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Kafka-ish: Kafka @Finborough

In offering proof that Kafka is everything to everyone - writer-performer Jack Klaff plays various roles, including the man himself in what is a part tour, part immersion and part legend of Franz Kafka. He is a writer who achieved fame after his life was cut short due to succumbing to tuberculosis at the age of forty. He is probably better known for his reputation and the Kafkaesque style attributed to his writing than his life. But after this piece, you’re left curious to learn more about the man and his works. And that has to be the best theatrical tribute you could give a writer, even for a writer who stipulated that his works be destroyed upon his death. It’s currently playing at the Finborough Theatre . Franz Kafka was born in Prague in 1883. In 1901, he was admitted to a university and began studying law. While studying, he met Max Brod, who would become his best friend and eventual literary executor. Brod would posthumously publish many of his works and writings. Kafka’s life co

Shows: Edinburgh Wrap

A midweek trip to Edinburgh with Johnnyfox for the Fringe was brief but productive. Ten shows in three days and not too many were duds. This was a bit of good luck as the awful little secret that nobody dares mention is that... most of the stuff on in Edinburgh is crap. The Fringe Festival seems to be mostly run by students and staged by students so it helps to brace yourself and expect the worst. It was also entirely possible to see more shows in three days but it is important to allow time to savour the fine food of Edinburgh as well and then use your time at the shows trying to digest it... Anyway here are the shows I caught:

Sordid Lives was performed by the Tower Theatre company and had some fine performances. It was well worth putting up with the slow first half, particularly when it came alive with a great drag performance at the end. It finishes Saturday but will be in London next month.

The Improvised Musical performed by No Shoes Theatre. Apart from the fact that half the cast were wearing shoes, Wednesday night's uninspired performance set in a Job Centre highlighted the limitations of a concept when you have no idea about what is a musical, and you're just not that talented either. Still the team had balls for persevering while they were dying... And note to cast: don't laugh at your own jokes, it really pulls focus.

Thoroughly Modern Willie performed by the London Gay Men's Chorus's Far From Kansas. Well of course being in the LGMC I liked it. But there was some fine singing and a nice message at the end. Here's hoping the script is shortened and the bad jokes are banished at some point... It finishes Saturday but will be in London later... Slightly potty mouthed boo below...

Pension Plan performed by Leisa Rea. Johnnyfox and I were drawn to a show purely based on its title  and it was quite a treat. In fact, it was stand up with treats... The treat was a biscuit in the shape of a foetus for the audience as Ms Rea runs through the mental illness and disappointments of her life. Funny and entertaining while still being a little thought-provoking...

Out of the Blue is an Oxford a capella boy group that can sing, harmonise, dance and blow an audience away. Popular with the ladies (and the men), these guys were comfortable singing either a ballad or Lady Gaga's Poker Face. Perhaps they could have applied their style to a few different genres but there was so much energy on stage that they were hard to resist.

Reel to Real the Movies Musical came recommended by someone who likes things that are crap and camp and it fit the bill precisely. Some fine staging of Singing in the Rain and Puttin' on the Ritz dance numbers could not erase the awful cheesiness and flat singing of the rest of it. The concept is to marry whats on stage with old MGM and Warner Brothers musicals. The only problem is the projections are dreadful and it feels like you're watching one a segment of the Oscars telecast... dragged out for an excruciating hour...

Celebrity Autobiography takes the concept of reading selective passages from celebrity biographies such as Peter Andre and Jordan and juxtaposing them for hilarious effect. There were some great performances from the readers as well. The audience took a particular shine to Ugly Betty's Michael Urie and Bridget Christie was hilarious. James Lance also gives a hilarious performance as Richard Burton when the biographies of Debbie Reynolds, Eddie Fisher and Elisabeth Taylor are mashed up. This will be coming to London shortly and is not to be missed.

Girl Constantly F***ing Interupted was a good example of what most shows in Edinburgh are like. It aspires to be alternatively funny and dramatic showing the different personalities of one troubled young lady. It just was mostly dull and lacking both laughs and a range in the performance. It might have helped if she took the awful dress off which looked like a tailored potato sack.

We were stopped by a nerdy looking guy promoting Mysterious Skin on our way to see the above show. He talked about the cast and how they were slightly famous. What he should have talked about was the full frontal nudity and violence which was quite smashing. A great cast, and a great looking cast, tell the story about alien abductions and other sexual things... Intriguing story and well worth catching, particularly if you sit in the front rows on the right... The only other thing I will say is that Paul Standell is an actor with a big future ahead of him...

Finally, an early evening show of hot oompah players Oompah Brass: The A to Z of Oompah was a fitting way to leave Edinburgh. These guys (and one girl) turned any song into a oompah brass band. Particularly nice was the finale, Bohemian Rhapsody with a Bavarian lilt. And in the audioboo we discuss how the trombonist took a liking to fellow chorus member Feroze by blowing in his face. Not for those with sensitive ears but a great show... An hour of oompah is probably more than enough too...

Finally, the lesson learned form Edinburgh is that anyone can put on a show in Edinburgh if you have a good title. Here are some titles for shows that future Edinburgh Fringe creatives could consider:
  • Two for One
  • Queue for Returns
  • Cancelled Due To Serious Bereavement (actually I thought that was a show this year but it was a notice at a venue)
  • Don't Make Me Walk Downhill After Making Me Walk Uphill (potentially for a story about the history of Edinburgh)
  • She's Such An Evil Bitch
  • Which Booking Office Do I Go To
  • It Could Do With Another Week Of Rehearsals
  • It Suffers From A Bad Piece Of Casting
  • Eat Shite and Lose Weight (actually we could suggest that be a slogan for the Edinburgh tourism)
  • Unemployed Actors the Musical
I'm not sure I would go back to Edinburgh for the fringe, but might make the effort to go see Cancelled Due To Serious Bereavement... 

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