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(B) 20 out of 226
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Rating Guide
None = Unmissable

= Unwatchable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme



Baglady (Page129).

Drams
None needed at all!
Venues Sweet on the Grassmarket, Apex City Hotel (Venue 18).till 15 August,
at Diverse Atttractions ( Venue 11)after to 28.
Address 61 The Grassmarket then from 16 August at 322 Lawnmarket.
Reviewer Emma Slawinski.

The first impression we get from Joy McBrinn’s assured and measured style is of the technical accuracy in her recreation of the slightly batty old woman we have all encountered. She was a fixture at the bus station or on a preferred park bench in the town where you grew up, and you walked by her briskly so as to avoid her raving. In this setting, however, we cannot choose to move swiftly on, but must submit to a barrage of fragmented memories and mental images that gradually crystallise into a harrowing autobiographical tale of love and violence, repression and loss.

McBrinn performs against a simply designed set of only a swing and a wooden bench, but in reality the stage might as well be bare - when we are not mesmerised by her perfectly judged movements and facial expressions, we are visiting another landscape, a labyrinth of Catholic guilt and shame, constructed around symbols. White and red, fire and water, birth and death are woven into images as chaotic and disturbing as a painting by Hieronimus Bosch.

Frank McGuinness’s script is rich and lyrical, incorporating qualities of myth into stories that originate in the home. It is also disjointed, though, like a word-association game that has taken a dark turn, and strayed too far into the realm of psychoanalysis – there is always an inescapable tension between this randomness and the themes that recur insistently. We are in the disconcerting position of failing to understand what Baglady is saying, and yet understanding only too clearly.

The only thing lacking from this performance is a venue of a calibre to match the production – I had the sensation of walking into a broom-cupboard (complete with distracting ventilation noises) that someone had hastily attempted to convert into an auditorium. Despite this, McBrinn , under the sensitive direction of Charlotte Harber, pulls off a sophisticated piece that is demanding on its audience, but genuinely moving. Someone give this awesome pair the venue they deserve.
©Emma Slawinski 9 August 2004 – Published on Edinburghguide.com
Changes Runs until 15 August 6.30 pm, then at Diverse Attractions, Riddles Court, 322 Lawnmarket (Venue 11) 16-21 August at 7.30 pm,  23-28 August at 6pm.
Company Joy McBrinn and Charlotte Harber.

   

Bang Bang You’re Dead. (Page 129).

 Drams full glassfull glass Couple of problems but it’s interesting and competent.
Venue C (Venue 34).
Address Chambers Street.
Reviewer Sophie Lloyd.

With a simple black backdrop and a few props, The Red Chair Players, a high school group from Connecticut, experiment with sound, words and movement. Bang Bang You’re Dead explores the inner turmoil and conflicts of a teenager killer, based on the high school shootings that took place in America. Although slightly rushed, it is an interesting and compelling insight into the motives and sentiments of an adolescent with a gun.

The play centres on a rapid rhythmic dialogue between the dead victims and their murderer. A series of interrogating voices haunt and torment the protagonist inviting the audience to question and try to understand the tragic sequence of events. Philippe Bowgen is excellent as Josh, the killer. He puts on a very convincing performance, particularly during the death scene of his parents. Fundamental to the overall effect are the movement, lighting and alternating voices. The opening and closing scenes are particularly gripping with torches lighting only the victims’ faces, elsewhere there are some comic interruptions as light relief.

The overly eager pace spoils the intensity of the production. What could be potentially evocative scenes are stopped short so while the audience may be left stunned, they may also not have chance to register in their minds half of what they see. Nevertheless, an interesting technique and some good ideas.
©Sophie Lloyd 4 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 14 August at 14.50 daily.
Company – The Red Chair Players.
Company Website www.bangbangyouredead.com
   

Bash (Page 130)
Drams full glassfull glass (with ice)
Venue Komedia Roman Eagle Lodge (Venue 21)
Address Johnstone Terrace
Reviewer Max Blinkhorn

A reviewer can compliment the actors, praise the writer and laud the director but if the whole doesn’t come together into a cohesive production, the individual components are worth little. In Bash two tales are told in 75 minutes. The only common denominator is two unpleasant murders by characters it’s hard to feel sympathy for. The dominant character in both pieces is the fan in the corner which, but for its merciful cooling effect, I'd have cheerfully toe-kicked into the Tattoo crowd.

