|Edinburgh : A&E : Festivals Fringe reviews|
None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
Take Me Away. (page 184).
Venue Traverse Theatre. (Venue 15).
Address Cambridge Street.
Reviewer Ksenija Horvat.
Gerald Murphy's new play Take Me Away is a gem in more ways than one. It is funny, profound, well acted and produced without a glitch. With razor sharp wit, Murphy creates a storyline which delineates the disintegration of traditional values in contemporary Ireland, while still retaining humour and elegant word flow of the best of Irish comedies. This is an eloquent, fast and entertaining theatre, helped enormously by an inspired cast of actors including Joe Hanley as Bren, Aidan Kelly as Andy, Barry Ward as Kev and Vincent McCabe as their helpless father Eddie, whose high-energy performances catch the audience's hearts.
Alan Farquharson's windowless set is suitably metaphoric of claustrophobia that the characters feel, and the actors make a good use of space filling it with the personae who are larger than life. Seemingly, all the cliches are there, but once one scratches the surface the chips start to show. The familial hierarchy is deroded, and the women are ever so absent from the stage indicating that the glue that keeps traditional families together is no longer there. This is the boys' play, true, but these are not the boys as we know it. All of the characters are stripped of the old-fashioned machismo, and their failings and vulnerabilities become progressively exposed as the play unravels before one's eyes. There is no window dressing, no mythical stage Irishmen, Murphy tells it as it is in the language that leaves no space for delusion. Still, beyond family secrets, perversions and materialism, there is one truth that shines eternal, the unconditional love for one's family which remains unshaken under less than ordinary circumstances.
Rough Magic Theatre Company has yet again worked their formidable spell on Edinburgh's audiences, making this production a theatrical treat not to be missed.
© Ksenija Horvat, 8 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Text published by Nick Hern Books and available at Traverse Theatre and avaiable from good bookshops.
Runs until 28 August, 15:45 (not 16th and 23rd).
Company Rough Magic Theatre Company.
Company Website www.rough-magic.com
Taking Charlie (Page 184).
Venue: Assembly Rooms (Venue 3).
Address: 51 George Street.
Reviewer: Max Blinkhorn.
You can’t fail to win when you put on a show like this if you are a) talented and b) have a good tale to tell. Scamp Theatre have produced a new version of the old "tart with a heart" standard which wins comfortably. Abi Roberts as Charlie, is fundamental to making this performance work as well as it does. She is perfectly cast and sings like a bird, so sweetly at times, even this cynical old sausage felt the tickle of her voice. A good audience is needed to make balance the strength of Charlie’s vulnerable but larger than life personality – without such an audience, Taking Charlie is a big noise in a small room.
The title suggests cocaine is involved, of course, but there is only one mention of it. Loveable but self-loathing Charlie is just an ordinary girl with the standard modern neuroses and pink snuggle suit – one of those fleecy things. She’s strong and loud on the surface but weak underneath and men can smell her desperation a mile away. She is normal and that makes Taking Charlie ideal for the "Girls Night Out" audience.
The set is simple and the venue, the Supper Room, is good. The company are well supported and the production is well developed and rehearsed. Roberts knows what works and doesn’t stray away from the winning formula much, if at all. This is a good safe choice for a night out and it deserves to be a sell out. Writer Jonathan Harvey, well successful on the tv and director Susan Tully (for it is she) have produced a comfortable production so I’ve held back one dram because there’s nothing new in it but that’s O.K. The question they must be asking, now this is under their belt is "What next?".
©Max Blinkhorn 2004 – Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs: 6-30 August 2004 (not 17th) 17:30 (1 hr).
Company Webstie www.scamptheatre.com
Tales of Passion, Tales of Woe. (Page 185)
Venue Lady Glenorchys Church Halls (aka Rocket@Demarco Roxy Art House) (Venue 115).
Address Roxburgh Place
Reviewer Bill Dunlop.
