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(T) 13 out of 258
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Page number refers to the Fringe programme

Tales From The Dirty Dog Cafe (Page 183).

Drams full glassfull glassfull glassfull glass.
Venue Venue 13 (Venue 13).
Address Lochend Close, Canongate.
Reviewer Lorraine McCann.

They're a bolshie lot, those kids from RWCMD. With their black-hearted allegories and their really quite wanton abuse of apples, they sure don't want their audience to leave thinking they've just seen anything as banal as 'theatre', whatever that is, right? Right! And if you haul your complacent, bourgeois ass along to their show ('at the bottom of the Royal Mile Opp. the primary school', as their bonnie wee flyers judiciously prompt), you're going to get it kicked, man.

Zzzzzz . . . Oh. Did I nod off just then? Well, they do tend to bang on a bit. All about how vomiting and being nasty to cats and how awful it is being lonely. Actually, that bit wasn't bad. And the guy who played Adam in the first segment featuring an alternative creation myth is a babe. But the rest of it just tries way too hard to be weird. Like being stuck in a lift with a gang of A-level art students. Call Amnesty, man.

The only saving grace was that they didn't all come onstage at the end to hold hands and take a bow. I genuinely appreciated that refreshing lack of hypocrisy, not least because it released me from having to indulge in it myself.
© Lorraine McCann, 21 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August at 13:00.
Company - RWCMD.


Tea Without Mother. (Page 184).

Drams full glassfull glassfull glass if you're not going to communicate I'll drink.
Venue Bedlam (Venue 49).
Address 11b Bristo Place.
Reviewer Thelma Good.

There's three young people on stage a man, Raven, Johnson a butler and a girl called Steve, they live in a world without weather. This sound interesting, unfortunately, despite well executed physical performances, that statement is the most interesting part of this show even though they fail develop it. Last on to the stage comes a young tall suited man, Lambert wheeling a combined TV and video player on a suitcase trolley, he positions carefully it at front stage left, plugs it in and switches it on, announcing that this is his mother. The unmoving mother never speaks so we can hear but when she does, we are told and then see in their physical movements, the characters find that she speaks to them differently. She lies to Raven, questions Johnson and has control at times of Lambert's arms.

Periodically, when Lambert goes away, the other two move the TV/Video to another plug, protective Lambert doesn't like this but he can control the other characters too, getting them to practise fear and pleasure. Occasionally cups of tea are taken, but the point of this production escapes me even with the help of the press release which says it's about "the stiff upper-lipped attitude to British life".

Petit Four may appeal to those who like the suited absurbism of George and George but for those who relish some absurdist plays like those of Ionesco may find this as I did too calculating and uncommunicative to get any grip on. The performances though are finely done.
© Thelma Good 19 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August at 17:00 every day but Suns.
Company – Petit Four.


Terrorist! The Musical . (Page 185).

Drams full glassfull glass.
Venue Underbelly (Venue 61).
Address 56 Cowgate.
Reviewer Ed Thornton.

On the 7th July the impossible happened. An attack on UK soil by home grown terrorists; the entire country was thrown into turmoil. And in a rehearsal room somewhere a group of young actors will have faced a difficult decision. Do they continue with their dark satirical showcase of terrorist acts scheduled to be performed just weeks after the explosions? Thankfully they had the nerve to carry on.

Somewhere in the not too distant future the war on terror has been won; an Orwellian “New American Century” dominates the globe and a group of unemployed terrorists form an entertainment group. Hosted by an eco-warrior with a megaphone these revolutionary wild cards include a BMP voting homophobic clown, a freelance terrorist superstar and a Palestinian/ Jewish double act. From groups which in our day would be warring with each other, they are united against the oppression of the capitalist globalisation of the “NAC”

This is what would happen if Team America’s Trey Parker got his hands on Saturday Night Fever. It’s a dark and comical parody of international relationships done with all the spangle and sing song of a good old musical knees up. Their score is a little less daring than their content, but they make up for it in high energy and humour. Although maybe a bit to close to home for some people, for others, making fun of this global situation might be just what you need.
©Ed Thornton 9 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 28 at 22.30.
Company - Bad Penny Theatre.
Company Website - www.badpennytheatre.com


3 For 2 (Page 185).

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

The folk behind this show lay it on the line from the start. Asking the audience to raise a hand if they've visited a supermarket in the last seven days, they find suspiciously few prepared to fess up. But then they shrug and say, 'Yeah, it's difficult to avoid them. We use them too.' And so you know that, whatever happens, however got-at you're going to feel, at least we're all in it together.

