None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
Hammerklavier (page 129)
Venue Assembly Rooms (Venue 3).
Address 54 George Street.
Reviewer Max Blinkhorn.
This is a butterfly of a performance from Susie Lindeman. Get the past the tiresome media comparisons with Hepburn, then sit back and enjoy the company of the most fragile, delicate woman you’ve ever set eyes on. The world of ordinary folk does not produce individuals like this. And here's the key to "Hammerklavier". Writer Yasmina Reza’s character lives in a world of artistic altitude sustained by her father’s virtuosity. It is the signature tune for this woman’s life. It links her to her father and when the music fails, she knows something has changed. Lindeman’s acting skill gives what might otherwise be a rather esoteric piece, huge stage value. As she moves across the set, it’s more dance than walk and the character’s poised façade never cracks, not even for one second. Directed by Mark Kilmurry, and produced by Susie Parker, Hammerklavier is a gentle, happy production and the audience must sit down with that in mind, otherwise they will devalue the performance.
Yet again the Wildman Room hinders a potentially stunning performance. The acoustics are poor and to mike up Susie Lindeman would be a technological sin. I would like to see this play late at night, in a place where there can be a bond between every single member of the audience and this enchantress. The stories are engrossing but it's the way they are told by Susie Lindeman that makes this performance special. One Dram for the venue.
© Max Blinkhorn 6 August 2002
Runs 2nd-26th August (not 20th)14:30 (1 hr)
Happy Natives by Grieg Coetzee (page129)
Drams No need for booze
Venue Assembly Rooms
Address 54 George Street
Reviewer David Stanners
History has proven that people, governments and institutions in a position of authority find it highly convenient to pigeonhole complex political issues, in the hope they'll either find their own solution, or melt into obscurity. Grieg Coetzee's satire, Happy Natives, is a refreshing antidote to political blanketing; an intelligent exploratory piece of theatre covering the post apartheid years in South Africa, from a variety of angles.
This two man play features writer Grieg Coetzee who bears an uncanny resemblance to a young Jeremy Paxman, and South African household name James Ngcobo. Ngcobo's main character is Mto, a black actor moving into a traditionally white lower-middle class suburb in Durban. Meanwhile, his friend and co actor Kenneth (Coetzee) fresh back from London, has plans to present a drama based government project designed to highlight South Africa to investors, as a modern Rainbow Nation and window of opportunity.
When Mto meets his next door neighbour, Jimmy, a straight talking ex white border patrol man, the banter between the pair of them starts the ball rolling, on how whites perceive blacks nowadays; for Jimmy, old habits die hard, and the death of his wife is enough to justify his racist pre conceptions of the squatters in the newly formed local camps. This amongst other things urges Mto to redefine the government project on his own terms, rather than those of the pushy producer, Chenaye, who caricatures Mto's Zulu background with patronising white South African stereotypes.
Happy Natives is a challenging piece of political theatre rising from below to shake those with one-dimensional views of contemporary South Africa. The acting from both parties is impeccable; raw and packed with explosive energy. With its refusal to put a lid on complex issues, the result is a poignant and unsentimental tale, which rides the political tsunami of modern South African life with real precision.
© David Stanners 19 August 2002 - published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 26 August at 15.30
Company Assembly Theatre
Head Games (page 129)
Drams None. Daren't with all those willies!
Venue Hill Street Theatre(Venue 41)
Address Hill Street
Reviewer Thelma Good
This very funny romp, cleverly written by Scott Miller and tightly directed by Jeff Moody, plays with time. The second act goes back before the first before repeating some of it and the third act does the same with the second - and it's also a play about a play. And the play within well, it's the events you see in the play without, both played by the actors using the same names. Got it? Don't worry there's plenty dangling in the script and on the actors to enjoy. It's Michael's birthday and his friends and his flat mate Grace have gathered to celebrate even though his theatre company could go belly-side up. A play on the Edinburgh Fringe could be the answer.
