|Edinburgh : A&E : Festivals : Fringe Theatre Reviews|
None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
I Licked a Slag's Deodorant. (Page 155).
Venue Rocket at Demarco Roxy Art House (Venue 115).
Address Lady Glenorchy's Church, Roxburgh Place.
Reviewer Ruth Clowes.
This is a challenging production, confrontational and traumatic, but with moments of dark humour and, despite its cynicism, a message of hope and redemption at its heart. There are two characters - Man and Slag.
Grant Armstrong plays the beautifully written part of the Man to perfection, managing to elicit an immense amount of compassion for this vulnerable character. So much, that when the Man finds himself drunk and beaten, lying on the floor with a bra tied round his face, smearing his mouth with a stranger's roll-on deodorant, the principle reaction is one of empathy, as opposed to pity, or simple disgust. It is the small details of his childhood that build such a sympathetic character, from the bright yellow jumper and layers of vests his Mother used to make him wear, to the recently deceased neighbor whom he liked because "he was sadder than me".
The part of the Slag is not quite so well written, lacking the depth of background information to equal the rounded picture we have of the Man, but Rachael McCormick makes the most of the part. She effectively portrays the persona of the hard, thick-skinned prostitute, whilst offering glimpses of the helpless, innocent child underneath. It is the basic naivete of the characters which is so tender and engaging, and when these two lost souls meet, we find ourselves relieved and comforted by the small, unspoken comfort they offer each other. They are still lost, but no longer alone.
© Ruth Clowes 17 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 27 August (not 21) to 20 Aug at 14:45, 22-27 Aug at 17:45.
Company - In Yer Space.
I Miss Communism. (Page 155).
Venue Pleasance Dome. (Jack Dome) (Venue 23).
Address 1 Bristo Square.
Reviewer Bill Dunlop.
As Fox News and even the mighty CNN drastically reduce their overseas correspondent numbers (a response to shareholder pressure), theatre is one way in which gaps in public education can still be addressed – one could argue this is what theatre ought to do in any civilised country. I Miss Communism, however, doesn’t address the many questions it raises. Ines Wurth attempts to examine the impact of history on three generations of a Yugoslav/Croatian family, but the constraints of just over an hour of playing time and a highly simplified view of the past fifty plus years of Central European history means the audience is short-changed to a version of events which would barely pass muster in ‘Twentieth Century Europe One’ as a basic account of these events.
The storyline, of a young woman growing up in Tito’s Yugoslavia in the wake of World War Two, escaping to the false promise of the United States, eventually returning to a divided and disillusioning ‘Former Yugoslavia’ teetering toward unformed democracy has considerable potential which is less than examined here. Wurth is an engaging performer of some talent, but in addition to a gross simplification of a complex history, the script fails to give the performer room for the light and shade it hints at.
There’s a gap at the heart of this piece, which stubbornly refuses to take a firm look at the sorrow and the pity of post-communism as lived experience, nor to recognise the abject failure of ‘civilised’ nations to effectively intervene timeously. There is a potentially good idea here which this script and production appear to flee at an alarming but perhaps not surprising rate.
©Bill Dunlop. 7 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 29 at 16:15 except 15.
Company - Ines Wurth.
Company Website www.imisscommunism.com.
The Ignatius Trail. (Page 11).
Drams None needed soft or otherwise.
Venue Smirnoff Baby Belly (Venue 88).
Address The Caves, Niddry Street South.
Reviewer Lyndsey Turner.
The Ignatius Trail is an absolute delight. The story of a band of bumbling public school pirates whose sea-dog credentials are dubious at best, this adventurous comedy drama for ages 8 and above is played with real energy and precision. The plot is as daft as can be. Ignatius Trail, a 17 year old pirate in training is forced to walk the plank after failing to meet the exacting standards of a fiendish pirate inspector. His attempts to get back to his friends aboard the sappily-named Yellow Flower form the basis of a narrative told through music, drama and tightly- choreographed physical action.
The cast are talented and versatile, singing swaggering shanties with great gusto. And although the score is sometimes a little more Jeff Buckley than Blue Peter, all is forgiven as two of the principles engage in a pant-wettingly funny mock opera about fruit-pooing. Imaginative staging and a strong sense of irony mean that The Ignatius Trail is as fun for adults as is for children.
And yet there is more to the show than a series of deftly-played comic set pieces. A story about friendship, The Ignatius Trail offers audiences a post-modern take on the pirate stories of old. We are taught that violence breeds violence, that honour will triumph and that mermaids aren't always beautiful. Winners of a Fringe First at the 2004 Festival, en masse theatre have struck a beautifully intelligent balance between homage and parody, violence and sentimentality, story and song. Now all you have to do is find a child to take you there.
©Lyndsey Turner 08 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August at 11.30, not 16 or 23.
Company - en masse theatre.
Company Website - www.enmassetheatre.co.uk
The Importance of being Turbann’d. (Page 156).
Venue C (Venue 34).
Address Chambers Street.
Reviewer Ed Thornton.
Cast aside the cucumber sandwiches! The Kumars meet the Jones's in a wild drawing room drama with a difference.
