|Edinburgh : A&E : Festivals Fringe reviews|
None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
K-Pax. (Page 162)
Venue C too. (Venue 4).
Address St Columba by the Castle.
Reviewer Ksenija Horvat.
Act Provocateur International have been busy. The company that traditionally offers double-bills at the Fringe has arrived this year with no less than five shows, including Victor Sobchak's adaptation of Jean- Paul Sartre's No Exit, New York Fringe solo show I Can Cry, a revival of their 1999 Fringe production of Gogol's Diary of a Madman, Gato Martin's acoustic set and the world premiere stage adaptation of Gene Brewer's novel K-Pax, based on a true story of the amnesiac who claimed to be an alien from the planet K-Pax.
This production is a collaboration between the company and Brewster, and, it has retained all virtues and faults of the original work. The story itself is gripping, and, under Sobchak's direction, the solid cast of actors have done their best with wordy dialogue. Having seen some previous shows by the company, one cannot but feel frustrated that the charismatic physical qualities that the actors possess have not been utilised more. And the set could have been less realistic to allow them to experiment with movement and sound, the performative elements that the Act Provocateur International are most at home with.
Still, as naff as the dialogue can get at times, the actors' individual performances shine through to keep one occupied and entertained at all times. This particularly goes for Corin Rhys Jones' Howie and Shaban Arifi's Earnie who are excellent as, respectively, a compulsive overachiever and a manhating hypohondriac, and the company's veteran and co-founder Andy McQuade as Prot is difficult to ignore. The rest of the company lifts up enough energy to set the place ablaze, which they would have, undoubtedly, if they had the right match - read the script - to play with.
A hint to the company - guys, we want more physical theatre from yous. A hint to the audience - they are here until the 30th, catch at least one of their shows.
© Ksenija Horvat, 12 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 30 August (not 15th), 14:30.
Company Act Provocateur International.
Company Website www.actprovocateur.net
Kafka's "The Metamorphosis". (Page 160).
Venue C. (Venue 34).
Address Chambers Street .
Reviewer Bill Dunlop.
Many will know how the patter of tiny feet can interrupt intimacy, rupture repose and smother even dreams of sleep. There's been a mouse invasion of this reviewer's tenement recently, and although now eliminated, infernal vigilance continues to be required. Housewives and servants in the early twentieth century Prague would have known the need for this, and it's tempting to imagine something similar sparking the imagination of Franz Kafka, resulting in the story of a man who goes to sleep human and awakens insect. It's a short story that has been adapted to a variety of media, with more or less success and Black Moon deserve respect for their efforts in rising to its challenges and problems in bringing it to the stage.
This is in many ways an imaginative production, making extensive use of projected film to increase our sense of the isolation of Grygor Samsa, trapped both as an insect who was once a man and imprisoned by his family in a single room. Excellent physical theatre sees him clinging precariously to every available perch a sparse set provides, unable to communicate his fearful confusion to a family who increasingly view him as the one who has imprisoned them. Kafkas dark fantasy can well be read as an allegory of the social destructiveness inherent in late capitalism, reducing us all to disconnected parasites feeding upon each other. However, although the projected film represents something of an homage to German film of the 1920's and 30's, its very modernity, offering angles and techniques Pabst or Von Stroheim might have delighted in, it lacks the subtle humanity achieved with simpler technology. Ultimately it has the effect of alienating us from Grygor and his fate, drawing us back to safely re-assuring ourselves this is artifice, not reality.
Kafkas story end with Grygor's family enjoying the freedom of the countryside with an unstated sense of guilty release. Strange how the necessary elimination of a household pest can leave a sense of the precious reality of consciousness, the uniqueness of all life and its inevitable briefness. This reviewer waited for some acknowledgement of the confusion in the minds of the Samsa family following the murder of Grygor (suggested but never explicated by Kafka). It didnt come and the production felt the poorer. It remains, nonetheless, a very considerable achievement, well worth the time of the audiences it justly deserves.
© Bill Dunlop 5 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs 4-30 August at 21:10 till 22:25.
Company Black Moon Theatre Co.
Kathmandu. (Page 160)
Venue KingDome, Pleasance Dome. (Venue 23)
Address 1 Bristo Square.
Reviewer Ksenija Horvat.
There is a place in this world where all of your pain and troubles will be washed away. It is the place lush after monsoons and basked in the sun, where mountains are high and waters are clear. It is Kathmandu. Has any of you ever wished to escape your life? Have you ever regretted a decision you made? Greg Freeman's play Kathmandu is an engaging story about loss, regret, resentment and loneliness. Four characters move through the space without any direction, prospect or hope for the future. All they have is memory and resentment of the past. Ken McClymont's direction emphasises these themes without tipping over into melodramatics, and Lizzie Clachan's simple design creates a strong, memorable image.
From the onset, Freeman's words come alive in the interpretation by CityStages. Olivia Busby is electrifying as catty and simultaneously vulnerable Rosalind, Sandra Clark makes a believable Martha, acrimonious of past betrayals and lost chances, while Howard Lee is excellent as a suave, reckless Frank. Still, it is Alex Hughes' funny, softhearted Owen who is a true scene stealer. Manipulated and unwanted, it is he who sets on a quest for his personal kathmandu, amidst derision from those whom he believes closest to him. And so the intricate dance of emotions and deceptions begins. Add to all of this an evocative music score by Rod Bowkelt, and the whole picture becomes one of a deceptively simple piece, with rich layers of meanings rippling underneath the surface.
Kathmandu is not without flaw, and it is doubtful that it will be rated amongst the top shows of this Fringe. However, it is genuinely fresh, interesting and theatrical. If there is any rough in the text, the performers smooth over it with ease, and they draw their audience into the darkly inexplicable, claustrophobic world of Freeman's characters.
