Reviews by Kevin Short & Kathryn S Kraus 

Sadly, it has not been possible to get to Edinburgh this year, so we have reviewed a few of the Online offerings. Many apologies to performers and companies who have written to us, and we’re sorry not to be able to cover some of your shows.

Reviewer: Kathryn S Kraus

Presented by: Kime Media & Out of Hand Theatre, Atlanta, GA
Directed by: Haddon Kime 2023 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Online 

Breathe in… breathe out. It’s simple. Humans do it 22,000 times per day. However, during the Covid-19 pandemic, we needed to be reminded to use that action to give pause to the insanity that was happening around us. Through song, LAG: A ZOOMSICAL provides us with a glimpse into the mania of 2020. Minka Wiltz, as the facilitator, leads us through a virtual meditation class. Participants, Trevor Rayshay Perry, Ryhn (Saver) McLemore, and Googie Uterhardt, sing their frustrations and anxieties about the state of their world. Lack of toilet paper, being locked inside with your family 24/7, mask wearing, are some of the subjects covered in this 10-minute sensation. The piece is wonderfully put together, and well thought out. Brilliant voices add to this successful performance. Bravo to Haddon Kime, writer, composer, lyricist, director, and innovator of one of the first musicals performed in a Zoom environment. Magical piece!

Link to watch: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/lag-a-zoomsical

Reviewer: Kevin Short


Created by Tempest Theatre Company, New Zealand
Written and performed by Emma Maguire 2023 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Online

This rather unique piece is nothing less than intriguing. A journey through a future post-apocalyptic wasteland with the ‘Wanderer’. The ever-changing story can be chosen to suit your mood, there is ‘The Short Road’ or ‘The Long Road’. I mistakenly chose the short route, and later tried the long version which I wish I had chosen first. The longer choice makes clearer the analogy of how the disabled and chronic sufferers of invisible ailments circumnavigate an ever-changing unrelenting go-no-go world. Along with the Wanderer we try to complete the journey to find the Seer, who we believe knows the way out of the wastelands. Then, there is Tom, who is in search of the Wanderers, leaving messages to the partner he has left, which suggests an eternity of waiting, or searching, hoping or praying for darkness to become light, and the Seer of knowledge to reveal itself.  Emma Maguire’s voice in the wilderness is a constant hypnotic reminder of the parallel universe of disabled souls who are forgotten in this modern-day labyrinth.

Link to watch: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/your-body-is-a-wasteland


Reviewer: Kathryn S Kraus

Presented by: Snap-Elastic Written by: Luke Sutherland
Directed by: Eszter Marsalko 2023 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Online 

Intrigued by the story description of “consensual cannibalism,” I decided to dive headfirst into the dark waters of Eat Me. Of course, many will be familiar with the serial killer/cannibal musical, Sweeney Todd, but Eat Me is less about the act of cannibalism and more about the psychological reasons behind the decision to ask someone to literally eat them. Captured on stage at Perth Theatre, Scotland, the journey follows three characters, Prey – Claire Eliza Willoughby, Predator – Isy Sharman, and The Man – Ian Cameron. Prey feels unnoticed and unappreciated at work, while living a solitary life at home. The Man is an opportunistic voyeur, who has spent hours spying on Prey with his telescope. He is witness to Prey’s longing for connection, longing for the intimacy of another human being. The Man will help bring Predator and Prey together for a connection that will transverse the boundaries of physical love into the ultimate carnal consummation. Through its creative use of lighting, sound, and movement, Eat Me envelops you deep into its psychological web. It’s a gripping piece of theatre that cuts to the core of the need to be loved.

