Edinburgh Amateurs On The Edinburgh Fringe

Aug 2 2011 | By More

Edinburgh-based amateur theatre companies appearing in the fringe

By Thom Dibdin

It’s Edinburgh’s festival, and Edinburgh’s amateur and student theatre companies aren’t about to let anyone forget, with a programme of events which would make a pretty decent festival in their own right.

As remarked in yesterday’s news of the professional companies, it was always thus. Indeed, Edinburgh People’s Theatre are credited as being one of the four Edinburgh amateur companies on the fringes of the first Edinburgh International Festival – at least in Alistair Moffat’s 1978 history: The Edinburgh Fringe.

Not that EPT are blowing their own trumpet in their own history. Their website records that the company was set up in 1943 by well known Scottish Playwright Andrew P. Wilson. “Minutes from EPT’s very first meetings between 1943 and 1946, show that at conception, the group were closely affiliated with the Labour Party, and the Co-operative Movement. The club was for workers who were not away fighting, and for service men on leave or home because of injuries.”

However, when it comes to the fringe, the archives note that while Thunder Rock was, indeed, performed in 1947 it was in October of that year, not at the fringe. A performance of Bunty Pulls The Strings is credited as playing during the fringe of 1948.

Back to the present day, and here are details of productions by Arkle Theatre Company, Big Village Theatre Company, Cathartic Connections, Edinburgh Graduate Theatre Group, Edinburgh Makars, Edinburgh People’s Theatre, Edinburgh Theatre Arts, Edinburgh University Theatre Company, Leitheatre, Mercators, Saughtonhall Drama Society, Strangetown Theatre Company and Think Outside The Box Theatre.

Arkle Theatre Company
The 39 Steps
Adapted by Patrick Barlow from the novel by John Buchan.
Family comedy.
1935. War in Europe looms. On the run for a murder he did not commit, pursued by the authorities and a nefarious network of spies (who look oddly alike), can Our Hero clear his name and save King and Country? This is Arkle’s affectionate take on Hitchcock’s 1935 film version of the Buchan classic of espionage and daring-do.
Gasp as Hannay gives the baddies the slip!
Shriek as he hangs from the Forth Bridge!!
Marvel when he solves the riddle of The 39 Steps!!!
The Broadway production of Patrick Barlow’s 2006 comic theatrical adaptation received six Tony Award nominations, winning two: Best Lighting Design and Best Sound Design. The London show winning an Olivier in 2007 and two Tony Awards in 2008.
Venue 241: The Royal Scots Club, 29-31 Abercromby Place, 15-20 August, 6.15pm (90 mins)
Website: www.arkle-theatre.com

The House of Yes
By Wendy Macleod.
A pitch black comedy unsuitable for all the family
According to Arkle: “Jackie O cordially invites you to Thanksgiving dinner. Don’t worry if you’re not thankful, none of them are. They’ve never been told no… until now. Family secrets, madness and the Kennedy Assassination. Hide the knives.”
According to the author, writing on her website: “The play started with a particular house, a house I saw in an elegant suburb of Washington, D.C. There was just something about this chic, moneyed house that made me want in. And Lesly begins the play wanting in.
“The title came from a graffiti I saw written on a bathroom wall: ‘We are living in a house of yes.’ And that made me think about Edgar Allan Poe and pornography and mostly about amorality. The play is about people that have never been said no to. It’s about an insularity I see in the upper classes, people who have cut themselves off from the rest of the world and are living by the rules they’ve invented.”
Venue 241: The Royal Scots Club, 29-31 Abercromby Place,
Date     15-20 August
8.30pm (90 mins)
Event Website: www.arkle-theatre.com

Big Village Theatre Company
Lizzy Strata
Adapted by Alistair Rutherford from Aristophanes’ Lysistrata
According to Big Village, this new adaptation of Aristophanes’ classic satire will have: “All the bawdy sexual comedy, intrigue and irreverence of Lysistrata but with an Edinburgh twist! As the battle lines in the war of the sexes are drawn there can only be one winner! ‘I’ll see youse radges in court!’ (Aristophanes).”
Venue 152: Paradise Green, St. Augustines , George IV Bridge. 8-14 August, 7.45pm (50 mins)
Website: www.bigvillage.org.uk

