|Edinburgh : A&E : Festivals : Fringe Theatre|
None = Unmissable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme
C-90 - Daniel Kitson. (Page 156).
Venue Traverse Theatre.
Address Cambridge Street.
Reviewer Leanna Rance.
Daniel Kitson returns to the Traverse in 2006, with another breathtaking, beautifully-crafted piece of contemporary writing. C-90 is a one-man piece de resistance, delivered unfalteringly and with total commitment. The term genius is bandied about rather too readily these days, but here it unequivocally applies.
C-90, is the tale of Henry, an eccentric, reclusive tape archivist, who during the course of his final day at work, receives a strange and unexpected retirement gift. This leads him to urgently reflect upon the now defunct treasures, contained within his library. Intimately acquainted with every story of love, betrayal and loss, immortalised on the hundreds of compilation tapes in his collection – we learn he can place every tape by sense, memory, sight, touch and smell – but has never once listened to the music contained therein.
Kitson leads us on a fascinating journey, as we meander through the interconnected yet random lives of a series of unassuming, ordinary individuals. The tales are both simple and transcendent. Kitson’s stream-of-consciousness approach to story-telling is exhilarating. His trademark 60-words-per-minute delivery, leaving the audience open-mouthed with delight, as he pivots from exquisite humour to poignancy within the space of a sentence. An adept visual raconteur, Kitson inhabits his characters worlds so emphatically that disbelief is utterly suspended, and his creations take three-dimensional form before our eyes.
It’s only in the final, uplifting 30 seconds of the play, as we say goodbye to Henry, that I realize that along with the majority of the audience, I am struggling with a lump in the throat and a tear in the eye.
© Leanna Rance - 11 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 27 August at 22.30 every day, excepting 14, 21.
Company - Daniel Kitson.
Cantata for Acquiesence. (Page 153).
Venue Venue 13 (Venue 13).
Address .Lochend Close, Canongate.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin .
First performed in 1929, Bertolt Brecht devised Cantata for Acquiesence as a Lerhstucke - a learning play - for dramatic exploration by actors and directors. The play is unfinished, with no set text, stage directions or characterisation. Director and choreographer Mira Kingsley has therefore had the artistic freedom to devise her own vision of the piece in collaboration with an ensemble of actors (students and graduates) from the California Institute of the Arts School of Theatre in Los Angeles.
This philosophical drama consists of a series of questions, exploring human achievement, identity, death and the experience of surrender. On an empty stage, with just a school blackboard, the narrator begins by describing man's ability to fly, to travel faster and faster. The past century has witnessed unparalleled progress in science and technology but what price human freedom, equality and world peace? It brings to mind Robert Burns' immortal lines, "Man's inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn."
The storytelling unfolds through dramatised sketches, graceful movement, light and shadows. An interactive q/a session with the audience creates a palpable sense of emotion and shared humility. With music and a strong, (rather deafening) soundtrack, tension and pace builds up into a display of energetic physical performance. Although it smacks at times rather too much of a typical undergraduate, experimental improvisation, there are moments of truth from a talented and committed company.
©Vivien Devlin, 15 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 19 August at 4.30pm each day.
Company -CalArts Festival Theatre.
Can't Pay, Won't Pay! (Page 153).
Venue C. (Venue 34).
Address Chamber Street.
Reviewer Lauren McKie.
Having brought us a production of Accidental Death Of An Anarchist last year, Oxford University students return with another of Dario Fo's comic comments on the social and political changes in mid-20th century Italy. Although at times this production can fall into the trap of being a bit over-eager with the comedic characters, there is a lot of well-played material here and it is still as relevant today as it was when it was written.
Can't Pay, Won't Pay! centres around two young married couples who inadvertently support and become involved in socialist revolution. There are fairly surreal moments as is not uncommon in Fo's work, but ultimately, other than a Commedia-influenced feature in the characters of Policeman, Inspector and Dad, it is a scathing address on civil rights.
Much of the production is dominated by the high standard of comic acting by both Anna Chojnicka and Lucy Murphy who balance the surreal comedy with a lot of genuine grit, as this play is supposed to reflect a real era of chaos in Italy. As well as the aforesaid performers as Margheritta and Antonia there are fairly decent turns by the rest of the cast - but very occasionally it does diminish into near slapstick.
The set here has been put together well by Will Reynolds with a good consideration of what the physical requirements are to be. However the stage props seem sometimes quite hastily put together with not much thought to the effect. Often mime can create for the audience what solid props cannot. Though not always as thought-provoking as the text is to read, this production is very enjoyable and if you are a fan of Dario Fo, then this may be your best chance to see his work performed this year.
