None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
Macbeth (page 134)
Drams . A half for the rain and the traffic and one purely to keep out the cold!
Venue Duddingston Kirk Manse Garden (Venue 121).
Address Old Church Lane, Duddingston.
Reviewer Max Blinkhorn.
If it hadn't rained…... But it did, so the audience suffered for their art last night (Friday 9th) at Duddingston Kirkyard but not as much as the players of Theatre Alba. They gamely threw themselves down on wet grass as required. Some had the shelter of an army great coat; the witches - great witches – did not but they still played their parts with effect and stamina. Sinister and tangibly potent, they blended well with Richard Chern’s strong, performance enhancing soundscape which created a wonderful atmosphere.
This adaptation is spoken in the Scots dialect and the players are dressed as Balkan-style irregulars with machine guns as well as the required "dirk" with which to "dae tha deed" on Duncan. There are also some very young people in the cast who had a great time - clearly thought themselves totally cool!
Traffic was this Macbeth’s most deadly enemy. In Scots, Macbeth requires close attention but passing vehicles behind the high churchyard wall broke the audience’s concentration. To their credit, most of them stuck it out, enjoying refreshments in the tent during the welcome intermission. Weather and noise pollution aside, this is an excellent production and cleverly executed in the Kirkyard under the direction of Charles Nowosielski. It seemed to me that the power of Macbeth in Scots has come of age. It’s no longer a gimmick. It sounds right. "Renderer", David Purves should be pleased.
Open air theatre can work well in Scotland but there are no half measures. When it's bad, there's nothing for it but to put on a brave face and have some grit. This performance is worth the ticket but make sure you are prepared with waterproofs and a comfy cushion.
Runs 8-11, 15-18, 22-25 August 20:00 (2.5 hrs with intermission) - take waterproof gear and cushion.
© Max Blinkhorn 9th August 2002
Masks (page 136)
Venue Quaker Meeting House (Venue 40)
Address 7 Victoria Terrace
Reviewer Ksenija Horvat
Masks comprises three playlets inspired by Japanese folklore and Yeats' poetry that were written, directed and performed by Risako Ataka and Daniel Foley. The themes of these short plays are intriguing and will surely catch the attention of all those who love Japanese theatre. Unfortunately, those who venture to see it will be
In a simple white setting, with only few props and masks, there was an opportunity for creating magic. What we saw on the opening night were only a few well-worn tricks. This production is a proof that even the best intentions can fail, and for all of the cast's efforts, this show has not succeeded in fulfilling the audience's expectations.
Potentially interesting visuals are lost due to some overacting, and though Ataka is clearly an accomplished dancer, her talent is held back by substandard choreography. As to the use of masks, only rarely did one have a feeling that the performer managed to become one with her mask, thus breaking rule number one of any good mask work.
© Ksenija Horvat 19 August 2002 - published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 24 August
A Midsummer Night's Rock (page 136)
Drams soft ones as they're young
Venue C Chambers St (34)
Address Chambers St (34)
Reviewer Neil Ingram
Drastic things have often been done to the Bard's greatest works in Fringe productions, but this one is not as radical as it might seem. At its core is a shortened version of the play many will know well, shortened but not damaged- indeed the changes tend to accentuate the central story of Oberon and Titania's feud, and make the tale of the young lovers rather less important. This makes the whole a more magical experience.
The young enthusiastic cast gives a clear and often entertaining performance, though the pace in the first act was at times too fast to let us hear all the lines clearly. Perhaps this was nerves- anyway, it got better as the play progressed. With many fine performances, I was particularly taken with Duncan Roberts as Oberon, who has great presence, and Bongani Bhebhe as Bottom, a stage-struck weaver. Other notable performances come from Kim Hardy as Puck and Tara Rutter as Helena., and the fairies and mechanicals all play well together.<
The songs by Mick Abrahams (Jethro Tull and Blodwyn Pig) fit well into the text, but there are only five of them, including a new setting of Puck's epilogue - rather a disappointment, given the billing of the show. The singing is good, and overall the blend of talents made this a fair reward for getting up so early on a very wet Saturday morning!
Runs Until 10 August at 10.00 a.m.
© Neil Ingram 3 August 2002
Bury Lawn Productions.
The Mighty (page 136)
Venue Venue 13 (Venue 13)
Address Lochend Close, Canongate
Reviewer Kenny Morrison
This piece was devised by the players and is a painful, funny and fast-moving rendering of the story of the whale ship, Essex, attacked and sunk by an enraged sperm whale. Its crew drift at sea for weeks while their wives form some kind of bizarre, debauched, abandoned society at home, without their husbands. The action flits happily between places and time periods, and its pace keeps one interested throughout. As, indeed, does the story, the men eating each other, and the women back home, resorting to drugs and the practice of self-abuse!
The set looks good throughout - very well balanced and consisting of maritime freight crates, and three large easels. The movement around the stage is well choreographed, and frequent. My only complaint is that I wonder how many poses from Gericault's Medusa can be formed in one evening. They looked good, once or twice, but the men seemed to be in poses of constant baroque strain. A bit of an easy analogy.
