‘Dollface’ Review

‘Dollface’ is an i.e. production that follows the story of Marion, an artist struggling to move on, whilst battling against his emotions, regrets and the expectations of the other characters. In fact every character of the performance has his or her burdens to live with, each one adding to the Sisyphean theme that underlies the performance.
The small talk given on the walk up to the performance area was a nice addition, as it distracted from the hike up the hill. However the speaker was a bit on the quiet side, and given that the talk was about the performance and let the audience in on some details that they might not have been aware of otherwise, it would have been better if they had spoken a little louder.

That solitary nitpick aside, Dollface is a very good and emotive production that uses music, props and puppets masterfully, improving more and more with every performance. So don’t let the opportunity to sample this truly unique piece of theatre pass you by.

‘Dollface’ Review

Sat atop of Castle mound, hidden from the town below by a ring of trees, we bare witness to Marion, the writer who has stopped writing. Thinking aloud on top of the hill, and with an affinity to friends with names beginning with M, we start to piece together exactly what, or who, caused our poet to lay down his pen (or quill as the case may be).

With bits of poetry, puppetry, music and more, the small ensemble bring to life the struggle to create art of any kind, and what it takes to give a little part of yourself to your work, through showing us a man who can no longer bring himself to do such a thing.

Quietly funny and sad in equal parts, this is well worth a watch, and as it is the first piece that i.e. have created I’m excited to see what they make next.

‘Well Thumbed’ Review

With one of the most intriguing premises of this year’s fringe, ‘Well Thumbed’ is a funny, well thought out and gleefully irreverent production. The one man show explores the filth and sex that is spattered all over the pages of classic literature, covering a whole spectrum of sexual themes.

Well Thumbed has compiled a bawdy anthology that includes extracts from the likes of Bronte, Shakespeare and even explores unlikely sources like Charles Dickens and the Bible. Yet an even bigger part of why this show is so good is the sheer joyous energy that is present from start to finish. Terry Victor engages brilliantly with every quote, delivering them in such a comical fashion and interacting with the audience in such a way that it’s impossible not to laugh out loud at every line.

So if you’re aged 14 and up and want to laugh your a*se off, this show is definitely for you.

‘Storyteller Of The Year Entertains’ Review

Because of the raving reviews from the likes of Dr Phil Hammond & the Chippenham Folk Festival that hailed it as both “brilliant” and “captivating”, this show had a lot to live up to. Add an auspicious title into the mix and it’s hard to believe that ‘Storyteller Of The Year Entertains’ could deliver on all it promised to be.

Well good news, this show is every bit as excellent as it appears. It is filled with poems that are both well crafted and intelligent; each one packed with clever wordplay and multisyllabic rhymes that cover recent events with a comedic touch that makes the show truly unique. As well as its contemporary poems, The Storyteller Of The Year also has non topical gems to offer its audience; from a raunchy sexual proposition for Mother Nature, to the tragic demise of a callous cat named Catastrophe and a handful of hilarious others.

In short, Storyteller Of The Year has so much entertainment to offer and comes highly recommended from everyone who has been lucky enough to experience it.

‘The Forgotten Tales’ Review

‘The Forgotten Tales’ is a Parable Arts production that used a wide variety of music and folk stories in order to reconnect the audience with the heritage and culture of the British Isles.

One of, if not the most impressive part of this performance was the amount of energy Jon Buckeridge puts into it – whether it’s the myriad of accents (none of which seemed out of place or poorly done) that he uses to give the characters a life of their own, or how much effort he puts into acting out some of the scenes in the folk stories. From start to finish the pacing of Forgotten Tales was at a constant, transitioning seamlessly between music to folk story and then back to music with no noticeable pauses in between.

The comedy of Forgotten Tales is also praiseworthy; an aspect which had it not been perfect would have ruined the atmosphere of the whole performance. Instead the occasional humour was a well thought out addition to an already excellent production, which makes the stories, and Forgotten Tales as a whole, that much more enjoyable.

‘Twelfth Night (or What You Will)’ – Abridged, Review

Although having to deal with the unpredictability of the British summertime, the rain did nothing to dampen the spirit of Sun and Moon Theatre as they pulled together their highlights of Shakespeare’s greatest comedy. In a last minute taster show in the Pannier Market, the audience were seated on cushions on the floor as we witnessed an entertaining array of music and comedy.

The character of Malvolio (Richard Knox) had a brilliant stage presence and Feste (Mike Gilpin) had a lovely voice. The whole cast was very professional and delivered a great performance despite the circumstances. I can’t wait to see more!

