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(M) 12 out of 226
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Rating Guide
None = Unmissable

= Unwatchable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme



The Macbeth Conspiracy. (Page 167)
Drams full glassfull glassfull glassfull glass.
Venue Greyfriars Kirk House.(Venue 28)
Address 86 Candlemaker Row..
Reviewer Eleanor Fazan.

A really boring reinterpretation of a Shakespearean classic, rendered virtually incomprehensible without the press blurb I was given.  If a show needs three pages of notes to explain what's happening, especially a play as well known as Macbeth, it really shouldn't be on stage.The ideas being this adaptation are interesting and valid.  The play is alleged to be about conspiracy and truth, and the truth in history.  'We are misguided to believe that the truth is out there.  Whose truth? And how do we find it out?'  The also blurb refers to the death of Princess Diana and Watergate yet unfortunately this doesn't really come out in the production itself.

The witches are entirely replaced by a mysterious character called W, therefore removing one of the central components of the original text.  With the witches goes much of the colour of the play and its intrigue.  W is a man and Lady Macbeth's role is also diminished to almost nothing, leaving us with a play without a centre, without a driving force.We must ask as an audience what removing the role of women does to a play so interestingly centered around them. Just like taking away the central part of anything, the play falls apart and doesn't really work right.

Over all the pace just wasn't fast enough and despite good visuals it wasn't really that interesting to look at.  MacDuff was good though and well done to all the actors for continuing without flinching despite a car alarm going off out side throughout.   
© Eleanor Fazan, 11th August 2004, published on the EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs until the 15th August, 2004 at 18.15.
The Challoner Theatre Company.

   

Macbeth. The Theatre Babel Production (Page 167)

Drams
None, this has all the kick I need.
Venue Scotland's Theatre Gateway (Venue 7)
Address Elm Row.
Reviewer Thelma Good.

Come thick night and pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell - Rebecca 
Rodgers (Lady Macbeth) steels herself for murder  in theatre babel's production at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Macbeth - Theatre Babel Co.
Lady Macbeth - Rebecca Rodger.
© Douglas McBride 2004.

It opens dramatically, as swords rise up from the stage. The guy near me said with relish "Cool", it was his first Shakespeare - I'm pretty sure he'll be addicted after see this. Graham McLaren's Macbeth designed and directed by him has John Kazek, (awarded the inaugural Best Male Performance Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland 2003) as the man who believes the weird sisters. His are like ethereal spirits, young girls wearing red, their voice coming from somewhere else and lit by the skilful Kai Fischer so they seem to be in mist. Kazek contains within his textured performance, a being whose basic honesty is rent asunder by one act, not the first murder but in letting himself make things happen. As we watch we see Macbeth's soul fill up with the chill of his irrevocable course, a warrior he knows once he has committed the first blow towards his destiny he is caught in its battle-like momentum. At times he becomes something quite else than a man.

The steel of his wife is realised in Rebecca Rodger's performance. Her way is different from Macbeth, indeed that's one of the reasons why we return to this play again and again. The contrasts in reaction between the two creates considerable tension as they try to hold together, it's clear theirs had been a good union. But it's not just the central parts that work so well in this version of Shakespeare's Scottish play, set in the country where Theatre Babel makes striking dramas.

McLaren's production stands out, not least in the fully realised characters elsewhere. Sandy Neilson's Duncan is clearly a well loved and wise king, when he is murdered we feel his parting and the dangers it brings. Trusting in her husband and in the world , not realising the danger Isabella Jarrett shines with Lady MacDuff's pure spirit, her violent end is profoundly disturbing. Almost always on stage is Malcolm Shield's Seyton, watching, sometimes participating, becoming suggestive that his corporeal being has been invaded by the Dark One. And all the rest of the company, Ian Greive, Stuart Porter and Peter Collins bring out the varied qualities making this a play about not just a court but a nation in trouble.

There is a menacing boom in composer Anthea Haddow's soundscape which resonates with the intensity of the production. And visually the costumes of the characters underline their natures, with the Macbeth couples' changing as their states of mind alter. There are stunning visual moments - Lady Macbeth appears in her vast black silk dressing gown, its long train with a red snaking undertrain, the forest of Birnam, the stalking almost silent Seyton - images to fix in your inner picture gallery of theatre clear and true.

This production and the other two at Scotland's Theatre Gateway, Catherine Wheels' Martha and Theatre Cryptic's Each ...And Every Inch, also reviewed and given no drams by us, confirm the breadth and range of Scottish Theatre Companies playing not only on our nation's stages but on the International ones as well. Our newly formed Scottish National Theatre, with its comissioning and non-building based structure, and Vicky Featherstone (presently Artistic Director of Paines Plough, England) as its first Director, must be rejoicing that this showcase venture has raised an early curtain on the variety and quality to come.
Theatre Babel's Macbeth can also be seen in later in the year in Glasgow in September and in Warwick, and will tour internationally in Autumn 2005.
© Thelma Good August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 29 at 20:00 not 11, 18 or 25.
Company – Theatre Babel.
Company Website www.theatrebabel.co.uk
   

Manchester Girl. (Page 168).

