25 Live: The Big Birthday Show – The Festival Theatre, Edinburgh

Director: Cat Sheridan

Reviewer: Dominic Corr

For 25 Live: The Big Birthday Show, this isn’t about the comings and goings of glitzy statement productions, this is about community. The community which has been with the Theatre, and its predecessor the Empire Theatre for 25 years and more. For as much as this may be a birthday celebration for the Festival Theatre, it’s also a celebration about us.

Ranging from across the capital, they are serving not only a delightful evening of comedy, dance, song and cinema but a stroll into the theatre’s current workshops and programmes. Including a heart-warming performance from members of the monthly dementia friendly tea parties, something right at the heart of the Festival Theatre. Stretching beyond we also have local schools, choirs and partnerships with Scottish Opera and Dance Ihayami. 

Who on earth could host such an event? Well, Jamie MacDougall and Saskia Ashdown seem superb choices. Ashdown, previously a member of the Attic Collective, part of the accessible theatre programme, is a representation of the theatre’s impact. A fan favourite, MacDougall is on top form for the audience, at home on the stage as usual. His signature vocals glimpsed very briefly in the show opener No Business Like Showbusiness.

As Scotland’s premier stage for opera and dance, it’s only fitting that a birthday party includes a few boogies. From ballroom dances of elegance to the Rosie Kay Dance Company. Breaking Ranks, a developmental piece following the recently staged 10 Soldiers is perhaps the most technically accomplished of the evening.

A pleasant touch, right from within the workings of the theatre is the challenge set forth to those unsung heroes: the front of house staff. Invited to reflect, they cobble together an exceptionally inventive piece which replicates, lampoons and in one case improves upon previous productions performed on this famous stage.

It isn’t all a stage event though, with the screen taking its chance to represent the community too. Here, we are treated to a series of monumentally personal videos created for the event. From silent movies to a touching tribute for the marvellous 96 and still tapping Marie Duthie. Two videos in particular though resonate for their representation, skill and talent. All Among The Pines, an original stop-motion animation made with Braidburn School is a charming piece featuring bright animation, craftsmanship and editing. Our Voices was co-created as a response to the consultation over the Gender Recognition Act, a proud inclusion on Scotland’s largest stage.

So, as we thank the creative talents, hosts and producers, so to we offer gratitude to the theatre itself. The celebration ends reciting the doctrine that; ‘Everyone is an artist. Everyone is an expert of their own experiences’. The Festival Theatre helps evolve homegrown artists alongside the theatre itself. Encouraging nurture and support for the local communities while providing world-class entertainment for the masses. We thank you.

Reviewed on 1 June 2019 | Image: Contributed

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The Reviews Hub - Scotland

The Scotland team is under the editorship of Lauren Humphreys. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. We aim to review all professional types of theatre, whether that be Commercial, Repertory or Fringe as well as Comedy, Music, Gigs etc.

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