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(L) 15 out of 226
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Rating Guide
None = Unmissable

= Unwatchable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme



La Trattoria di Segretti. (Page 163).

Drams
none.
Venue Pleasance Courtyard. (Venue 33).
Address 60 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Ksenija Horvat.

Fast-moving, flamboyant and hilarious, La Trattoria di Segretti is a pure joy to watch. Tim Norton's script is catchy and interesting from start to finish, even though the story is a bit predictable, and Ned Bennett's score will have you whistle and sing-a-long in no time.

The best part of the show, though, are its fourteen young superbly multi-talented actors/singers/musicians. Wanna sing? Wanna dance? Wanna see some good acting? Young Pleasance is your company. They swap the roles as fast as they throw around dirty dishes. They may be over the top in a grand guignol fashion, but they never miss a beat. The result is a total mayhem onstage, and belly-laughing audiences in the auditorium.

And while the set and props fly across the stage, and a complex web of cliched characters and situations come alive before one's eyes, one cannot but admire the skill and diversity of these young performers. They tease their audience and lure them into the chaotic world of the play, they kindle the audiences' imagination and toy with it with an unsurpassed mastery and ease. It would be difficult to single out a performance above the rest because all of them work in seamless unison, their singularities becoming a perfect part of the whole.

This show is, without any doubt, Fringe First material.
Ksenija Horvat, 23 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 30 August, 13:20.
Company Young Pleasance.
Company Website www.pleasance.co.uk
   

La Zapatera Prodigiosa (page 164).
  Drams full glass.
  Venue Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49).
  Address 11b Bristo Place.
  Reviewer Ksenija Horvat.

Cross-dressing is nothing new - that Elizabethan theatre employed young boys to play female parts is common knowledge today. The Fletcher Players do exactly the opposite, and apart from a brief appearance by Laurence Hooper as Lorca/Narrator, the show is staged by an all-female cast of exquisitely lively and funny performers. La Zapatera Prodigiosa is everything that the Fringe brochure says it is - flamboyant, farcical, colourful, and sentimental. It has live music too.

The cross-dressing element is the highlight of the show. The girls do not try to imitate boys, they parody them in deliciously funny ways. Suzy Pollard and Jenny Wright are hilarious as Alcalde and Don Mirlo, and Maria Quintero makes a very believable Zapatero. Rosie Senguel is the wheels on fire as stubborn Zapatera, as if the bull's blood flows in her own veins, and the rest of the cast successfully complete Lorca's mosaic of social archetypes.

Performed completely in Spanish, with the translation projected onto the back screen, spectators lacking a knowledge of the language may struggle to keep up with the characters' comings and goings. It’s a good idea to acquaint yourself with the story before the show, so that you can enjoy the rollicking action without unnecessary distraction.
©Ksenija Horvat 16 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 28 August (not 22nd), 10:00am.
Company - The Fletcher Players.

   

Ladyboys of Bangkok. (Page 162).

Drams None needed – pure entertainment.
Venue Meadows Theatre Big Tops (Venue 189).
Address The Meadows, Melville Drive.
Reviewer Sophie Lloyd.

Ladyboys of Bangkok
Ladyboys of Bangkok
Leggy, toned and beautiful with no trace of cellulite – something all girls aspire to be! The Lady Boys of Bangkok are quite something with their fantastic figures, sexy dancing and extravagant costumes that leave little to the imagination. A definite must see for the Fringe.

Directed and produced by Carol and Phillip Gandey, this show will have your jaw dropping as 16 glamorous transvestites take the stage dancing and cavorting to a repertoire of classic songs from Madonna’s Vogue to the Cheeky Girls. With a cabaret feel, the décor, lighting and ambiance inside the tent are perfect - right down to the red velvet curtains from behind which the ladies emerge.
Ladyboys of Bangkok
Sporting a range of racy outfits, fancy wigs and sexy stilettos, the lady boys tantalise and amuse the audience with their talents. Most impressive is the One Man One Woman piece performed by Mr Chakkrit Kiettiachaysay who succeeds in entertaining spectators with both his feminine wiles and masculine strengths – at the same time.

You may be one of the lucky persons that get pulled up on stage to participate in the show. If not, you can get a souvenir photo during the interval to take home for the mantelpiece. Impressive singing, dancing and erm surgery!
©Sophie Lloyd 9 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
 Runs August 6-21, Aug 23-September 4 at 19.00, Aug 6-Sep 4 at 21.15, Aug 28 at 17.00.
 Company – Urban Circus Ltd.

   

Laius. (Page 162).
Drams full glassfull glass.

