|Edinburgh : A&E : Festivals Fringe reviews|
None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
Fae Lang Syne. (Page 147).
Venue Augustine Bristo Church (Venue 152).
Address 41 George IV Bridge.
Reviewer . Bill Dunlop.
Fae Lang Syne is Nae Goats Toes trip through Ulsters
past, especially its Scots Presbyterian past, from pre-history to the near present,
using music and dance to point and punctuate the telling. Referred to at different
times and by different peoples as Ulster Scots, Scots-Irish
and even Scotch Irish, and in many eyes degraded by association
with sectarianism, this is a community re-emerging and re-evaluating themselves.
Falesa. (Page 147).
Venue Aurora Nova @ St Stephens. (Venue 8).
Address St Stephen Street.
Reviewer Ksenija Horvat.
Based upon Robert Lewis Stevenson's 1893 work The Beach of Falesa, this is a peculiarly old-fashioned production that retells the life and loves of its protagonist, a Scottish trader Wiltshire, through his diary entries and moving images. Theatre du Maquis use shadow play, magical projections and live music in their narration, with considerable success, and R L Stevenson's work is as engaging as it must have been at the time it was first written.
Quick scene exchanges, exploration of different performative styles and ample use of farce make this an enjoyable show to watch, however, at one hour and forty minutes, it is too long for its own good. Also, Bichlamar, pidgin language used by the indigenous inhabitants of the Pacific island of Falesa, can be confusing at times, so the audience have got a choice between sharpening their ears in an attempt to understand everything, and letting the words wash over them and simply enjoying the action.
The individual performances are excellent, the set is colourful and pleasing to the eye, and the lighting is unobtrusive and spot on. Two drams go to the sheer wordiness of the piece. We would have understood it even if it was not all translated, honest!
Performed in English, French and Bichlamar.
© Ksenija Horvat, 11 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 21 August (not 17th), 13:30 (18-21 August at 22:30).
Company Theatre du Maquis (France).
Company Website www.theatredumaquis.com
The Fall of The House Of Usher. (Not in Fringe programme)
Venue Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33).
Address 60 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Thelma Good.
Young Pleasance have brought an excellent production of Stephen Berkoff's version of Edgar Allan Poe's The Fall Of The House of Usher . Performed by four young female actors this half-hour show is intense and atmospheric as they play all the parts of Roderick Usher, his ailing sister Madeline, Roderick's friend and servant. Using half masks, audible breathing, a pair of spectacles, a red scarf and a white one and strips of stretchy material they wind us into Rodericks mind where sanity has left. The strips of cloth increasingly entwine the stage and then are attached to the audiences seats so that the actors and the audience are unified.
Their half painted vertically faces, the paint drying during the performance are a visible sign of the mould that covers the doomed house of Usher. Developed by the performers with Young Pleasance's Artistic Director Kathryn Norton as an A level piece it gives an insight in to the quality of the young actors. This Fringe has not been a vintage one for Professional companies, it's in the new and the young where a lot of vigour and experimentation can be seen and Young Pleasance is one of a number which thrill.
© Thelma Good 26 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August at 11:30.
Company Young Pleasance.
Company Website www.pleasance.co.uk
Fat Men in Skirts. (Page 147)
Venue The Zoo, Kirk 'o Fields Parish Church (Venue 124).
Address 140 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Kate Copstick.
This is a terrific play, and a brave company to do a full length piece up here
where the 60 minute rule
rules. The play is by the well known
American writer Nicky Silver and is typical - maybe even vintage - stuff.
Fatboy (Page 147).
Venue Assembly Rooms(Venue 3).
Address 54 George Street.
Reviewer Neil Ingram.
There is something of Fatboy in all of us. Not a nice thing to admit, but we all have rages and sometimes feel like hitting back at the world. Fatboy and his wife are larger than life and several times more nasty. They shout and scream at at each other, he demanding to be fed and she haranguing him about his loutish idleness. Each attempts to relate to the world outside, but their childlike understanding of the real world leaves them endlessly frustrated. Their destrutive lifestyles inevitably lead to them appearing in court, where they abuse the judge, witness and lawyers, bringing them all down to their own level. Fatboy finally attempts to rule the world, but in the final struggle he cannot see that his own love of violence can only end in self-destruction.