©Lauren McKie 16 August 2006 - Published on Edinburgh Guide.com
Runs to 28 August at 16:30.
Company - Collapsible Theatre Company.
Company Website - www.collapsibletheatre.co.uk .
Carbon Fever (Page 153).
Drams - none for Simon Pegg and Douglas Adams fans.
Venue The Zoo (Venue 124).
Address 140 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Morag Hannah.
Armageddon has arrived, it has so far rained seven feet of carbon outside, and Graham regains consciousness on the floor of an off-license. This is not quite the stag night he had planned.
The earnest young man is trapped with his best friend and comedy sidekick, Will, whose main tools of survival are beer, Pringles, and unfailing optimism. Will's witless, cheerful pragmatism and Graham's angst-fuelled panic are a classic combination that works extremely well here, in a scenario at once utterly ridiculous and strangely realistic (the only criticism there being: What off-license wouldn't have a staff toilet?).
The appearance of "Sigmund Freud", who is probably a figment of Graham's imagination, marks the big shift in mood of the play from a conventional (if witty) black comedy to something a little more surreal. Sigmund's energetic lecture and Graham's frenetic reaction to it are high points of the play, prompting at first bewilderment and then nervous hilarity from the audience. Beercan armchairs and tax collectors to follow.
Part Shaun of the Dead, part Douglas Adams (quite a big part, actually, complete with a copy of the book and babelfish homage at the end), Carbon Fever is a fab little play, well worth its modest ticket price and deserving of a much larger audience than it got.
©Morag Hannah 13 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 28 at 2310 every day, not 21.
Company - Tax Deductible Theatre Company.
Cast Aside. (Page 153).
Drams None - this was a real treat!
Venue The Zoo. (Venue 124).
Address 140 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Thelma Good.
Comic plays are toughies to bring off, ones about the theatre can be positively cringe making but Ankle Productions have brought Cast Aside which starts well in a film noirish first scene and goes on to delight. It causes considerable laughter, all played with the carefree batting chuckle-fest comedy needs. Each of the young cast gives it their all, and lucky them, the play gives them characters you can believe in. The Bitch, the eager puppy, the guy who can't stop telling porky pies, the slightly mucky nerd, the oh so camp assistant and the posturing young director Willie all converge on a cross gendered, experimental darling, Merchant of Venice.
Any one who spends time in the world of the aspiring actor will recognise the types, they may even recognise elements of themselves. And those who've stayed always the audience side of the lights, will marvel as these strange people pull together into that closeness only casts can develop. It's dammed good writing which receives a really good seeing to in these talented young peoples' hands. It's too easy to over do a farce, Ankle Productions' show, directed by Charlie Brafman, brings it to a rolling boil, and he and the cast keep it there. A considerable achievement.
©Thelma Good 13 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August at 20:50 every day.
Company - Ankle Productions.
Company Website - www.ankleproductions.co.uk
The Cave of the Golden Calf. (Page 154).
Venue Opal Lounge(Venue 240).
Address 51a George Street.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin.
For the Edinburgh Fringe 2005, arts and theatre entrepreneur Andrew Brown revived with great success, the avant garde Soho cabaret club The Cave of the Golden Calf, founded in 1912 by the beautiful socialite Frida Strindberg. The Cave is back this year with another eclectic programme of burlesque entertainment - a deliciously dark, occasionally decadent, blend of music, mime, song and sex.
In the suitably dark and intimate nightclub at the Opal Lounge, there's an impressive international line up of performers: The show opens with the legendary New York cabaret star, Steve Ross described as "the personification of Cole Porter". Dressed appropriately in black tie and dinner jacket, his repertoire specialises in the romantic songs from the era of Porter, Fred Astaire, Noel Coward and Irving Berlin. Accompanying stories are delivered with cool, crisp Cowardly dry wit and self-deprecating humour as he pounds at the piano keys with sheer bravado. Finding Steve Ross here is like discovering Steve Martin on the Fringe doing stand-up.
La Celine, musical actress par excellence, channels into the spirit and soul of various colourful characters, including Madame Ming and Fraulein Fritz, who reveal tales of their secret lives. Another master of disguise is Ryan Styles an amazing clown and bewigged mime artiste. You'll be utterly stunned, or shocked, by the sparkling performance of the wicked Empress Stah, exotic, erotic dancer extraordinaire. The line up varies each night and also includes Marni, a sassy accordionist from New York and Eleanor, a talented folk singer from Sardinia.
