FESTIVAL THEATRE | Reviews
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GIANT Growing-up tale brims with exuberance ●●●●● TRUMPAGEDDON Donald Trump in all of his terrible glory ●●●●●
E15 Outspoken theatre on the housing crisis packs a punch ●●●●●
David Cameron’s bedroom tax proved to be one of the most divisive policies in recent British politics. Lung Theatre’s verbatim show deals with the fallout, and the marginalised in society, focusing on a group of single mothers from Newham who fought against their eviction from social housing. The Focus E15 campaign hit the headlines in 2014, with even Russell Brand speaking up for them as they took their protest to Westminster.
This goes beyond the red tabloid headlines, to individual testimonies: a Nigerian teenager was forced to marry a man in his 40s, and so fled the family; one ‘worked for Primark and ended up earning as much as on benefits’; another was attacked by her boyfriend. There are no absolutes presented, no heroics – just ordinary voices. The nuances of the debate are tackled, the young people recognising when they were unreasonable. Across the board, the performances are excellent, full of sass, anger and hurt. Occasionally, it’s delivered with sledgehammer
unsubtlety, as with the worst excesses of Ken Loach’s filmmaking, but ultimately there is enormous compassion, a great deal of humour and some heartbreaking performances – particularly a vulnerable yet impish Bianca Stephens. This story is one that needs to be heard. (Lorna Irvine) ■ Northern Stage at Summerhall, 560 1581, until 27 Aug (not 24), 6.30pm, £11 (£9).
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TWO KITTENS AND A KID (A GAY MAN RAISING HIS INNER DIVA) One-man cabaret of a gay foster dad ●●●●●
Christopher Wilson’s autobiographical one-man cabaret is about a gay, white, suburban man fostering a black, teenage girl. Through his songs he explores questions of cultural understanding, unconditional love and compassion, while also expressing his love for Whitney Houston. Wilson is a true musical performer, with a rich voice
and warm presence that fill the stage. Challenges – learning to deal with ethnic hairdos, teenage angst and menstruation – are expressed through witty songs and monologues. The performance is impressively smooth, even to the point of slickness. This is forgivable thanks to Wilson’s impeccable storytelling skills, which allow him to combine light-hearted memories with emotional depth. Issues of mental health and addiction, for instance, are brought about in an unexpected way that is all the more impactful.
Think you’ve seen enough of Donald Trump? Well think again, as he invades the Fringe in this hysterical one-man show by satirist Simon Jay that will provoke both fits of laughter and furious debate. So, pretty much business as usual then. Trump is here to tell us about who he is, what he thinks and what he will do when he becomes President of the United States. You may not agree with everything he says and you may have one or two questions to ask about his orange face and inexplicable hair, but be warned, things are going to get interesting.
Though the show can be quite confrontational at times, with Trump demanding questions from members of the audience, there is no doubting the humour and wit of the piece, which rolls along at breakneck speed from beginning to end. It reveals a man so ridiculous and so frightening that it is hard not to get caught up in the unfolding madness.
The Human Zoo had a festival hit last year with the warped and wonderful, vaudeville-inspired fable The Girl Who Fell in Love with the Moon. Their new show Giant retains the company’s trademark theatrical exuberance that surprises and delights at every turn, but it’s a far more ambitious creation too. Tommy (a wonderfully wide-eyed Freddie Crossley) is 22, still lives with his family, and is in a dilemma as to whether he should abandon his dreams in favour of a mundane job and seeming security. Sound familiar? But rather than simply wallowing in post- university twentysomething angst, Giant fascinatingly charts how Tommy got there, who the people are who made him – and whether the mysterious noises from the attic have anything to do with it.
It’s impossible not to be swept along by the
company’s hectic, endlessly inventive theatricality – a lengthy opening sequence charting several decades through non-stop music, movement and magical transformations is especially impressive and moving. But there’s also a sense that they may be trying to shoehorn too much in – a trio of cabaret interludes end up detracting from the show’s narrative. Nevertheless, it’s a fine achievement. (David Kettle) ■ Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 29 Aug, 3.40pm, £8.50–£11 (£7.50–£10).
82 THE LIST FESTIVAL 18–29 Aug 2016
The American accent isn’t particularly strong, but Two Kittens and a Kid is a powerful performance
Jay’s central performance is energetic and engaging, bringing a larger than life character to the stage with confidence, and doing a great job of both entertaining and terrifying. (Alex Eades) ■ Sweet Grassmarket, 243 3596, until 28 Aug (not 23), 1.05pm, £8.50 (£6.50). that manages to be both entertaining and poignant, and demonstrates the ability of clever storytelling and cabaret to be funny, moving and deeply personal. (Adeline Amar) ■ theSpace on the Mile, 510 2382, until 20 Aug, 7.30pm, £8–£10 (£7–£9).