© Ksenija Horvat, 18 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 30 August, 16:15.
Company City Stages.
Company Website www.citystages.co.uk
Kenneth, What's the Frequency. (Page 160).
Drams - reluctantly
Venue Assembly Rooms. (Venue 3).
Address 51 George Street.
Reviewer: Max Blinkhorn
Beware, beware. This is not a familiar story; not to British audiences nor even the International Edinburgh audiences. It may be understood by U.S. audiences but I had to check out the story after seeing the performance and before writing this review. Before you get your ticket, you really need to be aware of the enigma of the assault on Dan Rather, the Trevor MacDonald of CBS Network news programmes which was born in October 1986. Then you need to have a modest grasp of contemporary theatre. You’re ready? Let’s go.
The play depicts the two protagonists, Dan Rather, news anchorman and Donald Barthelme, a prolific writer of cult fiction going about their respective lives. Barthelme is loved by his fans whereas Rather is a kind of ungracious media icon who commands the attention of the ordinary viewer but looks rather silly to anyone with a few brain cells to rub together (well,…. it’s true!).
The play positions the two in such a way that they confront each other indirectly and various episodes of their lives are woven to a climax where all ought to be revealed. Unfortunately, without the curiosity of someone brought up on the legend of the assault, the familiarity with the vanity of Dan Rather and an awareness of Donald Barthelme, I felt lost. Also, the mystery is still unsolved although I have found one explanation. I love the 78th Street Theatre Lab’s approach to drama but this doesn’t work for us, over here, guys unless we’re high grade REM fans. So I have had to take a couple of drams on this occasion to persuade my consciousness to stay with it to the end of the review. Slante and see you next year, 78th Street.
©Max Blinkhorn August 2004 – Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs: 6-30 August 2004 (not Tuesdays)
Company: 78th Street Theatre Lab.
Killing Paul McCartney. (Page 161).
Venue Assembly Rooms (Venue 3).
Address 54 George Street.
Reviewer Marisa de Andrade.
Warning: this title is out to get you. It's called Killing Paul McCartney, has an obscure description and a sign outside it's door stating something about hearing gunshots during the performance. Heard none! And I'm pretty sure the rest of the audience didn't either. Infact, I'll be surprised if they heard the words, Paul McCartney, more than four times throughout the entire performance. Because this title's out to get you.
With a title like that, I wasn't surprised to see older folk lining up to see it in their suits. They were only slightly bemused by the open-mic setting, but more than a little surprised to hear joke after joke about everything except Paul McCartney. "Expecting a play," the dubbed geezer comedian bluntly stated. And I'll be honest, I wasn't expecting a comedy routine either. But, I dropped my expectations and found myself laughing to the tune of a man who has a Ricky Gervais way about him. He is funny. Perhaps a little offensive to feminists, but he's fully aware of that. He's all over his audience with an overt awareness of their expectations.
"The point is there is no point," he says. And I couldn't agree with him more. But still, you'll laugh as long as you're expecting to. Don't go if you're after mental stimulation or if you're up for a little tribute to the man himself. Although there is one familiar song thrown in for those with great expectations, presented by a man who's more than a little cooked. I'd say he's deep fried!
© Marisa de Andrade 9 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs 8-30 Aug, not 10,17,23, 17.15.
Company Nick Grosso/Jake Wood.
Kokobatown. (Page 161).
Venue Cowgate Central@Wikie House (Venue 26).
Address Wilkie House, off Hasties Close, Guthrie Street / Cowgate.
Reviewer Bill Dunlop.
Siyaya Arts are a Bulawayo based company drawing their actors and other company members from the communities of the townships which proliferate beyond the centres of many African cities. Kokobatown originates in the everyday dramas of township life in the RSA, but with no distance from the problems of southern Africa. The young are aggressive, the old are fearful, AIDS is rife, employment is scarce and violence proliferates, especially among those whose only hope of a better life is to steal someone elses. The company promise lots of stories, but instead concentrate on one the emigration of Spieze to a better life in Cape Town and his return, where his dream of emigrating again, this time to the U.K., is cut brutally short.
This is a lively and clearly heart-felt production, in need of a larger space than Cowgate Centrals upper studio can provide. The lively dance numbers were more than a little constricted, and the entire show seemed to struggle to come to terms with spatial challenges which had perhaps not been fully anticipated. The focus on one story among the many problematic circumstances of those living in the elokishni (townships) of South Africa means that a number of issues remain unadressed, AIDS and under-age sex, as examples, are only hinted at here. There's a sense of a company anxious to keep faith with the community from which they spring and not appear to offend its susceptibilities or sense of self-worth. Understandable as this may be in a company of this type presenting a show overseas, a more courageous approach might have lifted a rather predicable offering off the ground and into a different class.
©Bill Dunlop, 13th August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 27 at 19:05 every day.
Company Siyaya Arts - Bulawayo.
The Kosh. (Page 161).
Venue Gilded Balloon Teviot. (Venue 14)
Address 13 Bristo Square.
Reviewer Ellie Fazan.
This show is a stunning example of the power of dance and movement. Just two girls rumble tumble through the last century, accompanied by music from progressive decades and thought provoking sound bites. Their stamina is impressive and their take on the fifties a spectacular spectacular (so watch out for it).
The show moves with dizzying pace and inescapable wit, yet visually perhaps it would have been more impressive with a whole chorus line of dancers taking us throuh the century. The setting is minimal and costume, while playing a central role, is used sparingly but cleverly. The dance of the plastic mannequins is almost grotesquely funny, but marks a sinister progression towards our present day.
'May you stay forever young'. Indeed.
©Ellie Fazan, 13 August 2004, published on the EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs until 29th August, 2004 at 14.45.
Company Gilded Balloon Productions.