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(I) 3 out of 156
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Rating Guide
None = Unmissable

= Unwatchable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme



Improbable Frequency. (Page 175).

Drams None needed!
Venue Traverse Theatre (Venue 15).
Address Cambridge Street, off Lothian Road).
Reviewer Bill Dunlop.

Improbable Frequency shares the same management as two co- productions of the National Theatre of Scotland Black Watch and Realism. And while in these dark days we need to keep a sense of er ..realism, as a theatre professional friend of mine often reminds me 'there's nothing wrong with entertainment'. There's certainly nothing wrong with Improbable Frequency, as loud and proud an attempt at a post-modernist musical as you're likely to find anywhere between the Forth and the Liffey. Set in the middle of Ireland's 'Emergency', i.e., World War II, crossword puzzler extraordinare Tristam Faraday is sent to Dublin by H. M. Gov. to hunt out possible Nazi spies.

What he discovers is rather less and more than his masters had in mind, although along the way he encounters John Betjeman (yes, t'is he), masquerading as Cultural Attaché to the British Embassy, Myles na Gopaleen (a.k.a. Flann O'Brian, a.k.a.Brain O'Nolan) (yes, that one) and Erwin Schrodinger (he of the cat, also an Austrian physicist). He also falls comically-heroically in love.Improbable Frequency may be one of those delightful confection based on the premise of unlikely but possible encounters, but its delivery in verse, puns and several wonderful pastiche numbers (the style is pastiche, the songs are delightful) makes for a highly satisfactory theatrical experience.

Rough Magic weave fairy gold from what's the excellent material provided by Arthur Riordan's script. A company with an already high reputation, Rough Magic can only enhance that with this production. Congratulations have to go to a remarkably strong cast which obviously enjoy working together, and to a fine group of musicians, scored by the equally remarkable Bell Helicopter. Lynne Parker's direction has a sure, unobtrusive touch which suits well. This is a rare gem, in danger of being overlooked among the Traverse's other offerings. Try not to miss it.
©Bill Dunlop 12 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to August 27th at various times every day (check with Traverse Box Office).
Company - Rough Magic.
Company Website - www.rough-magic.com.

   

In Pursuit Of Cardenio. (Page 176).
Drams .
Venue Underbelly (Venue 61).
Address 56 Cowgate.
Reviewer Bill Dunlop .

Ken Campbells' notion of taking Shakespeare's 'lost' play, Cardenio as the starting point in an extended essay (using the term in both senses) on the world and techniques of the Shakespearian stage, is an excellent one. Most of the time it works a treat, as the audience are treated to improvisations by a number of highly talented actors based on the audience's own suggestions.

Those expecting substantial revelation of the suspected content of Cardenio may be momentarily disappointed - Shakespeare lifted the plot from a substantial digression in Cervantes' Don Quixote. Campbell leads us away from speculation to the practical concerns of playwrights and performers, developing their skills and understanding through 'Schools of Night' where problematic texts and scenes were worked on and through. The journey Campbell takes us on is a practical demonstration of the realities of blank verse construction in improvisation - in short the kinds of exercise used by the growing numbers of literate (more or less) theatre practitioners of Shakespeare's era. In the space of a bare hour, it's scarcely possible for Campbell's company to paint a complete picture of theatrical practice, but they try their very best, producing sonnets improvised on a single word suggested by an audience member, demonstrating how the 'humours' which were such a significant element of the Elizabethan world picture could be shown on stage, and finally improvising scenes based on Cervantes' Cardenio story-line.

This is very much an ensemble piece and company, so in addition to Ken Campbell himself, audiences also have to thank Josh Darcy, Dylan Emery, Sarah Hadland, Sean McCann, Oliver Senton, Lloyd Stephens, and Kenny Sutton, as well as directors Adam Meggido and Darren Ormandy. The entire company, in fact. In Pursuit Of Cardenio may not appeal to very Fringe goer - it's going to help a lot if you already enjoy Shakespeare and are willing to participate in some undemanding audience participation. If you do enjoy Shakespeare, however, and have ever wondered how actors of his day approached their work and developed his and other writers play into production, In Pursuit of Cardenio has much to offer you.
©Bill Dunlop 8th August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to August 12th at 20.50 every day.
Company - The Sticking Place.

   

In The Continuum.(Page 176).
Drams .
Venue Traverse Theatre (Venue 15).
Address Cambridge Street, off Lothian Road.
Reviewer Edmund Gould.

The AIDS virus has been a part of the theatrical landscape for over a decade now, most famously thrust onto the stage in Tony Kushner's Angels in America in the early 90s. However, while for many years theatre-goers have been offered a perspective on the male HIV experience, it is refreshing to see two female performers attempt to give voice to the millions of women globally who are similarly afflicted. Danai Gurira and Nikkole Salter's play, In The Continuum, in which they also star, presents two women, living in Harare and Los Angeles respectively, who over the course of a weekend make the dual discovery that they are both pregnant and HIV positive.

Under Robert O'Hara's fluent direction, the performers enact monologues that overlap seamlessly to project a single, shared voice of suffering. For all the play's gravity and urgency, Gurira and Salter perform with real vigour, and between them evolve a repartee that is at times both comic and poignant. Gurira's Abigail is a Zimbabwean newsreader whose family life is thrown into disarray by her discovery; Salter's Nia is a feisty, confident young American with a boyfriend dreaming of basketball stardom, and her fragile aspirations face re-evaluation after her condition is exposed.

The message is hardly new - AIDS is a worldwide pandemic, rather than the 'African' problem that Nia labels it - but rarely has it been delivered with such verve. Gurira in particular excels in her numerous roles. A versatile physical performer, she inhabits her different personae with real gusto, particularly as a no-nonsense nurse sternly delivering a diagnosis with all the sympathy of an irate headmistress.

The performers' extraordinary energy levels are difficult to maintain throughout the drama, it occasionally loses direction in the latter stages as Gurira and Salter's various characters threaten to over-crowd the stage. That said, both actors deliver their message with such commitment and conviction that the audience cannot helped but be moved. It is theatre at its most unabashedly sincere, and is certainly none the poorer for it.
©Edmund Gould 9 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 13 August, at various times. See Fringe programme for details.
Company - Primary Stages in association with David Elliot, Patrick Blake, Cheryl Wisenfeld and Richard Jordan.



(I) 3 out of 156
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