Year Two of the First French Republic was a good one for weddings - three young ladies got themselves hitched to rising political stars and became Mmes. Danton, Marat and Desmoulins. In less than eighteen months they were widows, casual casualties of the ferocious politics of the times. By then, another young widow had married a rather more long-lived gentleman, one Napoleon Bonaparte. Claire Naylors adaptation of Sandra Gullands trilogy of novels on the life of the woman history knows as Josephine Beauharnais provides an excellent showcase for her considerable acting talent. Naylor is an engaging performer, bowling us with conviction and good judgement of light and shade through Josephines life from her early years in Martinique to her abdication which allowed Napoleon to seek another marriage to provide the heir he desperately wished for. Encapsulating such a large swathe of history in the brief space of fifty minutes is an achievement in itself, but at times the constraints of adaptation from a single source and of time reveal themselves in questions implied but not resolved.
The French Revolution was, like the Russian Revolution of 1917, necessarily an exporter of its ideals. Perhaps the most successful and long-lasting of these efforts was in the French colonies of the West Indies, and this reviewer longed for some reaction and response from a child of the ruling colonial class who had nevertheless benefited from the revolution. Similarly, we leave Josephine at the point of her abdication, the remainder of her life unspoken here. Fifty minutes simply felt too short to adequately cover this ambitious subject, which is clearly not beyond the abilities of its performer.
The set for this production is beautifully detailed and convincing, but perhaps offers an audience rather too much. One-person players sometimes exhibit fetishistic tendencies when it comes to props or furniture; up there on ones own, there has to be a something to rely on, if there isnt a someone. Audiences, however, are often more imaginative than is given credit. Part of the enjoyment of good theatre is the exercise of that imagination. A similar comment could be made of the sound effects in this production, which tended to intrude, rather than add to our understanding of Josephines moods and states of mind. A little more confidence and rather less clutter would sharpen this already clear-eyed show enormously.
©Bill Dunlop 12 August 2004- Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs : August 9-14 at 18.40-19.30 and August 16-21, at 21.20-22.30
Company: From The Top Theatre
Tam O'Shanter (Page 185)
Venue Assembly Rooms (Venue 3).
Address 54 George Street.
Reviewer Maureen Sangster.
In this show, the audience plunges into the dark satiric aspects of Robert Burns' poems and songs, and four actors with chalk white faces involve us in drink-loosened improprieties. The style is vivid, burlesque. The pace is hectic. At one point when Tam and his long suffering wife are arguing their words descend into discordant sounds. We're not just given the stereotype of the drunken Scotsman and the nagging wife but a hysterical fearful jollity, brilliantly acted by the ensemble, which hints always at mortality and the underworld of the devil and desires.
Anna Cocciadiferro's costumes are great, especially the sexually explicit 'naked suits' worn in the Alloway Kirkyard scene by the witches and warlocks. Heavy with cellulite but with breasts like tattered rags, the witches, Julie Brown and Michele Gallagher are lewd and unforgettable.
The tale of Tam O'Shanter is the keystane of this show, a tour de force, with Johnny McKnight as a vigorous Tam and Ross Stenhouse as an excellent Souter Johnnie. The other Burns' poems and songs the cast do are not as well served. The show opens with an eerie moon back projected but then has the cast speaking lines of poems in a bewildering darkness. Not all the words were audible. The deliberately grotesque take on Burns in this show does mean a loss of tenderness sometimes, a lack of modulation in speech - as in 'To a Mouse' where I thought only Johnny McKnight got sympathy into his voice. But the show's visual impact is intoxicating and it's lively with singing, bawdy humour and great accordion playing by John Somerville.
© Maureen Sangster 7 August 2004 - published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 30 August not Mondays except 30.
Company Arches Theatre Company.
Tango Apocalypso. (Page 185).
Venue Traverse Theatre (Venue 15).
Address Cambridge Street, off Lothian Road.
Reviewer Marisa de Andrade.
