|Edinburgh : A&E : Festivals : Fringe Theatre Reviews|
None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
Faust. (Page 147).
Venue Assembly at George Street (Venue 3).
Address Assembly Rooms, 54 George Street.
Reviewer Ksenija Horvat.
Teatr Nowy from Poznan brings to this year's Fringe an offering from their rich and varied repertoire of classic and modern plays. Janusz Wisniewski's version of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's romantic play Faust presents an apocalyptic vision of human existence, a spectral carousel of ephemeral figures, fractured and mislaid in space and time, who pose profound metaphysical questions about the nature of human soul.
The production abounds in profaned Christian imagery that challenges the audience's perceptions of reality and religion. Wisniewski's directorial approach resembles in style early writing by Croatian author Miroslav Krleza. Krleza suggests in his novel The Return of Philip Latinowicz, that life's phenomena have no internal logical or rational connections, and that they unfold and develop alongside each other, with the sort of simultaneity of Hieronymus Bosch or Bruegel - a kind of infernalization of the idea of life.
The debased divine sacrifice, a subversive vision of the Last Supper, grimy figures milling across the stage, each with their own meaningless message to the world, the rotting of innocence and the triumph of death over love - all are melted in a single pot of putrified grotesque humanity.
Wisniewski moves beyond Goethe's metaphysical approach and into the realm of surreal fantasy and, in this sense, this iconographic production of Faust seems curiously old-fashioned, following in the style of great Polish directors of the 1960s and 1970s. The stellar cast of Teatr Nowy keeps it under tight leash though, creating a formidable show that is well worth seeing.
© Ksenija Horvat 11 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August date (not 16th) at 17:40 (1hr 10mins).
Company - Teatr Nowy.
Company Website - www.teatrnowy.pl
Brecht's Fear And Misery In The Third Reich. (Page 136).
Venue Rocket@ Demarco Roxy Art House (Venue 115).
Address Lady Glenorchy’s Church, Roxburgh Pl.
Reviewer Alex Eades.
When I walked into the theatre that was shortly going accommodate a performance of Brecht’s Fear And Misery In The Third Reich my main thoughts were how on earth they were going to pull it off with any sort of credibility in such a tight space. As the audience started to pack in, a grave shadow of doubt crept over my mind. “Oh, no!”, I thought. “They’ve completely messed this up!”.
As it happened, this was not entirely the case.
What little space there is is used effectively by the young cast whose performances are, overall, quite good. Some scenes are better than others and occasionally the acting is a little flat, but when they get it right they really do get it right. The scene that really got me was The Spy, which focuses on a couple's paranoid belief that their child is going to tell the Nazis about everything that is being talked about in their home. Perhaps it is just the remarkable similarity to the paranoia we are all experiencing at the moment which makes this piece especially powerful - the entire audience was captivated.
Towards the end of the show, the audience were starting to get a little disinterested. Not because the show was waning in excitement, but because the temperature in the space was bordering on unbearable. There were far too many people in such a small space and this sadly, effected the enjoyment of a truly great play.
©Alex Eades 23 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs till August 27 at 16:20.
Flowers Of Red. (Page 148).
Venue Roman Eagle Lodge (Venue 21).
Address 2 Johnston Terrace.
Reviewer Thelma Good.
Americans can be seen as naives in the world sometimes, but then so can we all. It's just that there are more of them, and it can feel that they, in their huge country, just don't get what it's like to live in a small endangered strip of land. This play, by Eliza Wyatt, is based on the story of Rachel Corrie, a young woman who went into to Rafa, Gaza to be a human shield to prevent Israeli D-9 bulldozers destroying peoples homes.
The fictional Roberta is the young American woman trying to make a difference, Sami is of the same age but her life experiences in Gaza have made her far more cautious and wary. It's a wariness that almost unhinges the play. She's so reserved, so other, contrasting with the twanging tones of Catherine Lake's well played Roberta, that is hard to feel that any real empathy or dislike happens between the characters.
The play takes its time to build to the moment when Roberta goes off loudhailer in hand to stand in the way of the D9s. And yet that moment arrives too abruptly, perhaps the play has been cut to fit the time space, it certainly feels like it. What Wyatt does bring is are well-drawn characters who inhabit the stage but in their nature never truly connect, in drama that's a tough one to pull off and still retain tension. The atmosphere of the encounter though will ring true to those who have encountered the well-meaning but naive American who seem unable to pick up on cues of difference and culture we give in our smaller countries.
© Thelma Good 13 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August at 20:45, not 16, 23.
Company – Kommedia/Boston Theatrics.
Drams in fact every dram in Edinburgh.
Venue Holyrood Tavern (Venue84).
