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 Festival 2006
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Musicals & Opera

(L) 10 out of 156
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= Unwatchable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme

Lady Chatterley's Lover. (Page 181).
Drams (more if you're easily offended! Or even just sometimes offended…).
Venue The Zoo. (Venue 124).
Address 140 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Felicity King-Evans.

The Cambridge Dictionary define pornography as that which 'sexually exciting' but has 'no artistic value' which means this tense and fraught adaptation of Lady Chatterley's Lover is certainly not porn. Realistic and explicit sexual scenes compliment the excellent script, assist the character development and act as a vehicle for a range of emotions.

The cast are attractively human, compelling and believable in their highly varied roles. The set is dominated by a bed and skilful blocking allows the rest of the stage to be used as a forest and a sitting room. The adaptation is set in the eighties, during the miner's strike, which allows for an interesting modern look at class. It examines different kinds of intimacy, and the pain and hurt is all very believable.

If the show is let down by anything, it is the shortness of the scenes and constant dipping of the lights. It doesn't hurry the plot but it does create a jarringly stilted feeling, as does the inexplicable interval. Also, the man sat next to me had to move his bag onto his lap in quite a hurry which was a bit distracting. I recommend it, though, as an interesting piece of theatre and something genuinely talented and not just controversial.
©Felicity King-Evans 5 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to August 28 at 19:15 every day.
Company - Kangaroo Court Theatre Company.
Company Website - www.kangaroocourt.org.uk .

Ladyboys of Bangkok. (Page 181).

Drams None needed.
Venue Studio Big Top
Address Meadows
Reviewer Bruce 'Sabai sabai' Darby.

Sawatdee Khrap, Sabai Dee Mai? Hello, how are you? And welcome to the Full Moon Party.

It was great to see some families with their children in the big top on the meadows as this show is not about sex, although by the very nature of the title it is about gender. As it says in the program "Is the show suitable for children? The show is produced for an adult audience - it's funny, it's sexy - but it is never crude. Remember that all the performers are males. It's up to you how you explain that to the kids!". The notes at the box office saying 'No under 12's' are about alcohol licensing laws and not about the nature of the show.

It's certainly sexy, glamorous and perfectly fast paced to catch that 'MTV' mood but it's never sleazy, and there's definitely no Patpong ping-pong here. Thank God. Just a great, fun packed show, that every year, gets the whole city talking. The taxi driver who dropped us off said he had been to see it three times. And that's the thing, if you haven't seen it before, you are in for an absolute treat. If you have seen it, go again.

Get there early and find time to have a Sabai, the wine spritzer with Hibiscus, grab some prawn crackers and relax. Try some of the spicy popcorn and get ready to be entertained. Soon enough, it'll be time for the dry ice to start pumping and the music to start. And then they burst out onto the stage, performing a slick, perfectly choreographed show, all to the latest pop hits and timeless disco classics, wearing sexy costumes, cartwheeling and high kicking. And all in high heels.

The Thai people have a great sense of fun, and gentle teasing is definitely part of their culture and used to make a night out 'sanuk mark' or great fun. So expect a bit of audience participation, although if you are anything like me, you too will be silently saying "pick me, pick me". Having always been a sucker for 'hi-n-rg', 'It's Raining Men' by the Weather Girls is one of my favourite songs and I was dying to get up on stage.

The beauty of this show is that it'll make you laugh, get your foot tapping, singing along, and then, demonstrating that these entertainers are not just about frothy music, pounding beats and fabulous costumes, they have tears springing to your eyes as one performer does a heart rendering version of 'My Way'. By the time they came out to the strains of Scotland's second National Anthem 'I Would Walk 500 Miles' by the Proclaimers everyone was shouting at the tops of their voices. All too quickly it was over and we found ourselves out on the Meadows with smiles on our faces.

And oh did I nearly forget to say? They are, without a shadow of a doubt, absolutely gorgeous.
© Bruce Darby. 8 August 2006. Published on www.edinburghguide.com .
Runs Sunday 30th July to Saturday 2nd September, Sun to Fri Twice Nightly 7pm & 9.15pm, Saturday 5pm, 7pm & 9.15pm.
Website - www.ladyboysofbangkok.co.uk .


Lady Boys of Bangkok. (Page 181).
Drams .
Venue Meadows Theatre Big Tops. (Venue 189).
Address The Meadows, Melville Drive .
Reviewers Ariadne Cass and Anna Kay .

To answer the first question on anyone’s mind - Is it weird? Well, yes. The audience reaction to these hormone pumped, too beautiful to be true girls is confusion because the brain has no idea how to comprehend them sexually. The illusion of sexuality is betrayed by the absence of hips and the too – manly stomach. In fact, the chubbier ones are more convincing as women.

