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(L) 8 out of 142
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Rating Guide
None = Unmissable

= Unwatchable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme



La Ronde (page133)
Drams full glasshalf glass
Venue Diverse Attractions
Address Riddles Court, 322 Lawnmarket
Reviewer Shona Brodie

Arthur Schnitzler's erotic work exploring the complexities, infidelities, and eccentricities of human sexual desire is convincingly portrayed by this outstanding young cast. 10 short scenes between a man and woman are observed, each ending with one of the pair encountering a new partner. A carousel representing the turning circle of desire bringing it all back to the prostitute who began the piece.

Hard to believe that this was banned at the turn of the last century, received by anti-Semitic riots. Today, it seems quite tame in comparison with some of the weird and wonderful acts you will see at the Festival. The cast play it with the right amount of humour and don't over emphasise the physical act of sex in order to shock or offend, but to highlight the need for love, passion and intimacy. The movement of the changing scenery blocks reflect the carousel theme and an original costume device symbolising the period dress, which at first seems unusual, is actually very powerful and believable.

Fortunately for the cast they had a good audience, but this proved to be the only downside. It was extremely hard to see all the action in the small venue, so don't be afraid to sit near the front. Although not long at only an hour, the formulaic changing of partners from one scene to the next made a few members of the audience a bit restless as they moved about in their tightly packed seats.
© Shona Brodie 19th August 2002 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Until August 24 at 15.30
   

Lags by Ron Hutchison (page 133)

Drams None - Superb
Venue Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)
Address 60 The Pleasance
Reviewer Thelma Good

Superbly played by the actors, this is a tightly written, gripping play by Ron Hutchison (Rat in The Skull). They had me on the edge of my seat from the beginning. Set in a mens' prison Caroline Hunt's direction and the whole cast's strong ensemble playing make sure the fine text is given intense physical realism. Five lags (prisoners in for a bit of a stretch again), spend a day with an Educational visitor Eva, a frail looking young woman played by Emma Fidles. PO (Prison Officier) Catsby, Claire Cogan, has an humourous but acid tongue, she knows these men and is doubtful Eva will get their measure.

The Lags are a mixed bunch, Evans, Nick De Mora, a welshman who quakes, wary with cause, then there's Skinner Simon Ravenhill, a thin drip of a man who has a strange fascination with dust mites. Richard Cottier's Scuttley is a sly Scouser while Brasher, Laurence Saunders, seems the pick of the bunch but Burdock, Michael Aduwall has a way of standing and watching that is full of menace. It all happens in one all day drama session run by Eva and we get vivid insights into each, sometimes from the way they react to and with each other, and every character has a monologues which flow effortlessly from the plot. By the end you feel none of them will ever be quite the same again.

It gives so much this play in its writing so the actors can really fill out the parts and all seven actors do handsomely. The pace though varied never faulters - making us laugh, cry, be moved and deeply interested in what will happen next. It's a production that dazzles because it hits the ground running and never stops, it's powerful everywhere. And I award them all a Good's Great for being prefect in every way. Don't let its early start time stop you, these Lags are very, very worth getting out and up to the Pleasance Courtyard for.
Runs until 26 August at 11:15am
Company- Lags Productions Following Edinburgh LAGS transfers to London (the Latchmere Theatre)
Thelma Good 11 August 2002


   

The Laramie Project (page 133)

Drams one sip of cola
Venue Venue C (34)
Address Chambers St
Reviewer Thelma Good

Plays based on real events are hard to dramatise, the impossible urge to be really accurate often gets in the way of the dynamic forms and structures theatre needs. But this play, based on real events, touches the heart and the soul of the audience while using the edited words of people involved and is notching up some fine productions this is definitely one.

The Red Chair Players act with a heart stopping sincerity, whether playing the townsfolk, their ministers and their law officers, simply changing characters with clothing waiting on a western fence. They find the humour but don't shrinking from the play's darker undersides. As the play moves forward you are struck by how much people reveal when they speak and how beautiful their words can be. Linda Ames Key's direction and the sheer professionalism of this young cast is something to see.

A 21 year old student Matthew Sheppard was tied to a fence outside Laramie Wyoming and beaten in 1998. He died 4 days later in Colorado, of his injuries, his murder was caused by hatred of what he was - a young gay man. Four weeks later members of Tectonic Theatre Company went to Laramie and started interviewing many of the townsfolk. Their resulting co-authored play performed here in a shortened version, is a fascinating insight into how careless talk makes tinder to destroy lives. This production gets to the heart of the wonder and horror of we humans. 31 July - 10 August at noon
© Thelma Good 31 July 2002
The Red Chair Players
www.greenwichacademy.org/studentlife/performing_and_visual_arts/drama/Fringe_fest/laramie_2002/
   

The Last Man in Europe (page 133)

Drams none
Venue Hill St Theatre (Venue 41)
Address 19 Hill Street
Reviewer Neil Ingram

It all seems so long ago, but it's only 50 years since 1984 was first published. Next year is the centenary of George Orwell's birth, and Michael McEvoy has brought back his remarkable one man show, first seen at the Fringe four years ago.

It's a timely reminder about the work and life of the man who became the conscience of my generation as much as my parents' one. I read almost all of his works while still at school in the Sixties, when the spectres of Fascism and Stalinism were real and recent threats, but is he still relevant in the 21st century? I realised once his story reached the Spanish Civil War, where he fought with the Trotskyist POUM forces, that his message about truth and its reporting is every bit as relevant today as it was then.

