|Edinburgh : A&E : Festivals : Fringe Theatre Reviews|
None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
The Cagebirds. (Page 136).
Venue The Garage. (Venue 81).
Address Citrus Club, Grindlay Street.
Reviewer Marisa de Andrade.
It's a good idea, although it's dreadful. Six women locked up in a cage doing whatever it is that birds do. Flapping their wings, flying into metal bars, hen-pecking. Of course they're not there by choice. Or are they?
The Cagebirds metaphorically explores the oppression of the fairer sex in modern society. So six, sexy birds assume their positions on their self-claimed thrones and do what they've always done, say what they've always said. It's overwhelming to begin with. For starters, the dark space is scattered with items one would expect to see at the bottom of a cage - feathers, make-up, medicine? The stage is strewn with props essentially defining the caged birds. 'The Medicated Gloom' or hypochondriac is surrounded by pills and plasters. 'The Long-Tongued Gossip' by phones. 'The Mirror-Eyed Gazer' by mirrors. You get the idea. But then 'The Wild One' is plucked from the world at large and dumped in the holding. Well how do you think five feisty females would react to a fabulous stranger?
It's difficult to pinpoint what's missing from the show. The experimental concept is interesting enough; the acting isn't bad. But something's missing between the well-presented performers and intriguing setting. And it could be direction. The Cagebirds entertains for almost an hour, floating on its natural rhythm, but lacks the wow-factor. And a carefully crafted plot.
Don't get me wrong something happens and it's not what you'd expect from recent displays of girl power. And there's no denying that Kissbar Company promises to be a company to be reckoned with. At the very least, you leave considering why you stick to what you know in life rather than courting change.
©Marisa de Andrade 24 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August, 18.45.
Company - Kissbar Company.
Candles In The window. (Page 137).
Venue Quaker Meeting House. (Venue 40).
Address 7 Victoria Terrace.
Reviewer Bill Dunlop .
Faced with a play of two 'talking heads', one is tempted to borrow a suggestion from Rita, the heroine of Willy Russell's 'Educating Rita'; "do it on the radio". Belleherst's production has suffered from the lack of a technical director whose visa application was refused, and the need to busk up a new set owing to the non-appearance of their original one. Circumstances such as these must be regarded as misfortunes, but don't excuse uninspired direction of a very text heavy play. These handicaps hobble what could have been a more nimble gallop through territory which is not well known and deserves to be better understood.
The concept is a meeting between the former maid of the family of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the widow of a British SAS officer who shared a cell with Bonhoeffer during his last days in the concentration camp at Buchenwald. Dietrich Bonhoeffer is nowadays barely known as a theologian who aligned himself with the German resistance, and died for this. His theology anticipated and laid foundations for the 'Liberation Theology' of Hans Kung and others, and his work with the African American churches in the 1930's led on to Martin Luther King and Jesse Jackson. We get an awful lot of Bonhoeffer's theology in this play, but largely through passages cut and pasted into the mouths of the two characters without a personal context. Many of these are highlighted by personal and political photographs of the period projected - a device which might have worked with the original set, but might have been more wisely ditched to allow the audience to fill in the blanks.
Which is the one thing this play will not let happen; Bonhoeffer's own words do not so much speak for them selves as for a particular interpretation; perhaps what happens in theology, but ought not to on stage. The play becomes preachy polemic, something one hopes Bonhoeffer himself would have demurred at. What's worse, we quickly lose the thread of some of the arguments, as the play flits from personal to political and then elsewhere. The text becomes an annoying butterfly chase for all but the most determined. In addition, it's over-long - on the night seen by this reviewer, it overran by at least twenty minutes, which may be fine if you're playing to an audience who can be expected to stay around for an after show discussion as we were invited to. However, in the midst of the busy traffic of Europe's largest Festival of its kind, this kind of time-taking is kind neither to audiences or critics, with schedules built to negotiate Tattoo crowds and other obstacles. The one shining moment when this play might effectively have ended, however, comes twenty five minutes before it mercifully does.
©Bill Dunlop 18th August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 20th at 18.15 every day
Company BelleHerst Productions
The Canterbury Tales. (Page 137).
Venue Augustine's.(Venue 152).
Address 41 George IV Bridge.
Reviewer Garry Platt.
