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(S) 20 out of 226
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None = Unmissable

= Unwatchable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme



Searching For Spalding Gray (Page 180).
Drams full glass.
Venue Diverse Attractions (Venue 11).
Address Riddles Court, 322 Lawnmarket.
Reviewer Sarah Jane Murray.

Spalding Gray was pronounced dead in March of this year. The American performance artist is believed to have jumped off the Staten Island Ferry - the culmination of many years of depression. While Gray had not achieved household-name status, he was greatly revered by many in the theatre world, his self-revelatory monologues earning him admiration and affection. This piece serves as a tribute to Gray’s life and work - the performance acts as a sort of delayed public wake for the artist, with critical reaction to his work sitting next to monologues of the group’s own, emulating Gray’s distinctive style.

Themes that shine through the monologues include paranoia and self-analysis. However, as with Gray’s own, they begin in an anecdotal style. As they develop, it becomes apparent that their significance is in minor details, subtly magnified in the tale. An amusing recollection of a school excursion to a New York fish market quietly swells into a touching and profoundly human expression of the speaker’s great passion for his city. The protection of performing in character is stripped away, and - as a result - the performances are brave, heartfelt and inspiring, despite their often familiar subject matter.

Framed by a video recording of Gray in performance – and aided only by some plastic chairs - the piece takes on the feel of a lecture, with Gray as the regarded and spirited teacher. His students do well to recognise and honour his inimitable style. A minor blemish on the show is their brief and awkward performance of several plays Gray had appeared in during his career. They introduce grand themes too late on in the show to be fully developed. They also offer little insight into the performance style of Gray himself – better imitated in the monologues.

It was Gray’s mark to use everyday life as material for his art. A life as rich as Gray’s has provided Penn Theatre Ensemble with a treasure-trove of material by which to celebrate the man and his life.
©Sarah Jane Murray 16 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 21 August – at 11.15.
Company – Penn Theatre Ensemble.

   

Seductions. (Page 180).

Drams full glass.
Venue Komedia Roman Eagle Lodge (Venue 21)
Address 2 Johnston Terrace.
Reviewer Marisa de Andrade.

Family affairs are private matters, particularly in Seductions where truths untold are best left at that. Young Katie wants to seduce, brother Jack wants to be seduced, and brother Liam takes seduction to another level. Its an incestuous volcano just waiting to explode and destroy the relationships in its way.

Seductions begins innocently enough, as an adolescent pair playfully invade each other's personal space. It's all harmless banter aided by a beautifully written script. Then the blurry boundaries of like and love dissolve as the pair become aware of a burning desire within them. Love turns to lust and possession as brothers by blood and brothers by spirit collide rather ambiguously. The swift and witty dialogue gives way for a darker version of its former self, as it brings two pairs of puzzled lovers to the same bed. The curious scene is compelling, but fails to enact the uncertainties of the play. It is perhaps an exploration of the possible outcomes of a broken family.

Black Orchid Productions exploits sensitive social issues in a safe and socially acceptable manner. Able actors effortlessly establish complex relationships from the minute they step on stage. They truly manage to seduce the audience with their sincerity.
© Marisa de Andrade 19 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs August 11-29, not 17 at 19.45.
Black Orchid Productions.

   

Shakespeare for Breakfast (Page 180).
Drams  full glassfull glass.
Venue C, Chambers Street. (Venue 34).
Address Chambers Street.
Reviewer   Garry Platt.
 
SfB has a charming tradition on the Fringe - it's performed at 10.00 in the morning and is a comedic take on all that the Bard offers. At this time in the morning it must be one of the few shows that regularly sells out. They also promote the show with the fact that they feed you croissants and coffee - sadly both these are dire and you'd be better advised stocking up else where before hand. This year's show is basically "Will the Musical". It's one of the better SfB's I've seen for some time with nicely clichéd characters and a reasonably funny storyline driving the piece through from beginning to end.

