The Space Triplex, Edinburgh

Gutted is the story of three young Irish women, living in Dublin in the 1980s, all of them faced with difficult decisions. They spend their days in drudgery, working in a factory, gutting fish, but spend their nights tirelessly chasing the elusive concept of fun, each of them yearning for her own happy ending. But in an Ireland where abortion is still illegal and contraception hard to come by, sowing those wild oats can often have disastrous consequences, and things finally come to a head when a long-awaited big night out builds, inevitably, to disaster.

Written by Sharon Byrne and superbly acted by Eleanor Byrne, Niamh Finlay and Sarah Hosford, this is a little gem of a play, with plenty to say and a captivating way of speaking its mind. Byrne’s ear for dialogue rings out from just about every line and the three actors nail their performances, keeping the action bubbling along, switching effortlessly from narrative to narrative, handling comedy and tragedy with equal aplomb. I love the simple staging of this, the use of three microphones to emphasise particular lines of dialogue and I love the snatches of close harmony singing that occasionally punctuate the proceedings. Moments of tragedy are expertly and economically conveyed, as the women create a whole cast of characters to populate their respective stories.

This play is only at the Fringe for a short run, so you have just a few days in which to see it. If you still haven’t made up your mind what to see in the final week, grab some tickets and head down to the Space Triplex.

Gutted is certainly worth your time and money.

4.5 stars

Philip Caveney



Home’s First Birthday

Gutted-12Late Night Love

20th-22nd June 2016

Hard to believe, but Home – Manchester’s hub for all things creative, has already been here for one year and recently celebrated it’s millionth customer. So this weekend, they’re having a bit of a party, with all kinds of free events, live music and (I shouldn’t be at all surprised) a lot of people in the bar.

But what theatrical events have they lined up, you might ask. And I’m glad you did, because surely only Home would offer the offbeat double bill that’s currently showing in theatre 2.

The evening kicks off with Late Night Love by Eggs Collective, a weird sort of cabaret that focuses on late-night radio romance. Three black suited actors slink around the theatre offering free chocolates, glasses of prosecco, a bit of ice sculpture and a collection of mawkish power ballads. It’s weird, engaging and a lot of fun. If you want to get involved, make sure you grab a seat at one of the tables up front.

4 stars.

After a short interval, head back into the theatre for Gutted – a one woman show in which Liz Richardson performs a piece about ulcerative colitis. (And before you react by saying, ‘that doesn’t sound like a lot of fun,’ don’t be fooled. Richardson (who cowrote the work with Tara Robinson) offers a fearless performance, where all aspects of the condition are unflinchingly explored and where she takes on something like fifteen roles. There’s also a lot of audience participation here but there are rewards – I myself was given a bottle of ale just for reading out a greetings card! This is a moving autobiographical performance, don’t miss it.

4.2 stars.

Even if you can’t get a seat in the theatre, the thing is to be here. Home’s  first floor restaurant is well-worth a visit too. In fact, we can’t really believe we’ve waited a whole year to try it out. The dining room is sprawling and open-plan, merging seamlessly with a   bar and a performance area where a band strikes up part way through our meal. It’s a lively, convivial place, ideal for meeting up with friends. So that’s what we do. The table is ours for the evening, and we never feel rushed and the service is very good, particularly considering how busy the place is. There’s a range of pizzas and burgers, and a few house specialities; if the food is comforting rather than exciting, it doesn’t really matter very much. Portions are generous, and we’re all happy with what we have, particularly the starters, where highlights include the baked king prawns (firm, tasty and plentiful) and the smoked haddock pate (complete with a layer of clarified butter, a pleasing touch, we think). And as tonight’s a party, we imbibe more than a few drinks to mark the occasion.

3.9 stars.

So head into Manchester and bring along some like-minded pals. Home is a brilliant venue and deserves to be celebrated. Maybe we’ll see you there.

Philip Caveney & Susan Singfield