But at times you find yourself forgetting this completely as you are drawn in by the Lady Boys’ amazing talent. The show features drag acts through the ages, from Judy Garland to The Pussycat Dolls. The audience is treated to demure glamour and dirty, barely dressed grinding.

As for the grinding, at times this goes overboard. Although the late show we saw is strictly over 16s, perhaps this age limit should have been 18, or at least a stronger warning. Their rendition of Christina Aguilera’s Dirty has us squirming in our seats. For the most part the dancing is excellent, but some of them seem to be entirely absent, perhaps the long run was catching up with some of them that night. This lack of enthusiasm drags the show down a tiny bit, but is a minor point when related to their otherwise excellent and energetic dancing.

The 17-strong cast does consist of five men (playing men), who are very much worth mentioning. You never hear about these guys, as they seem to be overshadowed by the actual Lady Boys. However, a couple in particular stand out as amazing performers. Not until watching their fabulous Moulin Rouge number did we think we could see a young Thai man look convincingly like Jim Broadbent. Perhaps not in stature, but so wholly in his manner and the glint in his eye.

It’s fun and we find ourselves singing and dancing along despite the perceived tackiness of it all. Most of the audience was made up of middle aged Scots, and they seemed to enjoy it more than anyone. The whole concept of the show is old fashioned. Thirty years ago, women would have been glamour dancing just like this. In this ‘enlightened’ age, it seems that the non-threatening sexuality of the Lady Boy is the only acceptable form in which to perform this sort of show any more. (And that is a shame - say the female Theatre Editor).
©Ariadne Cass and Anna Kay 22 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com .
Runs to September 2 at 19:00 and 21:15 every day and September 2 at 17:00.
Company – Lady Boys of Bangkok.
Company Website - www.ladyboysofbangkok.co.uk .


A Letter That Never Reached Russia. (Page 182).

Drams .
Venue C Cubed (Venue 50).
Address Brodie's Close, Lawnmarket, Royal Mile.
Reviewer Bill Dunlop.

This is a cheerful little number, skilfully drawing on a handful of the short stories of Vladimir Nabokov, better known (for better or worse) as the author of Lolita . Four actors play a multiplicity of characters, including butterflies, and present their acting, physical theatre and dance skills in a delightfully orchestrated showcase. Nothing wrong with that, and certainly nothing amiss with their abilities. If A Letter That Never Reached Russia has a problem, it's one of presentation. The implication, correct in this reviewer's opinion, that to understand an author one has to understand their circumstances isn't fully carried through here. Unfortunately, in some instances at least, reviewers never get to see what lies on the cutting room floor. We're left to speculate from the available archaeology, and almost inevitably arrive at incorrect conclusions.

So although it's clear that the dead letter office in which the piece is set is a metaphor for the stifled Russia Nabokov fled, as with the butterflies and yearning young women, the audience is left to do more work than short story readers might normally expect to. In short, if you enjoy Nabokov and a bit of literary detective work, you may well enjoy this, and if you simply enjoy theatrical soufflé this may well also be to your taste, but others may come away less satisfied.

Nevertheless, and as is hopefully clear, there's much to enjoy here, not least the actors considerable talents. The framing of the show by one of Nabokov's most self-revelatory pieces of writing may or may not help explain to other audience members the intention of the piece, but patience will almost certainly be rewarded with acting and performance of a very high standard. These are actors its to be hoped can be welcomed back to future Fringes in other roles.
©Bill Dunlop 8 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to August 28 at 17.45 every day, not 15.
Company - First Theatre Productions.


Levelland by Rich Hall. (Page 182).
Drams full glass full glass full glass.
Venue Assembly Rooms (Venue 3).
Address 54 George Street.
Reviewer Leanna Rance.

Acclaimed stand-up Rich Hall returns to Edinburgh this year, in serious mood, with his new play, Levelland.

Those expecting light comedy fare will be disappointed, as Hall takes a somber look at oil, white supremacy, the power of religious belief, and the repercussions of corporate and personal greed. The humour is in fact there, but it's dry and sparse, in sympathy with, and in support of, the subject matter.

Hall plays a lone, opinionated Texan talk-radio host, Tisdale, who deals on a daily basis with listeners who delight in expounding far-right philosophies - bound inescapably in their conservative, limited lives. When an injured, emotionally-fraught young man, Scrope, breaks into his studio one evening seeking refuge from his tormentors, Tisdale is forced to confront some personal demons first-hand, as he collides headlong with the twin evils of cutthroat greed and ruthless exploitation, in the shape of Scropes two pursuers.