Written and directed by John Clancy, this is a full size in-your-face vicious take on Punch and Judy, a reworking of Alfred Jarry's infamous Ubu Roi for the 21st century. Mike McShane is Fatboy, king in his own house and continually at odds with the world and his wife, "Queen" Fudgy, played by Nancy Walsh. The parallel text is of course a parable of American imperialism, and this is uncompromisingly thrust at the audience. The show's unavoidable message is the awful truth of how thin the veneer of our civilisation really is, both at an individual and a national level.
© Neil Ingram 12 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 30 at 17.45 every day.
Company – Assembly Theatre by arrangement with John Clancy.
Company Website www.g-c-a.co.uk.
Faustus. (Page 147).
Venue Old St Paul's Church Hall. (Venue 45).
Address Jeffrey Street.
Reviewer Ksenija Horvat.
To all those who do not believe that Marlowe's Faustus can be played for under an hour - let me assure you that it can. Queen Mary Theatre Company did not only manage to cram Marlowe's masterpiece into thirty-five minutes, they also threw in some fragments from Shelley's Frankenstein, Shakespeare's Richard III and Milton's Paradise Lost, just for fun. Add men in suits and she- devils from Hollywood blockbuster The Devil's Advocate, and the picture is more or less complete. Or is it?
Truth to be told, in some ways this is not a bad production. The edited text hangs together nicely, the music is pleasing to the ear if somewhat underused, and ideas and images devised by the company are quite innovative and refreshing. The real problem lies in the way these ideas and images are acted out. Though no one can deny that we are talking here about talented young actors, their styles still remind of secondary school amateur dramatics. Choreography is out of drama workshops' textbooks, and movement work is simply dreadful, with the sole exception of James Kenward who excels as Lucifer, and keeps everyone's attention glued to his persona throughout his monologue.
In most cases one could see the actors preparing for the next move, breaking up the flow of their bodies, in the same way that one can see a bad dancer counting the steps. Their performances lacked organic quality and the edge that is needed to pull off their ideas successfully. Sound and lighting could have been used more imaginatively to underscore word and movement. If pushed to the borderline space where body moves uncontrolled, trancelike, when theatre becomes a challenge and a threat, this could have been a real treat to watch, because there are enough good ideas in this piece from which any experienced director could learn a thing or two.
As it stands now, this is a show good enough to be recommended to any audience, as long as no one expects a life-changing experience. We will certainly hear more from these actors, and, one day, they might become the names to be reckoned with. I bow my head to their courage and conviction, as well as to their imagination, and I await to see what their next project will be. Hopefully, by that time, they will have done more movement work, and will have obtained ability to immerse themselves in their roles in more profound ways.
© Ksenija Horvat, 20 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 27 August (not 21st, 22nd, 24th or 26th), 14:00.
Company Queen Mary Theatre Company.
Fierce: an urban myth. (Page 148)
Drams None needed.
Venue Assembly Rooms (Venue 3)
Address 54 George Street.
Reviewer Bill Dunlop.
Grid Iron bound back onto the Edinburgh Fringe with a honed and polished hip-hop opera set in a housing estate near you. Bleak as the Byker Wall, endlessly grey as Easterhouse, Finlays wee world is one he wants to paint himself out of. "I wish I could live in my comic book world. Draw a door and step intae pure colour .." In blackly comic hip-hop and rap rhythms delivered at fever pitch by a strong and vibrant cast, Finlays dream comes ultimately starkly true. Mugged by the local PMT (Pure Mental Team), vulnerable Finlay is befriended by the seemingly older and wiser Wee Baz and finds himself heading up a tagging gang (tagging = those weird wee massages spray painted across our less architecturally meritorious urban landscapes) who have aspirations to do a piece (masterpiece; in this case a train side).
Fierce becomes his tagging moniker, sprayed across the PMTs former
territory. Feeling themselves severely dissed by such outrageous behaviour,
revenge becomes more than a whiff in the air ..
Fierce delivers joyous, tense, exciting and challenging moments in spades,
through a cast chillin it, maxin it, coolin it, relaxin
it with the pizzaz of a bunch of hip-hoppers at a speed banquet. An (almost)
classical set design (are tiring houses coming back into fashion?) is
used to maximum effect as home, supermarket, bus garage and the multiply mundane
settings of a peripheral housing scheme. Philip Pinsky and his team of musical
arrangers and sound engineers give Fierce the sound equivalent of
Finding Mick Jagger. (Page 148).
Drams - just to get you in the mood.
