Travels with my Arkle

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 02:27 AM PST

Arkle casting call and 2018 Season announced

Edinburgh amateur company Arkle has put out an open call for its Spring 2018 production of Travels With My Aunt as it announces is full schedule for 2018.

David Grimes will be directing Giles Havergal’s adaptation of Graham Greene’s novel, first staged at the Glasgow Citizens in 1989. It will have a four date run, March 21 to 24 2018, at the Roxy Assembly.

During the Edinburgh Fringe 2018 Arkle will, as usual, be taking over the Royal Scots Club for a full week, running two productions early and late evenings.

Jana Doughty will direct Laugh Out Loud (Cry Quietly) by Stacie Lents, which has a “variable” cast size, while Hannah Bradley will be directing the four-handed You Remind Me of You by Matthew Capodicasa.

Auditions for Travels With My Aunt will take place on Monday 11 December 2017 at St. Mark's Unitarian Church on Castle Terrace.

Greene’s novel follows the story of mild-mannered, retired bank manager Henry Pulling, who meets his estranged Aunt Augusta at his mother’s funeral. He has no idea what changes agreeing to a simple drink will bring – and before he can even find a suitable place for the urn, or check on his beloved dahlias, Henry is whisked away by Aunt Augusta into her world of tea-leaf reading carnies, war criminals on the run, art smugglers, and one or two romantic dalliances.

Although Havergal’s adaptation features a cast of 24 (15 male, 9 female) they are portrayed by just a handful of actors who switch identities, nationalities, ages and genders. Havergal originally had four performers, Grimes has opted for five – four male and one of either gender playing Aung Augusta.

EdFringe 2018

The two fringe productions are newer and less tested shows.

Laugh Out Loud (Cry Quietly) by Stacie Lents was first performed in 2008 and has a variable cast – a minimum five (four female, one male) to a maximum of 34 (24 female, 10 male). It follows an eclectic group of NYC-dwellers as they look to the internet (where else?) to find love.

Through a series of wacky text messages and awkward dates, each person learns what they really need and what they can – and can't – tolerate in a mate. Playful and feel-good, LOL offers a touching and relatable look at the lengths we go to for love.

You Remind Me of You by Matthew Capodicasa is a four-hander (two female, two male) from 2016 and concerns face-blindness, the neurological disease “prosopagnosia” where you can’t recognise a face.

When Adele meets Vincent, a young musician with face blindness, it could not come at a worse time. She's dropped out of law school to care for her father, who after an accident is now beginning to display signs of dementia.

As their relationship develops and deepens, her father's condition begins to get worse, and suddenly Adele finds herself surrounded by people who, despite knowing her deeply, cannot recognize her.

Auditions for both the fringe shows will take place in mid April 2018, with rehearsals from June 19.

Listings and Links

Travels With My Aunt Auditions
St. Mark's Unitarian Church, 7 Castle Terrace EH1 2DP
Monday, December 11 2017. 7.30pm.
Facebook Event Page: www.facebook.com.
To register interest, request a perusal script, a copy of the sides, or to arrange an alternative audition date, please contact davidegrimes@hotmail.com. If you are interested in auditioning but cannot make the date, contact prior to the 11th to make alternative arrangements.

Travels With My Aunt Breakdown of parts:
Total parts five, comprising of four men and one part to be played by ether gender.

Four men – all playing ages considered. Each of the actors will play multiple parts of both genders and all ages. Should be comfortable with improv and quick character delineation.

Aunt Augusta – either gender – The titular Aunt. She is 74, energetic, passionate and compelling. This actor or actress will only play Aunt Augusta through out the show.

Everyone auditioning should be prepared to read multiple times in an assortment of parts.

Giles Havergal’s script for Travels With My Aunt is available on Amazon. Click the image for details:

Travels With My Aunt
Assembly Roxy, 2 Roxburgh Place, EH8 9SU
Wednesday 21 – Saturday 24 March 2018.
Daily. Times to be confirmed.

Laugh Out Loud (Cry Quietly) and You Remind Me of You
The Royal Scots Club (Venue 241), 29-31 Abercromby Place, EH3 6QE
Monday 13 – Saturday 18 August 2018
Daily. Times to be confirmed.

Arkle website: www.arkletheatre.co.uk.
Facebook: Arkle-Theatre-Company-90472754009


Posted: 29 Nov 2017 04:31 PM PST

★★★☆☆    Dangerous

Pleasance Theatre: Tue 28 Nov – Sat 2 Dec 2017
Review by Thom Dibdin

There’s a fascinating concept behind the Edinburgh University Savoy Opera Group’s production of Oliver!, at the Pleasance Theatre until Saturday evening.

The simple idea is that there is not a child performer in sight. And while it loses the glorious effect the treble voice can have on Lional Bart’s score, it allows director Erica Belton to open up the festering sore which is Victoria London and bring it to light without the sanitising sauce and saccharine more usually present.