What's it like to be on the outside looking into love on the last day of the world? To discover love on that day? According to Tango Apocalypso, it's a fiesty dance destined to pulse to life's dangerous rhythms of love and obsession. It's a journey of acceptance and celebration, shadowed only by the knowledge of the inevitable - it will all be over soon. I'm sure there were some audience members who thought that about the show, but were they disappointed or simply not delving into the density of the concept?
Tango Apocalypso has acclaimed actors with learning disabilites replacing words with soul and imagination. A killer soundtrack guides a unique heroine on her train trip of love. It effortlessly moves the play along when the action does not. Scenes are occasionally confusing and painstakingly explicit, the pauses too long and the links choppy, but the tension these changes create are captivating. It's the eery feeling that the lulling trip and scattered movements evoke that makes this work intriguing.
From air to broom guitars and miming jazz pianists to the hypnotic pull of the checked floor and dangling silver backdrop, this play fascinates. Yet there's a sense that it's lured from a place not yet solidified. Its enchantment is subdued by its need to be nurtured. There is a sense that you know what's going on, but you're not quite sure. Still, it's affecting, one way or another.
©Marisa de Andrade 8 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs Aug 8-15, not 9. 21.45.
The Shysters and Richard Jordan Productions Ltd.
The Tempest – Illyria (Page 185).
Venue Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49).
Address 11b Bristo Place.
Reviewer Emma Slawinski.
Even the Bard had off-days. There are lines that just don’t seem to follow on. There are jokes that just aren’t funny. Illyria acknowledge the limitations of the play and run with them, use them to their advantage – Shakespeare may be our most famous and respected playwright, but it’s ok to have a joke on him sometimes… Negotiations of heavyweight themes like love, power and freedom are offset by some inspired clowning – it’s a pleasant surprise when the comic trio of Trinculo, Stephano and Caliban really get going, giving us many more laughs than we might have initially foreseen…
The comedy has a tendency to overshadow the more thoughtful content of the play, though – we’re told that in The Tempest Shakespeare "tackles the BIG questions, the ones which burn inside you when a loved one has died, when you can’t sleep at night…" - I’m not sure how much of this came through.
But it would be churlish to dwell on this, because there’s so much to Illyria’s creative and atmospheric production. The frequent musical interludes convey an appropriate sense of mystery and magic about Prospero’s island. And did I mention that the hardworking cast of five cover over 15 roles?! Yet the actors move from one role to the next with remarkable ease. Prospero, Marcus Fernando, is suitably crabby and controlling from his diminutive pose in a wheelchair, an interesting touch that adds a new layer to the character. Special mention must go to Toby Gaffney’s Ariel, a kind of ‘gentle giant’ of the spirit world. His sparkling, cheery mischief-making is enchanting to watch, and there is a real chemistry between him and Prospero. It’ s a shame there isn’t space to praise each member to the extent they deserve, especially as each creates a number of memorable characters. Enough to say that this is a refreshing performance that should satisfy the most demanding of audiences.
©Emma Slawinski 18 August – Published on Edinburghguide.com
Runs till 21 August at 8.30.
Company - Illyria. This company tours open air theatre throughout UK doing a variety of plays including some for children.
Company Website www.illyria.uk.com
Tempting Providence (Page 185).
Venue Traverse (Venue 15).
Address Cambridge Street, off Lothian Road.
Reviewer Lorraine McCann.
Airline food, military intelligence, healthy tan, Canadian hero? Actually, you can strike that last one from your Top Ten All-Time Oxymorons list - Theatre Newfoundland Labrador have dug up a shining example in the person of British-born nurse Myra Bennett. Replete with solid acting and a cool, measured style they’re here to spread the word in a nicely crafted bio-play.
