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(F) 4 out of 142
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None = Unmissable

= Unwatchable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme

Fear of Fanny (page 124)

Drams none
Venue The Garage (Venue 81)
Address Grindley Street
Reviewer Max Blinkhorn

Mention Fanny Cradock and well, don't bother with the puns. She deserves better. Fear of Fanny is undoubtedly a caricature of the original t.v. chef, but it's so good, you won't be able to tell where the real ends and the drawn begins.

A clever and funny simulation of a nineties fifties advert forms the prologue. The Star of the Show is of course, Fanny herself, played with a huge portion of free-range neurotic power by Caroline Burns Cooke. But David Slack might actually be Johnny. The resemblance is uncanny and the mannerisms are Johnny to a T. In life he was the perfect foil to Fanny - much sharper than he ever got credit for. In Fear of Fanny, David and Caroline achieve a similar harmony that the audience can feel. The two are more than ably supported by Georgina Mellor, Ralph Casson and Andrew Fillis. 

As the story of Fanny's life unfolds we see how they trailblazed t.v. cooking techniques, kept control of their t.v. personas and led popular British cookery out of the dark ages of rationing into the swinging sixties and beyond. Fanny's story has a tragic aspect to it but through everything her personality bashed its way through to the audience with a rolling pin and boy, did we love her for it, the old bat. 

Fear of Fanny is drama rather than comedy but the laughs are there in droves and they're not at Fanny's expense. The timing is brilliant and subtle and you'll find yourself laughing with her, not at her. Dramatic biography is a well worn path but Fear of Fanny stands every chance of becoming a classic. All the ingredients are there and it's ideal for transfer to radio or televison.

As a play, Fear of Fanny is still evolving - Edinburgh 2002 is the show's premiere. But in Brian Fillis's script and with good acting, they have a result and I for one loved it. Don't miss what might be a future classic.

© Max Blinkhorn 18th August 2002
Runs 4-26th August (not 20th) 20:10 (20:20)

Fifteen Minutes (page 125)
Drams full glassfull glassfull glass
Venue C +2 (Venue 34)
Address Chambers Street
Reviewer Max Blinkhorn

With four good, if inexperienced actors and a writer with a clear flair for sensitive dialogue, you'd expect more from Fifteen Minutes than you actually get. The opening scene is well written and tenderly acted. Two early twenty somethings who are having relationship problems. It's the classic stuff - out of step sexual appetites and timings, male and female wanting sex for different reasons - nothing new.

Scene two has our heroine being happily won over and seduced by her new Lesbian friend… eh? Well, bit of a jump I suppose but O.K. maybe there's a point to it, let's go with it. It's a lovely scene actually, played well by Jaime Andrews and Laura Nupponen - very sexual and powerful, with just the right degree of innocence. It had me hoping they'd get together.

The third scene in which our heroine is raped ineffectually by a sad case male friend is also well done but that's your lot. The End. I could see this coming. I hoped it wouldn't end this way, but it did. The three scenes together seem to make the simple statement that "Men are useless and awful, we girls should stick together". I can accept that this view is valid for some people but in dramatic terms, Fifteen Minutes is nothing more than a Lesbian parable - a fantasy acted out. An expression of prejudice, even. The performances by the actors in their roles are good on their own and the individual scenes are poignant and touching but as a play Fifteen Minutes is a poor conception. Save your money and see something else.
© Max Blinkhorn 18th August 2002 - published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs July 31-25th August (not 13th) 18:30 (19:30).

Fish Dancing (page 125)
Drams full glassfull glass
Venue Southside
Address 117 Nicholson Street
Reviewer Shona Brodie

Sitting in the audience drinking my orange juice and examining the filled roll in my ‘Fish Dancing' lunch bag, I wait for the ‘sensual and comedic story of love, carpentry and what it means to be human when part of you is a fish' as described in the Festival guide to begin. As the lights dimmed and shadows of dancers filled the white curtained stage, I realised that I had been expecting quite a different type of production. This was no comedy, no comedic tale, but a very dark and disturbing story about a father and the protective lifestyle he has created for himself and his daughter in preparation for her missing mother's return. As they wait for the storm to come and wash them away to join her, a stranger interrupts their hypnotic daze and wakes them to the reality of the looming danger.

Top marks to the cast of Firefly productions for their efforts as they continued bravely in light of the atrocious noise that was going on in a venue elsewhere at Southside, a musical rehearsal it seemed, as many heavy dancing feet made the room vibrate. They braved on telling in essence a very simple story with an excellent performance, emotionally played by Jordan Gullikson (Locke) who brought a tear to many an eye in the audience as the outraged father. His sections with Keith C. Bowen (Roe) as he struggles to restrain and suffocate him are very brutally portrayed and convincingly uncomfortable to watch.

This is playwright Keefe Healy's seventh original script that he has premiered at the Fringe with Firefly Productions and he could do with cutting it down to just under an hour to give it greater impact.  Don't be confused by the Festival guides description. This is a serious play, a little long and drawn out in sections, but worth the wait for some dramatic scenes towards the end.

Runs until 25 August (not 11,18) lunch included

© Shona Brodie 4 August 2002 13.30
Firefly Productions Inc. www.fireflyprod.com

The Frog Prince (page 126)
Drams full glassfull glass or something soft for the kids
Venue Assembly Rooms (Venue 3)
Address 54 George Street
Reviewer Shona Brodie

As part of the New York New Work season at the Scotsman Assembly this classic tale of an arrogant Prince serving time as an amphibian is given a very dark treatment by the 78th Street Theatre Lab. Although an 11.30am start and its billing as suitable for both kids and adults, don't expect your usual children’s show. David Mamet, whose usual writing style is normally strictly adult-only, aimed to write a play commenting on society and how people don't always live happily ever after. It doesn't condescend but in doing so manages to go over their heads (as well as some of the adult audience).

Toby Wherry's transformation into his frog-like state is excellent, delighting the audience, breaking the show's very slow beginning. The kids were restless and it was distressing for their accompanying adults trying to keep them quiet while explaining what some of the more complicated words meant. Sitting in their frog hats waiting in anticipation for some fairytale magic, the little people seemed a bit lost and distracted without the usual effects and music that they have come to expect with their Festival shows. However if you are looking for something that does not patronise their intelligence or condescend, then this could be the one for you and your little ones. It could be an expensive family outing at £11/£10 for adults and £10/£9 for children.

Well acted by a strong 3 member cast it demonstrates the clever use of a small stage, in particular the simplistic use of lighting to show the passing seasons - they just need to decide on the audience they are targeting.
Runs until 26 August (not 8,13 and 20)
© Shona Brodie 3 August 2002 11.30
78th Street Theatre Lab www.nytheatre.com

(F) 4 out of 142
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