The Conductor

4 stars

Shostakovich’s composition of his seventh symphony, during the Second World War siege of Leningrad, is a fascinating story. Even more traumatic was the experience of the orchestra who eventually played the Leningrad premiere of the completed work that came to bear the city’s name. The Conductor explores these events from the perspective of Karl Eliasberg, conductor of that orchestra.

Review by Stephen Walker published on Friday 22 July | Read more

N.O.N.C.E.

5 stars

After last year’s success with TES, his reworking of Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Steve Larkin returns to the Buxton Fringe with a more personal show – recounting his year as a poet in residence at a high security prison. It follows Larkin into some dark places, physically and emotionally, personally and professionally, but ultimately reaffirms the benefits of creativity.

Review by Stephen Walker published on Thursday 21 July | Read more

Skin of the Teeth

4 stars

It is always intriguing when Buxton poet and playwright Anna Beecher brings new work to the town, most recently with the fascinating sound piece, Dog Rough. Skin of the Teeth is the first play since 2011 from Fat Content – the theatre company she founded with Rachel Lincoln and Daniel Holme – and all three are involved in this modern adaption of the Brothers Grimm fairytale, The Boy Who Went Forth to Learn to Shudder.

Review by Stephen Walker published on Monday 18 July | Read more

Jane and Lizzy

3 stars

In this interpretation of Pride and Prejudice, an actor preparing to play Lizzy Bennett in – er – an interpretation of Pride and Prejudice is interrupted by Jane Austen, who wants to revisit her most famous story. Talk about authorial intervention! As Lizzy flits between the character and the actor playing her, Jane takes her through the plot, in search of something she needs to know.

Review by Stephen Walker published on Monday 18 July | Read more

The Glummer Twins

3 stars

Having first performed together thirty years ago as the Circus of Poets – which also featured Ian McMillan – David Harmer and Ray Globe are back on stage as the Glummer Twins, billed as stand-up poetry from the beat generation. At one point Globe describes a poem as “a little nostalgia piece – which of them aren’t?!” and indeed, this is a show that looks at the world from a particular generational perspective; either looking back to the past, or recounting the incongruities of the present.

Review by Stephen Walker published on Sunday 17 July | Read more

Hidden Mother

3 stars

The Paupers Pit is bathed in red light, and a pianist is playing, welcoming us to the venue in a strong Russian accent. We’re in the most notorious nightclub in Petrograd, the Former Persons Club, where everyone’s an outsider; the glamourous Diana Demidova soon sweeps on to perform in cabaret. But something’s not quite right, as the pianist suggests to Diana that she’s not really singing in Russian. A lighting change later we’re with Diana and Leon – patients in a mental hospital which is scheduled to close, with its patients moved to care in the community.

Review by Stephen Walker published on Sunday 17 July | Read more

Theseus and the Maze of the Minotaur

3 stars

Take a venerable Greek myth, strip it back to its essence… then do it as a panto.  Well, why not?  Writer Robbie Carnegie’s idiosyncratic take on the legend of the Minotaur won’t score any points for classical accuracy, but it rates highly for both freewheeling humour and terrible puns.  If you’re willing to get into the spirit and play along, it’s an upbeat and entertaining way to start a day at the Fringe.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Friday 15 July | Read more

Absence Of Separation

2 stars

A man in his pyjamas is lying on the floor.  As he hovers between life and death, he’s visited by a tousle-haired, tartan-clad apparition – a heady mix of Jesus Christ, Neil Oliver and Braveheart.  Perhaps this is an angel, or perhaps he’s just a projection of the dying man’s fading subconscious.  But whatever his true nature, there are two things we can be sure of: he’s read a few books on philosophy, and he just can’t wait to tell us what he’s learned.

Review by Richard Stamp published on Friday 15 July | Read more

Declining The Future

3 stars

The latest production from Buxton Fringe veterans Ashrow Theatre, Declining The Future is a trio of short plays by American writer Jill Haas.  The three pieces are set centuries apart, but are loosely linked by a theme of denial – a refusal to acknowledge the evident truth about a growing crisis. 

Review by Richard Stamp published on Thursday 14 July | Read more

Romeo and Juliet Underground

4 stars

A show in Poole’s Cavern has become an almost obligatory part of the Buxton Fringe experience. It’s a safe bet, after all: a play, usually Shakespeare, in the magical surroundings of a cavern full of stalactites and stalagmites. Yet the show still has to be worthwhile, and in returning to tragedy, theatre company Butterfly have brought their strongest contribution of recent years.

Review by Stephen Walker published on Wednesday 13 July | Read more

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