The characters in the play; The over the top director, the dumb blonde, the cynical actress's, the common sense ASM and the star struck young male lead are generally well performed. But I was left thinking "if only". The audience in these shows looks to be made of American Tourists, Middle Class Parents with their immaculately scrubbed offspring and the odd Mid-European tourist who is confused by the wacky send up. More might be achieved by this talented group if they had tried to be a bit more adventurous, take a few chances and not totally cater to this fairly middle of road target audience. As it stands the show is OK, it will run to full houses but only because they have a market niche and not because of the inherent creative, artistic or adventurous qualities the show has.
©Garry Platt  178 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 30 August.
Company C Theatre.



   

Shaking Cecelia. (Page 181).
Dramsfull glass .
Venue The Underbelly (Venue no as in back of Fringe programme)
Address Cowgate..
Reviewer Ellie Fazan.
This is a really amazing production written and performed by two really talented young girls. This is an absolutely hilarious comedy about serious depression. Cecelia and Joan set off on a road trip to Aberdeen in a battered pink mini which is on stage throughout. 

Now I think any production with a pink mini on stage throughout should be great, but 'Shaking Cecelia' is fantastic. 'Let's make like a tree and leavel.  Let's make like a banana and split. Let's make like a donkey's dick and hit the road', says the manically extroverted Joan to the manically depressed Cecelia, and to graons and giggles from the audience they do. Their trip takes us on a journey through the terrors and tunnels of Cecelia's mind, and by the time they cross the Scottish border everything has almost fallen apart.  For Cecelia getting out of the car to pump gas is a trauma, and a story for us hilariously told.

The story is told from the mini but the journey is shown on three screens which show us the views from the side and rear view mirrors of the car. Such an inventive use of visual effects really works in this production, and helps demonstrate the perceived horrors of the world outside Cecelia's car. The acting is suburb throughout, and the girls take us quickly, but not quietly, through this brilliant play. The contrast between Cecelia's depression and Joan's eternal optimism is perfectly balanced and thoroughly enjoyable to watch.

Watch out for the twist.
©Ellie Fazan 9 August, 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 29th August at 16.30.
Company Cat in the Bag Theatre Company.

   

Sherlock Holmes –The Delicate Art of Murder. (page 181).
Drams  full glass.
Venue  Outside Dean Gallery (Venue 69).
Address Dean Gallery, 73 Belford Road.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin.

Frantic Redhead Productions founded by Ginger Perkins is a familiar, well-loved Fringe company of American and Scottish professional actors. They are presenting three outdoor promenade shows - Macbeth and two plays about the famous Victorian sleuth Sherlock Holmes. So wear suitable clothing for this thrilling and entertaining tale about a missing heiress, stolen jewellery and disreputable religious fanatics.   

The Delicate Art of Murderis an adaptation of the Conan Doyle story, “The Disappearance of Lady Francis Carfax”. Locations around the Dean Gallery and the Water of Leith were first selected before the script was written by the multi-talented Mark Erson, who also directs and understudies Simon Tait as Sherlock Holmes. Standing outside the gallery, Holmes and Watson (a comical James Yule)are discussing their latest mystery. A wealthy young American woman has disappeared from Edinburgh where she has been studying art history. Investigations then begin with the questioning of her tutor, the elegantly dressed Dr Parker, delightfully played by Sarah Newman , the maid and Cuban fiancé as the audience follow the intrepid duo on a dramatic walk along the river past the waterfall, visiting the hospital and undertakers around the Dean Village.

With the audience mingling around the actors against a real city backdrop makes the experience intimate and exciting. Characters appear from nowhere from behind trees and down alleyways. The very clear plot and characterisation makes this perfect for all ages – children 10+ would surely love it.  Fresh, original theatre performed with panache - simply great fun.    
©Vivien Devlin 11 August 2003 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Performances 18-22, 25-26 at noon.
Frantic Redhead are also performing Sherlock Holmes – Murder in Edinburgh and Macbeth the latter is not in the Frnige programme.
Company-Frantic Redhead Productions.
Company Website www.franticredhead.com

   

Shimmer. (Page 181).
Drams full glass.
Venue Traverse (Venue 15).
Address Cambridge Street, of Lothian Rd.
Reviewer Thelma Good.