So bring your picnic blankets, and come along to see the play in full on Sunday – on a, hopefully, sunny day on Castle green.

‘Birth of the Mechanoid’ Review

Walking through the town square, it’s hard to ignore the man, or ‘Mechanoid’, wearing steampunk glasses and a wallet over his mouth – that is Dude the Obscure. Curious passers by witnessed the passionate slam poems of the performer as he reached out to individual members of the public with cautionary tales of workaholism and, most poignantly, with a heartfelt poem dedicated to his late Grandfather.

For me some of it worked, and some of it didn’t. It was well written and clear to see the work and passion put into it; however the busy sounds of traffic tended to drown out the words and the performer had to fight against the noise. Perhaps in a more intimate setting an audience would have been able to appreciate the spoken word more.

The whole piece was strange and experimental, yet passionate and personal – my opinion is split – love it or hate it; I just can’t make up my mind! What do you think? Did you catch Dude the Obscure?

‘What’s on your mind ?’ Review

I saw ‘What’s on your mind?’ last night at 10pm at The Baptist Hall. I loved the use of live sound loop pedal and the microphone to highlight the issues surrounding social media use. Dance does Ed Sheeran!

It was also a fun and enjoyable piece of dance to watch. High energy and engaging; I wanted it to go on longer and was disappointed when I realised we had reached the end of the show!

‘Anorak of Fire: The Life and Times of Gus Gascoigne’ Review

Performing the endearing and comic monologue by Stephen Dinsdale, Billy Buckingham steps into the shoes (preferably highly practical trainers) of the geeky Gus Gascoigne, trainspotter. Anecdotes on awkward dates, all nighters and most importantly, Crewe station – the Monte Carlo of trainpotting.

A one man show brilliantly and believably acted. Buckingham certainly fits the part of the bemused, naïve, yet determined trainspotter, and has the stamina to keep the whole show light hearted and very, very funny.

Lots of laughs and giggles from the audience showed their appreciation for this gentle comedy. If you’re coming to TheatreFest, be sure not to miss this show. If you’re lucky, you may even find out the origin story of the famous ‘Anorak of Fire’…

As Gus Gascoigne says, "you’ve either got it, or you haven’t". I’d say Buckingham has definitely got it.

‘Fruitcake – Ten Commandments from the Psych Ward’ Review

Highly regarded and greatly admired following last year’s superb performance of ‘Forget Me Not’, how could Rob Gee live up to his reputation?

Even a late change of venue did not deter an unusually large audience for his 1st performance at this year’s Fringe. His personal experience of working in Psychiatric care and of Mental Illness is carefully woven into an enthusiastic and dynamic spoken word comedy – narrated with pathos, passion and pragmatism. The energy and effort invested is visible. His memory for detail is impeccable and whilst very funny, his stories are full of respect and acceptance of emotional distress that may affect any one of us.

If you have experienced Mental Illness, worked within this field or are completely unfamiliar with this subject matter you will love this show. An absolute MUST SEE, I guarantee you will not be disappointed. Another polished and professional performance.


‘Juicy’ Review

Having appeared in our Fringe festival as part of ‘Spectacular Vernacular’ in previous years to great acclaim, this was Rob’s first appearance in a one man show. A last minute change of venue was handled well by all involved and did not detract from this spoken word comedy.

A sad and sorry saga of unrequited love narrated through poems with enlightening titles such as POEM, POEM and POEM was accompanied by dance. Not quite Fred Astaire, more like Hello There (Sailor!). Meeting the man of his dreams at the airport filled us all with hope that this time… maybe this time, things would work out and his efforts to impress would be reciprocated. Alas, thwarted again but never mind the male Cabin Crew looked juicy too!

A clever and entertaining portrayal of “man seeks man” for fun and entertainment. Go see.

Wednesday Taster Session

Already the great breadth of what’s on offer is apparent from the Wednesday taster session. The Barnstaple Coffee Shop was filled by companies, volunteers, intrepid audience members from the other end of the country and even one of our sponsors – Smiths Solicitors. We were treated to pretty much everything from almost grotesque physical comedy to historical drama by way of hilarious character comedy and some strange dancing slow motion dancing from a couple of old people. And that’s a tiny sliver – six of the sixty six companies performing.

There are two further taster sessions at Barnstaple Coffee Shop – Thursday and Friday 3-4pm. You’ll see little 5 minute snippets to whet your appetite. And you can wash that down with a great cup of coffee – and some cake?

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