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 Festival 2006
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Musicals & Opera

(F) 8 out of 156
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Page number refers to the Fringe programme

Fahrenheit 451 (Page 164).
Drams .
Venue Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14).
Address 13 Bristo Sq.
Reviewer Morag Hannah.

Ray Bradbury's famous dystopian fiction sees a very competent rendering at this year's festival by Godlight Theatre Company, fresh from Off-Broadway. The cast perform flawlessly across the board - Montag achingly sincere as our tool of the system turned rebel, Clarisse hopelessly sweet as the eccentric teenager who shows him the light. The supporting players are just as polished, constantly on the ball as they maintain the dynamic atmosphere of the play. Further to this, a lot of the impact of comes from the impressive lighting and sound - some effects literally shaking the seating.

The minimalist (that is to say, entirely absent) set and props of this production necessitate moments of physical theatre and may make for embarrassing viewing for some. Elements of the mime artistry involved (while very smooth) may also cause confusion to those not familiar with the story - for example the renderings of the interactive three wall television and the mechanical 'hound'. The transfer to the final scene with Montag's conversion from fireman to freedom fighter are a little sudden, missing the long desperate crawl to escape the city with nothing to replace it.

There's a feeling that some of the more subtle nuances of Bradbury's novel are lost in this transference to the stage, however close the adaptation is to the book, a danger when extensive internal monologue is replaced by external. The message of the importance of freedom of thought and education, however, is by no means lost.

All in all, perhaps not to everyone's tastes, but a good adaptation, and an excellent performance all round.
©Morag Hannah 12 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August at 17:30 on 6-10, 14-15, 17, 21-24, 28 also16:00 on 11-13, 18-20, 25-27; not 16.
Company - Godlight Theatre Productionsin association with Gilded Balloon Productions.
Company Website - www.godlighttheatrecompany.org, www.gildedballoon.co.uk.


Falling for Grace. (Page 164).
Drams .
Venue Café Royal Fringe Theatre (Venue 47)
Address 17 West Register Street.
Reviewer Felicity King-Evans .

This is an excellent play; poignant, dark, tragic, funny and with moments of stark and uncompromising emotion. It is also an imperfectly finished and unpolished production which prevents it reaching the no drams its passion deserves.

Set on a rooftop, two confused and suicidal men (look away, fans of A Long Way Down) confront themselves, each other and the situations which have driven them there. It's a dark play which snaps you from laughter to horror sometimes in just a few sentences but almost constantly remains humorous, even if the situation is painful and desperate. It has insights into issues of what it is to be a man, a comedian and a Christian and its monologues are highly evocative and skilfully written.

Frustratingly, the end of the play brings out Grace who, far from being the instantly lovable beauty she needed to be, actually seems a bit of a cow. It also suddenly addresses the issue of responsibility within comedy, a concept brought out all too late. There simply isn't time to spare for it, which leaves you wondering why it was included at all.

I expect to see this play develop and change as it is obviously still unfinished. However, if you're old fashioned enough to believe the Fringe should be about new talent sharpening their skills then this is definitely well worth your time. I hope to see more from this eloquent new production company as they focus their efforts a bit more. A play worth seeing.
©Felicity King-Evans 10 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to August 27 at 14:40 every day.
Company - Palaver Productions.
Company Website - www.palaverproductions.com .


The Family - Semianyki (Page 165).
Drams .
Venue Assembly at St. George's West (Venue 157).
Address 58 Shandwick Place.
Reviewer Rebecca Smith

Serving up a rich slice of absurdity in this lunchtime slot, The Family - Semianyki is a deliciously wicked, darkly humorous peek at the lives of a Russian family of murderous misfits... performed by a troupe of miming clowns. Sound bizarre? You bet, but that's precisely why you should seek out this show, and bring the kids along.

The narrative runs like a series of snapshots on every day domesticity of this family of seven - down-trodden, alcoholic father, roost-ruling heavily pregnant mother and their four disturbed, troublemaking offspring who make Wednesday & Pugsley Addams look tame. We witness them in familiar home settings; sitting happily round the dinner table engaging in a competitive gross-out competition involving baby teeth pulling. Mother rocking the baby to sleep in the pram with enough ferocity to cause serious whiplash, the kids taking part in a bit of rough and tumble play trying to saw each others limbs off! This is anxious viewing, almost terrifying, but while they mess with your nerves on one hand, they tug at heart strings with the other. There is a sweetly affectionate thread throughout the 90-minute saga - this is a family with an abundance of love for one another.