The first tale, A Gaggle of Saints is one of queer bashing – a couple tell of how they and a group of friends attend a college "Bash" in Manhattan. The hotheaded members of the group beat the life out of a "homosexual" they meet "under the toilet door" fashion. Though well delivered the graphic description is a bit unnecessary (am I getting old?). Oscar Rickett enthuses about his crime plausibly. However, Camilla Lawson as Sue, the protagonist’s girlfriend is a perfect example of the old adage, "less is more", with her quiet, convincing contribution. The end is annoyingly a little inconclusive, but as a moral tale, this first part of the piece is very engrossing.

The second tale Medea Redux (can you guess what it is yet?) features Rebecca Hanna Grindall in an overlong confession of how she murders her bastard son. Britisher Grindall, delivers her lines in a convincing U.S. accent, working hard to cover the lengthy script. But it’s too much – her character is distraught throughout but implausibly angerless. Givenher past – her teacher coerced her into sex at 13 years old – you'd think anger would burst out somewhere but no, she smokes (yuck!) at least three fags, instead. The pathos of the one-woman talking head betrays its U.S. roots. No endearing qualities emerge during her forty plus minutes rendering it unengaging. Plain confession is a bland dish.

A more imaginative approach to this play could yield a more unified production. Unfortunately, as it stands, it’s a bit messy. Bash needs more work, less pathos, less words. And less fags.
©Max Blinkhorn 11th August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs 6-29 August, (not 17th, 24th) at 9.45pm
Company – Kitchen Sync Productions

   

Bedtime Stories. (Page 130).

Drams None Needed.
Venue Gilded Balloon Teviot. (Venue 14)
Address 13 Bistro Square.
Reviewer Marisa de Andrade.

Hush now darlings -it's bedtime. Time for Les Enfants Terribles to explore what happens between the sheets when the lights go out. Sex. How men are obsessed with it and woman would rather dream of tomorrow's lunch and dessert. And vice versa.

Oliver Lansley's fermented four saucy scenes of sexual passion that are so real, you'll think it's you they got their ideas from. Whether you're the calorie-counting gal who just doesn't feel like sex tonight, the pre-menstrual boiling pot who's giving up smoking, or a sexy dominatrix type who just can't get enough of it, you'll feel right at home. And the lads will chuckle at mastered stereotypical monologues of men being men and women just being themselves.

The bedroom becomes a place of agitation, emotional exploration and sexual frustration as four couples subvert sexual perceptions in stable relationships. Through them, we discover that not all men want sex all the time, women are just as needy at times and hormone fluctuation in women is not an excuse to start or avoid an argument. Moments of sheer comic excellence are followed by a poignant silent scene, unraveling the intricacies of inter-relationship rape. Les Enfants Terribles manage to smack such gender issues on the nose, delivering an admirable series of bedtime stories.
© Marisa de Andrade 22 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs Aug 6-30,at 12.30.
Company Les Enfants Terribles.


   

Beef And Yorkshire Pudding. (Not in Fringe Programme).
Drams full glassfull glassfull glass .
Venue Assembly at St George's West (Venue 157).
Address 58 Shandwick Place.
Reviewer Thelma Good.

We meet Dave Cookson 30 years apart, as a 17 year old schoolboy and a 47 year old stand-up comedian. Set in the West Yorkshire coalfields, it's a familiar tale of working class lives at a time when the pits were starting close and futures became unclear.

Playwright John Godber's plays have celebrated and documented the lives of what are still described in Britain as the working class, a class nearly all of us are now in. This new play of his isn't one of his best, its anger about the lives of lower income groups merely confirms long-held prejudices. Even when Dave's adult life has taken him into a different economic and material world it's still the old us and them he bangs on about. Like so many whose lives have changed in the last thirty years he still identifies with his past and not with his present successful self.

If John Godber had shown some irony about this, the play perhaps could have gained a sharp and fierce examining edge. As it is, it's the same old Beef and Yorkshire pudding re-warmed too many times, even though Nicholas Lane performs it with considerable skill .
© Thelma Good 24 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 30 August.
Company Wakefield Theatres.
Company Website www.wakefieldtheatres.co.uk
   

Beowulf. (Page 131).

Drams None.
Venue Church Hill Theatre (Venue 137)
Address Morningside Road.
Reviewer Georgina Merry.

In a word – great! Hope High School Theatre Company performs a fresh adaptation of the famous medieval poem and what a fine job they do! There is not a dull moment. With monsters, dragons and a great hero, you won’t be short of excitement. This talented and enthusiastic collective create a vibrant and golden show and give it their all. They speak in rhythm, pounding their staffs and moving with effortless energy.

