Posts tagged "theatre"

Busty bombshells bare more than their beautiful butts

Along with the full dose of bitchiness and belly laughs, the Trolley Dollies take the audience into their confidence and a little deeper into the life of a drag queen in their new show, NON-Specific, at Gate 69.

‘Choosing’ to be a woman in a man’s world can be fabulously funny, but it is definitely not just a big joke. The new show really is fabulous and funny; it is also poignant and thought-provoking as the three brassy babes bravely reveal their more fragile side.

The moment the gorgeous Cathy Specific greets us on the red carpet we are whisked away into a world of make-believe. Three former rugby players in enormous wigs, 9 inch heels and fish net stockings make us scream with laughter and sing along loudly as they dust off some classic numbers that unite a diverse crowd. Signalling their wide appeal, groups of all ages, colours and creeds include various birthday parties (at least one 40th and a 70th) and a 40th wedding anniversary.

A tasty and generous tapas-style dinner of meats, cheeses and pates is served on a Lazy Susan on each table before the show. It is great for tucking into before the show and picking at throughout the rest of the evening. The spread on the Lazy Susan would be more than enough but the little extras (a delicious starter of lentil soup, warm bread and ice cream cones) served fresh from the kitchen by the stars themselves adds a lovely touch.

I am not sure it was the usefulness of the Lazy Susan that sold the girls on it; more likely, it was the chance to say Lazy Susan a few times during the show, a silly little pleasure which has proved irresistible to me too. Sometimes it is hard not to be silly, but I am happy to give myself a break here. (I manage to keep up the show of being grown up and serious a lot of time.)

It’s great that the girls are giving themselves a break too. Underneath the bravado and the fabulosity there are three sensitive, if gritty, souls. It is pretty brave of Cathy, Molly and Holly to let us into their dressing room and take off the masks for a while.

They switched between being the big and beautiful bombshells belting out big numbers on stage and three blokes dressed as girls sharing stories about coming out and being stung by the cruel jokes and taunts about being clowns.

This confiding in the audience never feels self-indulgent and there is plenty of bitchy banter to remind you just how tough these three are. A flow of cracking, original one-liners keeps the mood light and the laughter flowing.

The dressing room scenes have their sad moments, but it feels like these three fabulous show girls are somehow having the last laugh. Expect the show to sell out!

NON-Specific stars Brendan van Rhyn as Cathy, Rudi Jansen as Molly and writer-director Christopher Dudgeon as Holly. Additional lyrics are by Brendan van Rhyn, sound and lighting is by Chad Goldsworthy, set design is by Eddie du Plooy, wigs are by Tessa Denton and costumes by Lloyd Kandlin and Kyle Jardine. Choreography is by Sven-Eric Muller and musical direction by Melissa van der Spuy.

NON-Specific runs until July 27 with performances from Wednesday to Saturdays at 8:15pm, with recommended arrival time at 6:30pm for a warm embrace from Cathy Specific on the red carpet and dinner before the show. Cost is R520 to R599 pp and includes the show and dinner. Booking is through www.gate69.co.za or 021 0351627. PG16

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Photographs by
Nardus Engelbrecht

Very familiar and completely vreemd

How I wished I didn’t have to read the surtitles in Moedertaal. Whenever I listened to the Afrikaans words spoken by Sandra Prinsloo I understood snatches of a beautiful, lyrical Afrikaans that cannot be translated. When I heard the Afrikaans and saw the translations in English I wanted to shout out: “That is not what she said; it is definitely not what he meant!”

That’s right, I said ‘he’. Hard as it was for me to believe, a man wrote this poignant and intimate story told in a very powerfully feminine voice by Prinsloo, that grande dame of South African theatre. Familiar and vreemd indeed.

Written and directed by Nico Scheepers, Moedertaal is the third instalment in Sandra Prinsloo’s trifecta of one-woman plays that began so beautifully with Die Naaimasjien. Scheepers, who also composed the music, has been described as “one of the most exciting young theatre-makers in this country”. He and Prinsloo make a formidable pair.