Address 9a Holyrood Road.
Reviewer Alex Eades.
For some reason I was actually looking forward to seeing Forbidden. Something a little shocking. Something to challenge my values. Shocking? The only thing shocking about this load of rubbish is how it ever got a space to perform at the Fringe.
It's a silly little play that wants to be so much but achieves nothing. It's right now in my memory file as the worst piece of theatre I have seen. I would love to go into the ins and outs what is exactly wrong with it, but I'll cut it short by saying, EVERYTHING. Right now we can get on with our lives.
© Alex Eades 12 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 28 at 19:30, not 15 or 22.
Company – Theatre of the Insane.
The Found Man. (Page 148).
Venue Traverse Theatre. (Venue 15).
Address Cambridge Street, off Lothian Road.
Reviewer Ksenija Horvat.
Riccardo Galgani's new play The Found Man is an uncompromising dissection of a community life. While setting his deceptively simple tale in 1859, Galgani draws clever parallels with a contemporary issue of social inclusion. On a deeper level it indirectly questions the myths of multiculturalism, and difference in general, through constant division into us and them. The characters are not against changing per se, but they seek the change on their own terms, from familiar sources - cultural, political or religious - and they react with trepidation and violence when faced with the unknown.
In this multilayered, lyrical play, the man washed up on the beach becomes a metaphor for those who turn on our doorstep seeking help, only to be turned away, irrevocably, due to unfounded fear. The play carries a strong moral message in which all of the characters are archetypes of human behaviour. At the forefront of events is Moffat, a Proctoresque type of a man who struggles with his own conscience. Still, while Miller's protagonist resolves his inner struggle by choosing the truth's harsh path, Moffat's dilemma hangs over the play's ending like a shadow of the things to come. Galgani refuses any resolution, leaving the play open to interpretations, or perhaps leaving a glimpse of hope that tolerance and acceptance of change might still prevail in the future.
This is a powerful message in the face of current political events, liberated from any banality, and told with force and sensitivity. So, what makes this production fail to fly off the ground then?
Philip Wilson sets the production on the bare stage, inclusive of some clever use of set and props, in order to give his actors maximum space to play with. However, the lack of humour makes this play difficult to digest, and the director's choice of a barren, bleak staging makes it even more unpalatable at times. Furthermore, failing to grasp all of the text's intricacies, Wilson turns it instead into a drone that leaves spectators oddly disengaged. By the end of the production, one does not sympathise with any of the characters, while the found man of the title remains too impalpable to make any real impact on the audiences' psyche. While the actors attempt to do their best with the characters, the interpretation remains half-way between portraying real people and abstractions, and the more visual moments, such as the storm scene, are drowned in languid lighting.
Though none of the above reasons can completely tarnish Galgani's obvious talent, The Found Man remains a classic that fails to live up to its sizeable potential.
Note from the Theatre Editor - The text is published by Nick Hern Books and can be purchased from the Traverse Theatre or good booksellers.
© Ksenija Horvat 7 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August date at different times 12:45pm on 9th, 13th, 18th, 23rd and 27th; 15:30 on 10th, 14th, 19th, 24th, 28th; 18:45 on 11th, 16th, 20th, 25th; 10:30am on 12th, 17th, 21st, 26th (does not run on 8th,15th and 22nd) (1hr 15mins).
Company Traverse Theatre Company.
Company Website www.traverse.co.uk
Fourplay. (Page 148).
Venue Hill Street Theatre. (Venue 41).
Address 19 Hill Street.
Reviewer Marisa de Andrade.
It's called Fourplay, but would be more appropriately titled More-Than-Ten-Plays. It promises four, funny, poignant short plays about life. It offers several snappy scenes that are more like skits. But this play is nothing if not bursting with energy and determined to get its point across.
Perhaps the trouble is the ensemble of seven, have the almighty task of portraying too much in too little time. Four women and three men have much to say about life. But all too often they're telling you about it rather than showing it. The girls sit around a table sharing drinks and stories after work. A nurse, teacher, airhostess and personal assistant vent their frustrations as they guzzle wine. Then they stop mid-sentence, interrupted by an appropriate song, and proceed to act out 'a-day-in-the-life-of'. It's cute, but uninspiring. They wrap up their chat by delivering a poem of sort, then walk off leaving you to wonder if it's over.
Fortunately the boys arrive to nudge the play up a level. As mates, their relationships are a lot more defined. Their scenes are zippier, their skits more entertaining. These lager drinking lads appear to be more together than they claim, keen to discuss metrosexual matters of the modern day.
These actors literally act in straight lines having to utter similarly linear points about war, changing the perception of the western world, shifting the blame, the royal wedding, inequalities and love. A stretch even for the finest of actors.
