|(M) 12 out of 226
None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
The Macbeth Conspiracy.
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
© 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.
Macbeth - Theatre Babel Co.
Lady Macbeth -
© 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
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
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).
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.
Memory of Water.
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.
Men. Page 169).
Venue pleasance Dome. (Venue 23).
Address 1 Bristo Square.
Reviewer Georgina Merry.
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
Runs to August 29 at 16:05, not 17, 30.
Company mindrocket projects ltd.
The Merry Monks of Cambusdonald (Page 169)
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
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).
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
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
- 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
in an experiment that some would argue, should be left to scientists.
You should try watching it!
But before writing off the play as an absolute waste of time, consider its
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,
an outsider, and ends up 'commemorating' his loss. So there's a starting
and final destination, but the bits in between are random and jumbled.
theatre of the absurd is meant to provoke thought with laughter. 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
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
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).
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
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).
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
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