|Edinburgh : A&E : Festivals : Fringe Theatre Reviews|
None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
The Waiting Room. (Page 189).
Venue Scottish Theatre Gateway Studio 4 (Venue 7).
Address Elm Row.
Reviewer Thelma Good.
From one of Scotland's newest theatre companies, Zendeh comes the Scottish premiere of Isabel Wright's The Waiting Room. It's a tightly direct, high tension piece of drama where two women hide for what we gather is a long time in a almost bare room. It's set in an unspecified country though many of the names mentioned are Old Testament. Marah, Sian Mannifield, is the older woman. At first she dominates the younger woman Naomi, Victoria Macleod, who wavers between intense optimism and anguished, wrenching despair, tettering on the edge of losing sanity.
The script demands our attention, at first you have no idea what is going on, then peice by peice, listening for what is not said, the way something is approached or the body language between the two the awful story emerges. Marah's almost the mother-in-law from hell and Naomi's a young women who was too wrapped up in her love to see what the country she lived in was turning into. Both women are surpressing much, it's a hard pitch to sustain, even the most relaxed moments contain distrubing elements - the damaged doll who is alternately cradled and attacked, and the spy hole Naomi looks through with a tender smile. Hard but the cast and direction bring it off.
If you like your drama direct and easy to follow this is not for you, despite the strong acting from the recently qualifed graduates of QMUC, Edinburgh and direction of Nazli Tabatabai. But if you like a puzzle, and a play which isn't closely tied down to a place, this could well hit the spot. It lets you think what if this is a vision of our future if or when one section turns against another. And the productions focused feel suggest this is a company to watch out for.
© Thelma Good August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August date at time every day, not Suns etc.
Company – Zendeh.
Company Website www.zendeh.com
Waiting for Godot. (Page 189).
Venue Sweet on the Grassmarket. (Venue 18).
Address Apex City Hotel, 61 The Grassmarket
Reviewer Guy Woodward.
Ravine faced Irish funnyman Samuel Beckett’s magnum opus is given a more than competent seeing to by the company of the Strolling Theatricals here, but the poor dears are badly let down by the Lilliputian dimensions of their venue. Confined to a sweaty corporate broom cupboard in the Apex Hotel on the Grassmarket, there is very little room for directorial manoeuvre in a play whose powerful sense of desolation demands a much larger stage.
It’s exactly fifty years since the English translation was first staged, and although by now the play may have lost most of its shocking power it certainly manages to do something out of the ordinary. It’s still very funny, that’s for sure, and this production emphasises Beckett’s humour. Estragon squeezes every last comic drop of discordant and obtuse melancholia from his lines, and there are also many laughs to be had from the gentleman who plays Pozzo something like a bumptious and deranged circus ringmaster.
Though Vladimir grated at times (too stagey and too posh), this is, for the most part, a polished production, and the costumes in particular were excellent. The Strolling Theatricals deserve more room than this - it’s like watching the Rolling Stones do a gig in a photo me booth.
©Guy Woodward 28 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 29 August at 11.40.
Company – The Strolling Theatricals.
War Bus. (Page 189).
Drams No needed, this is top community spirit.
Venue Rocket at Roxy Art House (Venue 115).
Address Roxburgh Place.
Reviewer Thelma Good.
When a eager person accosts me during the festival inducing me to see their play because, "it's based on a true story." I usually try not to, truth is a fluid beast, the one incident can be totally differently recalled depending where and who you are, and anyway fiction is fired by the combustible fuel of imagination. But sometimes something about the company or the original makes me relent. It's when I detect the quiet certitude from people who know they've got something special. Ribcaged is such a production.