Venue Traverse Theatre (Venue 15).
Address Cambridge Street, off Lothian Road.
Reviewer Marisa de Andrade.
Oh where, oh where can Mick Jagger be? asks Owen O'Neill in Finding Mick Jagger. Well, not exactly in those words, but in every other way possible. He searches 'find-a-celeb.com', then swiftly grills an agent. He interrogates PAs over long distance phonecalls. And when all else fails, he resorts to trusted stalking. But to no avail. Jagger is elusive as ever in the flesh, yet strikingly present in O'Neill's fanatical mind.
O'Neill plays himself in this comedy extravaganza. Equipped with only his exemplary honesty, immpecable humour and abundance of charm, he sets off to save his marriage. His wife, played by Pauline Goldsmith, can no longer stand his enduring affair with Mick Jagger. She threatens to leave him unless he abandons his 'Mick mania'. Absurd as it may sound, her threat is definitive. 'It's Mick or me,' she says. This propels O'Neill to a drastic dilemma. His relationship with Mick has lasted far longer than his marriage. It has even saved his life. On the other hand, he loves his wife. This bewilderment brews a brilliant plan in his mind. He will find Jagger, and persuade him to retire.
Through his quest, the audience is meant to consider how his fixated behaviour is socially conditioned by his ripe age. I doubt that such an analysis is made during the play. Afterwards, perhaps. But it's at least a laugh a minute when in the auditorium, leaving little time for contemplation. The choppy play is more a pitch-perfect stand-up routine than a complex theatrical production. Video inserts of O'Neill missioning about the streets contribute to the random nature of the show. For several intense instants, the entire audience is laughing at a man on screen. The theatre transforms to a tainted movie house. Then in a jiffy, O'Neill bursts on stage executing the distinctive 'Jagger dance' to perfection. The banter is over in no time at all, leaving its viewers all laughed out. It's a must see for every Jagger fan with a humorous tooth.
© Marisa de Andrade 20 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs Aug 17-28, not 23. 21.45.
Company Owen O'Neill.
Finding my Mothers Voice. (Page 148)
Venue C Central (Venue 54)
Address Carlton Hotel, South Bridge.
Reviewer Bill Dunlop.
Autobiography and family history can be difficult areas, even for experienced writers . Think of Charles Dickens re-working of his difficult childhood or Edmund Gosses literary revenge on his parents in Father and Son. Some make the remembrance of things past into epic - Tolstoy in War and Peace, Vikram Seth in A Suitable Boy. For others the temptation to work out past insults and injuries is too great. There seems a tension between the urge to adulation and to obliteration.
When a performer attempts to recreate a parent on stage, even the most even
handed of reviewers is unavoidably caught wrong-footed. But this is
The first thing to say that in whatever manner anyone tries to recreate the past that was a previous generations, the act itself remains a courageous one. That courage, however, is all too often mediated by the presenters experience and the unspoken messages each of us absorbs from our parents, good or bad, toxic or life-enhancing. To acknowledge these messages and their inevitable fallibility in an ever-changing world is to present (in every sense) a partial reality.
Naava Piatkas mother was the comedy actress Chayela Rosenthal.
Finding my Mothers Voice covers Rosenthals experience as
part of the Warsaw Ghetto theatre company, her experience of the 1943 Warsaw
Ghetto Uprising and her subsequent life as a successful actress in South Africas
Yiddish theatre community. This seems to cover a great deal of territory (in
all senses) and life experience. Unfortunately, as written and to some degree
performed, the reality and impact of these experiences fails to travel even
as far as the footlights. To some extent this is delimited by Chayelas
own character - a Holocaust survivor, who along with many of her contemporaries,
for perfectly understandable reasons, chose not to speak or openly remember
things past. While it would obviously be wrong to blame Rosenthal for her attitudes,
this reviewer found himself wondering why Piatka too chose to accept
this with seemingly few questions of her own. We are presented with the life
of a woman who survived the Warsaw Ghetto and its uprising, lived through the
foundation of the state of Israel and ended her days in a South Africa only
beginning to come to terms with its recent past which had witnessed treatment
of a racial minorities scarcely more tolerant than that of pre-War Germany.
Football (Page 148).
Venue Venue 13 (Venue 13).
Address Lochend Close, off Cowgate
Reviewer Lorraine McCann.