Directed by Guy Masterton and also starring Mike Wilmot, Nathaniel Davis and David Calvitto, Levelland is a brave, if somewhat relentless attempt to deliver a specific and heart-felt message. The writing has integrity and purpose, and there are moments of both warmth and insight, but it is also uncomfortablly single-note in parts, and there is something slightly inaccessible about the piece overall. It taxes the concentration, and it remains difficult to stay with the rambling at times incoherent plot - so not recommended for the faint of heart. Fans of Hall however, will be delighted to see him expand his creative horizons and tackle this project with such fervour and ambition.
©Leanna Rance - 15 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August at 15.20 every day, excepting 14.
Company - Lisa Richards Agency.


The Libertine.(Page 183).

Drams .
Venue The Zoo (Venue 124).
Address 140 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Edmund Gould.

The court of Charles II was renowned as a hotbed of debauchery, and it is this aura of sexual permissiveness that envelopes Natasha Dawn's production of The Libertine. John Wilmot, the roguish 2nd Earl of Rochester, was the court's most notorious poet. His verse still manages to shock, unabashedly chronicling the ins and outs of his contemporaries' sex lives in graphic detail - c-words and all, the naughty chap. His colourful lifestyle makes for lively dramatic material, and Stephen Jeffreys' script traces his relationships with the various women in his life - his wife, his mistress and his countless whores.

The lead role is taken by Tom Hunter, who at the play's opening sneeringly warns his audience 'You will not like me!' How right he is. Hunter plays the part with a hostile snarl, and writhes around his stage as if at the whim of his libido. It's an admirable performance, and captures the Earl's predatory air of menace and depravity, but Hunter's Rochester is almost too unappealing. After years of fraternising with drunkards and prostitutes, with scant regard for the dignity of his wife (a suitably put-upon Julia Cornish), Rochester somehow finds himself in love. The object of his affection is the actress Elizabeth Barry (played by Natasha Dawn herself), and what follows swiftly becomes a rather conventional tragic romance.

Jeffreys' script serves as a flamboyant tribute to the Libertine-myth, but one that paints its subject not as an icon but as a vile egotist, consumed by alcoholism and syphilis. There's plenty of buxom cleavages, bursting corsets and flowing periwigs on display, and Robert Orme produces a memorable turn as the corpulent, inebriated monarch. Still, for all its colour and energy, one or two performances lack conviction, and the script's overtly moralising ending jars with the play's enjoyably lewd tone. Even so, Dawn's production refuses to shirk the bawdy vulgarity of Rochester's work, and boldly tackles every taboo head on. Leguminous sex toys on the stage? It's not 'The Sound of Music', that's for sure.
©Edmund Gould 19 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 28 August (not 21/23/25/27) at 13:00.
Company - Hunter Productions/King's Players.


Lies Have Been Told.(Page 183).

Drams None required.
Venue  Pleasance Dome(Venue 23).
Address 1 Bristo Square.
Reviewer Nathan Witts.

Go and see this show. Go and see this show. Go and see this show. Even if one normally isn’t partial to one-man shows still go and see this show! It is a simply delightful piece of theatre. Beautifully written, Lies Have Been Told is the Robert Maxwell story straight from the horse's mouth. One is taken from his youth in Czechoslovakia to his death off the Canary Islands in a journey that is thoroughly entertaining throughout.

Everything about the production is good. This is facilitated enormously by the fact Philip York and the production team are working with a great script and a fantastic character. So much so that I’m in my twenties and I would gladly forgo the next twenty years of my life to enable me to sink my teeth into this part. The design, light and sound are all spot on and the direction matchs. Director Alan Dossor uses the space effectively, adding the perfect amount of his own zest so that the audience is never bored nor distracted. The best thing about the play is undoubtedly York who totally immerses himself in his character. York offers insight into a clearly complex individual and does so with poise and vigour. He is unashamedly charismatic and totally captivates his audience for seventy-five magnificent minutes.

A slick, amusing and extremely enjoyable production. And once again go see this show!
©Nathan Witts 15 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August at 18:20 every day.
Company – Andy Jordan Productions.


Little Red Things. (Page 183).
Drams .
Venue Bedlam Theatre. (Venue 49).
Address 11b Bristo Place.
Reviewer Thelma Good.