On a propitious Friday the 13th in 1921, Myra left England as a single woman to work as a nurse and midwife in Newfoundland’s Northern Peninsula, a forbidding 320-kilometre stretch of coastline without any major roads and subject to bleak, unforgiving winters. For a woman who had witnessed the horrors of the Great War, it was an act driven by an almost neurotic need to care for others, to continually defer and subdue her own desires within a kind of bossy-but-all-knowing benignity. Indeed, both the writing and Deidre Gillard-Rowlings’ performance present Myra’s ministrations as the arrival of an unquestionably ‘good’ force, which, although undoubtedly accurate (she pulled 5,000 teeth and delivered 700 babies), also neutralises the drama, which has to rely on a well-played but thin romantic thread.
Dynamically staged with poise, economy and some truly inventive use of objects (watch out for the baby’s cradle), Tempting Providence is pleasant, informative and a delight to watch. There are also some fine comic moments which the audience didn’t seem quite sure of the night I went. Perhaps it was the ‘serious’ subject matter that threw them. If you go, though, don’t be scared to laugh. Such a lovely ensemble of actors deserve it.
© Lorraine McCann, 7 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs 7,12,17,21,26 August at 19.30; 11,15,20,25 August at 17.00; 8,13,18,22,27 August at noon; 10,14,19,24,28 August at 14.30
Theatre Newfoundland Labrador
That Old red Magic (Page 186).
Venue Komedia Roman Eagle Lodge. Venue 21.
Address 2 Johnston Terrace
Reviewer Garry Platt.
Here's the concept: Using magic, ventriloquism and just daftness as the medium of expression explain and introduce Socialist Theory and demonstrate the challenges to the proletariat. It's odd, wacky and probably more in keeping with the spirit of the fringe than many other shows that you can see this year. Comedic magicians are thin on the ground and the top of this small heap is probably the funniest man Britain has ever produced - Tommy Cooper, so this is rarefied territory we are in. Ian Saville, the magician has some way to go in a number of different areas before I would be happy to say that he is a competent exponent in this field.
The show has some inherent flaws. The problems are that the comedic material is barely chuckle making, there's nothing here that is bitingly funny or unique for it's very mild mannered, watery stuff. The ventriloquism starts with promise but the dialogue between Mr Saville and a Cat just never takes off, and the patter the cut out Karl Marx, lacks any impact or inventiveness. Comedy has an entrenched position on the Fringe and the great experts of this art perform around the town during these 3 weeks, comparison in this harsh light is inevitable and this show just doesn't come up to scratch.
As a children's entertainer I suspect he is superb, he is a pleasant, mild mannered character with an unsophisticated charm. However in front of a mature audience his lack of polish becomes a little tedious. To add insult to injury he finished the act with the "Multiplying Bottle" gag, a trick which Tommy Cooper turned into a comedic phenomena, sadly Mr Saville blew the joke a little by fumbling the final bit. The show is a nice idea, it just needs a lot of work before it gets anything like good enough for discerning audiences.
©Garry Platt 19 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August.
Company C Theatre
That’s What We Should All Be Mourning (Page 186)
Venue Komedia Roman Eagle Lodge (Venue 21).
Address 2 Johnston Terrace.
Reviewer Sarah Jane Murray.
The tight confines of Komedia’s studio space struggle with the vast outpouring of emotion during this series of reflective monologues. Four players act as mouthpieces for the contemplations of a variety of civilians affected by the war on terrorism. Powerful images of war-s tricken land and peoples provide a visual frame to the piece, while a hip-hop soundtrack indicates that this is a play observing the everyman amidst tragedy. The spartan black set and simple lighting allow the audience to meditate upon the reflections of numerous real-life interviewees, channelled through a multi-tasking cast.
Focus often turns to the role of the media in war, and the moral issues bound up therein – newspaper cuttings are displayed around the stage, and several of the monologues express disbelief and rage at insensitive recording of events by both media and the general public. Ironically, this tendency is mirrored in the vox-pop style of the piece, which seems at times an MTV-style dramatisation of personal tragedy.