Cathartic Connections
Remembering Annabel
A contemporary adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s Annabel Lee
After last year’s fringe offering, Pale Moon this young Edinburgh-based company return with another ensemble production. Remembering Annabel incorporates physical theatre and textual elements along with use of multimedia and set
Cathartic Connections say: “Christopher works to evict people from their homes when they cannot keep up repayments on their mortgages. His life is mundane and ordinary, a far cry from the unpredictable and wild days of his youth with his long lost love Annabel Lee. Remembering Annabel follows Chris as he journeys from the hum-drum of everyday life into the vivid, powerful and frightening semi-reality of his unconscious to escape the unthinkable decisions he is forced to make and confront the ever present demons of his past.
“It’s a Wonderful Life meets The Godfather. Pulp Fiction meets Alice in Wonderland.”
Venue 36: theSpaces on North Bridge; 5-13 August. 3.05pm (50 mins)
Website: www.catharticconnectionstheatre.co.uk

Edinburgh Graduate Theatre Group
Antony & Cleopatra
By William Shakespeare
Staged as part of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Open Stage project, the Grads say: “One of Shakespeare’s greatest plays, this production provides a rare chance to see the tale updated to the modern day and served up in bite-sized format.
“Shakespeare’s sexiest play, Antony and Cleopatra tells a timeless tale of lovers – and countries – at war. When Antony’s wife dies, he is free to be with long-held love, Cleopatra. But his military interests dictate a different course of action. The battle – actual and emotional – rages to its dramatic and ultimately tragic conclusion.”
Venue 40: Quaker Meeting House, Victoria Street, 15-20 August, 8.15pm (85 mins).
Company website: www.egtg.co.uk

Edinburgh Makars
The Secretary Bird
By William Douglas-Home
Written in 1967, The Secretary Bird was one of Douglas-Home’s most successful comedies. Although rejected by every London manager, the tale of an upper-class love-triangle toured the regions for three years.
The Makars say: “After 12 years of seemingly happy marriage, Liz suddenly announces to her husband Hugh that she has fallen for another man and wants a divorce. Hugh seems happy to acquiesce and is willing to provide the grounds. However, the plot thickens when it becomes apparent that Hugh intends for the divorce to be settled in their marital home with his young, pretty secretary acting as correspondent!”
Venue 104: Murrayfield Parish Church Centre, Ormidale Terrace; 10-20 August (not 14) 7.30pm (120 mins)
Company website: www.edinburghmakars.com

Edinburgh People’s Theatre
The Chippit Chantie
by Victor Carin
Scots comedy, set in 1785, which takes place in the courtroom of Judge Boyd in the village of Ballindean in Fife. Jemima Tait, a villager, has had her precious chantie, a favourite of her deceased husband, smashed into many pieces. She has come to the court looking for recompense and justice only to find Judge Boyd suffering from an unfortunate fall.
The arrival of an Inspector of Courts, checking up on Judge Boyd’s individual way of administering the law, leads to him supervising the ensuing trial, much to the delight of the villagers present.
Director Joan Hunter says: “EPT is, rightly, proud to carry on our tradition of performing Scots comedy in the Fringe and this year we have a cracker! The cast have gotten (sic) stuck in to the language and the story of The Chippit Chantie so I guarantee a good laugh for the audience.
“From the more refined Inspector of the Courts to the less salubrious characters of Ballindean, we have it all in bundles in this comedy for all the family.”
Venue 17: St Peter’s Church Hall, Lutton Place; 6-20 August (Not Sun/Mon) 7.30pm; Saturday matinees on 13 & 20 (2.30pm )
Website: http://www.ept.org.uk