Lesley Hart as pensive Petal sits behind Una Maclean - Hen and Hilary Lyon - Missy stand 
in blue lit plastic ponchoes.
Shimmer - Traverse Theatre Co.
© Douglas Robertson.
Linda McLean's script shimmers back and forth between narrowly real and grounded to immense and metaphysical. It isn't an easy script to play as the characters visibily turn to us to engage our gaze and sympathy or address each other cryptically. At times the characters speak together in a form of mouth-music, though the phrases are mundane, the words are infused by their inner souls.

We all have our "if only" moments, the things we might have done, or been. Petal, Missy and Hen, Lesley Hart, Hilary Lyon and Una McLean arrive at Jim's B&B and find owner Jim, Iain Macrae and his two guests. One is a successful businessman, Sonny, Finlay Welsh, the other a young man, the at times haunting, Paul Rattray, on his way to climb a peak. Though he doesn't look like him the guy reminds Sonny of his son. As they look at one another, each sees something familar in another stranger. Lashing back in on itself and its lines Shimmer recalls the works of Carol Churchill and Jean Paul Sartre - there's even a touch of another structural master Ayckbourne in its wryly comic moments.

The designer Monica Frawley's set suggests a place where people wait, possibly not in this world, as well as a glazed summer room. Set in a Scottish B & B in Tarbet by Loch Lomond, outside it's raining. Drip, drip, drip the sound of many a Scottish summer, but is it necessary to have the drips so noisy throughout the play? The tap, tap of water is a constant intrusion for the intently listening audience, intent partly because the structure of this play is fluid, giving the sense of happening where linear time is dissolved.

Directed by Lynne Parker of Rough Magic for the Traverse Theatre Hart and McLean most skilfully respond to the rhythms and contra-rhythms of this fiendishly tricky script on first night. But all the cast got increasingly to grips with its mutable form and, as they did they lit up the potential of McLean's text - it should be cracking later on. Just hope they tone down the drips, in case they don't, go to the loo beforehand - the play runs 1 hour 40 mins with no interval.
© Thelma Good 3 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Text published by Nick Hern Books and available from Traverse and good bookshops.
Runs to August 27 at various times, not Mons.
Company – Traverse Theatre Company.
Company Website www.traverse.co.uk
   

Shiver. (Not in Fringe programme)
Drams 2 full glassfull glass
Venue Cowgate Central (Venue 26)
Address Wilke House Hastie Close off Guthrie St.
Reviewer Thelma Good.

Hanna and Greta are shoved out into our harsh modern world by their step-mother. Rough Ruby's play weaves fairy tale strands into now, washing the mundane out of the way we live. Hanna looks after her sister, Greta has a problem with the outside world anyway. They find a tiny flat in Grimmstown, as a first time buyers they have to live in the land of burnt out cars and troubling groups of young males.

Kate Brailford and Gillian Kerr are the writers and actors here, directed by Stewart Cairns. This new Scottish company's first offering is a delight of fun-to-watch moments as the sisters attempt to decorate, cope with noisy neighbours and incidents in the street. Hanna left in the flat starts to face her fears, Greta discovers maybe she's not the strong one after all. Their theatrical light but meaningful approach has us laughing and wanting the sisters to succeed in a sibling relationship which isn't what it appears at first.

Shiver reveals within its seemingly playful scenes, the difficult lives young adults lead. The linking of the metaphors of long loved stories in Shiver enrich and confirm that though we rarely acknowledge it ordinary people's worlds today are still connected to ancient tales. It's a far more empowering approach that just bare realism.
© Thelma Good 23 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August at 16:25. every day.
Company Rough Ruby Productions.

   

Shostakovich. (Page 182)
 Drams  full glassfull glassfull glass
Venue  Co2, Oxygen. (Venue 202)
Address   Infirmary Street.
Reviewer   Ksenija Horvat.

There is no mistake about it, Ciaran McConville's play about the life and work of the famous Russian composer is a radio play in every sense. Its words melt off the actors' tongues easily into the cascade of rich images that will linger in the air long after the show is over, and one only has to close one's eyes to relish in their rich flavours.