Evocative, compelling narrative (even in the translated surtitles … although less so) grabs us from the beginning. ‘Almost-poetry’ that brings to mind and body the feeling of bare, dusty feet as we explore with Nellie her dead uncle’s farm. (The family has moved here after he put a gun into his mouth and pulled the trigger in a tragically familiar narrative.)

We feel the air thick with sticky, plummy smells and a sweet conspiratorial bond as she helps her dad make moonshine from the maroela fruit.

We feel the fire on our skin and our hearts break as the orchard burns down one night. Later, our hearts repaired a little, we are overcome by awkwardness when Nellie meets her life’s love as a teenager.

Their story is three-quarters familiar, populated and coloured in by many versions and vignettes of our white South African stereotypes. The rest of it we watch from a distance, sometimes amused, often horrified. This quarter is the deeply personal, unique happiness and pain that can never be shared, the private journey between two people in love, touched occasionally by a third: a parent, another lover or, most importantly, a child.

As in life, even as each of them is uniquely quirky, there is a certain familiarity to all the misfits, the loners, the nut-jobs … in Afrikaans and in English. We think we know them and fear what they might want from us, so we back off and thank the heavens we didn’t end up like that … although we can remember more than a few moments when things looked to be heading that way.

Moedertaal gives us a tiny flash of how little we know about all the others – their lives, their loves and their losses – even if it looks so familiar that we thought those dusty bare feet were our own for a minute.

Review: Moedertaal, The Fugard Studio Theatre, November 14 to December 2. Performances are Tuesdays to Fridays at 8pm and on Saturdays at 4pm and 8pm. Tickets (R130-R165), available via 021 461 4554 and Computicket

Pop in to the one and only Dias Tavern next door for pre-theatre dinner, best chicken peri peri and calamari in town, booking essential 021 465 7547

Lest we forget …

Cheers to Sarajevo, which is showing at the Alexander Bar until Saturday July 8, is one of those universal stories about people who are not supposed to fall in love. This story about a love affair between a Serbian man and a Bosnian woman during the captured and corrupt times of the Yugoslavian war feels very relevant and personal.
The show about the fine and fragile line between love and hate has us on the edge of our seats. We wince as we see what unfolds when politics goes wrong. We smart as young men and women are set against each other and sent to die in a war created by “old people sitting in coffee shops”.

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Aimee Mica Goldsmith as Mirela and Lamar Bonhomme as Slobo

This hard-hitting drama, written by Aimée Goldsmith and Lidija Marelic, feels very far away and immediately close at the same time. It is perhaps a timely reminder of the hell we in South Africa have managed to escape before … just as we seem to be mucking about on the edge of it again.
Directed by Ashleigh Harvey (Funny Girl), assisted by Sven-Eric Muller (Funny Girl, West Side story, Cabaret). Cheers to Sarajevo stars Stephen Christopher Jubber (West Side Story, Annie), as Peter; Aimee Mica Goldsmith (Warner Bros’ Blended, Othello, Equus) as Mirela; Alistair Moulton Black (King Lear, Sexual Perversity in Chicago) as Aleks; and Lamar Bonhomme (The Crown, High Rollers) as Slobo.
At Alexander Bar daily at 7pm. Tickets cost R80 if booked online https://alexanderbar.co.za/show/Cheers_to_Sarajevo/ or R120 at the door

Behind every strong woman …

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Back by popular demand: Another chance to see this lovely show.

For South Africans of a certain vintage it feels like Tannie Evita Bezuidenhout has always been there. A total maverick and kind of mumsy, she always makes us laugh and helps to recalibrate our moral compass. In The Echo of a Noise, playing at Theatre on the Bay in Camps Bay until June 18, her creator, Pieter-Dirk Uys, tells us his story behind her story.

TannieEvitaThis is a memoir, full of history and raw honesty with many a whispered secret.

Tannie Evita always made it look easy and so much fun to be a rebel, loud and proud with her wigs and her lipstick, poking fun at the absolute absurdity of apartheid. Here Uys shows us a different kind of courage as he sits alone on stage and tells us his story.