The Family is the ingenious work of legendary St Petersburg clown company Licedei (founded by world-famous clown Slava Polunine) - a throwback to traditional clowning but with a stiff dose of twisted contemporary antics. They get away with things they really shouldn't, the kind of physical gags that kids relished before the health and safety epidemic took over. Water spraying, pillow fights, props hurled into the crowd - these clowns inflict themselves right onto the laps of the audience. You'll either grimace in fear and disgust or shriek in delight - this is exhilarating stuff, more for the Tim Burton crowd than the Disney purist.
©Rebecca Smith 10 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 28 August at 13:30 every day, except Monday the 14.
Company - Teatr Licedei.


Farewell To The Tooth Fairy. (Page 165).
Drams full glass.
Venue C Cubed (Venue 50).
Address Brodie's Close, Lawnmarket..
Reviewer Lauren McKie.

I could introduce Lynn Ruth Miller - the charismatic and engaging writer/performer of this piece - as a very convincing six-year old, but I'm afraid - given that she is in fact 72 - this wouldn't sound too flattering. She is however, highly convincing in all of the different personas she presents to us, and the material (her own) she is working with leaves no space for a quick breather. From the moment she is onstage she has us captivated with a very selective series of funny and moving stories from her life. Of these, my favourite has to be the one about Junior - the dog who hated men. I am sad to inform Lynn Ruth that I have the opposite problem with my dog who rather likes men - in a manner of speaking.

This space, called "The Temple Space" in C Cubed, is a new one for me and really suits this piece with such an intimate and intense atmosphere. Although I find the props on stage initially a bit garish and distracting, Miller explains their presence and necessity during the performance.

Farewell To The Tooth Fairy is actually devised from stories Miller has written down and published. Every moment of this one-woman show holds the attention of the audience, this short piece makes the body of work it's taken from even more intriguing. It's likely to encourage those who see her show to search out her collections.

Recommended to anyone who - like me - has fond and sentimental memories of the eccentric way their mother used to dress them for school, or embarrassing childhood romance stories. It is a perfect mix of meaningful laughs and moving affection presented by a truly believable performer.
©Lauren McKie 4 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs till August 28th at 18:55 (50 mins).
Company Lynn Ruth Miller.
Company Website www.lynnruthmiller.com.

Finnegans Wake: The Tale of Shem The Penman. (Page 166).
Drams .
Venue C Cubed (Venue 50).
Address Brodie's Close, Lawnmarket, Royal Mile.
Reviewer Bill Dunlop.

Owing to the inconsiderateness of the preceding company, Adam Harvey got fair tore in to chapter seven of 'Work In Progress' as James Joyce referred to what became 'Finnegans Wake'. Harvey is a highly skilled performer, painting light and shade into corners of the script which might defeat lesser mortals. In this particular performance there may have been less light and shade than usual, owing to aforementioned previous performers, but if so, Harvey's able although on this occasion unnecessary prompter, still managed to retain command of script truncated in performance. Two chairs and a subtle differentiation were sufficient to distinguish Shaun from Shem and the vilifications of the one form the diatribes of the other.

In the world of the novel, it's possible to say that there is Cervantes, there is Smollet, and there is Joyce, and almost everyone else has written footnotes. Not entirely fair, but then neither is life. Harvey's fascination with the creator of 'Shem The Penman' - the unofficial title of chapter seven of Finnegans Wake during its composition is clear. His performance is imbued with a genuinely passionate appreciation of the power of the text, but is not overawed by it. Which is as well, since it remains in part Joyce's elegy and celebration of language as it withers only to spring anew in different, unfamiliar forms. Shaun and Shem are both inheritors of language and chief mourners at its funeral feast.

Harvey is to be congratulated on bringing Finnegans Wake so vitally alive and more deeply into our understanding. His acting is of a high order and in the performance reviewed only suffered from the need to take the text at more than a fair lick. Which observation should not discourage any 'Joyce Geeks' - Harvey's
phrase - or indeed any who appreciate fine performances from adding this show to their Fringe hit lists.
©Bill Dunlop 8 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to August 28 at 19.55 every day.
Company - Adam Harvey.


Fish Story. (Page 166).

Drams None needed.
Venue Pleasance Courtyard. (Venue 33).
Address 60 the Pleasance.
Reviewer Pippa Tennant.