The ambience is laid back with slightly haphazard, amusing presentation by Andrew Brown the debonair MC, glass of brandy in hand. (The audience may take bar drinks into the cabaret theatre). The Cave of the Golden Calf is a crazy, two hour rollercoaster ride of weird and wonderful performances but each act is unique, slick and professional. Love it or hate it, this show is like nothing else on the Fringe. I personally loved it.
©Vivien Devlin, 26 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 30 August at 8pm each day.
Company - Cave of the Golden Calf.
Chalk Circle (Page 154).
Venue Churchhill Theatre (Venue 137).
Address Morningside Road.
Reviewer Lauren McKie.
Unfortunately, despite having a specially adapted script and very lovely music to work with this young company lack the necessary experience with sets in with age (or should do!)
This well-worn parable first surfaced in the Yuan dynasty in China and was later picked up by Klabund and then Brecht in his play "Caucasian Chalk Circle". The story concerns a baby who is abandoned by his mother - an Empress - and rescued/adopted by a young servant girl who battles against many obstacles to bring him up well. When the boy has grown a little, the Empress demands him returned, but an eccentric judge rules that the servant and the Empress must try to pull the boy out of a Chalk Circle drawn on the ground to decide who will keep him. Because the servant doesn't want to hurt him, she lets the Empress win and the judge rules that the servant will be the better mother because she has shown more love.
A lot of the severity of the story, which could have been made very relevant to today, is lost by this adaptation which is more like a Broadway sing-song than the political theatre Brecht intended. However, some of the material here is well-handled by some very young actors - particularly the one who plays the young servant girl - Hannah. The musical numbers are certainly well written, but there is a lot which could have been omitted. Some of the real action is rushed in favour of the song and dance routines, and the poor narrators who are obviously very musical are forced to bridge these gaps. Thankfully they are fairly watchable. A lot of the performed set is a bit obsolete, but there are touches, the wobbly bridge, the river and mountains, which are well done.
This production is a little bit naive - although bravely performed - and whereas there are some lovely moments where you can see the story taking priority, most of this is a vehicle for the thirty-four young performers to sing and dance. I would recommend finding a production of Brecht's take on the grisly legend if you are looking for a deep and meaningful message.
©Lauren McKie 13 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs till August 12 at 20:40 (1hr 25mins).
Company Westmont High School, Campbell, California.
Chanbara (Page 154).
Venue Pleasance Courtyard. (Venue 8).
Address 60 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Garry Platt.
The choreographer from the ‘Kill Bill’ films is apparently responsible for putting together this show which is meant to introduce us to the Samurai Sword accompanied by a range of Taiko drummers. I was looking forward to this show, experiencing Japanese drumming is always an energising experience and the combination of this with the mystique and charisma of the Samurai Sword seemed a winning combination, sadly it didn’t turn out to be true
The show commences with some powerful drumming and an empty stage, then a series of figures with swords enter and begin to go through a sequence of poses and posturing which frankly just get in the way of enjoying the drumming. There follows a series of fight scenes. These are never going to be as good as film screened fights, the variety of angles, framing and special effects which can be utilised in that medium means the static one dimensional format of the proscenium arch is always going be second best, this show just confirms the limitations of these stages.
Vogueing with swords is what it boils down to in places. One scene is a kind of parody. Iit’s desperately unfunny and the audiences have to be cued in where to clap. Guys, if it’s that bad that you have to tell the audience where to clap, there’s something wrong. They have attempted to create a show where the sword is celebrated and the power of the experience reinforced with Taiko drumming - it doesn’t work. If the swordsmen committed hari kari and left the drummers to it, then you’d have a show.
©Garry Platt 7 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs 3-4,7-10,14-17, 21-24 August at 22:20. Runs 5-6,11,13,18-20,25-27 August at 22:00..
Company – Yamato.
Company Website - http://www.yamato.jp/english/main-e/main-flame-e.htm
Cin****. (The name of a proprietary vermouth.) (Page 155).
Venue Underbelly (Venue 61).
Reviewer Lauren McKie.
First of all - in my opinion - a naturalist drama tragedy (this play first seen in Glasgow in 1989 and by Russian playwright Ludmila Petrushevskaya) about three old friends trawling through their various miseries while drinking copious amounts of pepper vodka, does not a frivolous fringe night make. So I give this company their due respect for taking on such fare. Political allegory and social commentary are rife in this piece.
