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Page number refers to the Fringe programme

The Lesson. (Page 158).

Drams full glass.
VenueRocket@Demarco Roxy Art House.
AddressLady Glenorchy’s Church, Roxburgh Pl.
ReviewerAlex Eades.

Before I walked into Roxy 2 at the Roxy Art House, I have to admit that I was pretty tired. The life of a critic at the fringe is no picnic and all of this excitement can get a little bit too much for this bouncy theatre goer. I take my seat. I relax. 50 minutes to regain my strength.The lights go down, the actors light up. And we’re off!.......Relax? Not a chance!

Ionesco’s classic absurdist play is brilliantly brought to life in this weird and wacky show that is as much funny as it is disturbing. The set is kept fairly simple, with only a small table, chair and a couple of mirrors, but the actors explode onto the scene with such intense energy that any more occupied space would just be dangerous. The young cast are manic and marvellous. Oh what it is to be young! Their energy is unmatched by anything I have seen in a long time.

Before you know it, it is over. Where did that 50 minutes go? It’s one of those shows that you just wish would last a bit longer. Maybe Ionesco would have written an inferior piece and maybe  all of the cast would have died from heart failure. But, boy.......I wish.
©Alex Eades 8 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs until 13th August at 16:20.
Company-Trent Theatre Company.


The Lad Lit Project. (Page 158).

Drams full glassfull glass.
Venue Underbelly. (Venue 61).
Address 56 Cowgate.
Reviewer Pippa Tennant.

I’ve got to admit, I was expecting to leave with a bit more of an insight into the male psyche than Alexander Kelly provided. A few more comparisons between men from Mars and women from Venus would have been appreciated, but then again, maybe the male mentality just isn’t that complicated…

The Lad Lit Project is entertaining nonetheless and contains moments of brilliance. The unwritten chapters of male lives are explored in this one man show, containing a wide variety of ages and professions – from scenes making us laugh out loud, to scenes provoking complete nausea! We undergo a classic lecture on the importance of the great British pub, which of course encourages us reproduce, therefore fundamentally keeping our population alive. There's also brilliantly bizarre, crucial facts for life: “Termites eat through wood twice as fast if they’re listening to Van Halen”. Stories of rejection, stories of war, stories of how to remove a human brain. This eclectic piece of theatre is definitely worth checking out, but don’t go thinking you will be discovering secrets you don’t know already.
©Pippa Tennant 17th August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 28th at 17:05 every day.
Company - Third Angel
Company Website - www.thirdangel.co.uk


The Lady Of The House. (Page 158).

Drams full glassfull glassfull glassfull glass.
Venue Underbelly. (Venue 61).
Address 56 Cowgate.
Reviewer Pippa Tennant .

The meaningfulness or absurdity of human existence: A question which undoubtedly plays on all our minds. Unfortunately however, the debate for which one hopes never materialises in The Lady of The House.

After a tediously slow start, the pace quickens slightly, but seems incapable of delving to depths any more than a couple of centimetres. Fascinating ‘Bergman- esque’ viewpoints are certainly introduced in this half hour production and flickers of sharp irony entice us for brief moments, but the somewhat disappointing script plummets further when combined with the actresses’ lack of energy and frankly unconvincing performances. In addition, the bare set prevents us from finding a sanctuary for our boredom.

No doubt, there is copious potential brewing throughout these stilted conversations between the Maid and Lady, but frustratingly, an engaging discussion remains hidden.
©Pippa Tennant 10th August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 20th August at 11:30 every day
Company doomngloom productions.


The Ladyboys of Bangkok. (Page 158).

Drams No drams needed!
Venue Meadows Theatre Big Top.(Venue 189).
Address The Meadows, Melville Drive.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin.

OK. Straight up - this is one of the most fabulous cabaret shows I have ever seen.

The first year the Ladyboys came to perform in Edinburgh, audiences were sceptical and unsure what to expect but word spread around the city. Seven years on, it's sure to be another sell out show - in 2004 it was one of the most popular Fringe shows of all time attracting as many local citizens as Festival visitors. Edinburgh is now seen as their spiritual home.

Cabaret of Smiles is a new production for 2005 featuring a glamorous and glitzy line up of sixteen beautiful Ladyboys from Thailand. Far removed from any tacky transvestite Soho show, the company is part of the traditional Kathoey culture which performs at Bangkok's top nightclub. Forget any ideas of cheap thrills or sleazy adult entertainment. This is a top class, professional musical show. As a Ladyboys "virgin" as it were, I was totally taken aback by the quality and standard of dance routines, singing, miming, lavish costumes, comic sketches and impeccable chorus line choreography.