That his father was an Afrikaner who played the organ in church on Sundays is no big surprise, that his mother was a German Jew who fled Nazi Berlin more so. Of course what this means, he says, is that he is a member of both chosen people. Uys, like Tannie Evita, never misses an opportunity to poke a finger in the eye of arrogance.

Fans will love this intimate behind-the-scenes journey. Don’t expect too many riotous belly laughs, but you will likely want to lean in and listen to a story that will make you smile, giggle, murmur agreement and maybe even moisten your eyes a little.

The Echo of Noise is at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio Theatre from November 29 to December 17. Tickets via Computicket or 08619158000.

– African News Agency (ANA)

The Woman Who Would Be King

 HatshepsutThe Woman Who Would Be King (what an irresistible title!) gives a magical peek into an unequal and wildly decadent world, starting with a fantastical creation story and ending with a seemingly hopeless battle for freedom from the tyranny of sexism and inequality. Sound familiar?

But this is Ancient Egypt, a mysterious place far far from the Alexander Bar, where The Woman Who Would Be King is showing until Saturday April 30. The themes resonate with the struggles between men and women, commoners and royalty gripping our own little civilization but it is never dark or depressing.

This one-woman play, written and performed by Esosa E, is inspired by the life of Hatshepsut, the first female pharaoh. A fictional account of the  journey to the throne of this leading lady who came before Cleopatra, Nefertiti and Joan of Arc unfolds in a very entertaining 65 mins. The mixture (about 9-parts magic, 1-part history) is totally absorbing.

All characters are very skillfully played by the very sensual and gorgeous Esosa E. Beauty and talent aside, the style of going backwards and forwards is one that might drive all but the most dedicated Wimbledon fans just a little crazy.

AlexHatshepsut is known as one of the first great women in history, according to Egyptologists, but the sweeping conclusion that so many of our struggles and victories can be traced back to this story is a bit of a stretch. But, hey (presto!), why not just suspend disbelief for a moment and dream a little dream. It is the Alexander Bar after all.

Dramaturgy by Magda Romanska, direction by Wynne Bredenkamp.

 

Tickets https://alexanderbar.co.za/

Cast of superstars shine at Naledi Theatre Awards

Naledis There were lots of gasps, some sighs, plenty of laughter and even a few tears at Tuesday night’s dazzling Naledi Theatre Awards ceremony at Gold Reef City in Johannesburg.

A fabulous cast of South Africa’s most colourful characters kept the audience entertained throughout a glittering evening that also paid tribute to more than a few local legends.

There were plenty of thrills, and even some spills, with one glamorously attired award winner taking a tumble from her nine-inch heels and doing a full roll on the stage before getting up and giving her acceptance speech looking surprisingly unruffled. She will remain anonymous since, as we all know, what happens in the casino stays in the casino.

The lady in question’s graceful recovery and Jonathan Roxmouth’s copycat roll on stage soon banished any remaining anxiety. Roxmouth was a star of the night, walking away with the Best Performance in a Musical award for his captivating lead role in Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, as well as performing a genius of a number on the night.

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Gaynor Young accepts the inaugural Lesedi Spirit of Courage Award

From great recoveries to extraordinary ones: Gaynor Young appeared on stage to accept the inaugural Lesedi Spirit of Courage Award. After the ghastly accident during a production of the musical Camelot at the State Theatre in 1989 doctors hadn’t expected her to be able to live independently at all, much less to travel widely giving inspirational speeches and accepting awards.

Giving all the credit to her mother, Young said: “Courage! That is such a noble and powerful word suggesting bravery and fearlessness. I possess neither!”

“I am simply taking part in this wonderful thing called life. Like everyone, I have experienced downs as well as ups. I am unbelievably fortunate in that my life is surrounded by love. And that has made all the difference,” she said.

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The Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City

The Lyric Theatre at Gold Reef City provided a suitably smart and shiny backdrop for a star-studded audience, although Idols judge Somizi Mhlongo outshone even the dazzling surroundings with his silver suit, pink hair and luminescent talent. His camply gorgeous (or was it gorgeously camp) performance was a huge crowd pleaser.