The proprietary vermouth is the drink of choice, and there appear to be around 10 bottles of it ready for consumption by the three characters onstage. Set in a Moscow flat, and showing the contemptable poverty and squalor that a large population were forced to live in, this piece definitely touches a nerve, but a lot of the hard-hitting political discussion is lost within possibly an over-familiar tired routine of laughs and staggering. The gutsy three-person ensemble are often sadly lacklustre in their performance. The combination of misery and tragedy in the text, some poor charaterisation and seemingly poor portrayal of the issues involved add to an already dingy atmosphere in the sound-bleeding caves of the Underbelly. It could have been a very depressing evening indeed!
The company do have one saving grace though, and this is the performance by the actor playing Pascha. Having no press release for this performance and also no programme, I am at loss for his name. I understand that all of the performers are former students at the Moscow Art Theatre, however this is not always obvious and apart from a very emotional and involving performance by the aforesaid actor, some of the portrayal of drunken chaos is almost cartoonish. Although leaving a lot to be desired, only the most stoic of characters will sit through this production unmoved by some of the material and there are moments when it is obvious that the cast are largely very committed to creating these characters, but if I were to see it again I would down a couple of glasses of wine first.
©Lauren McKie 8 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs till August 19th at 21:15 (1hr).
Company - Broken House Drama.
Cooking With Puccini. (Page 157).
Venue Assembly at George's West (Venue 157).
Address 58 Shandwick Place.
Reviewer Nathan Witts.
Cooking With Puccini dresses itself as a cookery programme come chat show, it's a concept that works brilliantly. The stage is transformed into a television studio with an island for food preparation sandwiched between two interview chairs and a piano. The logo "LL" is placed on the back wall which one soon learns is the abbreviation for the shows name "Living With Lynsey". Lynsey Tash plays the part of the host and does so with an infectious smile and tremendous energy. She is also a talented soprano whose mischievous partnership with Puccini helps produce a thoroughly enjoyable production.
What makes the show particularly delightful is Jeffrey Mayhew's execution of Puccini. Written not as an Italian but instead as a Yorkshireman this Puccini brings his own brand of northern humour to the stage. With wife jokes and sexual quips in all but a few of his exchanges the entertainment show that is "LL" is exactly that. Mayhew is a natural performer and brings his gifted but just as promiscuous character to life excellently. As well as being effortlessly engaging he has a good singing voice and is as equally at ease behind the piano as he is in the kitchen.
With some simple but effective direction this production offers an eclectic mix of music, humour, dance, song and food. It is hugely entertaining and funny throughout. Moreover if one splashes out on a fifty pence programme the recipes from the show are inside and one can continue Cooking With Puccini at home.
©Nathan Witts 17 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 28 August at 13:20 every day.
Company - TTI - Guy Masterson.
Crime and Punishment. (Page 157).
VenueC Central (Venue 54).
Address Carlton Hotel, North Bridge.
Reviewer Nathan Witts.
Victor Sobchak is a thoughtful director and implements some clever and imaginative ideas enhancing Crime and Punishment as a production. The stage is split into four separate areas, each one belonging to a character. These areas are lit whenever action is taking place, while the others are blanketed in darkness. The lighting is creative and aids in keeping the pace of the production at its optimum with costume and set tying the story neatly in place and time. In keeping with the tone of the play is the sound, it is at times exploited with the lighting and some intelligent direction to underline poignant moments within the story.
What lets Sobchak and the production down is the performances he draws from his actors. Aleister Kapasaki is unconvincing as the introverted prostitute Sonya. She is emotionless throughout and offers nothing to suggest a genuinely believable character. This is a shame as the opportunity to create such a character is definitely scripted. Unfortunately Corin Rhys Jones also falls short of truly capturing his character, Raskolnikov. The play is focused around this young mans plight and although Rhys Jones occasionally pushes the right buttons to often his performance is average. Marcus Sinclair and Geir Kjelland produce competent performances however their characters lack the substance of the previous two and there is less for them to sink their teeth into.
If Sobchak had given as much thought into character development as the logistics of the show it could have been a very good. As it stands however the show is somewhat average and in all honesty there are better things on at the festival.
©Nathan Witts 14 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 27 August at 23.15 every day except 15 August.
Company - Act Provocateur International.
Company Website - www.actprovocateur.net .
Crossed Wires. (Page 157).
Venue Dr Robert's Magic Bus (Venue 308).
Address Middle Meadow Walk, The Meadows.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin.
Under the umbrella company, Escalator/East to Edinburgh, a series of wild, weird and wacky performances is being staged on board an old Routemaster double decker bus. Breathe is a theatre company formed by three young women, specialising in interactive drama "in a space between the public and private". This world premiere, Crossed Wires, is a multi-media show presented to an audience of two on the top deck of the bus. We meet one of the Breathe girls, Natalie, in a yellow dress, waiting to take us upstairs.
