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(A) 8 out of 142
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Rating Guide
None = Unmissable

= Unwatchable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme



The Adventures Of Stoke Mandeville Astronaut and Gentleman (page108)
Drams full glass
Venue Augustine's (Venue 152)
Address George VI Bridge
Reviewer Thelma Good

Madcap wild script - imagine Dick Barton, Spike Milligan, The Goons, The Goodies, Vivian Stanshall, and ... Brace Yourself! Played in a tight, high spirited style Writers Nikolas Lloyd and Fraser Charlton have created a wonderful, whacky play where a parallel universe collides with ours and two men switch places with results for all.

Plain, rather dull lawyer Graham Pennyworth, Richard Llewellyn, is returning from a lunch with pushier lawyer Rachel when a traffic accident takes him away into the company of Stoke Mandeville, Nikolas Lloyd (Gentleman Extraordinare) and his steam powered astral carriage which can navigate to the planets as well as crash land in Newcastle. Resembling Mandeville's fellow adventurer Carstairs, Pennyworth soon finds himself using more than Carstairs' name and is off on an adventure via Jupiter and other part of The Empire. The other actors David Redcliff, Scott Hutchison and Sarah Cleves provide support with variety of accents and personas, the only feature I didn't like was the persistent and not funny, fake laugh Cleves's characters all shared.

Full of lots of cunning jokes poking digs at today and our glorious British past, it's top quality fun in the writing. I recommend their excellent websites for a good, rollicking browse too, best one of the Fringe.
© Thelma Good 15 August 2002
Stoke Mandeville
   

After The Hole (page 108)
Drams full glassfull glassfull glass of Scotland's other national drink
Venue until 24 August Rocket @ South Bridge Rescource Centre (Venue 123)
Address Infirmary Street
Venue 25 - 26 August at Rocket @ Apex Hotel (Venue 16)
Address Grassmarket
Reviewer Thelma Good

The book After The Hole was written by Guy Burt when he was living at Charterhouse School. The pupils from that school are performing here this new adaptation by their director Adam Speers. Some of the story differs from both the book and the film and the constraints of this Fringe venue mean it doesn't have the best setting to succeed. As so often on the Fringe when the play calls for several different settings Speers and his designer have divided the stage up from the begining, hindering the play.

After The Hole has faint echoes of that schooldays classic Lord Of The Flies and in this adaptation is creepily fairly compelling as five schoolchildren go into the hole under the English Block somoned there by Martyn. No one knows they are there and Martyn stays away too as what was to be a three day prank becomes a test of endurance for them all. Keeping the darkness of the story going are Richard Campbell's Mike a boy turning in a maturing young man and Helen Vaughan's Liz a girl who seems like a mere waif but by the end you know you wouldn't want to be left with her for too long. If you don't know the novel or the film from it The Hole this adaptation could make you seek them out. It's reasonable attempt but a flatter, bigger stage and more thoughful set would give the production more intensity.
© Thelma Good 17 August 2002 - published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 24 August at Rocket @ South Bridge Rescource Centre at 18:20 then at 25 - 26 August at Rocket @ Apex Hotel at 14:30
Company - Charterhouse

   

The Al - Hamlet Summit (page 108)
Drams full glassfull glass
Venue Pleasance Dome (Venue 23)
Address 1 Bristo Square
Reviewer Thelma Good

In a Mid-Eastern warring state, Claudius has deposed his older brother and married his wife, the dead ex-ruler's son Hamlet is deep in grief. The rising tensions in a microphoned and video screened conference room which later doubles as a war room have been translated into modern words, nearly as eloquent as those of the original Hamlet. Instead of the ghost of Hamlet's father we have the anonymous arm dealer here a svelte female with a long tailored white coat. The play has a very good live soundscape created by 2 musicians in a visible booth at the back as if they were translators.

The Zaoum Theatre Company production is played mainly behind the fourth wall and so doesn't reach across to the audience enough. Placing Hamlet's desk at the front and having the actors often speak from behind desks arranged at the side and back of the stage also reduces the dynamism of the piece. That it works to the extent that it does is due to the powerful and striking acting from all the cast of international actors.

It's an accomplished production directed and written by Sulayman Al Bassam, but the staging and direction makes the whole hard to stay continually engaged with.
Runs till 26 August not 7 or 19
Zaoum Theatre Company
© Thelma Good 08 August 2002
   

Alice in the Underworld (page 108 )
Drams full glassfull glasshalf glass
Venue Greyfriars Kirk House (Venue 28)
Address 86 Candlemaker Row
Reviewer Shona Brodie

"Cast Offs" as part of Rotherham Young People's Services give us a show that is nothing like the Alice in Wonderland fairy tale. The "Underworld" they are referring to is the danger that the real world can present, and in this story dangers that directly affect Alice and girls like her. Serious issues are tackled such as sexual exploitation and transmitted diseases, as well as domestic violence. Using situations and language that are obviously very real to the cast, their youthful openness comes through. A few fine performances show maturity of age, in particular from Amy Jarvis as the young Alice who believably conveys her isolation and hopelessness.

