|Edinburgh : A&E : Festivals : Fringe Theatre Reviews|
None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
The Dalmatian Of Faust. (Page 141).
Venue Augustine's (Venue 152).
Address 41 George IV Bridge.
Reviewer Bill Dunlop.
A brief, necessary confession - before attaining the dizzy heights of his present illustrious position, this reviewer managed a Fringe venue, and worked on two site-specific Festival Fringe shows as well as several others which were not. What follows is coloured by personal bias, not to mention a certain amount of sheer jealousy.
Jealousy at Two Shades of Blue's brilliant cheek and their ability to carry off triumph from the disaster this show pretends to be. Mind you, any production of 'The Damnation of Faust' which re-writes the script so that Chrstopher Marlowe himself not only has a role but (in Two Shades of Blue's production) is played by a cross-dressed Acting ASM, whose part calls for her/him to be the eponymous rival to faust for the affection's of Faust's beloved Gretchen ought to be enough for said Kit Marlowe to have returned from the grave to curse the entire company roundly and soundly.
Bless them, though, they carry on regardless; regardless of truly dreadful puns, hammy one-liners non-appearing members of the cast and the collapse of parts of the set. Regardless too, of audience interruptions (it's a brave company which allows its audience plant to yell out 'what a load of rubbish' at various points). For those of the audience with any experience of amatuer/community or indeed any kind of theatrical participation, it's all very alarming and painfully true. For them,, 'The Dalmatian of Faust' makes for an achingly funny hour in the theatre, but for people without a rough knowldege of both the plot of Faust and what can go wrong in a theatre, it may be less amusing.
Characters are shrewdly observed, from the peeved ASM trying to keep things together, through the Techie whose words of wisdom are only heeded when everything else has been tried, to the director, whose travails and reactions seemed remarkably similar to those of a 'real' director friend (even more disturbing was a similar dress sense). At which point clarity and critical faculty break down altogether. This is a show which deserves what may well be its target audience - other Fringe performers.
©Bill Dunlop 10th August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 13 at 17.00 every day.
Company Two Shades of Blue (in association with Oxford/Cambridge Light Entertainment Societies).
Daniel Kitson: Stories For The Wobbly Hearted. (Page 141).
Drams None required.
Venue Traverse Theatre (Venue 15).
Address Cambridge Street.
Reviewer Leanna Rance.
Daniel Kitson loves words. This is clear. He relishes, savours and devours. His love affair with language is by turn, playful, brave, humble, flirtatious, sad, proud, excitable, forthright. Kitson is a wordsmith pure and simple. Stories For The Wobbly Hearted is Kitson's opportunity to bring this skill, which he clearly delights in, into a quiet, refelctive space where it can be enjoyed to the full.
Kitson is also a storyteller. Nay, a master storyteller.With synergistically interwoven themes encompassing loneliness, hope, desperation, love, optimism and loss, he delves effortlessly into the collective unconscious, gently reminding us of the potency of ordinary life. The effervescence of common experience. The legitimacy of feeling - any feeling - for there is no shame.
It is a redundant exercise describing this show, when in fact it should be seen. The experience itself is transcendent.And its beauty lies in its simplicity. A shambolic, dishevelled figure in crumpled suit and white trainers, Kitson sits in an armchair upon a lamplit stage, a chipped mug and old gramaphone player for company. A genius, one feels borderline-autistic talent at work, weaving his tales calmly, confidently, clearly, obsessively - never faltering. Before us, an uber raconteur.
My favourite moment - a short film depicting the passage of ordinary lives, flickers on a giant screen behind Kitson. Below, the man sits in quiet contemplation, abstractedly gazing down at his folded hands, waiting. Kitson appears breathtakingly vulnerable in this moment - the fragility and yet fortitude of the human condition personified.
Stories For The Wobbly Hearted is creative alchemy. A show not to miss.
© Leanna Rance 10 August - published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 28 August at 22.00 every day, excepting August 15, 22.
Company – Hannah Chambers Management.
David Hume - Citizen of the World. (Page 142).