Reminding us of another time and another dream coat, Alvon Collison, on stage to accept a lifetime achievement award, took at least one of us back more than three decades to that wonderful Joseph and his Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, in which he played what the show’s author Tim Rice described as the best Pharoah in the world.

David Kramer paid tribute to the late, great Taliep Petersen, another of Tuesday’s lifetime achievement award winners, with the help of Petersen’s sister and youngest daughter.

Fiona Ramsay won Best Lead Performance in a Play for two different plays after apparently “tying in first place with herself” for roles in Miss Dietrich Regrets and Doubt. Her co-star in Doubt, Janna Ramos-Violante, won the Best Supporting Actress award.

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High-flyer Cathy Specific was among the star-studded audience

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Up and coming theatre critic Sphelele Dludla, left, and Phakamisa Zwedala who plays ruthless gang leader Pope on Isibaya

Marking an important first, Moagi Modise’s Lepatata (director: Makhaola Ndebele) had the crowds cheering in many languages when it won the Best Ensemble category, the first Setswana play to win a major theatre award.

Another bulls-eye in terms of the zeitgeist was scored when Khayelihle Dominique Gumede was named Best Director of a Play for his vivid interpretation of the evergreen Crepuscule about love across the colour line.

Baxter Theatre’s Lara Foot walked off with a clutch of awards for Fishers of Hope: Best Production of a Play, Best Supporting Actor: Phillip Tipo Tindisa; Best Set Design: Patrick Curtis and Best Original Choreography: Grant van Ster.

Much favoured leading lady Thembi Mtshali was also honoured with the Executive Director’s Award for the vast contribution she has made over the years.

Another steady South African favourite who has tread the boards at the Baxter in the not-too-distant past, Mark Banks, was fantastic as host of the show.

Musical maestro Nataniël’s out-of-the-box After Animals took home five awards: Best Score/Arrangement/Adaptation; Best Lighting Design: Kevin Stannet; Best Sound Design: Larry Pullen; Best AV/Animation: JanHendrik Burger; and Best Costume Designer: Floris Louw.

In addition to Roxmouth’s Best Performance in a Musical award, Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street took home the award for Best Director of a Musical/Revue (Steven Stead) as well as the Joan Brickhill Award for Best Production of a Musical.

Janice Honeyman’s Sister Act also caught the eye of many, with Candida Mosoma taking Best Performance in a Musical, while Rowan Bakker won Best Musical Director and Phumi Mncayi took Best Support/Featured Performance.

Gregg Homann’s thought-provoking drama about Alan Paton, A Voice I Cannot Silence, walked away with three awards. Best Lead Performance in a Play (Male) went to Ralph Lawson, who portrayed Paton. Bright newcomer, Menzi Mkhwane, won the Brett Goldin Award for Best Newcomer/Breakthrough and Homann and Lawson won the award for Best New SA Script.

The powerful and searing one-man show, Johnny Boskak is Feeling Funny, received the Best Production: Cutting Edge nod for writer and co-director Craig Morris.

Best Production for Children (0-12) went to Shrek, The Musical JR, which was staged by Jill Girard and Keith Smith’s People’s Theatre, while Making Mandela took the honours in the Best Production for Young Audiences (13-17).

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Surprise and delight: Ladysmith Black Mambazo ended the evening on a high

Gamelihle Bovana received the award for Best Performance in a Childrens’ Theatre Production for his performance in James and the Giant Peach.

A special award, the Sophie Mcinga Emerging Voice Award, went to Thandazile ‘Sonia’ Radebe.

Just when the audience thought it couldn’t get better, the evening ended on a truly high note when the internationally renowned Ladysmith Black Mambazo appeared to accept a World Impact Award and to rock the house a capella style.

– African News Agency (ANA)

Come on down to the lab …

ImageNever mind the Rocky Horror Picture Show’s crazy cult-feeder of a storyline (Frank-N-furter, eccentric transvestite, cooks up perfect man in lab) I have a crazier one for you: Matthew Wild, director, has stewed up the whole cast for this show at Cape Town’s Fugard Theatre.

