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(P) 15 out of 226
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Page number refers to the Fringe programme

Pheadra's Love. (Page 174).
Drams full glassfull glassfull glassfull glass .
Venue The Underbelly (Venue 61).
Address The Cowgate.
Reviewer Alex Eades.

A couple of years back, I saw a production of Sarah Kane's Blasted, which has remained with me to this very day. Not because it was especially good or that it shocked in any way, but because it brought to my attention how incredibly difficult it is to transfer the power of her work onto stage credibly. Two years on, I came to her least performed play, Pheadra's Love, in search of that long overdue punch that, on the page, Kane’s voice so effectively delivers. Sadly, I came out unscathed.

The cast are, all in all, impressive. Ben Lambert is especially good as Hippolytus,  easily dropping the temperature with his ice cold stare and effortlessly delivers his lines in the same vain. Even then, however, he does not seem ugly enough. A slim and handsome actor does not seem to fit in this vile world. Lambert is appallingly miscast, but puts across the impression that he could quite easily be Hippolytus's unidentical twin.The only performance that really spoils the trend is Steph Potschke as Pheadra, whose overacting sometimes comes across as belonging in a pantomime and completely out of place on this stage.

The scenes of violence are all done as well as can be expected and I think that here is where a significant problem is apparent. The violence is not believable or, therefore, powerful. The play is a violent play and in performance it should be approached in one of two ways - extreme violence, or no violence. The violence is, whether people like it or not, a key factor in the work. They are made in that way, yet it seems to be only glanced at. Therefore, all we get is another half boiled production that should never have seen the light of day.

Is it a problem with the play itself? Does it belong on screen rather than stage? Or does the theatre need to take a deep breath and take its weary head from under the blanket? I think the later. If you're going to do Sarah Kane, do it properly. Otherwise, stick to Shakespeare
©Alex Eades 12 August - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 29th August - 21:00.
Company Fail Better.


Photo Story ( Page 174).

Drams No drams at all. Please go see.
Venue Roman Eagle Lodge.
Address 2 Johnston Terrace.
Reviewer Ellie Fazan.

A darkly intriguing tale of voyeurism and fantasy. Theatre group Frankie weave word and image together to explore the power of the photograph in the world of the all consuming image. Yet this a sensitive tale of love and self deception, delicately told, raising many more questions than it answers. Its premise is that the photographer decides what moments will be forgotten and what moments will be treasured forever. Thus he or she creates a world of fantasy.

Both Rosie and her mother are photographers of sorts, and it becomes apparent that both live in a photographic world of make believe. Zena Birch brilliantly interprets both roles playing on the parallels between them. Her acting, superb in its own right, is aided by stunning visuals by scenographer Tzina Sotiropoulou that are aesthetically edible. The story itself is truly multimedia – mime, music, sound, photographs, shadow entwined to create effects that give you goose bumps. Rippling water reflects over the stage from the projector. Butterflies delicately flutter. Watch out for how the suggestion of traffic is created, and for the subtlety of the suggestion that the jacket comes to life.

A press release explains that in preparation for the show each member of Frankie had to follow an unsuspecting Londoner around for the day recording their details and photographing their every move. This effort shows throughout the play, and Rosie's world becomes dangerously real to us and she is thrown into a world of shifting landscapes shown through photographs. The technique is simple yet deliciously appealing.

This is a magical experience that plays on the voyeurism of theater going. It will make you shiver.
© Ellie Fazan, 10th August 2004, published on Edinburghuide.com.
Runs until 22nd August at 3.15pm.
Company – Frankie.


The Picture of Dorian Gray. (Page 174).
Drams full glass.
Venue Greyfriars Kirk House. (Venue 28).
Address 86 Candlemaker Row.
Reviewer Georgina Merry.

An intriguing and original approach to Oscar Wilde’s dark tale of beauty over morality. Dorian Gray is beautiful. He knows for he is told by all those around him. When an associate paints his picture he realises that his portrait will mock him in his old age by reminding him of how handsome he once was. His vanity overwhelms him to the point when he offers his soul in order to remain beautiful for ever… at a great cost. Fans of Wilde will be pleased with this short adaptation. The young actors display a great understanding of the story and it’s more hidden elements.

The use of picture frames in this stylish and smooth production is very clever. The narrators speak through them, spin them around and move them across the stage. It gives the impression of being in a sinister art gallery where the paintings move and talk. In the centre, stands Dorian, Samuel Sedgeman, looking every bit the gracious, and attractive young materialist of Wilde’s story. Combined with atmospheric music and eerie lighting effects, this play works well as a fringe piece, for it is simplistic, and as such it is very effective.