Venue St. Mark’s Unitarian Church (Venue 125).
Address 7 Castle Terrace.
Reviewer Bill Dunlop.
The first thing to note is that this is NOT a play, or even a rehearsed reading; in the normal course of events, enter a church and one should not be surprised to find oneself being preached at. When a church advertises itself as a Fringe venue and enters an event under ‘Theatre’ in the Fringe programme, the perpetrators ought not to be surprised if the audience feels itself short-changed, if not deceived if what they get is something other.
The life of David Hume has enough incident and event to make for interest. Neither drama nor interest seem to be of concern to this company. The main purpose of the partially dramatised lecture to which we are subjected appears to be to use Hume’s observations as the basis for point-scoring, particularly against the Calvinist strain of political thought in the United States, whether historical or contemporary.
While holding no brief for the United States’ embroilment in an unwinnable overseas adventure, blame for this cannot be solely attributed to one belief system, nor can observations on a previous age and different situation be de-contextualised to support a particular line of argument. In any case, such a tactic makes for poor drama and a highly tedious waste of audiences' time and attention.
One of the joys of the Edinburgh Fringe for the indigenous reviewer is encounters with local actors and companies presenting their own material - cultural cuisine terroir, with its’ own particular flavour. David Hume - Citizen of the World however, lacks a rootedness in place as well as time, turning Hume into a globe-trotting contemporary, estranged both in speech and manner from his eighteenth century Scottish origins.
Should you find yourself with an hour or more of an Edinburgh lunchtime, this reviewer suggest you knock up a large Salade Nicoise, ‘phone up a few friends, take it and them to one of the city’s pleasant green spaces, stopping en route for a nice bottle of wine, and use the time to civilly ask each other questions which matter. David Hume would almost certainly have approve.
©Bill Dunlop 14th August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 14th August date at 12.00
Company The Radicals
David Leddy’s Through The Night. (Page 142).
Venue Scotland’s Theatre Gateway at Studio 4. (Venue 92).
Address Elm Row.
Reviewer Ed Thornton .
What songs do you listen to when you’re lonely in the night? Inspired by a chance meeting on a train David Leddy’s new play is an enchanting mixture of musical memories and dreamy descriptions of the not particularly remarkable life of an ordinary woman.
Sitting on an exercise ball on his psychedelic wigwam set, and hovering somewhere between performance artist, dramatist and story teller, Leddy looks like a serene Buda. His fragmented account of Stella’s journey from the loneliness of living as a servant to her terminally ill father, to a place where the possibility of happiness is real, is like a modern day Cinderella on acid.
Taking on the personalities of the colourful characters she meets on her way Leddy negotiates a complicated and clever script full of apparent loose threads which he skilfully ties together. Brutally honest and at times delightfully funny this show is as much a portal into Leddy’s bizarre mind as it is an account of Stella’s life.
His testimony to the amazing power of music is supported by Pippa Murphy’s impeccable sound design. In long moments of physical stillness the music takes over and is as evocative as Leddy’s words. Combined they create state of dream like tranquillity that feels like one long hallucination. It’s not the easiest performance to follow but if you leave it to wash over you, it all becomes clearer in the end.
©Ed Thornton 8 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 28 at various times
Company David Leddy.
Company Website www.davidleddy.com
The Devil's Larder. (Page 142).
Drams (for the devil)!
Venue Traverse 4 Debenhams (Venue 106).
Address Debenhams department store, Princes Street.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin.
This highly inventive, promenade play, is based on Jim Crace's novella of the same name, an imaginative collection of stories about appetite, food and desire from the humourous to the disturbingly macabre. Grid Iron is renowned for their unique productions staged in unconventional spaces far removed from the traditional theatre stage. This year the setting is Debenhams Department store.
