None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
Dali / The Dream Catcher (page 119)
Drams = The Dream Catcher / Bottle = Dali
Venue Grey Friars Kirk House (Venue 3)
Address 86 Candlemaker Row
Reviewer Garry Platt
This is two shows in one, the first is about the inner working of the human mind and the struggle which takes place between fear and contentment. Itís a devised piece with very little dialogue but the story is clear and confidently illustrated. Physical theatre often breaks down into a sequence or rolling set of undifferentiated scenes from which it is difficult to see or understand any story or moral, this part of the show does not fall into this trap, the story, the mood and the emotions are easy to understand and grasp. Most of the performers are young and their commitment is clear but never self indulgent.
The second show is another story however, Dali is pretentious, unadulterated tosh with posing masquerading as acting, incoherent dialogue delivered indifferently and zero contribution to understanding what made Dali tick. Why this show follows Dream Catcher, why not something which balances or matches the previous 40 minutes? Iíll stop here reviewing this show but its really only out of mercy.
Runs Until 10 August
© Garry Platt, 04 August 2002
Dead Funny (page 120)
Drams None needed
Venue South Bridge Resource Centre (Venue 82)
Address Infirmary St
Reviewer Alex Eades
The Top Theatre Company produce a sparkling production of Terry Johnsonís modern classic Dead Funny, and is exactly what the title suggests. The audience howled with laughter throughout and didnít want to leave being one of those rare gem productions that you just donít want to end. From the moment the audience enter the intimate studio space, there is an air of happiness.
The sound of Morecambe & Wise singing and telling jokes fills the room, alone being able to tickle a sea of smiles and an odd glowing feeling inside. The smiles never drop throughout, largely thanks to a terrific script, but credit has to fall to the cast who are nothing short of amazing with a comic timing that would put the characters idles to shame. The shining star of this production has to be Mike Cooper as the camp Brian. Every time he walks on stage the audience light up with glee. An absolutely hilarious performance that cannot be praised enough. Claire Naylor is next in line as the frustrated and sarcastic Eleanor. Blessed with a fabulous run of one liners, Naylor delivers them to perfection, somehow being able to sustain a straight face throughout.
There are so many memorable moments in this production, including a hysterically good custard pie fight in slow motion, that there is simply not enough time for me to ramble on about them all. Best thing is for you to just go and see it. So, turn off the computer, get off your bum and get yourself a ticket. If you donít, Iíll be after you with a custard pie and a handful of torturous Benny Hill impressions.
Runs 12 - 24 August not 18 at 18:10
©Alex Eades, August 14th
Dead Landlord (page 120)
Drams None, I'm shaking too much with laughter to raise a glass to my lips
Venue Gilded Balloon Teviot (14)
Address 5/2 Teviot Square
Reviewer Jackie Fletcher
I was greatly consoled this afternoon for the recent loss of Spike Milligan when I discovered that the members of Family Curioso are definitely not taking their medication. This is lunacy par excellence. Ben Frimstone, Ed Gaughan and John Roy are an absolutely delightful comic trio, and even the maniacal techie joins in the fun. Ed Gaughans bigoted and insane Dr Went is a creation of genius as the landlord who insists on his tenants playing in his quiz. One of many surreal questions was guess my spoons and the answer is teaspoonsfrom a commemorative set celebrating Diana and Dodi in the tunnel of love forever. This is really black humour, a paragon of absurdity: Kenny Everett meets Ken Campbell at a reunion of the Mack Sennett Studios. The engagingly bizarre musical intermezzi played on an exciting variety of instruments from the dulcimer to the accordion to a tin kettle testify to the companys versatility and commitment to life-enhancing, subversive laughter.