McEvoy's Orwell is looking back on his life as he waits for death in a clinic. He knows the TB is incurable, and it's just a matter of time. He has the manuscript of 1984, not yet published, on his desk, and explains as if to his readers how he became a writer. And more importantly, how he found that his fellow writers manipulated the truth. There's nothing new about spin, and Orwell's legacy should remind us why we must always be watchful. This is a memorable portrayal of a man of rare vision and lasting importance to the civilised world.
© Neil Ingram, 19 August 2002 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 26 August at 19.50


   

The Last Pagan in the Valley (page 133)
Drams full glass full glass full glass half glass
Venue The Garage (Venue 81)
Address Grindlay Court Centre
Reviewer Ksenija Horvat

Citrus Club's black box seemed like a perfect space for this show. Or rather, for what yours truly thought this show was going to be.

The Last Pagan in the Valley by a new Swiss-based company Strings Attached is an adaptation of local folk tales, spiced with somewhat accurate research, on the topic of the so-called Houses of the Pagans, the medieval ruins in southern Switzerland that have often been thought of as the last traces of Pagan communities in that part of Europe.

Accompanied by original musicby David Hönigsberg, four young performers recount the story of the oppression of Pagan culture by the newcoming Christian faith. Mark Johnson's script has some definite appeal, though it still feels unfinished in places, and there are good individual performances. Unfortunately, the choreography falls short of magic (no, that's not how it's done, guys), and some potentially gripping images are lost. That said, there is a real scope to turn this piece into something unique. It needs a lot of re-working in terms of story and movement, but, given that this is their first production for the general public, it will be interesting to see which course Strings Attached will take in the future.
Runs until 24 August (not 19)
© Ksenija Horvat 12 August 2002


   

The Love of a Nightingale (page 124)
Drams full glassfull glassfull glasshalf glass
Venue The Zoo Venue (Venue 124)
Address Kirk O’Field Parish Church, 140 The Pleasance
Reviewer Ksenija Horvat

For all those utterly confused theatre punters out there, The Love of a Nightingale by Timberlake Wertenbaker is a substitute show for Churchill's Fen. Or rather, Fen was supposed to be a substitute for the Love of a Nightingale. Namely, Nightingale Productions' original intention to perform Wertenbaker's play was met with a serious case of censorship, and it was only after they listed another show in the Fringe programme that the ban was lifted and they could proceed with the original show. Still confused?

Perhaps things will become clearer if you know that behind the title Nightingale Productions hides a group of seventeen year olds from Westfield School for Girls from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. This is their first showing in front of the general audience, and the one well worth of encouragement.

No, this isn't a flawlessly made show. It’s a show in the making, some rehearsals away from the final product. The lighting could do with revamping, and the girls are in serious need of some voice and movement coaching. However, despite all these faults, or perhaps because of them, this production grows on you, the faults cease to matter, and you're sucked into the imaginary world of war, passion, death, revenge and transformation that is uncovered before you.
Runs until 15 August © Ksenija Horvat 14 August 2002
   

Low Jinks (page 134)
Drams full glass full glass
Venue The Bongo Club (Venue 143)
Address 14 New Street
Reviewer Daniel Winterstein

A show about trying to be funny, Low Jinks is postmodern clowning. Stuart Goldsmith puts on a courageous performance in what is virtually a one man show. Initially wildly enthusiastic ("You'll leave here purer beings!") he becomes downbeat as a string of man- walked-into-a-bar jokes fall flat, and he is harassed by a disembodied Irish voice. A cardboard box is brought on containing a miniature version of the show, whose clown seems to be doing much better: squeaky voiced pearls of wisdom are greeted with rapturous squeaky applause. Meanwhile Stuart Goldsmith's wind up rhino fails to work.

It's strange, very clever, and occasionally quite funny. It keeps threatening to dive into serious territory, but shies away. Much of the time it makes you feel a little awkward, which is deliberate, but nevertheless - well, awkward. Still, you get to play with balloons, which is fun and leaves you feeling happy. You, yes you.

Runs 12-20th August except 18th. 5 (3.50)
© Daniel Winterstein, 14th August 2002


   


Lucifer (page 134)
Drams full glass full glass
Venue The Tron (pub, not the church) (Venue 9)
Address 9 Hunter Square, Royal Mile
Reviewer Ksenija Horvat

Another one-man show. The fall from grace of the most beautiful angel in Heaven. The instigator of sin or the Bearer of Light, the choice is yours. The tale is most compelling and the topic most intriguing. Yes, fine, but does it work as a piece of theatre?

Oddly enough, it actually does in a way. In the sea of playwrights who can barely read their work, let alone act it, Glenn Tkach, Canadian actor/writer, stands out amongst the few ones who can. The reason why this show manages to keep its audience's attention is that Tkach's script is truly wicked (though it reads like a radio play), and his presentation as alluring as the original sin.

That said, there is not much else to be said about it. At times you wish something would finally happen on the stage; surely this guy will not just sit there and talk for an hour. As for the set and Tkach's costume, they are as loud and as camp as you can get them these days. Still, the script's beauty and passion will not fail to move you. A tip: the show definitely improves with the amount of alcohol consumed, so get your orders from the bar in time.
Runs until 26 August
© Ksenija Horvat 9 August 2002

(L) 8 out of 142
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