Admittedly, it is an amateur production and there were a couple of hiccups. But regardless, the rest of the show is pulsing and well performed so that little mistakes just don’t matter. I think we can forgive them. The Grindel and his mother, both monsters, are great! What fun costumes! Not too scary for younger viewers but still very effective.

I, for one, was hooked from the very first moment - it's a spectacular production. It's also fantastic that these youngsters have been able to raise money through bake sales and the like to make it to the Fringe.
©Georgina August 20 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 24 (Not 23) at 21 at 12:12, 22 at 22:15, 24 at 16:15.
Company Hope High School Theatre Company, Providence, Rhode Island.


   

Between The Quiet Poles. (Page 131).
Drams full glassfull glass.
Venue Komedia Roman Eagle Lodge (Venue 21).
Address 2 Johnston Terrace .
Reviewer Bill Dunlop.

Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustusdoesn’t get too many outings in our present-focused world. Perhaps the suggestion that the science we have all come to believe so much in may be as corruptible as anything or anyone else sits ill with a ‘blue-skies’ vision of a world we delude ourselves we can control. Marlowe took the Faust/Faustus story of a man prepared to sell his soul to the devil and shaped it for his own times and purposes. Deeply political as well as theological, Marlowe’s version is located in the heart of a Europe torn apart by the kind of ideological conflicts we associate with more recent times. Doctor Faustusowes much of its impetus and inspiration to these struggles fought across ‘the great bog of Europe’ by powers certain their successes were manifestations of divine approval and their destiny to direct the futures of other states.

Fringe regulars Firefly are back after a year’s absence with their production of Keefe Healy’s Between The Quiet Poles, which follows the narrative spine of Marlowe’s play, utilising quotes from it to preface each new scene. Healy’s script, however, turns Faustus’ demonic tempter (Mephistopheles in the original) into a highly unorthodox doctor, willing and apparently able to re-constitute Jonathan/Jack (the Faustus character) as the charismatic musician he once was. Jack slowly come to question where this pact is taking him. Hell on earth is a seedy strip-tease club where Faustus/Jack becomes the musical icon he once dreamed of being. Yet he begins to find the adulation and demands of adoring audiences unbearable. Entranced by a woman he tries to save from the consequences of on-stage protest (presumably against exploitation of women, although this is never made clear) Faustus/ Jack’s efforts to protect her from the retribution she seems to be seeking (again, for motives which remain inexplicit)

There remains something of a problem with Jack’s muddy motives too - musicianship is not alchemy and however it may seem that gangster rappers and sub-basement Eminems may have today’s youth in thrall, the idea of music as crowd-pleasing crowd-control isn’t strong enough fully convince. Which is a pity, as otherwise this adaptation bowls nobly along, sustained by some very fine ensemble acting and strong performances. It’s always invidious to single out but Dennis McSorley, Dennis Smith and Sarah Hordorf ably support Thomas Dubee and their fellow actors. Firefly have created a worthwhile ensemble piece in Between The Quiet Poles, one which deserves an audience.
© Bill Dunlop 8th August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs August 6-16, 18-28 at 21.10-22.25.
Company Firefly Productions.
Company Website www.fireflyprod.com


   

Bill Hicks: Slight Return (Page 131)
Drams full glassfull glassfull glass.
Venue Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33).
Address The Pleasance.
Reviewer Lorraine McCann.

I have to say immediately in its favour that at least Bill Hicks Slight Return starts with Chas. Early asking for the audience’s help to conjure up the spirit of the late but legendary American stand-up Bill Hicks. It doesn’t expect to just vault you over that pesky verisimilitude hurdle the way that certain other sleb-based bio-plays are doing this year. But, for all its honesty, the endeavour just isn’t funny.

For anyone who’s just back from living under a rock for the past twenty years, Bill Hicks was a stand-up comedian who specialised in breaking taboos. Whether it be cancer jokes, advocating drug-use or the delights of porn, he made it his business to expose the suppurating underbelly of American ‘family values’. This was pretty original back in the 1980s, of course, but the world is a far more confusing place nowadays, and it really won’t do to berate people for liking Michael Moore when the message at the end of his films is identical to the message ‘Hicks’ hammers home at the end of his act: DO SOMETHING. It’s also pretty lame to have to listen to a torrent of incredulity directed at the US electorate who voted for Bush, when most of the audience undoubtedly didn’t.

