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(M) 15 out of 156
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Rating Guide
None = Unmissable

= Unwatchable
Page number refers to the Fringe programme



Macbeth Re-Arisen (Page 185).
Drams .
Venue Hill Street Theatre (Venue 41).
Address 19 Hill Street.
Reviewer Chris Mounsey.

Over his 11 years at the Fringe, your humble reviewer has seen many extraordinary sights but, you may take it for granted, he never thought that he would ever watch an undead Macbeth exhorting his zombie minions in iambic pentameter; and yet this is precisely what he has just seen.

Australian theatre group White Whale Theatre have created a real oddity; a sequel to Macbeth that makes modern day references and features a blatant homage - when evil goddess Hecate gifts a chainsaw to the undead Macbeth - to Evil Dead 2. This is really good fun and the writing is simply astounding; it sounds so like Shakespeare (right down to the rhyming scheme changes) that one is initially slightly confused as to whether it is a comedy or not. But rest assured: it is. The whole show is gloriously silly and is well-acted; not least by the wonderfully convincing disembodied hand that walks its way across the stage at the end.

So what is wrong with it? Put simply, it is too long. The show lasts almost two hours and your humble reviewer did feel his head nodding once or twice during the performance (although it had been a rather long day); this show would have been excellent had it been condensed to, say, an hour and fifteen. Further, some actors have a tendency to shout although the words are at least clear. Lady Macbeth though, was absolutely wonderful: it may be the first time that I have been attracted to a thoroughly evil, walking corpse.
© Chris Mounsey August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 28 at 22.40 every day.
Company - White Whale Theatre.
Company Website - www.whitewhaletheatre.com .

   

Macbeth, That Old Black Magic. (Page 185).
Drams .
Venue Stage by Stage, Edinburgh Academy(Venue 41).
Address . 42 Henderson Row.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin .

In 2003, Gordonstoun School appeared at the Fringe with their exuberant and lively version of A Midsummer Night's Dream featuring Burt Bacharach love songs. This year they're back with Macbeth, in a bold, brash show, inspired by the blues songs of Frank Sinatra.

The black draped set with a centrepiece coffin is lit by dozens of candles. The cast of 14 teenage actors, dressed in 1930s black evening dress, white shirts with wing collars and waistcoats, gather in a circle. The band strikes up and the MC of the cabaret (Katie Brinton) sets the bewitching tone with a soft, husky rendition of That Old Black Magic. Three witches, in black astrakan coats, emerge from the shadows with a chilling sense of evil. Cue song 2, Strangers in the Night. The music is no frivolous gimmick. Rather than destroy the dramatic tension, it adds a dark, moody sense of romance and glamour.

Enter Macbeth, (Rory Campbell), matinee idol, not unlike a young Laurence Olivier; a proud aristocrat in vintage tail coat, he exudes a quiet vulnerability, soon to be shattered in his ambition for power. Dressed in sexy black lace, Michelle Ramsay Fraser plays Lady Macbeth with remarkable confidence and womanly maturity - together they make a handsome couple, partners in both passionate love and crime. Prowling the stage, the omnipresent witches, (in blood stained Victorian bloomers), add a haunting presence.

The cast perform as a neat choreographed ensemble, echoing key lines like a Greek Chorus. Hidden under cloaks, daggers in hand, the murders are exaggerated akin to Ku Klux Klan-style ritualistic sacrifice, the victims' faces smeared with blood. Creatively directed by drama teacher Nigel Williams this is a fresh, exciting show performed with imagination intelligence and wit.
©Vivien Devlin, 14 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 19 August date at 3pm daily.
Company -Gordonstoun School.
Company Website - www.gordonstoun.org.uk .

   

Making a Scene - By JJ Markson.(Page 186).

Drams .
Venue Sweet ECA (Venue 186).
Address Edinburgh College of Art, off Lady Lawson St.
Reviewer Edmund Gould.

