Ross Hepburn is BeetleJuice’d – Edinburgh Horror Festival Review

Performer: Ross Hepburn

Venue: The Banshee Labrynth, Edinburgh,

★★★★★


You’d probably expect a comedian’s debut show to be mainly about their life and the funny little moments that happen. Usually, some typical themes that we’ve all seen, heard, or experienced. With Ross Hepburn, however, you get much more – You get BeetleJuice’d.

 

Fresh off his run at the Edinburgh Fringe, Hepburn brings his first solo show to the Edinburgh Horror Festival: the perfect event for such a sensational show. BeetleJuice’d is essentially a die-hard fan appreciation extravaganza for the Tim Burton classic. With elements about his personal issues with Aspergers, Hepburn explores his fascination with BeetleJuice that started from a young age.

 

Adorned in the iconic striped suit, Hepburn bursts onto the stage akin to his hero and maintains impressively high energy throughout. The comedian masterfully weaves through the highs and lows of human emotion to control the atmosphere of the room. Even if a heckler throws a curve ball his way to disrupt the flow, Hepburn hits it right back in their face. Noteworthy is his bravery to discuss his own mental health onstage in such a candid and trustful way that demonstrates that nothing is off the table for this rising comedian. BeetleJuice’d is more than just a stand up set; it is a film analysis, self-reflection, and sing-along rolled into one entertaining spectacle.

 

His favourite film could have been one of those dull training videos found in every tragically monotonous workplace and he’d still be able to make it hilarious. If there is anyone who can bring honour to that legendary madness on stage, Ross Hepburn’s your man.

 

Future gigs by Ross Hepburn can be found on his Facebook page and on Twitter: @standupRoss.

Nosferatu’s Shadow – Edinburgh Horror Festival Review

Performer: Michael Daviot

Venue: The Banshee Labrynth, Edinburgh

★★★★★


An iconic image of German expressionism and of horror movies in general – the legendary Max Schreck and his influence is honoured by this play.

 

This monopolylogue brings Schreck (Michael Daviot) back to tell all about his career in film, before and after his iconic portrayal as Nosferatu. Amongst his own history, the impact of Nazism and war on Schreck’s own life, bring a strongly poignant undertone relating to Britain today and the steady increase of bigotry seen nowadays.

 

Daviot’s demonstration of Schreck’s acting history is flawless as he embodies the catalogue of characters fluently and transitions between them seamlessly. Even the presentation of personal qualities such as the actor’s love for his wife and of nature presents such a wondrous insight to who he was as a person. While Nosferatu’s Shadow is a lovingly excellent tribute to Schreck, it is also an outstanding demonstration of Daviot’s own talent.

 

Michael Daviot is a founding member of the Edinburgh Horror Festival. Future events held by the group can be found on their official website.

Deep Read – Edinburgh Horror Festival Review

Performers: Writers Bloc

Venue: The Banshee Labrynth, Edinburgh

★★★★★


 Writers Bloc is back with some tales to terrify!

 

After a two-year hiatus from performing, the company made a powerful return to the stage. Deep Read showcased a wonderful array of self-penned horror stories from the ensemble, all with their own variation on the theme. The group weaved through the highs and lows of emotion with their beautifully thought provoking and genuinely funny work. Deeply imaginative, intense and yet light-hearted at times – this show was a greatly entertaining highlight of the festival.

 

My only criticism: it left me wanting more!

 

Writers Bloc’s future events can be found through their Facebook page here.

Fanciful Creatures and Where to F*** Them – Edinburgh Horror Festival Review

Director: Oliver Giggins

Performers: Chris Townsend, Des O’Gorman, Rory Macleod, Helene Kostadinova

Venue: The Tron, Edinburgh

★★★


Fanciful Creatures features jibes at many characters from popular fiction that lovingly ridicules them – sometimes in the most perverted ways possible. The show took aim at many narratives such as Ghostbusters, The Exorcist and The Blair Witch Project and twisted them to their will. Although, the setback with the show is how heavily this would feature.

