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Everything Theatre: Harpy Review at Underbelly, Edinburgh

August 20th, 2018

Old age is a scary beast. Scary for those who approach it – as it carries uncertainty – and scary for those who watch it from a distance, because it’s hard to understand. So is Birdie (Su Pollard) scary, because nobody wants to get close to her. They prefer to observe her from a distance, like some sort of mythological creature. Like a harpy.

In reality, she’s just an old lady who lives on her own and has no friends or family. Nobody in the neighbourhood knows her personally, but they call her a harpy, a harridan, and report her to the social services for listening to loud music in the dead of night. In a way, she’s proud of her reputation and giggles at the idea that her presence can make people so uncomfortable.

• Continue reading at Everything Theatre. (Review by Marianna Meloni) (Photo © Karla Gowlett)

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Rev Stan’s Theatre Blog: Harpy Review at Underbelly, Edinburgh

August 20th, 2018

revstan18aBirdie (Su Pollard) is a hoarder and the bane of her neighbours and social services.

She likes to belt out 80s pop music – Bananarama, Eurythmics – late at night and her house is a health hazard.

Harridan and harpy to most, locals tell children that she’ll take their soul if she catches them looking in the window. Her comments are sharp and insensitive – and often witty – and she sees the ‘mishaps’ that envelop her as not quite how they appear to everyone else.

However, for all her bluster she has a keen observation and there is an organisation to the chaos of her home, a rationale that unfolds slowly in her life story.

• Continue reading at Rev Stan’s Theatre Blog. (Review by Rev Stan)

BritishTheatre.Com: Harpy Review at Underbelly, Edinburgh

August 17th, 2018

britishtheatre18bMark Ludmon reviews Philip Meeks’ new play Harpy starring Su Pollard at Underbelly, Cowgate at Edinburgh Fringe

The cult popularity of 1960s “hag horror” movies, led by Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, is part of the inspiration for Harpy, an entertaining and heartwarming new black comedy from Philip Meeks. The gothic horror has been relocated to south London to tell the story of Bridget, known as Birdie, who has turned her house into a nest packed with curiosities from dentures, magazines and mannequin parts to a collection of glass eyes. After the sudden mysterious death of her Auntie Maureen in the attic, Birdie has become a figure of hate to her neighbours and a worry for social services.

• Continue reading at British Theatre. (Review by Mark Ludmon)

Edinburgh Evening News: Harpy Review

August 17th, 2018

een18aLiam Rudden: Forgive me for harping on about Su’s Fringe debut

Have to say, it’s long overdue. Yes, at 68-years-young the irrepressible Su Pollard is currently making her Fringe debut in a wonderfully bitter-sweet piece by Fringe First Award-winning playwright Philip Meeks.Harpy tells the story of aging eccentric Birdie. Birdie lives alone. She is a hoarder with a love of Bananarama and singing into her hairbrush. The neighbours call her a harpy, although most have never met her.They see her hoard of treasures as a threat to house prices, but all her bits and bobs aren’t rubbish, well, not to Birdie. Her ‘collection’ is her life’s work. It exists because, many years before, something she deeply cherished was stolen.

• Continue reading at Edinburgh Evening News. (Review by Liam Rudden) (Photo © Karla Gowlett)

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The Wee Review: Harpy Review at Underbelly, Edinburgh

August 17th, 2018

weereview18aSu Pollard shines and delivers a fascinating monologue.

The set already hints at the characteristics of the eponymous protagonist – played by well-known TV and stage actress Su Pollard – before Harpy has even begun. Looking like a well-stocked jumble sale, bric-a-brac and junk are littered around the stage: clothes, plastic bags, paintings, boxes and a symbolic filthy fish tank. Pollard plays Birdie, an eccentric, scatter-brained but sensitive middle-aged woman living in the house where she was sent as a young adult to live with her now-deceased aunt.

The monologue unfolds to detail Birdie’s day-to-day life as the subject of local gossip. They think she is a mad hoarder who lives alone and who may or may not be a murderer. Woven throughout this narrative are her reflections and memories that give us subtle insights into her fragile, yet defensive psyche and at times upsetting moments from her past.

