Best of Liverpool at the Edinburgh Fringe – some tips and treats


The launch of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme always leads to a flurry of pre Edinburgh previews (here’s the Guardian’s for example)….so just to add to the noise….here’s mine …with a distinctive Liverpool flavour….on account of the fact there’s some great shows with strong Liverpool connections heading North this year.

lc imageThe brilliant comedian / story teller / activist – and recently for Glasgow Tramway and the Traverse –dancer (in Birds of Paradise Purposeless Movements ) Laurence Clark has been developing his new show Independence at Unity.Independence is directed by Birds of Paradise’s Robert Softley Gale and Matt Holt .  We hosted a test preview last week – its a tale of adolescence, love and Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe watch out).  The show is genuinely cracking- an absolute must see…..especially for Virgin Trains customer care teams!!!It heads to the Assembly before returning to Unity as part of DaDa International 2016.

Talking of the Traverse Daniel Kitson’s new show Mouse ,which opened at the Everyman, is playing there throughout the festival.

hummingbird 2

HummingbirdI first got a glimpse of Independence at a Unity scratch night. Also on that bill were rapidly emerging company Tooth + Nail. Their Hummingbird scratch performance blew many of us away that night, and I’ve subsequently had the chance to see a longer version at Cornerstone where the piece has been in development. Their first show Parlour Games  has just returned from Prague Fringe Festival with a clutch of fantastic reviews and an Inspiration Award. You can catch Hummingbird as part of Unity’s pre Edinburgh mini Fest, on 23 July and then at Zoo Venues for the fringe. Highly recommended.

Ross_Sutherland_2_450_245_80_s_c1[Added Note 18 July – Due to unforseen circumstances the following show (Ross Sutherland’s Party Trap]has been postponed and wont be appearing as part of the Unity fringe festival or indeed the Edinburgh Fringe – but will be sparking into life somewhere soon…]

Also in Unity’s pre Edinburgh Festival is Ross Sutherland’s first play Party Trap. A former Liverpool resident Ross is one of those artists whose fascinating precisely because he is so difficult to categorise. A poet (shortlisted for the 2015 Art Foundation award for Poetry) – well yes of course. But also a performer, podcast producer (Imaginary Advice), and writer for radio, TV and computer games. His genre bending Standby for Tape Backup was recently seen at Liverpool’s Little Cinema and the film version won the Audience Prize at Fantastic Fest in Austin TX and Grand Jury Prize at BAFICI in Buenos Aries. Party Trap – Ross’ new show and first play (with music by the sublime Jeremy Warmsley) is a darkly comic, dystopian glimpse of Britain’s impending political future, played out between television journalist and politician, it’s at Unity pre Edinburgh mini fest 21 and 22 July before taking up residence at Edinburgh’s Summerhall.

mbd hactRoss has always been an artist interested in playing with form (Party Trap is a palindrome ) and technology.  And the creative use of technology is very much the domain of Leicester/Liverpool company Metro Boulot Dodo whose recent Out of the Darkness blitz commission transformed the Bombed Out Church.  Along with Leicester Curve and The Arc in Stockton, Unity have commissioned MBD to create Hact , which is in effect two experiences one which uses I-beacons and one that is experienced whilst wearing a VR headset.  Hact is also part of the Unity pre Edinburgh previews season (21-23 July)….no need to book, just make sure you turn up early enough to play. Hact then heads to Edinburgh, at the invitation of London’s Riverside Studios as part of their Fringe digital festival.

sean kempton at unityNot strictly a Liverpool show but I did enjoy chewing the clowning fat with Sean Kempton during the recent Physical Fest. At Fest Live he gave us a tantalising glimpse of his new show Stuff, a story about love that touches on human fragility, awkwardness and hilarity – he certainly had us all in hysterics. Stuff is Sean’s first ever Edinburgh show and is heading to the Assembly Festival.   Whilst I’m diverging from my theme can I also mention the brutal but extraordinary Live Before You Die which I saw at Pulse by Byron Vincent, it’s at The Pilgrim (Venue 100) 3pm, 6th to the 2oth of August. Pay What You Can. I bet you wont pay any less than a tenner.

jaol tayoEnough diverging. Back to my Liverpool theme! Another scratch link is Unity favourite (and Everyman writer) Tayo Aluko whose taking two shows to the fringe. There’s a return to the fringe for his phenomenally successful show about Paul Robeson (who of course was an early member of the Unity Theatre movement) – read Michael Billington’s **** review here .  But Tayo is also debuting  his new show Just An Ordinary Lawyer (which scratched at Unity alongside Tooth and Nail and Laurence Clark). It’s a show about Tunji Sowande Britain’s first Black judge, a fine singer and keen cricket lover. Finding himself stranded in the Heart of Empire, Tunji muses on Black liberation struggles worldwide.  You can support Tayo’s crowd funding campaign here, and details of his Edinburgh shows are here Call Mr Robeson and Just an Ordinary Lawyer.  Just an Ordinary Lawyer will be back in Liverpool (Playhouse Studio) in November.

naughty cornerLast in this little list, but very much not least are Naughty Corner Productions. I first saw them at Liverpool’s Lantern Theatre which is hosting it’s own new work festival in July from the 18th. Emerging from Edge Hill University, Naughty Corner’s rapid fire shows (three to date…that I’m aware of) have a raw energy and exuberance as well as being laugh out loud funny. They recently sold out Unity for two nights as they previewed Dirty Glitter and revived The Bastard Queen and Not the Horse. Genuine in yer face theatre (in their own words they bust boundaries whilst being thoroughly entertaining), they are official company in residence at The Space on the Mile, performing Dirty Glitter and Not the Horse in rep.

There ought to be a T-Shirt (or something) if you see them all! Go on dare you!



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