None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
Oleanna (page 139)
Drams for accent
Venue Assembly (Venue 3)
Address 54 George Street
Reviewer Max Blinkhorn
Somebody said "Nobody does dialogue like Mamet" and itís true. Guy Mastersonís production at the Assembly handles said dialogue with due care but it doesnít complete the translation from "American" to English entirely well. Stage dynamo, Masterson, playing the once-maverick lecturer John, kicks off with a slight and annoying U.S. accent. To be fair, it does help to retain the dynamics of the dialogue but it sounds too false. Once into his stride however, the accent is all but lost, the speed picks up and the result is a fine rendering of this acclaimed and much argued over play.
Beth Fitzgerald seethes with anger and confusion as Carol, a student who tries to make sense of the work being asked of her. As the play progresses, her character develops a sinister confidence, borne of anger at her own inability to comprehend her work and egged on by an unseen sisterhood. She reads her professorís attitude and physical attempt to prevent her leaving his study as something other than concern for her educational progress.
Simultaneously flattered by the confirmation of his University tenure and troubled by his own absorption into the establishment he once reviled, John desperately wants to help Carol partly as a form of penitence. But he cannot seem to hit the right note with her. Masterson prowls around the stage expressing his exasperation with Carol in sweat, spray and anger.
Masterson and TTI present plays that have some currency about them and with education in crisis for so many reasons, Oleanna looks fresh. Ambiguity is what David Mamet said he aimed for in Oleanna. As the stunned audience filed out of the Assembly Ballroom, the debate about who was right and who was wrong had begun and it's impossible not to have an opinion. So remind me - what is education for, again?
Runs 2-26 August 2002 at 12:00 (13:00)
© Max Blinkhorn 12th August 2002
One Flea Spare (page 140)
Venue Venue 13 (Venue 13)
Address Lochend Close off Canongate
Reviewer Thelma Good
Naomi Wallace is a US plawright now based in north Yorkshire, whose Trestle at Pope Lick Creek was given its European premiere here at the Traverse. This an earlier play, commissioned by the Bush Theatre London and after many stage productions is being made into film by the makers of Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Set in 1716 when plague has come to London William Snelgrave and his wife Darcy are fending for themselves waiting out in their well appointed house for the last three days of their insaceration. Both are well, though their servants all died at least 24 days before. Over the roofs and in through the only unboarded window come each on their own, Bunce a sailor and Morse, a girl of 13 who claims she is a dead ancquaintance's daughter. When Kabe the watchman finds they have intruders the house's quarintine is extended for another 28 days.
These four people have to live together and gradually Morse and Bunce unsettle the seemingly, solid partnership of the Snelgraves'. Each character has an interest for us. Kristian Hart is Bunce, rough in some ways but a careful person, as Mr Snelgrave Mark Coggin brings cold into the room when he shows what a man he is beneath his well made clothes. Cassie Vallance is fascinating as the half child, half strange Morse and Clare Yuille is a repression of sensuality as Darcy while Lee O'Driscoll makes Kabe a rough out for himself man, part jailer part on the make. The simple set with two Jacobean chairs and a red drape at the back generally works. But the entrances alway being through two hung frames at the front sides of the stage although fine for the outside window wasn't right for the internal door, I longed for someone to step on stage from the back. As actors still in training, sometimes performances weren't as strong as they might be. A good introduction to an interesting playwright and to actors who will develop further.
© Thelma Good 18 August 2002 - published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs till 24 August at various times see programme
Company - Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama
One Man Rant (page 140)
Drams A slice of the melon, please
Venue Co2 (202)
Address Oxygen, Infirmary Street
Reviewer Jackie Fletcher
This is a delightful and engaging one-man show. It is full off absurd fun (both verbal and physical) derived from astute observances of everyday life. Al Dente is bored with his life. He hates his mundane, routine job in an office, where life is eviscerated by a vicious boss, desiccated as a human being. Even his invisible friend Kevin has deserted him out of boredom.
This is one crucial day in Al's life. Buying a sandwich at the local deli he is confronted with the risible combinations of sandwich fillings we now find in sophisticated urban environments, and in comic confusion asks for a cheese roll. Returning to the office he gets an email offering him penis enhancement from Jumboknob.com. Al is sacked. Al gets a postcard from an exotic holiday location from his invisible friend Kevin. He is despondent. But can advice from a savvy Glaswegian turd, deposited that morning in his laundry basket when he flushed him underpants down the loo, change his life?
The show is modest in scope, but rich in human dimension and laughter. It is beautifully performed by the Lecoq-trained, Scottish actor, Alasdair Satchel, who also wrote the material. It is replete with imagination. A vignette in which Satchel manipulates a puppet consisting of a jumper with a sad-faced melon head and a bunch of bananas for a hand is moving. The puppet approached me and laid its banana hand around my shoulder, trembling with anxiety and grief. I felt compelled to put my cheek against the sad melon face and console it. I enjoyed this show for the laughter it gave me and for Satchel's capacity to act out all the characters with verve, and all the action through mime. Recommended.