Chas. Early’s evocation is, as I remember Hicks, not bad, particularly in those ‘dialogues’ with the redneck mentalists. I strongly suspect, though, that some of what doesn’t work in this reincarnation of wouldn’t work with the real deal either. Because, fond as people are of asking ‘I wonder what Bill would make of this?’, viz-a-viz Bush and Blair and 9/11, the truth is, stand-up isn’t the right medium any more. This is a screen culture, Bill, and that’s why Moore’s got the gig.
© Lorraine McCann, 9 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 30 August (except 11 and 18).
Company Bill Hicks Slight Return.
Company www.hurst.dsl.pipex.com/ bill/
   

Bima And Bramati. (Page 132)
Drams full glass.

Venue Traverse (Venue 15.)
Address Cambridge St, off Lothian Rd.
Reviewer Thelma Good.

Lesley Hart as pensive Petal sits behind Una Maclean - Hen and Hilary Lyon - Missy stand 
in blue lit plastic ponchoes.
Bima and Bramati - Det Åpne Teatre.
© Chris Lightfoot.
In a high maintenance ward the two patients sit in their concoonlike dressings hanging in seat-hammocks suspended from a frame. Bima encourages Bramati, who finds out he can move a few millimetres, to drag her to the light.

Translated by Grace Barnes from Tord Akerbæk's Norwegian original, the dialogue is sparse and almost eliptical. It's more than little suggestive of his own countryman Jon Fosse and the world mould-breaker Samuel Beckett. Wrapped like merpersons they never move from their swinging seats. The effect is like Happy Days or Not I (also being done at this year's fringe) - you concentrate on the words which sometimes but not often enough contain universal resounances. It's not an amazing script, and setting it in high tech modern world it lacks Beckett's powerful timelessness. But as that writer's estate keeps such a extreme control it's surprising more writers don't venture in this direction. It's interesting to note also that this Norwegian play had two men when it premiered - there has never been a female "Waiting For Godot". The Company Det Åpne Teatre are the Norwegian equivalent of the Traverse, both are theatres of new writing.

Bima And Bramati demands acting of integrity and understated strength, Maureen Allan and Nicholas Hope provide it in a beautifully paced production directed by Franzisca Aarflot (Artistic Director of Det Åpne Teatre). It's a derivative work but still liable to haunt your memory after spending an period of time with these two dependant people. People who may or may not actually exist, may or may not be the product of one imagnation or two. In a world where, depending on your lookout, high dependancy wards force people to live a very constrained existence or may enable them to recover most of their lives this piece unsettles.
© Thelma Good 5 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Text published in English by Transit and available at Traverse during run.
CORRECT DATES (changed from Fringe Programme) Runs to 28 August at various times Not Mons.
Company – Det Åpne Teatre.
Company Website www.detapneteatre.no
   

Bird In The Bush. (Page 132).
Drams full glassfull glass.
Venue Gilded Balloon Caves (Venue 88).
Address Niddrey St South off The Cowgate.
Reviewer Thelma Good.

The Aussie actors bring conviction to this short play set in the bush. Paul Sugars is Andy and Mat Betteridge os Mike, two friends who reunite for a trek into the vast and sometimes dangereous Tasmanian wilderness. The heat and the wildlife is created by lighting and sound as the old mates set camp and talk about what they've been doing. Mike has settled down and got a family and the love of one woman, Andy has roamed the world and rested briefly in many females' arms, but the affection between them is realistically drawn in Geoff Weate's script.

They discover a note from an antropologist whose female companion has been captured by another man, Brady. The mens' the innocent journey turns into an attempt to save lives, at first the girl's and then their own. Weate's characters are ones you want to survive. When the play ends literally on a cliff top you find yourself try to push the story forward to a happy ending, but the underlying menace of the unseen Brady ensures you know that's unlikely. It does feel like an excert from a longer piece one whose future may be in film rather than on the stage, but Bird In the Bush has memorable atmosphere where the scenery and what the pair see develops in the watcher's eyes.
© Thelma Good 25 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 30 August at 15:00.
Company Excalibur Productions Ltd.

   

Black Cocktail (page 132).
Drams full glassfull glassfull glass.
Venue Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33).
Address The Pleasance.
Reviewer Lorraine McCann.