The spectacular Palace-like circus tent is the perfect setting with large party tables and licensed bars for a great night out with friends. From the opening number, the music will get your feet tapping, (later you may be up dancing), through lively and loud renditions of classic disco numbers, gay anthems and current pop songs. There may be guest appearances of Gwen Stefani, Madonna, Britney and the (hilarious) Cheeky Girls, strutting their stuff with sexy, sassy attitude. And then for the Wow! factor when supermodels Tina and Vivienne show off their high-energy, high-kick dancing. A few unsuspecting men may even be invited up on stage. This is sheer (clean) entertainment with a capital E. Where else could you see a show this fun? Forget Las Vegas, come to the Meadows Big Tent during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
©Vivien Devlin 7 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 3 September date at 7pm and 9.15pm every day.
Company - Gandey Productions.
Company Website - www.ladyboysofbangkok.co.uk

Later Showers (Page 158).

Drams None Needed.
Venue C Electric . (Venue 50).
Address Clerk Street.
Reviewer Pippa Tennant .

Whatever else you are planning to do this week – see this show. If you are fully booked, cancel others.

Told countless times to keep his head more in reality, Danny’s love of poetry is his only refuge within this emotional tempest: “Pain is the ultimate negative, but when poeticised it becomes something beautiful”. Striving for this poetic light within his dark surroundings, triggered by the death of his all-time-role-model-father, we hear the tale of Danny’s life, where his idealism, his pain, his unpopularity and frustration with life are beautifully represented.

As the soaking wet Danny enters from the Scottish storm and removes his boots which are overflowing with water, we immediately take a liking to this endearing character. We enter a world of depression in which Danny discovers the limitations of words, brilliantly brought to life as Michael Grady switches from one character to the next with instantaneous clarity and credibility.

This impressive production penetrates vast depths of insight, creating an intelligent and engaging performance. Wow. I was stunned and I hope you will be too.
© Pippa Tennant 20August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 29 at 13:00 every day, not 14th etc.
Company Three's Company.
Company Website www.threescompany.co.uk


Laurel and Laurel. (Page 158).

Drams full glassfull glass.
Venue Assembly Rooms (Venue 3).
Address 54 George Street.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin.

Bob Kingdom is a remarkable, versatile actor whose penchant for impersonating writers and actors including Dylan Thomas and Truman Capote has won him numerous Fringe awards and sell out seasons in London and New York. This year he has created a new personality, or in fact, two facets of the same man, playing Stan Laurel on and off screen, in black and white and in colour.

Sitting high up on a black director's chair, Stan Laurel, with his crumpled face and shock of spiky hair is captured in the flickering light of a silent movie camera. We then fast forward to retirement days when Laurel is living quietly in California. His time is filled with memories and phone calls with friends, Jerry Lewis and Dick van Dyke, who keep in touch. He recalls meeting Olly, known as Babe, and how the two comedians, the fat one and the skinny one, made "the perfect couple, like ham and eggs". His narration is interrupted by the comments and questioning of his alter ego, the simple, silly man who got everything wrong. It's a clever, dramatic device as Kingdom rather brilliantly switches character and voice, from one to the other, as they debate their life together.

The truth is that Stan was the clever one, as a successful actor/writer/director, earning twice as much as Olly. Yet, the sad irony was that Laurel - "all I wanted to do was make people laugh" - had a rather difficult and frustrating personal life with several divorces, expensive alimony and, latterly, a disastrous studio contract. This tightly scripted one-hour show packs in a full biography, coloured with humorous anecdotes, facts and figures. It's all delivered at a cracking pace which could drop a gear or two. But as always, Bob Kingdom has created another insightful portrait - informative, entertaining and quite magical.
Note. Bob Kingdom is giving one final, Farewell Edinburgh performance of Dylan Thomas, on 22 August, Assembly Rooms, described as "a must-see theatrical event"
©Vivien Devin, 8 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 29 at 11.25 every day
Company - Richard Jordan Productions.
Company Website - www.theculture.net/bobkingdom


Lear. (Page 145).

Dramsfull glassfull glassfull glassfull glass
Venue Augustine's(Venue 152).
Address 41 George IV.
Reviewer Lauren McKie.

It is puzzling to try and fit this production together. This is what I notice as soon as the first lights go down, and is still bothering me as I walk out of the venue.