I intend to watch out for further productions and perhaps I might just start a fan club. This is the type of madcap fringe theatre I remember from the good old days of the 60s and 70s. But it is not dated, far from it, and Im glad to see it is still alive and kicking vigorously: it is intrinsic to our British heritage of absurd comedy, and it is so good to see a new, and very clever generation taking up the baton and producing theatre that is invigorating in its inventiveness. This show is replete with surprises, and you never know where it is going to take you next. Bravo, Family Curioso! More please, more, and soon! Oh! By the way, Keiser Bill, you didnt succeed in popping my balloon. Can I have a free ticket so you can pop it next time round?
Until 26 Aug (not 13) © Jackie Fletcher
Death and the Maiden (page 120)
Venue Apex Hotels (Apex 2 Venue 16)
Address 31-35 Grassmarket
Reviewer David Stanners
Set in the most intimate of intimate venues, Chilean writer Ariel Dorfmanís 1973 classic moral thriller capriciously insinuates its way under the skin of an unnerved late night audience, chilling spines and challenging moral conventions along the way.
Although it is never explicitly mentioned, assuming the setting is post dictatorship Chile, the action takes place in the beachside home of married couple Paulina Salas and Gerardo Escobar. Escobar is a top defence lawyer, hand picked by the President to launch an investigative commission into crimes committed under the previous dictatorship. Salas, his wife is a victim of these crimes against humanity. As a prisoner under the previous dictatorship, she claims she suffered horrific acts of rape and torture at the hands of the third party, Dr Miranda, 15 years before.
The action unfolds when Dr. Miranda coincidentally picks up Escobar with a flat tire one evening on his way home. As soon as Miranda enters the house, Salas senses the stench: his pet expressions, his laughter, and most of all, his penchant for Schubertís quartet, Death and the Maiden; the piece she claims he played while repeatedly raping her. After a few drinks too many, Miranda agrees to stay the night at Escobarís request. During the night, Salas tortures and ties up Miranda, before initiating a trial by recording in a desperate attempt to force him into confessing.
At times the tension hinges on frantic as Salas recounts the extent of her pain and suffering under Dr Miranda. With no physical evidence to boot, the audience is called to arbitrate over questions of morality, revenge and justice. In the end, the strength of Sarah Whiteís performance as the intransigent Salas leaves you in no doubt about the authenticity of her claims against Miranda. Lawrence Speck as Escobar and Karl Caffrey as Miranda arenít bad but White steals the show with a forceful and supremely convincing performance.
© David Stanners 21 August 2002 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 24 August at 22.35
www.rocketvenues.com and kingstontheatre.org
The Dice House (Page 121 of the programme).
Venue Pleasance Dome
Address Bristo Square.
Reviewer Rez Guthrie
You do not have to be familiar with the cult novels of Luke Rhineheart to enjoy this richly black farce. The rudiments of 'Dice therapy' are explained sufficiently for the layman. This groundbreaking, (and fictitous),school of behaviorist psychiatry uses the random roll of the dice to determine every decision, evening out any observable differences between the sane and the clearly barking. Normally I cannot abide farce; I become tense, frustrated, bored and enraged by the inevitable heaping up of misfortune and misunderstanding to purportedly hilarious effect. Paul Lucas, the play's author, in updating this medium, utilising a combination of both parody and effectively placed expletives, may have effected a partial cure on this aversion of mine, (known tecnically as Ayckbournophobia). I laughed throughout the piece, as did the rest of the audience; a mixture of the young and hip and more experienced veterans.
The two opposing therapists, Doctors Ratner and Drabble provide a good mutual counterpoint, one being masterfully understated and the other hysterically not so. The actors play well together attracting comparisons, (both from a previous reviewer and several of today's audience), with Monty Python. There are some truly astounding costume changes throughout by one character. The set is simple and effective, making scene changes that take the cast moments to effect. You will have to pay a visit to The Dice House to find out more. I recommend booking in early as I imagine they may have quite a lot of inmates later in the run.
Runs until Aug 26th Review copyright Rez Guthrie 3rd Aug 2002
Production by The Birmingham Stage Company in association with The Peter Wolff Theatre Trust.
