Hidden Door Opening Night

Leith Theatre

Miranda Heggie, Four stars

Hidden Door makes a return to Leith for 2018, and it’s bigger and brighter than ever before. Opening on Friday night with an all female line-up, Welsh singer Gwenno performed songs from her latest album Le Kov, written entirely in Cornish. With songs on subjects as diverse as patriarchy, war crimes and cheese, her unique blend of synth-driven, heavy electro-pop was uplifting and infectious.

Next up, Honeyblood’s Stina Tweeddale performed solo, since drummer Cat Myers is touring with Mogwai. Playing through some of the band’s back catalogue, she seemed a touch nervous alone on stage, though her gutsy guitar playing and rich raw vocals gave her no reason to be.

She was followed by London based pop-punk outfit Dream Wife. Lead singer Rakel Mjoll was every inch the rock star, giving a direct, punchy and hyper-energetic performance. Joined by Alice Go on lead guitar and Bella Podpadec on bass, the band are both fun and fierce, underpinned by a serious feminist message, but not taking themselves too seriously. Ending with an excellent set from Nadine Shah – an English singer/songwriter whose Norwegian and Pakistani heritage can be heard through her music - Friday night was a fabulous opener to what’s sure to be a fabulous festival.


Hidden Door

Leith Theatre / State Cinema, Edinburgh

Four stars

In the cheap seats of the balcony of Leith Theatre, a couple dance their way through what looks like a first date pas de deux as part of the opening performance of this year’s ten-day Hidden Door arts festival. Once the couple wander off for more private moments, downstairs in the auditorium, another couple take over in a more urgent and less loving scene. So it goes throughout this series of pop-up duets choreographed by Janis Claxton. There is solo dance too between bands, with the electronic score to Shhe presaging the live set by The Orb’s Dr Alex Paterson later on.

Over at the old State Cinema, the main theatre programme features Plutus, an Aristophones-inspired game show named after the Greek god of wealth. Hosted by naff 70s style quiz hosts Charlie and Chris, the pair ask the audience to answer questions about money, wealth and poverty. Beyond the cheesy gags and mystery star prizes, the questions are a gateway to a deadpan meditation on global inequality, with Charlie’s between-round monologues taking an increasingly dark turn before the show’s point is brought home. With a full theatre and dance programme to come and art of all kinds lining every corner of both venues, Hidden Door is even more priceless.