Inspired by Joanna Blythman's book, Shopped, in which she exposes the terrible toll of the supermarket revolution, this show takes the strands of the anti-corporate argument and follows them to their logical conclusions. Loyalty cards, BOGOF and 3-for-2 offers, supplier abuse, food miles -- it's all here, held up to the light and found wanting in every respect. The sketches are of uneven quality, with some of them feeling slightly like the kind of role-play exercises we did in school, but there are a couple of bull's-eyes all the same. Of the performers, Nicola Jo Cully stands out for her fine comic instincts and Fraser McPhie has a likeable presence.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there's not much subtlety on show here, and it's all rather black-and-white stuff. I found myself wondering, for example, just how far we should be on the side of the suppliers, en masse, when it was they who gave us BSE. However, with lots of adverts for local shops in the programme, you can't fault their sincerity, and it does raise a smile along the way.
© Lorraine McCann, 18 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August at 1730 (not 15 or 22).
Company P & F Productions.


Tobias And The Angel. (Page 185).

 Drams  full glassfull glass.
Venue  Quaker Meeting House (Venue 131).
Address   7 Victoria Terrace.
Reviewer   Bill Dunlop.

Ronald Mavor, aka James Bridie's first play was staged by Birmingham Reportary Theatre, even in the nieteen twenties having a reputation for presenting new and innovative work. So it's appropriate that a Solihull based amateur company should be reviving it on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. There's no denying that Tobias and the Angel does show its age a bit, although the company do their best by it.

The story of Tobias and his pious old father comes from the Book of Tobit, part of the Apocrypha of the Christian Bible. Partly written to strengthen  and exemplify Jewish faith during an early period of persecution, the story of Tobias is part picaresque, part quest and coming-of-age story. Having fallen on hard times, Tobit sends his son Tobais to recover a long-outstanding loan to a family friend. Tobais is accompanied by Zacharias, the Archangel Raphael in disguise. Encounters along the way strenghten the character of Tobias until he meets his future wife and overcomes the demon who jealously guards her.

We lack a reading of this particular fable by child psychiatrist Bruno Bettelheim, (author of 'The Uses of Enchantment) but the universal themes are writ large and clear in Bridie's script and brought to well-judged life by Union Theatre. A cast of diverse ages work well together, and there's an obvious relish abroad, especially in the performances of John Seeley as Tobit, Matt Lowery as his son Tobias and Mark Firmstone as the Archangel. and particular praise is also due to Mutley Peck, as solid a performance as you're likely to see this side of Battersea Dog's Home.

It can sometimes be difficult for non-professional companies to make the time to think through possibilities when it comes to presenting older plays - often the limited time available to working-at-other-jobs actors means that learning lines and moves comes first and interpretation of the whole piece second. A little more thought in this area would have further refreshed what is otherwise a good, worthwhile production.
©Bill Dunlop 11 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
 Runs to 13th August at 12.15 every day.
Company Union Theatre .


Trad. (Page 185).

Drams  None Needed.
Venue Assembly Rooms (Venue 3).
Address  54 George Street
Reviewer   Bill Dunlop.

A back of a postcard review of Trad might describe it as an episode of Steptoe and Son as written by Samuel Beckett and subbed by Flann O'Brian. Which would do a very subtle and subtly rendered piece some injustice. Lady Gregory, grande mere of Dublin's Abbey Theatre, used, it was said, to bake a barm brak - a yeasted fruit loaf - for the company on every opening.

Trad has all the good ingredients of a first rate brak without a trace of anything 'barmy'. Peter Gowen and Frankie McCafferty play son and father, the former a remarkably preserved centenarian who confesses to having possibly fathered a child seventy years previously. The search the two of them make for this offspring becomes a meditation on the nearly gone life of the weatherbeaten west, an elegy for those whose choices were made for them before they were born, whose glimpses of hope briefly existed in the last dregs of dear-bought pints of stout.