 

Overall, the show was hit or miss as its reliance on niche material led to some scenes being drawn out too long. There were a few interesting takes on the stories they chose but not really enough to entertain throughout. Most of the sketches seemed pretty copy and paste, relying on a very set structure that gets monotonous after seeing four or five of them. Thankfully, the company’s inclusion of original content that fits the theme was refreshing to see, specifically (and not to reveal too much) Ouija board Tinder. I’ll let you imagine the rest.

 

However, one cannot say that the comics didn’t do their best. Fanciful Creatures had a wonderful array of performers where the ensemble established their talents onstage, both together and separate. If not for these performers, the show would not have worked at all. For those who’d enjoy a raunchy take on a Harry Potter house elf, I would recommend this be for you.

Déjà Vu – Edinburgh Horror Festival Review

Performer: Maximilliano

Venue: Banshee Labyrinth, Edinburgh

★★★


 

Déjà vu: is it just a little mental sensation or an actual psychic premonition? We may never truly know but Maximiliano attempts to open his audiences’ minds to the possibility.

 

While heavily reliant on audience participation, the magic employed was impressive. The show starts off with some small tricks in order to open the audience up before delving into more extraordinary material involving mind reading and telepathy.

 

Milliano’s charm shined through as he throws in some gags with the magic. However, this was partially lost due to noise from outside the room, leaving the audience visibly distracted. Of course, this is not the performers’ fault but must be addressed for the review of the organisers to take note of the issue. It should also be noted that Miliano did extremely well to maintain focus and power through the set.

 

While the show itself wasn’t necessarily awe-inspiring, it still brought a sense of wonder that any magicians worth their salt are able to create. This combined with his natural appeal makes him one to keep an eye out for.

 

Maximiliano can be found on Facebook where his upcoming shows will be listed.

The Life of Death – Edinburgh Horror Festival Review

Performer, Writer and Director: Helene Kostadinova

Venue: Banshee Labyrinth, Edinburgh

★★★


In this debut solo show from Helene Kostadinova, Death truly becomes her.

 

This one-woman show features Death herself (Helene Kostadinova) and the many personalities that intrude on her work life. As an overworked employee of the Underworld, Death is in desperate need of a holiday and rushes to fill her quota. Along the way however, a few mishaps and untimely deaths seem certain to keep Death from getting her long deserved break.

 

The Life of Death is a fast-paced show and jam-packed full of Death’s personal anecdotes and multiple other scenarios. Unfortunately, this only made it hard to keep up with what is happening at times. Unclear transitions during such a quick show only added to the confusion. The madness surrounding the character is interesting but ultimately sacrifices structure for humour. Death’s portrayal as a manic-depressive is an intriguing concept to witness but the pacing of the show distracts from this.

 

It’s clear to see that the show is a work in progress. But, Kostadinova’s light-hearted and darkly humorous jive at the all mighty Grim Reaper has potential. Seeing Death interact with the audience was a nice touch but was more imposing rather than to elicit a response. It required a more genuine connection between audience and performer, especially for a solo piece. The character created seems to work very well for Kostadinova, but ultimately madness and clarity needs to be well balanced in order to give this show the justice it deserves.

Hero Worship – Edinburgh Fringe Review

Writer/Performer: Kenny Boyle

Venue: C Nova, Edinburgh

★★★★★


Hero Worship is a late entry to this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival but better late than never!

The show follow the life of a grown orphan who go through his life as a ‘superhero’. With a beautifully rhythmic text, we see him battle with his arch nemesis — his own inner demons.

The hero paints his ideal world on stage as comic books fly through the air, wanting to live in amongst a world of fantasy and mystery. This eventually diminishes as his problems come to light through a narrative of superhero references and blunt revelations. The monologue masterfully weaves through the highs and lows of the character and his experiences, taking the audience on an emotional rollercoaster.