Art imitates art…

Frank-N-furter (Brendan van Rhyn) is just too perfect not to raise suspicions. He is quite the looker, very large and manly while being outrageously camp. He is just so big and juicy, he looks like he has been pumped and polished up on a slab. I doubt anyone would question me if I said those knickers of his had definitely been enhanced!

In an effort to avoid the appropriate – if a little time-consuming and probably risky – process of cooking up a proper cast, earlier productions of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, including a 20th Century Fox movie, have resorted to paying big bucks for stars who almost fit the bill.

Meat Loaf played Eddie (an earlier version of the perfect man) in the original LA run, which no doubt helped to get the bums of big hitters (including Elvis Presley) into seats. Meat Loaf is admittedly almost as good as you can get for the role of Eddie on the part-used rock star circuit. He also played Eddie in the movie, alongside Susan Sarandon’s Janet.

ImageMusicians from Procol Harum (A Whiter Shade of Pale) were roped in to pack some punch into the soundtrack.  I could go on describing alternatives to taking the time to go down to the lab and create the cast from scratch, but I won’t bore you.

Our readers will know where Call Off The Search stands on this sort of corner-cutting.

Back to the Fugard, where every single character, from Frank-N-Furter to his staff of lovably bonkers nut jobs to the perfect American nerds, Brad and Janet, is perfect.

ImageRocky is one character that Wild could have scrimped on in Cape Town. Buff, singing, dancing, blonde Mummy’s boys are in good supply in the De Waterkant area of the Mother City, but clearly no time or money was spared in cooking up this cutie either. He has clearly been “made for purpose”, like all the others.

Suffice to say that the extra 9 yards that Matthew Wild and his team have gone to have each and every character custom-made for this run at the Fugard pays off. We can only hope for the sake of the thousands of dedicated Rocky Horror fans around the world that this production has set a new standard and that there will no cutting corners again.

ImageThe Rocky Horror Picture Show sells out night after night, week after week at the Fugard (in a city of notoriously lethargic theatre-bookers). Don’t be disappointed!

Booking at Computicket. Also, make sure that at least one person in your party buys a Participation Box of streamers, rubber gloves, hooters, confetti and etc. It costs just R20 and will definitely change your experience.

PS Those weren’t the days!

In the bad old days (long before lecherous presidents building copycat Playboy Mansions), the film, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, was banned by South Africa’s apartheid government. One can only guess that the camp outrageousness was too playful for the morally corrupt old finger-waggers.

Nik Rabinowitz: the Main Act

NikRIt is not only Nik Rabinowitz’s two small children nipping at his heels. There is a pack of hungry young wolves chasing him from behind.

Cape Town comedy lovers are spoiled for choice. Memories of Loyiso Gola’s fab performance were still fresh in our minds when we joined Nik for a manic, fun-filled ride while Mark Lottering played Scrooge next door.

Nik2Only a lunatic would add another funny man to the mix (you might think).  So Nik Rabinowitz, well-known lunatic, asks Kagiso ‘KG’ Mokgadi to open for him.

WTH*, I thought. I even called out to the gods, “What is this madness?” I soon had my answer. KG came out on to the stage and told us almost immediately: “My dad is a sang … goma!”

Aha, we all know what that means. It is the metaphorical gun to the head. He had Nik Rabinowitz up against the wall.

KGBut then KG started to work his own kind of magic on us. We laughed out loud and he surely made the ancestors proud. KG might need “My dad is a sang … goma!”  to jump the queue at Mzoli’s  but he has another kind of magic to work on stage! His is definitely a name to watch.

Then Nik Rabinowitz hurtled out on to the stage and showed us that the main act is still clearly the Main Act. His manic, yet flawless, delivery left us breathless, our sides well and truly split! (Warning for the faint-hearted: he also left our ears ringing a little more than usual with all the F.ing and blinding.)

