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Review: A Trip to Edinburgh

A Trip to Edinburgh
Thursday 28th August 2015.

The plan was a simple one: see as many shows as we could before 9pm. There was no preparation – we were going to see the first show that was flyered in our direction. Just outside Waverley railway station was Angie Belcher whose show Mythical Creature was going to start in 10 minutes. Finding the Electric Circus was not an issue as it is tucked into the side of the railway station. Finding the Lizard Lounge within was more fun. After discovering a cleaning cupboard we eventually pushed on the magical orange door which led to a small room with five comfy sofas. We were on our own and we feared the worse but soon the room soon filled up.

Angie Belcher was able to tie up a conversational style of stand up comedy with her sharp observational poetry. We were given a range of topics from a love of cider, turning 50 to shopping at Aldi.  Unlike the poetry I had to study at school all of those years ago, this was material I could relate to such as the holiday photos when I was a child and the dreadful shots taken at school which still adorn my parents wall. Angie was a perfect start to our festival experience and we hope to be able to see her again.

As we left the venue we picked up a handy PBH Free Fringe brochure and we headed to Cabaret Voltaire via some of the free entertainment on the Royal Mile. The party atmosphere was intoxicating but you couldn’t move more than a few metres before a flier was thrust in your direction.

The Cabaret Voltaire served coffee but had no sugar. That small obstacle aside, it is a great venue which has a number of rooms in its basement. Dan Mitchell must have been, literally, in the coolest venue on the fringe as the air con was working overtime.  Plate Expectations is a great set from a smooth operator. Dan has a warm friendly demeanour that reminded me of Dave Allen. The humour fed the audience rather than attack them. Indeed the Tunnocks and brownies were on offer to some participants. The show started by dipping into the joys of language, in particular Dan’s native Welsh. Is the Welsh translation of Jellyfish really Cont y Mor? The show moved onto Ainsley Harriott’s suggestion that there is nothing worse than wet watercress via the audiences suggestion for the greatest Sunday dinner. The really funny hour long set flew by.

We moved onto Cowgate and we accosted by a young flyerer who was determined to see that we join the long queue to get in the Sin venue for Javier Jarquin’s Card Ninjashow. In an exhibition on extreme card manipulation we were treated to the trails of ninja. The audience participation worked well and added to the shows dynamics. It may not have been a magic card show, it was much better than that.

Next up was Phil Jupitus is Porky The Poet in Apologist Now at the Liquid Room Annexe. Phil is a wonderful force when they put a microphone in front of him. There is something about his voice which is very pleasurable and one wishes that he was still presenting the 6Music Breakfast Show. Phil is not ashamed about his left wing sensibilities as he explores topics as diverse as Blair, Boris and Farage in his poetry. He reveals how he feels about family from his estranged Irish Dad to his daughter putting up with the weekend rabble as she studies in Amsterdam. Most memorable was his extensive work about his first gig when he saw Blondie and to the 10 line  poems using Fringe show titles. The sharp wit and repartee made for an absorbing show.

The final show for us was back at Cabaret Voltaire. Orlando Baxter is an experienced teacher from the USand his show Glorified Babysitterexplored the crazy events that teachers face. It is no surprise that kids in the USare similar to those in the UKwith their “unique” issues and behaviours. The stand up routine included kids who get thrown out of class because they’re in pyjamas or because they keep making cat noises. Fire alarms and splitting up fights happen in the UK, perhaps lock downs (if a gun man, for example, attacks) are not. Next time you hear a teacher ask “what do you think?” you’ll know it is code for “I don’t actually know the answer.” Orlandois a personable chap and it is clear how his people skills will have worked well in the classroom. Glorified Babysitter is a distinctive comedy show that’s full of laughs.

We had succeeded in seeing five great shows in just a single day’s visit. As a family taster of Fringe, it only whetted our appetite to do more fringe shows next year if we can find some suitably priced accommodation. To those who put on the other 3309 shows (weblink to EdFringe news story) that we didn’t see then we can only apologise for missing you out and encourage you to visit the North East soon so we can see you in action. Drop us a line and we’ll do a preview/review of your show.

This review was written by Stephen Oliver for the North East Theatre Guide from Jowheretogo PR ( Follow Jo on twitter @jowheretogo, Stephen @panic_c_button or like Jowheretogo on Facebook

News: Edinburgh Fringe Success


After 50,459 performances of 3,314 shows in 313 venues across Edinburgh, the curtain falls and the house lights go up on the 2015 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Photo: Stephen Oliver for
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society has announced that by Monday afternoon, with hundreds of performances still to take place, an estimated 2,298,090 tickets had been issued for shows across Scotland’s capital. The number of tickets issued reflects a 5.24% increase in comparison to tickets issued by the same point last year. 