Hmm. Ever get the feeling other folk know something you don’t? Like Jonathan Carroll. ‘Who he?’ I asked myself as I read the programme before settling down to watch Ben Moor’s one-man show based on Carroll’s novella of the same name. Turns out Carroll is a cult novelist who’s ‘huge in Poland’ and he writes ‘adult fairy tales’ in which nasty things happen and nothing is quite what it seems . . . or is it?

The story of Black Cocktail is told by Ingram, a recently bereaved late-night talkshow host who meets up with a character called Michael and is drawn into a mysterious web of metaphysical jiggerypokery. His flat gets vandalised and his life becomes a series of ‘puzzling’ encounters with figures from the past who might or might not wish him harm. Flanked by two small television screens showing a variety of landscapes and human actions, and a multi-purpose umbrella, Moore imparts all this in an archly enigmatic manner which pretty much excludes the vulnerability that you’d need in order to actually care about his character’s fate. In addition, for me, the ‘twist’ explaining what’s been going on is easy to spot coming.

Inevitably, aficionados of Carroll’s work will find a lot more in this than the uninitiated. I’m fully prepared to accept that, in its original medium, Black Cocktail could be a compelling and original piece of work. But on a stage, if you’re going to do ‘weird’, you have to do more than just keep intimating ‘This is weird, right?’ for an hour or so.
© Lorraine McCann, 8 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 30 August at 15.15.
www.spesh.com/ben
   

Blackbird/The Three Golden Hairs of the Devil. (page 132)
Drams full glassfull glassfull glass.
Venue C Central. (Venue 54)
Address Carlton Hotel, North Bridge.
Reviewer Ksenija Horvat.

Two shows for the price of one can never be a bad bargain, and in the case of Paraphernalia's double-act, the hour and fifteen minutes pass quickly enough. Blackbird and The Three Golden Hairs of the Devil are not commercial shows, and if you expect to see something profound and technically perfect, you are advised to look elsewhere. This show is pure unadulterated fun, presented by eight young hopefuls, seventeen and eighteen years of age, as their first stab at the infamous Fringe.

As one might expect from a first-time piece, lighting is all over the place, the acting styles leave a lot to be desired, the voice projection seems to be totally lacking, and the pace of both pieces is all wrong; and still the young performers manage to keep our attention at all times and entertain us beyond measure. So, what is their secret?

Blackbird and The Three Golden Hairs of the Devil are products of youthful and fresh imagination, unspoiled by commercialism and devoid of any pretention. They are devised by the company who so clearly enjoy themselves that the audience can do nothing else but catch their contagious enthusiasm. Of course, they could do with an experienced dramaturg who could point out at the flaws in their performances. Their acting could do with a faster pace and more booming, energetic approach. Their voices sorely need proper coaching. And a few hours with a professional choreographer would be a good investment. But, then again, why spoil the fun and turn it into a preposterous attempt at quasi- professionalism?

The point is, these young people really communicate with their audience. They are not afraid to make mistakes, in fact, they turn them into a part of the show. They can act themselves out of any sticky situation, and that takes sound sense of horseplay and a lot of courage. And where else can you find the cast relaxed enough to let their audience wait in the auditorium while they prepare for the show, scratching their heads because they have forgotten where some silly little prop should go?

Yes, there are some cringing cliches in these two one-acts, but there are also some wonderful moments. Perhaps not all of them will go on to become "serious" performers, but I do hope that the Edinburgh's audience shows up and enjoys their fresh, playful style before it gets sacrificed, in the name of perfection, upon the altar of professionalism.
© Ksenija Horvat, 22 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 30 August, 11:10.
Company Paraphernalia.

   

The Blind Fiddler. (Page 132).
Dramsfull glass.
Venue Assembly Rooms (Venue 3).
Address 54 George St.
Reviewer Ritchie Smith .

There was a palpable sense of anticipation at this Friday 13th performance of Marie Jones' new play. Immediately we're in old Ireland - misty rural landscapes, haunting traditional music, the Catholic religion, the dominating past... We follow Kathleen, who is herself following the footsteps of her dead father. Though an irreligious man who kept a pub, he used to disappear for three days every year on a pilgrimage. Kathleen, quite movingly, is taking the same pilgrimage, wanting to understand her father - and, by extension, her family, her past, and even old Ireland herself...

I liked her father, who fills the stage with a cheery, pubby presence. By contrast Kathleen's mother is a cold withdrawn shrew, wanting to move the family away from tradition and community and warmth. 'No music in this house,' she sneers...

