Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Best of the Fest: The Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2011

L to R Amber Gray, Libby King, Heather Christian, Mikaal Sulaiman, Brian Hastert/ Courtesy of the TEAM

The theatergoer’s pilgrimage is to Edinburgh, UK for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Every August, the small city is packed with theater. As Broadway has seen a parade of tired musical comedies recently, some productions presented in Edinburgh would be a refreshing reminder of just how great theater can be. Here are productions American audiences should hope to see make the jump across the Atlantic.


“Mission Drift”
“Mission Drift” revolves around American capitalism and the drive to endlessly improve one’s status through a modern-day laid off Vegas casino cocktail waitress who awaits the arrival of hope, rather than seeking it for herself, and two teenage immigrants from Amsterdam who gain fame and fortune while they lose their morality throughout different eras of American history. The show is a throwback to classic Bertolt Brecht with its non-linear plot, musical commentary on the action, and subtitles. This is difficult to pull off, and the TEAM has done the best job executing this style play, since Brecht himself. The songs, by Heather Christian, have a wonderful earthy sound that is reminiscent of a subdued Adele. The TEAM will be performing “Mission Drift” at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass. later this semester.

“Go to Your God Like a Soldier”
: DELERIUM:’s production was one of the best character-driven pieces at the Fringe. Four modern British soldiers in Afghanistan show themselves as individuals, rather than through the lens of their career. A father in the middle of a bitter divorce is given an ultimatum, a daughter proves she is as tough as the men to her boss and her father, an orphan becomes a soldier when the world rejects him, and an experienced soldier tires of the war and wants to return home, but finds no escape when an emergency leaves him trapped and in charge of the three other soldiers. It is concise and well written, with focused direction by Oliver Kaderbhai, who also took on one of the acting roles after another actor was forced to drop out. Kaderbhai, along with his co-stars made every character raw, individual, and incredibly real.

Hamlet takes over Edinburgh: “3D Hamlet: A Lost Generation” and “Hamlet House of Horror”

This year’s festival saw five takes on Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” Two were not only leaders within the Hamlet category, but were standouts at the Fringe in general. “3D Hamlet: A Lost Generation,” from the Fundamental Theater Project, had a modern setting with Shakespeare’s classic dialogue. Several celebrities appeared in the production, including Anthony Rapp, Kate Mulgrew, Scott Adsit, and Alec Baldwin. Much needed comic relief came in the form of Hamlet and Ofelia’s facebook conversations. The naturalistic approach that director Sam Underwood took, along with the familiar use of technology as communication, made the infamous characters more relatable than ever.

Louis Lunts and Addison Axe/ Courtesy of Westminster Theatre Company

If one were to take Shakespeare and mix it with “Rocky Horror” and Tim Burton, the result would be “Hamlet House of Horror” from the Westminster Theatre Company. This “Hamlet” is far from the naturalistic stylings of “3D Hamlet.” The dramatic and Gothic costumes, set, hair, and makeup create a bizarrely wonderful new setting for the play. The original music, by director Chris Barton with actors Max Barton and Addison Axe, have the dark undertones of Kurt Weill with a modern spin. Purists may scoff at the cuts made. However, the cut sections would have detracted from this production, which focuses on the division between the youth and the older characters. The level to which every actor, leads and supporting roles alike, have invested themselves in their roles is astounding, and it only further allows the audience to fall head first into the world of the play. Even with the elaborate makeup and unfamiliar setting, there is a new emotional core to this production unlike any other.


Alissa can be reached for comment at [email protected]

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    Phyllis KalbSep 12, 2011 at 11:02 am

    I always enjoy reading Alissa’s commentary. She certainly makes the plays very appealing to see. I was surprised that Alec Baldwin appeared in this production and the different takes on Shakespeare’s Hamlet had to be very fascinating to see.