I have lost count of the number of Canterbury plays I have seen on the fringe. Sadly, this has got to be one of the worst. But before I focus on what is wrong with this production let me first highlight what is right. The set is simple; a few barrels, a large wooden frame which doubles up for a number of things and a few props, it's simple but it works. The play opens nicely with an accomplished musician playing an instrument that looks like a large mandolin, though doubtless it has some medieval name, after that the whole thing starts to go down hill.
Distraction Theatre Company have attempted to up date the original style and approach of Chaucer whilst still retaining a lot of the original text, they are to be applauded for this, however. The result is a strange collision of medieval language juxtaposed with some awful renditions of contemporary pop songs. The costumes lean towards the medieval in a kind of dreadful 'school play' way, whilst one of the actresses looks like she's straight out of the local Goth pub and then another is presented as a kind of 'rapping' medieval Ali G character with a costume and characterisation that defies description.
We are asked to flip between straight renditions of Chaucer's text and then swallow whole modern day mannerisms and remarks, It doesn't work and there are scenes where I suspect the writers and actors hoped to have the audiences laughing but the lines are delivered to an audience who for the most part might be inhabitants lifted from graveyard of Greyfriars just across the road. In one scene one of the actors spends a long time hidden in a barrel, out of view of the other actors and the play as a whole, she had the best seat in the house in my opinion.
©Garry Platt 26 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August at 19:00 every day.
Company: - Distraction Theatre Company.
Carmen Angel. (Page 137).
Venue Hill Street Theatre (Venue 41).
Address 19 Hill Street.
Reviewer Pippa Tennant.
Double Fringe First winner, Carmen Angel is an absolute must-see. Devised by Herald Angel award winning Catalyst Theatre, this production will launch you into an emotional experience that you never dreamed imaginable.
The memories of criminal photographer, Joe, are recounted with uncanny eeriness as he paints a picture of his and Carmen’s childhood - the love of his life - whose rape and murder continue to haunt him twenty-five years on. The internal and external beauty of his ‘blonde movie Venus’ is conveyed in luminous lyricism, as we experience the episodes of Joe’s early childhood.
Introducing us to a host of different characters throughout this one-man show, Chris Craddock’s performance is absolutely outstanding, enhanced dramatically by the technical marvels of this production. The set, lighting and sound are just as impressive as the acting, creating a kind of delirium to the extent that the thought of being alone in the audience made me quiver with trepidation. The impact of the visual imagery imparted to us was clear from the reactions of the audience - all evidently moved, most to tears - as Joe’s struggle is communicated with beautiful perceptivity. An absolute masterpiece.
©Pippa Tennant 16 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 16 at 21:45 every day.
Company Catalyst Theatre.
Catch 22. (Page 137).
Venue C . (Venue 34).
Address Chambers Street.
Reviewer Ed Thornton.
Catch 22: The biggest loophole in military command history. The only way for World War II pilots to be grounded was to be insane, but to be insane is to be unaware of your mental shortcomings, so any man claiming insanity was deemed sound of mind and promptly put back in his plane to fly more missions.
This is the premise for Cookie Jar production’s stage adaptation of Joseph Heller’s novel centring on the endeavours of a disenchanted pilot to put a stop to the endless rise in the number of missions expected of him and his comrades. Facing death each day Yossarian Tom Eyre- Maunsell has developed an understandably morbid obsession with his own mortality. Consequentially half the action is contained in a military hospital in Italy where he tries absolutely everything to lose his wings.
A hypochondriac doctor, a captain desperate to be a general, and Milo the mess officer who’s running a nice little black market dodge under the pretence of a syndicate where “everyone gets a share” all add flavour to this incredibly clever tale of self-preservation in the pointlessness of war.
Ben White displays initiative in his direction of a script that has been quite crudely hacked from the original story. Leaving vast chunks untold, it travels at a break-neck speed that may leave some people behind if they aren’t familiar with the book. The actors show skill in the comic timing required in attempting to breathe life in to Heller’s clever word play, and there are some convincing American accents among the large cast. Personally I preferred the book but this is still worth a watch.
©Ed Thornton date August 11 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 29 at 19.30.
Company Cookie Jar Productions.
The Cave of the Golden Calf. (Page 138).
Venue The Cave of the Golden Calf at the Royal Scots Club. (Venue 148).
Address Royal Scots Club, 30 Abercromby Place.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin.