Venue Old St. Paul’s Church Hall (Venue 267).
Address Then Put address Address as in Back of Fringe Programme.
Reviewer Bill Dunlop.

Laius is an almost unique example of the use of classical verse in a contemporary play. David Adey's edgy script has a baroque delight in its own language, whose richness might have drawn plaudits from Mervyn Peake or Michael Moorcock (in his 'Gloriana' phase).

The script's potential problem is that its very density can obscure the horrendous nature of the story it unfolds. Laius is King in a land we know not where or when. He falls heavily and passionately for Mia, a child of the woods, who is less than welcomed by Laius' jealous, incestuous court. Seann, scheming secular high priest connives to bring about Laius' downfall, although his motives for this remain at least as ambiguous as those of Iago in Shakespeare's Othello.

Adey's text touches on themes of jealousy, the nature of passion, the purity and impurity of lust, and the nature of power itself, but often seems to walk around these without coming to direct grips with the forces suggested and unleashed. There's potential for allegory here which is not fully identified or revealed.

Georgie Cockburn plays a heart-breakingly vulnerable but strongly passionate Mia, while Ben Wiltshire's Laius is almost faultlessly foiled by David Brown's Seann. If some of Cockburn and Wiltshire's scenes appear coyly stiff at times, the conviction in their acting overcomes much, and their fellow players ably support throughout.

3 Bugs deserve congratulation for tackling a challenging piece of contemporary theatre with conviction and elan. It's always a positive when one feels a strong sense of 'company'; in a production and Birmingham based 3 Bugs emanate an encouraging sense of solidarity. It’s to be hoped, whether separately or together, more is seen of many of the members of this young and very able company.
© Bill Dunlop 24 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August at 16:15.
Company – 3 Bugs.

   

Larium Dreams. (Not in Fringe Programme).
Drams full glassfull glassfull glass.
Venue Cowgate Central at Wilkie House. (Venue 26).
Address Hasties Close off Guthrie St/Chambers St.
Reviewer Georgina Merry.

It is the decision that has plagued many – health or sanity? In this short and confusing play, Jon Rankin, Ian Staples, has this very conundrum. He has to travel around the globe as part of his job. He takes Larium, a drug that combats Malaria. It has drastic side effects and soon Jon is having some very strange dreams. But he never really makes any decision to stop what happens - he just allows his sanity to slowly slip away until he can no longer decipher fantasy from reality. By the time he does realise the extent of that he has believed to be real it’s too late…

This piece is ambitious in every sense and the complexity of the script struggles to work in so short a time period. Condensing too many experiences and different angles thrown in haphazardly, without any explanation, it's hard to follow. As it is clear that this is the intention of the script – to allow the audience to experience the craziness of Jon’s mind and his emotions - it requires a multitude of acting capabilities from cast members. It also calls for an extreme amount of directorial vision that even David Lynch would have difficulty conveying. More than a little too intricate for a small scale production to pull off successfully, combined with the nature of the plot means you end up not really caring about the characters. The actors give it their best shot, but the script demands so high a level of intensity and diversity from the characters it is hard for even the most skilled performer, never mind an amateur group. However, Ian Staples is very convincing as Jon, though even he finds the role hard to sustain throughout the performance.

One thing that can be said about this production is that it has a lot of heart. Each and every participant in this play has given their all. The script demands more than they have at their disposal - time, lack of experience and a difficult script are against them.
©Georgina 28 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 30 at 20:30.
Company Circle of Arts.

   

Last Night A DJ Saved My Life. (Page 163).
Drams full glassfull glassfull glass.
Venue Gilded Balloon.(Venue 14).
Address 13 Bristo Square.
Reviewer Ellie Fazan.
 
The idea is this - a Cult radio DJ randomly phones phone boxes and gets the people who answer to talk on the radio.  For them this may be a life changing experience but what next?  When Anna answers the phone she opens her soul and she believes the phone call has been a sign, she tracks down the DJ who eventually destroys her faith  and she is left to rebuild her own life.
 
This story, as a concept, is great and was effectively told.  The play begins and ends with a phone ringing from a phonebox on an empty stage.  Anna's monologues reveal the sole destroying state of her world while Bennet, Kelly and Cassy really lift the action and put some life into the performance which for some reason felt otherwise fairly dull.  The DJ was suitably cheesy in a Richard Madely-esque way, but his performance (intentionally or not) made me slightly cringe.  Part of the problem is that there is not enough interaction between characters (necessarily though in this type of play) but it left some of the action feeling isolated and dull (and really made some of the great scenes between the three kids shine).
 