Quirky and fiercely imaginative, Fish Story transports us from our mundane black and white world to a colourful collage of absurdity. No actual fishes, just an extremely slick show by an exceedingly talented trio.

Inconceivably random, this contemporary script by Rob Evans is brilliantly witty and original. The three mission-led travellers emerge from a kind of endless mary-poppins-style chimney like a bunch of flummoxed aliens. I kept expecting for Radiohead's Paranoid Android to start playing. Bedraggled and delirious with hunger, they flounce around the stage to cheesy disco music, escaping normality and pursuing their 'higher purpose'. Very stupid and very funny, you will be cackling in your seat as you try and work out what on earth is going on in this bizarre story.

Sophie Fletcher as Maria and Kieran Fay as Ian both give very strong performances, whilst Ben Lewis as Tim cannot be lauded enough. Lewis' performance is downright dazzling in every way. An absolute gem, People Can Run clearly have a bright future in the world of theatre. This is a Fish Story you should catch.
©Pippa Tennant 21 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to August 28 at 19:00 every day.
Company - People Can Run.


Food. (Page 167).
Drams .
Venue Traverse(Venue 15).
Address .Cambridge Street.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin .

The world of celebrity, award-winning chefs has become part of popular culture these days, due to the weekly serving of cookery demonstration shows, masterchef competitions and behind-the-scenes restaurant documentaries on TV. The story behind Food may well be inspired by the real life tragic incident of Bernard Loiseau who shot himself in the head in February 2003 after the Gault Milleu restaurant guide unexpectedly downgraded his restaurant from 19 to 17 points out of 20. There were also rumours that Michelin had been planning to downgrade Loiseau from three to two stars. It later emerged that Michelin had not been planning to do so.

Frank Byrne, Sean Campion, runs the "Boiling Pot" restaurant with military precision, gaining 3 Michelin Stars in as many years. On a minimalist set, his kitchen brigade of sous chef, porter and patissier, are kept on their toes 18 hours a day. They work in fast, repetitive, robotic fashion as the orders for scallops, one beef rare, one sea bass, two chocolate soufflé, are fired at them like bullets. "Oui chef" they chorus. As commander in chief of his battle zone, Frank soon finds that perfection is hard to maintain and we start to see chinks in his lobster-like armour. Not least of these are in his relationships outwith the controlled environment of his kitchen, with his wife and teenage children. Perhaps he has never really understood the importance of kin, his kitchen team being all the family he needs.

A stew of self-doubt bordering on paranoia (well portrayed by Campion) simmers as he waits to hear whether he will retain his 3 stars. The visceral purity of his culinary creations is diluted by the demands of being a TV celebrity chef endorsing his own ready-meals. As he is removed from the art of cooking will there be enough to sustain him? The tight, fast paced script (by Joel Horwood and Christopher Heimann) is superbly realised within the imaginative space where upturned kitchen tables become beds and desks in the family home and the Michelin office - sometimes blurring between them. The ensemble cast brilliantly transform from chefs into family members, TV directors and restaurant critics. Sharp, insightful performances in particular from Graham O'Mara and Vic Bryson.

The play only allows us a glimpse into the other strong characters around the Boiling Pot restaurant, and the passions that drive them; Frank's all consuming ambition dominates the plot but it serves up a tasty slice of theatre.
©Vivien Devlin, 12 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 26 August. Times differ daily - see Fringe programme
Company -The Imaginary Body.
Company Website - www.theimaginarybody.co.uk .


Frog Man. (Page 169).
Drams .
Venue Calton Theatre Cafe Bar. (Venue 26).
Address 121 Montgomery Street.
Reviewer Ariadne Cass.

Frog Man by Mick Martin is a weird story about love, bullying and the turgid waters of domestic life. What begins as a domestic drama evolves into sinister mystery. The audience is never quite sure which character is the nastiest until the end. It is surreal, twisted and absolutely funny.

Judith Wright directs this excellently. Her use of projection in the space is very clever, especially in interrogation scene where silhouettes of an enormous policeman and a little tiny girl are cast against the back wall. The physicality of the actors alternates between hectic dance and disciplined mime. There are moments when it really feels like the theatre and all its contents are floating in a dank canal. The effect is mesmerizing in this very exciting, black hearted comedy.
©Ariadne Cass 24 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com .
Runs to August 26 at 13:45.
Company - Meanwhile Theatre.

(F) 8 out of 156
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