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(J) 4 out of 226
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Page number refers to the Fringe programme

Jarrett and Raja. (Page 159).
Drams full glassfull glass .
Venue The Assembly (Venue 3)
Address 54 George Street.
Reviewer Rowan Smith.

Jarrett and Raja are one of the most odd couples found in the festival.

Jarrett is a Vegas magician and a lover of his showgirls, and Raja is a classical pianist. If you saw them separately you would not think about putting them in a show together. The two of them reminded me of The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and the relationship between Carlton and Will, with Raja being classier and smart (Carlton), and Jarrett being more interested in girls and showing off (Will). Some of the tricks are truly mind boggling, but unfortunately in some others, like the levitating glass, strings are visible.
© Rowan Smith (Aged 11) 13 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to Till 28 August not 23. at various times.
Company – Classic Magic Prod, Inc.
Company Website www.jarrettandraja.com


Jeffrey Archer's Prison Hell (Page 159).
Drams  full glass.
Venue The Underbelly. (Venue 61).
Address  Cowgate (entrance on Cowgate and Victoria Street.).
Reviewer  Garry Platt.

The Underbelly is a compelling setting for this production of Jeffrey Archer's biographical account of his "Prison Hell". The tin lined tunnel and fairly dank atmosphere added superbly to an already stark setting; Jeffrey's cell and bed. The actors, 4 in total do a quite remarkable job in playing a stream of both convincing and appealing characters, even the nasty ones have a charm.

 The actor portraying prisoner FF8282 - Jeffrey Archer gives a sympathetic portrayal of the man, there is no playing the part for laughs and some of the scenes with other inmates where they recount their lives and experiences is very moving. Apparently Mr Archer gave his consent to the production of this play and I can understand why, the writers have been true to the original text which I revisited after watching the show, there's little spin or interpretation of Archer's writing. In some areas it is virtually word for word what Archer committed to paper. By being totally honest to the original text the now ex-lag's self aggrandisement which has accompanied him all his life and the arrogance that appears to sit at the heart of his character shine through every line. It's both compelling viewing; sometimes quite funny but also occasionally quite sad. This could not have been accomplished with less than perfect acting, direction and writing - a definite play to go and see.
©Garry Platt  17 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August.
Company Pea Wet Productions.


Joey’s Last Feed. (Page 159).

Drams full glassfull glassfull glass .
Venue Diverse Attractions (Venue 11).
Address Riddles Court, 322 Lawnmarket.
Reviewer Sarah Jane Murray.

It all sounds so interesting from the programme. A play recollecting the Section 28 debate in Scotland of 2000. The row involved rights for gays and lesbians, and a newly devolved Scotland was heatedly embroiled in Section 28 fever for many months. This new play claims curiously to offer the dispute through the eyes of a fictional Edinburgh pensioner – Kate McCarthy. Such an angle carries potential for an refreshing and telling angle to such a widely discussed issue.

However – despite the claims – very little of the play could construe valid political debate. While the writer wears his Leftist leanings very clearly on his sleeve, these beliefs are delivered in somewhat messy – albeit amusing – tirades from the lead character. The only firm position on the Section 28 debate that Kate offers is a moral one, in itself largely transparent.

The performance by Jess Wilson as the lead is endearingly honest, and her mischievous anecdotes put her audience at ease. Steven Croall as her support however brings too much enthusiasm to his role as her home-helper. A subtler performance would have allowed for a more believable bond between the unlikely pairing. The venue - Diverse Attractions’ Drawing Room - is unique, but mismatched. The grandeur of the townhouse jars with the setting of a working class widowed pensioner. It also suffers greatly from a lack of air conditioning – probably not such an issue on a less-busy night.

A play with an intriguing exposition and good intentions, but only roughly executed.
©Sarah Jane Murray 13 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Run ended.
Company – Capital Theatre Company.


Julie Birchill is Away (Page 160).
Drams  full glass.
Venue Assembly Rooms. (Venue 3).
Address 54 George Street.
Reviewer   Garry Platt.

Jackie Clune is perhaps best known on the fringe for her stand up comedy and superb singing. Last year Jackie had a small hit in the West End with this play about Julie Birchill, the ascorbic columnist in the Guardian, who for my money has her fingers closer to the pulse of the country than any politician I know. So they've brought it up to Edinburgh to appear on the Fringe; the posh part, up at the Assembly rooms.

Jackie gives a remarkable performance recreating that innocence and vitriol that swirls around the charged core of Miss Birchill. The Somerset drawl, the total self confidence, the occasional moments of introspection are all beautifully rendered. The supercharged cynicism is never far from the surface either and no one does cynicism better than Birchill except perhaps Clune playing Birchill. With lines like "the local abortion clinic has given me a customer loyalty card" it hits the target dead centre. Should we be shocked, should we laugh, what kind of a woman can say something like that? The audience looks on and soaks up the many different sides of Birchill's fluxing take on the world. I almost said like watching a car crash - but we are not watching any lack of control here, either in Jackie's playing or in Birchill's character. Just the opposite, what we are watching is an example of fine control and the delivery of so many nuances all adding up to a great piece of theatre.

I imagine that if you like Julie's column in the Guardian you may well like the writing in this play. JB's take on life is reproduced all the way through but with an added dimension of seeing the source in its native surroundings; a large house somewhere in Brighton replete with leopard skin sofa and pink walls. It couldn't be anything else could it really? The set is also a charm adding so much to the overall atmosphere, the only thing that didn't work 'was the photograph of the garden swimming pool through the French windows at the back of the set, everything was else was just so real and this was so obviously phoney, just black the windows out or put a screen of plants across.

I recommend this play; it's a wonderful piece of theatre performed by a good actress about an extraordinary individual.  
©Garry Platt  19 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 30 August.
Company Assembly Theatre Ltd

(J) 4 out of 226
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