The stage is awkwardly set - amplified by the actors being blatantly uncomfortable with some parts of it. The sound effects are inconsistent and the music - which we can assume is intended to add an eeriness to the story - is so loud that it vibrates my chair and I can feel my hand shaking. This isn't eerie - it is annoying, careless, humorous to some - but not eerie.

Bond's adaptation is a tricky one, as it neglects some of the subplots within Shakespeare's King Lear in favour of including less political insight and more random onstage violence. I do like the clever way Bond has fused some of the stories together, but will not spoil this for anyone keen to spot this for themselves. It is largely a very topical and accessible remodelling of Lear but sadly, I don't believe it is worth the ticket price - or even the student ticket price.

Having read and heard good things about Ariel Productions' offerings in 2004, I expect a little bit more enthusiasm and life in this production than some others I've seen. The acting is extremely boring to watch, with only one actress really giving any sign of understanding her character - and this was surprisingly Alexa Lamont who was tackling Fontanelle - an extremely unsympathetic character. Lear is supposed to undergo his redeeming tranformation throughout the play - the actor just stumbles through his role, occasionally having a brilliant flash of the reality of paranoia and madness and then - well, then he just seems to lose interest.

On this showing Lear comes across as a very difficult play to present, with the characters seem perhaps even more murky and deceptive than those in the original - but this is a half-hearted production which simply does not justify itself. Ariel Productions need at least a little life in a play like this (and as long as 90 minutes) to keep their audience interested in them. You cannot rely on stage guns to jump start your audience back into consciousness - it's not fair to our poor heart rates!
©Lauren McKie August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs on odd days to 29 August.
Company - Ariel Productions.
Company Website - www.ariel.soc.ucam.org


The Lesson. (Page 158).

Drams full glass.
VenueRocket@Demarco Roxy Art House.
AddressLady Glenorchy’s Church, Roxburgh Pl.
ReviewerAlex Eades.

Before I walked into Roxy 2 at the Roxy Art House, I have to admit that I was pretty tired. The life of a critic at the fringe is no picnic and all of this excitement can get a little bit too much for this bouncy theatre goer. I take my seat. I relax. 50 minutes to regain my strength.The lights go down, the actors light up. And we’re off!.......Relax? Not a chance!

Ionesco’s classic absurdist play is brilliantly brought to life in this weird and wacky show that is as much funny as it is disturbing. The set is kept fairly simple, with only a small table, chair and a couple of mirrors, but the actors explode onto the scene with such intense energy that any more occupied space would just be dangerous. The young cast are manic and marvellous. Oh what it is to be young! Their energy is unmatched by anything I have seen in a long time.

Before you know it, it is over. Where did that 50 minutes go? It’s one of those shows that you just wish would last a bit longer. Maybe Ionesco would have written an inferior piece and maybe  all of the cast would have died from heart failure. But, boy.......I wish.
©Alex Eades 8 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs until 13th August at 16:20.
Company-Trent Theatre Company.


The Lifeblood (Page 159).

Drams None needed.
Venue Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33).
Address 60 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Lorraine McCann.

At a time when the teaching of history in school has veered away from giving primacy to kings and queens and battles and treaties, in favour of honouring the experience of 'ordinary' people, it may or may not be surprising that Glyn Maxwell's 2004 verse-drama about an extraordinary monarch seems to hold a deep fascination for many Scots. What is in no doubt, however, is that the play is both historically robust and gripping theatre.

Set in the final days of Mary Stuart's 18-year internment in Stafford and then at Fotheringhay, the play does a brilliant job of setting the context for the action. Amidst the thickest of intrigues and competing agendas, Mary is clearly marked as simultaneously having little control over her fate and yet being the architect of her own downfall -- it is she, after all, who insists on replying to a letter offering to arrange her escape, thereby making possible the success of the Babington Plot to label her a usurper. And yet she is also victim: her son, James, has his mind poisoned against her, and her faith is scorned and ridiculed.

The electrifying performance given by Sue Scott Davison is the rightful centrepiece of the play but there is truly an embarrassment of riches amongst a superb cast. Chris Gilling must be mentioned for his suave, effortlessly menacing Walsingham, while Anthony Howell, as Sir Thomas George, takes swaggering in leather to new heights. Director Guy Retallack similarly excels at using the Pleasance Two's bomb-shelter backdrop, with the odd utlra-modern chair or laptop incongruously highlighted, and the courtroom scene that posits the audience as jurors is sublime.