Boyle’s performance is nothing less than mesmerising. He is a fearless entertainer who doesn’t hesitate one bit to venture into the dark sides of his character and to get the audience involved in the action. His presence and energy onstage is appealing and easily motivates the audience to follow and do what he says. Safe to say he is one of the best performers present at this years Fringe.

Kudos must be given to the show’s capacity to be open for all ages, especially when it deals subjects that can be extremely grim. All in all, Boyle’s self-penned show present incredibly light and hopeful analysis of the dark cloud that follows many.

Hero Worship runs until the 29th August.

Image Credit: Kenny Boyle

Clown Cabaret Scratch Night

Alice Cooper as the Official in 'Bean Counter'
Alice Cooper as the Official in ‘Bean Counter’

Venue: Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh

Date: 21st November 2015


Taking place in what seems to be a quiet part of the city of Edinburgh, the Clown Cabaret Scratch Night certainly livened up these cold wintry Saturday nights.

From philosophy to panthers to Piaf: hosts Melanie Jordan, Saras Feijoo, and Tim Licata have gathered a large variety of clowns to provide something for everyone to enjoy.

The first performances set the mood for the night – ‘Diogenes’ and ‘Mindfulness’ took real life and managed to present a ridiculous and comical side to real life by ever so slightly skewing it. Following on was Philip O’Shea’s ‘Panther’, a seemingly predictable sketch at first before he takes the audience down a very unexpected and hilarious path.

‘Vow Chicka Vow Vow’ and ‘The Loyal Liar’s were next – two very different but very funny scenes. While the former offered a more traditional side of clowning and the latter was more like a magic show/skit, both shared the ability to sweet talk the audience by including them in the pieces before knocking them out with powerful punch lines.

The second half of the night opened with Clownstepping’s own Saras Feijóo who performed ‘It’s Happening Now’ – a colourful piece that relit the space after the interval literally painted a smile on everyone’s face. The rest of the show exhibited more character-based acts: a lively resurrected Beethoven, and an Edith Piaf tribute act both generously mocked and praised the people they were pretending to be. Last but not least to be mentioned: Alice Cooper’s ‘Bean Counter’ was debatably the best on the night – perfectly messy (literally). Throughout the piece, it was impressive to see how Cooper maintained her character while being able to use every random occurrence to the performance’s advantage – keeping the audience constantly in the palm of her hand.

Overall, the hosts of the night were able to curate a fantastic selection of performers – all of which deserve kudos. Unfortunately the scratch night only takes place twice a year, but when the time comes for the next show – go! I personally promise that this will be a fantastic addition to your weekend.

Check out the Clown Cabaret’s website here for all updates and future events. They are also on Twitter: @ClownCabaretSN. Image Credit: Mihaela Bodlovic

The Alternative Vote – What Do The People Want?

Image courtesy of the BBC.
Image courtesy of the BBC.

In 2011, the United Kingdom voted in a referendum to reform general elections. What was proposed was a change from the traditional First Past The Post system to an Instant Run-off system (referred to as the Alternative Vote). With the referendum defeated by a majority of 68%, it can be said that having received only 42% turnout to the vote does not represent the majority of the UK.

There is also an argument that the referendum was poorly publicised and that the proposed changes simply left the voters confused, which strengthened the argument against reform. So let us discuss this simply without the lengthy, and equally confusing replies we can hear from politicians.

The proposed question on all ballot papers if the referendum was successful would read as follows:

“Remember—use 1, 2, 3 etc at this election—this is an election using the alternative vote system. Put the number 1 next to the name of the candidate who is your first choice (or your only choice, if you want to vote for only one candidate). You can also put the number 2 next to your second choice, 3 next to your third choice, and so on. You can mark as few or as many choices (up to the number of candidates) as you wish. Do not use the same number more than once. Put no other mark on the ballot paper, or your vote may not be counted.”

Quite long, isn’t it? Basically:

  • Number the candidates you want to win the election in numerical order (1 being most preferred, 2 being second most, so on and so forth).
  • You don’t need to number everyone – just choose who you want.
  • OBVIOUSLY don’t draw pictures of dinosaurs or cocks if you want your vote to count.