The young cast cope well with swift and multiple role-changes – a difficult task for any actor. Bringing personality to the speeches, they are at times startlingly believable. It would be interesting to allow them a more creative response to the issues in question. However, in the immediate wake of Michael Moore’s tunnel-visioned Farenheit 9/11 this piece offers a refreshingly democratic version of events.
©Sarah Jane Murray 6 August 2004 – Published on Edinburghguide.com
Runs until Aug 21 at 15.00
Company a moment’s peace
Then Again (Page 186).
Venue Smirnoff Underbelly (Venue 61).
Address Cowgate or Victoria Street.
Reviewer Lorraine McCann.
A funeral, a reunion, the reading of a will, a love triangle . . . it’s as if writer Ben Ockrent is going for the world record on clichés. And yet there’s something about the way this young company pull it all together that makes for quite a pleasant journey.
Robbie is the absence at the heart of the play. I say ‘absence’ because he’s dead but his coffin is the main attraction of the set. His erstwhile friends have all lost touch over the years but are brought together again for the funeral and the reading of his will. The solicitor, nicely played by the Rob Brydon-ish Anthony Andrews , tells them that his client wanted them all to speak at the service, something the friends are all reluctant to do, knowing of course that in attempting to remember Robbie they risk revealing too much of themselves.
In many ways, the content of Then Again is nothing you haven’t seen a hundred times before. But it’s skilfully done and there’s a kernel of profundity at its heart: that past, present and future are all somehow in existence at the same time. Perhaps the one-act structure and the occasionally didactic dialogue is just the wrong way to treat it.
© Lorraine McCann, 26 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 29 August at 14.50.
Company Bess Productions.
Company Website www.bessproductions.com
These Four Walls . (Page 186).
Drams None Needed.
Venue C o2, Oxygen (Venue202).
Address Infirmary Street.
Reviewer Alex Eades.
Having been highly impressed by the Debut Theatre Companys production of Nineteen Eighty-Four a few days ago, I was intrigued to see if they could make it double gold with These Four Walls. Having now seen it, I can say that it is not as good a theatrical experience as Nineteen Eighty-Four. It is much, much better.
To say that I enjoyed it would be a bad choice of words on my part. Who would enjoy a monologue from a young woman in hiding in Auschwitz with nothing but her memories and dreams. It is an emotionally draining experience and by the end of it all there was not a dry eye in the house. The audience wept, gasped and shielded there eyes from there own imaginations. The power from Kim Voisey-Youldons performance is incredibly overwhelming and your heart bleeds for a past that we all know, but sometimes allow ourselves to forget. It is shows like these that give us a slap in the face and pull every emotional chord in our bodies, which we all need from time to time. I have never witnessed anything quite like this before and I urge you to go and see it for yourselves. Wonderful theatre.
© Alex Eades 18 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 30 August 16:20.
Company – Debut Theatre Company.
Third Finger, Left Hand. (Page 186)
Venue Assembly Rooms (Venue 3)
Address 54 George St.
Reviewer Ritchie Smith So here's the set-up. Two Northern women, sisters, with a box of photographs. They start to reminisce. They continue. Childhood games. A boogie man. Catholic girls' school. First period. Family arguments. And more. And more - all in the same over-familiar vein...
What odd theatre writing! For the first half hour or so, every time the writer introduced some new topic, he talked about it. You know the phrase 'Show - don't tell'. The writer told. And told. Almost everything talked-about (rather than dramatized!) was overly familiar, even cliched...
I do't want to be completely negative here. It's quite well-acted - when the actresses are finally given something to do. When, well into the play, the story took us to Wigan Casino and we were at long last given some action - music, dancing, life - I almost applauded from sheer relief. And there were, eventually, some good lines... Then people die. Which other people are sad about. But not the audience.
Not a hit.
© Ritchie Smith 12 August 2004 - Published on www.EdiburghGuide.com
Runs to 30 August, 15:00
Company Assembly Theatre Ltd
Three Men In A Boat / Rodney Bewes. (Page 186).