The Lifeblood is the sort of production that fills one with hope for the future of theatre in this country. As Maxwell himself has said: 'People who say that verse can't work on the stage nowadays are saying that Shakespeare can't work on the stage.' Well, on this evidence, they're wrong, Maxwell is right, and we should wish more writers would aim this high.
© Lorraine McCann, 26 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August at 15:45.
Company - Lifeblood Theatre Company.


The Lightning Conductor. (Page 159).

Drams full glassfull glass.
Venue Southside (Venue 82).
Address 117 Nicholson Street.
Reviewer Ruth Clowes.

The plot of this surrealist farce is controlled by a wide open yet dreaming eye, typing away at the corner of the stage. The characters that the eye controls follow every whim of its meandering, whimsical train of thought. The majority of the action takes place in the tiny lamp room of a lighthouse, where the lighthouse keeper has run out of oil on a stormy night. Reinforcements arrive in the shape of old friends, last reunited years ago, and as the lamp room becomes more crowded so the relationships become more claustrophobic and laws of physics and narrative begin to dissolve.

This is not a straightforward production, and at times strays (deliberately) into incomprehensibility. The meanings behind the obscure, cluttered symbolism are often not immediately apparent, but nevertheless compelling and oddly memorable. The performances themselves are equally absorbing, with certainty giving way to insomnia and confusion as order gives way to chaos, although the characters' consistent upper-class twit status does quickly start to grate.

Uncomplicated lighting and a simple violin music accompaniment keep the action centred on the bewildered characters and the increasingly nonsensical plot. This certainly won't be everyone's cup of tea, but if you like a bit of posh and the words "surrealist farce" don't have you running for the nearest exit, it may well be worth chancing fifty minutes of your afternoon on this odd and refreshingly different show.
© Ruth Clowes 18 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 28 August at 13:45
Company - Things On Fire.
Company Website - www.thingsonfire.co.uk.


Lila On The Wall. (Page 159).
Dramsfull glass
Venue Fishers Close(Venue 133).
Address Off Lawnmarket, Royal Mile.
Reviewer Lauren McKie.

Fantastic Fringe debut for this thought-provoking piece of new writing by Edward Allan Barker. Because of the tenderness and bittersweet comedy of the story and language - combined with great charisma from both of the performers, Lila On The Wall is a real gem of Fringe theatre.

The story is easy to follow, although to think about it provokes much cynicism - at least in my head it does. For a desperate woman to look at a beautiful piece of graffiti and believe she has seen Jesus in it, she surely must have gone from desperate to hallucinatory rather quickly? Lila, the television reporter - played by Laurie Naughton - often fuels our disbelief. But this production raises doubts and we can laugh as we mull over it, for the actors are extremely sensitive to the story and deliver the comedic moments well.

This is Laurie Naughton and Justin Okin's second production together, hopefully establishing CharlieCat Productions as Edinburgh regulars, as they have brought a chunk of much needed brain-fodder to our city and this is always welcome! Well worth seeing - I would even recommend seeing this in the rain (which I did)! But bring a brolly and I would have the dram ready in a hip flask to warm you up!
©Lauren McKie. 9 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs August 7-11,14-18,21-25 at 19:00 and August 12-13,19-20,26-27 at 23:00 tickets 0870 755 1287
Company - Charliecat Productions.
Company Website - No Company Website

Lilith (Page 159).
Drams full glassfull glass.
Venue C Electric (Venue 50).
Address Clerk Street.
Reviewer Ritchie Smith.

This is very much a spirit of the Fringe production, raised to partial excellence by the central performance of Dominique Pannell in the title role.

Lilith, for those of you who don't remember, was Adam's first wife, depicted here as a wild free spirit 'in the Devil's circus' who in orgasm will scream 'the secret name of God'. Charismatic, sexually predatory Lilith is dark of hair and dark of soul. Domestic, simpering Eve is a dumb blonde.

The opening effects are fine, with dark atmospheric music and a nice stage effect of the cast emerging from embryo. The sound and physical- theatre aspects of this production are excellent. Even stage nudity, so difficult to integrate, works well in the late-night bohemian context of the former Odeon (now C Electric). The performances were variable, but the actual words were the real let-down.

Though this production does try to say something uncompromising and raw about sexuality, you do need to have a script with more original and profound ideas than (I quote) 'All men are bastards'. The dialogue, in fact, is generally clumsy and overblown, and as a writer myself I wanted to give the script a damn good shaking. The story moves with ease to a seedy lap-dancing club, but the trite speeches here failed to convince and the drag-act parody of Marilyn Monroe seemed to have strayed out of burlesque.

