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None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
The Odd Sock Rock. (Page 172).
Venue Quaker Meeting House. (Venue 40).
Address 7 Victoria Terrace.
Reviewer Marisa de Andrade.
Tick-tock-tick-tock...something about a blessed clock, is only one of the predictable rhymes randomly repeated in The Odd Sock Rock. It's uttered by a laundry lady who runs a fantastical launderette in the fifties. Her ten year old daughter, Emma, sits about sorting socks, alone and in need of love. So she dreams it up. Only the imaginary world she creates is an even more sordid world of life-sized, expressionless, masked puppets and socks that speak in verse. Emma might have been better off without it. At least the world in which she exists is pleasantly represented by an imaginative set of cardboard detergent boxes and cleverly constructed washing machines. They carry the explicitly calculated dialogue until darkness and fluorescent hand puppets take over.
The puppets are intriguing at first. The lovely Emma, who has her script all sussed out, never misses a cue. She comes across delightful as ever and could sparkle with better direction. But, her lovely moments are masked upstage behind an intrusive set and excessive musical interludes. Over an hour in 'Odd Sock Land' proves to be more than a little painful and not particularly magical. Somehow, Emma still manages to 'find herself'. The characters celebrate by miming into hand mops and bopping about on stage. By this point they're more than annoying figments having stated the obvious in sing-songy verses.
© Marisa de Andrade 24 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs Aug 23-28 at 16.25.
Insight Theatre and In The Wings Productions.
On Love and Lies. (page 173)
Drams - oh give me the bottle
Venue C Venue (Venue No 34)
Address Adam House, Chambers Street.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin.
This world premiere of a “thrilling new play” is performed by Minus One Theatre company. Their rather unfortunate name only implies the score they should receive for this poorly conceived, loosely directed and appallingly acted piece. This is the ultimate scenario where four characters are desperately in search of an author. The audience is given no programme or information on the playwright, actors, characters or plot.
So what is it all about? Well, the setting focuses on an immigrant family in London, their friends and relationships, problems about work and money, while comparing the parents’ traditional values and feelings of identity with those of the younger generation. The cast of four (a Kurdish man, an Italian man, an Englishman and a Cypriot girl), play a medley of characters, both young and old - Acting lesson number one, How to play an elderly woman: wrap shawl over head, hunch shoulders and hobble with walking stick.
Result? Incomprehensible storyline, amateur acting played on one level with no sense of emotion or drama at all. At one point the girl moans “ I am bored”. No wonder.
©Vivien Devlin, 4 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 30 August at 9.20pm every day
Company -Minus One.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. (Page 143).
Drams no drams.
Venue Assembly Rooms (Venue 3).
Address 54 George Street.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin.
Ken Kesey’s novel One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” was published in 1962 to immediate popular and critical acclaim. As a grim political satire, it explores themes of individuality and rebellion against conformity, ideas that were widely discussed at the time when the US was committed to opposing communism and totalitarian regimes. The 1975 film adaptation with Jack Nicholson won five Oscars and became a cult movie. Less familiar is the original play, a Broadway hit in the early 1960s starring Kirk Douglas. Forty years on it’s a wise and timely move to revive this stage version.
Hollywood actor Christian Slater plays the wild, fun-loving radical, Randle McMurphy who has been jailed for sexual relations with a minor. To avoid prison work he feigns madness and sent to a mental asylum where his fellow patients are sad, over-sedated and institutionalised. He plans to inject colour, life and laughter into their grey world of strict rules and regulations. In charge is Nurse Ratched, Frances Barber, an unflappably cool and immaculate airhostess figure, all flicked hair and lipstick, who cares for her “boys” with a possessive motherly love. As McMurphy introduces gambling, indoor basketball, democratic voting rights and glamorous visitors to the ward, a vicious duel of words begins. Each plays their own psychological game to outwit the other as Ratched’s demeanour soon begins to crack to reveal a cruel, sadistic streak. Needle-sharp and in control to the end, Barber gives the performance of her career.
The minimalist set and authentic costume design features a grey-painted day room with nursing station and swing doors, authentic hospital pyjamas and period clothes. Slater’s McMurphy comes over as a cheeky, law-breaking rebel, inspired perhaps by Kesey’s true-life drug-induced Merry Pranksters. An ensemble of comic actors and comedians play the inmates and staff with meticulous detail to physical mannerism and character. Chalk white, skinny, wide-eyed McKenzie Crook is utterly convincing as poor stuttering, terrified Billy, Owen O'Neill is the hilariously timid ward spokesman Mr Harding while Lucy Porter plays Nurse Flinn as a wee cow’rin tim’rous mouse.
Finely directed with a perfect sense of pace and tension, the dramatic thrust of this very intimate play moves from moments of manic energy to such heartbreaking pathos it makes you weep. Once again 5 Oscars - this a masterpiece.
©Vivien Devlin, 18 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 30 August at 1.45pm every day.
Company –Guy Masterson and Nica Burns for Theatreshare.
Note - The run at the Assembly Rooms has sold out (returns only) but the production opens at the Gielgud Theatre, London on 3 September, 2004.