It Takes Four To Tango With Panto
By David Tristram
In the first of two one-act plays, Last Tango in Newington the Newington Amateur Dramatic Society is in trouble. Membership has dwindled to four and audiences aren’t much bigger. If they don’t come up with some rent money soon, they’re going to be thrown out. ‘There’s only one thing that sells tickets these days’ argues Gordon the Chairman. ‘Sex!’. In the second one-act, Last Panto in Newington, the society decides to tackle the Christmas pantomime in a similar mode, with predictably hilarious results.
Director Iain Fraser says: “These plays were written years apart by David Tristram, who decided to resurrect the local amateur dramatic group in order to give them another outing. So I’m delighted to be resurrecting this for EPT in order to give this great play a stage again.
“The hilarity is in abundance from the start and I just know the audience will pick their favourite characters right away.  Everything that can go wrong for the group does go wrong – I just hope life doesn’t imitate art in this instance!”
Venue 17 – St Peter’s Church Hall, Lutton Place, Newington; 24-27 August, 7.30pm; Saturday matinee 27 August (2.30pm) (120 mins)
Company website: http://www.ept.org.uk/

Edinburgh Theatre Arts
Moll Flanders
By Claire Luckham
Lyrics By Claire Luckham & C.G. Bond
As Performed By The Halfmoon Theatre 1986
A rousing tale of money, sex and slanders in a visually stunning adaptation of the Daniel Defoe’s classic by By Claire Luckham. Set just before the American War Of Independence it tells the life story of Moll Flanders born in Newgate Jail.
ETA say: “Since 2002, Edinburgh Theatre Arts has transformed St Ninians Hall to create magical theatre experiences, from the Forest of Dean in Blue Remembered Hills to the epic landscape of A Tale of Two Cities. We return to the classics for Claire Luckham’s original adaptation of Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders. The tale of Moll’s fortunes and misfortunes, as she travels from Newgate Gaol to Colchester to Virginia to London and back again is told in a vivid series of scenes. Using imaginative lighting and innovative staging, we bring the characters to life with clarity, atmosphere and theatrical flair.”
Venue 230: St Ninian’s Hall, Comely Bank Road; 8 – 20 August (Not Sun) 7.40pm; Sat Matinees 13 & 20, 2.30pm (150 mins)
Company website: www.edinburghtheatrearts.com

Edinburgh University Theatre Company
Remember This
EUTC say: “What do you see when you look at that photograph – what’s there or what’s behind that smile? Rifling through old photos, Nick and Helen look back over their life together. Their words unfold the stories that photos cannot tell – and even those that they would rather forget…
“Funny, authentic and ultimately heart-breaking, Remember This is a compelling piece of new writing. With a unique approach to sensory storytelling it explores the precious, fragile life of our memories in a couples quest to reclaim the truth.
“The EUTC is proud to be part of the Bedlam Fringe, a dynamic venue renowned for showcasing creativity, innovation and quality. Previous EUTC productions have garnered great acclaim, winning prestigious honours at the Fringe and beyond.”
Venue 49: Bedlam Theatre, 11b Bristo Place; 7-27 August, 12.30pm, (60 mins)
Company website: www.rememberthisbedlam.com

Bawbees And Ducats or A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Piazza
by Alan Richardson.
Richardson’s 1982 play The Comedy of the Marks has been renamed Bawbees and Ducats for this new production from Leitheatre, directed by Rik Kay. Richardson says: “should this title prove to be a draw, I will probably arrange to have the script slightly amended and re-marketed under the new title.”
Leitheatre say: “for their 29th year on the fringe, Leitheatre takes a splash of Commedia Dell’Arte, blends it with wry Scottish humour and mixes in a Venetian setting for a hilarious brew. The guests at Lucietta’s Inn are a motley collection: two Scottish exiles, a penniless Laird and his long-suffering servant, and an equally penniless multinational troupe of actors. Who will hustle who in this fast paced comedy of money and confidence trickery?
Venue 83: St Serf’s Church Hall, Clark Road/Ferry Road, 6-19 August (not Suns), 7.30pm; 20 August 2.30pm. (135 mins)
Company website: www.leitheatre.com