However, there are some excellent visual and sound effects, and Dominique Pannell - who I would presume is a trained dancer - is a compelling stage presence both as dancer and actress.
©Ritchie Smith 10 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 28 (not 16) at 22:40.
Company - Act Provocateur International.
Company Website - www.actprovocateur.net


A Limited Run. (Page 159).

Drams None required.
Venue Gilded Balloon (Venue 14).
Address 13 Bristo Square.
Reviewer Thelma Good.

There's a middle-aged dressing-gowned man encouraging us to our seats in A Limited Run. He looks as though he's seen a lot, but his interest in people still is clear. This hugely entertaining play will have you laughing but also sympathising with this guy who's better know as the Him Upstairs familiarly or the name that must not be spoken by others. He's the guy in charge. Only, as we find out he isn't, he has a rule he tries to keep to and it's wearing him out - I must not get involved.

Andy Gray and Elaine C. Smith in the same show, is a hot ticket. This time Andy is out front on stage and Smith is the director. Playwright to look out for Ben Steiner's script and the direction allows full scope for Gray's considerable on-stage warmth. But that's not all he manages, he brings off the very poignant moment of this play superbly, not easy when his character has been making us laugh, as prayers come in via fax, so much in the rest of the show.

I left with a deeper understanding of what it might be like to be the all-knowing supreme being and hoping Steiner's creation, magnificently realised by Gray and Smith, might be just like the character this team give theatrical life to. A must see for the fans of Smith and Gray, and a do-go for everyone else. Surely A Limited Run is set for touring and could make a great radio play.
© Thelma Good 14 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August at 19:15 not 8, 15, 22.
Company – Bob Moreton/RPM Arts Limited.


Linda Marlow - Mortal Ladies Possessed. (Page 160).
Drams full glassfull glass.
Venue Assembly Rooms. (Venue 3)
Address 54 George Street.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin.

The writer Tennessee Williams, who was born in Mississippi later moving to New Orleans, drew heavily on his family experiences and life in the American South. A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof are among his masterpieces. In addition to twenty-five plays, Williams wrote two novels, sixty short stories, over one hundred poems and an autobiography. West End actress Linda Marlowe has starred in several of his plays during her distinguished career and is a great fan. In this solo tribute show she has been inspired by a few of his short stories to create, with writer Matthew Hurt, a dramatized sequence of fictional character portraits.

The stage is set with a large luggage trunk, china teacup and saucer, shawl and panama hat. Linda Marlowe, tall and slender with auburn wavy hair, enters in a soft grey polka dot organza summer frock. The voice is deep, with the typical slow Southern drawl, as we are introduced to Widow Holly, who runs a boarding house and also a gossiping, antagonistic neighbour. The opening scenes are performed at relentless speed which is at first slightly confusing, with Marlowe portraying various women, in conversation and monologue. The programme note gives no names, only titles of the (unfamiliar) stories so that it's difficult to identify the individual characters.

There are one or two memorable scenes such as the story of Jimmy, and a romantic encounter on the beach, with well crafted lighting to denote sunshine and heat. Also a touching, humourous moment, looking through the trunk of old possessions - "I can't remember losing my husband", the widow admits. The dramatic tension builds slowly towards the end but nonetheless it's mainly played on a single monotonous note much of the time. It's Williams' rich language which holds the attention with poetic descriptions such as "an aristocracy of passionate souls" ...... "women, pregnant, young, old, possessed with feeling, is to live." But in retrospect, I personally would have preferred a portrayal of his famous, colourful stage and screen heroines, Blanche Dubois and Maggie Pollitt.
©Vivien Devlin, 9 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August at 1410 every day.
Company -Festival Highlights.
Company Website www.lindamarlowe.com


The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. (Page 160).

Drams full glassfull glassfull glass.
Venue Old St. Paul's Church Hall . (Venue 45).
Address Jeffery Street.
Reviewer Pippa Tennant.

Clumsy at times, but nevertheless entertaining, C. S. Lewis’ fantastical story of loving self-sacrifice, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, is brought to life at Venue 45.

Despite undeniable moments of weak acting, the range of ages in the cast is refreshing and the Livewire Theatre Company provide a ‘respectable-ish’ performance. Although the female Aslan leaves a lot to be desired, we must remember that the metaphoric Jesus is a hard part to play. And rest assured, our confidence is restored by more minor characters like Mr and Mrs Beaver who scurry around the stage with mystery and panache.