The publicity tells us that Making a Scene is an original LAMDA graduate production, which can surely mean only two things. Firstly, some promising young actors fresh out of drama school. And secondly, a script full of unashamedly pretentious self-indulgence. While JJ Markson's script emphatically fulfils the latter premise, this production is partially salvaged by some fine performances, even if the overall result all feels pretty trivial.

The entire play is set in or around a block of toilets, which being frequented by men and women alike, I can only presume to be unisex. How very modern. Filling the cubicles are a bunch of actors, all of whom appear to be either sleeping with each other, lying to each other or simply snorting coke off the toilet seat. The cast acquit themselves well in their various roles, and one or two of the characters are drawn with some considerable wit. Michael, a preening peacock who seems to spend the entire play doing his hair, and Alex, a drug-addled Hollywood starlet heading straight for rehab, provide some genuinely comic moments. That said, the stream of Chekhov gags, Elvis impersonations and unnecessary musical numbers create an atmosphere akin to that of a talent show rather than a piece of drama. It's sporadically impressive stuff, but under the surface, there's not much to see here.
©Edmund Gould 15 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 13 August at 22.35.
Company - You Know It!


   

Marlon Brando's Corset. (Page 186).
Drams .
Venue Pleasance Courtyard.
Address 60 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Edmund Gould.

Firstly, I feel obliged to inform any Brando fans out there that the title of Guy Jones' new play bears absolutely no relevance to its content. If you're hoping to catch a glimpse of Don Vito Corleone in drag, then you'll be sorely disappointed. Marlon Brando's Corset has been touted as Les Dennis' triumphant return to the showbiz fold, but for all the media interest, this ill-conceived satire of celebrity culture is a fairly shambolic affair.

Dennis plays Nick, the miserable screenwriter for 'Healing Hands', a hospital drama pitched somewhere between 'Casualty' and 'Footballers' Wives'. Frustrated by his failure to produce great art, Nick resigns himself to weaving shallow, convoluted storylines (such as a train crash in a monkey sanctuary) for his actors - a vain, egotistical bunch of airheads. In one of the play's many in-jokes, Jeremy Edwards, that pretty-boy from 'Holby City', plays the show's male lead, although judging from a weak performance here he might be better off sticking to the small screen in future.

Jones' plot is as ridiculous as the show's, involving love triangles, a botched murder and a laughably implausible cover-up. Amid the wreckage, Mike McShane hams it up rather nicely as a tyrannical director - 'Think of me as your GOD!', he screams - but even his amusing histrionics can't save Jones' script from itself. As Dennis broods mournfully on the rise of 'Heat' magazine and crassly bemoans the plight of hungry Sudanese refugees, it's difficult to tell who's more embarrassed - the audience or the actors themselves. Some might enjoy the clunky, supposedly post-modern playfulness of it all, but I found myself cringing more and more with every passing reference to Posh and Becks. Don't be fooled by the star names. Frankly, I'd rather see a cross-dressing Marlon Brando any day - and that's saying something.
©Edmund Gould 15 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 28 August (not 14/21 August) at 13:30.
Company - Richard Jordan Productions.


   

Metamorphoses (Page 187).
Drams full glass.
Venue Sweet Grassmarket (Venue 18).
Address Apex City Hotel, 61 Grassmarket.
Reviewer Rebecca Smith.

Novelty Fringe venues are a sub-category unto themselves. This year's Fringe boasts performances hosted beneath a tree in Princes Street Gardens, at Rosslyn Chapel (attracting the Da Vinci Code crowd), a stage in transit around the closes of Old Town, and now the most recent addition to the list of quirky venues, the Apex International Hotel swimming pool.

Greeted with the minor impositions of hotel health and safety regulations (shoes are removed and 'bagged' for protection, layers are shed to facilitate the humid conditions of the intimately spaced indoor pool), the audience then sit along the single rowed, towel-covered bench inches from the water's edge to watch the tales of mythical gods meddling in the love and death of human life.

