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None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
Nymphs & Shepherds (A Paedophile's Life). (Page 169).
Venue Sweet Ego (Venue 204)
Address 14 Piccadilly Place.
Reviewer Ed Thornton.
A young girl has been attacked down the street and Oliver, Barold Philips, waits for the police to take him to a safe house. He uses the time to confide in us of his life as a paedophile. Driven by the 'drummer boy' of lust that is constantly pounding in his head, his remorse never lasts long as he hones his methods and finds new tricks to gain the trust of children, in a systematic attack on youth that has lasted 40 years.
It's difficult to see what David Mines was trying to achieve when writing this play. A sympathetic view of a Paedophile's nomadic life of bed sits and prison cells? Or perhaps an In Yer Face Shopping and Fucking for sex offenders? Which ever it was this piece treads on very thin ice from the start and by the end could be used as a piece of tabloid paper recruitment in their war on sex offenders. It's repellent.
After the initial shock of the extremely graphic descriptions of sexual acts however, there's not much left but a dithering and bitter old man with a catheter, reminiscing on a wasted life. There is a warped logic somewhere in this piece that almost works. He asks why paedophiles are singled out as figures of hatred before the scores of other criminals whose acts destroy lives as well. And why is his abuse any different from the abuse of bringing children into poor families, of putting them in second hand shoes and feeding them on rubbish? And isn't all sex taking advantage, exploitative and abusive in a way? But it's a sloppy argument that's easily squashed.
Unambitious direction and a not so cleverly disguised script at hand indicate what kind of league Black Cap Productions are playing in at the moment. So maybe they can be forgiven for subjecting their audience to such a gratuitous and pointless assault. .
©Ed Thornton August 9 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 27 at 12.30.
Company Black Cab Productions.
National Hero. (Page 167).
Venue Pleasance Dome. (Venue 23).
Address Bristo Square.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin.
On the open stage of the King Dome theatre the set is extremely impressive for a Fringe show - large carpet, cream suede sofa and armchair, dining table set for a meal, stone framed window, staircase, fireplace, book case and drinks cabinet. This topical new play by Terry Mackay about fighting terrorism is in fact a 'beyond the Fringe' production with a star cast which sets off on an English tour following Edinburgh.
Sauntering on to the stage, Timothy West wearing an army flak jacket, lights a cigarette. He is a big bear of man on this intimate stage who commands great presence without saying a word. Well cast then for the role of Gregor, a veteran bomb disposal expert. His wife Ann, a bubbly Welsh lady, effervescently played with sharp wit by Nichola McAuliffe rushes into the room to remind Gregor to get ready for their dinner guests. A television documentary is to be filmed on Gregor's life and political journalist Alastair and his wife are coming to stay. A bombshell of a rather different kind is dropped when Gregor is introduced to Mima, who's none other than his former lover, 20 odd years before, and now married to Alastair. Mima - the beautifully slim and elegant Carolyn Backhouse - acts the sly seductive fox as Ann watches on with womanly rivalry. Not revealing the past affair, the women make small talk over the Boeuf en Croute while the men discuss 9/11, (" the world hasn't changed, US perception has changed"). Meanwhile Gregor is waiting for a call to summon him to the local hospital where Kureishi, a known suicide bomber is holding siege.
In a clever layering of subtexts, contrasting the public world of international politics and the underlying, unspoken stories of private relationships, we soon observe the truth behind the two respective marriages. Simmering under the surface is an emotional timebomb fuelled by anger, frustration and long lost love - "the minefield of family life". Alastair - played with extraordinary conviction by Tom Cotcher, quietly observes Gregor trying to understand his dogged, all-encompassing approach to his work, while knocking back the Scotch. Gregor may be a brave national hero, intent on preventing terrorism and saving lives, but in his heart he is afraid of personal, close commitment and facing the truth. All in all, a cracking, thought provoking script, elaborate set, gorgeous clothes and exceptionally fine acting in a glossy, classy production which should head for London's West End.
©Vivien Devlin, 16 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August at 1600 every day, not Mon 22.
Company- Pleasance Theatre.
Company Website www.blue-box.biz
Net Worth (Page 167).