A cast of four superb actors and a musician dramatise a selection of Crace's stories in quick changing sketches on a walk through the dark, back stairwells, corridors and shop floor at night when it is empty and quiet as the grave. We are greeted by a Devilish character, Andrew Clark and his red lipped witch, the very glamorous Sarah Belcher, clutching an unlabelled can of anonymous food, " beans, fish or fruit?". We are then led upstairs, passing a waitress rushing past with a tray of food and into a grand 'hotel lobby' where the porter relates a sinister tale about an unfortunate guest. In the kitchenware department we encounter a woman who seasons her soup with the cremated remains of her husband, to swallow her grief, while his voice sings from her stomach. Over in Bedding amongst the soft pillows and duvets, we observe a frustrated bridegroom played by Ciaran Bermingham feeding his virgin wife, Hilary O'Shaughnessy, an aphrodisiac of juicy red berries and medicinal herbs. This is beautifully performed with bittersweet, subtle eroticism.
The tone is by turns comical, bizarre and subversive as the stories explore, through our relationship with food, the entire scope of human emotion - nostalgia, temptation, guilt, lust, gratification and fear. A haunting soundtrack, music and song from composer/musician David Paul Jones, is well devised to shift the pace and mood between scenes. The atmospheric shop setting offers a quirky and theatrical backdrop for some stories but otherwise it's slightly incongruous walking through women's fashion with sale notices. Altogether, a mesmerising dramatic journey, brilliantly performed with wit, charisma, poetry and passion.
©Vivien Devlin, 13 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August date at 8.15pm not Thursdays.
Company - Grid Iron.
Company Website - www.gridiron.org.uk
Dirty Works (Page 143).
Venue Baby Belly (Venue 88).
Address The Caves, Niddry St South (off Cowgate).
Reviewer Ritchie Smith.
The dark, shambolic, haunted interior of the Baby Belly is a wonderful venue, and seems entirely appropriate for the dark, shambolic junkies' lives presented in this play. Unfortunately, though it has been heavily hyped, Dirty Works (junky slang for a used hypodermic syringe) strikes me as not really much more than an episode of The Bill with swearing. (Okay, much more swearing.) You know the kind of thing. Rough white estate in London. Every leery lad a 'geezer' intent on climbing up from petty criminality into becoming 'a face'. Every screechy-voiced, shoplifting white-stilettoed 'slag' about ten years of prostitution and heroin addiction away from being old. And haven't we seen all this before...?
Yes. We have.
The sick desperation of these lives was shown quite effectively, but the narrative is slow-paced and pretty predictable, and the play not nearly as deep and raw as it thinks it is. I was occasionally reminded of Wayne and Waynetta Slob, without the laughs. The 'crime' seems mere nasty stupidity, and the off-stage demise of 'Ideas Man' fails to interest or move. Candidly, the characters are two-dimensional, they don't change, nor do we learn anything of much interest.
The performances, after early audibility problems (not from Christine Rendel, clearly a thorough professional), were of more interest, with Micky Campbell notably intense, and the author Jamie Linley convincingly odd as full-blown Aids produces dementia. Nevertheless, a far more powerful story is needed, with characters rather than caricatures; as it is, Dirty Works barely works.
©Ritchie Smith 14 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 28 at 16:00.
Company Stiff Upper Lip, Covent Garden Productions & The Villar-Hauser Theatre Development Fund.
Dogg's Hamlet, Cahoot's Macbeth. (Page 143).
Venue The Zoo. (Venue 124).
Address 140 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Guy Woodward.
Czech born curly haired clever clogs Tom Stoppard wrote this pair of playlets after having read some Wittgenstein, apparently. Well done Mr Stoppard sir, but really, what the hell is going on here? The characters appear to be putting on some plays (Hamlet and Macbeth) but when they aren't speaking the familiar lines from Shakespeare's works seem to talk complete nonsense.
In Dogg's Hamlet English words of one meaning take on another, thus shattering our assumptions about language ("sir" becomes "git" etc etc). At first this is confusing, after a while a little more comprehensible, but in the end just damn tedious. What should have been a five minute sketch is stretched into half an hour of stage time. And Lord knows what Cahoot's Macbeth is about. The persecution of Czech playwrights supposedly, but I'm afraid I succumbed to the heat in the theatre and slept through most of it.
