Thursday, 9 August 2012

Theatre Uncut - Edinburgh Fringe review

Written by: Wendy (@Wendyfer1)

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

Theatre Uncut is not so much a performance to be reviewed, but an event and an idea to be greatly appreciated for both its premise and produce. Its founding last year was a response to the coalition’s plans to make drastic cuts to public spending, the idea being to create a theatrical protest by utilizing the skills of political playwrights. Contributors included names such as Mark Ravenhill and David Grieg, whose short plays were then performed across the country by volunteers, rights-free.

This year, the event has instead been a response to worldwide civil unrest. In the words of Emma Callander, it is an “international exchange of ideas” from Egypt, Syria, Iceland, Scotland, Greece, America and more. This has been the year of the Arab Spring and the Euro crisis, so playwrights have been asked to respond to their own country’s situation.

Firstly, in the cosy underbelly of the Traverse Theatre, I was treated to In The Beginning written by Neil LaBute, a charming, combined exploration of family politics and the future of activism in America. Secondly came The Price by Lena Kitsopoulou, an absurd commentary on how economic troubles are eating away at the humanity of Greece. The third play was The Break-Out by Anders Lustgarten (receiver of the Harold Pinter Playwright award), a beautifully written inquisition on taking the chance for freedom. Finally, the fourth play was London 2012: Glasgow by Kieran Hurley.

Hurley is obviously a playwright with astonishing talent, as his submission was apparently written only a few days before the event. Performed whole-heartedly by Thom Tuck and to my surprise, Phil Jupitus, this was ten minutes of insightful, hilarious mockery of the Olympic organizer’s lack of integrity. Based on the unfortunate ‘North Korean football team, South Korean flag scandal’ in Glasgow, Phil Jupitus plays an incompetent, marketing department version of Malcolm Tucker whose hypocrisy is exposed. Along the way, there is just the right amount of gratuitous swearing.

Overall, the standard of writing and acting was very high; especially considering it was made clear we were essentially watching read-throughs/rehearsals. But what really deserves credit is the spirit of the event. They have no funding - all participants and organizers are volunteers. The political intentions are admirable and worthwhile. As with last year, all the plays will soon be freely accessible, which above all shows the priorities of the producers, directors and writers. These are people who care about art as art as opposed to art as an industry - something which warrants them genuine respect.

Photos from the reviewed performance (credit to Mihaela Bodlovic)

Theatre Uncut runs until 20 August 2012. 
Tickets: £6.50/£4.50
For more information: 

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