Kath M Mainland CBE, Chief Executive of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society said:  “As this year’s Fringe draws to a close we can reflect on what a spectacular success it has been. Once again artists and audiences have travelled from across the globe to be a part of this unique cultural event. And with an estimated 2,298,090 tickets issued and many thousands of people attending the 800 free shows in the programme, I’ve no doubt every single person who watched a Fringe show, or experienced this wonderful festival city, will take away unforgettable memories. 

“With incredible talent from 49 countries from all over the world taking part this year, the Fringe has once again demonstrated itself to be both truly international and profoundly Scottish.  The 2015 season has firmly cemented Edinburgh’s reputation as the world’s leading festival city. “

Fringe Society Chair, Sir Tim O’Shea added: “On behalf of everyone who visited and enjoyed this year’s Fringe, I would like to thank all the creative souls, both onstage and backstage, who brought their work here. Their courage, creativity and sheer hard work is unrivalled anywhere in the world, and without them, the Fringe simply wouldn’t be possible.”

Fiona Hyslop MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europeand External Affairs added:  “This has been another incredible year for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The festival continues to evolve and work with the city to expand and offer more and more to audiences from across the world. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe demonstrates the innovative spirit that makes Scottish culture so vibrant.”

One new initiative this year was a scheme launched by the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society, in collaboration with the City of Edinburgh Council and Virgin Money aimed at providing complimentary tickets to Fringe shows for children and young people who are being cared for by City of Edinburgh Council. The project called Access Fringe – Looked After Children made £173,172.00 worth of tickets from 233 shows in 38 venues available to children and young people whose circumstances would not normally allow them to participate in cultural activity. Access Fringe – Looked After Children is a part of the Fringe Society’s commitment to making the Fringe accessible to all and is one of a series of initiatives over the years to come to tackle the physical, economic, social and geographic barriers that prevent people from participating.

Other highlights in 2015 included the participation of a total of fourteen new venues across the city. These included the return of the famous St. Stephen’s Church in Stockbridge under the banner of Momentum Venues, Underbelly launching their Circus Hub on the Meadows in the city’s southside and SpaceUK debuting a new three floor venue called SpaceTriplex in The Prince Philip Building on Hill Place.

The Fringe Society unveiled two new commercial partnerships in 2015; with Airbnb and the Caledonian Sleeper. Both these relationships offered new opportunities for Fringe participants and audiences.

The Royal Mail celebrated this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe by issuing a special postmark, applied to stamped UK mail from 07-31 August. Royal Mail’s postmarks are reserved for special occasions and are used to recognise significant events, historical anniversaries or support of charity. It was the first time in the Royal Mail’s 500 year history that a festival has been featured on a postmark.

Award-winning comedian and theatre-maker Bryony Kimmings delivered the 2015 Fringe Central Welcome Address to participants, organised by the Edinburgh Festival Fringe Society. The welcome address, designed to welcome and inspire participants, was attended by a record number of people. Bryony Kimmings, an Associate Artist at Soho Theatre and a Fringe participant herself, encouraged participants to take advantage of over 85 free events hosted throughout August, to help develop performance skills, expand networks and advance careers. 

A wide range of awards were on offer throughout the festival organised by a range of organisations. Euan’s Guide, the disabled access review website launched their Fringe awards, acknowledging a show and a venue for their outstanding efforts to include disabled audiences at this year’s Fringe.
And the awards went to… 
Allen Wright Award
Winner – Griselda Murray Brown
Special Commendation – Holly Williams
Special Commendation – George Sully

Amused Moose Comedy Awards
Winner: Richard Gadd - Waiting for Gaddot (Banshee Labyrinth)
People’s Champion: Jess Robinson - The Rise of Mighty Voice (Pleasance)

The Asian Arts Awards
Winner - Best Production: The Cherry Orchard: Beyond the Truth – Theater Margot (Korea) (C Venues)
Winner - Best Directing: Ms. Shubhra Bhardwaj – 
Ticket to Bollywood – Ferriswheel Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. (New Town Theatre)

Brighton Fringe Award for Excellence in association with Sweet Venues
Winner: Police Cops – This Theatre – Zoo Venues

