ED FRINGE: The Addams Family, Bette Davis Ain’t for Sissies, Sweeney Todd and The Odyssey: An Epic Musical Epic

The Addams Family, Assembly Hall

The Assembly Hall looms against the skies of Edinburgh, a fascinating venue which seems perfect as the host of Andrew Lippa’s spooky musical comedyPerformed by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s incredible MA Musical Theatre students, The Addams Family is a delight from start to finish. 

Wednesday Addams has a boyfriend. A normal boyfriend. Her family are in despair. With boyfriend Lucas and family on their way for dinner at the Addams household, can Gomez and Morticia possibly save their daughter from becoming a normal, happy child? 

The cast give stellar performances throughout. Martin Murphy and Kristel Harder are particularly watchable as Gomez and Morticia whilst Andrew Perry and Cassie Muise give fantastic vocal performances as Uncle Fester and Wednesday. 

Chris Stuart-Wilson’s choreography is polished, Richard Evan’s design is atmospheric and effective. The show is performed with an impressive flair, the standard easily matching any West End production. A splendid production of a show that deserves more attention and recognition. Highly recommended.

Running until 25 August


Bette Davis Ain’t for Sissies, Assembly Rooms

Her heels echo throughout the darkened room as she makes her entrance. Her hair is pulled into a flattering formal style of pin curls and rolls, her jewellery flirting with the lighting that slowly rises before us. She’s Bette Davis and she isn’t happy. 

The year is 1939 and Bette has received her third Academy Award nomination for her performance in Dark Victory. Arriving at the Awards ceremony, she’s more than prepared to scoop up another statuette to accompany Dangerous and Jezebel, her beloved Best Actress Awards. When a newspaper boy delivers a paper into Bette’s hands, an article containing the leaked voting results reveals that Vivien Leigh has won the Best Actress Award. Outraged, Bette leaves early. Returning home, significant memories from her past float to the surface of her mind: her days on Broadway, her early screen tests, her private relationships…

As Bette Davis, Jessica Sherr gives a compelling performance. Her profile bears a striking resemblance to the star. Her eyes are, for brief moments, startlingly similar. Her Bette is youthful, bold, determined yet sensitive and vulnerable. The script (written by Sherr) is humorous and engaging, providing an extremely satisfying 60 minutes of theatre. 

Running until 24 August


Sweeney Todd, theSpace on Niddry St

Stephen Sondheim’s musical thriller is an enthralling tale of love, murder and the worst pies in London. The ‘Iolani Dramatic Players of Hawaii bring their production of Sweeney Todd to the fringe, a satisfying adaptation of Music Theatre International’s school edition.

Sondheim’s score is complex and challenging, courageously tackled by the ‘Iolani School students. Quincy Brown gives a fantastic vocal performance as Anthony and Samantha Caps is excellent as the Beggar Woman. Carson Davis’ final moments as Toby are particularly haunting. Collectively the company, acting as a Greek Chorus, are strong although vocals are not always up to scratch and transitions between scenes can be noisy and distracting.

The production may not be up to professional contemporary standards and it lacks a certain charm yet the Players succeed to tell the gruesome tale with clarity, winning several gasps from the audience as the final elements of the plot are unravelled towards the end of the show. 

Running until 7 August


The Odyssey: An Epic Musical Epic, C Venues 

Geoff Page’s musical adaptation of Homer’s epic poem is fantastically engaging: a fast-paced romp through Odysseus’ journey home from the Trojan War. His ten year journey is condensed into a performance which lasts just under two hours, slickly delivered by a young company of performers. 

The musical numbers are superb. Incredibly catchy, informative and funny, each number is as entertaining as its predecessor and performed to professional standards. Props and set are limited, an element that is warmly embraced by the company: shields double up as the opening of a cave, aptly introduced by the shield bearers’ humorous chants of “Cave! Cave! Cave!” 

The young cast are consistently brilliant. Holly Masters is outstanding as Penelope. Under the wise direction of Peter Sayer, the production shines as a wonderful and promising new musical. A must see for anyone interested in musicals of silly and superb standards. 

Running until 9 August

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