Grace, played with sparky comic timing by Denise Nicholson is having a massage from a nude masseur Eddie, an extraordinarily attractive performance from Allan Hunter. (Hunter took over the role in 24 hrs after writing down the entire script on napkins in the London restaurant he was working in! Appaulse for the man!) It would be difficult to keep your eyes off Robert Lockhart's Michael, a savvy kinda guy with an interesting underlying charisma in most casts but here there is an embarrassment of charmers. Outrageously camp Charles, Tom Brent, and more serious Dan, Simon Frewin, are the 10 year old couple. Willy, Pavel Rimburg, a lovely little mover, pops in later to give Michael a prezzie while Tucker, excellently gawky played by Nick Smithers is Grace's very public school repressed fiancé. He finds himself not knowing where to look.
Played on a dinky and twinkling lights set with biggest Willie I have ever seen, this play also makes sure we see a lot, not least that our attitude to nudity is very funny. And the curtain call is the best I've seen.
Thelma Good 05 August 2002
Runs to 26 August not 14th
Company Strawberry theatre
Hello Dali (page 129)
Venue Club West @ Crowne Plaza (venue 39)
Address Crowne Plaza Hotel, 80 High Street
Reviewer Daniel Winterstein
Starting (where else?) at the end, Dali - played engagingly enough by ex-Dr Who Sylvester McCoy - takes us on a tour of his life. We are introduced to his painting, his love and his fetishes and phobias.
It's a highly visual play, with plenty of props, plus Dali's paintings projected as a backdrop. The structure is flat and without any dramatic tension, but the script is first rate and always interesting. McCoy entertains as Dali. Wire like moustache pointing directly up to God, he fills the stage. Unfortunately though, he has no connection with Dali's often disturbed emotional side, and so he never fully involves us. What was to Dali the stuff of life and death comes across as mere imagery.
He must have been dangerously close to madness. Dali declared that he would have nothing in common with the rest of the human race. His world was full of arbitrary meanings (e.g. crutches had an erotic charge). Delving his subconscious, he invented an intensely personal symbolism. Yet through his genius he was able to share much of it with us. Not that he cared; Dali was Dali - an over-the-top out-of- control original. Hello Dali is not a great play, but it is an excellent introduction to one of modern art's greatest figures.
© Daniel Winterstein, 18th August 2002. - published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs till 24 August
Hitler Dances (page 129 )
Venue Co2 Oxygen (Venue 202)
Address Infirmary Street
Reviewer Ksenija Horvat
Jonathan Preece's one-man show Hitler Dances is a curious little piece probing into the life and demise of Dietrich Eckhart, Hitler's mentor and occultist.
Exceptionally well-researched and written with the right amount of wit (though not enough sense of menace), it will entertain in most parts, though its irreverent approach to both political and occult history might leave those in the know somewhat bemused. Those who believe will find it disrespectful for the ten sefira to be used in such a way. Those who don't won't even know what yours truly is talking about.
Preece doesn't hold any punches; he portrays the (in)famous authorities on the occult such as Alisteir Crowley, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and Rudolf Von Sebottendorf as babbling lunatics and drug-addicts (I expect O.T.O. members won't queue to see this one then?) and cuts the chase around the debate whether Hitler was a monster or a victim of his own madness by proclaiming him Well, why don't you come and find out for yourselves.
There is some fine acting in this show, with the author shifting between different personae with the flick of his finger, and the quality of writing will surely intrigue you. However, there is also a sense that many areas of performance have not been explored as yet, and the ending might leave you feel hoodwinked. Just a tiny wee bit.
© Ksenija Horvat 18 August 2002 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 25 August
Homerun (page 130 )
Venue Diverse Attractions (Venue 11 )
Address Riddles Court, 322 Lawnmarket
Reviewer Shona Brodie
This proves that you don't need an impressive stage set or all the usual trimmings to put on a good show. Armed with only a few free standing spotlights, tape recorder, table and a few chairs, Homerun put on a convincing displace of home grown talent. David Tristram's one act plays "Joining the club" and "Last tango in Portobello" (Scottish version of the Grimley original) are excellent pieces of short comedy and believably played. I must admit I was expecting a mixed
bag of performers but they were all equally convincing and played their parts with great enthusiasm.
