EFR - Reviews of All Turn!

All Turn!

Wed 15th – Sun 26th August 2012

reviews

Ettie Bailey-King

at 20:01 on 15th Aug 2012

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'All Turn!' will make you laugh and it will make you cry. It will also lead you on a rather more moving historical journey than one usually enjoys, while seated on a double-decker bus.

So, all aboard the comedy bus…In this small and unprepossessing space Emily Summers carves out a slice of history. She’s a one-woman acting sensation, packing the piece with warm-hearted humour and poignant reminiscences one after the other, without ever appearing awkward or contrived. If you’d told me I was going to watch a young blonde woman dress up as her 86-year-old grandfather in braces, coal-smudge-beard and with an ‘ee by gum’ accent, I might have not have bounded so enthusiastically up the stairs of the bus in the first place. But the show breathes authenticity, originality and sincerity. You don’t have to be told (although it’s interesting, and may bring on a few more of those plentiful tears) that Summers’ piece is painstakingly assembled from her own interviews with her grandfather. You really can tell that each word said by “Albert North” was, in fact, said by Albert North.

One doesn’t feel like a spectator here, perhaps slightly on account of the unusual seating format, but mostly because of Summer’s continual efforts to engage with us as indidivuals. She deftly weaves in jokes and asides, nodding both to the specifics of her audience and the specifics of Albert North’s world. Props, too, are used to ingenious effect and come to symbolise poignant events in the North family history. If this is the best bus journey you’ll have in a while, it’s also almost certainly one of the few occasions on which the humble domestic jam jar might reduce you to tears.

There is a real warmth and generosity of spirit behind this show. Audience members in their teens as well as in their seventies were moved by it, and for its breadth of appeal it might be particularly suitable for families with children. Summers brings her story to life in a way that is both much bigger than a ‘war’ or ‘coming-of-age’ or ‘early life’ kind of story. It is also much smaller. It is at once intimate and universal.

It goes without saying that she’s a cracking performer; witty, lively and immensely likeable. It’s a funny show and peppered with some great moments of physical theatre, dance and well-chosen music. But if you want an hour of non-stop chuckles then this is not for you. There are hundreds of shows at the fringe that will deliver a barrage of jokes, non-stop repartee, three laughs a minute and counting. Don’t come for that – come for laughs which are lit up by something deeper, which feel so real at times that it’s like communing with the past.

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Ellen Smyth

at 00:43 on 16th Aug 2012

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'All Turn!' is simply magical: a rare chance to share something special. If you’re searching for a play that will bring you to tears as many times as it does make you smile then look no further. This is one bus you should hop straight on.

Emily Summers might have been concerned that the Comedy Bus is an awkward stage for her performance - but she need not worry. The top deck enables the heightened intimacy of the production. In fact, now that I’ve seen it performed this way I can’t imagine it in another setting.

Unassuming, pure and honest, 'All Turn!' is extraordinary. Inspired by the life and memories of our storyteller's grandfather, the verbatim interviews with Mr Albert North have been translated into a moving theatre production. Often sitting alongside her passengers, Emily Summers is an enchanting storyteller. Her subtle inclusion of the audience and more deliberated integrations draw us into the memory as if it were our own. It is easy to gauge the huge appreciation the piece received even if the nodding, laughing, and bleary eyed audience members aren’t a big enough clue. The aftermath of this play has a less tangible, more touching effect in that it prompted individuals to share their tales after the show had finished, commenting that the play has transported them to another time and to pre-war memories of their own. Memory can often be fickle but in terms of preserving the past, 'All Turn!' does that and much, much more. The onstage nostalgia transcends individual, personal memory and is transferred to the captivated audience. Albert’s memories become more than just his own, they are one memory shared by us as a collective. For this celebration of life and love, I’m so grateful. Emily Summers is a delight to watch.

'All Turn!' is by far the best one woman show I’ve seen at the fringe. So buckle up – you sure are in for an emotional journey.

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