Drams
None Needed.
Venue The Underbelly (Venue 61).
Address Cowgate / Victoria Street.
Reviewer Ritchie Smith.

I have just been blown away by this show. I am so full of wild enthusiasm I want to go out into Cowgate, round up a vast audience at gunpoint, and make them give this show the prolonged standing ovation it deserves. It is that good.

The 'Manchester Girl' is its writer-performer, Sue Turner-Cray, who escaped dismal punk-era England to become a model, and in Osaka and Tokyo in the Eighties became one. Her story has seriousness and humour and is wonderfully told. Every character, every differing accent, is evoked with entire conviction and lived out in front of us. In her faultless - and I mean that - full-on eighty minutes, whether on the trapeze, or singing or dancing, or mimicking the myriad colourful characters she meets, there's no misstep and not a single false note. Every vivid detail of this show is right. Sue Turner-Cray has made her world, her story, real for us. And you know you're in the presence of truth as well as great entertainment.

Go to this show!
©Ritchie Smith 13 August 2004 - Published on www.EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29th August (not 16th or 23rd) at 19:25
Company Why not eh Productions.

   

The Medal. (Page 168).
Drams full glass.
Venue Hill Street Theatre Studio (Venue 41).
Address 19 Hill Street (parallel with George Street).
Reviewer Max Blinkhorn.

In a bleak No Mans land, two women, both survivors of some horrendous, wasting war, happen on each other. Each takes a general and instant dislike to the other, suspicion colouring their initial perceptions of each other. It emerges that each has something the other needs. One has the immediate and direct necessity of sustenance but as events unfold, the other appears to have something of value other than food – a medal. The medal of course is a metaphor for something else but as the play develops, the value of both become apparent.

Dressed in elaborate, peculiarly beautiful costumes, and equipped with very plausible props, our two protagonists, Bellicose and Squash played by Ann Courtney and Aracelie Chi-Chi Paris, bicker over their meagre possessions while the war crashes on somewhere nearby. As an exploration of war and values The Medal; is an enjoyable piece and our two heroines are portrayed energetically and character – you may recognise them. The overall idea of the piece – war showing people what really matters is not new however and I don’t think this play brings anything particularly new to the drama table. It is however, very well written and executed and in the meagre setting of the Hill Street Studio, a strong atmosphere is created. Credit is due to the whole company and the obvious talents of Anne and Aracelie. The Medal is a bit of serious fun reminding us of the important things in life and the futility of war. I enjoyed it and Mad Dogs and Englishmen will be rightly pleased with their production.
© Max Blinkhorn 7 August 2004. Published on Edinburghguide.com
Runs 9 -17 August 17:00.
Company: Mad Dogs & Englishmen Theatre Company.
Website: www.mad-dogs.org.uk

   

Memory of Water. (Page 168).
Dramsfull glass.
VenueSweet on the Royal Mile, Radisson SAS Hotel (Venue 81).
Address 80 High Street.
Reviewer Ellie Fazan.

This is one of those rare performances that will set you thinking about issues beyond the performance, while making you cry at the very real content. Three very different sisters reunite for the funeral of their mother in the house of their childhood. This homecoming overturns stones releasing the whisper of stories that have been lost, forgotten. Their stories do not make a whole 'Your memories aren't the same as mine'.

This play deals with the sadness of loss, the difficulties of coming to terms with death (and what is lost with it). The sisters move from sadness to hysteria, yet the play, while tear jerking, does not fall into glum depths with help from a really witty script and great delivery from the sarky Mary, Alice Jones, and whimsical Teresa, Hils Morgan. The stage is set perfectly with the portrait of the girls' mother Vi dominating the stage (reminiscent of the portrait of General Gabler that looks down over the stage in productions of Ibsen's Hedda Gabler), reminding us that in this case, whatever the girls' may think, they are their mothers daughter.

Memory of Water is a particularly touching presentation of loss heightened because it also deals with birth, and the birth of ideas. The concept that penetrates this play, and leaves a lasting impression is the idea that memories can flow like water. Based on theoretical arguments that water itself has memory, and that humans are made from water it explores how we obtain memories and how we hold them. How are they passed on? Through story telling, parents, siblings? Through blood? Can they be passed on between generations through something stronger than words? Can we hold an essential part of our parents, in something other than our genes? Is there a communal memory? This leaves us with a more positive approach to death, in which death is really not the end, as Vi's captivating voice reminds us.

