None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
Panic (page 141)
Venue C (Venue 34)
Address Chambers Street
Reviewer David Stanners
A detective attempts to uncover the mysterious death of a young American virgin working in a florist shop. Piecing together the jigsaw puzzle, he tells us 67 virgins have disappeared in the area over the last 50 years, and all the evidence points towards a the actions of a pagan cult. Cloaked in a supposed neo-pagan ideology, Panic is a who did it type murder mystery conveyed to us for the most part through a series of conversational flashbacks between the detective and the promiscuous florist, whose shop, the dead girl is found in. The denouement begins to unwrap when Mr Caprie, the florist's boss attempts to seduce Sarah (young American virgin) into joining him at summer solstice for a bit of pagan jiggery pokery.
It may sound intriguing, but a bit like the Beltane Festival in Edinburgh, it never quite lives up to its name. All the ingredients are there for a pot-boiling crescendo; there's rampant orgies, incandescent face masks, throbbing drums and pagan dancing on the mid summer night. But at the last hurdle, it all descends into a hodgepodge of convoluted dialogue, rendering it almost inaudible and robbing the finale of a satisfactory conclusion.
Runs until 15 August at 12.30
©David Stanners 15 August
The Perfume Shop (page 142)
Venue Augustine (Venue 152)
Address George IV Bridge
Reviewer Thelma Good
Haqif Mulliqi has brought his play The Perfume Shop to the Fringe with two leading Albanian actors Hadi Shehu and Jahja Shehu who perform the text in its original language which being Albanian I had to understand through their acting and the tones of their beautifully trained voices. It was not an easy task and I have to say most of the story eluded me - I have no knowledge of the language. Their acting is interesting but the play concerning two old men meeting in an old peoples' home is not physical enough in its performance to convey its story. I gather these theatres have in the past brought plays easier to grasp if you have no Albanian, let's hope next year they do so again.
© Thelma Good 22 August 2002 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 26 August
Company - National Theatre of Gjakova & Alternative Theatre Pristina
A Place with the Pigs (page 142 )
Venue Gateway Theatre (Venue 7 )
Address Elm Row
Reviewer Annabel Ingram
Politics has always been a topic of drama since the early Greeks, but in Athol Fugard's absurdist play, political asylum is a metaphor for his own alcoholism.
Pavel went AWOL from the Russian front line ten years ago and has been concealed ever since by his wife Praskovya in their pigsty. To the rest of the world he is dead. As the play opens Pavel is planning to surrender himself at a military service to honour heroes, including himself. We witness his emotional journey from arrogance through utter despair and finally to a humbling acceptance of his deserved fate.
In this two-hander, Graham Winter and Julie Nicolson deliver a polished, realistic performance. The absurd subject matter is tempered with the confident portrayal of the most basic of human emotions - fear. Pavel's desperation to leave the hell of the pigsty is matched by his paralysing fear of the consequences of re-entering
the outside world.
This partnership's ability to convey the complex emotional journeys of both characters and portray the hell of living amongst the pigs impresses. However at times, perhaps due to the proximity of the audience in this awkward studio space, there was a delicate balance between emotional performance and the danger of self-conscious acting. That aside, this is a strong script, well staged, and skilfully directed.
© Annabel Ingram 18 August 2002 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 26 at 2.50pm every day
Company - Black Box Theatre Company
Play o the Wather(page 143 )
Venue Smirnoff Underbelly (Venue 61 )
Address entrances on Cowgate and Victoria Street
Reviewer Thelma Good
You think you're in for a promenade performance but worry not, as after a first wee whiley, tho the Scots flies oot o the acotrs' gobs, yer bum'll be fair seated by the cast on a stool or a deckchair ( I recommend the latter). John Heywood wrote this play in the time of Henry the VIII of England, Edward Stiven's translation is lively muscular Scots, and director Kate Nelson has got a cast likewise, their skills well matched to her own.
John Austin, exceedingly, some would say ower, tall, is Jupiter the God who realising the mortals would like something done aboot the wather, selects a man to canvass everyone's opinion in Scotland, he makes a striking young God experimenting how to relate to man.. Stephen Docherty is the canvasser Merry Courant and he fills this clownlike master of ceremonies with a gallus Scottish charm, making the hale thing well hingit together. Lynne MacCallum's a fine earthy keeper and latter wind miller, Caroline MacKellar is the water miller while Victoria Balnaves is the Merchant looking to make a good deal, Mary Gapinski is a plums in mouth Scottish Laird and frae the clamjamfry a Scot's speaking backgreen launderer with pegs and pinny. There are modern touches to the ancient original, in the characters as well as references, Eileen Buresh is the smile-struck weather girl come rain or shine and also doubles as the lusious dame, and the boy, Colin Ferrie is the skate boarding youth the only one really awed by Jupiter's persence. They all want weather of different varities, only the boy seems to have the catholic taste living Scotland demands, with its snow in Summer
Play o the Wather has music and songs and rumbunctious attacking style which recalls the best of 7.84 in McGrath's time with a less hectoring message , it's all the more successful for that. As the cast sing from under their umbrellas about Global Warming, this magical, life engaging version of a play, so clearly made for the people and of the people, is filled with commitment well deliver to the audeince.
A production which for its simple versatile staging and fun costuming ( Lucinda Meredith), excellent lighting ( Simon Wilkinson), endearing style and acute direction deserves to live beyond this Fringe. It's a more than worthy first production from Kate Nelson's newly created company which is, on this evidence, full of promise.