The confusion sets in straight away, when you find yourself listening to Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue whilst awaiting a play about football. It’s not even as if the team in question (England) ever play in blue. They once played in grey, I seem to remember, because the folk who wanted to sell replica shirts thought grey went well with jeans, but otherwise it’s mostly white or red. And OK, maybe I should have just got over it, but, like I say, that was only the start . . .
Taken in isolation, the themes and premise of Football are quite promising. It’s 2006 and England have won the World Cup, with David Beckham having scored the winning goal. Jason, a celebrity chef, later buys Beckham’s shirt for 137,000 euros and invites two of his old university pals round to dinner, and of course to the big unveiling. Cue an opportunity for sexual tension, class conflict, dissection of ‘sleb’ culture and a timely discourse on the nature of authenticity. Unfortunately, these strands are just thrown together like a pot of spaghetti which even the bravely committed performances of the three actors cannot untangle. Worst of all, the play’s inability to carve out convincing relationships between the characters means we just don’t care.
There is one bright moment, when a double-cross becomes a triple-cross and then a quadruple-cross, and the Welsh accent is always a pleasure to hear, but otherwise Football is a bit like Beckham’s penalty against Portugal - a missed opportunity.
© Lorraine McCann, 18 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 15 - 21 August at 11.45 and 22 – 28 August at 15.30.
Company Made in Wales Stage Company.
Forbidden. (Page 148)
Venue C (Venue 34)
Address Chambers St.
Reviewer Thelma Good.
Most fringe productions opt for one set and miminal props, while the acting can sometimes be a feast and sometimes a famine. In Forbidden the actors provide good solid characterisation in this story of illict love in Nazi Germany, the result sustains our interest as they swiftly cope with many, I lost count, scene changes.
Cordelia Rayner, is very notable as the reckless Felice kicking against the dangers her underground life contains and Chandrika Chevli's Elenai provides good support while Victoria Jeffery gives us three vivid women - the working class neighbour, the woman who gives away her fellow jews and Lola the bombed out party guest. TV actress Clare Grogan as Lilly, the aryan married woman who is attracted to young Felice gives a brittle performance early in the run - she needs to realise she has an audience to direct lines to not a boom mike.The two men Andy Snowball as the futigive Erich and Robin Sneller who plays a variety of parts complete the cast.
Also sustaining interest and taking us back 60+ years is Mia Flodquist costume designs, executed by Sarah Grange - the '30's swimming costumes are a partcular delight. Round up director Jacqui Somerville's strong production team are Natasha Chivers lighting, Helen Skiera's soundscapes and Tristan Parkes' music. It's a production stuffed with lots of emerging talent. The slightest thing is the play. It walks over historical ground with not enough depth or sub-text, it's more a dramatisation of a life than a drama.
© Thelma Good 5 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 30 at 16:45, not 16.
Company – New Arts Theatre Company.
Company Website www.websiteaddress.co.uk
4:48 Psychosis. (Page 149).
Venue Greyfriar's Kirk House. (Venue 28).
Address 86 Candlemaker Row.
Reviewer Sarah Jane Murray.
A stark white stage, bold white curtain and flickering lights, punctuated with electronic noises. So begins this Manchester student troupe's interpretation of Sarah Kane's final play - written shortly before she committed suicide - delving deep into a mind plagued by depression. The clinical space is given life by three actresses, cutting Kane's once-unified script into a series of dissembled voices. Joining them from the audience is the doctor, at times offering solace, sympathy and frustration.
Kane's violent confrontational text is often greatly disturbing and distressing. However, much of it takes on the guise of a stream of consciousness - lucid yet abstract utterings colour the patient's downward spiral. While this does unsettle, it also offers little consolation for those affected by depression. The play never penetrates beyond the surface of the condition, offering no answers and no comfort. Although depression is a subjective illness, this play puts forward very little for those in a similar position to latch on to as identification.
The role of the doctor is at first particularly poignant. De-medicalising the condition, he is merely a hollow and haunting voice, floating from within the seating bank to the stage. As he reels off an almost endless prescription of drugs, the audience is met with the vacant yet penetrating stare of the patient. The unhuman spector of the medic is however spoiled when he joins the actresses onstage, shattering the unspoken barrier between them. In addition, the multiple voices are rather distracting. A conflicting internal dialogue could perhaps be better portrayed by a single actress, visibly wrestling with herself - rather than three seperate bodies, shouting angrily at each other.