Still, despite the static quality of stage action, the plainness of performance space in Oxygen's basement, and occasional glitches in lighting, the play slowly comes to life thanks to the energetic performances by Hugh Hemmings as Dmitri Shostakovich and Tim Hyam as Veniamin Fleyshman. It is in the emotional interplay of these two powerful stage personae, and in particular Hemmings's captivating portrayal of elderly composer who questions his own mortality and the nature of his art, that this play is at its best. Where it fails is in McConville's attempt to pack vast biographical and historical information into a forty-five minute production. This nearly turns it into an interesting, but overwhelming pamphlet on the issues of censorship in art, an artist's mortality vs. immortality of his work, artistic creation in oppressive regimes, amongst others. McConville is undoubtedly a talented writer and director. However, to direct one's own play is a notoriously tricky task, and, in this case, it has not fared as well as it could have.

However, for all its faults, it's a gripping piece that will remind one of the horrors of other oppressive regimes such as former Yugoslavia. Iin one scene in particular, a description of the summer performance of Shostakovich's seventh symphony in Leningrad under siege, evokes the valour of Sarajevo's musicians who performed amidst the rubble of their city, under the incessant barrages of Serbian artillery. Such is the stuff that human spirit is made of.

Enlightening, engaging and passionate - this show may not be earth-shattering, but it is really good value for money. 
© Ksenija Horvat, 4 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 30 August, noon, tickets £7.50 (£6.50).
Company Debut Theatre Company.
Company Website www.debut-theatre.org.uk

   

The Singing Playwrights. (Not in Fringe programme).
Drams full glass.
Venue Pleasance Courtyard (Venue33).
Address 60 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Bill Dunlop.

Take two writers who started out wanting to write songs and went on to write plays, film scripts and musicals, add some highly accomplished musicians, stir in some telling extracts from their works and a few amusing anecdotes, and you have the basic ingredients of The Singing Playwrights. What’s missing, at this point, is the subtle blend Tim Firth and Willy Russell bring to the show they front. Enjoined by a disembodied voice to ‘Big it up massive’ for Russell and Firth, the pair bounced on stage and into the engaging ‘She gives me’, seamlessly segueing into the rest of their material.

In ninety minutes they ranged over some of the repertoire of Firth and Russell, songwriters in addition to extracts from the work of both writers and occasional lapses into anecdotage. Given that much of Russell’s best-known work has been for theatre, rather than film and television, where Firth made his early name, both Shirley Valentine and The Wrong Boy, Russell’s recent novel, feature significantly. As a theatre acquaintance once put it ‘Willy Russell speaks for England’; however one reacts to that assertion, his work remains some of the most profoundly political (with a small but very definite ‘p’) as well as profoundly funniest work to be found on the English stage in the last quarter of the twentieth century.

The Pleasance Grand audience, an encouraging mixture of ages, types and presumably tastes weren’t disappointed in this or other departments, and while neither Firth nor Russell ought to immediately abandon the writing day job, there was enough content behind their deceptively laid-back tunesmithing to make one hope for more. In both Tim Firth’s Last Man Standing (as fine a post-feminist male anthem as you’re likely to get anywhere), and Willy Russell’s Crazy Days, a haunting elegy for our changing times, there’s worthwhile, intelligent songwriting going on. The Singing Playwrights has a single week’s run in Edinburgh, but one suspects that this show is intended to go on somewhere else, sometime else. One hopes so.
© Bill Dunlop 27 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 21-30 August at 17.30-19.00.
Company The Singing Playwrights.


   

Sisters, Such Devoted Sisters. (Page 182)
   Drams  full glass.
  Venue  Traverse Theatre (Venue No 15)
  Address Cambridge Street
  Reviewer Vivien Devlin.

The audience sits in silent semi-darkness in the ultimate black box set of Traverse 2. A glimmer of light shimmers through sparkling drapes and slowly, imperceptibly, an urban soundscape of dogs barking, traffic, voices, shouting, crashing and banging echoes all around. It’s all very unnerving. Then Bernice Hindley, Russell Barr, in long blonde wig, curling eyelashes, short silk dress and black high heels strides through the curtain, saunters over to a high stool and pours a cup of tea.

Sit back comfortably to listen to a fairytale featuring queens of a rather different nature....