The acting from the students of the Master of Drama (Acting) Course at the Glasgow based Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, directed by Maththew Lenton of Vanishing Point, is of a high standard. There are occasions when crying and painful screams could do with practise, but on the whole we are left convinced of the desperation of the situation of all. There are wonderful touches in the piece. The use of puppets, always popular with me, is in this case both clever and tragic. The Indiana Jones-esque part in which a model ship is seen travelling across a billowing sheet is very effective indeed, and carefully executed. All in all a thoroughly professional, interesting and quirky hour and a quarter.
Until 17 August at 7pm not 15 August
© Kenny Morrison 13 August 2002
Milton! Let thy Song Soar!.... (page 137)
Venue Greyfriars Kirk House (Venue 28 )
Address 86 Candlemaker Row
Reviewer David Stanners
To recite Milton is one thing. But to recite flawlessly from memory, wholeheartedly engage in every word's meaning, and express
through gesture to a less than expert audience, is a divine miracle in its own right.
This remarkable act is testament to David Guthrie Burns' six months learning and researching the first book of Paradise Lost. The key to Burns' masterly performance is his supreme knowledge of the text; his unassailable belief in every word of text uttered is fully convincing.
Paradise Lost, in brief, is all about Adam and Eve: how they came to be created, and how they came to lose their place in the Garden of Eden, also called Paradise. Derived largely from the book of Genesis, book 1 opens in hell, where Satan has been cast after losing a war waged against God. Lying dazed in a burning lake, Satan, alongside his chief lieutenant Beelzebub, tries to regroup and rally his legions in the hope of regaining heaven. Speaking to his fallen angels, he attempts to revive their spirits by talk of thwarting the new world and new creature (man) that is to be created. They begin to build a new palace called Pandemonium, where the high-ranking angels will sit in council to contemplate the next move. This sets the scene for Adam and Eve's expulsion from Paradise.
With burning candles surrounding a dark stage, the set is suitably atmospheric. David Burns' delivery is conducted with such fervour and natural instinct that one can almost feel the darkness and wrath of Satan, infiltrate the premises. His greatest achievement is bringing to life words that for me have always lay dormant in a big book collecting dust.
© David Stanners 22 August 2002 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 26 August at 12.05
Company Guthrie Productions
Mistero Buffo (page 137)
Drams None this acting is sheer champagne
Venue Venue (Venue 13)
Address Lochend Close off the Canongate
Reviewer Thelma Good
In the auditorium are banners of the zanni and of the mediaeval actor who was a living newspaper, with then are banners of Les Dawson, Frankie Howard, Eric Morecambe, and Tommy Cooper. In a tented ceilinged white set a form lies on the white floor, a man just an ordinary, red haired man, When we are all comfortable he begins and gets a laugh for us he offers us a ginger nut and as he explains about Mistero Buffo, Dario Fo, and Daniel DeFoe any case any of us are confused. Soon we are all not just eating our ginger nuts, but eating out of this young, very versatile actor's hand.
He gives us four of the tales Dario Fo recovered and represented to modern audiences, there are over forty, more delights to come, David Mears? Each has delightful touches, the microwave the perpetually hunger Zanni uses to prepare the chicken he caught under our feet, the guests at the wedding of Canna that contains Capt Mannering, Frankie Howard, Les Dawson, Harold Steptoe's and others fun to spot, very much a celebrity wedding On then to the resurrection of Lazarus and finishing with Pope Boniface the VIII famous for his bad habit.
Do seek out this Mistero Buffo, I first saw it performed by Robbie Coultrane who is fantastic on stage, at an earlier Fringe, this young man's performance is as riveting and as consummately acted. I award a Good's Great Award to David Meyer, a ginger nut gem.
© Thelma Good 21 August 2002 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 24 August at 17:00
My Matisse (page 138)
Venue Komedia Roman Eagle Lodge (Venue 21)
Address 2 Johnston Terrace
Reviewer Kenny Morrison
This superb show is a beautifully presented insight into the life of Matisse from the point of view of his women. It begins, as it should, with the mother, then his wife and mistress. Each of the seven, models for the artist, lovers, worshippers, is formed distinctively by each actress, every one unique. From the overbearing mother to the flamboyant Gertrude Stein as patron and friend, and of course the beauties. This was a man whose life was dictated by his art, but through his women.
It isn't often that one can say this, but the acting in My Matisse is faultless. It's not easy either, with a lot of monologues, and dialogue with 'le maitre', who is never present. There is little actual interaction between characters, yet to their credit, the inherent connection - the connection with Matisse - is evident throughout. While not speaking, each character forms a picture somewhere on stage: Olga as The Red Nude; Lydia as The Pink Nude. This rounds off the look of the stage, which is simple, with carefully chosen, elegant furniture and fabric, ideal for the production.
We are left with questions about the place of the artist. Is the creation of art worth more than anything else? According to My Matisse when Monsieur was painting his famous Jazz pictures, his wife and daughter were being tortured by Nazi officers occupied France. He was shacked up with his secretary, and painting naked ladies. Henri Matisse - Wild beast or gentle genius?
Runs 3 - 25 August at 11:45pm
Andy Jordon Productions
© Kenny Morrison 9 August 2002