There are beautifully created moments in this show, and Gomito as ever create some striking visual scenes intelligently lit. The Little Red Things of the title, brought to life by pure positive emotions, are designed and made by Amelia Bird and Alexander Scott. These tiny red moving blob puppets are creations you can believe give the people who find them imagination and stories. With a live piano accompaniment by composer Philippa Herrick matching the moods of the production, the story is of the mother, who collects the tiny beings in the Forest and gives them to people, and the two very different daughters who inherit her role as Collector. One is nurturing and giving, the other manipulates. It is a story of good v evil, supporting v taking but the threads aren't sufficiently dynamically woven. The result is an oddly emotionally static production which attempts to make a ecological fable about our times and what we are losing.

Gomito have, by the company devising with direction from Richard Rusk and Alexander Scott, created a slightly too rambling story. Strangely for a devised work they have mostly eschewed dialogue and gone for the narrative theatre form losing a lot of potential drama in the process.They need to trust their audience and themselves as actors more. It feels at times like a storybook enactment rather than an alive piece, which is unfortunate. The dark side of humans is slightly explored but with the larger menacing roles being taken by other creatures, it's as if none of the company could bear to show full frontally the stinking horrors we humans can become. It goes near the edge but never sets a foot into the oozing mire.

If you want things given a fairy tale spin this show may be for you. For me they could do with adding more guts and agony to the mix, and upping the physical and verbal drama to make a fable more grim and memorable, and less nice.
©Thelma Good 16 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 26 August at 18:45 not on 13 or 20.
Company - Gomito.
Company Website - www.gomito.co.uk .


Lolita.(Page 183).

Drams .
Venue C cubed.
Address Brodie's Close, Lawnmarket, Royal Mile.
Reviewer Edmund Gould.

It takes a lot these days to shock theatregoers. Rape, torture and all kinds of other abominations have become par for the course on the modern stage, so the story of Lolita certainly doesn't raise the hackles like it once did. That said, Act Provocateur International's rendering of Nabokov's 1955 novel still has its uncomfortable moments. The story of a grown man's obsession with a young pubescent girl is played out in fairly graphic detail, and will no doubt provoke the wrath of the Daily Mail minority. Still, for all its risqué content, this production doesn't shed any new light on one of modern literature's most contentious heroines.

Humbert Humbert strides around the stage declaring his predilection for 'nymphets', citing Dante and Poe as examples of his illustrious paedophiliac ancestors. Lolita, played with disquieting conviction by Sophie Brooke, is cared for by her sexually voracious mother Charlotte, who ensnares Humbert in an engagement. Upon her death in a road accident, Humbert offers Lolita his own rather unsavoury brand of fatherhood, and the two become sexually involved.

The production does little to make the ubiquitous story fresh and new, and its brevity doesn't allow for much psychological insight. The device of using a voice-over of Nabokov's original narrative lends the play a degree of authenticity, but the central problem lies in the speed of events on stage. Without a full fleshing-out of Humbert's character, all we are left with is the image of a predator, a run-of-the-mill dirty old man. While Brooke's Lolita is suitably coquettish and calculating, it's near-impossible to find much empathy for her older lover's plight. Nabokov's novel is a complex character study, and with a production as routine and mediocre as this, one can't help but feel a little indifferent when the lights come up.
©Edmund Gould 16 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 28 August every day at 16:40.
Company - Act Provocateur International.


Lord of the Flies. (Page 184).
Drams .
Venue Augustine's(Venue 152).
Address 41 George IV Bridge.
Reviewer Nathan Witts.

William Golding's pessimistic outlook on human nature is brought to the stage by a talented cast of twelve and thirteen year olds. Despite their tender age and lack of experience they work very well together to put on a very enjoyable and entertaining play. Occasionally some cast members try to be humorous when it is not befitting the tone of the play but only very, very, very occasionally. Most of the time they manage to capture their transition from civilised to barbaric perfectly. The portrayal of Piggy as he struggles to keep the order and tries not to loose sight of democracy is particularly effective.

The group is well organised and the play is superbly directed. Alasdair Richardson and his team obviously gave a lot of thought to space and how to use it effectively. When the entire cast are on stage only rarely are actors stepping on one another's toes, and both chaos and calm are successfully created by the company when required. Visually the show is extremely well balanced and a perfect example of how a production doesn't need to be complicated with excessive set (there isn't any) - lighting and the cast define place and time. As well as effective lighting thought was duly given to the sound. The use of emotive choral tones at various points in the play highlights the children's transition into savagery excellently. Ralph's realisation that he has let down his friend is accompanied by a similar score and is particularly poignant.

For those who enjoy Golding's classic, the worth watching stage version includes the same themes and asks the same questions of its audience. For those that have never read the book this cast, mature beyond their years, merit an hour and a half of your time.
©Nathan Witts 9 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com,
Runs to 12th August at 12:25 every day.
Company - Feltonfleet at TheFringe.

(L) 10 out of 156
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