The legendary Cave of the Golden Calf in Soho, London was founded by the beautiful socialite Frida Strindberg (second wife of the playwright) in 1912, inspired by the Kaberett Fledermaus of her native Vienna. It attracted the more outrageously dressed of London's Bohemian set, writers, artists, the mad, bad and decadent where guests enjoyed avant-garde cabaret turns, ragtime music, song and dance with drinks served until dawn.
In the elegant, intimate - and very secret - art deco Edwardian ballroom of The Royal Scots Club, The Cave of the Golden Calf is currently being revived with exotic panache in a series of evening cabarets and club nights. The late night show I saw begins at 10.30pm. Sitting at candle-lit tables, the audience may enjoy supper and drinks during the show. This glamorous contemporary cabaret presents an eclectic blend of singers, musicians, burlesque and vaudeville performers from London and around the world.
Settle down to the moody blues songs of Woodstock Taylor, whose dark husky voice is reminiscent of Carly Simon and Hazel O'Connor. Be dazzled by Ryan Styles' brilliant peacock fan dance and the sassy, sexy Salena with her hiphop, rapping song routines; listen to the sad stories of Coco, aka La Celine, a Parisian Madame in pink satin and leopard skin stockings. Then the temperature and tempo hots up with redhead jazz diva Corliss Randall, squeezed into her tight black corset, who's come all the way from New Orleans. And there may be an appearance by the exquisitely stunning Burlesque dancer Empress Stah, the lady of the golden sequins. The MC is the show's producer, Andrew Brown, who introduces each act with debonair style and wit. Running from 10.30pm - 1am, with waitress service from the bar throughout, it's fabulous, top class entertainment and a perfect end to your Fringe day.
Note - The Cave of the Golden Calf also presents What's Love Got To Do With It? an early evening show of jazz and poetry with Sophie Parkin, Woodstock Taylor and guests and Mostly Haunted a scary show devised by Richard Bremner with puppets, a medium and music. Also Snobbery and Decay, three special late, late night spectacular weekend cabaret shows at Club Ego.
©Vivien Devlin, 8 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August date at 10.30pm daily. See Fringe guide for the other Cave cabaret shows and club nights.
Company- Abercromby Productions in association with Assembly Theatre.
Company Website www.assemblyrooms.com
Children of the Sea. (Page 138).
Drams None needed.
Venue Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (Venue 193).
Address 20a Inverleith Row.
Reviewer Edmund Gould.
Children of the Sea promises to transport you from a rain-soaked Scottish evening to a sultry, sweltering night in Sri Lanka, and it certainly doesn't fail to deliver. It is the product of a collaboration between Toby Gough's Theatrum Botanicum and a Sri Lankan drama workshop for orphaned survivors of the tsunami, and is commendable not only for its origins, but more significantly for its theatrical ingenuity. The show is a promenade performance, and as the audience is led down candle-strewn grass pathways to a natural amphitheatre, and then uphill to the steps of a Scottish country house doubling as an exotic palace, the sense of involvement is overwhelming.
We begin with children displaced by the tsunami, now living in fear of the sea – 'Now you have swallowed all our dreams', they utter mournfully. Solace is found in theatre itself, and in particular through Shakespeare's story of Pericles, narrated with genuine authority by the outstanding Maori actor Rawiri Paratene. Parallels quickly emerge between Pericles' mythical tale of survival at sea and that of the Sri Lankans performing before us. The show is a real swashbuckler, with royal incest, pirate kidnapping, steamy romance and some farcical courtly cabaret. Ornate costumes and colourful choreography are accompanied by pounding drums, a lilting sitar and a hypnotic, fiery crew of dancers.
The production's power comes from its seamless blending of contemporary tragic reality with historical storytelling, thus blurring the boundaries between the real and the imagined. Themes of resilience and family unity resonate throughout, and the naturalism of the children's performances is complemented by the vitality of more experienced actors. Whatever the weather, this is a visually stunning theatrical experience that both moves and entertains in equal measure.
©Edmund Gould 18 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August at 20:30.
Company – Theatrum Botanicum.
Christine Jorgensen Reveals. (Page 138).
Venue Assembly Rooms. (Venue 3).
Address 54 George Street.
Reveiwer Ariadne Cass.