I am afraid it was around this point that the play began to lose my attention somewhat. How many plays have I seen where feisty girls refuse to be crushed by cold, snobbish, domineering mothers, who are 100% wrong about everything - ? Too many. And ... this Irish thing! Of course, the cast here are excellent, there are no false notes, the script is amusing and touching - of course. And, of course, much of this is set in the family pub... But by this point my inner voice was loudly saying, 'I have seen MORE THAN ENOUGH Irish plays set in Irish pubs full of quaint Irish characters, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!' And there was no mystery to me
about why the father vanished for three days every year. It was to escape his sour, chilling wife, and the dead chilling respectability of their new home among the chillingly respectable Protestants of the Cave Hill Road. (It's only fair to mention that the woman next to me was wiping away her tears by now.)

So, I was impressed by the sheer professionalism on display, though the over-familiar subject-matter disappointed.

And then in the last few minutes everything is turned around in a wonderful warm surprise, which of course I won't reveal but made the entire house (including me) erupt in sustained laughter, applause, and cheering. They say great art has to absolutely inevitable and also absolutely surprising. This makes Marie Jones a great artist. Overall, now that I can look back, I heartily commend this wonderfully surprising play.
© Ritchie Smith 13 August 2004 - Published on www.EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 30, 16:40
Company Lane Productions


   

The Blue Room . (Page 133).
Drams  full glassfull glassfull glassfull glassfull glass.
Venue  Sheraton Hotel (Venue 114).
Address Lothian Road.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin.

The Blue Room by David Hare caused a sensation when it opened to ecstatic reviews in London in 1998 starring Nicole Kidman and Iain Glen. Their dynamic  portrayal of ten separate characters linked by their various sexual encounters was described as “pure theatrical viagra” by the Telegraph.  It’s an adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler's play La Ronde about sex and betrayal in Vienna, banned for obscenity when premiered in 1921.  Hare’s tragicomedy of sexual manners updates the play to the present day and set in an unspecified “great city of the world”.

In this new Arkle Theatre production, Caroline Bell-Emie plays five characters - the Girl, Au pair, married woman, model and actress, while Alex Donald takes the roles of Cab Driver, Student, Politician, Playwright and Aristocrat. Through a series of short scenes the individual couples meet either by chance or arrangement, indulging in sexual relationships, illicit or marital for love or lust. The cast do their best with the quick character changes through dress, hairstyle and accent but what they both fail to achieve is any emotional dimension. Flat and cold in tone and mood, there is little sense of any passion or sexual chemistry which is the essential heart of this erotic drama.

Unfortunately the actors are not helped by the staging. The makeshift “ theatre” is a hotel function room with ten unraked rows of chairs with poor sight lines from even row 5. Set changes were slow and cumbersome while we listened to bizarre songs from Elvis to Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Stilted, disjointed and even comical at times this was more like “Bedroom Farce”.
©Vivien Devlin, 18 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
 Run ended.
Company- The Arkle Theatre company.
Company Website www.arkle-theatre.com
   

Blue Velvet (Page 133).
Drams full glass.
Venue Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue no 14).
Address 13 Bristo Square.
Reviewer Neil Ingram.

The fashion of rewriting famous "films noir" for the stage - theatre noir perhaps? - seems to be growing, and Hoodlum Massacre now bring us David Lynch's Blue Velvet, which starts as a simple tale about Jeffrey Beaumont, a young man who finds a human ear in a field near his home. He decides to do the right thing, and tells the policemen who lives next door, but he doesn't seem very interested. Jeffrey is, though, more so when he finds out from Sandy, the policeman's daughter, some details of who the police think might be involved, and he decides to investigate further. We follow Jeffrey's progress through his conversations with Sandy, who appears each night through his bedroom window, and in his dreamlike encounters with Dorothy, a nightclub singer, and her murky world.

The play cleverly weaves together the two worlds of Jeffrey's existence, and graphically portrays the lowlife behaviour of the characters in Dorothy's life. It's not a pretty story as Jeffrey finds out how unpleasant people can be to those they say they love, but the cast of 7 carry it off with style, notably Joshua Goddard as Jeffrey, Chantelle Moore as Sandy and Suzanne Schlaefli as Dorothy. There is some very inventive staging and atmospheric music, including the title theme with its haunting melody.
© Neil Ingram 8 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 29 every day..
Company – Hoodlum Massacre.