© Jackie Fletcher
Until 25 Aug (not 11) 14.15 (50 mins)
Ordinary Miracles (page 140)
Drams No drams
Venue Gateway Theatre (Venue 7)
Address Elm Row
Reviewer Neil Ingram
This is a memorable play- simply staged, stunningly lit, with haunting music and great acting. It tells the story of a magician, Saturno, and Joy, the woman he meets, and who becomes part of his act. She is the story-teller, and the story ends suddenly in the first five minutes of the play. Then we go back six months to when they first met, and their love story unfolds before us.
We are transported to a theatre where Saturno the magician is performing- he does some clever illusions but is transfixed by a beautiful woman at the back of the auditorium. After the show she goes backstage to look for him, determined to find out more about him, and she ends up living with him and becoming his stage assistant. As the story moves towards the ending we have already seen, we know how it will end, or do we?
Ordinary Miracles is written by Kubilay QB Tuncer, who also plays Saturno, with Lale Mansur as Joy, and is directed, designed and lit by Ahmet Mumtaz Taylan. The music by Mercan Dede is a hypnotic blend of traditional and modern, featuring jazz violinist Hugh Marsh. In total, this is a remarkable piece of drama, combining stage magic with a moving and absorbing story that left me with an indelible lasting impression.
© Neil Ingram, 17 August 2002 - published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 2- 26 August not 14 at 21:30
Company - Open Theatre of Istambul
Out In The Garden (page 141)
Drams if you get the parody, if you don't
Venue Assembly Rooms (Venue 3)
Address 54 George St
Reviewer Thelma Good
With a cast containing two soap opera actors, oh yes they can act, this modern farce takes place in a gnome strewn back garden. A fence is used for some of the door entrances and exits the form usually uses. It's the morning after Stuart's stag night and into the garden come all the characters firstly a naked Liam, John Pickard (Kevin, East Ender's). Then Stuart, Richard Smith, too vaults the fence in undress, clearly Stuart's stag night has taken him to places he's never been before and he liked it.
The lines from Carolyn Scott Jeffs are just like the soap genre, brother Alex, Gresby Nash, announces his redundancy with little emotion, while mother Denise, Rebecca Simmons, accepts everything she sees and hears with a cheery bovine complacency. Yep this is Brummyside on the stage. Green facepacked bride Ang, Anna Barker, strangely staying at her Mum-in-law-to-be's the night, is a girl just waiting to lower her optimistic knickers. Last to arrive is Susan, Georgina Reece (Eleanor Kitson, Brookside), not only Alex's older woman boss but tied to him in other ways. She's the same age as his Mum too, but smartly cool where Denise - well colour sense just passes her by.
If you don't watch the soaps you might not realise what a fine parody this is, a very slight shift in the direction might make it clearer. I expect this play to turn up with soap stars on the touring circuit in a year or so. I just hope all the actors as good at sustaining this tricky style which has the potential to make actors look like amateurs when they're clearly, in this cast at least, not.
© Thelma Good 01 August 2002
Runs to 26 August not 13
Company - Production Line
Outlying Islands (page 141)
Venue Traverse Venue 15
Address Cambridge St off Lothian Road
Reviewer Thelma Good
Two young ornithologists John, and Robert arrive on the eve of WW2 on one of the wee Outer Scottish Islands in David Greig's new play for the Traverse. They've been asked to survey the now uninhabited island, its migrating birds especially. With them are Kirk, its owner and his niece Ellen. They have come to take birds for food as they do every year.
Laurence Mitchell as Robert the cool scientist and Sam Heughan's slightly younger, less focused John are both compelling performances. They're clean cut specimens of Cambridge academia speaking with 30s English accents though John's from Edinburgh. Both interest Ellen, Lesley Hart, head full of the romance of the movies. Robert Carr's Kirk is the Highland man never giving away much in his few direct words, secured by his life's remoteness and his Christian faith.
Fiona Watt's set of the primitive Chapel where the young men stay makes a Celtic spiral with a grassy cliff top above, with only flames to light it. It becomes clear the island is the fifth actor, pulling them all to their outlying edges.
It is engrossing, Grieg's writing is strong and tight but he hasn't pushed at the boundaries of play structure or layering as he often does. And some like me will miss that challenge from him this time. A good play finely directed by Philip Howard but not a great play.
© Thelma Good 31 July 2002
31 July then 3 - 24 August at various times Not Mondays
Traverse Theatre Company www.traverse.co.uk
Email the company if you wish to buy the published text.