Lip - synch artist Bradford Louryk is flawless as Christine Jorgensen. Christine Jorgensen was a famous transsexual in 1950's America. She returned from surgery in Denmark to America, a beautiful woman, only to be greeted by three hundred photographers and the avid curiousity, d isgust and freak - show mentality of the American public. This performance is a record of the only interview she ever did, played to the lip-synching of Louryk. The result is mesmerising.
Christine had a beautiful voice, deep, measured and graceful. What strikes me is her grace in the face of some truly crass questions, and the accompanying grace of Louryk's physicality. He plays her beautifully. I am only rarely reminded that the sounds are not coming out of Louryk's mouth during the occasional blip in the recording. The illusion is consistently maintained with great mental and physical focus.
Only the face of the interviewer is seen on a televison screen on stage. While it can be visually exhausting to watch both the real, physical Christine and the grainy image of the interviewer at the same time, it cleverly enhances the bodily reality of Christine, and makes her the central focus of the peice. She is almost brought back to life. I am moved intensely by what she had to go through, and grateful that I have learned about her and her life. She is inspirational. Louryk gives her voice a body, but the audience does not ever forget that she was real. This is a truly amazing performance, and a gorgeous show. Perfect.
©Ariadne Cass 7th August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs 6 - 29, Aug at 22:45.
Company - The Splinter Group.
Company Website www.christinereveals.com
Close Encounters (Page 139).
Venue Diverse Attractions (Venue 11).
Address Riddles Court, 322 Lawnmarket.
Reviewer Lorraine McCann.
As a local company, it's perhaps unsurprising that Citadel have taken as the theme of their 2005 Fringe offering the colourful history of Riddle's Court. In addition, as the City of Edinburgh Council currently has plans to sell the premises, this might be the company's last production in this venue.
The production comprises three plays, although only one is of any real substance. This is C.S. Lincoln's Gentlemen's Bairns, which tells of a notorious incident in Edinburgh history when Bailie Macmoran was shot dead by a pupil during a siege of the capital's posh High School, and it has much to recommend it - a bejewelled Scots script, high production standards including gorgeous costumes, tight direction (with the exception of some strange lighting decisions) and some engaging performances. Indeed, the culprit himself, William Sinclair, is played with doe-eyed sympathy by brand-new acting graduate Phillip Weddell, who surely cannot fail to succeed in his career. Arguably, it could have done without the songs, but the pace is great and the story well-shaped.
Unfortunately, the same can't really be said of the second piece, The Rise and Fall of Deacon Brodie, which suffers from a fatal aura of pointlessness, and has a less sure directorial touch. Perhaps, given its broad humour, they should have gone the whole hog and made it a farce. As it was, it kind of limps along its well-worn course.
The final piece is a dramatic verse monologue, bookended with some modern-day gubbins about workmen being scared of ghosts. It was harmless enough but did veer dangerously close to doggerel at times. Still, it was short, and the resonance of Gentleman's Bairns survives. Well worth seeing if you'd like to (re)aquaint yourself with the Scots tongue.
© Lorraine McCann, 15 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 20 August at 17:30
Company - Citadel Arts Group/Diggers Writers.
Closer. (Page 139).
Venue Jury's Inn Edinburgh (Venue 260).
Address 43 Jeffrey Street.
Reviewer Edmund Gould.
Patrick Marber's savagely graphic examination of sex and relationships was recently given the Hollywood treatment, with big hitters like Jude Law and Julia Roberts in tow. While the film of Closer was a commercial success, it all seemed a bit too polished and artificial on the big screen. Its snarling, sordid dialogue is most cutting when seen at 'close' quarters, and the cramped confines of the Exit Theatre at Jury's Inn produce an appropriately stuffy atmosphere for this finely acted four-hander from the King's Players.
Jonathan Rigby plays Dan, a failed writer who falls for coquettish young dancer Alice, Florence Kuhfeld. Their relationship soon hits a stumbling block, however, when Dan falls under the spell of photographer Anna, Gaelle Stark. Things get complicated when Dan mistakenly match-makes Anna with alpha-male and dermatologist Larry, Marcus Baker. What follows is a merry-go-round of partner swapping, confessions and betrayal that becomes progressively more malicious. Sex becomes the weapon of choice for these handsome young professionals, all of whom see their beliefs and morals challenged by the irrepressible lust that drives their relationships.
