Theatre review: Rowan Rheingans: “Dispatches on the Red Dress”

Undramatic yet utterly spellbinding singing and narration. Picture: Contributed.

Rowan Rheingans treads a circular path round a stage, evoking the route she takes when walking round the village in Germany where her grandparents still live.

Rowan Rheingans: Dispatches on the Red Dress, Scottish Storytelling Centre (Venue 30) * * * * *

Rheingans is a notable name amid the recent generation of English folk-revivalists, and this deeply personal piece of one-woman musical theatre, co-written with Liam Hurley, sees her deftly reach for fiddle, viola, banjo or a gently reverberating electric guitar to unspool the story of the titular dress Rheingans’s great-grandmother made her grandmother to go to a dance, and of the village’s collective experience during and after the Second World War.

She evokes the youthful excitement of the dance, pirouetting gently about the stage, but gradually the wartime and post-war experience of the village, with its “field of misery”, emerges, unfolding along with that dress.

Rheingans is a persuasively clear teller of songs (her songwriting won a BBC Radio 2 Folk Award in 2016), accompanying herself with unobtrusive ease and judiciously deploying electronic looping that leaves notes hanging and fading behind her words, or introduces a glorious chorus of birdsong, as the bitterly inglorious history of the field becomes clear, recalling how her grandfather, on his way to school, would cycle hurriedly past the stacked dead.

All these things emerge unhurriedly through Rheingans’s undramatic yet utterly spellbinding singing and narration. History is brought up to date as her grandparents recall how, in the face of Nazism, they sang the old, forbidden songs in their home and covertly took provisions to their neighbours who were barred from visiting the local shops; yet on the other hand, they in turn express their anxieties at the “new faces” appearing in Germany, the old distrust of The Other.

But there remain glimmers of hope amid the darkness: the village and its legions of ghosts may be laden with unspeakable sorrow, but there is still dancing. And as the red dress’s true origin unfolds, the revelation will leave you quietly breathless.

Source: Theatre review: Rowan Rheingans: Dispatches on the Red Dress, Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh

Musician Mairi is breathing new life into Auld Lang Syne 

he story of Scotland’s most famous song and the life of one of its most celebrated musicians are coming to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Mairi Campbell: Auld Lang Syne is the story of Scotland’s most famous song and the life of one of the nation’s most celebrated musicians. Mairi follows her hugely successful solo theatre show Pulse bringing audiences on a new adventure taking in singing for US President Bill Clinton, a starring role in Sex and the City and a reinterpretation of the Robert Burns classic that changed her life.

Blending storytelling, dance and new music composed in collaboration with David Gray, Mairi Campbell: Auld Lang Syne explores the meaning of one of the world’s most performed songs through the lens of Mairi’s rich experience.

Delivered with her trademark wit, gentle charm and unparalleled musical ability the sequel to five star show Pulse is an unforgettable hour in the company of one of Scotland’s leading artists.

With live music, animation and a singalong, this funny and heartfelt show resonates with wider universal truths.

Mairi Campbell: Auld Lang Syne is a continuation of Mairi’s exploration of multi artform performance and this collaboration is co-devised directed and directed by Kath Burlinson, featuring a collection of tracks composed with musician David Gray with input from musician David Francis and featuring sculpture from sound artist Tim Vincent Smith and animation from Claire Lamond. Mairi Campbell: Auld Lang Syne is part of the 2018 Made in Scotland Showcase.

Source: Musician Mairi is breathing new life into Auld Lang Syne – Scottish Field

The Best and Worst Toilets at the Edinburgh Fringe 

If going to the Fringe is a pleasure, then why is finding a decent venue toilet such a pain? It may be easier to get hold of the hottest tickets at the festival than it is to find a nice, clean, secure loo. But these toilets do exist – when we asked our readers to tell us about their best and worst Fringe toilet stories, boy, did they have stories. From colourful Fringe toilet tales involving finding used pregnancy tests, fights with men dressed as pandas, drag queens using the toilets as changing rooms (because there weren’t any in the venue), and my favourite, the person who managed a pop-up venue in what turned out to be a popular cottaging toilet – spending a penny at the Fringe is always an experience. But where should you go?

The Best

According to the survey respondents, some of the Fringe’s best toilets can be found at Gilded Balloon; both Teviot Row House and Rose Theatre, which were praised for being ‘clean, bright and fragrant’.

Other fan favourites were Underbelly Cowgate, Traverse, Pleasance Dome and Assembly Rooms, which were described by one person as ‘pretty swish’.

The Worst

Regular visitors to the Fringe may not be surprised to learn that when it comes to toilets, Summerhall’s offerings proved to be very unpopular. For not having enough toilets, to queues, cleanliness, lack of soap and toilet paper, Summerhall’s bathrooms were. Runners-up were Assembly George Square, Pleasance Courtyard and The Hive for the same reasons [ . . . ]

Continue this story at THE SKINNY: The Best and Worst Toilets at the Edinburgh Fringe: The Skinny