The Dreamcatcher Club Not in Fringe programme
Drams None required. The best
Venue Nicol Edwards Pub, (unlisted in programme).
Address Niddrie Street, off the Cowgate or Royal Mile.
Reviewer Rez Guthrie
Drawing on the combined talents and solidarity of 'a bunch of people who've been partying together for four years', Green Monkey reinvent the club with passion and panache. Sick of the same old clubs, where they stick you all in one big dirty room and you pay through the nose to see a 'name' DJ? Rather be exploring a huge medieval vault with ivy, flowers, cheery U.V. decorations and there's an open drum jam in one room, a DJ in the next two, and in the basement there's a band accompanied by a whole room full of people doing a traditional song, (in African), inviting everyone's ancestors to the party. You can wander about, have a dance, get a massage, your face painted, there are even stalls to tempt the late night shopaholic. Or just kick back with a big pitcher of bevvy. There are three seperate bars and the staff are quick and helpful.
This is a compact maze of different party rooms, so just forget you're in a pub in the wild auld heart of Edinburgh. The DJs change throughout the night, so expect some variation, though not in quality. The night builds and it does get lively and sweaty, but sufficent bits of the place still retain air movement. Respect for others is expected, appriecated, and recieved. Homophobia, sexism or racism is not tolerated, and you don't see scary drunken adolecents or people getting ridiculously intoxicated here, either. Entrance £5, (£3 members). You can get a pint for £1.50, Membership for£2, and the lucky dip is just £1. Proceeds go to Amnesty International . The next Dreamcatcher is on the 24th Aug. Lucky Edinburgh punters can look forward to it every month, hopefully every week soon. Also check Nicol Edwards out both as a pub and for its other events.
© Rez Guthrie 3rd Aug 2002
Company Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Drowned World (page 122)
Venue Traverse Theatre (Venue 15) www.traverse.co.uk
Address Cambridge St off Lothian Road
Reviewer Daniel Winterstein
Paines Plough in association with Graeae's new show is a masterpiece of black humour. Torture, murder and the extinction of the human race (in the most miserable way) are all are grist for Gary Owen's dark jokes. Drowned World presents a brutal totalitarian state where surface beauty is all that matters. The ugly people have taken control, and are exterminating all who are beautiful. Why, they reason, should they be reminded of their failings?
The title is probably a reference to Victor Hugo's comment that ideas and values cannot be killed anymore : "The new world which emerges from the chaos will see the ideas of the drowned world soaring above it, winged and full of life." The triumphant ugly people have not found freedom - they are still trapped by their old failings and selfish desires.
If I have to fault this play - and I am hesitant to do so - it would be that it hits out at an easy target (the worship of beauty and the destructive shame associated with being ugly), and that none of the characters are ever properly fleshed out into believable people.
The plot, which revolves around a couple on the run, has lots of tension, driving the play along at a fair rate. The set fits this strange dark fantasy well. It has - appropriately enough - a slightly creepy underwater feel. The style is disjointed, freely mixing different locations together, and frequently switching between dialogue and narration. This suits the dry humour of the play which the cast deliver perfectly. The result is very nasty, and very funny.
Runs Until 24 August not 5th,12th,16th,19th various times All performances 13 - 18 August will be audio described and sign language interpreted.
Paines Plough www.painesplough.com
The text is published by Meuthen Drama www.methuen.co.uk
© Daniel Winterstein, 2nd August 2002
The Dumb Waiter & Victoria Station (page 122)
Venue The Underbelly (Venue 61)
Address Entrances on Cowgate and Victoria Street.
Reviewer Daniel Winterstein
Oh joy; a double bill of Pinter plays.
Victoria Station is an enjoyable enough little comedy. Alone in an office, a taxi cab controller, Sebastian Fernandez-Armesto, attempts to persuade Giovanni Palmiero's driver no. 274 to pick up a fare. Gradually 274's unhelpful monosyllabic answers cause him to unravel at the seams. It's short and tight, and the cast play it well.