Adapted from the Tony award-winning play by Mary Zimmerman, Metamorphoses is a pared down retelling of the Myths of Ovid, set in and around the swimming pool. The narrative weaves between the tragic - Midas and the curse of his golden touch,Erysicthon's self-destructive insatiable hunger, Orpheus following his love Eurydice to the underworld, the incestuous lust of Myrrha for her father, the wooing of wood-nymph Pomona and the comedic contemporary take on Phaeton coming to terms with being the son of Apollo - relayed via a shrink session on an inflatable couch. The pool is cast in a supporting role, used with great effect to transform into an ocean, a lake at the end of the earth, the underworld, the setting for a lovers' tryst. The result is an exquisite spectacle.

The five-actor cast switch between roles of gods and humans. They take to the task with great enthusiasm - though tend to overact at times. The inventive use of space extends to the multiple on-set costume changes housed in a wicker laundry basket. The gorgeous low lighting, musical accompaniment and warm, misty confines of space create the mesmerising ambience of a highbrow bedtime story.
©Rebecca Smith 20 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com .
Runs to 28 August at 22:15 (excluding 8, 14, 21).
Company - Black Lens Productions.
Company Website - www.blacklens.net

   

Mickey Mouse Is Dead. (Page 187).
Drams .
Venue Pleasance Courtyard(Venue 33)
Address 60 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Nathan Witts.

On entering the Baby Grand and simply casting an eye over the set one can tell that Mickey Mouse Is Dead. will be a good production. I suppose one can't really go wrong when creating an office but it is the attention to detail that is eye catching. From the choice of desks and the scripts strewn across them, to the typewriter and the light hanging from the ceiling this workplace looks like its seen its fair share of allnighters being pulled. It is the perfect setting for Justin Sherin's take on US politics and paranoia in the early fifties. Not only is the set design good but the use of space, lights and sound are also well thought out and help in creating a tremendously slick, fast paced and professional show.

All three actors work extremely well together as they struggle with decisions concerning their future conduct and each other. They feed off each others' energy and talent so they improve each others' overall performances. In this strong cast of Yale Drama School post graduates James Lloyd Reynolds excels. From the moment he walks on stage until the plays conclusion he produces a stunning acting display. He demonstrates the full range of emotions effortlessly and captures his character perfectly. This isn't taking anything away from Tony Mana and Marnye Young who turn out quality performances and help in putting on a very good show. The director Gordon Carver has done a fantastic job and I highly recommend seeing his first-class production.
©Nathan Witts 9 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August at 15:15 every day except 15 and 23 of August.
Company - Spankin' Yanks.
Company Website - www.spankinyanks.com .

   

Midnight Cowboy.(Page 187).

Drams .
Venue Assembly at George Street (Venue 3).
Address Assembly Rooms, 54 George Street.
Reviewer Edmund Gould.

The decision to adapt a much-loved film for the stage comes with inevitable pitfalls. Legions of fans will eye it with suspicion, desperately hoping to dismiss the play as a cheap imitation. That might seem a little harsh - stage drama should be allowed to stand on its own two feet, regardless of its cinematic heritage. That said, while the cast of Midnight Cowboy do their best to leave their own stamp on the play, the shadow of the 1969 Oscar-winning movie looms large. The result is an enjoyable, if predictable production that, while brimming with decent performances, remains somewhat lacking in dramatic intensity.

The play occupies well-trodden ground in the theatre - the flip-side of the American dream - but its tale of a cowboy-turned-hustler in the Big Apple is more daring than most in its exposition of the sex trade's seedy reality. Far from finding happiness (and money) in the arms (and purses) of beautiful New York socialites, the naïve Joe Buck, Charles Aitken, instead finds poverty and depravity. Desperate and homeless, Joe is offered 'management' by an unlikely pimp, the deadbeat Ratso Rizzo, Con O'Neill, and the two strike up an unlikely, stoical friendship.

