None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
After Bagging the Last Munro (page 114)
Venue Augustine's Studio (Venue 152)
Address 41 George IV Bridge
Reviewer Lorraine McCann.
It says in the programme notes that RBDC has 'grown from an out-of- hours drama club'. For which read 'am-dram', right? Well, kind of. Except that, instead of playing safe with an Ayckbourn or Godber, this lot have stuck their necks out and put on a brand new play. Respect!
Unfortunately, however, the play in question wasn't really worth the gamble. Written by Jon Love, who also co-wrote the company's sell-out 2002 success, Bagging the Last Munro, it's a script so limp you'd need a splint the size of the Old Man of Hoy to prop it up. Scenes are too long, story is underwritten, and characters too often seem to just bicker and josh each other into a kind of soup of motivations. The performances leaven the mix, though - Phil Gelling convinces as an over-protective father, Charlie Allan's manifestly Scottish 'Australian' is shot through with a sliver of enigma, and Bobby Robinson's 'shaman' is a wonderful confection. Sets are clever, too, detailed and nicely composed - though they extract their price in lengthy scene-changes.
All in all, this is a talented cast labouring under the burden of flawed writing. But that hardly sets them apart on the Fringe! Worth seeing for the shaman alone, I'd say.
© Lorraine McCann, 20 August 2003 - Published on www.EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 25 August at 20.45
Company Website www.rbdc.org.uk
Agua Viva (Page 115)
Venue C Central (Studio 2) (Venue 54)
Address Carlton Hotel, North Bridge.
Reviewer Mairi Anderson .
Agua Viva is a new play by F.Figueiredo and C. Byrnes and it asks deep questions about the human condition. A very beautiful and evocative piece of theatre it examines the nature of love. It doesn't attempt to provide simple answers but explores the issue of how our natural tendency to love becomes contaminated by layers of pain and disappointment built up over lifetimes and from generation to generation.
The crux of the story is that 5 aspects of love personified have the task of deciding the fate of a man dying of a cancer caused by repressed emotions. For the man to live 4 of the 5 must support the decision that he survives. The 5 aspects of love are True, Romantic, Contaminated, Blind and Kind and they speak on behalf of the dying man and his partner. Romantic Love is played by Najla Ferreira Kay with Latin passion. Monica Ube's True Love exudes calm and equanimity and she has a particularly good singing voice. Harriet Halfhead's Contaminated Love is spiky, aggressive and commanding. Belinda Hoare's Kind Love is gentle and quiet while Karen French's Blind Love is mysterious. Each member of the cast expresses very lyrically and creatively the qualities of the type of love they represent.
The story of the human lovers is revealed as aspects of love recount their life histories. Movingly it illustrates the many ways that hurt cuts us off from love, from each other and from our own potential. The cast, with graceful movements full of energy, create a sacred space in the theatre. Ritual dance is used expressively along with the psychic tools of tarot, crystals and stones. The full bodied and sensual bright red costumes are also ethereal and other-worldly. Styled along Zen lines the set is very simple and striking while sound quality and musical accompaniment are excellent.
Agua Viva dares to raise controversial questions about love and quality of life. It dares to ask how we find love in our own suffering and that of those we love and it challenges us to love in the moment without the baggage of the past. This is a thought provoking and inspiring play which could really open minds and hearts. It deserves a much wider audience.
© Mairi Anderson 11 August 2003 - Published on www.EdinburghGuide.com
Run continues till August 24th at 8.00pm .
Company The Stone Crabs
Alan Ayckbourn's Confusions - Hulme Hall Productions (page 115).
Venue Old St. Paul's Church Hall (Venue 45).
Address Jeffrey Street.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin.
After Shakespeare, Ayckbourn is the second most performed playwright in the UK, specialising in complex farcical comedies, often with a bleak, black undertone. Confusions, (1974), is a series of five short interlinking plays, where several characters recur in different settings - family home, restaurant, bar, village fete and city park. For this 70 minute Fringe production, three of these plays are selected by the audience each evening.