Link to watch: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/eat-me

Reviewer: Kevin Short 


Written/Directed/Performed by: Various Artists
Presented by: Insights Platforms 2023 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Online 

Insights Platforms launched their initiative to help graduates of the performing arts in 2009. The first Platform was at Fringe 2010, since when they’ve presented in several UK cities and worked with many international artists. InsightsDigital comprises of 7 short pieces from around the world. 1st, from Sweden: ‘New Self’ written and performed by Kristina Hanses (aka KEJH) is a beautiful calming dance on the water’s edge, danced to an equally calming yet thought-provoking song. Both movement and music portray the sadness of human loss. The video brilliantly captures the human spirit as the shadow in the water escapes its human counterpart only to be reunited for the final agonizing cry. Then, come 6 more diverse pieces from Malcolm Sutherland, Mimi Harmer, Clodagh Delahunty-Forrest, Anna Hulth, Angeliki Nicolopoulou, Tomo Sone. I recommend you see the diversity of experimental work on display here. A reminder of what fringe used to be all about.

Link to watch: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/insightsdigital


Reviewer: Kathryn S Kraus

Group: Monica Tolia, in collaboration with Ting-ning Wen Written by: Monica Tolia & Shao Ying Fong 2023 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Online

Typically, the snake represents evil and betrayal, but in the Chinese culture it is the symbol of wisdom and kindness. Though the opening narration (transcribed from declining dialect of Toisanese) is difficult to understand, the story is ultimately successfully told through the visual presentation by Tolia and Wen. Tolia represents a woman caught between two cultures. Since 2020, xenophobic attacks on people of Chinese descent have escalated outside of Asia. This piece represents the struggle to hold onto familial traditions while navigating a Western world. The movement in this piece is powerful and beautiful. Even the burning incense takes on its own role as it dances through the beams of light spilling onto the stage. Wen’s interpretation of the snake shedding its skin and transforming into a new being is breathtaking. This is a very powerful piece, a tale of strength, beauty, and understanding, which because of its universal themes transcends any and all cultural divide. Highly recommended.

Link to watch: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/snake-in-the-house-means-the-family-will-never-want

Reviewer: Kevin Short

With The Poet Blukat, Cream & Dead PoetsGroup: Blukat 2023 Edinburgh Festival Fringe Online 

Save the oddity ‘til last. Is this some kind of would-be Banksy Rhymester playing a prank on us all? I suspect, during Covid, the idea of a virtual concert from a notable group of fictitious musicians and a pretend beat Poet, with a website, and online Spotify/iTunes presence, with claims of previous success decades ago, seemed a fun idea. Oh, and a self-penned book that’s impossible to find on the internet. In fact, a lot of the website page links go through to ‘Page Not Found’. Basically, it’s an ‘audio only’ attempt to form a cult from a fabricated cult, which has succeeded before, of course, but the fake audience FX and mediocre rhymes over the unoriginal sounds fall far short of the mark. This is not what Fringe Online or Live is all about, but I review it in order to challenge anyone to try and disclose the identity of this improbable prankster. Maybe solving that conundrum alone might be the sole purpose of the exercise. Who knows? Or, I’ve got it all wrong!

Link to watch: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/arrive-alive


By Kevin Short


There is nothing like seeing shows ‘live’ but the online option, since covid, for companies who really can’t afford to attend, is an opportunity to shine, in the hope of advancing their careers.

There’ve been lots of articles about the rise in costs, and whether the festival will survive in the coming years. This is nothing new, and I’ve always believed any change must be guided by the Fringe Society and its chosen administration. This year, the ‘Fill Yer Boots’ branding is an example of non-progressive thinking. An out-dated expression, with no relation to the arts, was chosen to represent forward-thinking participants. Further proof that others need to take the helm.

As for the rising costs, accommodation, venues, hires, marketing, and all else, perhaps a smaller Fringe might be the way to go.  Maybe the big commercial companies who already have their own festival within the festival might consider having their own event at a different time in the year, leaving the Festival Fringe a smaller but fairer proposition for participants. The two festivals would still provide Edinburgh with the same financial rewards but would allow the contributors a better chance of success. This may solve a lot of the year-on-year financial and artistic problems. No?

Meanwhile, look back at the summaries from previous years and, finally, here’s a link to a fun and still relevant documentary from some years ago: ‘The Biggest Little Fringe On Earth’.  Enjoy!

Link to watch: https://youtu.be/ENqRsj9tvwo

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