Gruffdog Theatre

Edfest Bouquets 2017

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It was another fantastic three weeks at the Fringe for us. We crammed in as many shows as we possibly could – and still barely managed to scratch the surface. Here’s our pick of the best we saw this year. Congratulations to everyone mentioned.

Theatre

Seagulls – Volcano Theatre

Peer Gynt – Gruffdog Theatre

The Power Behind the Crone – Alison Skilbeck

Safe Place – Clara Glynn

Pike Street – Nilaja Sun

 

Comedy

The Darkness of Robins – John Robins

Kinabalu – Phil Wang

Dominant – John Robertson

Mistress & Misfit – Shappi Khorsandi

Oh Frig, I’m 50! – Richard Herring

 

Story Telling

One Seventeen – Sarah Kendall

These Trees the Autumn Leaves Alone – Will Greenway

The Man on the Moor – Max Dickins

Eggsistentialism – Joanne Ryan

Blank Tiles – Dylan Cole

 

Special Mentions

The Toxic Avenger: The Musical – Aria Entertainment & Flying Music

Up Close – Chris Dugdale

The Cat Man Curse – Pelican Theatre

Cathy – Cardboard Citizen Theatre

Well Meaning, but Right Leaning – Geoff Norcott

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Peer Gynt

28/08/17

Zoo Sanctuary, Pleasance, Edinburgh

Gruffdog Theatre’s Peer Gynt is a theatrical triumph: a joyous romp through Henrik Ibsen’s script, with a sprightly physicality that has us utterly enthralled.

Look, it’s the last day of the Fringe, and it’s all winding down. Everywhere we turn, we can see vans being loaded, posters being removed. Venues that just yesterday were pulsing with life now have their doors shut, their windows dark. We’re not sure we even want to see another show (we’ve seen a lot; we’re pretty sated). But a friend has recommended this play and it’s a now or never thing. So we pick up a pair of tickets and set off across town.

And we’ve definitely made the right decision; this is a glorious Fringe finale, chronicling the tale of the feckless Peer Gynt as he swaggers his way through life, leaving a trail of heartbroken women and abandoned children in his wake. The ensemble work is wonderful: a well-oiled machine with all the parts working in harmony. Literal harmony at times, as the whole piece is soundtracked a capella by the cast. It’s eerie and unearthly, and a little bit unsettling – just like the strange green eye make-up they all wear, and the funny little outfits, all identical.

The physical theatre is precise and well-crafted, performed with ease and poise. I especially like the shipwreck, which is beautifully done. The puppetry is excellent too – that troll! – and the multi-roling works a treat.

Sadly, you can’t see this in Edinburgh now, and Gruffdog Theatre’s website seems to indicate this is the end of their UK tour. But, if they revive it, I recommend this play whole-heartedly, and I for one will be checking carefully to see what they do next.

5 stars

Susan Singfield