*WTH: What The Hell

Stand Up (Nik Rabinowitz with Kagiso ‘KG’ Mokgadi) is on at the Baxter Concert Hall until January 11 2014. Bookings at Computicket

A scarlet harlot at the ballet

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Pictures: Pat Bromilow-Downing

The opening dance in Cadence at Artscape made me cringe suddenly and unexpectedly. I wanted to shout: I have betrayed you! I am a scarlet woman!

My second viewing of Joshua Beamish’s KeepCover brought memories of my first viewing flooding back.

How hard I had fallen that day!

My heart fluttered and my breathing quickened. I was transformed; I was a poet when I wrote my review about this Corporeal Calligrapher.

The polished version of KeepCover, which opens the Cape Dance Company’s new show, is delightfully artistic and technically brilliant. The dancers are easily identified as individuals performing extraordinary feats, just as they are one graceful moving sculpture.

It seemed to confirm that my early crush was right on target.

Ahhh those early heady days… when I thought it would last forever!

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But then enter [stage right] Christopher L. Huggins and his Bolero! Crash, boom, bang.

You’d be forgiven for thinking I had never promised my heart to Joshua.

My review, Ballet like water for chocolate…   was a steamy love song to Christopher’s Bolero.

This sizzling ballet is the closing piece in Cadence so I knew that my confusion and shame would likely be amplified by the end of the show.

Before Bolero burned a hole in the stage I had the relative calmness of three other pieces to enjoy.

Debbie Turner’s pas de deux immediately made the theatre seem bigger than before. I felt as if I were watching an idea of the ideal: the perfect showman and woman in a glass box set high on a huge stage. They were proving what is possible with the body. No metaphorical fluffiness here. But when they were gone I wondered if they had been there at all, if this perfection was possible.

CDC is known for the dancers’ technical brilliance and it is a constant, unifying thread in Cadence, a very diverse programme.

This was my second viewing also of Bradley Shelver’s Scenes. Enjoying the work is easy, with riveting performances and choreography that calls loudly to a wide range of emotions. Understanding his powerful and complex language is harder. I am determined to see this at least one more time.

Then comes seduction by Christopher L Huggins’ Bolero.

There is no other way to describe it: it is off-the-charts sexy, absolutely sizzling … blush blush blush. I didn’t stand a chance.

By the end I could hear my heart beating and feared others might. I was a mess of guilt and confusion.

I was relieved when the shouting and clapping drew me back to reality. I was in a theatre, one of many adoring fans. There was no fear, guilt and confusion, just shouts of ‘Bravo’ and loud clapping. I am not a scarlet woman. I do not have to choose. Neither of them will ask me to marry them so I need not worry that both might. There is space in my heart for Joshua Beamish and Christopher L. Huggins, not to mention Debbie Turner and everyone at CDC and and and …

This is a sensational show, diverse and delicious.

Just for a larf…

OskarRTPMiffed that you missed the tiny private viewing of Between (written by and starring Oskar Brown) in Hout Bay?

Pissed that you couldn’t get to Edinburgh to see it at the festival?

Oskar Brown in Bring-a-thing: Oskar Brown’s stand-up storytelling.

This is what you missed…
Edinburgh: A feast of a fest

Between at EdinburghBoys, girls, straights, gays and all those between should get themselves tickets for Between at the Edinburgh Festival.

As part of a select group of people (I was there by virtue of having very good taste in friends) I saw this show at a private function in a spectacular home in Cape Town earlier this year. The show was a 40th birthday present (I told you: I might be totally unrefined but I am alone in this respect in my social set) and the crowd of nuclear scientists, concert pianists and a journalist numbered less than 20.

You might think this auspicious event was quite a lot for two boys in their underpants to live up to: a select crowd gathers for an intimate showing in a wonderful setting. You need not have worried. The star of the show was absolutely, without a doubt, hands down [loud clapping] … the show itself.

BetweenBetween has since played in Brighton and is now heading to Edinburgh, and will surely wow them there. Get yourself a ticket, you won’t be sorry!

For tickets: https://www.edfringe.com/whats-on/theatre/between

More info www.fourword.co.za

ImageThinking of the Edinburgh Festival reminds me of my own visit there three years ago, when I scribbled the following blog posting (published on an another website which has since been laid to rest).