The choreography produces sporadic excitement with street-fighter- style skirmishes and the wonderfully seductive, sinister movement of the White Witch’s troll- like evil spirits are definitely a highlight. However, the exquisite scenes so beautifully and vividly described in the book, are deplorably absent in this bare production in which set design disappointingly consists of just one large curtain. There is definitely room for the main spiritual themes, pride and joy, to be focused upon in more depth in visual terms, rather than being left to the manipulation of atmospheric music. Thank goodness the costumes are a bit more inspired!

Only 40 minutes, so not long enough to get too bored. This might be a good one for the kids if you can squeeze it in.
©Pippa Tennant 11th August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 13 at 20:10 every day
Company - Livewire Theatre Company.

The Lipstick Sherlock Holmes. (Page 160).

Drams full glassfull glass.
Venue Greyfriars Kirk House (Venue 28).
Address 86 Candlemaker Row.
Reviewer Lorraine McCann.

Writer and performer E. D. Darling clearly loves words. They flow from her like a torrent - some commonplace, some esoteric, some funny, some sad - but all in the service of her unique, idiosyncratic creation The Lipstick Sherlock Holmes.

As the show begins, Darling is lounging in an armchair, robed in a voluminous cotton nightie. Scattered about her are various artefacts - papers, clothing, a syringe, damask and crushed velvet throws; the fusion of masculine and feminine archetypes. As she begins to speak, however, it becomes obvious that hers is a character who feels her gender keenly, whose intellectual life is monstrously circumscribed by the mores of her time, and whose determination to live fully will mean also living inauthentically.

Feme Sole Theatre, whose production this is, describes itself as 'a feminist company, in the gentlest sense of the word', and there's much to support this here. Although there is an obvious and fairly humdrum 'subversiveness' in claiming that Holmes was a woman; the longer the idea is played out before the audience, the more it takes root. Holmes is - after all - an icon of rational thought. To suggest such an icon was a woman is to suggest that rational thought is a female virtue. Subversive, indeed.

With a highly allusive textual style, and acting that skirts the very edges of histrionics, Darling could be a bit too full-on for some audiences. But you can't fault her commitment, nor the originality of her imagination. Lovely costume, too.
© Lorraine McCann, 24 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August at 16:25
Company - Feme Sole Theatre


Look Back In Anger. (Page 160).

Drams full glassfull glass.
Venue Greenside (Venue 231).
Address 1b Royal Terrace.
Reviewer Edmund Gould.

After its premiere in 1956, Kenneth Tynan went so far as to say that he 'could not love anyone who did not wish to see Look Back In Anger', and it has long been feted as a landmark in British theatre. These days, however, the sight of an ironing board on stage isn't quite as extraordinary as it once was - apparently the original audience swooned at such a spectacle. In a West End thriving on the cosy, inoffensive comedies of Noel Coward, the realism of John Osborne's dialogue and the perceived vulgarity of its subject matter must have stung like a slap in the face. The parameters of the stage have widened immeasurably since then, but the play still retains some of its capacity to shock.

Jimmy Porter, John Preston, is the fierce anti-hero of Osborne's drama, tormented by 'the pain of being alive'. He's an educated student now living in cramped, squalid digs with his wife Alison, Charlotte Cox, and best mate Cliff, Simon Neill. Jimmy's voice speaks for a generation angered by the prejudices of the class system and the failure of post-war socialism, and in the domestic sphere his torrent of bitterness and animosity is aimed largely at Alison and her wealthy family. When Alison finally walks out, Jimmy wastes no time in replacing his wife with her best friend Helena, Victoria Rydborn. The play portrays the power struggle played out between Jimmy and his women, who are simultaneously captivated and appalled by his callous cruelty.

Preston gives a convincingly brutal performance as Jimmy, spitting out his words with raging bile, but a few forgotten lines provide some awkward moments. Cox's Alison is suitably willowy and fragile, while Neill also does well as the hapless Cliff, caught in the crossfire and powerless to intervene. That said, the cast's renditions of Osborne's lengthy monologues lack intensity, and one or two of the actors could do with injecting a bit more of the playwright's furious vitriol into their own delivery. Still, in spite of a few rough edges, the Close Up Theatre crew provide enough grimy naturalism to do justice to a blistering script.
©Edmund Gould 25 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 27 August at 13:50 (2hrs 10 mins), not 26 August.
Company – Close Up Theatre.


Loser (Page 160).

