None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
Kassandra (page 132)
Drams None needed
Venue Smirnoff Underbelly (61)
Address entrances on Cowgate and Victoria Street
Reviewer Jackie Fletcher
A compelling piece of drama, simply staged in the round and performed by talented,seriously committed young actors. The play is an excellent epic piece of writing, pared down to the essentials but engagingly rich, ranging from pithy Shakespearean poetics to the common idiom. It's an actors' text, so the cast can invigorate the action, investing war with its human tragedy. Making it work is the simple staging, no cumbersome sets, no special effects, just fine performances illustrating the dilemmas, fears, loves, hates and utter confusion experienced by young men pushed to the extreme in circumstances for which their lives have not prepared them. Moving fluidly and confidently the actors propell us into the belief that this bare space is a war zone in Vietnam.
Like Kassandra, gifted with prophecy but never believed, these men know this is a war they cannot win, even if Washington still thinks they can. It is not merely about Vietnam, where two platoons face off against each other rather than fighting the enemy. Commenting on war in general, and on emotional pain of changing to survive, losing their quintessential humanity as they become killers one might even say murderers. When George W. Bush is hell bent on sending ground troops into Iraq, it's a timely production questioning the ramifications of war. War should be the last resort, not a ploy to win votes.
Here is simple actors theatre, of Shakespeare, Peter Brook and Grotowski, allowing the performers themselves to evoke terror and compassion in us. And fascination. Surely, it questions our macabre proclivities towards the voyeuristic excitement too long statisfied by war films. A gripping piece of theatre, every bit as compelling as Oliver Stone's film Platoon, but so more immediate, with living bodies close and breathing beside us.
A very fine example of what theatre is really all about. Double Edge Drama's fine ensemble cast, should go on to do even greater things.
Until 28 Aug
© Jackie Fletcher 15 August 2002
Kiss of the Spiderwoman (page 133)
Venue C (Venue **)
Address Chambers Street
Reviewer Brett Sheffield
Two men sharing a prison cell. One, Molina, a homosexual window dresser, locked up for Gross Indecency. The other, Valentin, a fanatical Marxist gaoled for his political actions. This intriguing and highly charged drama tells the story of a friendship bourne of their shared confinement, they find that they have more in common than they first thought.
David Westerby's passionate and well-controlled performance as Molina is fascinating to watch. In a part that could easily have succumbed to overacting, Westerby delivers it with strength and subtlety. Slowly learning to trust him is Sebastian Bates as the sulky, determined Valentin, slowly being drawn out by his much more quietly determined cellmate. With a simple set and careful lighting the pair work off each other to such a degree that the tension is almost palpable.
© Brett Sheffield August 2002.
Kitchen (page 133)
Drams a wee half perhaps
Address Chambers Street
Reviewer Shona Brodie
I love black comedy when it is done well and in this kitchen it is cooked to perfection.
Nabokov Company should be very proud of themselves. Making full use of Vanessa Badhams cleverly written script they deliver an impressive and believable Festival production.
Helene and Owen are Human Resources Managers content in their executive apartment, living their own lives. When Owen loses his job they both begin to lose the plot as they struggle to win control in the kitchen. Mature performances from Nina Millns (Helene) and George Perrin (Owen) convincingly convey exaggerated realisms of coupledom, and they work confidently together to deliver their lines with great vivacity. You are drawn into their world, their fight for supremacy, as the uncomfortable truisms get more outrageous, keeping the production moving and gripping its audience.
The young Australian playwright Badham has been described in her home country as the most exciting new voice in Australian theatre, and was awarded the Young Playwright of the Year Award in 1999. This tight production does her writing justice and makes compelling viewing.
Both Millns and Perrin will be leaving Navbokov after this Festival production so catch them while you can, grab yourself a drink and laugh, if somewhat uncomfortably, out loud. Full of expression and sexual friction, this is intelligently funny, emotionally acted and very scarily too close for comfort real. The battle of the sexes this time rests not in the bedroom but in the Kitchen.
Runs until 25 August (not 13) 22.10
© Shona Brodie 3 August 2002