We shouldn't bang on about Stoppard's script too much, though, because 10 in a Bed's production of the two plays is absolutely brilliant. Visually stunning, with superb use of space, light and props, the acting here is some of the best I've yet seen on the Fringe. For the most part the cast take a number of roles in each playlet, and they move between them with consummate ease. Ryan Ormonde's Cahoot is particularly physically striking, and John-Paul Treen as Dogg is both dry and imposing. If you like Stoppard, you'll love this.
©Guy Woodward 12 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 20 August at 16.45.
Company - 10 in a Bed.
Don't Look Back (Page 143).
Venue HM General Register House (Venue 238)
Address 2 Princes Street
Reviewer Neil Ingram .
Site specific work has a fascination if it can show a familiar building or space in an innovative and unusual way. Don't Look Back is only on in Edinburgh for 5 days, and only 80 people can see it at each of its 6 performances, so it presents a unique opportunity to experience a truly moving and memorable event.
Creator/director Tristan Sharps and designer Naomi Wilkinson have reinterpreted and improvised on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. The show starts when you and two companions are led into a completely dark room, and after an introduction from the gatekeeper who gives you a numbered ticket, you proceed on your journey. Through an abandoned wedding reception and past images of the young bride's funeral, you wind your way around, down, around and up as if through a maze made from the endless shelves of records, starting with births, then on through marriages. Here and there are silent workers, engaged on repetitive tasks as they keep track of the living and the dead. Eventually you emerge at the top of the circular racks, and find yourself looking down on more workers, who interrupt their endless toil to watch as you walk round under the great dome of General Register House.
The journey then takes you down to the underworld, where your tickets are collected and your numbers are called. Led through the cold, sometimes dark corridors beneath the building, you suddenly see floating towards you the same ghostly bride, but as you look she is drawn away and vanishes. Every time we look at her, Eurydice is drawn back to the land below, and we are left in the limbo whence we can briefly return to our real world. But it is a sobering reminder that hers the one journey we will all have to make.
©Neil Ingram 24 August 2005 Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs till 27 August every 5 mins from 19:00 to 21:15, also 27 August from 14:00 to 16:15.
Company Website www.dreamthinkspeak.com
Drag King Richard III (Page 143).
Venue Change of Venue Sweet Ego (Venue 204).
Address 14 Picardy Place.
Reviewer Rachel Labovitch.
Trapped inside the body of the wrong sex is an issue which is often considered a taboo and consequently not widely known about. Amy Butterworth, and Jacqueline Richardson from Drag King Richard III propel this issue forward in a confronting piece of ‘In- Yer-Face Theatre’. Laurie , was born a young woman who wishes to become Lawrence and juxtaposes her inner maleto that of Shakespeare’s deformed villain, Richard III. She compares, in an interesting and compelling way, Richard's frustration of his deformity to that of her own. Her old school friend finds it hard to digest and speaks for the audience when asking why Laurie wishes to undergo such a dramatic transformation.
Yet by the end of the play we feel more enlightened to her questions having witnessed such traumatic images as Laurie desperately binding her breasts in an attempt to make them disappear. The flow of the play was smooth and tightly rehearsed, and the language both renaissance and modern were spoken well, yet some of the scenes they used from Richard III are unclearly conveyed. Perhaps it could have used less interjections from Shakespeare and concentrated more on the story at hand which was predominantly about friendship.
Terri Power directs this wonderfully, yet there were some scenes which were distasteful and could have afforded to be less brash. The lack of subtlety in places distracted from the beauty of the piece. If you are looking for a new provocative and challenging piece of theatre and wish to see the fringe at its ‘fringiest’ then Drag King Richard III is just for you.
© Rachel Labovitch 16 August 2005 Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs every even day till August 26 at 10:50.
Company The Shake-scene players.
Drowned Lilies. (Page 143).
Venue Pend at Gateway (Venue 7).
Address Elm Row.
Reviewer Thelma Good.