The Broadway Baby Bobby Award
Winners: Captain Morgan 1: The Sands of Time and Captain Morgan 2: The Sea of Souls – Ben Behrens / Tap Tap Theatre (Pleasance)
Richard III – Brite Theatre – Just Festival
Luke McQueen: Double Act – Luke McQueen / The Invisible Dot Ltd. (Pleasance)

Carol Tambor Best of EdinburghAward
Winner: Key Change – Open Clasp Theatre Company in association with Live Theatre (Summerhall)

Dave’s Funniest Joke of the Fringe
Darren Walsh (Pleasance)

Edinburgh Comedy Poster Awards
Panel Prize: Tom Parry – Yellow Tshirt (Just the Tonic)
Audience Award: Michael Stranney & Olaf Falafel – Expect the Unexporcupine (Cowgatehead)

Euan’s Guide Accessible Fringe Awards
Winner: The Solid Life of Sugar Water (Pleasance)
Runner Up: Wendy Hoose by Johnny McKnight (Assembly Rooms)
Accessible Venue Award: Dance Base

The Foster’s Edinburgh Comedy Awards
Best Comedy Show – Sam Simmons – Spaghetti for Breakfast (Underbelly)
Best Newcomer – Sofie Hagen – Bubblewrap (Liquid Room Annexe)
Panel Prize – Karen Koren

Fringe Review Outstanding Theatre Awards
The Frantic Canticles of Little Brother Fish (Bedlam Theatre)
Pip Utton…Playing Maggie (Assembly Rooms)

2015 Fringe Sustainable Practice Award
Lungs (Summerhall)

The Herald Angel Award
Winners - Week 1
Correction (Zoo Venues)
Fake it till you Make it (Traverse Theatre)
Little Devil Award: The artists and facilitators of Underbelly Circus Hub

Winners - Week 2
Penny Arcade: Longing Lasts Longer (Underbelly)
Aceh Meukondore (C Venues)

Winners – Week 3
Herald Archangel Award: Maureen Beattie for The Jennifer Tremblay Trilogy  (Assembly Festival)
Herald Angel Award: Cathal McConnell
Little Devil Award:
Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour (Traverse Theatre)

Holden Street Theatres Award
A Gambler’s Guide to Dying (Traverse Theatre)
Labels (Pleasance)

The Malcom Hardee Awards
Comic Originality – Michael Brunstrom
Cunning Stunt Award – Matt Roper
Act Most likely to make a million quid – Laurence Owen
The Scottish Arts Club Award for Best Scottish Play
Swallow – Stef Smith (Traverse Theatre)

The Scotsman Fringe First Awards
Winners - Week 1
A Gambler’s Guide to Dying(Traverse Theatre)
Going Viral  (Summerhall)
The Christians(Traverse Theatre)
Swallow  (Traverse Theatre)
The Deliverance (Assembly Festival)
Underneath (Dance Base)
The History of the World Through Banalities (Summerhall)

Winners - Week 2
Light Boxes(Summerhall)
Raz (Assembly Festival)
Citizen Puppet (Pleasance)
Labels (Pleasance)
Tar Baby  (Gilded Balloon)
Trans Scripts (Pleasance)

Winners - Week 3
A Girl is a Half-formed Thing by Eimear McBride (Traverse Theatre)
Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour (Traverse Theatre)
Penny Arcade: Longing Lasts Longer (Underbelly)
What I Learned From Johnny Bevan (Summerhall)
A Reason to Talk (Summerhall)
Primary Times Children’s Choice Award
The Voice Thief (Summerhall)

So You Think You’re Funny?
Luca Cupani: Still Falling (Heroes @ Bob's Blundabus)

The Stage Awards for Acting Excellence 
Winners - Week 1
Molly Vevers – 
Ross and Rachel(Assembly Festival)
Aoife Duffin – 
A Girl Is A Half-Formed Thing(Traverse Theatre)

Winners - Week 2
Andy Gray – Willie & Sabastian (Gilded Balloon)
Sean Michael Verey – Tonight with Donny Stixx(Pleasance)
Pip Utton…Playing Maggie (Assembly Rooms)

Winners - Week 3
Ensemble from Police Cops – This Theatre (Zoo Venues)
Maureen Beattie – The Jennifer Tremblay Trilogy  (Assembly Festival)
Ensemble from UKIP! The Musical  (theSpaceUK)
Lizzie Clarke – Molly  (Pleasance)
Ensemble from Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour (Traverse Theatre)

Total Theatre Awards

Emerging Company/Artist: The Beanfield (theSpaceUK)
Physical/Visual Theatre:
Oog  (Dance Base)
Innovation/Experimentation & Playing with Form:
Can I Start Again Please(Summerhall)
Portraits In Motion (Summerhall)
Total Theatre & The Place Award for Dance:
Vertical Influences (Assembly Festival)
Total Theatre & Jacksons Lane Award for Circus:
B-Orders(Underbelly) and
Smoke and Mirrors (Assembly Festival)

Preview: The Cinder Path at South Shields Customs House

World Premiere of Cookson Classic

The Cinder Path
South Shields Customs House
Wednesday 9thto Saturday 12th September 2015.