   

Bob Kingdom’s Truman Capote. (Page 133)

Drams 
Absolutely none needed.
Venue  Assembly Rooms (Venue 3)
Address 54 George Street.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin .

When Truman Capote died aged just 59 in 1984, Gore Vidal, a rival to the end, sarcastically commented that this was “a good career move”. Capote was one of America’s most controversial and colourful writers, flamboyant socialite and social gossip. For his unique and impeccable prose style in such novels as “Other Voices, Other Rooms” and “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” he is regarded as a literary genius. In this solo show, Bob Kingdom introduces the private man behind his public image.

To an overture of Sinatra’s “New York, New York”, Capote walks on in black hat, beige trousers, jacket, purple rolltop with matching socks. He sits on a black leather chair, feet not touching the ground, high pitched voice with a slightly supercilious tone. As a lonely, only child in New Orleans Truman wrote stories. As a young man in New York he was desperate to be famous, to be adored by critics and loved by friends. His novels immediately earned him celebrity status. On the publication of “In Cold Blood” he spent $15,000 on a party at the Plaza, always trying to win friends and influence people including Gore Vidal, Garbo, Graham Greene and Andy Warhol, “ a control freak who spoke only 9 words”

TC reached stardom but his downfall was his compulsive obsessive personality. As a celebrity he claimed to have lost 80% of his friends and lived “in gifted isolation”.  This is a mesmerising, penetrating self-portrait - Kingdom is able to grasp at the heart of Capote’s multi-faceted nature - the literary superstar and drama queen as well as the sad, tortured soul who could not survive without fame. Forget the apostrophe – Bob Kingdom is Truman Capote.  (c)
©Vivien Devlin, 9 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 30 August at 4pm every day.
Company – Bob Kingdom.

   

Bombshells. (Page 133).

Drams None - you could watch it with a hangover.
Venue Assembly Rooms. (Venue 3)
Address 54 George Street.
Reviewer Marisa de Andrade.

Bombshell Caroline O' Conner doesn't just know how to kick. You may have seen her doing just that in Baz Luhrman's Moulin Rouge, but you must see her in this one-woman show to truly see her sparkle. You'll kick yourself if you don't!

It takes only eighty minutes for her to effortlessly shift from hysterical bride to manic middle-aged mum to dignified widow to ridiculous wannabe star. And the energy she maintains is unbelievable. She makes brides with cold feet sound like 'fairytale hookers' and wives like kitchen implements. And she'll have you in back-to-back stitches of laughter - and howling as she takes on Shaft.

The ingenious monologues are her assets. They're based on larger than life characters, but have life's little truths etched into them. Connor reveals them with confidence, resembling a Bridget Jones type having a nervous breakdown at times.

You'll find your heart rate speeding up to her racing rhythm right up until the third monologue, when she slows down for the first time. The moving moment comes as a charming relief. Overall, an explosive bit of theatre, with all the elements of sheer entertainment - dancing, singing, tutting and laughing out loud.
© Marisa de Andrade 8 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs Aug 6-30, not 16th, 13.10.
Caroline O' Connor.

   

Bouncers - by John Godber. (Page 133).

Drams None.
Venue C (Venue 34.).
Address Chambers Street.
Reviewer Marisa de Andrade.

It's another night on the town for the boys, gals and Bouncers. Boys at the barbers, gals at the hairdressers and bouncers at the door, barely flinching in the cold. Watch-It Productions set a spot-on scene right down to the dodgy pick up lines, obnoxious stereotypes and dreaded toilet scenarios.

Bouncers boasts four boisterous boys bouncing from character to character in eighty zippy minutes. It takes a few to settle into the fast-paced production, shifty scenes and character swaps, but in no time the stage becomes a disco-balled 80's club awaiting its next clubbers. Actors Craig Calder, Jonathon Howes, Roy Donoghue and Chris Arnold have all been real-life bouncers and bring a truly bona fide perspective of bouncers to the stage. Each has distinctive character trait, which is larger than life, but realistic too. They pick perfect moments of stillness to portray their self-created power at the door of an establishment, practicing a strict 'rights of admission reserved' policy. Then swiftly grab their purses and with a swing of the hips, they're four gals in search of a good night out. There's a sexy one, one who'll beat you up and one who has an emotional breakdown, all convincingly conveyed. Then with a tug on their trouser zips, gals become drunken boys, just gagging for it.

These bouncers create a night out on the town in a black theatre, then throw in a camp rendition of YMCA for good measure. You'll have a laugh, and that's what they intend.
©Marisa de Andrade 26 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs August 22-30 at 18.15.
Company Watch-It Productions.