Drams None required!
Venue Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33).
Address 60 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Lorraine McCann.

Company F/Z are practitioners of something called 'visual theatre', a fusion of circus, dance and dramatic imagery that aims to unfold its story with minimal dialogue and the occasional song. The story in their latest production, Loser, is a poignant one about friendship, grief and moving on.

As the audience enters, a woman is DJing at a double-deck console suspended in mid-air. In the middle of the stage is a huge spiral staircase, and an armchair to one side. At first the tone is light and playful, as the woman appears to want to entertain us with her comically funky strut and breakdancing. She is then joined by another woman, Raquel, and a man, and they go through a series of slapstick routines that suggest their menage is a happy one, albeit with some trivial jealousies. It then transpires that it is Raquel's birthday and her friends throw her a surprise party.

It is at this point that the mood begins to darken, and we realise that Raquel has gone missing. In keeping with the clown-like theme, we are not sure how this has happened but it becomes clear that she is irrevocably lost. There then follows a funeral service of bittersweet variety, a description of which would surely spoil your enjoyment, so I won't give one. Suffice to say, it is worth the ticket price alone.

A bit like the game of Mornington Crescent, I got the feeling I didn't fully grasp the rules of Loser, but I loved it all the same. This was physicality that let you see the effort put in. Brave, honest, full of chutzpah and tender truth, I cannot recommend it enough.
© Lorraine McCann, 13 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August at 14:10 (not 16).
Company - Company F/Z.


Lost Property. (Page 161).

Drams None required.
Venue Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14).
Address 13 Bistro Square.
Reviewer Marisa de Andrade.

Lost Property has found itself so early in the run. Despite the restraints of a stage too small to contain Tangled Feet's explosive performance, this British company makes the space come alive. Right from the first line, it becomes evident why this is an award-winning production.

The characters are so real and distinct you can reach out and touch them, yet so generic they could be you or someone you love. Only two have names, the others are unbranded - woman, girl and boy. They pick at the human psyche without being preachy or intrusive, but with a distinct sense of understanding. It's as if they know what the problems in life are, and only they know how to fix them.

The issue at hand in this particular show is loss. Loss of life, love, hope and happiness, all the way through to the loss of materialistic items. Each lost article is reported to the 'Grand Master of the Lost and Found' - someone who stands as if by the pearly gates of heaven with a notepad and pen, recording each and every loss. Movement replaces dialogue where words aren't sufficient to capture the essence of the moment. And each number is executed with precision and feeling. The scene changes are seamless, thanks to a genius set.

A red door stands centre stage with white screens on either side - creations made from fabric manipulated to swallow actors as they exit. Besides having a delightful effect, the innovative set is integral to the play. You hardly notice the end of a number and start of another. And in a particularly clever scene, the white screens become sheets covering characters as they lie in their beds.

There's no real beginning, middle and end to this production. It slides from one situation to the next, until the process repeats itself all over again. A bit like the circle of life. Lost Property reminded me of the times in my life when I'd desperately wanted something and once I'd found it, I no longer wanted it. It'll make you think and laugh. And think and cry.
©Marisa de Andrade 9 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August at 14.45 not 16 or 23.
Company - Tangled Feet.


Love Sick. (Page 161).

Drams None required.
Venue Underbelly (Venue 61).
Address 56 Cowgate.
Reviewer Thelma Good.

There's a wealthy of physical theatre shows at the Fringe this year, some of them are great, this is one of them. There's a set that gets physically moved around too, sometimes it's hard to believe the actors aren't covered in brusies but these two, Charlotte Riley and Dan Ford know how to go for it convincingly without harm.

Malcolm has a hypersensitive nose, Martha is an accident prone, won't-wear-her-specs woman with an extra something about her - she's good looking but she smells. Malcolm's attracted to her but can't get too close. The result is a story that made me and the young men and women around me chortle with delight as Martha and Malcolm move into together and try to get to grips with their particular problem. Unfortunately their flat's rather small and their problem's rather large.

With cleverly timed and executed looks for support from the audience and visual gags Cat In Bag Theatre Company have brought a show that leaves the audience not only entertained but wondering if a little or large difficulty isn't what relationships need to keep them alive and whole. It's theatre without the fourth wall and all the better for it.
© Thelma Good 19 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 20 August at 20:00 every day, not Suns etc.
Company – Cat In Bag Theatre Company.


Lovers (Page 161).

Drams full glass.
Venue Edinburgh Academy (Venue 70).
Address 42 Henderson Row.
Reviewer Lorraine McCann.