In Mother Love we observe Lucy, mother of three, her entire life is centred around the nursery, nappies and baby talk. Antonia Reid lives and breathes this poor demented woman with a brittle, almost cracking-up demeanor. Next we are off to Gosforth's Fete where the vicar, Tory councillor, pub proprietor, scout leader and his fiance are all madly trying to set up the cake judging, tea tent, a microphone and praying it won't rain. In true Ayckbourn fashion everything that can go wrong, does - with hilarious results. In this dramatic vignette, we are immersed in the tight, gossiping community of village life, which is brilliantly portrayed with minimal set. Good performances from Reid again, and Ben Wright.
The final play, A Talk in the Park is a rather inconsequential story about brief encounters. Jade Wright directs this talented ensemble of five Manchester University students with an astute eye for detail and fine sense of farcical timing. A series of entertaining and perceptive portraits depicting social manners and relationships.
© Vivien Devlin, 19 August 2003 - Published on www.EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 23rd, 1830 daily.
Company Hulme Hall Productions.
All In The Timing (Page 115)
Venue Gateway Theatre (Venue 7)
Address Gateway Theatre, Elm Row
Reviewer Lisa Fletcher.
If you like things on the surreal side, you'll love All In The Timing, a trio of one act plays by David Ives. Seven actors present Sure Thing, Phillip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread and Variations on the Death of Trotsky, each play more bizarre than the last. 'Sure Thing' shows the various possibilities of what can happen when two people meet in a coffee shop. The second play is about Phillip Glass seeing a woman he once loved, and the last show produces numerous variations of Trotsky's death.
Ives' plays deal a lot with repetition, and demand strict comic timing. With the exception of Sure Thing the actors got the rhythm of the text. The first play seems as though it needs another week to be ready for an audience. Granted, it's a difficult script, but it feels rushed. A variation in tempo as well as the exploration of silences would help bring out the comedy in the text.
The company utilizes the performance space well, and are able to create vibrant atmospheres with minimal sets. The small size of the venue also helps create an intimate setting, therefore making it that much easier to understand what is going on. Good enough to be entertaining, and short enough to fit into a lunch hour, this production is almost worth the seven pounds to see it.
© Lisa Fletcher, 20 August 2003 - Published on www.EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 23rd August at noon
Company USA/Glasgow Productions
Angry Jellow Bubbles - Angry Bubble Productions (page 115)
Venue Sweet at Crowne Plaza (Venue 39)
Address Crowne Plaza Hotel, 80 High Street.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin.
The audience is given a bottle of Party Bubbles which we all begin to blow as the ensemble of seven 20/30-something women dance brightly on to the stage. As they jive as in an aerobics class, each begins to pose a rhetorical question such as, "Would I rather inherit my mother's pearls, or her pearls of wisdom?" In a series of dramatised narratives each woman, in Chorus Line style to a rap music soundtrack, steps forward to describe her feelings on topical women's issues about men, sex, motherhood, body image and career success.
Actor/director Eva Minemar conceived the idea for Angry Jellow Bubbles as an ensemble theatre for a group of women to write their own material and bring to the stage their personal feelings, views and desires. Devised as "honest, direct and entertaining" performance, what we are actually presented with is an angry rant describing these women's experience of pimples, periods, and pregnancy, sexual and racial discrimination. If this was written in 1963 it might be innovative and thought provoking, but in 2003, it is utterly naïve. For the audience, it comes over as embarrassing for men and tedious for women
When television is entertaining us with sharp, sassy storylines in Sex and the City and Friends, it is extraordinary that a strong ensemble of seven, talented, young women from New York City could not have devised a fresh, contemporary and insightful portrait of womanhood today. This is therapy not theatre.
©Vivien Devlin 9 August 2003 - Published on www.EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 15th at 20:00.
Angry Bubble Productions.