Be prepared to be unsettled, scared, surprised and personally drawn into a strange, thrilling scenario. First there is a 3 minute black and white Hitchcock-inspired film: to a soundtrack of creepy music, a woman in stilettos walks along a street, reaches a house, enters a room and picks up an old black telephone to dial a number. She is calling you. You answer the phone on the seat beside you and engage in a conversation with this stranger. You will be asked to describe any fears, obsessions, fantasies. Have you ever wanted to commit murder or stalk someone you admire? Why not take these fantasies a stage further? Before the telephone conversation ends, the stranger invites you to a meeting place later that day. You will find a match box or envelope with map and instructions. You may be given a mobile number for contact.
The drama continues when you become part of the action, in a real life encounter with the stranger at the designated location. You do not meet or speak but only follow out of sight, watching, stalking, chasing, around the railway station, (hiding behind pillars), over Waverley Bridge towards Princes Street. Have you been spotted? This is the ultimate live art performance, bridging the gap between performer and spectator, where the city street is the stage as you become mentally and physically involved in the drama. The sense of excitement and danger will linger in the mind for days.
Brilliantly imaginative, totally original, this is an extraordinary dramatic and inspiring experience. And what's more it's free!
©Vivien Devlin, 5 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 26 August - not 15, 22 - between 2pm and 3pm daily. Non ticketed, just turn up.
Company Website - www.breatheartists.co.uk
Cut! (Page 158).
Venue Hill Street Theatre (Venue 41).
Address 19 Hill Street.
Reviewer Nathan Witts.
One man shows can go horribly wrong with actors often overindulging their egos, this one definitely does not. Instead Ian Watt produces a tremendous performance as the off tilt director Posterkrantz. From his monocle to his jackboots Watt oozes energy and class to create an immensely watchable and distinct character. As a result Posterkrantz's eccentricity is engaging and amusing rather than laughable.
The director Tomeck Borkowy touch doesn't go unnoticed either. His clever use of period music, early movie footage projected on screens and canned laughter heighten Posterkrantz's twisted world. While the employment of two faceless dummies sharing the stage with Posterkrantz gives Watt something to actively engage with. Borkowy keeps the pace of the play at its maximum with quick and subtle lighting changes that also along with some intelligent direction aid in blurring the line between reality and fantasy for just under an hour.
The play, set against the background of Hollywood's golden years, charts the success and failure of Posterkrantz, witnessing him at both his most wonderfully sycophantic and his most childlike and tempestuous and I recommend giving up some time to watch this emotionally unstable character. Watts' relationship with Stonehouse, the dummy cameraman, is particularly entertaining and maybe worth the entry alone.
©Nathan Witts 6th August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28th August at 19:05 every day apart from 16th August.
Company - Ian Watt and Crossword Productions.
Cymbeline. (Page 158).
Venue Royal Botanic Garden. (Venue 193).
Address 20a Inverleith Row.
Reviewer Adam Baker.
I don't know about you, but I've seen my fair share of ropey outdoor Shakespeare productions. More often than not lack of proper voice projection, unimaginative staging that passes as 'minimalist' and hypothermia conspire to ruin the performers' good intentions. So, it's all the more pleasing the Pantaloons Theatre Company's al fresco and free production of Cymbeline turns out to be a fun and engaging one. After all, if there are no walls to start with there is little point in having any pretence of a fourth one, and the production admirably bends over backwards to make the audience an integral part of the action.
The relative obscurity of Shakespeare's Cymbeline is probably best explained by the way it refuses to be categorised. It is primarily a Romance but also contains elements of tragedy, comedy, farce, history and fairy tale. To its already intimidating list of styles the Pantaloons add a few of their own - slapstick, musical, and at one point Punch and Judy. In this modestly sized, variable cast, some of the actors respond with remarkable versatility and range. Oli Seadon's dry delivery provides a nice foil to Dave Hughes' clowning Belarius and the playfulness of the production as a whole makes Daisy Orton's laments as Imogen all the more affecting.
A lesser production would not have cultivated the necessary relationship with the audience to make this tonal range possible, but from start to finish our sympathies are courted and then tested, our humour is appealed to and the audience may be given a ticking off when our contributions aren't enthusiastic enough. It was refreshing to see a lot of children in attendance, and even more refreshing to see that their attention was (broadly) held for the entire two hour play. When was the last time you saw a Shakespeare production able to do this?
©Adam Baker 6 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 28th August at 14:30 every Monday, Thursday and Saturday.
Company - The Pantaloons.
Company Website - www.thepantaloons.co.uk.