As if you need another reason to go to Edinburgh …

Joan Mitchell at Inverleith House, at the top of Edinburgh’s Botanic Gardens. In the words of the brilliant Jackie Wullschlager, Financial Times art critic, this was the “best, most exhilarating, most affecting exhibition of paintings in Britain this summer [2010]”.

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I was visiting a schoolfriend in Edinburgh (along with two other schoolfriends) a couple of decades after we had left our tight plaits and loose floral dresses behind in Pietermaritzburg. Everything seemed, at once, familiar and strange as the four of us who had been so close 20 years before explored the city and our emotions together.

ImageIn amongst a few days wondering around gorgeous Edinburgh and seeing a few shows at the Fringe, we wandered through the gardens to the gallery at Inverleith House and were mesmerised by Joan Mitchell for hours. This was the highlight of a very lovely three days in this beautiful city.

The gallery space is beautiful, with large windows flooding the rooms with light, while allowing one to stare out on to lush, bright gardens. Staring out of a window at the manicured, almost luminous gardens sometimes provided a counterpoint, almost a relief from the work, which focuses on landscape painted from memory. I think it was more about remembered emotions than remembered vistas.

ImageWe stood, we sat and we lay down in front of the work … feeling, experiencing, dreaming. At least once I thought I could faintly hear the hissing of the heat and the energy passing through us, between us and the work, and between us and us.

We stayed with the first painting for about an hour. We talked about it and sometimes we sat in silence working through and absorbing the collisions and contradictions. At first I saw lots of chaos, confusion and anger, quite confronting stuff. But after a while a playfulness emerged and I was reassured by the still, deep blues and purples in the beyond.

That calm reverie stayed as I passed through the various rooms enjoying the light and the work. Then the last painting shocked me out of that by being absolutely and totally inaccessible to me. I could not ‘get in to it’ and felt like I was stuck outside a nightclub.

That reminded me to keep coming back with more questions, rather than think I have the answers. I asked the curator if this was his intention in any way when he chose to hang that (unfathomable) picture last. He smiled a mischievous smile and said he was glad we had engaged with the work so physically and thoroughly, and gave us a poster for our efforts.

ImageIt seemed appropriate to have spent so much time at this exhibition when I heard that the Edinburgh Festival was established in 1947 as a post-war effort to “provide a platform for the flowering of the human spirit”.

The Edinburgh Festival is a collective term for several arts and cultural festivals and events  that run simultaneously during August each year in Scotland’s capital city. Collectively they make up the largest cultural event in the world.

The Fringe attracts mostly events from the performing arts, particularly theatre and comedy, although dance and music also figure significantly.

The Fringe is enormous and fantastically varied! I am not sure that you could ever be satisfied that the research you have done is enough, but my advice is Do As Much As You Can! Once you are there you will wish you had second and third choices as new shows catch your eye and make you change your plans and others are sold out.

You can, of course, book things beforehand. We missed out on quite a few shows that caught our eye because they were sold out by the time we called the box office. We had booked a couple beforehand, but also left quite a bit of time unscheduled and followed our fancies a bit, which worked well for our group. There is an element of pot luck to the festival anyway as there is no selection committee to approve the entries. The Fringe often showcases experimental work.

We saw a few ticketed shows, which were really enjoyable, but most of our entertainment  came from walking through the town, gardens and market stalls, watching the many street performances along the Royal Mile, and just lapping up the vibe.

Laugh your heads off

The Fringe is increasingly famous for comedy. Belinda aka Sissy Hanshaw, writes:

“Next year, I have to take you guys to ‘Busting out’. Simon, Dan and I went to see the show last night and belly laughed the whole way through. These Aussie chicks took off their jackets and pranced around the stage doing various tricks etc with their boobs.  It was hilarious – they got Dan up on stage, made him take his shirt off and put a huge black bra on, which they stuffed with socks, then they started to dance and rub themselves up against him. We all had a good laugh, including Dan.”

[I am hoping Dan gets a ticket to Between.]