I am sure that Oscar Wilde would have enjoyed watching such a physical interpretation of one of his novels. You can be certain that Ironduke are a company to watch out for in the future.
©Georgina August 20 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 22 at 13:20.
Company Ironduke.


Pieces of Eight. (page 175).

Drams None - but perhaps an orange juice to get you in the mood.
Venue George Square Theatre (Venue 37).
Address George Square.
Reviewer Sarah Jane Murray.

The glory days of Hollywood brought us showbiz in spades. But in this age of special effects, showbiz is something that can be conjured at the touch of a button. Thank goodness then for Sossy Mechanics, who do showbiz old-style. And there is no room for special effects here, not when you've got two charismatic performers who could dance the taps off Fred and Ginger. Brian Sostek and Megan McClellan return for their second Fringe outing, hoping to repeat the successes of last year's Critics' Pick Trick Boxing. And if there is any justice, they will be duly awarded again.

All this talk of showbiz and charisma is all very well, but a good show also needs a good story. Luckily Pieces of Eight delivers. A dual narrative sees 1940s screenwriter Norman Goldwyn pitching his new movie script to the Bitterman Brothers. We play audience to Goldwyn's pitch, and watch as he and the Bittermans' secretary enact his script - a swashbuckling tale of dancing pirates, Latin dancing and oranges. It is a charming and mischievous story, and one brought completely to life by the frothy yet suave performances.

The bare stage is transformed without props - at intervals, it becomes a Hollywood studio, a noble ship and a Spanish orange grove, all thanks to the accomplished performances. Combining delightful dance numbers, precise timing and brilliant wit, the Sossy Mechanics are almost flawless. No one need reminisce about the glory days - glamour is truly alive and kicking.
©Sarah Jane Murray 8 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 22 August, at 14.30.
Company - Sossy Mechanics in association with Fringe Management.
Company Website www.sossymechanics.com

Playing. (Page 175).
Drams full glass.
Venue ClubWEST @ Drummond Community High School. (Venue 212.).
Address Bellevue Place.
Reviewer Marisa de Andrade.

It't the all too familiar ridiculously dull relationship scenario - take-out, telly, time-out. Until Richard, Nathan Naylor, and Lorraine, Elizabeth Bower, decide to discover themselves as they've never done before. On their knees, in role-playing fantasies and with the help of other sexual, um, implements.

The action takes a while to kick off as the couple painstakingly build up the boredom levels between them. After fifteen minutes, we finally get a glimpse of the kind of writing that's gotten Jodi Miller so much attention in the past. As if on cue, the couple's experiments spark up the catalyst in the play. And from there, it's playing to the climax. Encouraging characters innocently explore the milder side of S&M, becoming more complex with every scenario. It becomes pacy and racy all at once until the situation escalades to dark and twisted proportions.

Playing is a work in progress handled by a competent company. A bit of nip and tucking here and there and perhaps a less realistic approach to the provocative content, could do the compelling piece more justice. But for the minute, it's a thought-provoking show, seperating the mundane from the mischevious and gracefully maturing couples from those who want to play.
© Marisa de Andrade 14 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs Aug 8-28 at 16.15.
Company Swift Kick Productions.

Poochwater (Page 176).
Drams full glassfull glass.
Venue George Square Theatre (Venue 37).
Address George Square.
Reviewer Emma Slawinski.

An empty, dilapidated urban bedsit, 1950’s America. The door creaks open and in walks a dapper young man with a jolly gait. Out on a good Samaritan’s errand of returning a lost wallet, the kind gesture quickly goes awry as our protagonist makes himself a little too comfortable in the stranger’s room, and his charming and jocular monologue begins to hint worryingly at a personality disorder. The situation is further complicated when he is joined by the supposed resident of the flat, who makes a citizen’s arrest.

Poochwater attempts to highlight the (perceived) triumphs and (actual) anxieties of postwar America. A consumer generation that has faith in science and progress, but despite these anchors has problems with its own identity. There's Man One’s constant reinvention of himself, which may be symptomatic of a nation busy whitewashing the past on a daily basis. World War Two, we are informed, was simply “a dirty job that needed getting done”, and this was achieved “saying please and thankyou”.

