None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
A Tale of a Tiger (page 153)
Venue Komedia Roman Eagle Lodge (Venue 21)
Address 2 Johnston Terrace
Reviewer Veera Airas
Though the title of the play might suggest it's a performance for younger viewers, this piece gives something to everyone. Adapted, performed and directed by Ami Dayan, he keeps the double meanings moving throughout in a funny and witty style. He leaps across the stage with immense energy, swapping from one character to another with roaring talent. His energy keeps the young ones on the edge of their seats, looking forward to more, while older heads will appreciate the more intellectual side of the piece.
Sometimes the music by Ran Bagnon emphasised the story, yet at times it misfires while the set and the lighting does not rise up to the same level as the rest of the production. Written by Dario Fo, who has won the Nobel Prize for literature, this tale still make you laugh regardless of your age.
Runs until the 25 August at 16.15
© Veera Airas 5 August 2002
Tangled (page 153)
Venue C O2 (venue 202)
Address Oxygen, Infirmary Street
Reviewer Daniel Winterstein
Jessica, a chorus line dancer, always dreamt of being famous. Now she is famous, but not in the way she expected: wanted for accidentally killing a young girl. She has gone to ground - literally, hiding out down a hole in a small outback town. Her boyfriend brought her there, but he's been gone two weeks... Starved of company, she gradually loses the plot.
Tangled attempts to look at the media's reckless way of handling sensational crimes. Unfortunately an isolated hole in the ground doesn't provide a good position from which to do this. Noni Bousfield gives a brave performance, although her deterioration into insanity isn't convincing. A worthy but deeply flawed play.
© Daniel Winterstein, 18th August 2002. - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 25 August
Company - Papa Chance Productions
Technically Dead (page 153)
Venue C cubed
Address Brodies Close, Lawnmarket, Royal Mile
Reviewer Shona Brodie
If you are attempting a one man monologue your material needs to be strong, something worth listening to, and you need to have enough stage presence to command attention. From the moment Nick Brown said his first few lines I knew he had none of these.
Under the hum of the theatres air conditioning his mumbling voice was barely audible. What I could make out was drab, dull, uninteresting and with a large stage space to play with he mostly remained completely still. My mind wandered throughout his speech and I had to really, really concentrate to stop from counting the empty seats (69 out of 74 in case you were wondering). When I could make out what he was saying it was the rambles of a past love, the job and people he hated and the desire to do something else with his life. I couldnt help but wonder why this guy was doing a Festival performance in the first place, he was certainly no performer. You did not feel sorry for him and his tales of woe, you just wanted him to finish.
The only reason this Cybersuporia production gets 41/2 drams instead of a full 5 is because it was mercifully cut short from the advertised 45 minutes to, a still painfully long, 25.
Until August 25th
© Shona Brodie 18th August 2002 13:00. Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Telling Wilde's Tales (page 153)
Drams it's too sober
Venue Southside (Venue 82)
Address 117 Nicolson St
Reviewer Thelma Good
This company Nerdal Productions have mustered a considerable team of raw talents for this dramatisation of four of Wilde's tales directed by Tamara Fisch. When we enter the theatre the performers amongst them are clinging to the scenery and recall a work by Rachman. Appropriately for a Victorian's tales, there's a moral running through, love is more central than anything else in life. The Soul, the rich voiced Simon Yadoo narrates while the twelve shadows become what ever each tale needs. Starting with The Birthday of Infanta, the tone at first is playfully humourous and imaginative. Particularly successful are the scornful superior flowers with their well executed costumes, Rob Dawson as the Dwarf who thought himself fine until he looks at his reflection and Veronica Saum's Swallow.
The next two tales involving The Happy Prince and Rose and the Nightingale have similar visual treats, but the humorous touches die away until there are none while the ever present use of choral speaking of an overly portentous wordy text becomes just too much. By the end of the performance the production has none of the charm and interest of earlier despite some fine work. The original soundscape influenced by classical and ethnic music composed by Anna Clynne does much to retain interest when the action on stage becomes too monotonal, and is the most sucessfully achieved part of this production. Hugely ambitious for a young company they have attempted a style which more often comes out of years of development, what they have managed here means I'll be looking for their names later. Like an emerald flawed it's flawed, green but it still occasionally sparkles.
© Thelma Good 05 August 2002
Runs 3 - 25 August not 18
Company Nerdal Productions
Terry Pratchetts Mort (page 154)
Address Chambers Street
Reviewer Shona Brodie
Mort is hired by Death as his new apprentice and starts training to learn the 'business'. Out on his first assignment however, Mort attempts to save the Princess Keli with disastrous consequences. History it seems cannot be changed.
This is a wonderful fantasy tale with a lot of information going on all the time. A whole Pratchett book is condensed into an hour and a half and you will need to be quick to keep up. More definite direction would have helped at times the actors seemed to be wandering around unsure of themselves. What started as bursting with energy tailed off towards the end and an over-the-top performance completely upstaged the main action.
