|Edinburgh : A&E : Festivals Fringe reviews|
None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
A Quiet Afternoon (Page 178)
Drams None needed It's a goal!
Venue Komedia Roman Eagle Lodge.
Address 2 Johnston Terrace - Venue 21.
Reviewer Bill Dunlop.
Never been that struck on ‘the beautiful *gemme’. **Talkin aboot it efter’s ay been kind o like a o a dark art - same as plumbin or that …
Football is nevertheless real theatre for many people, with its (proper) dramas, missed opportunities, raised hopes and broken dreams. Bohumil Hrabal’s black diamond of a script has the kind of flinty grace associated with the likes of George Best, Willie Bauld or Tommy Burns. It ’s ostensibly about nostalgia, but its sub-text is anything but rose-tinted. In an anonymous bar not far from a football stadium, the recuperating Yupa winds himself up to seizure pitch over team selection while the barman remains phlegmatically more concerned for his customer’s health and his own sanity. A splendid threesome portray Yupa - the barman and an unconsciously objectionable aesthete, (whose simulacrum can be fallen over and out with, almost any night of a university term in bars in this city) and a self-appointed ‘expert’ whose career seems to relate remarkably closely to everyone Yupa mentions.
There's a set whose cunningness of design and use would impress a Baldrick alters as seamlessly and rapidly as the cast assume differing roles and states. Mime is used sparingly but to huge effect in characterisation.
The memorialised past, a more significant part of ‘talking about the football’ than most fans would admit, is here a powerful metaphor for memory itself - the tricks we let it play, the way we allow ourselves to re-write and re-contextualise so much of it. Hrabal writes about Czechs and Slovaks, and makes much of players from the 1930’s and 1940’s, suggesting more direct references to a lived past than this reviewer was able to appreciate. What is clear, however, is Hrabal’s sensitivity to the richness of his chosen metaphor. Our historical perspectives are rarely less than partial and reflect all our excess baggage of prejudice, ignorance and chauvinism. This is a braw wee belter*** of a show, particularly in its sympathetic caricaturing of football fan psyches, yet also profound in its implied comments on how we create and re-create our personal and collective pasts. And also the aloneness of our experience.
Yupa ends by walking out into the rain-soaking night, his memories and his certainty of their accuracy seemingly his sole comfort. If this reviewer couldn’t help wanting to re-locate the action in familiar settings, this perhaps says all that needs be said about the ultimate universality of the experiences so eloquently portrayed. See this show if you possibly can. It’ s a stoater****.
Translation of Scots - *gemme - game, **talking about it after has always been a bit like a kind of black art, *** fine little peice, ****exemplary.
©Bill Dunlop 7 August 2004 – Published on Edinburghguide.com
Runs : August 8 - 29, 12.00-13.10.
Company Stamping Ground Theatre.