A top South Tyneside theatre producer will be celebrating his tenth anniversary by presenting the world premiere of Catherine Cookson’s The Cinder Path.

The show is the first book of the late author’s to be adapted for the stage in over 20 years and was only granted after months of negotiations with the Cookson Estate.

Gareth Hunter, 35, director of ION Productions said “The process was long and detailed but ultimately the success and critical acclaim of our production of The Fifteen Streets last year convinced them to allow us the exclusive rights.

The Cinder Path is a fantastic drama which spans the years and follows the life of Charlie Macfell, a man in search of himself but being driven by outside forces, which will carry the audiences from rural Northumberland to the horror of the trenches in World War One.”

Dame Catherine Cookson was, at her prime, the UK’s most widely read novelist with sales exceeding 100 million, and remained the most borrowed author from public libraries for 17 years, losing the title only in 2002, 4 years after her death.

She remains popular all over the world, with generations of readers enjoying her work. Gareth added: “Since posting our promotional photos on Facebook I have had messages from people around the UK, as well as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States, asking if the show will be touring near them in the future.”

The production will feature some established North East actors such as Jamie Brown (Hadaway Harry, Death at Dawn), James Hedley (Geordie the Musical, Byker Grove) and Paul Dunn (I Left My Heart in Roker Park), who has also adapted the book for the stage. It also sees new faces with Georgina Nicholson, Rosie Fox and Anna Nicholson returning to the area.

The Cinder Path runs from Wednesday 9th to Saturday 12th September 2015 at the Customs House with matinees on the 10thand 12th. For tickets contact The Customs House on 0191 4541234 or visit

Promo photography by George Knox (weblink)


News: 2015/2016 Whitley Bay Playhouse Brochure is here!

The 2015/2016 Whitley Bay Playhouse Brochure is here!

The the new Whitley Bay Playhouse online Brochure has been released – hard copies will be dropping on doormats early September.  The new  ‘What’s On’ edition has a whole host of brilliant forthcoming events inside. From a Britain’s Got Talent Winner to local punk rock, they all come alive on the stage at the PLAYHOUSE Whitley Bay A copy can be viewed here.

Highlights include the Ocean Film Festival World Tourwhere all can immerse themselves in the big blue without getting wet on Friday 25th September. NETG PREVIEW. Or if comedy is more your thing, we have fantastic stand up from Sean Kelly, on Saturday 26th September, who you may recognise as the stand out star of the hit TV show, Storage Hunters NETG PREVIEW. For our loyal dance enthusiasts Moscow  Ballet La Classique return with the ultimate fairy tale ballet, Swan Lake on Tuesday 20th October. NETG PREVIEW

The autumn season brings a diverse range of music talent, with The Lindisfarne Story, featuring Billy Mitchell and Ray Laidlaw on Sunday 4thOctober, the last show sold out so you are advised to get your tickets quick! Staying on a local theme, North Tyneside Council present Seaside Special:  Penetration & The Middens for punk fans on Friday 16th October. Returning for another year on Saturday 17th October, Roy Orbison & Friendswill pay tribute to the music giant, with support from Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis and Dusty Springfield tributes! 

We are delighted to host Britain’s Got Talent winner Paul Potts Live In Concert on Thursday 22nd OctoberNETG PREVIEW. A PLAYHOUSE favourite That’ll Be The Day: 30thAnniversary Show swings into town for their special birthday show on Friday 23rd October.

December brings the most wonderful time of the year and we have the greatest pantomime of all – Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs! Running from Thursday 10th December to Sunday 3rd January 2016, there is a performance time to suit all. Turn to page 11 in the brochure to see the cast revealed in their dramatic costumes.NETG PREVIEW

Thank you again for your continued support and we look forward to seeing you soon at the PLAYHOUSE.

Tickets are available from the Box Office open Monday – Friday 10am – 4pm, Saturday 10.30am-2.30pm plus until show start on event days. Tickets can also be purchased on the booking hotline 0844 248 1588 or online at