Aitken's Joe is suitably fresh-faced and has the confident swagger of youth down to a tee, while O'Neill's facial tics and nervous manner make the part of Ratso his own. For all their best efforts, though, you can't help but think of the movie. As Joe stands in his cowboy jacket, shivering on stage, with Ratso shuffling quietly beside him, the iconic poster image of Messrs Hoffmann and Voight is impossible to shake. Director John Clancy makes great use of a mobile set, and the late 60s period detail - Vietnam newscasts, Bob Dylan et al - is spot on. For all the production's merits, however, it remains somewhat in thrall to its Hollywood ancestor.
©Edmund Gould 10 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 28 August, every day except 14 August, at 13:15.
Company - Assembly Theatre and Marshall Cordell.


   

Moby Dick Rehearsed. (Page 189).
Drams .
Venue C cubed.
Address Brodie's Close, Lawnmarket, Royal Mile.
Reviewer Edmund Gould.

Orson Welles must have identified with Captain Ahab's fictional pursuit of Moby Dick. Welles' film projects were all driven by a self-confidence and a single-mindedness that never deviated from its course. Thus it's easy to see what drew him to Herman Melville's 1851 novel, a study in monomania and obsession, and his loosely-adapted script is performed by an abundantly talented Pepperdine University cast.

Welles' innovation is to present a troupe of Victorian actors meeting to 'rehearse King Lear, only to stumble upon the idea of putting Moby Dick on t'he stage. As the eponymous rehearsal gets under way, the only clue that thi's is not the finished article is the presence of an officious stage manager', who barks directions at the start of each scene. At first Ahab's vengef'ul search for the whale who took his leg seems absurd, but it acquires considerable pathos as Ahab riffs on the appalling "whiteness" that it represents. Welles' adaptation makes no attempt to solve the mystery of one of literature's most oft-debated metaphors, but I suppose that would spoil the fun.

And there's plenty of fun to be had. The ship's crew spend much of the play toiling in invisible rigging, singing sea shanties, hoisting the mainsail and enacting every nautical cliché in the book. While it's hardly t'hought-provoking stuff, the cast are a cracking bunch of singers, and while it's a little rough around the edges, there's plenty of swash-and-buckle for your money. It's overly long, which is largely the fault of Welles' script, and aside from the Lear/Ahab comparison one wonders just what's gained from his play-within-a-play format. Still, despite the odd hiccup, this is thoroughly decent, old-fashioned matinee entertainment, for landlubbers and sea dogs alike.
©Edmund Gould 11 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 12 August at 11:10.
Company Pepperdine University.

   

Monsieur Ibrahim And The Flowers Of The Qur'an. (Page 189).
Drams .
Venue Assembly at St. George's West (Venue 157).
Address 58 Shandwick Place.
Reviewer Bill Dunlop.

Monsieur Ibrahim runs an 'Arab' shop in a Paris suburb. 'Arab' in this sense meaning 'open late and on Sunday'. Moses, the teenage son of a clinically depressed lawyer, uses theft from Monsieur Ibrahim to finance irregular trips to the local brothel. Thus far it's a bit Marcel Pagnol, and in truth there's more than a hint of Gallic whimsy in Patricia Beneke and Patrick Driver's adaptation of Eric Emmanuel Schmidt's novel of the same name. Although slight in storyline, the play strides cheerfully along, seemingly oblivious of any narrative emaciation, charming its audience through wit charm and sheer cheek, rather as the young Moses charms Monsieur Ibrahim.

Essentially the piece is a celebration for friendship, especially between the old and the young, and is none the worse for this. Monsieur Ibrahim is quietly stoical about Moses' depredations, his Sufi beliefs seemingly all the counsel he requires to do the right thing by Moses and the world around him. Sam Dastor is a fine Ibrahim, and James Daley an excellent foil for Ibrahim's dry wit and wry observations. The two actors conjure up the fragility and strength of friendships, and the ways in which all our lasting relationships grow slowly and sometimes surprisingly.