Venue The Assembly (Venue 3).
Address 54 George St.
Reviewer Ritchie Smith.
Okay, we're here to see the likely lad and living national treasure - and Rodney Bewes doesn't disappoint, gladhanding the audience with easy warmth, closing doors himself, proudly displaying his excellent props for the river trip, guiding latecomers to seats, stepping easily in and out of character to milk us for applause.
In fact, 'ease' is probably the keynote of this show. Basing his work on a famous comedy classic, Bewes takes us up the Thames in an easier,gentler age. There is no malice here, only gentleness and warmth and funny accvents, and excellent stories-within-the-story about three men and a dog who go sculling upriver. There are some sight gags, great stories - especially the one about getting lost in Hampton Court maze - and even poetic monologues about the Thames, with appropriate pastoral music.
To sum up (and I have to admit the audience was mostly as grey as Mr Bewes, or me without the blond hairdye) - absolutely charming and respectable entertainment for the older and more respectable part of your family - but I guarantee you will be charmed, too! The audience loved
this living legend, and I did, too.
© Ritchie Smith 12th August 2004 - Published on www.EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 30 August, 16:50
Company Rodney Bewes.
The Tiger Lillies - Punch and Judy. (Page 186)
Venue Pod Deco(Venue No 75).
Address 7 Clerk Street [former Odeon cinema].
Reviewer Vivien Devlin.
Formed in 1989 the eccentric jazz trio The Tiger Lillies has developed a global cult-following for their surreal, burlesque shows. Pianist/ singer Martyn Jacques sings high falsetto, accompanied by his vaudeville counterparts, Adrian Huge on drums and Adrian Stout on double bass. Their distinctive songs are like musical short stories, miniature narratives on the theme of sex, death, drink, depravity and the down and out losers of life. Think of the laid back tone of Tom Waits blended with the dark contours of Brecht/Weill, and you get the sound picture.
The characterisation and themes of the Punch and Judy stories slots perfectly into Tiger Lillies' style of bittersweet songs. Forget images of the favourite long nosed, goggle-eyed buffoon of children's puppet shows. This music-based show presents a very dark, sadistic interpretation based on the original 17th Italian Commedia del arte morality tale. Jacques, dressed in classic red and yellow costume, triangular hat and red nose, talks of his dysfunctional family, drunkenness, his mad mother which led him to become a wife beater, child murderer and serial killer. A series of bleak, Blues songs –e.g.“If Only Mummy Loved Me I would be Sane” - relates the story, while a screen backdrop showing silent movie boards, a puppet show and huge blow-up dolls illustrate the characters.
Brilliantly dramatised, on one level it is extraordinarily clever and entertaining but the subtext is cruel, crude, grotesque and occasionally blasphemous. This is Punch and Judy for adults only. The Tiger Lillies have created a witty, perverse cabaret style of performance that they do not need to add a more dramatic dimension. Next time please - just a concert of those fabulous jazz/punk songs. Meanwhile this show certainly has punch.! (c)
© Vivien Devlin 15 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August date at 10.45pm every day.
Company- The Tiger Lillies.
Company Website www.tigerlillies.com
Tristan and Mr Poppins. (Page 187),
Venue Pend Fringe. (Venue 7).
Address Gateway Theatre, Elm Row.
Reviewer Georgina Merry.
From the very first you are struck with the twinkling magic of this strange and intriguing performance. It’s winter. The large white box sits centre-stage. Two men meet and begin to discuss it. What follows is a non-conformist discovery of truth. This chance encounter in an ethereal setting is full of wonderment, surprise and innocent humour. You don’t need to comprehend it entirely, you just need to sit back and go with the flow.
As this play follows no set pattern it is very hard to describe it and how you might enjoy it. It will enertain though, without a doubt. For a short period you experience something altogether mystical– ethereal even, like the lavender sky during twilight, frost covered branches or those first moments when you awake from a deep sleep.