   

The Bridge. (page 143).
 Drams  full glassfull glass.
 Venue  Old College Quad, Edinburgh University(Venue 192).
 Address South Bridge.
 Reviewer Vivien Devlin.

The aim of the Boilerhouse Company is to present exciting new work blending live performance, music and film staged in unusual venues. In this world premiere of The Bridge, artistic director Paul Pinson and Roxana Pope have devised an outdoor theatrical extravaganza to thrill audiences with amazing high flying circus acrobatics. Staged in the open arena of the University’s Old Quad a giant crane holds a giant trapeze structure in place with two laddered platforms separated by a bridge. 

Two carefree little girls Samra and Aida run across the bridge between their homes to see each other. A film backdrop shows them laughing arm in arm, playing together, as the girls jump and fly higher and higher. Their friendship is narrated in retrospect as a poetic memoir, “ The bridge was my favourite place, it connected me to you”, one girl recalls. Teenage years follow with nights of music and dancing, but then crisis. War breaks out. No specific time or place – Ulster, Beirut, Bosnia, Iraq? – it’s the situation that counts. In political or religious conflict the girls are separated and their lives torn apart. A soldier guards the bridge which is now out of bounds. 

With a vibrant music soundtrack, live video-camera footage and amazing lighting, the aerial choreography depicts playful childhood freedom followed by danger, pursuit and escape.  The freefalling skills of Chantal McCormick and Jennifer Paterson are breathtaking – both dancers and aerial acrobats with experience of circus performance. Unfortunately the plot development is weak and the occasional appearance of a Greek chorus adds little to the drama. The stars of the show are the girls on the flying trapeze spotlit in silhouette against the carved stone walls of the Old College.     
©Vivien Devlin 20 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August, not 23, at 10pm each day.
Company -Boilerhouse.
Company Website www.boilerhouse.org.uk

   

Building Babble. (Page 134).
Drams full glassfull glassfull glassfull glassfull glass.
Venue Pleasance Dome.(Venue 23).
Address 1 Bristo Square.
Reviewer Thelma Good.

It's billed as a work in progress, sometimes works in progress give a real sense of a company who are full of discovery and awareness coupled with some rough edges. When this work in progress opens there's the sound of wind and on top of one of the piles of books surrounded by a sea of other books, a book cover opens. From the sound of the wind it should be blown across the stage but no, only the cover opens, it doesn't even reveal the title page. And that opening moment rather sums up the stage Building Babble has got to.

There is a programme but if you don't get a chance to read it before the lights go down, you'll have even more difficulty following what takes place in an increasingly long hour and twenty minutes. Just occasionally the cast of four young actors embark on what could be a strong sequence in the story they are attempting to tell, but the piece is considerably underdeveloped - so much so the sparse audience is left baffled and increasingly underwhelmed. The spoken fragments from literature and self help manuals don't aid the piece either. The concept has changed from that in the Fringe programme, apparently it's not about survival on the building site of the largest tower in the world but about four people learning how master the act of falling. And that's what they try to show us but, though there's mention of a person being their outside eye in the programme, (not John Wright - another alteration from the Fringe programme), either they didn't listen to him or he knew too much about the piece. Seen without such inside knowledge it just comes across as four actors in need of direction and vision.

They compound their lack of understanding of what is to be seen from the audience's point of view by building a very tall tower and then finding an areoplane in a book about making paper aeroplanes....... I wish it were not so but they do! They fly it around. And yes at times it looks as if it might collide with the book tower - it doesn't but the events of 9/11 are so strong an image this can't be seen in any other way. The flying man who at first walks on the top of the tower and then manages to walk in space just adds to the gross crassness. And it's deeply, hurtfully insulting to those who saw or lived or died in New York or Washington or in that Pennsylvania field that day.

Sadly a five drams show, they definitely have some talent in the art of failing, and falling, I'd give this one a miss. If you charge for a work in progress you have to have got well beyond the title, this one hasn't even got there yet. Apologies to all, I picked it as a show in my tips because it sounded good, was not described as a work in development and a director I think is frequently excellent was stated to be collabourating with them in the Fringe programme, additionallly the advance publicity I received did not mention any of these changes.
©Thelma Good 21 August 2003 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 30 August at 14:40.
Company Attic People.
Company Website www.atticpeople.com


(B) 20 out of 226
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