Death as always steals the show with some excellent lines played completely dead pan (what else?) to full effect as a clever contrast to the rest of the animated cast. He attempts to get drunk, make friends and find a new job ("something nice working with cats or flowers") while remaining completely in character, demonstrating superb comic timing. This is a wonderful fantasy tale that always charms its audience, colourful costumes, funny lines, wizards and royalty, a modern day pantomime for all the family.
Runs until 25 August
© Shona Brodie 20 August 2002 14.00
Tetragrammaton (page 154)
Venue The Underbelly (Venue 61)
Address entrances on Cowgate and Victoria Street
Reviewer Ksenija Horvat
BigRedPlant Productions' Tetragrammaton is a valiant stab at a theatrical presentation of a visual history of western religion. It spans the scenes from both the Old and New Testament and it is an enjoyable, imaginative, and unpretentious take on western culture. Written and directed by two recent graduates of York University, and performed by a young cast of hopefuls, it never goes beyond being a well-produced and boldly acted student show.
There are some gripping moments, with good performances by individual actors, but they are all too often lost in the torrent of words. As it stands, at one hour and a half, Tetragrammaton is an over-written text that brings up no new ideas, and sometimes seems like a well-researched lecture on the Jewish cultural and religious history, rather than a piece of theatre. Still, there is a germ of a real potential there, so watch out for these young artists. They may pleasantly surprise you in the years to come.
Runs until 25 August (not Weds)
© Ksenija Horvat 6 August 2002
Tiny Ninja Theatre presents Macbeth (Page 155)
Drams None required
Venue Gateway Theatre (Venue 7)
Address Elm Row, Leith Walk
Reviewer Annabel Ingram
Remember when you were little and you got your dolls or Action Man and acted out a saga under the dining room table? Well I bet your dolls weren’t as talented as Dov Weinstein’s one inch tall Tiny Ninjas who are now doing it professionally. >From the moment I entered the small auditorium (only 12 lucky audience members at a time) and was handed a pair of binoculars to enable me to see the performers more easily I couldn’t disguise my smile. This is great fun, and good drama. At over 500 ninjas this is easily the biggest (and smallest) company here and their acting – if a little unanimated – is utterly absorbing. All those full size, fleshy, breathing actors should watch their step and better hope not too many directors get to see this wonderful show. More venues should investigate this inspired use of their smaller spaces. Suitable for all ages, and at thirty-five minutes a fun introduction to Shakespeare, book now to avoid disappointment. This is the only one I’m recommending to all my friends and the only thing I think I’ll make a return trip to!
Runs until 26 most days @ 2.30pm & 4pm check fringe programme or venue for details
© Annabel Ingram 3 August 2002
Company- Tiny Ninja Theatre www.tinyninjatheater.com
The Tragedian (page 155)
Drams none needed It's the first Good Great Award for 2002
Venue Underbelly (Venue 61)
Address Entrances in Cowgate and Victoria St
Reviewer Thelma Good
Not many actors can bring us one of the world stages' leading eternal lights back to dramatic life but in The Tragedian you will be entertained royally by one equal to the challenge. Alistair O'loughlin brings us Edmund Kean, taking us from his lowly birth, to his female protectors and encouragers and then to his adult life ending when, at the age of 26, this difficult, driven man becomes a star at Dury Lane.
Actors are shadows as Shakespeare's Puck says. After they have quit the stage and tripped off this mortal coil we forget, less so now perhaps with film to capture some of their essences but never reality of the live experience. Even before film some actors were so amazing in their day we know about them still. William Kempe of Shakespeare troupe is one and Edmund Kean another. Written by O'loughlin this one man show gives him full rein to reveal what an interesting, powerful actor O'loughlin is, using the audience skilfully to provide some of the characters of Kean's life. Nothing much is asked of you, just hand or take a letter, acknowledge a blown kiss or, lucky woman she, receive one on the hand. And there's wit in the playing too, a magnificent array of accents and so much that confirms an actor's life today is not so different.
Using all the space in the Iron Belly of the venue he drags a trunk, containing all his costumes and props, plastered with playbills Kean appeared on. We are sung to, get snatches of many characters, dramatic and real, including the variety of managers who Kean dealt with in his tours round the provinces as he gradually and frequently tries to regain a foothold on the centre of London's stages. Burlesque, ballet and clowning he does but it is tragedy he wants above all. And tragedy he gets in his life and finally, after not always behaving as a wishing-to-remain-employed actor should, on that stage where he triumphed at last for the first time at the age of 26. If fine, elegant, eloquent acting fascinates, and it should, don't miss this. And I award Alistair O'loughlin my first Good's Great Award of this 2002 Fringe.
His company's A Room of State also on at this venue earlier in the day at 18:15, is another dramatic gem. The Tragedian will also be performed at the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond on Sunday the 6th of October at 7pm.