The unique and distinctive style of this production is one that will leave you with a series of images and phrases that you won’t be able to put into any semblance of an order, but you certainly won’t forget. You can’t expect to be moved by a powerful or dramatic production, but you can certainly expect to smile.
©Georgina Merry 19 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 21 at 13:30.
Company DR 2.
Company Website www.zendeh.com/tristan
The True Story of AH Q. (page 187)
Venue Pend Fringe @ Gateway. (Venue 7).
Address Gateway Theatre, Elm Row.
Reviewer Ksenija Horvat.
Two small stools and a black box. Scanty, one might think. Still, when used properly, it is enough to conjure a theatrical world of illusion and suck us right into it like Alice into a rabbit hole.
Based on Zhou Shuren's famous novel, The Truth Story of Ah Q, this production is an inspired and entertaining take on the fate of everyman at the time of the Republican revolution of 1911.
Zhou Shuren, who wrote under pseudonym Lu Xun, was a fierce critic of Confucian ideology, and he portrayed in his novel the corruption and hypocrisy of both upper classes and certain revolutionary elements. In Chinese literature, A Quism has come to represent acceptance of defeat as spiritual victory, and Ah Q is considered a personification of negative traits of the Chinese national character. All of these nuances are picked up and played upon in this inspired performance by the students of The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, who successfully apply elements of Chinese opera and circus skills.
If beautiful costumes and resonant live music are not enough to win you over, wait until you see these young talented people glide across the Pend's studio theatre in the hard to resist festival of movement, colour and sound.
They are energetic, breathtaking and unstoppable, and any fault that one might find with their performance is easily forgiven and speedily forgotten. One would only wish for this production to have been staged outside, perhaps in Princes Gardens, where its carnivalesque elements would have made even a greater impact.
Performed in Cantonese and English.
©Ksenija Horvat, 9 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 14 August, noon.
Company The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts.
Company Website www.hkapa.edu/
The Tunnel. (Page 187).
Drams None needed.
Venue Hill Street Theatre Studio (Venue 41).
Address Hill Street.
Reviewer Max Blinkhorn.
Shuddering, tense and unmissable. While at an exhibition of his own paintings, Juan Pablo Castel notices a strikingly beautiful woman, Maria Iribarne, staring intensely at one particular work. He strikes up an awkward relationship with her and the die is cast. Jamie Newall's intense and powerful portrayal of the artist Castel in this dramatisation of Ernesto Sabato's novel, The Tunnel, is one of the best individual performances I have ever seen. As narrator and character, Castel is centre stage and centre of the audience's attention for most of the play but this isn't selfish upstaging or egotism. Using Castel as character and narrator makes exposition easy and allows the story to be told in 75 tight minutes. As the plot bowls along, and scary as Castel is, he isn't able to ruffle the soft, white grace of Maria, played magically by Rebecca Gethings.
Castel's attachment to Maria is overpowering and flawed. He becomes obsessed that she is deceiving him and she may be but the clever plot does not allow us to know this. This drives both of them towards their inevitable and tragic denouement. As an exposition of the state of mind of the artist, The Tunnel is wonderful. Its conclusions about Castel's state of mind are debatable and that makes the play all the more interesting.
David Burrows' sets and Chrystine Bennett's' costumes are outstanding and while minimal, the overall impression is high value and sophisticated. David Graham-Young directs and delivers.
© Max Blinkhorn 7th August 2004. Published on Edinburghguide.com
Runs 6-30 August (not 11, 18 or 25) 18:45 (1hr 15mins).
Company Contemporary Stage Company.
Two (Page 188).
Venue Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14).
Address 13 Bristo Square.
Reviewer Ritchie Smith.
Jim Cartwright is famous for Road and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice – plays that are quirky, Northern, and often to do with pubbing and clubbing. Two is a lively but accurate evocation of Northern pub life, and the man knows, intimately, what he is talking about.