• Continue reading at The Wee Review. (Review by Matthew Keeley)

Sardines: Harpy Review at Underbelly, Edinburgh

August 17th, 2018

harpy18kOne of the pleasures of the Edinburgh Fringe is to see familiar performers doing something new, and that was certainly the case with Harpy by Philip Meeks, a one woman play with Su Pollard playing an elderly hoarder and some of the other people in her life, especially her well-meaning social worker Mrs Featherstone. Appearing from the back of the small White Belly venue, Pollard is almost unrecognisable when dressed down for the role and without her trademark glasses, but it is immediately clear that she is more than up to the challenge of such a part.

• Continue reading at Sardines. (Review by Chris Abbott) (Photo © Karla Gowlett)

The Stage: Richard Jordan at The Fringe

August 17th, 2018

stage18cRichard Jordan: Forget Dannii Minogue as Lady Macbeth, the fringe offers established stars a platform for reinvention

The Edinburgh Festival Fringe may once have been considered a rite of passage, where many of today’s leading performers cut their teeth and before embarking on successful careers. However, now it seems that the festival is the place to play after you’ve enjoyed career success.

…This year that point is exemplified best by two shows: Philip Meeks’ new play Harpy starring Su Pollard, and Stripped, John Partridge’s one-man cabaret performance. Pollard, who makes her fringe debut, became a household name in the 1980s BBC sitcom Hi-de-Hi!. However, as a result, Pollard was frequently typecast and her acting range neglected.

In Harpy, her name will guarantee ticket sales from those who loved her as chalet maid Peggy Ollerenshaw in the comedy show. However, Pollard’s appearance at the fringe has provided her with an opportunity to show off her own versatility as an actor.

• Continue reading at The Stage.

The List: Harpy Review at Underbelly, Edinburgh

August 12th, 2018

harpy18gTV’s Su Pollard asks about respect and care for the elderly

Birdie is a hag, a harridan, a harpy – or that’s what she’s been told. Even glancing into the filthy windows of her stuffed-full house will suck out your soul. Just because she struggles to throw anything away, instead amassing it all in the teetering piles that fill every inch of her grimy home. It was those towers of tat that toppled to suffocate her aunt – or at least that’s what the snooping authorities believe.

Just the presence of actor, comedian and, of course, national treasure Su Pollard as Harpy’s solo performer inevitably makes her the focus of the show. And she delivers a fine, considered performance – sometimes a little deliberate – as a feisty elderly woman whose fragile grip on reality is fast becoming ever more flimsy.

• Continue reading at The List. (Review by David Kettle)  (Photo © Karla Gowlett)

The Stage: Harpy Review at Underbelly, Edinburgh

August 6th, 2018

stage12a‘Su Pollard makes fringe debut in touching drama’

Birdie lives on her own, surrounded by the detritus of her life. She is a hoarder, clinging desperately to the objects that make up her past, and annoying the neighbours with her outspoken manner.

Su Pollard is probably best known as the hapless Peggy from the BBC’s 1980s holiday camp-set sitcom Hi-de-Hi!. Yet despite the lack of her trademark novelty headgear and belting vocals, she is instantly recognisable as Birdie. This becomes both a help and a hindrance.

Philip Meeks’ Harpy demands a discerning comic timing and Pollard excels at this, whether delivering a punchline or singing cheesy pop songs into a hairbrush.

• Continue reading at The Stage. (Review by Paul Vale)

The Scotsman: Theatre Interview – Su Pollard

August 4th, 2018

harpy18eTheatre interview: Su Pollard on making her Fringe debut in Harpy

It’s taken a long time for her to make her Fringe debut, but Su Pollard is as enthusiastic as ever and happy to be starring in a solo play written by Fringe First winner Philip Meeks.

Interview by Susan Mansfield ‘Is there a good club to go to?” Su Pollard, who is making her Fringe debut at the age of 68, is keen to get the lowdown on the Edinburgh nightlife. “And that place, I love it, the Witch’s thingie? The restaurant.” The Witchery? “Yeah. Fantastic. I must go there again.”

