Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh
It’s rare to find a show that attracts an audience of all ages and backgrounds, and still manages to get every single one of them laughing. But for anyone with a literary or dramatic bent – or just a great sense of humour – this show is what dreams are made of. Formed in the 16th Century, the School of Night was an arcane sect of creative and scientific minds, some of whom are believed by scholars to have written Shakespeare’s plays. Reformed for the 21st Century they’re back, having developed a penchant for performance and a brilliant sense of humour along the way.
Inspired by the likes of Chaucer and Milton, it’s impossible to articulate just how astonishing it is watching the performers – sometimes alone, at other times together – instantly conjure up such complex and stylised improvisations off the top of their heads. Ranging from emotion-inspired songs to an entire “lost” Shakespearean play, there seems to be no limit to their imaginations, nor their talents. Apart from being diverse and convincing actors, able to switch from a serious RSC style to hilarious nonsense within seconds, there can be no doubt that every single one of them has a hugely substantial literary knowledge behind them. Ordinary people quite simply should not be this talented; it’s just not fair on the rest of us.
Original, ingenious and a hell of a laugh, this is what the Fringe is all about. Lie, cheat and steal for a ticket, because this is the secret gem of the festival.