About Gilbert (Without  Sullivan)
The Mercators say: “Since 2002, the Mercators have showcased dramatised readings in period costume documenting the lives of famous writers like Dickens, the Brontes and Wilde. WS Gilbert’s fame rests mainly on being one half of ‘G and S’, the librettist for Sullivan’s comic operas. But Gilbert was also a popular playwright, poet, satirist and champion of authors’ rights. Our presentation, at our new Mayfield venue, includes extracts from neglected plays such as Trying a Dramatist and Charity, some tasty verse from his Bab Ballads and an extract from The Story of The Mikado, Gilbert’s own version for children.”
Venue 11: Mayfield Salisbury Church, 1a Mayfield Road; 8-13 August, 6.30pm (80 mins)
Fringe website listing:  http://www.edfringe.com

Saughtonhall Drama Society
The Continental Quilt
By Joan Greening
The winners of the 2010 Evening News Drama Awards perform this classic British farce. Saughtonhall DS say: “Events unfold in a bachelor pad where an unattached and debonair man is planning to entertain a glamorous lady. However his hopes for the evening are dashed when his philandering brother arrives, closely pursued by his brother’s irate wife. She very wisely doubts the reason her husband has given as to why he was visiting their neighbour, whilst she was away. Fortunately the bachelor pad has plenty of rooms, as a raft of increasingly bizarre visitors adds to the confusion and mayhem.”
Venue 273: Saughtonhall United Reformed Church, 87 Saughtonhall Drive,
8 – 13 August
Company website: www.saughtonhall.com/dramagroup

Strangetown Theatre Company
After You’d Gone
By Duncan Kidd
A story of the tumultuous early decades of the 20th century, told through a stash of letters. From war to heartbreak, the letters reveal that life has never been easy for a teenager.
Strangetown says: “This epic, written by Duncan Kidd, weaves together the story of two families over three decades, from the end of the World War I to the start of World War II. Bringing to life that era of world-changing events was no small undertaking for the writer or the actors. At times the cast struggled to relate to this vastly different society they are portraying, but they hope that this element of history will make the performance meaningful and revelatory. As you watch, you may come to realise that your great-grandparents were teenagers once, too, and to see how their world was shifting dramatically around them.
Venue 195: Leith on the Fringe @ Out of the Blue Drill Hall, 30-36 Dalmeny Street, 11-13 August, 5.30pm (60 mins)
Performance website: www.leithonthefringe.com/

By Tim Primrose and Sam Siggs
Strangetown say: “Gwen and Toby have a problem. Gwen and Toby have tried everything. Everything but orthodox super-dimensional retro-transcendental quasi-quantum thaumaturgy, that is.
“Strange Town returns to Remarkable Arts following last year’s success of Chow Mein as writer/director Tim Primrose and fellow writer Sam Siggs join forces to bring you their uniquely skewed brand of black comedy.
“A play about Magik. With a K.”
Venue 41: Hill Street Theatre, 19 Hill Street; 5-29 August, 9.25pm (50 mins)
Production website: www.remarkable-arts-ltd.com

Think Outside The Box Theatre
Petrol Jesus Nightmare #5 (In the time of the Messiah)
Henry Adam
Henry Adam’s play which premiered at the Traverse in 2006 is revived in a production which is performed in the basement lounge of the Metropolitan Hotel – where the audience: “will be taken into the heart of occupied territory and be left stranded alone as they literally sit in the middle of the action.”
Think Outside The Box say: “This is a very dark political and religious drama with strong biting language; the play doesn’t hold back or avoid causing controversy. The Israeli/Palestinian agenda – something which has remained in the headlines for years with recent stories relating to muslin extremism – means this play couldn’t be more relevant in the current climate. The crux of the play deals with the Christian fundamentalist view that in order to fulfil the circumstances for Jesus’ second coming, they must bring down the Mosque in Jerusalem and rebuild the original temple, with the potential of causing Armageddon.”
Venue 8, Metropolitan Hotel, 4 Picardy Place, 10-17 August, 7pm (120 mins).
Fringe website listing: www.edfringe.com



Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Irene Beaver says:

    Thanks for the publicity, Thom. As I am just Front of Housing this year, I hope to bump into you at one of the productions. My first was Art and Keira Malik’s ‘Rose’ yesterday evening. I LOVE the Festival! : )

  2. It is an honour for the Edinburgh amateur companies to be reviewed by a critic who is well respected in professional theatre. It certainly keeps us on our toes! Thanks Thom