What's a little disturbing, however, is that in order to bring this play to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, no less than four production companies have had to be involved. If such resources really did have to be utilised to bring a two-cast play to Edinburgh, one is anxious for the economic state of British theatre. Such fears aside, however, Monsieur Ibrahim ought to be welcome to Edinburgh, bringing as it does a little much-needed light relief to sometimes overly serious Edinburgh fringe theatre scene. .
©Bill Dunlop 11 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to August 28 at 15.10 every day.
Company - Dialogue Productions, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Richard Jordan, Bush Theatre, Mercury Theatre.


   

Moon The Loon. (Page 189).
Drams .
Venue Pleasance Courtyard.
Address 60 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Leanna Rance.

Admittedly it’s an undertaking and a half, to cram the life story of a spectacularly crazy, volatile, self-destructive man into 55 minutes – particularly when the man in question , himself crammed 100 years of excess into 30 short years of life. But this production attempts to do just that, with varying degrees of success.

Moon the Loon takes an excerpt of Keith Moon’s life, from the height of his success with The Who, through his struggle with alcohol, drug-induced psychosis and depression, to the point of his eventual, inevitable decline. It’s thoughtfully directed, with sparing but effective use of flashback, utilising the psychiatrists couch as a frame of reference to help us gain perspective on the downwardly-spiralling Moon. The failing relationship with Kim, Moon’s wife is well-drawn and at times poignant, and it’s fair to say the uninitiated would probably leave with an interesting insight into Moon’s world and personality.

But Chas Early feels strangely miscast as Moon. His performance wacky rather than edgy, largely portraying Moon as benign joker as opposed to tortured clown. The delivery is self-conscious too in parts, and Early’s obviously solid temperament infects the character he plays. Early’s Moon translates as a laugh-a-minute nice guy with a few niggly problems. Whereas the real Moon – talent aside - was by all accounts, a manic, frothing-at-the-mouth nutcase with a death wish.

The script too is patchy, the comic notes in particular, falling flat. Moon the Loon is not without its moments of enjoyment, but it’s a mixed bag.
© Leanna Rance - 10 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 28 August at 14.30 every day, excepting 14, 21.
Company - Festival Highlights.


   

Moscow State Circus. (Page 192).

Drams No drams needed.
Venue Meadows Theatre Big Tops(Venue 189).
Address .The Meadows.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin .

The Circus is in town - Hurrah! But this is not your typical circus from childhood memories with horses scampering around the ring and an elephant or two. This is the world famous Moscow State Circus, which continues the legacy of a two hundred year cultural tradition of Russian circus entertainment. There are no animals in this Edinburgh show, but a superb 2 hour programme to show off the extraordinary skills of acrobats, high wire walkers, jugglers, and of course, clowns.

With a live band above the ring, an ensemble of colourful bewigged clowns and acrobats in technicolour costumes, run on, tumbling, somersaulting and jumping about, getting the show off to a lively start. Then the lights dim and a spotlight shines on 20 year old Natalia Erogova, an aerial performer. With no safety harness, she holds a strap with one hand and is pulled up high into the air by a wire. She flies, dances, above the audience with a superb display of balletic acrobatics. Then an extraordinary juggling act by the Bugrova Sisters. While balancing on a "rola" (a plank over a rolling tube), one girl standing on the other's shoulders. Amazing!. Then a duo of tightrope walkers, which was so terrifying, I could hardly watch. Vaguif (32) holding a pole, strides across a high wire. His father Gusein (50) walks up a steep wire to a high platform, then climbs further up to the roof of the tent, this time blindfold. You have to see these circus acts perform live in front of your eyes to believe it. It's absolutely thrilling.