Venue Greyfriars Kirk House (Venue 28)
Address 86 Candlemaker Row
Reviewer Lorraine McCann
It seems from the programme and flyer for Net Worth that quite a lot of people might have already heard of Bari Hochwald, for she has appeared in Desperate Housewives, C.S.I., N.Y.P.D. Blue and Star Trek, no less. However, she comes to this year's Fringe with the world premiere of her one-woman show all about what you're worth, which in her case is rather a lot.
The initial set-up is fairly trite. There's a lectern, a desk and a screen for showing a PowerPoint presentation, should the urge strike. Hochwald comes on like a standard-issue motivational speaker, all big hair and teeth, and the scene looks set for the kind of lazy parody we've all seen a million times before. But then, following her own suggestion that perhaps she should tell us a little bit about herself, she begins to reveal the journey that led her to this place, to this occupation, in the teeth of her mother's worry and disapproval, spurred on by the salutary lessons of her grandfather's unfulfilled dreams. And the more she tells, the more the concept of 'net worth' -- which starts out as a simple formula: assets minus liabilities equals net worth -- begins to morph into a mildly subversive idea: that if we can't expect people to stop wanting to spend $300 on underwear, we can at least encourage them to see that they do this in order to cover up their fears. And that maybe talking about this neurosis is the first step to ridding oneself of it?
Net Worth is an original, engaging show performed with bags of energy and a dry, sly wit. As she takes on the characters of her family and friends, most of whom seem consciously or unconsciously to undermine her efforts, Hochwald is impossible to dislike. Indeed, her archetypal Jewish mother, bewildered by her daughter's choice of path in life, is worth the ticket price alone. My only carp is that it's a little too long, and skirts the edges of self-indulgence towards the end, but overall a hit.
© Lorraine McCann, 16 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 21 August at 1920
Company Harwyn Theatre Company
Company Website www.harwyntheatrecompany.co.uk
Night-light. (Page 167).
Venue Roman Eagle Lodge (Venue 21).
Address 2 Johnston Terrace.
Reviewer Ruth Clowes.
The grating soundtrack of a sickly-voiced child reading a nursery rhyme, which starts this show, is thankfully not a taster of things to come and is mercifully supplanted by an impressively performed exploration of the terrors that haunt us as children and the fears which pursue us into adulthood.
Sinéad Rushe, who also directs this show, and Camille Litalien combine dance, conversation and mime in energetic, engaging performances. During the production their bodies entwine and mirror each other in a sensual interpretation of the tricks played by the mind during that blurry pause between wakefulness and sleep. The two women successfully juxtapose the characters of a child waiting for sleep, with a mother reading a bedtime story and myriad monsters dreamed up by a drowsy imagination.
An inspired selection of music, ranging from Chopin to Massive Attack, adds to the dreamlike quality of the performances, with threads of fable and text skillfully woven in to give the production as a whole a sinuous quality. Unfortunately, interrupting this fluidity are fragments in which the actors talk to each other and to the audience about the issues raised in the play, needlessly interrupting the dreamlike flow that has been so carefully built up. Likewise, the section at the start of the show, when we are informed of its theme and it is explained that both actresses will be playing each character, is both unnecessary and patronising.
There are some beautiful, lyrical elements to this show, which make it well worth seeing for fans of physical theatre (it should really be in the Dance & Physical Theatre section of the programme). Its failing is that the imaginative combination of dance, music and fable is not expanded. It needs a bit more trust put in the audience to draw their own conclusions and explore the nature of their own fears during the shadowy spell before sleep.
© Ruth Clowes 6 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 28 August (Not 9, 16, 23) at 11:30
Company - out of Inc.
Company Website - www.komedia-rel.com.
The Night Shift. (Page 167).
Drams No drams needed.
Venue Traverse (Venue 15).
Address Cambridge Street off Lothian Road.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin.
Mark Murphy is highly regarded in the world of dance, as founder/director of Vtol Dance Company, and has directed other multi- media theatre and film productions. In 2001 he decided to try his own hand at writing, work-shopped some ideas, until he realised he had a dramatic story to tell. The starting point of The Night Shiftis an investigation into sleepwalking and the disturbing and dangerous condition of parasomnia, where the sleeper has no control over their behaviour.
The simple setting is a double bed, neatly laid with pure white duvet, sheet and pillows. Alice, Catherine Dyson, is awoken from sleep first by the telephone, then by her boyfriend Gray, Jason Thorpe, who startles her by his silent arrival by the bedside and later by a nightmare. She tiptoes forward and quietly addresses the audience, "Am I asleep? This could be a dream or a dream about a dream. I don't know and now you don't know either." It's a powerful start, drawing us into her confused sleepy world treading between reality, illusion and long-lost subconscious memories.