Owen Phillips took his grandfather's tales and those of other Ribchester, Lancashire people about the two World wars and has fashioned a quietly moving play about dreams and hopes and the intervention of world events into decent peoples lives. The company is formed from Phillips' fellow Ribcester's and there must be summat in the Lancashire air there that makes some many good actors, with Keith Flood giving superb delivery of a fine monologue in the central role of the village Fishmonger George Groves and Owen Phillip's himself in the role of George's son Elijah. Rebecca Parkinson as the barmaid, and Viki Mason as her souring sister bring particularly good support but the whole piece is well carried by all the well costumed cast.
Seeing this genuinely community inspired and developed production is a strong reminder that the best happens when people join together and do it for themselves. It also reminds what wars nearly destroyed. Present day Ribchester's village spirit is considerable, nearly half of them had travelled up to filled the Roxy theatre when I saw it and their pride and delight were clear. Phillips looks like a young man with promise and a good base to develop it in.
© Thelma Good 19 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 20 August at 13:20.
Company – Ribcaged.
Company Website www.ribcaged.co.uk
The Watcher (Page 189).
Venue Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33).
Address 60 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Ritchie Smith.
This is a thoroughly professional piece of theatre with twists and turns to keep you interested (if not necessarily in a state of total belief) to the melodramatic conclusion. The cast of two, Katie McEwen as a smoothly attractive woman hiding depths, and Jon Martin-Shaw hiding - well, that would give the game away! - are both good right from the start and don't flag at all. This is effective writing for the theatre, going straight to character interplay, with the male's immediate, disconcerting sexual focus on the female. They talk about the murder(s) in the park. But more is going on - I'm not going to spoil the surprises by telling you.
Writer Jeremy Paul, slick and experienced from years in TV, is obviously a consummate professional. The story is not particularly 'now' or realistic, but the interplay between the two leads is very lively, sometimes deadly serious, occasionally taking diverting turns towards comedy, and is never dull. I would have to question just exactly what the story was leading us towards, but it's an enjoyable journey with the cast ringing the changes impeccably.
©Ritchie Smith 11 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 29 (not 16) at 12:55.
Company Fresh Look Theatre
Company Website - www.freshlooktheatre.co.uk
We Love You Arthur (Page 189).
Venue Assembly at George Street (Venue 3).
Address Assembly Rooms, 54 George Street.
Reviewer Lorraine McCann.
OK, listen up everybody. Here's what we 'know' about the 1984 miners' strike. One: miner's families were the salt of the earth. Two: miner's wives were empowered by their new role as spokeswomen for their menfolk. Three: miners who went back to work were shunned by those who stayed on strike. Four: the supine representation of these 'facts' does not make for interesting drama.
The trouble with We Love You Arthur is that it all takes rather too long to get anywhere. It starts off with the two teenagers, Julie and Lisa, riffing about their unlikely heartthrob, the National Union of Mineworkers then leader, Arthur Scargill, and there's a lot of self-consciously wacky idolisation of this 'middle-aged ginger bloke with a comb-over', as if this alone should make the girls endearing. But then they embark on a somewhat contrived caper involving the kidnap of a dog, the discovery of at least one extra-marital affair, and by the time the only genuinely interesting conflict arrives - which is between the two girls caught on opposing sides, as their fathers take different approaches to the strike - it's all but over.
It must be said that it's not all bad. The performances are fine, and it was great to hear Bronski Beat, The Smiths and Billy Bragg's 'Between the Wars' again. Also, the grandmother's obsession with Casablanca and Bogey's 'don't amount to a hill of beans' speech is neatly measured against the heartache being played out on the stage. Perhaps another twenty years have to pass before we can tolerate a fresh perspective on this period in British politics?
© Lorraine McCann, 12 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 29 August at 1320 (not 15).
Company Northern Firebrand and New Writing North.
Company Website www.newwritingnorth.com
When We Are Married (Page 190).