Bernice is in the mood to talk, share jokes and memories about the crazy world she has observed from childhood to her make-believe lifestyle as a Glaswegian drag queen. We hear, with increasing hilarity, stories about alcoholic parents, holidays on Arran with mad Aunt Puppy and Uncle Puppy (real names protected for legal reasons), blowing up pigeons with baking powder, dissecting frogs, shoplifting sunglasses and suede coats from “Versnatchy”, Gap and M & S, driving in drag to Dundee, ecstasy parties, sexual encounters, lovers and lots of lipstick.

But then the tone and pace change. Unexpected brief pauses interrupt the story as Bernice confronts and confesses her fears of the dark, violent gay underworld. Russell Barr is a phenomenal, powerful performer with cool, deadpan gaze and profound sense of identity.  Ten years ago he worked as a drag queen at Madame Gillespie’s, Glasgow - the colourful images he paints certainly smack of the surreal truth. This brilliantly structured show subtly twists from comedy to tragedy, sheer farce to shocking anecdote. For Bernice, the nightmare has begun.     
©Vivien Devlin, 6 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August, 10pm every day except Mondays.
Company – Russell Barr in association with Out of Joint and The Drill Hall.
Company Website www.outofjoint.co.uk
   

Sixth Wife. (Page 182).

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

Epic episodes from Emmeline Well's life are resurrected in Sixth Wife. An exemplary woman who received an honorary doctorate degree at a time when women were not worthy of the status. She shares her tribulations as a mature sixth wife, preparing to meet the president of the US.

It's a play that attracts a mature audience perhaps familiar with Well's journalistic contributions, or a younger crowd inspired by her ideals. Neither is disappointed as Joan Oviatt presents a steadily-paced, mastered monologue. Still, the story of a woman who remained alive to spite her enemies is a slow one, not for those anticipating a groundbreaking drama.

The climax is hidden behind a meaningful metaphor of wheat as the essence of life, and Well's emotional rollercoasting revelations. Such moments appear forced at times, then dissipate into meaningful expressions of a life lived with passion and faith. Her use of props is minimal, as is the realistic set. Her shawl becames the baby she loves and loses; her pastel outfit a reflection of her gentle nature. It's all pleasing, but perhaps not life changing.

As she tells a story of plural marriage that 'gets better each time she tells it', one can only assume that this is also true for the play itself.
© Marisa de Andrade 14 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs Aug 6-30 at 19.30.
Best of the West.

   

Skool Rulz (Page 182).
Drams full glassfull glassfull glass .
Venue C Central (Venue 54).
Address Carlton Hotel, North Bridge.
Reviewer Lorraine McCann.

Perhaps I should lay my cards on the table from the start: I don’t believe that anyone deliberately sets out to make bad theatre. As a result, I’m inclined to give Natalie Hedges the benefit of the doubt and tell you here and now that Skool Rulz is actually not as bad as many other reviews would have you believe.

For a start, like all nostalgia-based comedy, Skool Rulz is only going to tickle you if you can recognise the terrain. So you’ve got a single woman approaching thirty being invited to a reunion of former pupils of a bog-standard state secondary school. As she says, she wants her classmates to have done well – but not so well that they make her feel like a loser. And along the way, there are some cute observations, like one of the signs of adulthood being that your books are no longer covered in posters of Bon Jovi (or, for those of different vintages, John Travolta or John Lennon).

And OK, some of the characters work better than others, and Hedges’ stage presence is currently too flimsy to carry a one-woman show, but the overwhelming insecurities of these teenage selves will be achingly familiar to many people and raised a fair few laughs the day I went. All in all, you can find worse on the Fringe this year, believe me.
© Lorraine McCann, 20 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 30 August at 12 noon
Company Natalie Hedges.

   

The Smallest Person. (Page 182).
Drams full glassfull glass.
Venue Pod Deco. (Venue 75).
Address 7 Clerk Street.
Reviewer Ksenija Horvat.

The Smallest Person is a show about finding a voice in a society that does not tolerate difference. Just imagine if you were a dwarf, a giant or a mermaid. How would people react to you? What would they say behind your back? You do not even have to go that far. Just imagine you are in the place where you do not speak the language. Or, what if you are a person without ambition in the world governed by money and power? Would you be called an eccentric, a waster, or even mentally unstable? Would people care about you? Or would they simply reject you because they cannot profit from you?