Runs till 25 (not Tuesdays) at 20:20
© Thelma Good 09 August 2002. - published on EdinburghGuide.com
Trojan Women (page 155)
Venue C3 (Venue 50 )
Address Brodie's Close, Lawnmarket, Royal Mile
Reviewer Daniel Winterstein
Euripides's Trojan Women is a classic anti-war play from ancient Greece. Set immediately after the fall of Troy, the captive Queen Hecuba and her daughters await their fate. This new adaptation by lead actress Bridget Collins and director Tom Cooper strips the play down into a claustrophobic three hander. The gods, the Greeks and the chorus don't make the cut. The style is less poetic, but retains the essence of the original.
The cast should be too young for the material, but good performances make it work. Frances Bucknall's Hecuba adds a feeling of age. Bridget Collins' Andromache carries the show with a powerful portrayal of a wife and mother who has lost everything. From time to time her acting slips and her youth shows, but not so much as to destroy the mood of despair this play creates. The intimate space of the venue intensifies the impact. A hard-hitting piece of theatre.
© Daniel Winterstein, 19th August 2002. - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 25th August.at 21:30
True or Falsetto? A Secret History of the Castrati – Ernesto Tomasini (page 155)
Venue Venue Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)
Address Address 60 The Pleasance
Reviewer Garry Platt
This show is balls! Or to be more precise about the lack of them. Ernesto Tomasini has brought a fascinating and engaging show to the Fringe which is unlikely to disappoint any audience. The play looks at the lot of men who had ‘radical surgery’ when boys to prevent the development of their bodies and stop their voices breaking thus extending and maintaining their remarkable vocal range. Lets stop beating about the bush; they were castrated. The story is bitter sweet and the fate of many of those who suffered this mutilation was often death through poor surgical procedures. The process was frequently a failure anyway; a good young voice does not always develop into a good mature one and it always led to the psychological separation of these people from society because of their androgynous state.
Ernesto Tomasini via the use of puppets, a series of vignettes and scenes creates and weaves a fascinating story of this doomed species, but the most important and wonderful aspect of this show is Tomsini’s voice. He manages to provide a remarkable rendition of castrato-style singing which is both exquisite and strangely eerie. The price that was paid in the past to deliver this sound does not bear thinking about. (I noticed looking around at the audience that all the men sit with their legs crossed.) The live musical accompaniment provided by an associate is superb and flawless. A great show which both educates and entertains, I recommend it.
Runs Until 26 August not 6, 13 or 20
© Garry Platt, 04 August 2002
Tuesdays and Sundays (page 155)
Venue Pleasance Dome 4 (Venue 23)
Address 1 Bristo Square
Reviewer Max Blinkhorn
It takes a lot of effort, commitment and money to write a script, realise a production and cross the Atlantic from Canada to Edinburgh. But it means we usually see the better offerings and "Tuesdays and Sundays" is certainly such.
It's not a complex piece but it's not simple either. The story of starred-crossed lovers is old hat but "Tuesdays and Sundays" script is really fresh. Add polished acting and you have something that deserves success. Daniel Arnold and Medina Hahn are the driving force – they wrote "Tuesdays and Sundays" and play two young people, clearly made for each other, who take their new found passion too far. She becomes pregnant but in 19th Century, small town Canada, this has consequences. Their intense feelings for each other are subverted by friends, family and circumstance with serious consequences. The dialogue is fast and tight – Daniel and Medina move between playing their parts and narrating, very cleverly and lightly.
I do have one criticism. The music that begins and ends "Tuesdays and Sundays" is not good. As the audience enters, the two characters are quietly "asleep" on stage and remain so until the play begins. The music at this point may have some significance but it’s lost on me. The effect is to diminish the ambience created by excellent lighting and scenery. Once they begin however, the music stops and only at the end does it return. I felt the end wasn’t as crisp as it could have been but that may have been just the performance I saw. Tuesdays and Sundays is well worth seeing but take hankies!
© Max Blinkhorn 4 August 2002
Two (page 155)
Venue The Gilded Balloon Cowgate (88)
Address Cave 1, Niddry Street South
Reviewer Jackie Fletcher
Two is exactly the type of incisive, insightful writing one would expect from master playwright Jim Cartwright. However, this is a piece of considerable challenge for the two actors playing a wide variety of characters passing through a northern pub on a Saturday night (a sort of Rovers Return on amphetamines). This is not as satisfying as Road, but Cartwright knows how to get into his characters lives and sketch the landscape of their minds with flourish, through both monologues and dialogue.
Atomick is a new company, specialising in low-budget productions, and Cartwrights work is tantalising for the opportunities it offers young actors to showcase their talents. However, I felt that while Michaela Ford and Tom Mackenzie acted out their roles with great energy, the exploration into character wasnt completed and they fell on occasion into stereotypical physicality and facial expression. Nonetheless, this is by no means a disaster. They play with the audience, a dance sequence is extremely funny, and when they settled into a rhythm the show was enjoyable. I just loved the old man who strokes his big brown teapot to invoke the presence of his dead wife. If you appreciate good writing, it is worth seeing.
Until 26 Aug (not 13, 20)
© Jackie Fletcher