Pretty simple so far, eh? Counting all the votes up is pretty simple too. If one candidate gets the majority of 1st preferred votes, they win. If not, then there will be different rounds in order for someone to reach a majority, which goes like this:

  1. The candidate with the least amount of votes is eliminated.
  2. The votes of the eliminated candidate will then be divided up between the remaining candidates in regards to the next preference of each vote.
  3. Repeat until someone gets a majority of votes.

It’s like washing your hair: rinse away the losing candidate, lather the votes all over the others, and repeat until you’re done!

Now that AV has been explained, will there still be a demand for it 4 years on from the referendum?

I conducted my own survey giving people the option to choose who they want to elect, in any circumstance, and in order of preference. The option to only choose one candidate was also offered. The results were as follows:

1st Pref 2nd Pref 3rd Pref 4th Pref 5th Pref 6th Pref
Conservative and Unionist Party 0 1 1 0 3 3
Green Party 11 57 5 1 0 1
Labour Party 3 3 8 5 1 1
Liberal Democrats 1 1 9 5 1 0
Scottish Nationalist Party 130 12 4 1 0 0
Scottish Socialist Party 1 6 2 0 0 0
UK Independence Party 2 0 1 0 3 2

Votes rejected due to being filled out incorrectly: 4

Clearly, the SNP have won a majority in this example. However, the reason why I created the survey was to see who would actually vote for more than one candidate. Those results were as follows:

Preferences Data

The majority of voters in this example have chosen more than one party, proving a demand for it. However, there are a lot of people who still prefer one party over all others.

The only case FPTP seems to have is that it is much more simpler to understand – but then again, it’s not like we’re doing the counting! As for the cost, this could result in a reduction of the cost with ever-growing technological advances.

Wouldn’t it be better to have a system where an MP can’t get a win unless most of the people are happy to have them to represent them?

If you want to stick to just voting one person, you can! But wouldn’t it be much better to have a bigger voice? Why restrict the power of your vote when you have the chance?

While people may think that this post is four years too late, it’s never too late to learn and to campaign for change.


Thank you for reading this post. I haven’t written a political based column in a long time so just wanted to try it out again and see how it goes. If you have an opinion on anything that was discussed in this post, comment below and let me know!

 

Big thank you to Wings Over Scotland and Jazza John for sharing the survey and helping out! 

The Notebook

Robin Arthur (left) and Richard Lowdon (right) read Ágota Kristóf's novel.
Robin Arthur (left) and Richard Lowdon (right) read Ágota Kristóf’s novel.

Venue: The Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Date: 17th – 19th September 2015

Rating: 5/5


Forced Entertainment returns to Scotland – this time, with scripted dialogue! 

Running just over two hours, The Notebook features Robin Arthur and Richard Lowdon reading Ágota Kristóf’s novel of the same name. The story is about a pair of twins whom are left in the care of their cruel Grandmother during World War 2. The twins must adapt to their new life and the array of strange characters that they are surrounded by.

Sensitive subjects are no stranger to Sheffield based Forced Entertainment’s work as they delve into the twin’s experiences of abuse, assault and death. Emotion, however, is removed from the equation by the twins as they simply want to discuss the facts. But that does not mean that the audience does not experience the emotions one would feel. The sheer simplicity of the text and the image is plenty enough for the audience to experience the truth of the novel and the horrors within. The trauma experienced by the twins is effectively (and even brutally) conveyed for what it is.

In regards to the actual performance however, one can debate whether or not it is theatre or a staged reading as the stage consisted of nothing but two chairs, two bottles of water and the two performers themselves. While it would seem that Arthur and Lowdon are simply reciting the novel, there is something within their specific movements that matches the situations the twins find themselves in. Forced Entertainment powerfully demonstrate the power of the written word and of an audience’s imagination by stripping conventions down to the bare minimum to make the biggest impact.

Image Credit: Hugo Glendinning