Mike McPhaden’s original script is witty, quick-firing and sparkles with comic ingenuity, and this is luckily matched by the actors. Thomas Arnold as Man One achieves some razor-sharp delivery in his solo entrance, and the spark between he and Dylan Smith is definitely there – their timing was really excellent. On the downside, the script struggles with the more serious issues under investigation, and the passages attempting to probe the American psyche are just scratching the surface. On the whole, though, this is an atmospheric performance, carried off in style by two very canny actors.
©Emma Slawinski 10 August 2004 – Published on Edinburghguide.com
Runs until 30 August at 4pm
Company Wise Donkey Productions
Company Website www.wisedonkey.com


Poor Malice. (Page 176).
Drams full glassfull glass .
Venue Pleasance Dome. (Venue 23)
Address 1 Bristo Square..
Reviewer Ellie Fazan.
'Look to the lady; look to the lady'.
This creative adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth examines obsession, desire, passion.  Lady Macbeth is the key - it centers around her sensuality and explores how sexual desire and power are linked. The use of the witches who are Lady Macbeth's own demons, both within  her and outside of her, is innovative and excellent.  They become all the voices in this deceptive world - the voices that are both internal and the voices that play externally.  Their movement heightens the feeling of creeping sexual desire (although one of the witches is much better than the rest so look out for her)   
One criticism of the playis that it does not really question the traditional Salome-esque portrayal of women as seducer and seductress and predictably equates female sexuality with a dangerous desire for power.  But why not desire power?
This story is told through a combination of movement, sound, image, and word working effectively together.  The imposing video image and surround sound adds to the haunting atmosphere of guilt and desire and the lighting and costume perfectly set the visual focus of this tale of greed and guilt, power and destruction, grown from sexual desire.
© Ellie Fazan 8th August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 29th August, at 11.30 am.
Company – Kudos.


Popcorn. (Page 176).

Drams None needed.
Venue Greyfriars Kirk House (Venue 28).
Address 86 Candlemaker Row.
Reviewer Alex Eades.

One of the most popular stand up comedians of the 1980’s, Ben Elton later turned to writing novels, many of which have now been adapted for the stage. Popcorn is one of his finest novels and has been adapted into his finest play. This production confirms this with a rollercoster ride of a show that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.

Tim Harcourt is fantastic as the movie director Bruce Delamitri who can come across as being funny and deadly serious at the same time. The stars of the show, however, are Stuart Rouse and Michelle Wormleighton as serial killers Wayne and Scout . Perfectly cast, they seem to have jumped straight out of a movie, which in some circumstances could be a bad thing, but under the themes carried by the play this is exactly what is required.  The comedy timing is spot on and the drama is performed with such intensity that the audience begins to sweat.

The show lasts for an hour and a half, but time flies by at such a pace that the show seems to have finished by the time you’ve gotten to your seat. Funny, stylish, shocking and occasionally violent, this show will have you coming out of the theatre with a shiny smile on your face.
©Alex Eades 17 August - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 30th August (excluding 20th, 22nd, 23rd, 25th, 27th and 29th).
Company: Rattlesnake Theatre Company.


Popcorn. (Page 176).

Drams None.
Venue Greyfriars Kirk House. (Venue 28)
Address 86 Candlemaker Row.
Reviewer Marisa de Andrade.

Popcorn isn't one of Ben Elton's most delectably notorious plays for nothing. Racy as they come, this one's a winner with awards to prove it. But in the wrong hands, this provocative piece of brilliant theatre is a downright disaster. Thankfully, this isn't the case for the talented Rattlesnakes.

In a sweltering sweatbox of a theatre, they show just how engaging a thoroughly rehearsed, fast-paced killer of a script can come to life regardless of the setting. On a platform of a stage bearing thrifty furniture instead of the glitzy decor the script calls for, Hollywood stereotypes unfold. Thanks to a cast of young actors destined for great places, film director Bruce Delamitri's, Tim Harcourt's, disaster of an Oscar winning evening is more than believable. As fake blood splatters, injured model (actually, she's an actress) Brooke, Louise Ford, quivers uncontrollably, never once missing her witty one-liners. A pair of geeky cameramen potter on in their matching underwear, raging yet charming mass murderers prance around in bloodstained costumes - it's all a bit over the top, but let's not forget this is Hollywood.

The Southhampton University based company certainly does this glamorous play justice.From 'blowing up people in their backgardens' to doing just that onstage at the fringe in true Hollywood fashion, is an amiable accomplishment. They deserve full houses this year, and a bigger budget next year.
© Marisa de Andrade 22 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs Aug 17, 19, 21, 24, 26, 28, 30 at 16.30.
Company Rattlesnake!