Mark Doherty
's script gives us far more, of course; a rich tangle of dark and light, of comedy as a necessary accessory to the desperate facts which son and father face with an absurdity which is the only decent response to their stark adversities. Doherty's text is tackled here with all the vigour truthful acting can bring to it, new-minting the coinage of everyday in ways which both affirm the tragic in all our lives whilst resolutely denying that life is anything other than a continuous celebration. The journey the two man make is not, of course, a search for the future implied by the existence of a possible child, but a re-tracing of their own lives through the lives of others, whom they idealise in memory. By doing so they bringing those who have departed back into the community from which they have been divided by death, as they themselves will become divided and need to be returned. Memory haunts, but can do no more than tease at the tangle which is everday life.

Trad is lived experience retold as absurdity, a Magritte painting transformed as an everyday object.
©Bill Dunlop 8 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs 29 August date at 15.35 not 8th, 15th or 26th  Suns etc.
Company - Galway Arts Festival.
Company Website - www.galwayartsfestival.ie

Tragedian 2 - The Fall To Infamy. (Page 186).

Drams None!
Venue Southside (Venue 82).
Address 117 Nicholson St.
Reviewer Thelma Good.

The Tragedian - Prodigal Theatre.
© Carlos Cortes 2005.
Theatre performances are in their nature ephemeral, and great actors are rare. Those whose names live on after their death for centuries are very scarce beings. At the Fringe this year there is an opportunity to experience not one of such actors but two, in three one-man plays.

Alister O'Loughlin is the playwright and actor of Tragedian 2 - The Fall To Infamy, the second of his trilogy of one-man plays about the life of the actor who was the progenitor of more modern styles of acting, Edmund Kean born in 1789. Using just a few props including a trunk plastered with play bills with Kean's name prominent,a caped, red lined period coat and a stoppered bottle containing the spirit Kean resorted to throughout his life Playing on the Southsider's thrust stage O'Loughlin performance is transporting. He works with his audience, not ignoring them, if you are sitting in the right place you may find yourself Bryon for the moment or a Lady of his acquaintance.

It's a very tall order to portray a legend. O'Loughlin does far more than that. By the time the play ends you'll certainly walk away feeling it was Edmund Kean you saw on the stage and further - the thrill of consummate acting. Kean during his lifetime went through many difficulties, even though unlike most actors he had considerable and lucrative success, fete by the A-list of his day, a list he was for a while a member of. He wasn't always an angel, far from it, his treatment of his wife, his love of the bottle and we also experience when the fickle public, who once thought him their hero, turned against him.

If you or your friend has never been to the theatre before, to a one-man show or wondered what acting or fame resembled today's, then this Trilogy, one play on every day could prove addictive. In my packed reviewing life the first play Tragedian 1 - The Rise To Fame has stayed with since I saw at the Fringe and I'm extremely eager to see the third Tragedian 3 - The Decline To Legend. Do go and see these masterclasses in marvellous acting.
© Thelma Good 11 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs 14, 18, 21, 25, and 28 August the other plays in the Trilogy run on other days and the venue are running a see three for the price of two, present your ticket stubs at the venue when booking only of them as the third show.
Company – Prodigal Theatre at Nightingale Theatre.
Company Website


Tragedian 3 - The Decline To Legend. (Page 186).

Drams As mesmerising as the other parts, definitely no drams needed
Venue Southside (Venue 82).
Address 117 Nicholson St.
Reviewer Thelma Good.

Premiering here in Edinburgh this 2005 Fringe is the third and final part of The Tragedian Trilogy, each one written and performed by Alister O'Loughlin and directed by Miranda Henderson. It is as fine a production as both the other two. To see one of them is like having a glass of the finest wine, to see all three is the theatrical equivalent of drinking the best champagne in the company of an engaging, though deeply driven and scarred, man.

Edmund Kean is the character, his tipple was brandy. When entering the theatre for Tragedian III he's there lying on the floor, brandy flagon in hand, in C19th century tails and grey trousers. Kean is even more of a dandy than before with a wing collar and white and silver damascus waistcoat and silver topped black cane. He starts to sing "When I was a young man", a ballad of the time and the centuries melt away. We are no longer in the 2000's, as he tells the story of his later but, at least at first, vigorous years, we are taken to the provinces when Kean found the London theatre scene had no place for him after his court case involving an alderman's wife.

The highs and lows of an actor's life then echo those of today, acclaimed at times, derided at others, along the way dalliances and drunkenness, and the roles, Othello, Richard the III, Shylock and Hamlet. He takes to America and they take to him, though at one performance a riot destroyed a theatre. Also Canada where he was made an honorary Huron Chief. And then back to Britain and at times to to his beloved Bute where he placed the bust of Shakespeare along with other notables of drama by his gateway, including one of himself!