The taut verbal sparring of an unapologetically coarse script is brought superbly to life by some eye-catching performances. Rigby is suitably pathetic and self-centred as the loathsome Dan, while Stark wrings plenty of emotion out of a fairly limited role. Kuhfeld is alarming as the waif-like Alice, her playfully tactile flirting concealing a dangerous vulnerability. However, it's Baker's brutally primitive Larry who stands out; with a laid back demeanour and confident swagger, he struts effortlessly around the stage, oozing arrogance and perfectly capturing the amorality of Marber's self-confessed 'caveman'. Director Jon Baldwin could do with ironing out some first-night hiccups, and struggles somewhat with the now notorious cyber sex scene. Quibbles aside, however, this is vicious, scintillating stuff which makes for enthralling, if slightly uncomfortable viewing.
©Edmund Gould 22 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 27 August at 19:30 (1hr 30 mins).
Company – The King's Players.
Come Again. (Page 140).
Drams . .
Venue Assembly @ George Street. (Venue 3).
Address 54 George Street.
Reviewer Leanna Rance.
Where to start? The Pete and Dud story has been documented, detailed, dissected, debated, dramatised, fictionalised, serialised and mythologised perhaps more than any other British creative partnership in history. It begs the starting question, "is there anything new left to say?" Chris Bartlett and Nick Awde clearly think so. Unable to provide untilled soil, they have instead settled on interesting perspective (this time it's Dudley's.)
Come Again is a sophisticated production - with barebones set (five men in grey suits against austere black backdrop) and cut-glass script which sparkles and darkens in parallel with the fluctuating dynamics of the primary dramatic relationship.
Kevin Bishop as Dudley Moore, beds his performance in neatly over the space of an hour. Not an exact psychic or physical countenance, but close. Likewise, as complex Peter Cook, Scott Handy appears to gain strength and purpose as the piece progresses. In a minor role as Alan Bennett, Fergus Craig is terrific.< br>
The play is executed via clever flashback/exposition - the default setting an American television interview with Moore. We are transported scene by scene through the early days of the Edinburgh Festival, via Not Only But Also, through the infamous torturous 'working' holiday in Granada and onward toward Moore's eventual solo, successful exodus to L.A circa 1975.
The problem as always with plundering such a rich seam, is that a solitary hour only skims the surface.Though an interesting and accomplished nod (and wink) in the direction of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, this play unfortunately feels like the 'lite' version of something altogether more substantial.
Nevertheless the central theme is sensitively handled - Moore as the earnest but faltering voice of reason, bravely attempting to counterbalance his friend and co-conspirator's increasing emotional incontinence and eventual decline. Beautifully played separately, the problem exists in the space between the two main protaganists - never quite filled with the maelstrom of complex tensions one might hope for.
In the final analysis, Come Again is a brave and largely successful attempt at illuminating the potent, ill-fated, demon-filled partnership that was, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore.
© Leanna Rance 8 August - published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 29 August at 15.25 every day, excepting August 17.
Company – Weasel & Sons.
Company website - www.weaselandsons.co.uk
The Coming of Gowf by P. G. Wodehouse. (Page 140).
Venue Gilded Balloon (Venue No).
Address 13 Bristo Square.
Reviewer Thelma Good.
I assume those laughing in the audience were fans of golf and coarse acting. Ken Sharp Productions have taken Ken McClymont's adaptation of P. G. Wodehouse's tales from The Clicking of Cuthbert and brought it to the Fringe. The balls sometimes pitched into the audience are soft and won't leave a dent, sadly that's the case too with the production.
The cast tries to aim for that trickiest of all, cheesey acting that convinces. What they fail to spin their performances with is sincerity or irony - either would work. The result is the characters they loft fall short. They fail to get there despite thrashing about with their nibblicks, stymied by their uncomfoortably arch style, it's a shame for Wodehouse. And a shame for these actors at the start of their careers, just occassionally it comes together but overall this production doesn't do them any favours. If you want to experience shamateurism or you have a basic golf humour it may land near enough for you.
© Thelma Good 20 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 28 at 14:45 every day.
Company – Ken Sharp Productions.
The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). (Page 140).
Venue C Central. (Venue 54).
Address Carlton Hotel, North Bridge.
Reviewer Marisa de Andrade.