Kathryn Salmond as Fagin. Pic Andrew Perry

Oliver! has plenty of darkness to find. It’s not just a great musical – it is a tale of child slavery, prostitution and domestic abuse. Workhouse Orphan Oliver Twist asks for more gruel and is punished by being sold to an undertaker. He escapes to London, falls in with a gang of child thieves and prostitutes, and is redeemed when a benefactor, Mr Brownlow, realises Oliver is his grandson.

Hints at the impending darkness are there in the opening Food Glorious Food. Children grow up very fast in extreme situations of starvation or poverty and there is a real malevolence between the workhouse children as they jostle for a drop of gruel, which a company of innocent school kids would find it hard to portray.

The first real sit-up-in-the-seat moment comes during I Shall Scream, when the Beadle and Widow Corney who run the workhouse are alone in her rooms. Often played as a harmless flirtation between equals – or, worse, for comic relief – it is here given a much more cutting performance by supercilious Richard Blaquiere as the predatory Beadle and Chloe Simpson as the tough widow.

In the light of the ongoing very public conversations about abuses of power in the workplace and institutionalised sexual predation, the scene becomes very different indeed to the one normally presented – and all the better for it.

rattles along at pace

Oliver’s sale to the Sowerberrys is not the most elegant staging of the scene ever created, but it works as the show rattles along at pace.

Yann Davies. Pic Andrew Perry

But when Yann Davies’s Oliver sits down in the undertaker’s floor to sing Where is Love, a shadowy dance element looms out of from among the coffins. The tragedy of his mother’s downfall – and the culpability of her father, Brownlow, in her death by throwing her out after she was raped – is played out behind him. Once again, it’s a welcome addition to the staging.

Not having children play Oliver and Dodger has other advantages. Davies’s Oliver is less of a victim than in some productions. In You’ve Got To Pick A Pocket or Two, where he is learning to pick pockets, Fagin is as condescending as usual, but the reason that Oliver fails to retrieve his handkerchief is that he has been too busy lifting several far more valuable items without Fagin noticing.

Another of Belton’s innovations is the gender-blind casting of Ashleigh More as Dodger and Kathryn Salmond as Fagin. More is light of foot and she has all Dodger’s mannerisms well covered, while her voice does the score complete justice.

Salmond’s Fagin is oily and conniving as you would expect. Fairly unremarkable, in fact, until he starts Reviewing the Situation that is. Again, the shadows of imagination come alive-  this time to illustrate the blind alleys down which his ideas of redemption take him. Without being corny about it, choreographer Kathryn Young brings another level of meaning to the stage.

soft and subtle

The number itself is a gift to a strong performer with an eye for bravura storytelling. Salmond, however, takes it down soft and subtle. Her Fagin is truly doubtful of the future while Andrew Taheny’s glistening violin solo from the pit really adds to the atmosphere.

Grace Dickson and Anna Philips. Pic Andrew Perry

Against all this extra depth, Grace Dickson has her work cut out to keep her portrayal of Nancy in the limelight. It’s Nancy’s redemption which provides one of the show’s main moral strands, a fact which Belton keeps clear, while helping Dickson make the shadow of Bill Sykes all the more sinister and violent.

Her take on It’s A fine Life is particularly well thought through. Dickson rattles along nicely, raising a great laugh with the rest of the gang. But when the lyrics turn to her own situation – mention of her bruises and life with Bill Sykes – it seams that everyone else on stage has got something better to do than listen to her.

Her voice lowers, the hubbub of background chat rises and you realise that you are watching a community choosing to look away when witness is being made to the violence in its midst.

For all its great ideas – and their splendid realisation – this is not a faultless production. It’s chief failing is a lack of preparedness – too many of the between-song acted parts feel under-rehearsed and slack. Some productions leave them out completely – but Belton’s scheme demands them and they, in turn, demand more application to detail.

The production is not without its beautiful moments, either. There’s no disguising the utter joy of Who Will Buy, no matter how desperate you make the sellers of roses, milk and knife-grinding services. As the different street-seller’s cries build up to the point where Oliver joins in, it becomes the joyful celebration of a beautiful morning, no matter what your circumstances might be.

This is a hugely political rendition of a much loved musical that is in danger of becoming stale from over-exposure. The production is not without its technical faults – and desperately needs tightening up in parts – but any true fan of Oliver! will be intrigued to find out just how far it can be taken, while still maintaining its integrity.

Running time: Two hours and 30 minutes (including one interval)
Pleasance Theatre, The Pleasance, EH8 9TL.
Tuesday 28 November – Saturday 2 December 2017
Evenings: 7.30pm; Matinee Sat: 2.30pm.
Tickets from: www.sparkseat.com.

Eusog website: www.eusog.org/oliver/.
Twitter: @EUSOG.
Facebook: @eusavoy.

The Oliver! ensemble. Pic Andrew Perry