Company Website www.angrybubble.com
April in Paris (Page 117)
Venue Diverse Attractions (Venue 11)
Address Riddles Court, 322 Lawnmarket
Reviewer Fiona O'Hanlon
Bet's hit the jackpot…after years of winning no more than trivial competition prizes such as golf balls, the sports-shoe advisor from Yorkshire has won…a romantic Parisian break for herself and her loved one. That'll be Al then…unless she'd rather go with Rita.
As we journey with Al and Bet on the 'luxurious' North Sea Ferry, the reality of a marriage in which man and wife are like chalk and cheese is humorously examined. Strong performances from Graham Hewitson and Linda McLaren enable the antagonisms of the unhappy marriage to be convincingly portrayed, whilst the dry, sarcastic humour of art loving Anglo-centric Al permeates the piece. Laughs are generated by Al's wish to visit sex shops and to see if the hunchback's in at Notre Dame.
Props are very basic yet effective, as the plain white door ribbons are changed for a multi-coloured set to indicate that they are in France. In Paris, free from their hum-drum life with its suffocating flat and financial worries, the couple realise their need for each other and rediscover their relationship. The plot itself is fairly predictable from the outset however, which is very detrimental in a play which lasts an hour and forty five minutes.
Nevertheless, April in Paris is a well-performed piece to which everyone can relate.
© Fiona O'Hanlon 12 August 2003 - Published on www.EdinburghGuide.com
Runs on 14th and 16th August at 17.10
Company – R.U. Theatre Group
Artifice (page 117).
Drams if you like old fashioned.
Venue Augustine's. (Venue 152)
Address 41 George IV Bridge.
Reviewer Ksenija Horvat.
At one hour forty-five minutes Artifice is just a tad too long for its own good. Scripted by Jeff Taylor, directed by the author and Kinga Kulcsar and performed by a young international company, the show strives to be representative of new plays in English about modern life in Budapest. For this purpose, the company makes extensive use of multimedia and swift cinematographic scene change, complemented by a young cast's enthusiasm. The overall result is good, but the play could do with some trimming and editing. The story unpicks far too slowly in the beginning, though once it gains a momentum it becomes rather engaging. Also, the parts played in Serbian, Russian and Hungarian (infrequent, but possibly the funniest in the text), need translating into English for the benefit of the spectators who do not speak those languages.
This is an old-fashioned piece of writing, for all its use of computer technology and voiceovers, and will appeal to the lovers of linear storytelling. All those who like more exciting/physical kind of theatre should look elsewhere.
© Ksenija Horvat 4 August 2003 - Published on www.EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 16 August 2003 (not 10th, 11th), 12:30.
Company Modern Theater of Budapest.
Company Website http://www.moderntheater.org
The Audition - Strawberry Theatre (page 118)
Venue Pleasance Dome (Venue 23)
Address 1 Bristo Square.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin
Following the live televisual antics and aspirations of celebrity wannabes on Big Brother and Fame Academy, welcome to Reality Theatre. This is the ultimate audience participation show. Volunteers are auditioned for a part in a new play. After each round, two judges and audience vote on the weakest link to be evicted. One actor will be selected each night to join the cast of ten for The Glass Cage to be performed on 16th August - a play about Reality TV.
It's a brave and ambitious concept. Imagine the risk of staging a play without a cast.! But no worries on first night as five people enthusiastically decide to show off their skills in comedy, dance and drama. Hostess Edwina McShouty - superbly portrayed by Fiona McKinnon - together with a roving camera, music and sound effects, accurately recreates the Big Brother house atmosphere with the audience and judges [directors Jeff Moody and Deirdre Flood] voting who's hot or not.
But does it work as a piece of theatre.? Innovative, entertaining and cleverly presented, yes, but it's all a bit of a romp. Each performance depends solely on the talents of the [mostly unprofessional] participants who wish to audition. But then that's just what Big Brother and Pop Idol is all about. So if are a budding actor - get along to The Audition and you could be starring in The Glass Cage at the Pleasance Dome.
© Vivien Devlin 5th August 2003 - Published on www.EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 16 August at 18:40.