Bringing the hottest and most exciting work from Edinburgh to London, Pleasance’s new Edinburgh transfer festival The Caledonian Express has arrived. The Caledonian Express crosses genre and form to stage the most innovative pieces fresh from the Fringe. From solo performances to ensemble physical theatre, from immersive installations to surreal twohanders, the Pleasance continues to programme bold work making it the place for incredible stories. Eleven shows go on sale today and more will be announced in the coming weeks.
Opening the festival is Build a Rocket which followed in the footsteps of Flesh and Bone to win the Holden Street Theatres Award that will see them transfer to the Adelaide Fringe. A one-woman show directed by the Stephen Joseph Theatre’s Artistic Director Paul Robinson, Build a Rocket is the story of a young mother determined to get the best out of life for herself and her son.
Fringe First winner The Archive of Educated Hearts is an intimate storytelling installation crafted from true stories of families facing breast cancer. The audience is surrounded by relics and keepsakes that allow a glimpse into these stories of kindness and courage, fragments of absolute joy, and incomprehensible heartbreak. The Archive is full of the moments that make up a lifetime and, after the show, the audience is invited to archive their own personal histories.
The Charlie Hartill Special Reserve Fund recipient, Freeman, was created by the first black-led company to receive the Special Reserve. Nominated for SIT-UP social consciousness awards and the Amnesty Freedom of Expression Award, Freeman threads together true stories to examine the unspoken link between mental health and systemic racism. It features a mix of high-energy physical theatre, gospel singing, shadow puppetry and powerful drama to evoke an extraordinarily moving experience.
Winner of the Les Enfants Terribles 2018 Greenwich Partnership Award, Incognito Theatre Company bring their explosive physical style to London, telling a unique gangster story of the murky underworld of the 1920s. Tobacco Road is a magnified examination of the people who forged a life for themselves in a world that ignored them. All the characters are in some way based on real people and the show explores issues including the struggle of being a female gangster in a male-dominated world and the complex standards of masculinity.
Combining comedy and frank sincerity, Enter the Dragons is a hilariously sublime comment on modern womanhood. Written and performed by École Philippe Gaulier alumni Abigail Dooley and Emma Edwards, this award-winning production mixes elements of clowning, puppetry and physical comedy with a narrative that expertly skewers the pressures surrounding women as they pass the age of fifty. Dooley and Edwards present a comedic call to arms, marrying a wry exploration of the tribulations of ageing with a delightfully dark surrealism.
Modern jukebox musicals often involve a multi-talented cast, an orchestra, opulent sets, decadent costumes, extravagant routines and dramatic key changes. We’ve Got Each Other is the Bon Jovi musical with none of these things, but theatre maker Paul O’Donnell conjures up an all-singing, all-dancing spectacle simply using the power of imagination, glitter balls and one incredibly catchy ‘80s tune.
In NOVAE Theatre’s It’s Not A Sprint, Maddy is marking her thirtieth birthday with a marathon – she has 26.2 miles to make a decision. As a woman, she is worn down. As a marathon runner, she is unprepared. The race is the first true test of endurance Maddy has ever undertaken, but her escalating battle with the voice in her head makes it a more gargantuan challenge than even she could ever have imagined. Maddy is sent into a spiral of self-doubt, forcing her to confront her deeper anxieties of fidelity, children, career and body image.
John Partridge acclaimed career has seen him perform on the big stage at the Palladium and on the small screen in Albert Square. Stripped is his semi-autobiographical musical theatre show which explores his life from the Royal Ballet student aged nine to his role in the original cast of Cats and Starlight Express to the loss of his mother last year. Covering sexuality, success, hedonism, sobriety, love and loss through film, music, poetry, song and dance, Stripped is Partridge’s attempt to say goodbye to who he was as he becomes someone new.
With boundless enthusiasm, Tom Brace bamboozles his audience with his brand-new variety show, Brace Yourself (It’s Magic Time). Fresh from the Fringe, Brace is full of laughs and classic magic tricks for all the family. His natural exuberance and harmless mischief charms the audience with a little help from his virtual assistant Trixby. In contrast, Ladykiller is a blood-soaked jet-black comedy about social responsibility, zero-hour contracts and gender expectations. The chambermaid considers herself to be a pretty normal person. She reads books. She goes to the cinema. She even pretended to read the party manifestos at the General Election. She just wishes that people would be nicer to those who work in customer services. A chambermaid, a hotel room and a dead woman – it’s not what it looks like, really, it’s not.
From the New Diorama Graduate Emerging Company 2018, Poltergeist Theatre, Lights Over Tesco Car Park is the critically acclaimed totally true story about an alien sighting over a supermarket. An absurdist docu-comedy, Lights Over Tesco Car Park, tries to decide who to believe with the aid of historical abduction stories, a bucket of flying saucer sweets, dance numbers, some speedily Googled conspiracy theories, and an audience.
Director of Pleasance, Anthony Alderson comments, “This exciting transfer festival brings the buzz of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe to our London home. I’m delighted that we can extend our work with so many of these talented companies. The Festival will take over the whole of our London space bringing the diversity of our Fringe programme to new and wider audiences.
Giving London audiences the chance to enjoy the best theatre and comedy from the Fringe this year, the Caledonian Express festival is an opportunity for companies to be bold in the development of their work for new venues and spaces. Staying true to its mission of providing a platform for the talent of the future, the Pleasance remains committed to discovering, nurturing and presenting the best UK theatre-makers.”