For anyone who has every spoken to someone who has had a baby, "Joining the club" will ring a few bells. Honest humour and lots of laughs, this piece sets the mood for the second and probably better of the two. Set around an amateur drama society staging their final masterpiece, "Last tango in Portobello" will make you laugh out loud. The characters are so very believable that I wanted to hang around afterwards to see if they were any different in real life.
The only criticism I can make is that it is nothing new. Yes they play them well but the familiar themes and jokes are half expected. They should try some original work for next year - their fine cast members could certainly handle the challenge.
© Shona Brodie 20th August 2002 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Until August 24th at 21.30
Horse Country (page 130)
Venue Assembly Rooms (3)
Address 54, George St
Reviewer Jackie Fletcher
While the blurb in the fringe guide says that this show is 'vaudeville meets Artaud', I would say it is more like vaudeville meets Godot, or, rather, doesn't. This is a slick and ironic piece of existentialism in which Bob and Sam deal with the meaninglessness of life while cheerfully celebrating its randomness. In a country of which they are proud, the land of the free, they are adrift. In a nation where choice is everything, they are hemmed in. But who are Bob and Sam? Stand-up comedians, card-sharps, 'law enforcement types'?
C.J. Hopkins is a consummate word-smith. His dialogue is rattled off at stunning speed by Ben Schneider and David Calvitto. Their timing is perfection, and Calvitto has a delightful line in fatuous facial expressions. As an encore Schneider returns to the stage 15 minutes later to play The Actor in The Complete Lost Works of Samuel Beckett as Found in an Envelope (Partly Burned) in a Dustbin in Paris Labeled Never to be Performed. Never. Ever. EVER! Or I'll Sue! I'll Sue from the Grave!!! And thus testifying to his great versatility.
While there is a great deal of humour, the text is a challenge to the grey matter, and it is confrontational, too. The characters never address each other. Their dialogue is aimed directly at the audience. One has an uncomfortable sense of being watched by these somewhat louche men in grey suits. Perhaps, it is Reservoir Dogs meets Woody Allen! It is a fine piece of writing and compelling theatre, largely thanks to the performers. My only reservation is that it is about ten minutes too long. But I can recommend it to anyone who feels like having his/her brain cells invigorated.
© Jackie Fletcher 4 Aug
Until 26 Aug (not 13). Different prices.
Hyperlynx by John McGrath - Floodtide (page 130 )
Venue Pleasance Dome (Venue 23)
Address 1 Bristo Square
Reviewer Thelma Good
Performed by his widow, Elizabeth MacLennan, under the direction of their daughter Kate McGrath this, John McGrath last play, is one full of words and thought. A MI5 sharply dressed woman siting on a park bench shares with us her life, her work and her confusion about what and for whom she was working for and what she going to do now. It's September 2001 when she sits there, the ninth day of that month and as she sits down the time is 2pm. Written just before and in the case of the second act after the events of 9/11 McGrath's character Heather is the cool professional but she is also a human being. It's a fascinating mix, a type of person too rarely portrayed on the stage.
The play itself is an interesting contrast to the best known of McGraths plays, Border Warfare and The Cheviot, The Stag and The Black, Black Oil, a monologue and a almost still mediation as directed on how difficult it is to engage with world politics even or maybe especially if you are potentially able to. Whilst it requires careful listening and the seated Heather doesn't move enough to make it inherently dramatic in a superficial way, the performance and the words live on to tug at your conscience days later.
The lighting by Julian McCready and design by Jenny Tiramani are master classes in themselves of how to achieve top notch production values in a fringe venue with a back to back rotation of shows.
© Thelma Good 25 August 2002 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 26 August and then goes to the Tricycle Theatre London
Company - Floodtide
The play text is published by Oberon Books