Brian Friel's classic 1968 meditation on the course of love has always been a bit anomalous to me. As companion pieces, the two halves of Friel's concept fit together beautifully: the 'winners' are the pair who never live to see their love compromised or fail, the 'losers' are those who do. In staging, however, the pieces could not be more different.

The first half, Winners takes place on a stage bare except for a few plinthes. This is a hilltop above the village, where the teenagers Mag and Joe go to study for their final exams. To either side of the stage sit two narrators, who give out information in the clinical manner of a police report. Thus, we are told, early on, that these young lovers are doomed; that these few hours on the hilltop are their last; that, in effect, this time spent planning and hoping and looking forward to their marriage is their marriage. It is, of course, heartbreaking, and all the more so thanks to a superbly natural performance from Nicola Shepherd as Mag; even when she irritates the life out of you, it feels authentic. Douglas Brooks, as Joe, seemes to struggle a little more with the accent, but when he turns angrily on the pregnant Mag, to accuse her of trapping him, it is once again authentically felt.

The second half, Losers, is both lighter and less absorbing. Loads of furniture has appeared and we're suddenly plunged into a world of Carry On-style Catholicism. (Presumably Friel is himself a Catholic, as I can't imagine a non-Catholic having the nerve to write such absurd characters. Editor's note - He was brought up in a Cathlolic community in Northern Ireland). Now, maybe this is hilarious if you're the sort who still smirks at It Ain't Half Hot, Mum, but I found it a bit tired and dated. Likewise, a bit of slap-and-tickle on a couch whilst reciting poetry goes on far too long, and in the end I felt a bit bored by it all. Phil McNicol is a very good actor, though, and almost saves the day.

All in all, a very talented cast lend assurance to a somewhat flawed text. Bodes well for the Edinburgh Makars' future, if they can hold on to these thesps.
© Lorraine McCann, 26 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 27 August at 19:30 (not 21).
Company The Edinburgh Makars


Lunch In Venice. (Page 161).

Drams full glassfull glass.
Venue Roxy Art House (Venue 115).
Address 2 Roxburgh Place.
Reviewer Bill Dunlop

Those who listened on radio some months ago to the late Nick Dear's touchingly funny and heart-rending (pun unintentional) account of his struggle to overcome the effects of a major stroke are likely to have been saddened to have learnt of his recent death. A writer for stage and radio over a number of years, Dear was a playwright with a poetic touch and an ability to make audiences cherish his characters and the clear-eyed humanity which built and propelled them.

Lunch In Venice was commissioned for the National Theatre's Shell Connections scheme, and is performed in Edinburgh by a company from Arnold School, information on whom does not appear to be forthcoming form either venue or company. Which is a pity, as they rise as well as experience and ability could possibly allow to the demands made on them by Dear's script. Written subsequent to his stroke, the play is short in length but rich in ideas and theatrical experiment, not all of which is fully realisable in the restricted space allotted.

A group of young art students discuss the morning's tour, Carpaggio, the renaissance, art, love and pizza, not necessarily in that order. There's a deceptive casualness and a delight in the play of optimism and the minds of the young. The interruption of a lost tourist appears merely a distraction till  her place in a darker scheme of things becomes apparent and the play moves into altogether more serious and pertinent territory. Commedia del arte, and other styles are called for, Dear clearly tailoring his script to the demands of the Shell Connections scheme but playing with form and ideas in thought provoking ways.

It's annoying therefore to be unable to mention individual performers or company members,  but this much ought to be stated; that someone decided this play would suit this company (it does) and that it would be suitable as an Edinburgh Festival Fringe show (it is). It's therefore a pity that it doesn't appear to have been widely publicised, indeed at all apart from the obligatory Fringe programme blurb and a quarter space on a one sided flyer which gives away nothing about it or the other three plays publicised in the same way. .

Nonetheless, if you have time and wherewithal, go and see this play. It's limpid in it's humanity and passionate in its clarity, retaining a powerful punch which only justly sustained anger at our continuing tolerance of violence and destruction, and as powerful an argument about the place and value of art in a material obsessed 'culture'. This is no valedictory, however; rather it's a glimpse what playwrights and theatre are capable of.
© Bill Dunlop 8 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 13th at 14.35 every day
Company - Demarco Rocket Productions.

© Thelma Good August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August date at time every day, not Suns etc.
Company – Put Company's name.
Company Website www.websiteaddress.co.uk

(L) 22 out of 258
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