Every August, thousands of culture buffs descend on Edinburgh for a month-long spectacular of everything from theatre to comedy, poetry and exhibitions. And this year, we wanted in on the action. That’s why we sent five brilliant theatre companies off to the festival to do their thing, and boy are they doing us proud.
Showcasing their talent to the world are four Hull-based companies including Middle Child, Bellow Theatre, Pub Corner Poets and Silent Uproar, along with Norwich-based Curious Directive which is debuting an innovative show commissioned by Hull 2017.
Earlier this month, Middle Child’s Marc Graham became the first winner of The Stage Edinburgh Awards 2017 for his performance in All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, the innovative piece of gig-theatre that wowed Hull crowds at The Welly Club back in June.
The Stage critic Fergus Morgan commended Marc’s performance, and said: “His is a frenzied, fearless, unconventional performance, as thrilling for its ballsy spontaneity as it is for its obvious integrity. His stunning, galvanising closing speech will stay with me for a long time.”
It was a four-star review from Telegraph theatre critic Dominic Cavendish, who said: “for 75 sweatily intense, adrenaline-pumping minutes…all the hopes and fears of the past 30 years are encapsulated in a roll-up, roll-up club-nite cabaret.”
Marc, who will return to Hull to appear in part four of our Flood series, said: “I am well and truly honoured and shocked to have received this award. Thank you so much to The Stage and everyone who has reacted so kindly.”
Elsewhere, Silent Uproar’s A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad) was given a five-star review by What’s On Stage, stating “you’ll be hard pressed to find a better musical at this year’s Fringe”. The touching show, which tackles the taboos of mental health, sold out Hull’s Fruit back in February and recently won the Kevin Spacey Foundation Artists of Choice Award in the UK Musical Theatre category.
Bellow Theatre’s Bare Skin On Briny Waters, which will be performed on 6 and 7 October at Hull Truck Theatre, has been shortlisted for the Sunday Times National Student Drama Festival (NSDF) Edinburgh Award, telling the story of two women trying to escape hardship and survive. Giving the show four stars in its review, The Stage called it a “beautiful, sensitive show” and described it as a “quietly devastating hour”.
Norwich’s curious directive is premiering Frogman at the festival. The show, which is a co-production with Hull 2017, The Deep and The Old Market, in association with Brisbane Powerhouse and The Great Barrier Reef Foundation, received a five-star review from Broadway Baby which described it as “brilliantly pitched and quietly captivating”.
Frogman was also highlighted by the Telegraph’s Mark Cavendish as one of his favourite theatre shows to see at the festival and was described as “gripping” by the Guardian’s Lyn Gardner. The show will make its way to Hull from 1 to 11 November as the finale of a nationwide tour, with ticketing and venue details yet to be announced.
Making a fantastic debut at the Fringe is Pub Corner Poets with Sad Little Man, a stand-up tragedy telling the story of a young man in shock. Written by Josh Overton, winner of The Time Playwriting Award 2015, the show was described as “a stunning, bittersweet, story” and “theatrically beautiful” by Noises Off Magazine. You can see it in Hull on 27 and 28 October at Hull Truck Theatre.
In addition to the roaring success of the #HullTakeover theatre companies, Hull-born poet Ian Winter was selected and competed in the BBC Edinburgh Fringe Poetry Slam, featuring some of the best poets on the Fringe circuit. His company A Car Load of Poets has recently finished its run as part of the Free Fringe.
Debuting her play The Ballad of Paragon Station on Monday 21 August is Hull writer Hester Arden Ullyart. The funny and intimate story focuses on four people awake in the middle of the night in a city most people think is rubbish, despite never having been. One is escaping, one is returning and two used to be lovers, making for a charming tale about a generation of millennials trying to find the everything in nothing much.
Martin Green, director of Hull 2017, said: “This is an excellent start to the Hull Takeover, with some wonderful reviews and recognition for Marc’s performance in All We Ever Wanted Was Everything. This city is a hotbed of creative talent – its exciting theatre scene is one of the reasons it was awarded UK City of Culture status. It is thrilling to see the theatre companies we are supporting in Edinburgh getting such a positive reception, from audiences and reviewers alike.”
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 runs from 2 to 28 Aug. For more information visit edfringe.com