While this play is strongly bound by this concept, it is also a vivid and touching portrayal of death and what death means. All credit to the company for incorporating the ideas behind the production in not only the programme but the play itself and providing a colourful and energetic cast to carry the play along at a good, but not irreverent pace.
©EllieFazan, 24th August 2004, published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 29th August daily at 21.45.
Company @Theatre.

   

Men. Page 169).

Drams None.
Venue pleasance Dome. (Venue 23).
Address 1 Bristo Square.
Reviewer Georgina Merry.

Three young sexy but dysfunctional men!
Men
© Kevin Wilson 2004.
Wow! If you are searching for new theatre that dares to be original, Men is the one for you. With a star-studded cast, an inventive set and imaginative direction, this non-stop rollercoaster ride will have you hooked from the word go.

There’s Guy, the troubled, sensitive philosopher. There’s Jools, “the leopard”. And of course, there’s Crazy Bob who’s as macho as he is juvenile. All three are young, sexy and dysfunctional. They are lost in their own, confused minds at the same time as being locked together in a vacancy. The countdown has begun, but are they going to be able to hold it together and go “out there”?

This play is without a doubt one of the best original shows you will see this festival. There’s never a dull moment – it’s fast-paced, pulse-raising theatre. About time! ©Georgina August 12 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 29 at 16:05, not 17, 30.
Company mindrocket projects ltd.

   

The Merry Monks of Cambusdonald (Page 169)
Drams full glass .
Venue St Peters(Venue no 17)
Address Lutton Place.
Reviewer Neil Ingram.


Edinburgh Peoples Theatre, now in their 61st year, have turned to a classic farce for this year's Fringe production. James Scotland’s Merry Monks of Cambusdonald may be set in the 15th Century, but the friars are readily recognisable in today’s Scotland - canny chiels, daein’ their best tae avoid work and the boss’s attention. And this production is full of life and humour, it’s a sort of Carry on up your Cloisters with lots of hilarious jokes and frenetic action.

The scene is Brother Barnabas’s cell, where he goes about the daily routine of his observances, which include the role of being the Abbey’s herbalist. But he also has an interest in other darker uses of his airts, and these lead to endless complications, mainly because he isn’t very good at them.

Having inadvertently summoned up Helen of Troy, a very substantial “ veesion” who has fortunately appeared dressed this time, Benedict and his fellow friars now have to contend with the arrival of a new reforming Abbot and a visit from a Papal Legate. Fortunately, they discover that the man from Rome has come to check up on the “veesions” of the Abbot, so the monks just carry on as usual, though usual for them seems to mean having ever more “veesions” running aboot your monastic cell.

There is of course a happy ending, but the route there is complex and endlessly entertaining. This is a fine ensemble piece, played much of the time at breakneck pace and with great style.
© Neil Ingram 11 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 28 at 19.45, not 15,16,22,23.
Company – Edinburgh Peoples Theatre

   

Miss Julie. (Page 170).
Drams full glassfull glass.
Venue The Garage (Venue 81)
Address Grindlay Street Court.
Reviewer Ritchie Smith

The Garage is a real 'spirit of the Fringe' venue, and well worth support. Bubbly Youth Theatre are actually teenagers, making a brave and testing choice in "Miss Julie".

To begin with, the inexperience does show, as the cast stand far apart and declaim their lines to the audience, rather than react intensely to each other. There is also a worrying monotony of pace. However, choosing a great play does bring benefits, and soon the cast begin to spark. What begins as a teenage spat eventually takes on the dark and deep notes appropriate to Strindberg. Reeda Ouzerdine, in the complex role of Jean, is ultimately convincing, and Sophie Brittain as Miss Julie achieves an appropriate histrionic quality.

What I finally took from this production was a reminder about the greatness of the play, but all credit to the game young cast for taking on such a masterpiece.
© Ritchie Smith, 13 August 2004 - Published on www.EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 14 August at 11:00
Company Bubbly Youth Theatre

   

Moan Moan Moan (Page 170).

Drams full glassfull glassfull glass - the more the merrier!
Venue C Central (Venue 54)
Address Carlton Hotel, North Bridge.
Reviewer Marisa de Andrade.

Crack Horse's Moan Moan Moan draws moans and groans from its audience with a smile on its face. "The whole world is watching us. We must be nothing less than fabulous," is its mantra. And they desperately try to live up to it as they immerse themselves in an experiment that some would argue, should be left to scientists. Confused? You should try watching it!