Can three actors perform each and every single one of Shakespeare's thirty-seven plays in just fifty minutes? Impossible you say, and you're spot on. Unless you've opted for the 'Dummies' Guide to Shakespeare' version, courtesy of Iowa State University. These energetic players have done that with such conviction, you'll leave convinced you have in fact witnessed a miracle.
It's set in a cabaret bar - perhaps not the ideal venue for the farce. But the show is pitched at that chatty, conversational level. You're split between the actors playing actors, and actors playing characters from the literary master's finest productions. The actors are dealing with problems of their own - egos and personal differences. Whilst the characters are the over-the-top, emotionally excessive, stereotyped performers we've come to expect from Shakespeare.
Romeo and Juliet get the show on the road, but they're not the star- crossed lovers from the original romantic tragedy. She doesn't want to kiss him, he wants to take advantage of a good situation and the entire escapade's more of a comedy. Complete with slapstick scenes by a nurse and a friar, the initial act comes to an end with an air-guitar of an epilogue.
Then it's on to Titus Andronicus - The Cooking Show. Othello follows, after a curious incident with a plastic, toy boat as a moor in a misplaced context. When the actors realise that 'Moor' is actually referring to racial identity, they burst into a perfectly rehearsed 'black man's' rap. Macbeth is enacted in a self-proclaimed 'flawless Scottish accent'. All of Shakespeare's comedies are rolled into one to make way for a fabulous climax - Hamlet. This one's performed three times - fast, faster and backwards.
This is a totally unpretentious play, dynamically put together by actors loaded with potential. It's Shakespeare as you've never seen it.
©Marisa de Andrade 14 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 19 Aug at 19.05.
Company Iowa State University.
Corpus Christi. (Page 140).
Venue C Electric.
Address Clerk St (Formerly the Odeon).
Reviewer Alex Eades.
Corpus Christi has been attracting crowds for nearly ten years now, this is thanks to favourable reviews and controversial aspects, such as depicting Christ as a homosexual. Watching this production, however, it is hard to see what all the fuss is about. The tale of Christ has been told and retold in many different ways, usually being the centre of controversy such as in films like The Last Temptation Of Christ or the more recent The Passion Of The Christ. Jesus is shown as a rebel and he was a rebel. The greatest rebel of all. He is shown as being a homosexual. He may or may not have been. Does it really matter? Does it really contribute to the heart and soul of the story? What the company do with it means the play just comes across as being pointless and boring.
On the plus side, the youthful cast are excellent, which is why I have not given the show five drams. They can switch from comedy to high drama in the blink of an eye and give you a reason to stay until the very end. If you want to see young talent at its very best, go and see the show. If you want to see something controversial or an interesting take on a timeless tale, go and watch Santa Clause: The Movie
© Alex Eades 6 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs until 29th August at 00:00.
Company - Zuloo Productions.
A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking (Page 141).
Venue Greyfriars Kirk House (Venue 28)
Address 86 Candlemaker Row
Reviewer Lorraine McCann
One of the things you will notice highlighted in all the publicity for this show is the fact that the two actors 'trade roles daily'. What exactly this is supposed to mean to your average punter isn't clear. Given that the only possible way to be awed by such thespian pyrotechnics would be to go twice, on consecutive days. However, I'm in no doubt that Suzanne Dean and Brooke Woood are well up to the task, even if most of us won't see it. Indeed, their acting is by some way the best component of this dated and rather patronising play that fails to deliver on its promises and then resorts to slapstick in lieu of drama.
We start with a confusing melange of 80s pop music and 50s-style kitchenette, wherein Maude (played by Dean the day I went) is visited by new neighbour Hannah Mae Bindler, a former Texan cheerleader with a Monroe-style wig and enough Southern wiles to charm the morning dew right off the honeysuckle. She has been spying on Maude from across the road and has decided that they are to become the best of friends, whether Maude likes it or not. There then ensues a lot of flaccid bitching about their ne'er-do-well spouses, who then get usurped by the new pals' striving for fun and shopping. Oh, and there's a fight, too. But you might want to sit near the front, if that's your thing, cos you can't see much from the back.
I don't know when John Ford Noonan wrote this play but it feels stuck in a weird, pre-Marilyn French ghetto, with its tiny revelation that a woman doesn't need a man in order to have a life. Really, though, the worst crime is the waste of these fine actors. Take a hint from the script, girls, and move on.
