Edinburgh Festival Fringe Reviews: Cassie Workman: Aberdeen | Fiji | Rhapsody | Leaving Vietnam | Serva Padrona | Making a Murderer: The Musical

Cassie Workman: Aberdeen****

Just the Tonic Nucleus (Location 393), until August 28 (not 15, 22)

Nirvana frontman and singer Kurt Cobain was just 27 when he killed himself in a dilapidated wooden building in Seattle. It was 1994 and for grunge-obsessed music fans, it was a tragedy from which it seemed impossible to recover.

In her hour-long epic poem, Cassie Workman asks, “What if?”, traveling through space and time to an imaginary world where Cobain might not have died. Dressed in ripped tights and chipped nail polish, Workman is a creature stuck in time – a sorry fangirl who can’t imagine how someone she loved and admired so much could be gone.

Its rhythmic anthem evokes the rainy desert of Aberdeen – the post-industrial town in Washington State where Cobain grew up. She visits the underpass where he sometimes slept, she sits in the park next to his house, and she reminisces about the scenes of her unhappy and neglected childhood. It is both a meditation on the nature of depression and an exploration of unrequited love.

Workman hurtles through space and time, searching the rain, the underpass, the graffiti, and the classrooms where Cobain worked as a janitor. She conjures with the elements to travel beyond death, to embody the ghost of her childhood hero. The story is poor in biographical detail, being more of an attempt to brush souls with a person who chose to leave the earth and find out why.

Workman dives into Cobain’s deep depression to face the truth. His hero didn’t want to live – he chose to die. In a way, there is a comfort in this reality. Cobain chose his fate. It was what he wanted. It is as it is. And there is a miracle at work. From something dark, hopeless and irreversible, Workman has created a thing of beauty. Claire Smith

Cassie Workman in Aberdeen PIC: Brett Boardman

Pleasance Courtyard (Location 33), until August 29 (not August 13)

Romance comes in many forms, but Fiji is among the most bizarre examples, though it initially unfolds as an awkward first date as Sam (Pedro Leandro) nervously arrives at greedy Nick ( Eddie Loodmer-Elliott), cheap bottle of Spanish wine in hand.

Beyond small talk about pans, there’s clearly more than a dinner date at stake – Sam threw away all his electronics and told his friends he’d booked a one-way trip to the Fiji. Instead, he helps Nick with his “tailored culinary research”; Nick, meanwhile, plays with Sam’s list of supposedly revealing questions about ideal dinner guests and the like.

Even as the transgressive nature and power dynamics of their shared project are revealed, the duo continue to engage in concrete, even mundane terms. Tiffany’s teen anthem, I Think We’re Alone Now, becomes the unlikely soundtrack to the extreme things we do for love. Sam and Nick remain coy about their motives for entering into such an illicit alliance, but as their weekend together draws to a close, vulnerabilities are exposed and their affair with a horror show takes on an almost spiritual quality. Fiona Shepherd

Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33), until August 29

Birmingham-based Vision Production Company is the 2022 recipient of the Charlie Harthill Special Reserve Fund, supporting this show about four young people from difficult backgrounds who collide and bond while living in a hostel. Aspiring rapper Jams could be on the verge of career hiatus, Elz is a cauldron of pain and anger, devout Jaime has been sexually abused by her pastor, and Toni eases the pain of her abusive past with a drug addiction. dope. Naturalistic performances spawn compelling character portrayals, but the script is a bit sketchy, with candid rapping interludes overshadowing the standard dialogue. Fiona Shepherd

theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall (Venue 53), until August 13

The story of a Vietnamese vet who returns home to run his own auto shop may sound like a Bruce Springsteen song, but here, unfortunately, it’s more like a Bon Jovi song – all the rough edges ironed out. . Writer-performer Richard Vergette may be a good actor (his American accent is excellent) but even De Niro would have a hard time selling this overly long monologue as ex-soldier Jimmy Vandenburg finally becomes one of ” deplorables” of Trump. It never convinces because Jimmy never convinces — he’s less of a character, more of an amalgamation of Vietnamese flashbacks and folksy mannerisms wearing a red MAGA cap. Rory Ford

theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall (Venue 53), until August 13

La Serva Padrona is a 1733 operatic intermezzo by Italian composer Giovanni Battista Pergolesi that is largely forgotten today. It tells the story of Uberto and Serpina, a wealthy aristocrat and his ambitious housekeeper – and he’s ridiculously riffed on in this one-man show from Freiburg-based comedy musician David Williams Hughes.

Hughes plays the anxious assistant to the deputy director of a grand opera house – who, thanks to coronavirus-induced cuts, is also the institution’s newest member of staff. It’s up to him to save opera as an art form, so he decides to fulfill a lifelong dream and produce a solo staging of La Serva Padrona. Armed only with a DIY opera kit consisting of a tape recorder, a mop and a few masks – but with a helpful audience at hand – he works his way through an English translation of Pergolesi’s play. .

Hughes has a winning, professional charm on stage, and his crowd willingly cooperates. He doesn’t sing badly either, accompanying himself with a jazzy accompaniment, investing his arrogant Uberto with a pompous bass and his daughter Serpina with a fragile falsetto. Of course, this is all entirely nonsense – but it’s nonsense in a nice and harmless way. 45 fun and entertaining minutes. Fergus Morgan

Making A Murderer: The Musical ***

Underbelly Bristo Square (location 302), until August 29 (not August 15)

Welcome to Manitowoc, Wisconsin, the kind of small-town setting that could boast a “very exciting trafficking display” or a racist “whites only after dark” history. That was until hit Netflix series Making a Murderer led the latest wave of true-crime documentaries and immortalized the ‘maritime capital of Wisconsin’ as the home of sex-assault exonerated Steven Avery. and attempted murder after 18 years in prison. , only to be re-incarcerated for another murder based on perhaps flimsy evidence. And now Smart Entertainment has decided to make a song and dance to this potential miscarriage of justice.

Condensing two ten-hour series into a one-hour musical is no mean feat, so there’s no time to waste as the cast hops from high street to jail to court of recovery, from a barbershop doo-wop on the joys of DNA evidence to a dazzling razzle-number directed by prosecutor Ken Kratz with such precision that even a novice true crime fan can follow the fleas.

But there’s not much room to develop themes or characters beyond a general warning against prejudice based on class and race and a visual appeal to wrongfully convicted prisoners – mostly men. blacks – is inserted in the sentimental finale. Fiona Shepherd

About John McTaggart

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