Dumb Waiter - where two hit-men wait for an assignment - works less well. The cast are competent, but a bit too young and sweet. Moreover they lack the confidence to play it at a properly slow pace. Their silences lack menace. The threat of violence is there, but it isn't credible enough.
The main flaw though is in the bloody play itself. Pinter is a poor pastiche of Beckett. He says nothing himself, and the only question he prompts us to ask is 'Why are we here?' - not in a philosophical sense, but in the more specific sense of here watching this play. One of the characters is in search of a cup of tea. This I understand. Otherwise, it's all silence and fury, signifying nothing.
© Daniel Winterstein, 20th August 2002 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 25 August
Dust to Dust (page 122)
Drams a wee half, very good
Company Producer Richard Jordan, Director Sarah Thornton
Venue Assembly Rooms (3)
Address George Street
Reviewer Max Blinkhorn
Mick's ex-wife, Holly, and his old friends, Harry and Kev, are left to tidy up after him. The news of his death comes as a shock but knowing Mick, it's no surprise. At a gathering in the local pub following Mick's death, the three meet to organise the funeral. In the process, they reveal much of their own lives to each other as well as to the audience for whom it's all a bit of a laugh. Indeed, much humour and witty breast-beating ensues as they tie up the loose ends of Mick's life. The process renews their friendships and together they turn Mick's death into something more than an ending. Speaking their lines, telling their tale and acting simultaneously, the cast's timing is tested sternly. Given that this was the first ever performance, the test was passed with flying colours - everything worked beautifully. Despite having no costumes, props or scenery and only lighting to help with mood, place and time changes, the Dust to Dust still manages to make the passing of that strange period between death and funeral tangible for the audience.
Julie Riley as Holly plays the bitter ex-wife at full tilt and her character has some great lines. Her north of Manchester raised the script up another notch and the audience could tell. Ron Meadows works up a real sweat as Harry, a well-spoken man in the midst of a mid-life crisis that may be lifelong. He's feeling rather sorry for himself and it's as much his body language as his lines that says it. Although an almost desperate figure, Harry is still able to consider Kev, a helpful Liverpudlian played by Warren Donnelly, as frankly, common. Kev is in fact the steady, dependable guy who eventually takes the three friends - and Mick - to journey's end. Under the direction Sarah Thornton, the three actors deliver a close-knitted performance from Robert Farquhar's tight script. Considering that the cast has had only two warm up sessions and a few hours in which to try everything out at the venue, things could hardly have gone better. Producer Richard Jordan must be feeling pleased with the results. Dust to Dust is no corpse and well worth queueing for.
Runs until 26th August © Max Blinkhorn 2 August 2002. Dust to Dust is 16:45 every day. (Wildman Room).
The Dybbuk (page 122)
Venue Greyfriars Kirk House (Venue 28)
Address 86 Candlemaker Row
Reviewer Ksenija Horvat
Fine upstanding company presents their version of The Dybbuk on a surprisingly well-equipped, though tiny, stage of Greyfriar's Kirk House.
This production is a curiously uneven piece, with a decent script, some fine moments from individual members of the cast, and a few strong images that may linger in ones mind after one leaves the theatre. However, on the whole, it is fraught with substantial overacting, poor movement, and a lot of good will but not enough experience from the young cast to successfully present their weighty subject.
A story about a group of Jews locked in a ghetto, telling mythical and folk stories to take their minds of their imminent fate is a gripping one, but in the hands of fineupstandingcompany it might look trivialised, and certain scenes that have a potential to leave you gobsmacked simply do not gel. Still, there are some good ideas explored in this show so go and see it. As long as you dont expect any of Kantor's magic lurking in the shadows, you will be fine.
© Ksenija Horvat 20 August 2002 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 25 August