© Lorraine McCann, 18 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August at 1510 (not 22nd)
Company - Little Fish Theatre
Company Website - www.littlefishtheatre.org
Cowboy Mouth. (Page 141).
Venue Greyfriars Kirk House. (Venue 28).
Address 86 Candlemaker Row.
Reviewer Lauren McKie.
Unfortunately, this little-known Sam Shepard collaboration, does not do him justice. The language is sometimes beautiful, but more often is undone by the uncomfortable stage-presence of the actor who plays as Slim. In some places, he seems to ease into his role, ably assisted encouraged by Dagmar Döring as Cavale - who is obviously more comfortable in this bizarre drama. Together they try to bring a little life into the characters but something is seriously lacking in both their performances. There is a genuinely tragic story behind both of the characters which Shepard has hidden well, but this production fails to provide the audience with much more than a glimpse.
The music, which promises to live up to Patti Smith's part in writing the play, is painful - for want of a better expression - this is equally due to the sound setup and the duration and pitch of each song. I need something a bit more generous to help establish the atmosphere. In a poor, unfurnished apartment is it realistic to have an electric guitar (which is not specified in the dialogue) and an amp. I believe it would be much more suited to the situation of the play to employ an acoustic guitar.
For all the disappointing factors, I was extremely pleased with two aspects: Döring's convincing dedication to her black crow - Raymond, and Joff Rands' brief but extremely effective show-stealing appearance at the very end of the piece.
©Lauren McKie. 8 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 29 at 22:30 not 15 or 22.
Company - Honeytrap Theatre.
Company Website - www.honeytraptheatre.co.uk
Cross Road Blues (Page 141).
Venue Sweet in the Grassmarket (Venue 18).
Address Apex City Hotel 61 Grassmarket.
Reviewer Neil Ingram .
In the superstitious world of the American deep south, there have long been stories about an association between exceptional talent and possession by other-worldly powers. Robert Johnson, the now legendary King of the Delta Blues, died very young, apparently poisoned by a jealous woman, but then and now there remain rumours about his deal with the devil.
This brilliant and stylish two-hander, written and directed by David Hall, depicts Johnson, played by Kwesi Asiedu-Mensah, waiting at a cross-roads at midnight. From the shadows a white man, Adam Bisno, appears, offers him a cigarette and tells him a story. He does not give his name, but he is happy to talk, and Johnson in time overcomes his natural suspicions. And his life is changed forever.
This is a moving and graphic depiction of 1930s America, skilfully directed, and excellently acted by the two young performers.
©Neil Ingram 11 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August at 21.25.
Crossfire. (Page 141).
Venue C Electric. (formerly Odeon) (Venue 50).
Address Clerk Street.
Reviewer Bill Dunlop.
Set mainly during the siege of Ladysmith in the Second Boer War, Ideoms’ production values neatly convey a sense of period and place. One actor, the versatile John Nichol, plays three characters whose lives cross and recross a tangled territory of prejudices, patriotisms and personal egotisms. In the besieged town, David Cockburn broods on his love affair with a local girl and the gratuitous insults of an officer who was once his employer. Elsewhere the local barber bemoans the lack of Bay Rum and lends a sympathetic ear to the concerns of his officer customers. In the background, period music is ably played and sung by Hilary Bell.
A neat plot, slightly telegraphed, takes us through a tale of blunder and betrayal to a climax of potentially tragic proportion. ‘Potentially’ in that one actor, however gifted, playing three separate parts, cannot present the reactions of all three at once, and the resort to taped dialogue, as with an earlier resort to taped battle sounds fails to fully convince. Equally, presenting Cockburn’s ultimate fate seems to this reviewer to diminish his tragedy instead of pointing up the futility which led to it.
All armies in all times have produced their share of bone-headed bullies, Caesar’s Civil Wars providing two early prime examples, but although Nichol’s acting is excellent, the writing and characterisation of Lieutenant Balfour, Cockburn’s bete noir is ultimately too close to caricature for this reviewer’s complete credence.
Nevertheless, much of ‘Crossfire’ makes for a satisfying hour in the theatre, and both John Nichol’s acting and Hilary Bell’s musicianship are well worth your time and ticket money.
©Bill Dunlop. 4 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 13 at 18:00 every day.
Company - Ideoms.