The show continues with breathtaking trapeze artists, acrobats and a strong man (who lifts weights with his teeth), while the audience gasp, ooh and aah. The clowns, Igor and Andrey, are traditonal Russian comedians with some hilarious slapstick sketches. If you are sitting ring side, watch out for audience participation!. This is wonderful family entertainment for all ages. The professional skills of these circus performers is fantastic. Many are in their 40s and 50s, born into circus families and their children are in their act. Just like the training of dancers for the Bolshoi ballet, Russian Circus schools teach young people to be world class artistes. It is a privilege that the Moscow State Circus is able to tour Europe and appear at the Edinburgh Fringe. Running to 2nd September, this is a great show for local residents, adults and children, as well as Festival visitors.
©Vivien Devlin, 19 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 2 September, 5pm and 7.45pm weekdays. 2pm, 5pm and 7.45, Saturday, 2pm and 5pm, Sundays. Not Mondays.
Company -Moscow State Circus.
Company Website - www.moscowstatecircus.com .

   

Moving On Up (Page 189).
Drams .
Venue C Cubed (Venue 50).
Address Brodie's Close, Lawnmarket, Royal Mile.
Reviewer Lorraine McCann.

The eternal optimist in me really wanted to like this simple three-hander by Robert Brazil (who also preforms in the role of Sam, by the way). It's neatly circumscribed by its setting on a plane bound for Boston, round about Thanksgiving, and its trio of lonely/neurotic/sorrowful characters are instantly recognisable. But perhaps, ultimately, that's part of the problem - it sets you up to expect a sparky little rom-com and then mucks you about so much you end up not giving a hoot.

Molly, Lorin Milano, is a research-biologist-turned-flight attendant who has experienced a sad event in her life, so decides to shake things up a little. Unfortunately for her, on board her very first flight are a pair of strangers whose personalities clash spectacularly - Sam is a reserved young man who seems content to listen to his (oddly ananchronistic) Walkman, while Marjorie, Claire Naylor, is hell-bent on informing everyone about the many shortcomings of her dysfunctional family. Of course, it falls to Molly to smilingly referee the pair, despite shouldering her own personal issues.

With an uneasy mixture of lyrical monologue and standard-issue rom-com sparring, Moving On Up attempts to build a sympathetic picture of three lost souls somehow helped or healed by being brought together at this time and place, but the uneven tone and over-long dance routines get in the way to such an extent that I ended up unclear what had been shoe- horned into what. Is it a proper play spoiled by self-indulgent hoofing about, or a musical revue spoiled by emotional pretensions? Whatever the answer, it's a pity. The actors are likeable and the script has the odd nicely-turned line, but it's not really consistent enough to sustain emotional engagement.
© Lorraine McCann, 18 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 28 August at 1100 every day.
Company - The Behoovers.

   

My Dearest Byron. (Page 190).

Drams None required.
Venue
C cubed. (Venue 50).
Address Brodies Close, Lawnmarket.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin.

With two previous Fringe hit shows, (Dirty Little Secrets and Chaucer's Cock Tale) Another Midas dazzled audiences with their distinctive, stylised shows, blending physical theatre, music, poetic text, camp, dry wit exploring themes of sex and seduction.

This year's show, most suitably, is about Lord George Byron, as famous for his affairs with women (and young Greek boys) as for his poetry. After first meeting him in 1812, Lady Caroline Lamb wrote in her diary that he was "mad, bad and dangerous to know" and a wildly passionate love affair ensued. Lesser known is his passionate affair with his half sister Augusta. Based on actual letters and diaries, writer and director, Bernie C Byrnes has created a colourful portrait, revealing the private, secret lives of Georgie, Harper Ray, and Gus, Karen French.

On a tiny, white draped stage, the backdrop is a giant letter, featuring such words as smile, feelings, summer and dream. We hear the sound of a scratching quill and slow cello chords. Regency London,1813, life for the rich and fashionable was extravagant and decadent - Byron liked to party and travel. In a series of imaginatively devised and choreographed scenes, he tours Europe, to Italy and Greece, he takes Augusta to the theatre and society balls. Like children, they play games, joke and laugh together as gradually, their affection deepens to love and passion which ultimately gets out of control.