The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. (Page 177).
Drams full glass.
Venue Radisson SAS Hotel. (Venue 39).
Address 80 High Street.
Reviewer Georgina Merry.

Muriel Sparks’ famous character is brought to life once again in J. Pressen Allen’s well-known play. This production does both of them justice. The passionate Miss Brodie is portrayed with all the colour and intelligence for which she is legend. The Brodie set – the girls hand picked by the unconventional teacher – are very well played. They convincingly potray the teenage girls on the brink of womanhood.

The classroom set design works superbly and the changes from scene to scene are fluid. Brodie, as expected, sashays about in her brightly coloured clothes with swooping hand gestures. Although the chemistry between Teddy Lloyd and the female cast members can be dubious at times, it does not stop the play from being a credible piece of theatre.

The only drawback is that there is nothing original about this production. Although well acted, it is as though the cast and director are afraid to give their own input to the show. They apply the same approach that’s been used since Dame Maggie Smith took the stage as the fee-spirited school ma’am. But this aside, it is an entertaining and pleasing show. A perfect way to round off an evening.
©Georgina August 11 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 14 at 20:00.
Company Practical Magic.
Company Website www.practical-magic.org

The Prisoner’s Friend. (Page 177).

Drams full glassfull glassfull glass– quite dull unless you have a keen interest in subject matter.
Venue Hill Street Theatre (Venue 41).
Address 19 Hill Street.
Reviewer Sophie Lloyd.

The Prisoner’s Friend is a new one man play based on the actual execution of Will Stones - guilty of ‘casting away arms in the presence of the enemy’. Merging real events with the fictional, James Farringdon gives an account of his experiences in the First World War and his role in Will Stones’ death.

The monologue focuses on Farringdon’s response to a letter from Stone’s grandson. Seated at his desk, he is attempting to articulate a reply recalling the sequence of events while also disclosing his own sentiments and experiences during the war. John Winter is clearly a talented actor, who maintains a steady, lucid speech, but the script is rather dull and monotonous.
Unless you have a keen interest in the First World War, it’s not worth a visit.
©Sophie Lloyd 16 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
 Runs to 30 August daily at 17.05.
Company – Runningwater Theatre.
Company Website   www.runningwater.org.uk


Private Peaceful. (Page 13).

Drams none.
Venue Assembly Rooms (Venue 3).
Address 54 George Street.
Reviewer Kim Oliver.

This adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's prizewinning children's book about the life of a young soldier shot by the firing squad for cowardice during World War One is an outstanding piece of writing and acting. Simon Reade's adaptation features Paul Chequer as 'Tommo' an utterly convincing young Devonshire farm lad, from his first day at school, through to his time in the trenches and on to his premature death.

Thematically rich yet never cluttered, the plot peels back a thin veneer of 'decency' to reveal the more enduring heroism and power inherent in the bonds of brotherly love. It also unpicks the percieved differences between those of another class or nationality. Ironically it is a German soldier who spares Tommo's life and ultimately it is the British Army who take it, with slavish adherence to suicidal rules and the desire to 'make an example' of the vulnerable.

Morpurgo took his inspiration from his deep anger at discovering the untold history of the 300 British and Commonwealth soldiers who were executed by the British army for desertion and cowardice between 1914 and 1918, many of whom were suffering from shell shock or simply found sleeping at their posts. His research was gleaned from the minutes of court marshalls and letters from the front, imbuing this work with an unsentimental sense of reality which nevertheless hits home with a resounding familiarity.

The enduring message here is one of the pity of war, and it has never been more salient. Many of the young people in the audience will have their sanitised versions of war erased by the raw beauty of Chequer's performance. The script exposes the futility of war by tapping into the uncensored regions of the imagination. That, sadly is something which no amount of 24 hour rolling footage of 'shock and awe' can do.

A superb play which is no less superb for being aimed at children.
©Kim Oliver August 2003 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 29 at 10.45 am (1 hr 30 mins) every day, not Aug 16, 23
Company Bristol Old Vic
Company Website www.bristol-old-vic.co.uk

The Problem With Being The Elephant God. (Page 178).
Drams full glassfull glass.
Venue Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49).
Address 11b Bristo Place.
Reviewer Sarah Jane Murray.