If you can put to one side the missed lines, wrong lighting cues and misplaced props then you will be overcome by the enthusiasm of the group. Yes some of the messages are clichéd (don’t have sex, you’ll get pregnant!) and you can see them coming a mile off, but then again, that just makes it even more true to life.
© Shona Brodie 21 August 2002 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 24 August at 12.50
   

All Shorts (page 109)
Drams full glassfull glassfull glassfull glass
Venue Club WEST at Crowne Plaza
Address Dunedin Room, Crowne Plaza Hotel, 80 High Street
Reviewer Shona Brodie

The phrase "self-indulgent nonsense" comes to mind as any "deeper meanings" are extremely hard to uncover. ClubWest describe these shorts as "..dark yet sometimes comic recesses of the mind as it struggles to juggle the dreams of the past with the reality of the present." Maybe I just didn't get it, but I couldn't help but laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. The audience was left in a stunned silence at the end. Never a good sign when a member of the cast (and in this case, also the writer) has to indicate that it has finished.

Most of it. Was. Written. In Short. Phrases. That. Was. Very. A. Nnoying. A kid queuing up for a fairground ride was the most memorable piece as he walked along the stage to take his turn. Saying nothing but listening to a voice inviting him aboard the ride, when he finally gets to the end of the line he decides not to go on. Yes, this was the highlight.

Good to see the use of live footage behind the real action. Bringing some of the shorts to life, by utilising different angles from the same scene to create intrigue and impact. It took my attention away from whatever it was that writer Kevin Williams was trying the get off his chest.
© Shona Brodie 18th August 2002 - published on EdinburghGuide.com
Until August 24th at 18.00
   

Almost Human (page 109)
Drams full glass half glass
Venue Bedlam Theatre
Address 11b Bristo Place
Reviewer Shona Brodie

The inhuman treatment of animals is explored by Lynx Theatre in Education as we follow Tarzan the chimp through various stages of animal abuse. Taken from his jungle home he is a circus act, a zoo inmate, and a TV star before his final destination in a research laboratory while human characteristics such as arrogance, exploitation and humiliation are explored.

As part of the Lynx Educational Trust for Animal Welfare they perhaps try too hard at times to put their message across. Highly challenging, this play should provide great debate and interest when taken on a 3 month UK High School tour after its Festival run. Despite the very serious message the strong four piece cast manage to inject the right degree of humour to youth theatre playwright Robert Rigby's lyrical script. Making full use of the stage and quick costume changes, a breadth of characters are portrayed with confidence and great enthusiasm.

Understandably unsettling this play is deeply moving, particularly due to the outstanding performance of Kelvin Goodspeed as the ape. He manages, without any costume, to be completely convincing and is an excellent example of how powerful physical theatre can inspire an audience's imagination. When he stood up on two feet to take his bow I had almost forgotten he was human.
Runs until 24 August (not Sundays) 17.10 at
© Shona Brodie 10 August 2002 17.10
Lynx Theatre in Education


   

Amanojaku - Taiko Drums (page 76)

Drams
None (Especially before, read on)
Venue The Garage (Venue 33)
Address Grindlay Court Centre, Grindlay Street
Reviewer Garry Platt

Get a second opinion on this show from Pat Napier in the Fringe music section.
Taiko drummers are always special, they carry with them a kind of aura of power and energy which their kind of music and delivery generates both around and within them and this years group Amanojaku are quite amazing, consisting of three woman and three men watching this show is like watching a small nuclear detonation from the safe distance of about 1.5 metres.

From the very opening set the performance is confident, profound and delivered with such grace and force that the experience is like sitting in the eye of a hurricane whilst all around the tempos, beats, rhythms and cadences flood and surge around you. This whole show is an experience which captures your imagination, and can become emotional. You can feel the energy radiating from the drummers, you can see both their enjoyment and pride in what they do, and you are absorbed into the whole thing.

This is an impressive show, Iím sure itís no small commitment to come all the way from Japan to deliver a show in an unknown venue with no guarantee of success not knowing whether your audience will even understand you let alone come. It was the opening performance when I went and saw them and I cannot imagine what theyíll be like as they settle into their new performance space. This group are performing two different shows each day my advice is go them both, as many times as you can and book early, this was the opening show but it was virtually full.

(Government Health Warning: Do not attend this show with a hang over, your head is likely to explode.)
Runs Until 26 August

© Garry Platt, 04 August 2002
   

The Art Of War (page 110)
Drams full glass full glass full glass full glass
Venue Augustine's (Venue 152)
Address George the IV Bridge
Reviewer Thelma Good

There are six good physical performances here and the presentation is slick and clearly planned. But if I hadn't read the information in the press release, but not included in the programme, I would have been totally flummoxed by what it was about. Even the title wasn't much help. We seemed to be on a sailingship, there's a captain some crew and two personages they seen not to see, a fool and a woman given to moving in a calm fashion. They move mainly to loud music and it's a bit like Bertrums Toys in its repetitive style, I didn't like that highly acclaimed piece of Theatre either.

If you like watching physical performers move this may satisfy. In fact if they'd gone wholly for the fun story of Spud, his sea companions and Captain Dee who has to guide the ship through the waters of mutiny and dissent I might well have been happy. But the attempt to sell it as a insightful piece about barbarity is so wide of the mark it's risible.
Runs until 26August not 12 or 19 at 18:05pm
Company- Northern Laboratory Theatre
© Thelma Good 11 August 2002



(A) 8 out of 142
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