So what do we get in this production? Moving quickly on from the rickety and unimaginative set (one bar, three stools) we get two excellent performers undertaking all the roles. Ritchie Zealand is a fine comic actor who it is easy to imagine in situation comedy, and Hannah Dee finds, sometimes with unnerving pathos, the power of a darker emotion, doing justice to the the moving end of this piece. Perhaps they don't get every ounce of emotion out of this play - but I enjoyed it, and judging by the frequent outbursts of laughter and applause around me, so did the rest of the audience. You are guaranteed an entertaining time.
©Ritchie Smith 11 August 2004 – Published on Edinburghguide.com
Runs to August 30 (not 15 or 16) at 1pm.
Company – Moonface Productions.
Two Man Rumble (Page 188)
Venue CO2 (Venue 202)
Address Oxygen, Infirmary Street
Reviewer Lorraine McCann.
The little slip of a programme thrust into your hand as you go in to watch Two Man Rumble shows a couple of pints of beer with thinly smiling faces sketched on them. And, really, that’s about as big a clue as you can get to this cheeky illumination of the male role within the Scottish drinking culture.
A sequel to the Scotsman five-star-rated One Man Rant , the show begins with the ascent of man, as presented by a self-regarding anthropologist, Michael Blyth , a man possessed of the kind of over- rehearsed hand gestures and weighty pauses that Tony Blair would die for, while Alasdair Satchel engages as his slow-witted stooge. Of course, the central theme – that ‘civilised’ man cannot escape his basic simian nature – is fairly well-worn, but the pair’s use of slick mime and a clever mix of live and pre-recorded sound effects is fresh and dynamic. The content is perhaps over-familiar from many years of ‘observational’ stand-ups commenting on men’s drink-fuelled exhibitionism and urinal etiquette, but if you’ve never seen/heard this before, or if it makes you laugh, you’ll find plenty to set you off.
In essence, from the knuckle-scraping ‘depths’ to the mobile-wielding ‘heights’, this show covers every male foible and flaw in the book, some of which are pretty disgusting. But at least I came away with two things: I now know why men’s toilets smell the way they do, and I’ve seen a man impersonate a kebab. And he can play the ukelele, too!
© Lorraine McCann, 8 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 30 August at 13.00.
Perhilion Theatre Company.
Txatxorra's Cube ( Not in Fringe Programme).
Venue pend fringe @ gateway (Venue 7)
Address Gateway Theatre, Elm Row
Reviewer Emma Slawinski
"Love in the nineties is paranoid" sang Damon Albarn - but in Txatxorra's Cube love is explosive, sometimes violent, and usually coupled with self-loathing - "I don't need to tell you. It's obvious. She doesn't like herself!" - two perky actresses remark in turn, in a singsong voice that draws laughter from the audience.
Based on Jean Genet's The Maids, Txatxorra's Cube is indebted to the theatre of the absurd, exposing the irrational and the contradictory in human nature. This is a short experimental piece, a multimedia creation comprising a video installation and a throbbing rock and roll soundtrack, with the emphasis on physical theatre. The Cube is "a place where to change" we are forewarned, and the appropriately spartan cuboid Pend space soon becomes the site of two continually transforming bodies. They collide or move in parallel, are first frenzied and then fluid - evoking admiration at the resilience of these nimble women as, clothed in dishevelled black satin gowns, they tumble across the room.
Basque actresses Patricia Fuentes and Maria Ibarretxe have chosen a subject matter that might easily become morbid, but the darker side of human experience is treated with a candid humour that will leave audiences startled but not shell-shocked, and the lasting impression is of the boundless energy and cheeky, devil-may-care attitude of the performers. Enter the cube with an open mind and you'll be pleasently surprised at what's within...
©Emma Slawinski 4 August 2004 - Published by EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 7 August at 5.30.
Company Maria Ibarretxe and Patricia Fuentes, Barakaldo Theatre School, Bilbao.
Company Website www.baibai.net & email.