Review: The Red (rating 4/5)
Marcus Brigstocke’s debut play is an exploration of alcoholism from the point of view of Ben, an alcoholic who has been sober for 23 years. Set on the day of his father’s funeral, Ben sits in the cellar of the family home and reads his dad’s last will and testament, discovering that the old man has invited him to have a drink from a bottle of red wine he brought to celebrate his son’s birthday 41 years previously.
As he contemplates whether to take up the offer, his father returns from the grave and the two start a conversation that explores the disease but also the positives of the father-son relationship and what Ben has gained and lost through years of sobriety. The relationship between the two is heartfelt and extends the subject matter beyond alcoholism alone.
In places it feels as if the play is repeating itself, returning to the same ground without adding extra complications or temptations to raise the stakes, but the honesty of the script and convincing portrayals of son and father by Sam and John Alexander, make it thought-provoking and worth seeing.
Pleasance Dome until 26 August
Review: We Apologise for the Inconvenience (Rating 4/5)
This is a touching homage to Douglas Adams with the Hitchhicker’s Guide to the Galaxy author held hostage by his publisher in a hotel room until he finishes what would go on to become the fourth part of an inappropriately named trilogy.
His diversion tactics, as he resists the pressure to write, include baths, baths and more baths as well as continual reflections on why he can’t write and why he does write.
It’s a situation many writers will know well. What will be less familiar is the arrival of a large talking duck who also embodies the spirit of PG Wodehouse and who is determined to get Adams to confront the approaching deadline and deliver his book.
With Hitchhiker’s guide style voiceovers and graphics at the start and end of the play, and a script that channels the spirit of Adam’s writing and ability to string surreal and unrelated concepts together into a compelling whole, this is a play that will appeal to fans of the late author and to anyone who has ever tried to avoid a deadline, whether or not they’ve been aided by a duck.
PQA venues at Riddles Court until 19 August
Review: The Wrong Ffion Jones (rating 4/5)
Set in a dystopian future Wales where Tom Jones, Roby Brydon, Catatonia and the Manic Street Preachers are the main symbols of the history of a nation that has become a glass-domed theme park, this is a one-woman comedy show about reclaiming your country’s heritage and your own identity.
Ffion Jones is a tour guide in the new Walesland, but maybe not for long as she is torn between starting a revolution or bidding for the job of the real voice of Wales now that the tour guides are to be replaced by machines with just one person left to do the voiceovers.
The story is a bit lightweight in spite of a mixture of amusing observations and accurate political commentary. What lifts it above many other one-person plays is the performance of Ffion Jones, playing a version of herself alongside a host of characters who rise above being stereotypes and come together to create a village that is feisty but frustrated, resistant but resigned to the reduction of history to a tourist attraction.
The Wrong Ffion Jones serves as a great showcase for the real Ffion Jones and sets her up as someone to watch out for.
Underbelly Cowgate until 25 August