Finally health going after years of misuse, sometimes performing in front of houses that came to see him not the roles he was famous for, he becomes what he strived for a long time to be - an actor manager. Interestingly that's a position Alister O'Loughlin holds himself with others today at the Nightingale Theatre in Brighton. It's a such pleasure to spend time in the company of this theatrical re-creation by this actor whose acting style is as engaging to us as Kean's at his zenith was to audiences long dead. O'Loughlin's Kean singing while tumbling like a harlequin is a marvel to behold. He's rightly on The Stage's shortlist for Best Male Performance at the 2005 Fringe.

I suspect Prodigal Theatre's production of this trilogy has considerable touring legs. Lovers of immediate and fluid acting should seek these productions out, I hope they come to theatre near you, they certainly should..
© Thelma Good 22 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs 19, 22 and 26 August the other plays in the Trilogy run on other days and the venue are running a see three for the price of two, present your ticket stubs at the venue when booking any of them as the third show.
Company – Prodigal Theatre at Nightingale Theatre.
Company Website www.nightingaletheatre.co.uk


Travels With A Donkey In The Cevennes. (Page 186).

Drams full glassfull glass.
Venue The Garage. Citrus Club. (Venue 23).
Address Grindlay Street.
Reviewer Garry Platt.

I felt quite sorry for the performer, there were two other people and my self in the audience and that was it. Doubtless it is difficult for the performer to deliver a performance to an empty auditorium and I always wonder how different the performance might have been with a fuller house. Christopher Chaumette is the actor delivering the one man show but his delivery is hampered by a very strong French accent which at times makes it difficult to tell easily what he is saying. I found my self straining to listen and interpret what was being said and on other occasions simply tuning out.

Despite these problems the hour was one of the fastest I had experienced. Christopher's play retells the story of Robert Louis Stevenson's 12 day trip with a Donkey; Modestine from Monastier-sur- Gazeille to Saint-Jean-du-Gard in the South of France. It's a wonderful story full of little adventures and events which appear within the play and are re-enacted with simple props and a simple set.

For Robert Louis Stevenson fans I suspect this show is an absolute must, for anyone wanting to spend an hour watching a charming story told with sincerity this is also for you.
©Garry Platt August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to the 28 August at 15:45 every day.
Company Theatre S'Amourailles.


The Treasure Of The Puta Madre (Page 186).

Drams full glassfull glass.
Venue C Central (Venue 54).
Address Carlton Hotel, North Bridge.
Reviewer Lorraine McCann.

There's something rather sweet and childlike about writer-director Christopher Hood's 'surreal radio drama for the stage'. Possibly it's the shaggy-dog narrative, with its stock elements of treasure, bounties and parrots. Or maybe it's more to do with the presence of Hood himself, who exudes the kind of toothless menace that could only frighten the most wussy of bairns. In any case, although The Treasure of the Puta Madre is well-constructed and performed with gusto, it ultimately falls a little flat.

The key device in this show is that of a female narrator, who sits at a lighted lectern and reads to us in an earnest manner while three male actors have a lot of fun with silly voices and headgear. Of these three, Hood is easily the most compelling, with his captain character on a quest to be reunited with his huge family. Indeed, the fact that the treasure is double-edged (both monetary and emotional) is a neat twist but not really enough to make up for largely underwritten characters.

The day I went, some folk in the audience found something to laugh at every other minute, so this could come down to a question of taste. At any rate, if you like being read to, this is the one for you.
© Lorraine McCann, 21 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August at 1515
Company Black Custard Theatre
Company Website www.blackcustard.com


Trojan Women (Page 186, NB change of venue - now at George Square Theatre).
Drams No drams needed (if you're up for this!).
Venue George Square Theatre (Venue 37).
Address George Square.
Reviewer Ritchie Smith.

Your fringe programme describes this play as 'a sensational multimedia production and one of the most powerful indictments of war' - and it is. Really. This might become one of those legendary productions much talked of after the event, and I urge you to see it.