But before writing off the play as an absolute waste of time, consider its genre - theatre of the absurd. It's not meant to look like conventional theatre, and no one can dispute that this is not the case in Moan Moan Moan. Actors donned in psychedelic outfits utter insanities on stage. It's meant to have no start, no middle and no end. Moan Moan Moan however comes equipped with a synopsis explaining how an unhappy English village commemorates a lost loved-one, encounters an outsider, and ends up 'commemorating' his loss. So there's a starting point and final destination, but the bits in between are random and jumbled. And then theatre of the absurd is meant to provoke thought with laughter. Moan Moan Moan evokes chuckling from its frantic antics and leaves its audience gnawing on its food for thought. Somewhere between the ridiculous lyrics and scattered physicalities, is political message. And perhaps one of cultural isolation. But trying to find it amidst mountains of useless activities, proves near impossible.

Its a brave and bold attempt by a company that boasts Moan Moan Moan as its first professional project. The company is clearly teething - deliveries tend to be undersized in the larger than life context. Still, it comes with a freshness that is sure to turn a few heads.
© Marisa de Andrade 19 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs August 8-29 not 17, at 18.20.
Company Crack Horse.


   

Mon Mon. (Page 170).

 Drams None needed – entertaining theatre at its most absurd .
Venue The Garage (Venue 81).
Address Grindlay Street Court.
Reviewer Sophie Lloyd.

The Limaghe bring new meaning to the term ‘theatre of the absurd’ in their production Mon Mon . Involving a number pink stools, face paint, red napkins and chocolate, it is a hilarious experiment with theatrical representations, which challenges the boundaries of contemporary theatre.

Interpret scenes, words and images as you will – anything is possible with this visual spectacle. The actors express themselves through dance, mime, gesture and a series of bizarre sounds and Beckett-style nonsense statements. Dressed in brightly coloured costumes with painted faces and crazy hair, the cast resemble mechanical dolls – each with an individual facial expression. They stride on and off stage to a range of musical beats, rhythms and whistling tapping their feet, sucking lollies or carrying trays. The only element that remotely recalls reality is the task of having dinner, which is re-enacted on stage complimented with a series of distorted images projected onto a screen of a person eating.

The company succeed in entertaining the audience from start to finish. Don’t expect a plot or any conventional form of narrative, it is simply a celebration of all elements of theatre. What they give is a clever and innovative demonstration of all forms of representation.
©Sophie Lloyd 25 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
 Runs to 30 August daily at 18.15.
 Company – The Limaghe.

   

Mongoose. (Not in Fringe Programme).
Drams full glassfull glass .
Venue Assembly Rooms. (Venue No 3)
Address 54 George St.
Reviewer Kim Oliver

This is no urban 'dark fairytale' of child abuse and addiction predicably relying on shock value and 'in your face' tactics. It is set on a remote farm, in the wireless era, with casual but regular references to grief, alcohol and vermin locating the emotional terrain.

This does much to reveal the more common experience of abuse whereby daily moderate doses are cumulatively lethal, sending the victim slowly mad.

However, there is a survivor in Harness' creation - Ted - who regales the audience with anecdotes about the antics of his pet mongoose. These colourful stories progress from the innocent to the sinister as events unfold. Each psychological twist and turn uses boxes containing the remnants of Ted's childhood to illuminate its dark corners.

Harness' script is dry and subtle, occasionally erupting in black humour. The timing of his one liners is perfect. Richard Bremer as Ted, delivers them with a native wit which is as bleak as the weather which batters the old farmhouse itself.

Bremer's performance reeks of energy and originality as he simultaneously conveys the grizzled old man and the young child.

This play will leave you thinking, and attempting to work out the characters long after you leave the theatre. A courageous and novel exploration of child abuse which never addresses its subject head on... ©Kim Oliver 22 August 2003 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 30 at 11.50 every day
Company then put Company's name.

   

More Light. (Page 170).
Drams full glass.
Venue Greyfriars Kirk House (Venue 28).
Address 86 Candlemaker Row.
Reviewer Sophie Lloyd.

A visual production that appeals to the senses. More Light is an aesthetically pleasing spectacle, which explores questions of female identity in an ancient world of origami, 12 Chinese concubines and their dying emperor.

Dressed in elegant white costumes, the emperor’s ladies process on stage prim, proper and painted carrying lanterns and modestly concealing their faces with fans. Central to the stage is the emperor’s tomb covered in a deep red sheet – a striking contrast to the pure virginal figures that surround it. Locked in their master’s tomb, the girls embark on a spiritual voyage of self-discovery in anticipation of the eventual ‘light’. They explore their beings physically and mentally learning to take control of their own actions and words. Stripped down to their under garments, they rush around like excited school girls defining their roles in a masculine dominated world and expressing themselves through art. The whole piece is symbolic of the construction of an independent female voice and identity. They literally and metaphorically devour the masculine world chopping up male bodies and consuming them.

Room 37 are an all female cast who embrace their femininity in this sensual and provocative play. It's an enjoyable and atmospheric piece of theatre.
©Sophie Lloyd 25 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 30 August daily at 13.35.
Company – Room 37.


(M) 12 out of 226
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