Aug 18-19, 21-26 - Greenside @ Riddles Court
Get ready to witness a rollercoaster of emotions as our heroine navigates angst, office politics and the ultimate betrayal by her boyfriend Joe, all whilst trying to maintain her sanity. With each passing day, the tension between her and her arch-nemesis Karen reaches new heights. Join us on a hilarious journey as we watch our protagonist confront her deepest fears, explore the depths of female rage and prepare for the ultimate office showdown.
In 2021 Sarah Cameron-West debuted a twenty-minute version of ‘Karen’ and would go on to win the Velvet Smoke monologue competition. Since then ‘Karen’ has evolved into a fifty-minute one-woman show at the Fringe and it is safe to say Cameron-West will be up for even more personal and critical success in this incredible showcase of writing and acting.
Sarah Cameron-West plays the unnamed role of a thirty-something dealing with the fallout of her relationship ending at Alton Towers after four years together. As she processes the collapse of her relationship her ex Joe begins to date their shared co-worker Karen which sends her into a spiral as she seeks the advice of friends and family as she begins to rebuild her life.
Cameron-West’s character at one point recommends and quotes ‘Succession’ from writer Jesse Armstrong to a colleague and for me, Cameron-West’s work and performance reminds me of another one of his shows, ‘Peep Show’. For many years there has been talk of a ‘Peep Show’ female-focused spin-off, remake with female comedians but nothing has ever come of it. Cameron-West’s work has echoes of what made ‘Peep Show’ so iconic and how she could be that next generation. ‘Karen’ has the elements of awkwardness, introspection, and the cringe-including misadventures that ‘Peep Show’ was known for, but she infuses it with a fresh female and modern perspective on the millennial experience.
Cameron-West’s role showcases what an exciting talent she is due to her impeccable comedic timing, nuanced facial expressions, and ability to see the character's inner turmoil with such authenticity. Cameron-West has the right mixture of millennial awkwardness, social anxiety, and self-consciousness, making the character both relatable and hilariously cringe-worthy in scenes like the break-up that kicks the show off. The blend of internal and external monologues allows us to intimately connect with her struggles and anxieties.
Cameron-West performs a mixture of external and internal monologues and uses the audience in the role of her friends, co-workers and family in such an effective way. This blend gives us a brilliant insight into our lead character and allows the audience to share in and hear her inner thoughts, fears and insecurities providing us with a powerful insight into her motivations, contradictions and anxieties.
‘Karen’ explores the societal expectations, body image, career challenges, and friendship dynamics that most millennials and women will relate to. The journey our lead experiences in just fifty minutes surrounds dating, workplace confrontations, managing parents' expectations and the intricacies of female friendships. The pain and humour we feel for our lead character are such relatable situations that often take awkward and unexpected turns.
‘Karen’ provides an opportunity for audiences to delve into the nuances of our lead characters' life in a way that will resonate with a modern audience. Sarah Cameron-West marks herself as one to watch with this perfect showcase for her talent and I can’t wait to see what she does next. - Lee Hutchison
Book your tickets here > https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/karen
Steve Richards Presents: Rock'N'Roll Politics
Aug 18-26 - theSpace @ Symposium Hall
In the last full year before the general election the legendary show returns with all the latest political dramas, characters, questions and unreliable predictions. Can Starmer win? Has Sunak a path to victory? Has the SNP peaked? Can Brexit ever be done? Let's try to make sense of it all and enjoy ourselves in the era of volcanic politics. There'll be a different show every day.
In the spirit of UK politics, let me begin with a Declaration of Interests: I'm a weekly listener to Steve Richards' podcast, "Rock 'N' Roll Politics," I support him on Patreon, and I got him to sign my copy of his book (which I randomly picked up one day in a bookstore, leading me to discover him) "The Prime Ministers We Never Had: Success and Failure from Butler to Corbyn."
With that out of the way - Steve Richards is a former political journalist and current commentator, serving previously as the political editor of the New Statesman, as well as writing for various publications and newspapers throughout the decades. His encyclopedic knowledge of UK politics (as well as his skill for various imitations of politicians from the past) provide an hour of entertaining, informative, and - during the audience questions/discussions - a chance to, in his words, "solve it all." His daily show at the Fringe covers various political themes each time - the Wednesday show examined Scottish Politics, particularly the SNP First Ministers Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, as well as the future of Humza Yousaf. Richards' reflections covered the first half, whilst the audience can ask any political question under the sun to prompt further discussion. Any question can instantly cause a tangent into a previous UK leader or story about a past election, providing a fascinating look into the past and the larger political "puzzle."
This is a must show for any "political junkie" (such as myself) or anyone interested in the history, present, or future of the UK government. The seats in Symposium Hall are also the most comfortable in all of the Fringe!
Book your tickets here - https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/steve-richards-presents-rock-n-roll-politicstickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/steve-richards-presents-rock-n-roll-politics
Aug 17-19 - Greenside @ Riddles Court - Thistle Theatre
The winner of eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, told by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater through what Entertainment Weekly called, 'the most gorgeous Broadway score this decade'. Spring Awakening explores the journey from adolescence to adulthood with a poignancy and passion that is illuminating and unforgettable. The landmark musical is an electrifying fusion of morality, sexuality and rock and roll that is exhilarating audiences across the nation like no other musical in years. From the company that bought RENT in 2016.