The Smallest Person is a play-within-a-play. It tells a story of human greed hiding under the mask of quest for knowledge. Laura's little brother, Charlie, is so ill that only experimental surgery abroad can save him. But Laura is afraid. What if experiment is only an experiment? Her school project about Caroline Crachami, the smallest person in the world, becomes her obsession, and she will do anything to protect her brother.

This is a powerful story, and the one that needs to be told. Trestle Theatre Company have set themselves the task of telling it through word, mask and puppet play. It has got some beautiful moments, and no one can dispute the fact that their use of mask is anything but first-rate. However, the various parts of performance do not always hang together, and perhaps less use of words and more use of puppetry would bring the performers closer to the magic that they seek. More could have been done with lighting as well, which occasionally fails to create an illusion - the very sine qua non of puppetry.

As it stands, this is an opportunity missed to turn a good show into a great one. It will still catch one's attention, and it will certainly entertain all generations. Perhaps one can ask for no more than that. And yet again, perhaps one should ask for much more.
© Ksenija Horvat, 19 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 29 August (not 24th), 13:30.
Company Trestle Theatre Company.
Company Website www.trestle.org.uk

   

Snapshot (Page 182).
Drams full glassfull glass.
Venue George Square Theatre.
Address George Square (Venue 37) (Note- change of venue and time from Fringe Programme).
Reviewer Bill Dunlop.

In Willy Russell’s comedy, Educating Rita, the central character, presented with the essay question "discuss the problems of staging Ibsen ’s Peer Gynt and how you would address them." responds "Do it on the radio." Novice playwrights are frequently offered the same advice by workshop audiences and it’s not always misguided.

Cygnet Theatre conjure up the world of Samantha Swan’s lapsed Catholic Canadians on an almost bare stage with minimal props and unobtrusive lighting. Jan, older but not altogether wiser, presents the tangled skein of her recollections of Aunt Sissy. A bright, boozy meteor constantly seeking the love that eludes her, Sissy’s adventurous nature inspires her niece to discover her own future and to live it elsewhere, and she offers one of the few fixed points in Jan’s seemingly unreflective and transitory life.

Samantha Swan herself plays Sissy, carefully measured against Natasha Marco’s Jan, both ably supported by Alex Kane and Sergio Gallinaro. The problems of this play don’t lie with the cast, who bring a wealth of detail to a range of emotions and roles. Acting on an almost bare stage can liberate actors, director and script, but it can also present technical difficulties which are hard to overcome convincingly. Snapshot has a tricky structure, woven around the recollections of Jan, which punctuate the action. But the larger problem occurs with one on-stage full scale rape and an attempted one. Sex on stage presents a challenge - from an audience point of view, it can simply feel ‘wrong’, rather as if we’d discovered a couple of close friends in flagrante - we’re perfectly aware they’re sexual beings like ourselves, but the reality disrupts our everyday perception of them, leaving us uncomfortable voyeurs.

A large part of engaging an audience is allowing them to work at what’s unstated or unseen. When everything is explicit, the audience can end up feeling redundant, and questioning other aspects of the play. Which is a pity, as Swan has created a wonderful soundscape for actors to inhabit. What has to be resolved is the most effective medium for this potential to be fully realised.
©Bill Dunlop 11th August 2004 – Published on Edinburghguide.com
Runs August 6-30 August at 5.30pm.
Company – Cygnet Theatre in association with Fringe Management.
Website www.CygnetTheatreCompany.com  

   

The Soldier. (Page 182).

Drams Definitely None.
Venue Kommedia Roman Eagle Lodge (Venue 21).
Address 2 Johnstone Terrace.
Reviewer Thelma Good.

two soldiers sit at the side of the bed of the third.
The Soldier - FMC Prods.
Billy Tyler - Phil Cumbus and Denis Browne - Andrew Lawrence.
© photographer.
Plays about people who are names can be tricky things, if you stay too close to the know facts they may fail to deliver. But Rachel Wagstaff's first play is a skilful mix of some factual material and poems of Robert Brooke, his friend Denis Browne and a wholly fictitious character Billy Tyler. Set in London, the Island of Skyros in Greece, on a troop ship, in Cairo and Antwerp and various military training camps the play introduces us to a vibrant, school boyish in his eagerness Brooke. He's already a literary personality before war breaks out, and is played with zest and flair by Alex Robertson.

