None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
I am Oscar Wilde (page 130)
Venue C (Venue 34)
Address Chambers Street.
Reviewer Kenny Morrison
A bit like Wilde's life in precis form, with bits of his plays chucked in for good measure, I am Oscar Wilde gives us an enjoyable, if somewhat cliched evening. There was a little too much of the amateur about the whole thing, and I would expect more of Skullduggery after last year's superb I am Star Trek. However, the laughs are certainly there, even if most of them were penned by Oscar himself, rendering the claim that I am is a new play somewhat foolish. The point of doing this is to link various events in his life with his work, and it worked well most of the time.
The sections from The Importance of Being Earnest are very well done, and the upright British matrons, throughout were excellent. Their ability to produce a fan at 20 paces remarkable! The silliest play excerpt is in court, at Queensbury's libel trial, where the whip wielding psychopath removes his coat and performs the dance of the seven veils. A tenuous connection with Wilde's downfall to say the least. On the other hand, sections from The Canterville Ghost while Oscar is in prison are really quite moving. A lady was loudly weeping in the front row! Jonathan Hansler gives us a slightly bumbling Wilde, which is never how one pictures him and Paul Oliver's Bosie was a little over the top. The look of the piece is very good,and the coordinated costumes help a lot with the frequent jumping from the main narrative to one of the plays.
It is certainly funny, in the scenes from Wilde's plays, and indeed in the rest of the writing. I don't know to what extent the piece has a point, in terms of its formation, and the connection between Wilde's Art and his life, though obviously valid,could be more professionally executed.
© Kenny Morrison 5 August 2002
Iron (page 131)
Venue Traverse Theatre (15)
Address Cambridge St off Lothian Road
Reviewer Jackie Fletcher
Scotland can be justifiably proud of its playwrights and performers, and it is timely here to lament the passing earlier this year of John McGrath. Nonetheless, McGrath leaves behind him a wealth of talent and skill, not least in the work of Rona Munroe. It is apt, therefore, that the Traverse should kick off its 2002 Festival season with Munroe’s new play.
It is also encouraging to know that a writer gaining considerable international renown for her film scripts (her work on the German film Aimee and Jaguar was superb) should still find time to write for the Scottish stage. Munroe’s forte is the unpredictability of her dialogue. Iron has virtually no plot. Its compelling power lies in a series of revelationary dialogues between two women. In this sense it is fraught with suspense.
Fay is serving a life sentence for murdering her husband. Abandoned by family and friends, she has faced her guilt and loss alone in an ambience of brutality. After fifteen years she finally receives a visit from her daughter, now twenty-five, successful in her career, but failed in marriage.What can these to women expect from each other? Munroe takes her time at a leisurely pace during the first act to establish the difficulties inherent on this growing relationship, and in particular its impact on the mother. Fay has never spoken of the occurrences leading up to her crime. The daughter, Josie, whose childhood memories have been erased by the trauma, suspects that her mother was an abused wife. During the second act a tale unfolds of deep and intimate love, a mutual passion so intense that it precipitates alcohol-fuelled rows and emotional wounds. This isn’t a who-dunnit, but a why-dunnit. Many academics have commented that it is impossible to write tragedy in our modern age, but Fay is a tragic heroine of profound dimensions. Munroe has a remarkable ability to engage us with the human capacity for empathy, not only between the mother and daughter, but also in the two prison guards, and especially in Fay’s complex relationship with the female guard, a single-mother abandoned by her husband.
This is a play of considerable richness and humanity. And accolades must be given to actress Sandy McDade for her portrayal of Fay’s instability and strengths through a performance of consummate physicality.
Runs until 24 August. 31 July (2pm), 3 Aug (8pm), 4 Aug (11am), 6 Aug (1.45pm), 7 Aug (4.45pm), 8 Aug (8pm), 9 Aug (11am), 10 Aug (1.45pm), 11 Aug (4.45pm), 13 Aug (7.30pm), 14 Aug (11am), 15 Aug (1.45pm), 16 Aug (4.45pm), 17 Aug (7.30pm), 18 Aug (11am), 20 Aug (1.45pm) 21 Aug (4.45pm), 22 Aug (7.30pm), 23 Aug (11am), 24 Aug (1.45pm)
© Jackie Fletcher