The final round of The Scotsman's prestigious weekly Fringe Firsts have been announced. Over the past three weeks The Scotsman's reviewers have seen hundreds of Fringe shows, making their Fringe First awards a well-informed and reliable reflection of the best writing the Fringe has to offer. At least two reviewers have to see a show before it can be given a Fringe First.
The winners are:
Fallen, Aurora Nova St. Stephens
Jess Curtis's dynamic piece toys with notions of gravity and weightlessness, sending dancers flying through the air and crashing to earth with grace, poise and no little amount of theatrical skill. "The dancers work expertly against the forces pulling them down to Earth," wrote Chloe Veltman on Tuesday last week. "Fallen is a thing of beauty. It is curious that an artwork centered on the stuff that drags us down should leave us on a high."
Hyperlynx, Pleasance Dome An MI5 official charged with infiltrating and undermining the anti-globalization movement contemplates the ethical ins and outs of her assignment on a park bench in London in this powerful swansong from playwright John McGrath.
"It's angry, imperfect, sometimes full of undigested facts and arguments; but it still comes as an unforgettable last message," wrote The Scotsman's chief theatre critic, Joyce McMillan.
Cincinnati, Assembly Rooms
A piece of masterful monologue theatre presented as a philosophy of literature lecture, Cincinnati chronicles one woman's mental decline after leaving her family for a university job in another city.
"What's striking about this show is the way in which actress Nancy Walsh and her husband John Clancy, who directs, lead us right into the heart of this agony without creating a show which is itself depressing," said The Scotsman.
Double Trouble, Demarco-Rocket @ Apex Hotels
The wry title of Yvette Boszik's piece of physical theatre belies the depth of feeling present in these ten vignettes based around the theme of sex. "Boszik and Tamas Vati perform the piece beautifully, with immense concentration, to a fascinating score by Jean-Philippe Heritier," writes Joyce McMillan in today's Festival supplement. "And if this piece is not one of the most simply perfect of Boszik's works, it still raises difficult questions."
Who's Harry? Pleasance Dome
With duplicitous businessmen and a mealy mouthed nightclub hostess played with extreme skill and oodles of comedic nous, White Knight Productions' comic exploration of truth and falsehood had Kate Copstick applauding all aspects of this piece of theatre. "Henry Fleet's play is ingenious, intelligent and turns more unexpected corners than the Edinburgh one-way system," she wrote last week. "You really must see this."
Black to My Roots, Rocket @South Bridge Resource Centre
This cabaret-style show explores what it means to have black "nappy" hair in a society that reveres the blonde, blue-eyed and white.
"A brilliantly good-humored and energetic journey into the experience of black America, and the accumulated wisdom of generations of women," Joyce McMillan writes. "It's delivered with as much life-affirming energy and joy as any show I've seen in Edinburgh this year."
Best of the Fringe Firsts
The winner of the Best of the Fringe Firsts is Horse Country, described as an American Waiting for Godot. It is written by C. J. Hopkins who, when told he had won a Fringe First earlier in the day said, "I don't f****** believe it." When news reached him that he had won the Best, he hopped straight onto a plane for Scotland.
In the meantime, Nancy Walsh — who is married to Horse Country director John Clancy — won the Spirit of the Fringe Award for her moving performance in Cincinnati, also winner of a Fringe First.
Walsh was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor during rehearsals back in the States where she underwent a first round of surgery. At the close of the run on Monday she will be traveling back to a medical center in North Carolina.
—By Paul Webb Theatrenow