The Singhs are a Punjabi Indian/British family so intent of upholding the traditions of both of their cultures they have become blind to the underhand behaviour of their own sons Julian and Sandip Aman Sharma and Rav Casley Gera respectively. The first time meeting with arranged bride to be Jasmine, Jayanti De, threatens to change all that when it turns into an embarrassing reunion for more than one family member. A surprise announcement causes the carefully engineered social occasion to melt down into a madness of racism and intolerant bigotry largely at the hand of the lecherous grandfather Rajiv Sherma
Director Nadia Latif offers an interesting jumble of Indian and British customs with an insight into the remarkable similarities of the two cultures, and Sharma and Gera display real chemistry in their brotherly scheming. But as a dialogue driven piece it suffers from a considerable lack of its namesake’s wit and charm.
The inconsequential small talk of a first time meeting is painful to play a part in, but it’s equally uncomfortable to watch. Self conscious jokes from the men and gloats from the women do well to set the scene, but when drawn out to fill the larger part of the performance they evoke a great deal less from the audience than the gut wrenching guffaws to which they reduce the cast.
©Ed Thornotn August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August date 20.30
Company: Tabula Rasa Theatre.
The Intruder (Page 156).
Venue Hill Street Theatre (Venue 41).
Address 19 Hill Street.
Reviewer Lorraine McCann.
Hmm, 'symbolist drama' you say. Right. Well, I knew something was up when a woman appeared in the bar just before we were about to go in and told us that the show features moments of complete and utter darkness, and that if anyone was claustrophobic, or just plain wussy, then all you had to do was raise your hand, say 'usher' and someone would come and lead you outside. BUT, if you did wimp out in such a fashion, you wouldn't be allowed back in. Talk about putting the wind up!
They mean what they say, though, those folks at Kudos. There were indeed dark bits -- but there were also funny bits, sad bits, weird bits, scary bits and wet bits, all of which added up to something quite wonderful. As far as the 'story' goes, I'd be fibbing if I said I got much of it. As an experience of extreme theatricality, though, I thought it was great. With a central figure of a blind grandfather whose vulnerability is toyed with and abused by people he should be able to trust, the whole piece resonates long after its conclusion, and brings up questions about power and culpability that reach right into the modern day.
If you've seen too many plays this Fringe that just scratch the surface of symbolism, or that eschew it altogether in favour of TV realism and on-the-nose dialogue, then go see The Intruder. It'll refresh your imagination like bleach down a drain. And if you know what Maeterlinck was really about, I'm sure it's even better.
© Lorraine McCann, 19 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August at 13:00.
The Invasion Handbook. (Page 156).
Drams is not enough. Three bottles of finest malt needed.
Venue C Electric. (Venue 54).
Address Clerk Street.
Reviewer Guy Woodward.
Good God. This really is quite spectacularly bad. It fails in so many directions, in fact, and on so many different levels, that it is probably the most comprehensively bad play I have ever seen. It’s tempting to encourage people to see it if only to confirm that it exists at all, as in retrospect I am finding this idea very difficult to get my head around.
Stephen Don’s new play concerns the inhabitants of a Southend boarding house during the Battle of Britain. These include Godfrey, a red nosed retired Colonel and veteran of the Boer War, Margit, a Polish survivor of the Nazis, Stephen, an academic and linguist, and most notably Peter and Walter, a couple of Nazi spies in town to plan the forthcoming German invasion. After two arse paralysing hours of stultifying, ponderous, embarrassingly inept dialogue, their identities are revealed to the other characters through the use of a truth serum (no, really), and they are arrested.
The play advertises itself as "Dad’s Army meets Tom Stoppard in a nostalgic farce", but needless to say it is none of these things. One should always avoid anything which uses “meets” in the blurb – one of the surest indicators of a desperate production - but citing Dad’s Army and Tom Stoppard is a ludicrous claim to make for this fetid bag of nonsense. Dad’ s Army had jokes in it and even Stoppard’s never written anything this pointless. And as for farce? Don’t make me laugh. No really, don’t make me laugh. Considering one of the funniest jokes involves a play on the confusion between a cormorant and a shag (a shag, geddit) it soon becomes apparent that this is about as funny as, well, as a wet weekend in Southend I suppose.
Compiling a complete list of the defects of The Invasion Handbook would take up several fuhrer sized handbooks, so we’ll confine ourselves to the main ones. Firstly, the play hasn’t the faintest idea of what it is or what it’s doing. It’s not a farce by anyone’s standards, but then it’s not really anything else either. The passages of cod philosophical/ linguistic musings dropped meaninglessly into scenes with Stephen (sample line – "It’ s not a real sausage, Godfrey, it’s a sausage of the mind.") sit uneasily beside jokes about Hitler’s testicles that even a five year old would have binned. Secondly the acting is simply quite terrifyingly awful. The performances of the allegedly professional cast trapped in this sorry wreck of a play are without exception solid mahogany, and their accents really have to be heard to be believed. A wearisome waste of everyone’s time. Get Rid.
©Guy Woodward 26 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 29 August at 14.30
Company – RiverRun Productions.