The Edinburgh Fringe Interview – Scott Matthewman on Reviewing Theatre

Reviews play a critical part in the Arts world, especially during the Edinburgh Festival. Who is reviewing you, did it read like a five-star, why is nobody turning up, and what can you do with them in September?

In this podcast, I’m joined by Scott Matthewman. He has been working as a theatre critic for nearly twenty years, sometimes as a part-time freelancer and at other times as a fully employed staff writer. We talk about the importance of reviews and reviewers in the Arts, how reviewing has changed over the years, and what can be done to improve the review landscape at Edinburgh and other Fringes around the world.

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The Edinburgh Fringe Show 2023 – Paul Beeson (Never Trouble Trouble, Until Trouble Troubles You)

What does it mean to bring a legend back into the light? That’s the challenge faced by Two Halves Productions in the delightful tongue-twisty Never Trouble Trouble, Until Trouble Troubles You. 

Writer and performer Paul Beeson joins the podcast to talk about the life of Bobby Walker, and portraying the legend at the Edinburgh Fringe. Joining Heart of Midlothian Football Club in 1896, Walker became one of the first footballing superstars; before fading from the public eye. What responsibilities are there with a biography, how do you find the voice of someone born in the 19th century, and what is it like to perform in a museum full of the memories of the legend?

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The Edinburgh Fringe Show 2023 – Benjamin Alborough (Absolute Monopoly!)

The Fringe is not static. Neither are board games, and the classic Monopoly is a perfect example. It’s not a great game, it’s poorly designed, and it ruins friendships and families. Benjamin Alborough not only has the arguments on the dangers of Monopoly, but is also going to reinvent the game with the help of the audience.

Absolute Monopoly is an interactive yet rather chaotic gameshow; from going through the rules through becoming the board to play the game, to deciding the winner. If there’s going to be one.

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The Edinburgh Fringe Show 2023 – Emily Carding (Let The Bodies Pile)

The Edinburgh Fringe is a mix of every genre and emotion; from stand-up and dance, through music, to cabaret and theatre, and beyond, the Fringe swings from light and fluffy to hard-hitting and heavy themes and emotions. It’s the latter that we’re going to talk about in this episode.

Emily Carding is one of the performers in Let The Bodies Pile, the other performer, Henry Naylor, is also the writer. This is an intensely political piece that looks at the reaction to Covid here in the United Kingdom, primarily in nursing homes and how society comes to terms with the decisions made by politicians.

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The Edinburgh Fringe Archives – Des Bishop (Grey Matters, 2016)

Getting his big break on Irish television in 2004, and then working up the rungs to his first Edinburgh show in 2010. The momentum kept building, including a sting of becoming fluent in Chinese to do a stand up show in the country, multiple years selling out venues at the Fringe, and bringing back something bigger each year.

It’s easy to be an observations comic. It’s hard to be a really good observational comic. Des makes it look easy.

In my minds eye, let’s head to our luxury studio beside a touring theatre company… in real life lets head to a shed next to a double decker bus with a performing space on the top deck…. Back to 2016, back to the Grey Matters of Des Bishop.

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The Edinburgh Fringe Archive – Arthur Smith (…Sings Leonard Cohen, volume 2, 2013)

Into the archives once more with another Fringe legend. Over the years, Arthur Smith has performed countless stand-up sets at the Fringe, been arrested for some outdoor shows, wrote his own review and snuck it into The Scotsman, kidnapped a puppet, and many more adventures lost to time.

In 2013 he performed the second of three shows around his love of Leonard Cohen and how his music is wrapped around Arthur’s life. We invited him into our podcast studio to tell us more about “Arthur Smith Sings Leonard Cohen, volume 2”, his memories of the Fringe, and which of the then up-and-coming comics he was watching out for.

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The Edinburgh Fringe Archive – Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Fleabag, 2013)

In our first trip into the archive, we start with Fleabag. Directed by Vicky Wood, written and performed by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, this small show from 2013 took place in the depths of the Underbelly. It remains the gold standard of Fringe legends… from a theatrical dare, to a short stand-up like ten minutes, to a ‘that’s so Fringe’ run in Edinburgh, and then onwards into the zeitgeist Phoebe and Vicky joined Ewan Spence in the podcast studio to talk about the origins of Fleabag, highlight the importance of the subject matter, and try to remember how much of the script was cut before it reached the stage.

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The Edinburgh Fringe Show 2022 – Amie Enriquez (Lightweight)

Fin welcomes Amie Enriquez to the podcast chair to discuss her solo show, ‘Lightweight’. How has the discourse around mental health changed over the last 20 years? What is a “debilitatingly positive attitude”? Why do we need to laugh about the scary stuff in order to normalise it?

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The Edinburgh Fringe Show 2022 – Luca Cupani (Happy Orphan)

Italian comic Luca Cupani has always been a popular face at the Free Fringe, but in 2022 he has a one-hour tickted show called Happy Orphan, and the adventure he took when the rent ran out for mother’s grave He joins Ewan to talk about his show, his first experiences of open-mic comedy, why he looks younger now than he did ten years ago, and why Italian paperwork indirectly led to his Fringe 2022 show.

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The Edinburgh Fringe Show – John Hoggarth (Brown Boys Swim)

Fin Ross Russell begins his month as the podcast’s theatre correspondent by speaking. to ‘Brown Boys Swim’ Director John Hoggarth. They cover everything there is to know about Oxford’s finest offering at this year’s Fringe including the awkwardness of adolescence, needing to see it to be it and the many faces of masculinity.

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