©Marisa de Andrade 17 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August at 17.45.
Company - Iascene Theatre Company.
The Fourth Wall (Page 148).
Venue C Central (Venue 54).
Address Carlton Hotel, North Bridge.
Reviewer Lorraine McCann.
There seem to be a lot of shows at this year's Fringe that play, in one way or another, with the audience's expectation or understanding of what an actor does when she or he takes to the stage. Such a one is Chris Leicester's The Fourth Wall, which shows how real life can intrude into performance, transform and ultimately wreck it.
The play begins with a Stanislavskian director telling the audience about the actor's 'circle of attention', how it must be controlled and must not expand to include the audience. He then leaves and the stage is taken by the cast of a play, one of whom is clearly having trouble with that self-same circle of attention. He then breaks down and has to leave the stage, prompting the others into the kind of frenzy of stalling and covering-up that is truly funny in a kind of out-takes fashion. But then, as soon as the immediate crisis has subsided, the play moves into a more studied, brooding examination of how the actor's mining of his own experience can bring him perilously close to destruction.
This intense production is blessed with a clutch of fine performances from a cast of prodigious gifts. The weak point, however, has to be the writer's decision to base the actor's disintegration upon a somewhat hackneyed kind of childhood trauma. There is also some rather clunky exposition via a radio news bulletin, which is unforgivable at this level. It does, however, serve as a reminder, in these three weeks, that it's called a 'play', and its practitioners 'players', for a reason.
© Lorraine McCann, 16 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August at 16:45.
Company Too Write Productions.
The Frozen Deep (Page 148).
Venue Augustine's (Venue 152).
Address 41 George IV Bridge.
Reviewer Lorraine McCann.
Ironduke's last Fringe show, Dorian Gray, was a sell-out, so there were high hopes for this year's offering, a dark and moody piece based on a short story by Wilkie Collins, about Sir John Franklin's doomed expedition to find the North-West Passage in 1845. Now, I don't know much about this expedition, and I haven't read the short story. But I'm not sure I'm much wiser about either of these inspirations after watching this slow-paced, rather self-regarding production.
At the outset, it looks quite promising. A series of free-standing grids litter the stage, cast in an eerie blue light that hints at Arctic darkness. But then the actors arrive to take up their positions, moving like they're in a deportment class, and the fractured narrative begins to unfold in scenes of almost risible melodrama. The very young-looking cast just don't convince as seasoned explorers, and several of them are barely audible, or deliver their lines upstage, or have their faces obscured by shadows -- all things a good director could have fixed.
The saving grace is that Ironduke are at least attempting to do something different. The lighting, although probably a little too dim, is interesting. And on the rare occasion when characters are allowed to interact for more than sixty seconds, one can glimpse where the emotional heart of this piece might lie. But overall, the lows far outweigh the highs. Perhaps if you've had too much caffeine, or are fed up with street jugglers, you could pop in a see it -- y'know, for a wee sleep.
© Lorraine McCann, 12 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 22 August at 1540 (not 15th)
F*****g Asylum Seekers. (Page 148).
Venue C Electric (formerly the Odeon). (Venue 50).
Address Clerk Street.
Reviewer Ed Thornton.
“You can’t just come into somebody’s flat and say it’s yours”. Writer-director Victor Sobchak leads Act Provocateur International in a personalised exploration of the prejudices and paranoia of people on both sides of the asylum seeker divide.
Stuart, Andy McQuade, a lager quaffing layabout, is surprised out of his lethargy when a family of asylum seekers turn up to his one bedroom council flat. Bearing authorisation papers from the DSS and enamoured with the democracy of their new country, they form a majority to vote that the flat becomes theirs.
Offering subjectivity to the topical argument by focusing on the troubles in one home Sobchak has attempted to create a microcosm of the nationwide dispute. Acting as overblown stereotypes of each other’s prejudices, both sides expose the ridiculousness of the other’s views in a production that is loyal to neither, preferring instead to poke fun at both.
Stuart, undermined by a society he believes has become so multicultural it's forgotten the rights of the individual, finds it impossible to rally support against his uninvited guests. Turning into a whining apathetic nationalist he's powerless against the unnatural demands of the group. And they are as ungrateful for his hospitality as he always knew they would be.
As representations of larger entities the characters are just about enough to hold your interest, however as stand alone persons they are not. The dreary dialogue and attempts at humour often fall short of the mark, hampering the overall pace of the piece. Additionally by straying a little too close to nationalism at times, its supposedly neutral message is confused.
©Ed Thornton 3 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August not 14, at 14:00.
Company - Act Provocateur International.