Venue Augustine's (Venue 152)
Address 41 George IV Bridge
Reviewer Lorraine McCann
Initially, it's hard to see why anyone would want to revive this J.B. Priestly farce wherein three bourgeois couples celebrating their silver weddings discover that, owing to an administrative error, they were never in fact officially married. After all, it's been quite a while since 'living in sin' raised any kind of a stink round our way. But, as the piece goes on, despite some wretchedly thin performances, the play begins to resonate as a metaphor for tolerance and understanding.
The three Yorkshire husbands at the heart of the play are, by turns, overbearing, unfaithful and hen-pecked. One of them, in whose house the celebrations are being held, also has a niece who is courting the church's new organist. He is from the south and considered far too 'la-di-dah' for his own good. Thus the scene is set for the airing of prejudices and for the airers to be hoist by their own petards.
The farce is not really broad enough to raise many laughs, and many of the roles will seem stereotypical to our post-Python generation. But there is nevertheless something quite endearing about seeing the sweet breeze of freedom playing across these characters' lives, brief and yet transformative. If they could just get rid of the ageing make-up and make that 'drunk' photographer stop staggering about like he's got both legs in splints, it might be worth a look.
© Lorraine McCann, 21 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs 17, 19, 21, 24, 26 and 28 August at 1720
Company - Rattlesnake!
Where Spirits and Fairies Dwell. (Page 190).
Drams None need, the show is transporting itself.
Venue C Venue. (Venue 34).
Address Chambers Street.
Reviewer Ksenija Horvat.
The director Isao Takahata (a film director at Studio Ghibi,* Japan) plays down technical effects to the bare minimum, relying instead upon the mastery of his puppeteers Yoshiya Yamamoto ( the creator of these astounding puppets) and Izumi Masumura, and performers Kinuyo Kogure, Arisa Senno and Hisui to capture the audience's imagination. With humbleness and great skill, Kawasemi-za create a playful world where puppets come alive, where magic and realism co-exist effortlessly, and where animals, humans and divine make part of the same delicately interwoven whole.
Where Spirits and Fairies Dwell is a pure little treasure hidden on the first floor of C Venue, just waiting for you to discover it. Whatever your age, it will unlock your inner child and make you wear it openly and proudly on your sleeve.
*Note from Theatre Editor - Studio Ghibi, Japan have produced many famed animation films with superb stories and amaxing amination work. On Friday this Editor met the four-inch high Puck from this show, he was naughty and seductive, and captivated me.
© Ksenija Horvat 4 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 13 August 2005 at 12:00 noon every day (1hr).
Company Website www.kawasemiza.com
Where's The Power? A Rap Opera. (Page 190).
Venue Rocket at Roxy Art House (Venue 115).
Address Roxburgh Place.
Reviewer Thelma Good.
It starts with rythum and continues with it using repeated words and sounds alongside music by Nik Paget-Tomlinson and Niroshinin Thambar of Plump Studios. The actor dancers are Daljinder Sigh, Manu Kurewa, Umar Ahmed and Clive Andrews, they range across physical types, ages, sex and ethnic background in this hip hip, bollywood, rap mix. The result entertains and makes you smile but also translates into dance and song the conflicts and devisions that concentrate power in a few hands and dilute its collective potential.
Choreographed by Paul Joseph and Charan Pradhan, and directed by Paul Joseph and Lee Gershuny, it's a shame there were only four dancers to deploy, though they dance and meld their individual styles. Its light story line is a surprise given its political theme but the commitment and skill of the dancers keeps you watching. In particular Clive Andrews' clear engagement and awarness of the audience ensures we respond rather than just watch the peice. It's prehaps more dance piece than opera, and it's not fully formed, but with many of those involved from Scotland we can hope that the creative forces that arrived at this this will go on to develop here.
© Thelma Good 27 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 29 not Suns at 13:35. Then goes on a Scottish Autumn Tour till 9 Dec.
Company – The Elements World Theatre.
Company Website www.the-elements.org.uk
Whodoneit. (Page 190).
Venue Augustines (Venue 152).
Address 41 George IV Bridge.
Reviewer Thelma Good.