With a swish of a huge white curtain and sound effects of echoing footsteps and clanging door locks, Scene 2 shifts to a psychiatric hospital secure ward. Andrew, a nervous middle aged man in grey cardigan sits perched on the bed as he is interrogated by Helen, a slim young therapist who is keen to help him "help himself and allow others to assist". Andrew and Helen are also played by Thorpe and Dyson, not I am sure for economy of cast members, but as an ingenious theatrical device. Very neatly they switch, scene by scene, between their totally contrasting characters: Two people as four personalities trying to come to terms with their feelings, past lives, love and loss.
The intense and enigmatic storyline with curious twists and terrifying moments will keep you totally absorbed - the woman beside me was literally on the edge of her seat. There are quiet, sad moments when Andrew - meticulously played by Jason Thorpe - recalls a nursery rhyme he used to tell his daughter, which will make you weep. Catherine Dyson is exquisitely cast as the childlike and fragile Alice, trapped in her night- time, nightmare world, hiding under the duvet, screaming for help and understanding. Later, in high heels and skirt, she transforms in seconds into the brisk, precise manner of Helen the psychologist.
Mark Murphy directs with a choreographic eye, where the details of movement and gesture, space and silence are of the essence. The music soundtrack is a brilliant cacophony of snatches of pop song lyrics and haunting atmospheric music complemented by superb lighting. The Night Shift is a stunning, intelligent, brutally honest and pin-sharp drama, performed and directed with perfect sensitivity and compassion.
Note from Theatre Editor - The text is published by Nick Hern Books and may be bought from the Traverse during the play's run there and from good bookshops thereafter.
©Vivien Devlin 6 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 26 at different times each day. See Fringe brochure
Company - Fuel Theatre.
Company Website - www.fueltheatre.com
No Exit. (Page 167).
Venue C Electric. (Venue 50).
Address Clerk Street (formerly the Odeon).
Reviewer Ksenija Horvat.
Hell is other people - such a simple statement, with such gruelling consequences.
The essence of Jean-Paul Sartre’s existentialism is captured well in this new production by Act Provocateur International. In Victor Sobchak’s skilful hands, the philosophical discourse about the meaning of life and alienation, that underlies Sartre’s work, gains an unpredicted force. The ever-changing relationships between three damned souls are portrayed with frenzied energy and relish, and the scenes of sexual nature balance on a thin line between allure and repulsion, never missing a step.
The actors portray their characters with the vim of emotional aerialists, playing off each other, colliding with each other, in a composite game of human power-struggles. Dominique Pannell is electrifying as Inez, a profoundly corrupt figure wallowing in her own zealous anguish, while Nika Khitrova plays a catlike, sexually charged Estelle with the right combination of fragility and moral apathy. Andy McQuade’s Garcin steals the show, as a tormented journalist in pursuit of redemption, with McQuade honing his interpretation of a Sartresque haunted anti-hero to perfection. Sal Esen is so hilarious as the Valet, bondage-like wear and all, that it is a real shame his presence in the play is so brief.
The use of lighting, exceptionally good for C Electric one must add, accentuates the atmosphere of menace that bubbles under the surface, and attributes to some visually gripping moments. The show could benefit from a tad more imaginative set design though. Act Provocateur International are renowned for their minimalist approach to staging, which places further focus on the performers. However, Sartre’s text may require a bit more expressionistic approach to staging in order to complete an otherwise carefully drawn illusion. This minor fault is richly compensated by the lighting and sound, and the overall impression is of a show that is cleverly put together and confidently acted.
© Ksenija Horvat 29 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August at 19:30 (1hr 10mins).
Company Act Provocateur International.
Company Website www.actprovocateur.net
Not A Word. (Page 167).
Venue Bedlam Theatre . (Venue 49).
Address 11b Bristo Place.
Reviewer Pippa Tennant .
Not A Word is uttered in this hour long experimental production. Confronting a fear of sound, Rose dwells in solitude, as inanimate objects spring to life, identifying with her strange reality.
If I’m being honest, I sat quietly confused throughout this show. But with further reflection, I reached the conclusion that this state was intended! Clearly we try too hard to make sense of the world and sometimes need to focus more upon experience and less on logic.
