None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
Jack Pleasure (page 131)
Venue C (34)
Address Chambers Street
Reviewer David Stanners
Terry is a 36 year-old coach driver. He's left his wife, sleeps on his father's sofa, and is desperate to leave his northern working class town behind and start something new.
Bored with his life and inspired by his video collection with titles such as "Glen fanny glen toss" Terry one day reveals on the coach to his passengers his fantasy of becoming a porn star.
Writer/director Adrian Berry has produced an insight into the life of a desperate man, running for cover, searching for truth, while drenched in painful memories. Terry/Jack Pleasure is played brilliantly by comedian Andy Fox. His deadpan delivery and witty one-liners are often depressingly funny. The relationship with his divorced working class father, whose refusal to face the truth about his own life, the past and particularly his promiscuous ex wife in order to protect his son, is poignant and universal to many a troubled father/son rapport. Terry's wife Susan, meanwhile, draws particular empathy as the faithful but frustrated partner, begging desperately for the affection and love of her estranged husband, as he plans his new decadent lifestyle abroad.
The main questions posed in this play, are why do we do what we do? Adrian Berry's script probes inside the mind of a troubled and despondent man, at odds with his unfulfilling existence. Its main strength is that it accommodates all the different points of view on life; the wife's, the father's and the aunt's. This is testament to Adrian Berry's close understanding of the play's most important underlying theme: the human condition.
Runs until 25 August at 20.45
© David Stanners 20 August 2002
Company Tiny Dynamite and The Bull Theatre
Jerry Springer: The Opera (page131)
Venue Assembly Rooms (Venue 3)
Address 54 George St
Reviewer Alex Eades
The most famous and controversial chat show on the planet explodes onto the stage Opera style with this magnificent production. It'll have you rolling around in hysterics and put a big manic grin on your face for the rest of the day. Within minutes of starting, the audience are already clapping away with the music and have smiles from ear to ear, signifying that this is something special. The gags thunder through the piece, barely giving the audience time to draw breath before they go off on their next laughing spree.
The songs are brilliantly written and wonderfully sung by a cast that are heaven to watch and hear throughout. Rick Bland is great as Jerry Springer, as is Lore' Lixenberg as Peaches and Baby Jane. However, Guy Porritt steals the show as a bouncer. He was achingly good, reducing the audience to tears of laughter without having to say a word. His face just said all that needs to be said.
The piece can be equally as dark as it is funny at points, with the beaten and bloody dead body of Baby Jane being quite grusome thanks to fantastic make up work by Eva Marieges-Moore. The language, as expected, is quite foul so it is not really a piece for the young or faint hearted but this IS undoubtedly going to be one of the highlights of the festival, if not the highlight. A guaranteed good time! The only complaint is that your stomach might be quite painful after the show after excessive laughing - but it's worth it!
Running Until August 26 not Tuesdays at 14:35
©Alex Eades 8 August 2002
Company: Kombat Opera Company
John Laurie, Frazer and I (page 131)
Venue Gilded Balloon Cowgate (Cave II) (Venue 88)
Address South Niddry Street
Reviewer Max Blinkhorn
If you're of a certain age you'll love this show. There, in the flesh, in front of you, in a cellar in Edinburgh is John Laurie dressed as Private Frazer in Dad's Army. I kid you not - it's him I tell you! "Ah. It can't be" you say, "He'd be 102 years old?" Apparently not! This is a studied performance. Laurie's mannerisms and idiosyncrasies are all there but so are Frazerís and there's the trick; telling the two apart.
There's masses of detail about Laurie's life too, all fascinating and surprising. He may have played a dour undertaker but Laurie was in fact, just the opposite. A veteran of the Somme, he left his home in Dumfries and joined the Royal Artillery. He survived the war, unlike his brother and with his newly broadened horizons, he chose to spend his holidays at acting school in London. As so often happens, he met the right person at the right time and they told him he had talent. John Laurie was on his way.
The uniform Ian wears is, I'm sure original. It looks the part anyway and thereís an interesting secret about the Dadís Army uniforms I wonít reveal; suffice to say that I laughed! John Laurie, Frazer and I is Ian Wattís concept and Charlie Chuck's production; he's also directing and a fine job he's done too.
Reluctantly the piece gets one dram for the seating and for the sound effects which were a bit off cue. But do not let that put you off. This is a superb performance and if you like Dad's Army you'll be very glad you went.
© Max Blinkhorn 5th August 2002
Runs 2nd - 26th August 2002 18:00 (19:00)
Charlie Chuck Productions
Judas (page 132)
Venue Komedia Roman Eagle Lodge (Venue 21)
Address 2 Johnston Terrace
Reviewer Ksenija Horvat
In the Fringe brochure Judas, by Classik Attak Theatre Co. from Cork, is described as energetic, amusing and thought-provoking. And they are not entirely mistaken. After a somewhat languid beginning, this play gradually grows on you. Playwright Helen Kavanagh-Ronan sets her story in Judas' head, offering a voyeuristic profile of the man of seven sorrows through intense struggle between his Id and Ego. Being bared to the most essential set and lighting, the production depends entirely on the energetic interplay of two young actors who play different aspects of Judas' mind, and the dialogue is intelligently written.
After a while, though, its topic's bleakness and the scarcity of comedy turns it into hard work, and the constant torrent of words takes away from the beauty of individual images created by two fine players. This is undeniably an interesting play, but somewhat better fitted for radio in its present format. Less dialogue and more emphasis on theatrical images, which could open various possibilities for the actors to explore their roles through movement, would make it into a far better viewing.
Runs until 25 August © Ksenija Horvat 5 August 2002
Les Juifs de Salonique (page 132)
Drams Not needed
Venue Augustine's (Venue 152)
Address George the IV Bridge
Reviewer Thelma Good
Ensemble acting done this well! Only the youth of the faces of the actors reveal that this is not a professional troupe trained in one of the prestigious companies of Europe. This is the second English based youth theatre group I have seen showing some other much more experienced companies that the new generation are coming and they better watch out!
Les Juifs de Salonique opens with a shadow puppet theatre screen and in front a row of suitcases, a young man enters with another in his hand. "I am an actor," he announces as he puts the case down in its space. As he opens the cases all sorts of voices, some music and a very frightening live hand come out. Then the rest arrive, 15 of them and after owning up to all being actors too, they promise the change into acting will be subtle. It is a lovely light, playful approach to this material which many could have treat as gloom and horror only, directed by Richard Fredman and written by him and Ed Emery, their approach and direction make the peice much stronger than a dark peice would have been.
Telling of the imaginary story of a Jewish Theatre Company in Salonique in Greece it's set against the all too true story of how they were cleared out of a town many, many of them lived in by the German occupying power. It's must go see production and I award it a Good's Great.
© Thelma Good 20 August 2002 - published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs 20 - 26 August at 14:30
Company - Gomito (all ex-drama students of Hills Road Sixth Form College Cambridge)