Review – Pulse 2017 – New Wolsey Theatre – Thursday 1st June

So – the Pulse Festival is upon us again – and the New Wolsey working with China Plate have come up with a huge variety of shows to get your jade entertainment taste buds working again.

Over the course of the next ten days you can see scratch productions, works in progress and fully formed Edinburgh Fringe winners. There’s stand up, dance, drama and a selection of bands at the end of the night to entertain you in the bar. What more could you want? And if you book five shows or more you get all your tickets for £5 each.

Maestro – Kieran Hodgson

Opening night kicked off with Edinburgh Comedy Award nominee Kieran Hodgson with his follow up to smash hit ‘Lance’ which looked at his teenage years through his obsession with cycling. ‘Maestro’ covers similar ground but this takes his obsession with composer Gustav Mahler and weaves a story of painful rites of passage for a nerdy boy whose love of classical music from the age of 11 is very much out of sync with most of his class mates.

Using the structure of his 17 year attempt to write a symphony as good as his hero, the story weaves around each musical movement, introduced to us by himself on the violin and later accompanied by an orchestral recording, each inspired by an incident in his life usually involving a doomed love interest.

Kieran is an affable performer whose light touch and self effacing manner would win over the most jaded of audience. The performance conjured up exactly what it would be like to grow up as the class nerd – and was sympathetic without sacrificing the laughs at the school boy Kieran’s expense.

Kieran played all the characters in his story (a lot of them with the same Brummy accent!) – and kept the pace going with tales of his first school love, his boy crush and a doomed affair with an off the wall French girl at the complete opposite end of the spectrum.

A well structured performance that, even if not ground breaking, was nevertheless enjoyable and a good start to the festival.

All The Things I Lied About – Katie Bonna

Fringe First winner Katie Bonna also weaved an autobiographical story – but this one had much more of a serious bite to it.

I remember seeing the first incarnation of a ‘Dirty Great Love Story’ at a Pulse Festival a few years ago. Written with Richard Marsh its now a West End hit. So I was interested to see what Katie had come up with next.

‘Dirty Great Love Story’ was quite whimsical in some ways. It was about the love lives of thirty somethings growing up in the nineties – and was genuinely funny and engaging. This show is much more hard hitting and has a definite edge. We all lie almost from birth. How much is it part of us and how much effect does it have on the course our life takes?

Framed as a TED talk on the science of lying Katie started out with the effect the habit of lying has had on world events such as the rise of Trump and BREXIT.

However it soon became much more personal, drilling down into the nitty gritty of her parent’s lives and the infidelities of her father before forensically examining her own failed love life and the effect lying has on our ability to form meaningful relationships.

This wasn’t always easy watching – although there was a lot of humour and some audience participation. Katie made us question how much truth there is in our own personal circumstances – and whether in the end anything that is said is possible to believe.

Powerful stuff.

The evening finished with local band J.S and The Lockerbillies in the upstairs bar giving us a bit of Jonny Cash and rock and roll as only Josh Lock can – a fitting end to what promises to be a packed and entertaining few days at The New Wolsey.

Be there or be square!!!



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