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HTC FRINGE FESTIVAL

November 2023

Review from YourHarlow:

THIS was the first running of the HTC Fringe Festival. This must have taken an awful lot of work and is testament to their commitment by HTC to local theatre.

As this reporter works at the Edinburgh Festival, he was indebted to HTC for having all four shows at the same venue (Victoria Hall Theatre) as he is usually seen running down the Royal Mile with two minutes to go before the next show!

Before, we start we thought all four shows complimented each other. Like four different tracks by a really good artist on the same album.

Joined By War

Written and Directed by Mark Edwards

IT was very appropriate that Joined by War launches a programme which is held in the week of remembrance.

This was an excellent ensemble piece which brought out the best in all the actors. Trench stories are hard to do as it really requires a string of stoic performances as opposed to anything flashy.

However, what stood out was a number of monologues that painted such vivid pictures. One in particular by Harold Tuck (the ever reliable Danny Gleeson) was outstanding. The image of lines, of certainty and of futility.

We would also like to praise Zachary Smith for putting on such a brave performance despite suffering a serious injury the day before. He was also the perfect callow youth.

The finale was aided by brilliant lighting.

We can’t say we ever warmed to this play. We understood and respected its content and in writer Mark Edwards, we look forward to seeing more work.

Four Stars

Sugar Pie

Written by Vivian C Lermond, Directed by Beth Sanderson

THIS short two hander had two of our favourite actors in HTC. Michelle Jimenez-Alder and Steve Hannam always produce excellent performances and this was no exception.

This was right out of the Sam Shephard playbook with a customer and a waitress in a truckstop.

There is always something of the Ed Harris about Steve as he strolls through this role whilst Michelle is a subtle actress who acts so well, especially with her eyes.

We could have easily have seen a whole play here.

Four Stars

A Dog’s Life

Written by Pam Valentine, Directed by Mel Richards

IT was hard not to see all the plays as companion pieces, so it was good that play number three had a lot of humour in it as well as a poignant edge and ending.

 

We had four dogs with four different characters: Young dog, old dog, guard dog and poodle.

 

They were all in kennels hoping that a new owner would come.

 

All four actors produced brilliant characterisations. Isaac Wood’s young Ginger ‘Is it food?” was a perfect depiction of many dogs whilst Fifi (Vanessa Wood) and Fritz (Doug Thomas) were hilarious as they played off each other.

 

Much praise to Doug Thomas who showed what a versatile actor he is, as he played a British soldier and a guard dog in one evening!

 

Four Stars

The Hen Party

Written by Cat Quigley, Directed by Helga Dove

 

THIS WAS a riot. And the audience thought it was too. It felt really appropriate to finish the evening with The Hen Party. It was a high but with reflective themes of friendship and regret. But mainly laughs!

 

The key to the success was the chemistry between the four actresses as they went abroad on Sandra’s hen weekend.

 

Whilst the ever reliable Alyssa Upton played Sandra is an ever reliable sort of way, it allowed others to more or less steal the show with killer lines. You must never under estimate (as seen in all these plays) of the anchor roles. The same is true of Katie Fisher as Kelly.

 

However, when it came to killer lines, a case in point was Lisa McDonald’s Margot, who was hilarious and a wonderful physical comedian.

All the characters displayed the warmth of their characters but also their vulnerabilities. Carrie-Lee Stevens is another formidable actress who really owns and inhabits her roles.

 

In fact, they all commanded the stage and commanded the performances.

They brought Cat Quigley’s excellent script to life. It was relatable but also was a perfect end to the evening.

 

Five Stars

Conclusion

This was a brilliant evening and a testament to the great work of HTC. Once again, well done to the whole production team.

 

As someone had come on to open proceedings, so maybe someone should have bookended the evening. As is often the case at the Edinburgh Fringe, just to say, thank you and to ask to leave comments, reviews on socials.

However, we congratulate you again and look to all your productions in 2024.

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