His school friend Denis is a more measured man, and in Andrew Lawerence's* performance we see the dry, resolute manliness as he copes with his reckless charming friend and fellow officier. Rupert's growing interest in a man of the ranks, Billy a former school master missing his son desperately, makes Denis uneasy. It's not a doom laiden script the unique personality of Brooke, as drawn by Wagstaff, Browne's wry humour and the bright imagined Tyler, beautifully played with restraint by Phil Cumbus have us laughing frequently. The pace and period sense of the production, directed by well respected Gari Jones, sweeps us in so the characters become very real. The full sense of the loss and difficulties of being a man away from home, of knowing you will be tested in combat far away and, in Brooke's case, of past loss of a love that dare not speak its name are exceedingly well realised.

Before seeing The Soldier I wondered if there was any need for another play about the first world war. This play is not only about that time, exploring additionally the aloneness of a person who can't stop himself creating and how men relate when women are not there. This new young writer shows considerable ability, imagination and craft in a script which professional theatrecompanies should be vying to put on. They should also take a serious look at these superb young male actors. I also award it a Good's Great.
© Thelma Good 14 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
* Andrew Lawrence has just won the 2004 Fringe Amused Moose Comedy award for New Talent.
Runs to 30 August at 13:35, not 16.
Company – FMC Productions.
Company Email .

   

Son Of The Father. (Page 182).
Drams full glass.
Venue Pleasance Courtyard (Venue no as in back of Fringe programme)
Address 60 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Alex Eades.

After Mel Gibson’s The Passion Of The Christ, Jesus is big bucks. Son Of The Father was nearly packed out, which in all likelihood it would not have been a year ago. The play spares us from all of the blood and gore of ‘that’ movie, instead following a meeting between Mary and Joseph after their son’s crucifixion.

What is truly great about this play by playwright and actor Pip Utton is the sense of realism within the arguments between the two. Joseph is entirely distraught by his son’s needless death and furious at being cut off from his life by Mary. There is shouting, swearing and even violence, which gives the audience a clearer and more realistic view of these characters. Beautifully acted, Mary appears slightly mad in this production while Joseph, though he does display a temper, is more rational. Therefore, we the audience are not sure what to believe about Jesus because of Mary’s behaviour. What would you think if your wife claimed that her son was the Messiah? I’d get a divorce! Joseph just seems far more convincing in every argument that is put forward.

This is a great show with fabulous acting by the pair. It can be a little deep for a sunny fringe afternoon......but when was the last time we had one of those?
© Alex Eades 18 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 29th August at 13.30.
Company Pip Utton @ The Merlin.

   

Spoonface Steinberg. (Page 183).
Drams full glassfull glassfull glass.
Venue Greyfriars Kirk House.(Venue 28)
Address 86 Candlemaker Row.
Reviewer Ellie Fazan.
 
This is a really touching story by Lee Hall about finding the precious truth that lies inside.  Spoonface Steinberg is a nine year old girl with autism and terminal cancer, yet Spoonface can always see the spark with her uncompromising inability to not see the truth.  If children want to point they point, and Spoonface points right at you. 

This monologue tells her story and will make you both laugh and smile. Leah Bradford-Smart plays Spoonface with all her ability.  She is engaging and carries the whole play alone with very few props.  Her facial expressions are great but though she tells the story well, she does not really become Spoonface.  This may be a problem of age (or miscasting).  Unfortunately Leah is not a nine year old girl and looks over size on stage, so listening to a fully grown adult talk in baby talk for 45 minutes jarrs and the poduction suffers.

However, this is still worth going to see to listen to the story of Spoonface, of her life and death, full of its sparkling imperfections and insightful truisms - she may inspire you.
© Ellie Fazan, 12th August, 2004, published on the EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs until 22nd August, 2004 at 16.40.
Company t7t Productions.

   

Square One. (Page 183).
Drams full glass.
Venue C Central. (Venue 54.).
Address Carlton Hotel, North Bridge.
Reviewer Marisa de Andrade.

