OCTOBER IN THE CHAIR and other Fragile Things

3 stars

This elegant and accomplished adaptation tackles three short stories by English author Neil Gaiman; or four short stories, if you count the intriguing monologue they read you as you file in. Each tale is drawn from Gaimain’s collection Fragile Things, but they’re recast to use the titular October In The Chair as a framing device – a simple transformation which works remarkably well. Clustered round a campfire in a suitably autumnal wood, the months of the year take turns to entertain each other with far-fetched yarns; one of them is chosen to preside over proceedings, and this month it’s October in the chair.

Reviewed by Richard Stamp on Monday 22 September | Read more

Siembamba

4 stars

Named for a South African lullaby, Siembabma is the touching tale of a young girl from the white community and her relationship with Trudy, the family’s black maid. The bond between the two of them is deeper than those bald facts might suggest: with the child’s natural parents all but absent from her life, Trudy essentially takes on the role of a foster mother. The play has been widely acclaimed in its home country – but given how firmly it’s rooted in South African society, will it survive the journey to Amsterdam?

Reviewed by Richard Stamp on Monday 22 September | Read more

The Shape

3 stars

Fringe festivals are all about trying something new, and I’ve come to realise that the Amsterdam Fringe embraces that concept more than most. So I was excited about my first foray into the world of “live art” – which in this case saw a vast charcoal sketch improvised from scratch, in response to a thumping soundtrack that’s also created live on-stage.

Reviewed by Richard Stamp on Monday 22 September | Read more

Delirio Tiránico Atómico Español

1 star

My reaction to Delirio Tiránico Atómico Español was perfectly summed up by the nice-looking woman sitting in front of me – who after ten minutes of radiating polite interest, gave up and attempted to stuff her scarf into her ears.  If wilful discordance offends your musical sensibilities, then this is a show to stay clear of.  It’s an auditory assault of incomprehensible proportions.  And I say that as a man who quite enjoys the bagpipes.

Reviewed by Richard Stamp on Sunday 14 September | Read more

Comme il faut!

4 stars

Under a blanket, three figures stir. Very slowly, but strangely compellingly, their forms shift: the bodies twist comically, then balance precariously and slide onto the floor. Two men in red noses catch each other’s eyes across the squirming mass. And tentatively – though with growing warmth – the audience begins to laugh.

Reviewed by Richard Stamp on Saturday 13 September | Read more

Fabrique Erotique

3 stars

File this one under “has to be done”. In a real-life erotic theatre in the heart of the red light district – which offers a “non-stop live sex show” for its evening clientele – this lunchtime vaudeville performance promises both “humorous harlots” and “biblical horror”, a combination guaranteed to fluster a buttoned-up British guy like me. In the event though, if you don’t think too hard about where you are, the experience is a relatively tasteful one. The cringe factor is certainly present, but it’s never allowed to overwhelm what’s a skilful and creative show.

Reviewed by Richard Stamp on Saturday 13 September | Read more

Blue grass on the other side

4 stars

This delightful, uncomplicated show is plainly born of love: love for the folk music at its core, and a universal love for whatever place we each call home. Its style is a traditional one, but its storyline belongs firmly in the modern age. Employing gorgeous harmonies and plaintive solo songs, the three singer-musicians of Nighthawks explore themes of migration, dispersal and nationhood – all the while posing the troublesome question, is the grass always greener elsewhere?

Reviewed by Richard Stamp on Saturday 13 September | Read more

Dust Devil

4 stars

Very loosely based on the curious tale of ballerina Marta Becket, who established an opera house in the middle of Death Valley, this beguiling piece of dance theatre combines some well-judged gimmicks with a strong and straightforward plot. It’s an innovative work – but it begins, ironically, with a Hollywood cliché: a woman stranded on a desert road, at the wheel of a broken-down car.

Reviewed by Richard Stamp on Saturday 13 September | Read more

Between You and Me

2 stars

Between You And Me is a portmanteau of three separate pieces, all penned and performed by American performance artist Christine Ferrera.  Though loosely linked by themes of communication and loneliness, the three parts don’t quite come together as a whole – and each would benefit from a clearer purpose and a punchier delivery.

Reviewed by Richard Stamp on Friday 12 September | Read more

Feel your vein in the emotion plane

3 stars

This show is a reviewer’s nightmare. Much of its impact relies on not knowing what’s going to happen – and so, if I explained too much about why I think it’s worth seeing, I’d spoil a good chunk of the fun. But if you’ve spotted the rocket-like tent at the Fringe’s Hub Noord, and perhaps wondered just what might transpire inside, then here’s what I feel it’s safe to tell you.

Reviewed by Richard Stamp on Friday 12 September | Read more

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