© Thelma Good, 23 August 2002 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 25 August at 14.30
Company - Nutshell
Play Wisty for Me- The Life of Peter Cook (page 143)
Venue C Chambers St(Venue 34)
Address Chambers Street
Reviewer Neil Ingram
It felt strange to sit in a darkened room in Edinburgh, waiting to see Pete and Dud come on stage, over 40 years since they were here with Beyond the Fringe. But once E L Wisty had appeared and started to explain how he had become a comedian, "not easy, given the raw material available" this feeling faded. It was as if they had never gone away at all. The show not only includes lots of sketches with Pete and Dud, many of them new, but also brings out the failing relationship between the two, with a rerun of the furious obscene exchanges between Derek and Clive.
Much of the comedy is very funny, ranging from late night phone-ins about fish, with Sven the jilted Norwegian, to Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling's pointless expedition in search of the bee orchid. There are also very moving moments, such as in the last of a series of interviews with the unctious David Sunday, when Sir Arthur (aka Pete) is asked why he never realised his full potential. "Not so", he responds,"I reached my peak at the age of 25, and it's all been rather difficult since then".
Conceived and performed by Matthew Perret and Jeremy Limb as a moving tribute to Peter Cook, it is is even more poignant now that Dudley Moore has gone to join him on that park bench in the sky.
© Neil Ingram 17 August 2002 - published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs 16 - 19 August at 12:30
Pooja (page 143)
Drams a wee half ,very good
Company Gilded Balloon Cowgate
Venue Cave I (Venue 88)
Address South Niddry Street, off Cowgate
Reviewer Ksenija Horvat
In the midst of candles and incense, in a mystical atmosphere of Cowgate's Cave I venue, a powerful cry surges from a woman against the repression of all patriarchy, past and present. In its first visit to Edinburgh, Rasa Productions introduces to the Fringe audiences Rani Moorthy, a powerful Malaysian performer, now based in Manchester. In a successful blend of storytelling, video, Hindu rituals and stand-up comedy, Rani brings to life twelve characters whose stories disclose the ignorance and prejudice of ancient belief systems. Through word, song and movement, she expresses the yearning of a modern South Asian woman to create her own Poojas (Pooja means ritual in Sanskrit). Everything works in this show. The simple set and lighting add entrancing qualities to Rani's spirited and funny performance.
This is a one-woman show that must not be missed. So where does that half dram fit in? It is due to an inexcusable state of the venue, where the damp dribbles from the walls. We all love the mysterious ambience of Cave I, but people, please refurbish that place to make it into the stage fit for this amazing guest performer.
Runs until 26 August © Ksenija Horvat 2 August 2002
Project 9/11: Portraits In Shock (page 131)
Venue Assembly Rooms (Venue 3)
Address 54 George St
Reviewer Alex Eades
With the tragic events of September 11th rapidly approaching its first anniversary, it seems inevitable that this festival would be littered with performances related to the twin towers. They perhaps run the risk of over exposing the tragedy and draining the audience of any interest or sympathy that they once had.
For the most part, Project 9/11 manages to avoid this trap. Consisting of a series of monologues by seven multi-racial youths, the piece is often brutally honest and powerful. It drives the audience to re-experience the fear, anger and pain that rocked us all, breaking so many hearts, minds and souls. The young cast performs well, especially Laura Moss, who's energy and emotion throughout comes across as remarkably genuine and heartfelt, which is reflected in each and every monologue.
The performance takes place in an empty space and only lasts for around 40 minutes, but it is definitely a piece that is worth a look. There is nothing really new here, which is perhaps where this and any other September 11th piece might trip up. No accounts especially different from those previously heard and it poses no further information or questions. However, it is a powerful reminder of something that we should never be aloud to forget and performances like this will insure that we never will.
Runs Until 25th August not Tuesdays
© Alex Eades 08 August 2002
Company: Playwrights Theatre School
Prometheus (page 144 )
Venue Old College Quad (Venue 192 )
Address South Bridge
Reviewer Thelma Good
The myth of Prometheus performed with stilts and masks could have been an awe inspiring experience, but the School of Jesters production never develops the dramatic tension. Why, well acting on silts has limitations not least of which is the necessity to keep continually shifting your weight from one stilt to the other. Comically that can work well, in a tragedy or epic it's a distinct liability. Stand still to be powerful and the performer will topple. Add to that huge masks worn so that the actor's natural voice has to be amplified to be heard and the dynamism and delight of the Old Quad's fine acoustics are destroyed. It's hard to work out which masked figure is speaking to whom, and people on stilts can't risk getting too close to other performers. The text is mainly given in Greek with some Japanese and a portentously delivered English explanation of the story further deadens the proceedings.
Just twice there are striking images tellingly involving the actors not on silts, and without masks. The whole drowns in incoherent directing so that the myth becomes hard to follow, nay impossible. The masks and excessively high stilts are the biggest faux-pas in this, shoving one actor up in a hoist for most of the time another. This production lacks the fire of unity or directed imagination, it's clear within five minutes that the School of Jesters could not bring anything to flame theatrically. And an hour and 15 minutes is a long time to stand looking at this misconceived rubbish in a space which in previous Fringes has given us amazing theatrical delights.
© Thelma Good 23 August 2002 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs 23 - 25 August
Company - Street Theatre "School of Jesters"