From a Edinburgh amateur group comes a very good stab at this comic play which demands out front acting and ability to act the fool with ease. Steve Rouxel is the crime novelist to whose house comes Derek Melon's Inspector and Charlie Allan's PC Smart. As corpses are reported moment by moment and the formerly well staffed house and relations become stiff and still the audience has a whale of a time watching Rouxel's Tom and Wendy Brindle's Mrs Meals. Also camping it up very effectively is Lorraine McCann in two roles simpering, winking maid and shiny young Danny Travis, SJ Mcgeachy's Shutters/Skakles, Graham Rigby in two parts, one invisible, Alison Armstrong and Sean Farmer and all.
Well costumed, it's directed with zip and dash by Jim McSharry while the technical crew of Steve Robb and Brian Miller round up Bigvillage Theatre Company. Neil Harrison the writer of this fun romp allegedly lives in Edinburgh and the script is available from French. All in all it looks like it was fun to rehearse and to play. It's certainly fun to watch, played as it is with such timing and verve.
© Thelma Good 13 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 13 August at 19:00.
Company – Bigvilliage Theatre Company.
Wilde By Name. (Page 190).
Drams . at most.
Venue Diverse Attractions (Venue 11).
Address Riddles Court, 322 Lawnmarket.
Reviewer Edmund Gould.
This informal tribute to that oft-quoted darling of the literati, Oscar Wilde, is a refreshing oasis of calm amid the chaos of the Fringe. If you fancy a warm, relaxing, gentle performance piece, whether you happen to be a Wilde buff or not, then this will be right up your street. The show casts its net over the literary icon's entire life, understandably devoting some considerable time to the infamous trial of 1895 in which Wilde's homosexuality was publicly revealed and his reputation ruined.
The four-strong cast share the numerous readings of letters, poems and sketches between them, and none of them fail to transmit the genuine affection in which they hold their notorious subject. The show is framed by a couple of amusing extracts from the versatile writer's comedies, and the hour or so between them passes with a reading of Wilde's fairy tale 'The Selfish Giant' and an interesting selection of finely chosen anecdotes. We learn the truth about his marriage to Constance Lloyd – 'a cloak to hide my secret', in his own words. We hear of his fractious relationships with contemporaries such as the painter James Whistler, and of his doomed love for 'Bosie', or rather Lord Alfred Douglas, breathlessly compared to 'a Narcissus, as white as gold'.
Douglas Currie and The Mercators have devised an enjoyable show of innocuous tea-time storytelling, though the pace does tend to drag in parts. At seventy five minutes it's also overly long, and the performers remain a little too much in thrall to the Wildean myth. Still, aided by the somewhat apt drawing room setting, this is a pleasant, informative show that will teach you a thing or two, and enable you to draw breath and take stock before facing the hubbub of the Royal Mile once more.
©Edmund Gould 21 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 20 August at 17:30 (1hr 15 mins).
Company – The Mercators.
Witkacy Idiota. (Venue 190).
Venue Roxy Art House. (Venue 115).
Address 2 Roxburgh Place.
Reviewer Ksenija Horvat.
Bizarre, surreal, exhilaratingly funny - Witkacy Idiota is a memorable pastiche of physical comedy, theatre of ideas and excerpts from the life and work of Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz, a famous early twentieth-century surrealist painter, art photographer, philosopher and playwright, a pioneer of European avant-garde. Performed with great passion and skill by David W W Johnstone and Sandy Grierson, this show is a refreshing combination of mime and word, that sets out to prove that avant-garde is still alive and kicking in British theatre.
Choosing to substitute linear structure with a style that resembles one of Witkiewicz’s abstract paintings was a courageous choice on the part of the performers, which paid off beautifully. Under Johnstone ’s playful direction, the audience are allowed a glimpse into the crevasses of Witkiewicz’s inner mind, where the balance of madness and genius is constantly being disturbed, and where the world is seen as a strange, distorted place, the tomb of every hope.
