Beyond the Fringe

Gareth K Vile entertains himself outside out of Edinburgh

Feature by Gareth K Vile | 30 Jul 2009

Although the International Festival and the Fringe dominate this month’s issue, and August is traditionally “dark” in the theatre across the rest of Scotland, there are still sparks of life flaring. Dundee Rep features a couple of musicals, while Glasgow has a selection of preview shows that are testing out audiences before striking Edinburgh.

Many of the Glasgow theatres are taking their work over to the Fringe - the Citizens' has The Sound of My Voice, an award-winning look at domestic brutality. And in spite of a strong Fringe presence, The Arches is still offering Contact Jam, a space for dancers to come along and explore the possibilities of working together in free-form experiment.

Contact Jam is open to dancers of all abilities, and brings an improvisation ethos to contemporary dance. Not so much a performance or lesson, it invites participation and runs monthly throughout the year.

At Gilmorehill, Solar Bear are presenting Gone, a comedy that looks at reality television gone wild. Solar Bear, here in association with the Deaf Youth Theatre, are one of the few companies willing to use radical stagecraft in productions for all ages. Alongside their extensive outreach, Solar Bear are a force for modern, entertaining children's theatre, and they actively engage with controversial topics.

In Aberdeen, the International Youth Festival dominates the first weeks of August. PACE from Paisley bring their updated and condensed Romeo and Juliet, and the Umkhathi Theatre company travel from Zimbabwe to offer African tales. While it is not dedicated to theatre alone, the breadth of performance on show here does make it a sharp antidote to the anodyne quality of what usually passes for youth drama.

There is one major new production in Aberdeen this month - an adaptation of Neil M Gunn's The Silver Darlings. From the same company that staged the classic Lewis Grassic Gibbon novel Sunset Song, it is directed by Kenny Ireland.

The Silver Darlings studies the impact of the Highland clearances, with the heroine forced to confront a life by the sea, as her husband is stolen away by a press-gang. This explicitly Scottish piece of theatre is another appropriate choice for the Homecoming year with its historical context and implicit political concerns.

It is a stuggle to find Scottish theatre outside of the Fringe this month, but between the previews and the regular events, it still represents a typical, if minaturised variety.

Contact Jam The Arches 9 August 1.00 £4 Gone (Solar Bear) Gilmorehill 31 Jul-1 Aug £3 Aberdeen International Youth Festival Various venues 31 July-8 August The Silver Darlings His Majesty's, Aberdeen 28 August-5 September