Imbued with magic, this production requires little concentration and is a pleasure to watch. Light and dark are explored in extravagant ways, from more obvious scenes in which glowing masks surround the bewildered librarian, to a running race between different items of tennis whites! Ideas are executed with imaginative zeal, most notably the mops, covered in a large dark cloth, which bob up and down with freaky human resemblance to the laugher of the puppeteers.
Open to a wide variety of interpretations, this is an original and inspiring piece of theatre and definitely worth checking out.
©Pippa Tennant 17 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 20 at 15:00 every day.
Company Gomito Productions.
Company Website www.gomito.co.uk
Nothing Like the Sun. (Page 167).
Venue C too (Venue 4).
Address St Columba's by the Castle, Johnston Terrace.
Reviewer Edmund Gould.
I would love to say that I hated this. I really would. The thought of a group of doe-eyed drama students, all dressed in matching black, reciting Sylvia Plath to a piano accompaniment, would normally be enough to send me scurrying to the nearest exit. However, in spite of my prejudices, I really couldn't hate Nothing Like the Sun. In fact, it's a finely choreographed and deftly woven series of reflections on the tension between idealised and real love.
The title is taken from a Shakespeare sonnet that begins 'My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun' - the point being that it is the imperfections of this mistress that attract the speaker, even though a 'goddess' she ain't. After a slightly slow introduction, the performers really hit their stride when they wheel out songs from classic musicals. We get a wonderfully bitchy 'I Feel Pretty', followed by an extraordinary rendition of 'She Loves Me Not' with an unexpected gay twist.
Comic moments are finely brought out by a tuneful cast, unafraid to camp it up with plenty of risqué playfulness. In between the musical numbers are fragmented lyrics and sketches, of which very few miss the mark, all expounding the simple message that behind all the romance of art lies the reality of 'dirt and ash'.Nothing Like the Sun seeks to celebrate this truth. A bizarre blend of poetry, music hall and even 'Gone with the Wind', it really shouldn’t work. But somehow, it really does.
©Edmund Gould 18 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 20 August at 10:00.
Company – Year Out Drama Company.
Novecento. (Page 167).
Venue Valvona & Crolla. (Venue 67).
Address 19 Elm Row.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin.
The heartbreaking story Novecento by Italian writer Allesandro Baricco, about the greatest pianist in the world, has been adapted into a film, The Legend of 1900 and a stage play , Theatre de Quat'Sous, Montreal, Edinburgh International Festival, 2001, but there is no published English text. Now it has been translated into English by Joe Farrell for a new one-man performance by veteran Fringe musician and actor Mike Maran. The title refers not so much to the calendar year but specifically to a man, Danny Boodman T. D. Lemon Novecento (Nineteen Hundred). He was so named because as a newborn baby he was abandoned in a lemon box on the grand piano in the first class lounge of an ocean liner at the dawn of the 20th century by one of ship's engineers, Danny Boodman.
Set in the 1940s, Nineteen Hundred's story is told in a series of flashbacks by his friend and fellow musician, the trumpet player in the ship's jazz band. We hear how he was found on the SS Virginian, his parents presumably immigrants fleeing to America, too poor to feed another child. The boy is brought up on the ship, without birth certificate or passport and never setting foot on land. In a world of his own, unbeknown to Danny and the crew, he learns the magical and emotional power of music and has taught himself to play the piano. In 1927, our narrator, the trumpeter, joins the ship and meets Nineteen Hundred, now regarded as the finest pianist in the world - yet playing only for the ship's passengers back and forth across the oceans.
Mike Maran, dressed in trenchcoat and Homburg hat, has a quiet and rhythmic pace in his storytelling. There are moments of silence and dark shadows as he thinks of the past with tears in his eyes, remembering. The simple set of deck, barrier, lifebelt and piano with a superb soundtrack of the pounding waves of the sea and of course the wonderful music they play, provides an evocative and realistic ambience. The music is composed by David Milligan who also plays the piano, with Colin Steele on trumpet. Overall, it's a haunting and poetic theatrical experience which only proves again the extraordinary power of imagination in the ancient art of telling a story.
©Vivien Devlin, 21 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 27 August date at different times each day. See Fringe brochure
Company- Mike Maran Productions.
Company Website www.mikemaran.com