What would it be like to be a Siamese twin? This play written and directed by Simon Bartolo was developed with Aeateia Theatre, Maltese Theatre Company whose work certainly deserves to be seen beyond its shores. Loranne Wells chills as La Signors Fogli the mother and manipulator of her daughters, Lily and (Lelia), difficult roles well played by Sephora Gauci and Dorothy Baldacchino. She shows her offspring off to brittle members of society including Mr Jay, Miss Pume, Mr Ironwood and Miss Steppendolf. When poet Edmund Zanter arrives he sees not two freaks but one entrancing creature. Lily/(Lelia) are/is also attracted and as they talk and interact you realise that the identity of Lily is "more than one, less than two".
The story of their lives is told with theatrical economy, using music and song as well as the marvelous mannered visitors who go with them to America. There they are even more confined though Zanter visits them his fascination with their conjoinedness is no longer shared by the twins. Acted and directed with precision and visual eye this introduces a theatre company well able to present work on the international stage. I hope they return soon, it's work well worth seeing.
© Thelma Good 20 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 21 August at 17:00 every day, not Suns etc.
Company – Aleateia Theatre Group.
Company Website www.aleateia.com
The Drowning Point. (Page 144).
Venue C Chambers. (Venue No 34)
Address Chambers Street.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin.
This world premiere of a new play by Nicholas Earls stars the acclaimed performer Claire Porter. She received exceptional acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe 2002 in her role as Nia in 100 which won a Fringe First for the Imaginary Body Theatre company. My review at the time described this dark, philosophical play as " a stunningly original and mind- blowing piece of drama, performed with energy, commitment and sheer passion."
The Drowning Point is an intense, fast moving, multi-media physical theatre piece by Bluegreen Productions which specialise in using drama to explore issues of the human condition. In a solo performance, Claire Porter plays Beth, a successful, happily married school teacher whose carefree life is suddenly shattered by the death of her husband, Graham. What is more tragic is the fact that he has drowned in a boating accident and found naked with her best friend Sandy. The news seems utterly impossible to believe or even contemplate. "How can I deal with it, I can see them on the boat". The betrayal by her two best friends begins to destroy her sanity - she too is not waving but drowning as she descends into a black, bleak nervous breakdown.
On an empty black box stage, with nothing but a pail of water as a prop, we observe Beth as she narrates her story, trying to make sense of it all. There are heartrending, beautifully crafted scenes such as when she reads bereavement letters with anger and despair. Through a series of flashback scenes, with a powerful use of film footage and ingenious soundtrack of recorded conversations, she reminisces her wedding day - "he loved me, we were the perfect couple" - and happy dinner parties with friends.
From the first moment of this intense 45 minute portrayal, Porter captures the mental torture, the grief, the loss of love and trust with extraordinary emotive expression and strength of understanding. Credit should also be given to the artistic collaborators - director, Scott Williams and Claude Fisicaro and also to Mike Willox for photography and soundscape.
© Vivien Devlin, 6 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 28 at 4pm every day
Company- Bluegreen Productions.
Company Website www.bluegreenproductions.co.uk
It's said that all that drama needs is actors and the boards to perform the
play on. The Corn Exchange based in Dublin has brought to the 2005 Edinburgh
Fringe a production of visual simplicity and theatrical integrity, and more
than proves the point. Set in a some what fictitious 1904's Dublin where the
rebellious southern Irish, and their newly founded National Theatre on its opening
night, are to have a visit from their British King. Playwright Michael West
and the company who devised it with him have coloured shades of historical
fact into a play, directed by Annie Ryan, full of comedy and tragic moments.
It also superbly draws on the strengths of Commedia dell'Arte. The result is
a delight for those who haunt auditoriums, have experienced the shabby backstage
reality, and also a fine way to experience for the first time the power of the
stage and the actors upon it for an audience.
Duck (Page 144).
Venue Rocket at Demarco Roxy Art House (Venue 115).
Address 2 Roxburgh Place.
Reviewer Neil Ingram .
Duck is a survivor, looking for a better life and a real relationship, but she's vulnerable to the real world which she approaches head-on. In Stella Feehily's play, Cat, Stephanie Brittain, known to the world as Duck, and Sophie, Philly Howarth, are friends in their late teens. Cat works in a night club owned by her boyfriend, Mark Benjamin Clarke, who she also lives with. Sophie is a student, still living at home.