This intimate one hour play is beautifully written, like a romantic love song, capturing the heartfelt feelings expressed in their letters. With a gentle music soundtrack and cool, crisp, sensual performances, this is a perfectly cut diamond of a show -a wee gem.
©Vivien Devlin, 3 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 28 at 3.15pm every day.
Company - Another Midas.

   

My Polish Roots (And Other Vegetables). (Page 191).
Drams .
Venue Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14).
Address 13 Bristo Square.
Reviewer Bill Dunlop.

It's not often you get a soup recipe in your Fringe show programme, but Karola Gajdagives value for money in more ways than one. Essentially a show about family history (the roots of the title) Gajdamixes anecdote, video and soup making as a way of giving a flavour (pun intentional) of what it feels like to be a second generation minority. Gajda's family left Poland in the eighties to pitch up in Doncaster, and Gajda's soft Yorkshire accent takes us on her cook's tour of her homeland which she recently re-visited.

Her snatches of historical background necessarily leave out much in the hour available. Poland's extended noble families made up one of the earliest European 'democracies', their parliament, the Szem, the equal of those of England, Scotland and the proto-democracies of Switzerland and the Low Countries. As Gajda points out, Poland was frequently dismembered by foreign powers partly due to democratic dissensions. Intensely patriotic as well as political, Poles also have a reputation for hospitality and making much of the little they have often had to get by on. Hence Karola's barszcz - the Polish version of borscht, the beetroot staple of neighbouring Russia. As rare as soup recipes is the making of soup on stage, which in this instance is the centrepiece of Gajda's show.

It makes, to be honest, for a slightly fragmented experience, as Gajda tends to both the soup and her audience, but the final result, a sweet-sour cup of warm red beetroot soup is certainly worth the wait. Gajda's show makes a fine start to a Fringe-foraying day, and her soup will certainly set you up to deal with all those fresh-faced flyering persons ..
©Bill Dunlop 11 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to August 28 at 12.00 every day.
Company - KarolaGajda/PetaLily.
Company Website - www.karolagajda.org.uk.

   

My Name is Rachel Corrie.(Page 191).

Drams None needed.
Venue Pleasance Courtyard.
Address 60 The Pleasance.
Reviewer Edmund Gould.

The story of young American student Rachel Corrie first came to light in 2003, after she died standing defiantly between a Palestinian home and an Israeli bulldozer. Her thoughts and observations were recorded in her journ al, and this text has been edited by Alan Rickman (who also directs) and Katharine Viner to produce a fierce, passionate monologue. Rickman and Viner preface Rachel's record of her time in Gaza with extracts from her American diary, recounting her development through high school and her burgeoning interest in political activism. The result is a beautiful, poignant confessional, performed with stunning sincerity by Josephine Taylor.

Taylor's performance is so affecting largely due to her ability to match her demeanour to the tenor of Rachel's writing. As the play begins, Taylor leaps around her bedroom and excitedly confides in her audience, perfectly capturing Rache's youthful vitality. Rachel, we learn, was not one of those kids who wanted to be a doctor, or an astronaut, or even Spiderman when they grow up. Rather, there were "a million things I wanted to be", and she bashfully confesses "I still don't have the conviction to cross Spiderman off my list." However, such early idealism gradually gives way to moral outrage as her experiences in Gaza drastically alter her perspective.

Her account of Palestinian casualties soon becomes a depressing list of statistics, and Taylor matches this sense of disillusionment with a visible change in Rachel's physical presence, as if overwhelmed by a profound burden of helplessness. The drama culminates in a painfully honest polemic against public apathy in the face of wrong-doing, and Rickman punctuates this diatribe with a grim eyewitness account of Rachel's untimely death. Taylor gives a sensitive, nuanced performance, but what really strikes you is the quality of Rachel's prose. These are not the artificial imaginings of a playwright, but rather the original outpourings of a young woman raging against injustice. The result is genuinely compelling.
©Edmund Gould 14 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 28 August (not 14/21 August) at 17:50.
Company Royal Court Theatre.

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(M) 15 out of 156
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