The laboratory setting suits this production, though in the playing it feels like an experiment purely for the benefit of the cast to exorcise their own demons - regardless of whether the audience is engaged or not.
©Sarah Jane Murray 24 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 30 August, at 21.40.
Company - The Chicken's Still Dancing.
4Play (Page 149)
Drams None - but you need to be alert for this one!
Venue 1/4rm at Greenside (Venue 231).
Address 1b Royal Terrace.
Reviewer Marisa de Andrade.
4Play makes a mockery of its audience, not to mention its reviewers. From the first scene, we've all sussed out the storyline - a curious and playful couple trading relationship roles for characters in action films and the like. How charming, we think, as they convincingly transform into Sean Connery as 007 and Natasha the Russian spy to spice things up. But when a wife, secretary and gay flatmate become involved in their twisted relationship, one can only assume that their games have gone too far. Little do we know...
Enter Jane Dodd as Natalie (herself?), Natasha (her alter ego?) and Carol (someone she's meant to loathe?), with Christopher Dane as Brian (himself?) and Brad Reed (Natalie's fantasy?), and we've lost the plot - thanks to an ingenious script, not a poorly written one. Writer Eddie Coleman digs deep to create this riddled masterpiece of a script. And the actors do well to execute it, for this is no easy task. Blurry transitions link one character to the next, yet there's a puzzling similarity between them. This initially appears to be evidence of poor characterisation, but finally becomes the thread linking unexplained bits of the fantastical play.
The 007 soundtrack becomes a bit much, filling the darkness of every scene change. Still, this is theatre as it is meant to be - enchanting, as it captures the unreal reality of an imaginary world on stage.
© Marisa de Andrade 14 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs August 15-21, 14.10.
Company - Whight Whine Productions.
Frankenstein. (Page 149).
Venue Sweet on the Royal Mile. (Venue 39).
Address Radisson SAS hotel, 80 High Street.
Reviewer Georgina Merry.
How it is that such an electrifying and emotionally charged play can be turned into a dull and uninspiring performance? Probably because when John Fryer wrote it he didn’t anticipate Victor Frankenstein being played by one of the most wooden actors under the sun. That is to say, he appears so – when you can actually hear him. Most of the time he’s closer to whispering! One should not have to suppress the urge to shout “Speak up!” during a performance. It's not aided by the fact that the show drags on without any gusto.
At first, one assumes that all this will change once “the being” is brought to life. Not so. As the lightning strikes and the creature awakens, Baron Frankenstein acts as though he has dropped a glass of milk rather than making the horrific realisation of what he has done. As for the other actors, although they are competent in their delivery, they just don’t have any energy or fervour.
Perhaps the late time slot its allotted doesn’t help. It is as though the director hoped to create an altogether more intellectual interpretation, in contrast to Mary Shelly’s heart-rending epic. All these elements combined make it an altogether laboured production that is difficult to appreciate.
©Georgina August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 19 August at time 23:45.
Company Vitruvius Productions.
Fuse. (Page 149).
Venue Traverse Theatre (Venue 15).
Address Cambridge Street, off Lothian Road.
Reviewer Marisa de Andrade.
Protagonist Phil, Daniel Buckland, is an antagonist by society's standards, he's not the kind of guy you'd find at the top of the heap this lab animal keeper, yet there's something familiar about him. The same something that celebrates interdependence in South African cultures and indeed in universalism worldwide. Iin some societies people like him can become scapegoats. But such themes are immersed in energetic characters and an unmistakably raw lead. Phil's charming but brief appearance at the start and end leaves a curious gap in the play. A gap that promises to be filled as the play matures with time. A gap that you can fuse together or shrug off as part excuse for a flimsy plot.
It starts with a striking image as one actor the one playing Phil clothed in black sleeps on the backs of the white clad actors. The world we enter is created largely by the actors, Mongi Mthombeni and Daniel Buckland. As well as being the rats who try to get a human back to life after a catastrophe they are doors, mirrors and parts of Phil.
Mouthpeace is known for its suggestive nature an minimalistic approach to theatre. It engages the imagination rather than academically dictating it. Fuse is no exception. It's undoubtedly more distanced from the perceived South African identity presented in Mouthpeace's previous plays, but is based on truths worldwide.
©Marisa de Andrade 8 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs Aug 5-28, not 9,16,23 at various times.
Mouthpeace (South Africa).