Some parts of this production are really funny, others really insightful.  Essentially though, this is a piece centered around an idea - the idea, the concept, is great, but great enough to carry a much stronger and better thought out play. 
©Ellie Fazan, 24 August 2004 - published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs until 30 August at 13.30 (every other day - even days only).
Company - Leaves on the Track Theatre Company.

   

Lies Told To Children. (Page 164).
Drams full glassfull glassfull glass .
Venue C cubed (Venue no as in back of Fringe programme).
Address Brodie's Close, Lawnmarket.
Reviewer Ritchie Smith.

We start with family domesticity and then are in youth culture, with student banter. The set-up involves Becky, Justin and the little-seen Neil in a kind of eternal triangle, with one and a half of those characters gay. I won't say which is the half. It rolls along pleasantly enough without ever quite sparking off for me. You might say the plot, the theme, is about the difficulty of achieving love and happiness for Becky. But the question really becomes whether or not she might have to move to London on her own. So, though she feels 'dumped' (without ever doing very much about it) not much is really at risk, and the characters don't exactly undergo life-changing experiences while climbing the emotional mountains of theatre. But for a younger audience especially it's probably a pleasant enough stroll in the foothills. (Oh, and there's an amusing Imaginary Friend, a chartered accountant with an animal's head, regrettably totally irrelevant to the plot...)

I must note the number of flat lines and cliches in this play, and I'd avoid saying things like this, in case sarcastic reviewers write them down: 'Don't gush on like you've said anything special.' However, there is an amusing moment of bedroom farce at the end, and Lucy Middleweek as Becky is vivacious and listenable-to all the way through.
© Ritchie Smith 18 August 2004 - Published on www.EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 30 August (even dates only, e.g. 20, 22 etc.) at 13:10.
Company Eleventhirtyone.

   

Life Is Precious. (Not in Fringe programme).
Drams full glass to make a welcoming toast.
Venue C Central (Venue 54).
Address Carlton Hotel, North Bridge.
Reviewer Thelma Good.

DESCRIPTION.
Life Is Precious - Matt Jackson.
Francois.
© photographer 2004.

Francois is an old man, yet when he moves in his slow steps there is still the movement of the dancer he once was. He enters the stage and comes gradually to the blouse and skirt hanging up - as he touches and smells them, his loss is tangible. To the music of Three Grossiemes beautifully played live by unseen Caroline Lewis, the Edinburgh-based pianist, Matt Jackson moves his creation Francois. In a brief fifteen minute perfomance, his first as a puppeteer Jackson has put down his calling card as a creator, puppeteer and actor to watch and savour.

He made Francois during a brief course at Institut International de la Marionette in France learning from a Japanese master of puppets and this short engrossing work developed there. Part way through this Fringe, while working at C he decided Edinburgh should met Francois. With ecomony of movement and storytelling and without words Jackson's Francois conveys the sweet and bitter pain of loving and losing. After applauding the cast and musician there is time to talk to Jackson about the work he has created. That too is a treat in the rushing of audiences in and out of Fringe spaces as longer shows running back to back, changing audiences in 15 minutes or so.

This is a chance to see a quality artist embarking on a new relationship with performance, till now he made puppets and special effects for other people, productions and film. He has worked with the Squonk Opera Company as a noteable prop/puppet engineer. Brighton, England will be staging this developing work soon, and others should be coming with invitations. Well worth the £3/£2 charged. Don't miss.
© Thelma Good 28 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 30 August at 13:30.
Company – Matt Jackson.
Company Website - mattjacksonstudios.com

   


Little Lucy and Friends. (Page 165)
Drams full glass.
Venue Venue 45. (Venue 45)
Address Old st Pauls Church Hall, Jeffery Street.
Reviewer Georgina Merry.

Little Lucy likes to be horrid. She’s clever and wicked and she knows how to use it. She aspires to be a pyromaniac. As Lucy torments each of her friends in turn the audience cannot help but look on, wondering just what act of cruelty she will perform next.

The characters are dressed in black and white, which is surprisingly effective against the white back- drop. Their grotesquely painted faces add an eerie quality and emphasize their animated expressions and movements. Each has their own distinctive style, the result is an intriguing and twisted bonanza of the dark and the obscure.

This wonderfully absurd malevolent comedy is ideal as a pre-dinner pick-me-up. The humour is black and the plot is fiendish. Well worth a look.
©Georgina August 11 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 19 at 17:00, not Aug 15.
Company Z Theatre Company.

   

A Little Touch Of Harry In The Night (Page 165).
Drams full glassfull glass.
Venue Cowgate Central (Venue 26).
Reviewer Alex Eades.