Despite a theatre career spanning four decades, the Fringe has eluded Pollard. “Summer seasons were always the thing. People would approach you and you’d say, ‘No, I can’t, I’m doing four months in Bournemouth,’ I do feel that sometimes things come at the proper time, when you’re meant to do them. Perhaps I wasn’t really meant to do it 30 years ago.”

• Continue reading at The Scotsman. (Photo © Karla Gowlett)

BBC News: Demolition of Hi-de-Hi! Hotel Begins

August 4th, 2018

hidehi18jA hotel which hosted stars of 1980s sitcom Hi-de-Hi! during filming has begun to be knocked down.

The Cliff Hotel in Dovercourt, Essex, is being demolished and redeveloped as a 61-room hotel and apartments.

Cast members stayed at the site between 1980 and 1988 while shooting the comedy series, which was filmed at Warner’s Holiday Centre at Dovercourt Bay.

Su Pollard, Ruth Madoc and Paul Shane were among the stars of the show. The BBC sitcom was set in a fictional holiday camp called Maplins and revolved around the lives of entertainers.

• Continue reading at BBC News.

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The Telegraph: Culture | Comedy: Su Pollard Interview

August 2nd, 2018

telegraph18aA new interview with Su, published by The Telegraph, on the day she makes her Edinburgh Festival Fringe debut in Harpy at Underbelly, Cowgate at 4pm this afternoon. Be there or be square!

Su Pollard: ‘People can’t deal with anything that is perceived to be soft porn’

The name Su Pollard evokes a certain time in recent cultural history. As the lowly, lovable chambermaid Peggy Ollerenshaw in sitcom Hi-de-Hi!, she caught the public imagination and for a time in the Eighties she seemed to be the most famous woman in Britain.

She scored a No 2 single with Starting Together and released an album. Elton John was a fan and Freddie Mercury once asked her for an autograph. While at a charity event in the House of Commons, Princess Diana approached her and they started tap dancing.

“She was very good, very slick,” says Pollard. “She was also very nice with a fabulous smile and fabulous teeth. I just wanted to grab them, which probably isn’t the right thing to do.”

• Continue reading at The Telegraph. (Free registration required)

The Express: ‘All Is Forgiven Now’ Says Su Pollard

August 2nd, 2018

express18bIt might have taken more than three decades but Su Pollard has forgiven Diana Ross for depriving her of her own chart-topping hit.

The 68-year-old says: “Chain Reaction by Diana Ross kept my single Starting Together off No 1 in 1986 but I’ve forgiven her now.”

The Hi-di-Hi actress’s song peaked at No 2. Starting Together was her theme song for BBC documentary The Marriage.

Su is now preparing to star in the play Harpy about a hoarder’s relationship with suspicious neighbours, which runs at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival from August 2 to 28. Written by Fringe First Award winner Philip Meeks and directed by Hannah Chissick it will be Su’s debut at the world’s largest arts festival.

• Continue reading at The Express.

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The Stage: Su Pollard at Edinburgh Festival Fringe | Interview

August 1st, 2018

stage18bSu Pollard on Edinburgh Fringe debut: ‘I’m very happy to play myself, but I’ll give most things a go’

Having begun her career in Nottingham’s working men’s clubs, Su Pollard made her name in a series of 1980s sitcoms. Now she is adding another string to her bow with her first Edinburgh Fringe appearance in a serious one-woman show about mental health. She tells Nick Smurthwaite why she is reluctant to turn anything down

Taking a one-woman show to Edinburgh Festival Fringe in your 70th year – and in a heatwave too – seems to border on the masochistic, but Su Pollard is characteristically upbeat about making her debut at the world’s largest arts festival this month.

“I’m an Edinburgh virgin,” declares the flamboyant, jewellery-festooned star of the TV sitcoms Hi-de-Hi and You Rang, M’Lord, as well as countless regional pantos. “I don’t even think I’ve done panto in Edinburgh. But I’ve always loved the city and its people.”

Pollard’s professional career began in musicals in the early 1970s, although she had started performing in Nottingham, where she grew up, 10 years earlier.

“I did all kinds of shows with the Co-Operative Arts Theatre in Nottingham, dramatic as well as musical,” she recalls, “and I used to sing in working men’s clubs in my teens.”

• Continue reading at The Stage.