Bollywood entertainment is synonymous with big budgets, epic stories, lavish sets and sumptuous costumes. Transferring the grandeur of the world's richest film industry to the lowly Fringe stage should not be an easy task. However, Birmingham's Watch This Theatre Company have not let their new show be dictated by the apparent limitations of Fringe theatre. Although the budget may be smaller, the quality storytelling, beautiful stage design, and vibrant costumes of the Indian screen remain.

Their charming story concerns two bickering siblings. The Elephant God - Hilaan - is angered by his sister Vehra. By meddling with the lives of mortal newlyweds Rimmat and Ashanti, Vehra is interfering with Hilaan's duty to protect them. Hilaan must make his sister realise the weight of holding the mortals' strings, otherwise her pranks may have devastating effects.

Delicate ivory fabrics grace Bedlam's stage, setting off the richly vibrant silks of the costumes to great effect. Chorus set-pieces showcase young dancers, enjoying a fusion of modern Western style with traditional Indian movement. However, while the show does impress, it is held back somewhat by awkward lighting. At moments, chorus dancers are barely visible on the dimly lit stage. To fully parade the spectacle of rich colour and lively dancing, more attention needs to be paid to technical aspects of the production. And therein lies one of the few problems with the Elephant God. Technicalities aside, this is a fresh, well-paced show, with a cast so keen to impress any hiccups will quickly be forgiven.
©Sarah Jane Murray 7 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs Until 21 August, not Sundays, at 18.40.
Company - Watch This Theatre Company.
Show Website www.elephantgod.co.uk

Propaganda . (Page 178).
Drams full glassfull glassfull glass.
Venue Cowgate Central, Wilkie House(Venue 26).
Address Hastie Close of Guthrie St.
Reviewer Alex Eades.

Every now and again, a production comes along that is packed full of potential. The play has sharp dialogue, interesting characters, historical settings and themes that carry great importance to the audience. What can possibly go wrong? Well, this production managed to get it all wrong and, sadly, it’s all down to the acting.

There is not one performance here that convinced me that any of the actors had stepped onto the stage before. Once more, the characters are all deep and complicated and this was the worse possible thing to give to a group who seemed so inexperienced.  They are all completely miscast, which the director deserves a good slap on the wrists for.

It is a good watch in that you return to Nazi Germany and witness a time that has made such an impact on the world, but even the script can occasionally seem a little tedious. It talks about Jesus and God so much that it sometime seems to lose direction. It was interesting the first time it was mentioned, but by the eighth time it was getting very boring. Overall, the script is good, but could use trimming in some areas.  As for everything else about this show……just cut it all to pieces.
© Alex Eades 17 August - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 21st August at 1.15pm
Company: Carved Caffeine Theatre.


The Pull of Negative Gravity (Page 178).
Drams full glass.
Venue Traverse (Venue 15).
Address Cambridge Street, off Lothian Road.
Reviewer Lorraine McCann.

In Michael Moore’s current hit documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 , two US Marines, in full ceremonial dress, go scouting for aimless, unemployed men in a shopping-mall car park, handing out business cards and making the army sound like some kind of under-publicised holiday camp. It’s an illuminating spectacle, and one that, like Jonathan Lichtenstein’s new play, goes some way to explaining why, in 2004, in a country without conscription or national service, young men still join the armed forces and end up maimed or maiming for their country.

Dai, Lee Haven-Jones, and Rhys, Daniel Hawksford, are brothers, helping their mother, Vi, Joanne Howarth, to run the family’s farm in Wales. With foot-and-mouth having ruined their livelihoods, and their father found drowned in a suspected suicide, the brothers decide the best thing is if one of them stays at home to help run the farm and the other joins the army, a decision they reach via a coin- tossing contest. Whoever stays at home will also be closer to Bethan, Louise Collins, Dai’s fiancée and a burns-unit nurse charged with caring for the casualties of war. What unfolds is a story in which a family is all but flattened by its too-great share of sorrow and pain, in which the longing for escape is a plangent echo and sex proves a mere shadow of love.

With staging that brings the freedom of the hills right into the worn-out farmhouse living room, and finely judged performances by all four actors, this is a play that asks audiences to bear the unfairness of these people’s lives along with them, knowing that their like exists. Not easy to watch, but still easier than doing it.
© Lorraine McCann, 8 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs 10, 14, 19, 24, 28 August at 19.30; 11, 15, 20, 25 August at noon; 12, 17, 21, 26 August at 14.30; 13, 18, 22, 27 August at 17.00.
Mercury Theatre Company

(P) 15 out of 226
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