None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
Langston is my man (page 105)
American High School Theatre Festival
Company George Wythe High School, Richmond, Virginia, Derome Scott Smith, (Director)
Venue Church Hill Theatre, Morningside Road (Venue 137)
Address Morningside Road
Reviewer Mairi Anderson
Most of the dialogue of the show is in the words of Langston Hughes's poetry. This works very well as his poetry has a laid back, melancholy lilt reminiscent of the blues and a syncopated rhythm which easily spills over into dance. The show melds dance (mainly tap), blues, jazz and poetry, so it is an ideal vehicle for exploring Hughes's body of work.
The cast of six boys and six girls from George Wythe High School are very talented and blend well together. Visually they are a fascinating mix of the tall, the small the thin and the curvy. Each has excellent vocal, dancing and acting skills. What they have in common is talent, vivacity, personality and pizzazz.
Choreography is excellent- very innovative and original. I particularly liked the "work" routine at the start of the second act, which used work and cleaning equipment to create a wonderful noisy symphony from the humblest of ingredients. Costumes are of a very high standard with the type of attention to detail which makes such a difference to the authenticity created.
Another winner from the stable of the American High School Theatre Festival!
© Mairi Anderson. 19 August 2002. Published on www.edinburghguide.com
Run: Wednesday August 21st at 12:15
Venue The Blue Note
Address Chambers Street
Reviewer Daniel Winterstein
One of the joys of leaving London for Edinburgh is the wealth of late night drinking places. The Blue Note is one of my favourites. An archetypal jazz dive; dark and smoky with a friendly laid back atmosphere. After a hard day watching theatre it is a welcome sight.
Last night's band were Latin Quarter, an excellent local group. They're playing a funky beat driven jazz. Something to tap your whole body too. Soft but lively, it slips down like liqueur coffee. Samba influences are noticeable. Manuel's superb bongo rhythms encourage some people to dance, though there isn't really space. I maintain the dignity of the press at the bar. Most of the numbers are instrumental, a mix of modern standards and originals. Guest singer Ruli Manurung and drummer Paul Mills finish with a couple of Stevie Wonder songs though, doing them justice with deep rich voices.
Latin Quarter are Ewen Maclean (piano, guitar & composer), Manuel Contreras Maya (bongos), Paul Mills (drums), Dougie Tiplady (sax) and Kevin Glasgow (bass). The Blue Note isn't officially participating in the festival, but they offer late night jazz seven days a week. Cover charge £2.
© Daniel Winterstein, 5th August 2002
Lumineuses Ténèbres (page 91)
Music Marais; Dieupart; François Couperin: Premiere leçon de Ténèbres
Performers Symphonie des Plaisirs
Venue St Mark's Unitarian Church (Venue 125)
Address Castle Terrace
Reviewer Simon Daniels
Much of the music written in France under Louis XIV's absolutist eye was as splendid and magnificent as his great palace, Versailles. However, along with the pomp and ceremony of Lully's operas, the corridors and chambers of Versailles echoed to the sound of intimate ensemble music composed by some of the most gifted musicians of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The four instrumental musicians of Symphonie des Plaisirs opened their concert with a suite by Marin Marais, the great viol player of Louis' reign and one of the most subtle and affecting composers of his generation. Given that St Mark's is one of the finest acoustics in the capital, this should have been a glorious banquet of sound good enough for the king himself.
However, if the musicians of Symphonie des Plaisirs performed for the king as poorly as they performed for the large audience in St Mark's they would have been sent straight back down to the kitchen. Symphonie des Plaisirs' first course was stale, flat and lifeless. The performers failed to bring out any feeling of the innate rhythms of the dances and there was no sense of internal direction within the individual phrases (recorder player Susan Cooksley was particularly guilty of this). Poor intonation was a feature of this concert from the very first phrase and it haunted the ensemble, spectre-like, fingering each player in turn until the very end when it became endemic and unacceptable.
The violinist Eleanor Ryan performed a solo suite by François Dieupart with a sense of style and interesting ornamentation. However, she seemed uncomfortable with her baroque bow and the traditions of French bowing. This led to a series of ear-splitting screeches that, like so much else in this concert, only got worse.
It is tempting to continue the post-mortem but it would be distasteful. It is enough to say that, throughout, the instrumentalists looked and played as if they were bored and simply going through the motions. Because of this, the intonation was poor, the phrasing was non-existent, they showed no understanding of the music and, crucially, they neither felt, nor conveyed any sense of rhythm.
However, there was one ray of light. The soprano Samantha Rogers stood tall and proud as the rest of the concert collapsed around her. Her performance of the first Tenebrae lesson by François Couperin was exquisite and she negotiated Couperin's long and challenging melismas with finesse and style. In the second half she performed court songs by le Camus and Lambert and again she sang with conviction and, unlike the instumentalists, actually performed the music rather than just going though it as if it was some kind of chore. Rogers: Cordon bleu. Symphonies des Plaisirs: Sacré bleu!
© Simon Daniels. 17 August 2002. Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Run: August 16 at 13.00 (1 hour) and 17.15 (1 hour 30 minutes)