Henry V has always been a personal favourite of mine amongst Shakespeare’s plays. After watching Laurence Olivier’s version as a child, it was this play which first sparked my interest in theatre. The chance to see it performed as a one-man show was something that I simply could not miss. Sadly, in many ways, I wish now that I had.

The play has been cut quite significantly – for one man to play every single part would be asking a lot of both actor and audience. The deleted scenes have been chosen wisely and their absence doesn’t affect the smooth running of the piece as a whole. Tyrus Lemerande jumps from character to character with ease and are all well performed… apart, that is, from Harry. The acting is energetic and emphatic, which is all very well, but it all seems done for the sake of doing Shakespeare and fails to show an understanding of the text or who the character really is. If all is quiet, Lemerande raises his voice and vice versa. He is still, then makes a giant hand gesture, without any apparent motivation.

I came out a little disappointed in this play that I once loved so dearly. This is a performance worth going to see just for the package, but expect a lot of the play’s beauty to be lost in its delivery.
©Alex Eades 15 August 2004 – Published on Edinburghguide.com
Runs until 30 August at 5.35pm
Company – Knighthorse Theatre Company

   

The Little World of Don Camillo (Page 165).
Drams full glassfull glass .
Venue Valvona & Crolla (Venue 67).
Address 19 Elm Row, top of Leith Walk.
Reviewer Neil Ingram.

Mike Maran and Philip Contini have created another highly polished show, taking us back to Italy in the 1940s. Based on the stories by Giovanni Guareschi, they follow the lives of Don Camillo, the priest in Piccolo Mondo, a small town on the bank of the Po River, and its Communist mayor Peppone. Through their conflicts and tribulations, we see the fragile new democractic Italy struggle into life. The diverse characters portrayed by Maran and Contini show how individuals can pull together despite their political differences to rebuild a country torn apart by the destructive forces of war.

The storytelling is relaxed, and at times a bit repetitive, but the stories themselves are timeless in their simple humanity. They are illustrated and knitted together by the music and sounds of a small Italian town, vivdly brought to life by Colin Steele on trumpet and Martin Green on accordion. I left with a warm feeling that life goes on despite the great events which dominate the news, and communities often do find ways of working together through the chaos.
© Neil Ingram 12 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 28 at various times, not 16,23.
Company – Mike Maran productions.
Company Website www.mikemaran.com .
   

Loaded by Scott Capurro. (page 165).

Drams full glassfull glassfull glass.
Venue Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33).
Address 60 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Sarah Jane Murray.

Loaded - with what exactly? Scott Capurro’s new play is most definitely loaded with wit, acute observations and well-developed characterisation. But - unfortunately - it is also loaded with distaste. This is not a case of excessive prudishness - cracks about ‘dreamy’ Ian Huntley are simply not in good humour. How unfortunate - Capurro’s cheap gags dilute an otherwise funny and human show.

In his favour, Capurro never set out to be tasteful. Taste is not something that comes easily to a play about a man’s obsession with a stranger convicted of murdering his own parents. Rather than unnecessary attempts to self-psychologise his fictional fantasy, it is Capurro’s meandering anecdotes that show off the acerbic tongue that has already won him the Perrier for stand-up. Along the way, Capurro introduces us to a cast of characters so dysfunctional they make the Osbournes look like the Waltons. In particular, Simon - an accountant who lives with his mother and suffers from a rare condition which means he cannot react to anything - brings humour to the heavy subject-matter with his monotone deadpan manner. James Holmes – playing all supporting roles – manages to bring a certain warmth, despite his characters being no less oddball-esque than that of the lead.

Capurro is clearly adept at script-writing. Loaded is both perceptive and incisive. However, he should be confident enough of his own wit, without feeling the need to rely on controversy to win audiences.
©Sarah Jane Murray 11 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 30 August, not 17 August, at 16.30.
Company - Festival Highlights.

   

Losing Venice (Page166).
Drams full glassfull glass .
Venue Komedia Roman Eagle Lodge(Venue 34).
Address 2 Johnstone Terrace.
Reviewer Neil Ingram.

It's great to see a new production of this remarkable play in Edinburgh, where it won a Fringe First nearly 20 years ago. Extraordinarily this is only its second professional production in Britain. John Clifford's* play is about the eternal themes of love and war, and how the common man has little control over his fate. The central character, Quevedo, is a poet in the employ of the Duke, and we see him first writing a poem for the Duke's wedding. But once wed, the Duke's ambition is to go to Venice to assert Spain's influence over the city republic. Quevedo and his servant Pablo agree to go with him, but on the way they are captured by pirates, and though they do get to Venice nothing turns out as expected.

