the room as Sergeant, ‘I knew by looking at you.’  The well mannered reserve of the Officer who sits quietly in the corner is maintained for most of the performance.  Finally the Officer breaks down and states the unbearable truth that in 3 years the troops advanced just 8 miles and in one of his final manoeuvres he is told to flee that same ground for his life.
Towards the latter part of this social gathering, an American GI joins the group.  As Harris has it, ‘We were waiting for you!’  This new member builds on the healing potential of the reminiscence and it is patently obvious how therapeutic nostalgia can be.  The Yank tells his own tale of a Nation not knowing what they have signed up for, ready to join a fight at ground level but unprepared for trench warfare.  His unit starts off with soldiers 5 paces apart and ends the day with 100 yards separating the soldiers.  Such is the unimaginable devastation.  Cast members Steven Crossley, Rupert Frazer and Tim Woodward impeccably generate the voices of true soldiers continually evaluating life in terms of courage.  To date only three veterans live to tell their tale of the First World War.  This well-written play by director Malcolm McKay is an adaptation of Historian Max Arthur’s anthology of interviews of WWI veterans.  As a piece of theatre, the audience is a bystander in a lobby area where these reminiscences are being spoken.  The play may not overwhelm you as a graphic re-enactment of the brutal scenes surely would, but the sensitive way in which these stories are told penetrates the psyche and is highly emotive.
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On the site of Oxford Castle’s medieval Chapel, ‘Passion’ is performed telling the tale of Christ’s last days on earth. All that remains now of St George’s Chapel is the underground crypt that lies beneath the outdoor stage, supporting the show’s exuberant spirit that strengthens any faith you may have walked into the space with.  The four Gospels, as recently translated by Nicholas King SJ, are dramatised in the Passion Play, a format used originally to educate the masses about the content of the Bible. Vibrant pageants include the opening scene of Jesus throwing the money lenders out of the temple and later shielding an adulterer from being stoned, offering the advice ‘If I were you I wouldn’t want to go through that again’.  Lizzie Hopley’s comfortably humorous script accentuates the human emotions the Biblical characters face in this modern interpretation.  Mary Mother of Jesus (Caroline Devlin) wrings out every last shred of pain as she struggles to accept the unstoppable tragedy facing her only son.  Since the 13th Century, staging of these pageants draws on the talents of often hundreds of local people, making the Passion Play one of the earliest examples of community theatre.  Local Designers Lucy Wilkinson and Abby Price texture the stage with a rural finish, craft enthralling masks for the choir and source gnarled bare branches for the minimal props.  Aidan Treays’ stirring choreography makes for menacing crowd scenes, from the choir dressed in earthy tones of soil, a substance ritually spread over areas in need of purification.  The swathes of dangerous, decadent red scarves initially draped over the crowd are later swapped for pure pacified white scarves, matching the white of Jesus’ collarless shirt.  Wearing everyman clothes, Jesus offers the message that no one should get in the way of true peace as white flags are flown. However in spite of the many dazzling miracles staged to entertain the audience, the scarves do not stay white for long.
Director Charlotte Conquest and indeed the whole Creation Crew, the FOH Team lead by David Edwards, deserve an ovation for delivering a third quality show in one inclement Summer.  The unseasonal weather offers atmosphere to the text.  The sun beams a spotlight on the searing solo of the Angel of Death (Dami Olukaya) as the performance begins with the Passion people promenading in the castle courtyard.  As the Angel plays the role of Guardian Angel Gabrielle to Jesus during the show, a cold grey wind rattles when she drives the Saviour to accept his destiny. Strain is placed on the love the Disciples feel for Jesus as he appears to be just letting his crucifixion happen.  Judas stresses about the political advantages the Messiah is letting slip away from the group. But Jesus stresses ‘this is not a rebellion that is won with weapons’.  Mary Magdalen takes us on the longest emotional journey. Movingly, this woman with a colourful past is excluded from being accepted into the temple.  The actress brings an informed richness to the text and is herself an ordained minister.  Life enhancing lessons are offered for committed non-believers in equal measure.  The value of faith itself is shown by Peter, he briefly falters in his belief half way through his journey walking over water. He falls in.  The power of the show comes from the bloody crucifixion scene and the inevitable return of the red scarves. With their leader no longer present on earth, Mary Magdalen (Natalie Garrett) draws us almost to help her pray as she struggles to love and forgive.  In returning from the dead, Jesus is unflinching in his parting shot, as he instructs his troops to ‘fish for your lives’.  A subtle realisation that the word ‘Jesus’ has been barely uttered pays off in the final moments.  As Peter, played with strong integrity by Tim Crowther, asks of the leader, ‘what do we call you?’ The response is, ‘I’ll leave that up to you!’ Whatever name you assign to the spiritual source, Tom Peters is a good match as Jesus and inspires meaning in Peter Lole’s rousing musical finale of ‘Kyrie eleison’!
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Equestrian Art

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horse theatre

Monday Lunch time review…

Paintings by Neil Cawthorne and Barrie Linklater capture the dynamic speed of horses in motion whilst detailing the fine musculature of the equine species.  Scaled up sculptures by Lorne McKean portray man’s best friend such as ‘Lillie’ the Bulldog and ‘Boris’ the charismatic Great Dane. The swirling surfaces McKean finishes her sculptures with give an inner life to the subjects that greet the visitor with beady canine eyes. All work in this compact show successfully captures the essence of country life.  A hot hazy mist surrounds Linklater’s ‘A Summer Morning in the Glover’ and a steamy aura of body heat radiates off the racehorses in Cawthorne’s ‘After the Last’.  The quality of composition in the paintings is well structured particularly in Cawthorne’s ‘The Passing Storm’ as the fresh scent of new rain is palpable. Cawthorne depicts hunt scenes majestically conveying the even rhythm of the movement of the dogs in ‘Away’ and the posture of a natural leader in ‘The Huntsman’.  The entrance to the gallery displays McKean’s tall, lean sculpture of the Duke of Edinburgh executing a polo manoeuvre that adds to the regal tone of this display of fine equestrian art.  As Linklater describes the horse in the title of a painting exploring the mystery of this much-celebrated beast, here is ‘A Creature Born of Fire and Air’.


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