The source, of course, is the Greek tragedy by Euripedes, translated winningly here by Brendan Kennelly and directed by Cathie Boyd. After some words about Iraq, and genuinely eerie voice-overs, we are with Hecuba, Queen of 'lost, broken, ruined' Troy. Troy has been defeated, the Trojan women's men are dead, and Hecuba and her daughters are waiting for their already tragic fates to become even more hideous. In other words, this is absolutely and unremittingly bleak. It is also theatre of bitter, overwhelming power.

The women take the prizes for acting. The hollow-eyed anguish of Myra McFadyen as Hecuba, whose brittle royal dignity finally shatters, is a wonder to behold. Kate Dickie's breast-beating Andromache could also hardly be more powerful, especially when she is told the fate of her son. And, Itxaso Moreno, as 'lunatic virgin' and seer Cassandra gives perhaps the most unsettling performance I have ever seen on the stage.

There is nothing here for our comfort. Nothing at all. But Cathie Boyd has directed this tragedy superbly. It transcends conventional theatre. It's shattering. Be shattered!
©Ritchie Smith 7 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 28 at various times (check with venue).
Company - Theatre Cryptic.
Company Website - www.cryptic.org.uk


True Genius. (Page 186).

Drams full glassfull glass.
Venue C Electric. (Venue No 50)
Address Clerk Street, formerly the Odeon.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin.

This kind of production is what the Fringe is all about. 11 theatre students and recent graduates from Northwestern University, Chicago have travelled to Edinburgh to perform a new play by David Holstein, who is a film studies major. True Genius is a bleak, black comedy about Scooter a 19 year old intellectual prodigy, school dropout and pathological liar who spends his days pondering questions about love, life and reality itself.

Scooter, played Reginald Gowland, a young lookalike Tom Hanks, sits in his bedroom shaving. It's a recurring image, as if he is trying to act in a mature manner. "I don't know how to shave. I might die shaving". He seems lost in his own secluded world, ignoring his kid brother Jeffrey and his mother with whom it is alleged he has threatened with a knife. At regular meetings with psychologist Dr. Foyer, he finds it difficult to communicate his feelings. But ironically it is here he meets fellow patient Lila,(sympathetically played by the delightfully sweet Allie Adair ,who is also a lost soul and pathological liar. But as Scooter becomes fascinated by this strange, fey girl, he wonders if she really does exist.

Overall the dramatic storyline tinged with gentle humour and led by Gowland's impressive and sensitive central performance, creates a rather enthralling and thrilling play. Some casting does not work - Margaret his mother looks far too young and performs with brittle stiffness. A young girl plays his brother Jeffrey (why could she not have played his sister instead?). There are confusing references to the night JFK was shot - is this play set in 2005 or 1970s/ 80s.? This needs to be made clear in the programme. But a few concerns aside, this is an original and fascinating study of adolescent angst along the lines of "Catcher in the Rye".

Bringing True Genius to Edinburgh has been a major investment for the young company but they were determined to showcase the play at the Festival. "I want to be a playwright and a director," says Holstein. "I have nothing to lose by going to the Fringe." Absolutely, and the company will return to Chicago with a few rave reviews and memories of a rewarding theatrical experience.
©Vivien Devlin 10 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August date at 3.15pm daily.
Company - Full Frontal Theatre Company, Northwestern University


Twilight of the Gods. (187)
Drams full glass.
Venue C Elecetric. 50
Address Clerk Street.
Reviewer Pippa Tennant.

How anyone could write such an intelligent, seamless script analysing the complex ideas of the composer Richard Wagner and the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is beyond me. Drawing much of the dialogue directly from the writings of his two stars, Julian Doyle, author of Twilight of the Gods succeeds magnificently.
Set at a time when Nietzsche has already spent four years on his descent to ‘ferocious madness’, the dead Wagner appears and this intense debate commences. Split into ten chapters, this engaging and challenging piece of theatre elucidates the philosophies of these two prominent nineteenth century thinkers. Their ideas are expounded through a dispute over Schopenhauer’s ‘transcendental idealism’ and Nietzsche’s promotion of ‘life-affirmation’. Do not be put off however; this show is not solely for the philosophically educated. The quality of the script and clarity of the acting, provide coherent insights into universally comprehensible issues.

Responsibility and altruistic Christian morality are discussed at length and our fully occupied concentration spans are aided by the stark set which fits the mood of the production well. This is compelling stuff!

©Pippa Tennant 15th August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 19th at 20:45 everyday (not Wednesdays)
Company Bill and Ben Productions.

(T) 13 out of 258
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