The timeless themes of Losing Venice are just as relevant to our new century as they were to the last, or to whenever nations seek to extend their influence across the world. This multi-national production is rather uneven and in places difficult to follow, they've shortened the text rather randomly. But it contains some spirited acting and is cleverly directed on an almost bare stage.
© Neil Ingram 14 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 22 at 16.40.
Company – Art Immediate.
Company Website www.artimmediate.com
*John Clifford's writing is also appearing in the Edinburgh International Festival, he is the translator of Spanish playwright Fernando de Rojas' Celestina (first performed in 1499) starring Kathryn Hunter and directed by Calixto Bieito on till 24 August at various times.
   

Love, Marilyn. (Page 167).
Drams  full glassfull glassfull glass.
Venue    1/4 rm rm @ Greenside (Venue 231).
Address 1b Royal Terrace.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin.

Marilyn Monroe died aged just 36 in 1962; "probably suicide" was the verdict. Since then her iconic image as a beautiful blonde Hollywood goddess has remained intact. Valerie Goodwin's play aims to tell Marilyn's tragic story of life and death as seen through her friends, film directors, lovers, husbands and personal staff. It's a huge cast list and therefore the ideal vehicle for around twenty aspiring young actors of Beaminster School, Dorset.

The story is told in retrospect with Whitey, her make up artist (a fine performance by Sean Clothier a James Dean lookalike) and Sam, her photographer, discussing the speculation surrounding her death. Selected episodes in her life are dramatised - from 15 year old Marilyn meeting Jim, her first husband to problems on the film set when she was frequently late or indisposed. There is a germ of a strong show here but unfortunately it is so overburdened with [often] unidentifiable characters and endless scenes that the real star of the show is crowded out. Goodwin - who also directs - has done her research meticulously, so much so this is virtually a dramatised biography. Overwritten, overlong and too ambitious for this young cast it suffers from some poor acting and gabbled speech.

After one and a half hours we reach the heart of the play when Marilyn   (perceptively played by Carol Fry) is sitting alone at home on that last fateful night. Surrounded by vodka bottles and pills, she phones doctors for more pills and friends for comfort. This is a touching and moving scene and beautifully illustrates her tortured personality, "a perpetual child" who just wants to be loved. As a one-woman show with just Marilyn on stage, her tape recordings, telephone, drink and drugs - now that could be a powerful self portrait.
©Vivien Devlin 22 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 30 August at 1.30pm every day.
Company - Taste Productions.
Company Website www.tasteproductions.co.uk
   

The Lunatic, the Secret Sportsman, and the Women Next Door.(Page 167)
Drams full glass One tiny wee measure, but do go.
Venue Hill Street Theatre Studio (Venue 41).
Address 19 Hill Street.
Reviewer Max Blinkhorn.

For the uninitiated, the principle of Absurdist Theatre is (some say) that it strips away the story line and exposes the inner workings of humanity for us to gawp at, laugh at or both. To work, the play and performing company must possess energy and genuinely want the whole to work. Blue Hug's production of this piece works very well and the young company members ooze enthusiasm and professionalism. The first production of this play by Stanley Eveling was in 1968 at The Traverse in Edinburgh but the structure and tone of "The Lunatic…" have not dated at all. The four characters are relevant in 2004 although in the sixties, the very mild transvestism and boylove may have caused some consternation.

All the dysfunction of the world is distilled down into the four characters portrayed. The complex interplay between them and the longer solo scenes are well carried by the cast and each member plays their part in proportion. Ben Hadley's Lunatic is wide eyed and frothy mouthed; he does not play a ludicrous characiture of a mad person but instead is clever and sinister. Some scenes in the script are notable for their violence but here, too, all is in proportion, the cast having "deliberately avoided gimmicks".

The humour of the play is regarded as one of its strong points and the cast manage to retain this executing the comic timing very well, much to the audience's delight. Elsie, played by Esme Harwood, is a delight and Johnny Lloyd's Harry is tense, his odious concealment of his "personal sexual preferences" is for me, the point around which "The Lunatic…" revolves. Laura Stewart as Doris/Billie, is by turns provocative and vulnerable, sharp yet innocent - the play is very much an education for her.

As with many productions at the early days of the Festival, low audience numbers do not make for a good atmosphere. However, I suspect (and hope) that a few days down the line and this production will be paying it's way. I give it one dram simply because it's not perfect but it is a good piece worthy of full houses of drama fans. Do go.
© Max Blinkhorn 7th August 2004. Published on Edinburghguide.com
Runs 6-30 August (not Wed. 18th) 15:25 (£8.00/6.00)
Company: Blue Hug.


(L) 15 out of 226
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