This musical would seem a no-brainer to be performed at the Fringe. The cast from Dynamik Theatre Group show their dynamic talent in this "19th Century German play meets rock opera" musical. "Spring Awakening" is one of those shows that you've either seen before or merely heard whispered about in dark corners. Perhaps you have read headlines about "controversial play not allowed to be performed" in places around the world. There are warnings before you enter the venue, letting the audience know about scenes of a sexual violence, teenage suicide, and partial nudity. This "coming of age" tale certainly contains quite adult themes, but they are all contained in the original 1890s German play of the same name.
This show is not just about "controversy" and the exploration of the darker themes of adolescence. The cast showcase their musical talent in a variety of songs that fill the black box theater with their emotion, from plaintive cries about the mysteries of life to the frustrations of adults standing in their way. The musical itself is quite quick, even at its 1 hour 50 minutes (with interval) run time. There is not much time to dwell on each characters' tragic discoveries about growing up in a constricted, controlled community; the songs are short and snappy (though well-performed) as we quickly move on to exploring the next struggle of these teenagers being denied knowledge about the wider world around them.
If you haven't seen "Spring Awakening" yet, now is the perfect time to see what the "controversy" and mystery is all about. If you have seen it before, these performers, in all roles, provide the power and music to tell this story. The quick-paced nature of the musical can be frustrating, since further exploration of characters' stories, including some that appear in only a scene or two with what seems like a random injection of tragedy, would be interesting to develop. There is no doubt the audience will have plenty to talk about when they leave the show.
Book your tickets here - https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/spring-awakening
Violets and Vinegar
August 16-19 - The Space @ Surgeon Hall
Three women. One space. A neglected housewife, a determined party girl and a clueless teacher shamelessly expose their sexual exploits. Join us as they tell the sweet and sour story of their love lives. This character comedy is sure to make you laugh out loud. Think Alan Bennett meets Fleabag (minus the hot priest). Adapted for a modern audience, this play was originally written by David Lodge for the Carver Theatre in the 1990s.
Edinburgh’s Fringe is for many a time for lust, love and laughter and Violets and Vinegar has those in spades. This modern adaptation of David Lodge's masterpiece had me chuckling throughout. The trio of women on stage captured the attention of the audience as they each wove their individual tales that were equal parts relatable and uproarious.
The characters are brilliantly written, each representing a different facet of womanhood. The neglected housewife, the determined party girl, and the clueless teacher come together in an unexpected yet brilliant blend of stories. The housewife's narrative, in particular, struck a chord with its unapologetic exploration of societal expectations of women and sex and the toxic undercurrents that can simmer beneath the surface.
The skills of the women on stage coupled with beautiful, engaging writing allowed for the exploration of issues around sex, relationships and expectations of women with both humor and poignancy. The witty dialogues and comedic timing kept the audience engaged while touching on these deeper, thought-provoking themes.
If you're seeking an evening of laughter, introspection, and brilliant character comedy, this play is an absolute winner. Don't miss the chance to witness these women's stories unfold on stage – it's an experience that will leave you laughing, reflecting, and applauding for more! - Aoife Burke
Book your tickets here > Violets and Vinegar | Theatre | Edinburgh Festival Fringe (edfringe.com)
The Most Toast
August 19th - Hootenannies @ The Apex
Somebody in the audience will have eaten the most toast. We will find them.
In a world where serious global issues like climate breakdown, political turmoil, and technological advancements dominate our thoughts, "The Most Toast" is here to address the most pressing question of our era: Who, among us, has truly consumed the most toast? A searing look into one of the most important questions of our time, led by two of Edinburgh Fringe’s most wily detectives and hosts Ollie Horn and Katharyn Henson, this show deals with possibilities and absolutes, with numbers of slices and types of toppings. It is a show with passion, wit and heart mixed with some healthy goading of audience members and their possible childhood trauma!
With the solemnity of a Shakespearean tragedy, the hosts of the show take to the stage, demanding, nay forbidding, applause. Their furrowed brows and furiously scribbled notes on audience member transgressions and stupid questions such as, “Does bread count?”, let us know they mean business. The consumption of toast is not a trivial matter. Questions are thrown at the audience members - “How often do you eat toast?”, “But how many slices?”, “When did you eat your very first slice of toast?” “Is your childhood trauma the reason there’s been a steep decline in the amount of toast you eat?” ... The list goes on.
As audience members take turns confessing their toast habits, or lack thereof, we witness the hosts' investigative prowess in action. They employ the finest techniques of forensic analysis, such as counting the number of days in a year and multiplying that by two for audience members who insist they never take a break from toast – not even on Christmas Day!
During a time when the world is rife with uncertainties and complex ethical and moral dilemmas, "The Most Toast" serves as a beacon of clarity. After all, what's the point of AI ethics, space exploration, and a crumbling eco-system if we can't even figure out who's the reigning toast champion? Truly, the show embodies the spirit of our times, where existential crises are resolved with the pop of a toaster and some butter and jam. - Aoife Burke
Book your tickets >Hootenannies @ The Apex | Venue number 108 | Edinburgh Festival Fringe (edfringe.com)