There is no doubt that Johnstone and Grierson are accomplished performers who immediately have their audiences eating out of their hands. Still, for all its chaotic charm, Witkacy Idiota looks unfinished. What lacks at the moment is the visual richness of Witkiewicz’s crazy lopsided world. There are moments of sheer genius, followed by the scenes that are as yet raw and undefined. One cannot help thinking that this show will continue to be explored, played with and polished, and that its final version, whatever that might be, is yet to be unleashed upon an unsuspecting audience.
In the meantime, the followers and aficionados of commedia dell’arte, Kantor and everything that is surreal better start queuing in front of the Roxy. They rarely come better than this.
© Ksenija Horvat 15 August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 20 August at 10:10am (1hr 10mins).
Company Website www.lazzi.co.uk.com
A Work In Progress. (Page 190).
Venue Jury's Inn. (Venue 260).
Address 43 Jeffrey Street.
Reveiwer Ariadne Cass.
I laughed all the way through Work In Progress. I thought it was hilarious. Then I noticed that my friend, who was sitting next to me, was not laughing nearly as much. When I asked her why, she said it was because she didn't understand a lot of the jokes. I realised then that, as brilliant as Work In Progress is, it can only properly be understood amongst people who have studied drama at university. There are too many in-jokes. It's a history of theatre as understood by people who have already thoroughly researched it, practiced it, and lived it, perhaps so much so that they've forgotten that there are people who won't understand gags about Brecht. Or Pinter. Or Stanislavski.
I loved it. In fact, I would say that if you're contemplating going to study drama at university, you should definitely go and see this show, because it seemed to sum up my degree in a nutshell. In fact, don't bother to go to university at all. See this show intead. Take notes, button-hole one of the actors later on so they can explain the more inexplicable jests, and then do something sensible with your life instead.
Please don't think that this is an insular, elitist show, because it isn't. It's a quick - paced, extremely funny, occasionally lazy history of theatre. This is an extremely talented, local company. One to look out for.
©Ariadne Cass 7th August 2005 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs 7 - 13 Aug 2005
Company - Rhymes with Purple Productions.
A World In Your Shell-Like. (Page 191).
Venue Sweet on Grassmarket. (Apex International) (Venue 18).
Address 61 Grassmarket.
Reviewer Lauren McKie.
I really want to give this no drams but I am aware that not everyone will enjoy this as much as I did. Where can I start? The set - puppet sets are notoriously difficult to design and construct and it is an incredible feat in itself to construct one as innovative as this. Digital media and lots of otherwise mundane, everyday objects are utilised in such a fashion that there are a lot of gasps and excited giggles from the audience (unless this is just me!)
The soundtrack is fabulous - absolutely no complaints here - and it is used well interactively with the puppets (they respond well to the music and in time with it).
Having lived with a puppeteer for quite a long time, I understand how the obsession takes over - they look at something like a snotty handkerchief, ready to go in the wash - and before you know it, they've named it Harry and have discovered how to make it dance! These puppeteers are magically expressive - each of them has a particular strength, very rarely slipping up. The puppets are extremely well-imagined - surreal - especially the giraffe-deer-creature and the company have discovered how to use the idea of distance-perspective with different levels of the stage. Therefore there are at least three sets of puppets and I can't even imagine how long it must have taken to create them - all replicas on different scales.
The story quite often is lost by the shift of focus between puppets and puppeteers and I would advise that often visible puppeteers work better when they are somehow connected to the character of the puppet they are operating (physically and expressively). It may be wiser to retain the same puppeteers for the same puppets throughout the production. However Sorcerer Baklava still manage to impress their audience. I hope to see them again in the future - in fact, I may just go and see this again before they disappear!
©Lauren McKie. 8 August 2004 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 14 at 13:50 every day.
Company - Sorcerer Baklava.
No Company Website