Needing to find a way out of her current life, Cat strikes up a friendship with Jack, a writer who is much older than her, but more problems result. This is a fast-moving play with a lot of short scenes, as we go from one house or flat to another, and to the club itself. It's well directed and the main actors are good, especially Brittain in the lead role. But while there are too many small parts for the other actors to shine, and the plot meanders at times, it's a lively piece, convincingly done.
©Neil Ingram 13 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs 16,18 and 20 August at 13.10.
Company About Turn Theatre Company
Durang B4 Dinner. (Page 144).
Drams Absolutely none at all.
Venue Rocket at Demarco Roxy Art House. (Venue 49).
Address Lady Glenorchy's Church, Roxburgh Place.
Reviewer Lauren McKie.
Wow! Very capable production by an all-round exceptional cast. Durang's writing is well chosen and the overall design is simple enough that we can appreciate the performances of the ensemble more completely. Each short is well acted, with not one gag missing the target. The timing of each performer is precise and not even the wide variety of accents interferes with our enjoyment of each piece - because the performers seem to flit between the different personalities effortlessly.
My only quibble (amazing considering there are four different pieces here) is that the resetting of the stage for each piece takes a good deal longer than it should because one of the performers is "playing" the part of the Stage Manager.
Other than the slight over-run, there is absolutely nothing to prevent me recommending this play to anyone with a healthy sense of humour. This is true Christopher Durang played for laughs and even provoking a few "actor's nightmares". The wonderful performance and balance by the ensemble - particularly Liam Clarke - has me laughing louder even than I usually do! I hate to single any one performer out because each is a pleasure to watch - we have so many characters to identify with; Laura O'Toole as Naomi is literally "hysterical" and I cannot help but think that Jennifer Henry should take her Dame Ellen Terry portrayal on her own wee tour! But for me Actor's Nightmare really stands out as the one worth waiting for. Plan your dinner arrangements around this piece and don't drink a drop till you've seen it!
©Lauren McKie. 9 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 20 at 17:45 - showing 11,13,16,18,20 (on tour with Romeo & Juliet, Duck and The Pitchfork Disney)
Company - About Turn Theatre Company.
Company Website - http://www.aboutturn.co.uk
Dylan Thomas In America (Page 144).
Drams None needed for Read's Dylan.
Venue Venue 13. (Venue 13).
Address Lochend Close, Canongate.
Reviewer Guy Woodward.
“Thomas the Voice, Thomas the Booze, Thomas the Debts, Thomas the Jokes, Thomas the Jokes, Thomas the Wales, Thomas the Sex, Thomas the Lies,” wrote a somewhat exasperated Seamus Heaney ten years ago, “ in fact there are so many competing and revisionist inventions of Thomas available … that one asks whether there is still any place on the roll call for Thomas the Poet.” Gwynne Edwards’ Dylan Thomas in America starring Peter Read gives us all of the above. It is heartbreaking and hilarious in equal measure. Double measures, you might say.
Adapted from the poet’s letters home whilst on tour in the States, the monologue describes the various sexual exploits, financial difficulties, writer’s block and sense of dislocation that Thomas encountered on the road in what he describes as “this cancerous Babylon” and “this vast, mad horror”. “And so it goes on,” he wails at one point, “this journey of the damned,” and his boredom and hatred of America and Americans, of the monotony of press junkets, of inane questions and soulless hotel rooms, is impassioned.
A good deal of the show is also taken up with the tortuous composition and nerve wracking first public performances of Thomas’ most famous work, Under Milk Wood, and offers a fascinating insight into his anxieties and fears at the time. We feel his pain, and begin to see the shambling wreck cowering behind the tousled libertine of myth, torn between women, poetry and the bottle, soon to be torn apart. In what is a hugely demanding role, Read as Thomas is exemplary, gradually uncovering over the course of an hour a performance beautifully nuanced in both delivery and movement.
©Guy Woodward 9 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 13 at 21.00.
Company - Amulet.