September 21, 2011

Caz Captures The Last Boudicca

Ace photographer and Brighton fashion icon Caz captures Fringe veteran Gaz as he gives his final Boudicca to the cool and kooky of Edinburgh on Friday 26 August.

September 17, 2011

Reviews from my second Edinburgh run

ThreeWeeks - the Edinburgh Fringe review magazine - have published their review of Boudicca; Britain's Dreaming, which they saw on Wednesday 24 August. It's three weeks after the run ended so its not going to boost my audiences now but those who saw it may be interested, particularly the great crowd I had in that night. Best front row ever - dudes you know who you are. I also publish here the Scotsman's August 24 review of the brother show Arthur, seen August 16. This proper big newspaper review feels like a pat on the head from a grown up, even though the reviewer was probably half my age.


Boudicca’s story is reinvented as a punk fable in this history lesson/political speculation. When Calway speaks about Boudicca’s tale itself, he’s impassioned, ruthless and funny, close to a poetic ‘Horrible History’ book. The direction is energetic – particularly the clownish interactions with the ‘Masks’. ThreeWeeks Sunday 11 September 2011

Delving into British history, this is slam poetry with a patriotic twist. Attempting to tell what is essentially the story of Britain from the time of Arthur to the present, this madcap production combines tales of the ancient world with football chants and sports commentary.
... What is clearly a long-held passion for the glittering career of a great king is told in an arresting way... (Calway) races from the heat of battle to a cricket match; from the valleys of Wales to John O'Groats, and on to Land's End.
Despite the confusion, this interpretation is full of boyhood glee. It is a yarn well spun, with a few stiches dropped, but vibrant and poetic enough to be a commendable effort.
Catriona MacLeod
The Scotsman Weds 24 Aug 2011

POSTSCRIPT A slightly longer of Catriona MacLeod's original print review has finally turned up on online on the following website
Her other reviews are well worth reading too.

September 10, 2011

Receding Fringe?

After twenty nine days at the Edinburgh Fringe, treading cobbles in the rain to granite cellars to watch more shows in one day than I’ve seen in the previous year, while performing two shows of my own, I’m back to gentle Norfolk sunshine.
My chief impression is that ‘Fringe’ no longer describes it. Mainstream stand up by people off the telly, pantomimes, children’s shows, safe reassuring comedy are the shows that bring in the coach-load audiences blocking up the elegant narrow genteel streets. Alternative comedy and challenging theatre is everywhere but most of it attracts the kind of audiences that ensure the Fringe average stabilises at three. The alternative New York underground legend Lach - a countercultural mid evening show and witching hours cellar cabaret – is critically acclaimed as the essence of Fringe but played to more empty seats than walked out of some of the larger commercial promotions. Empty vessels make the most noise? And even then the group of brainless drunks who had their photo taken with Big brother ‘star’ Pete, outside before talking loudly through the first twenty minutes of Lach’s heartwarming and kooky show had to be given the option of pursuing their quest of vacuous celebrity elsewhere by Lach himself. ‘I’ll turn my back and if you’ve attended by mistake you can disappear’ – which they duly did to relieved applause from the rest of the house. ‘They were sucking my energy, man.’ The audience’s too.
I saw a physical theatre production of Steven Berkhoff’s Agamemnon that was so stunningly good I attended it twice. Twice more than the reviewer who arrived late, fell distractingly asleep in front of me, and then left after twenty minutes. The cramped venue ensured that all of the work the performers did at floor level was not seen by anyone further away than the front row – and, if they were that reviewer, not even by them – but everything about this production was fresh, vibrant, starry, young, brilliantly new: the kind of multi arts and innovative experience the Fringe should foster. It was well supported but hardly registered in a city devoted to celebrity reruns – not to mention shambolic imitations - of what audiences already see on TV all the time.
The star system the reviewers use can make or break you at the box office but it lacks any objective criteria – witness shows that get one star in the Scotsman and Three Weeks and four stars from some of the sixth form publications. That wouldn’t happen at A level: or let’s hope not. If the performer is famous, and therefore the house is full, there are already stars in the reviewers’ eyes. More worryingly, ‘weird’ seems to be a reviewer negative – is this the Fringe or Top of the Pops? - and among all the thousands of mega-bankrolled advertising campaigns fronting the big shows and the modest ones fronting the little shows, I read of one obscure one man effort that got hammered as ‘an exercise in self-publicity!’
Henry the Hoover and Friends was genuine kooky comedy and Shakespeare’s Monkeys combined joyously skilful Shakespearean acting with a two woman audience-interactive politically incorrect stand up which debunked everything from celebrity cookery programmes to Dame Judy preciousness (no offence to the real Judy)– the use of spoons instead of daggers for Macbeth a moment of comic heaven – in a way that would have had the Bard himself chortling with joie de vivre. Significantly, both of these were part of the Free Fringe and this may well be the future of the Fringe spirit (though apparently the Scotsman doesn’t review the Free stuff). Money corrupts and it also corporatizes. It’s a bit like punk rock – what started as a shocking deconstruction of culture has become, through audience demand and promoter control, a sentimental replay of reassuring Punk Hits.

September 01, 2011

My best night at the Fringe

Lach's Antihoot Line-Up for Tonight (Thursday Night): A Fantastic Night of Top Comics and Songwriters!
BULLETIN: TONIGHT: 1/2 Price TKTS (only £6!) plus a full bar!
"Top Five Late Night Shows at Fringe"- The List
"Five Stars!"- The Herald
Thurs.Aug.18- 1) Trevor Browne, 2) Bob Fletcher, 3) Kaley Northcott , 4) James Hazelden, 5) Abie Philbin Bowman, 6)-Alev Lenz, 7) Gareth Calway , 8) The Vans, 9) Nick Sun, 10) Laura Theis, 11)Tom Oakes, 12) Dan Wright
August 18 at 12:26pm

PS In Norfolk, I usually go to bed at 10 pm. Here, I was onstage behind a mic rocking for Boudicca at 2 am, and we were still celebrating at 4 am. I think we even helped some young ladies create an arts installation out of repressive traffic cones until a police car approached. Then we went home like students a third of our age to tea and toast as dawn came up over the Firth of Forth. Magic.