Perky prime time television star Adam, Ethan Perry is a 'certified General Entertainer with a speciality for singing.' The sort of bloke who gushes over himself and accommodates love in his one-and-a-half-bedroom apartment. 'Love' moves in as Dianne, Huda Bordeaux, a harmless damsel without an opinion. Together, they become accustomed to a future dictated by a dominating society.

A digitally projected set paints a futuristic picture of an elegant ballroom. Strangers dance in the engaging opening scene. Square One is instantly perceived as something special. The awkward conversation between a man who's far too secure to be insulted and girl who's overwhelmed with everything life has to offer, sparkles with truth. It is maintained throughout, although at times it seems like a platform projecting political issues rather than the charming satirical play that it is.

'Life as a montage machine' is only one of the delightful images suggested by Dianne, who becomes progressively whinier as the plot unravels. But she handles the tragedies life has to offer with much dignity and makes the playwright's perceptions, which are pitched at the same level throughout, appear surprisingly believable. Her words: "I don't know if I like it, but it's enchanting", could apply to the play.
© Marisa de Andrade 14 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs Aug 8-30 at 19.00.
Company Wide-Awake Theatre Company.

   

Success (Page 184).

Drams none.
Venue Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33).
Address 60 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Lorraine McCann.

This is the new one-man show from Adrian Poynton , who won a Fringe First for last year’s Graham Chapman bio-play, A Very Naughty Boy . Here, though, Poynton turns a merrily jaundiced eye on the acting profession as a whole, and the particular wretchedness of a ‘resting’ thesp whose phone keeps bringing him the ‘wrong’ call.

Jude Benson’s convinced he’s got what it takes to make it as an actor: brains, looks, charisma, a coke-addled agent and a pathological fear of football-mascot costumes. Only snag is, almost every casting director in the country seems to disagree. In fact, not only do they reject him (always for something he can’t do anything about, like being too tall or having the wrong chin), they keep giving his roles to utterly talentless non-entities like the untrained-but-jammy ‘Chris Morgan’. To make matters worse, Morgan has also zeroed in on Jude’s girlfriend, who’s fed up with playing second-fiddle to the acting bug. And so the stage is set for a cheerfully excruciating tale of a good man brought low by the drip, drip, drip of corrosive frustration and the sheer longing to do what he loves most. It’s kind of like, ‘Yes, it hurts; but it hurts more not to do it.’

This is a show with a sharp whiff of truth about it. Going up for audition after audition after audition is like standing on a threshold and having a door slammed in your face eight hours a day. It can affect the mind, you know. But Adrian Poynton’s engaging persona communicates superbly the indomitable spirit, the essential optimism of a born performer. Interestingly, his online CV lists the very many chewing gum commercials he’s done over the years. Hard not to wish him well, isn’t it?
© Lorraine McCann, 10 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 30 August (not 10 and 17).
Company Adrian Poynton.

   

Supermarket. (Page 184).
Drams full glass.
Venue Venue 45(Venue 45).
Address Old St Paul's Church Hall, Jeffries Street.
Reviewer Neil Ingram.

You might think at first you were in a familiar world, one where supermarkets compete for customers and their managers strive for greater profits. But in Ian Orrick's Supermarket the staff are paid in biscuits and the management treat them like automatons. The warehouse is inhabited by weird creatures, and the managers carry out strange rituals amongst themselves. And what else do they get up to when the office door is locked?

This is an inspired black satire on the world of mass retailing, populated by obsessive managers and compliant staff. The staff of Kwickways may be demoralised, but they are used to dealing with their manager, Mr Timmins, Jason Langley. But when he gets a keen new assistant, Andrew (played in an emergency by drafted-in writer/director Ian Orrick when I saw it, the original actor having broken his elbow) the pair set out on a quest to improve the store's profits. They deal creatively with a shoplifter, Alison Wynn, but lurking in the aisles are Mrs Elvesham, Charlotte Workman, and her exotic carer, Fiona Boylan, and the management finds itself under threat. A maze of bizarre sub-plots keeps the action going at a dizzy rate, and the production is packed with awful surprises and gruesome sounds.

Not a show for the squeamish, but a hugely entertaining piece of lunacy.
© Neil Ingram August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 20 at 20.00.
Company – Z Theatre Company.



(S) 20 out of 226
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