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 Festival 2006
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Musicals & Opera

(R) 4 out of 156
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Page number refers to the Fringe programme

The Receipt. (Page 200).
Drams .
Venue Assembly Rooms - George Street (Venue 3).
Address 54 George Street.
Reviewer Leanna Rance.

On this grey, drizzly Edinburgh Sunday morning, an expectant capacity crowd has turned out to watch Perrier winner Will Adamsdale, and show co-devisor/Moog maestro Chris Branch, perform their new two-man play, The Receipt.

A surreal, caustically amusing and thought-provoking examination of social fragmentation, the Receipt expertly covers territory that any urbane city dweller will already be intimately acquainted with. Alienation and isolation, the desire to connect, even (or in this case specifically,) with random strangers, and the indignities of modern life (the call centre, the impersonal, technology driven world of corporate enterprise.) The play's premise is simple and effective. Our protagonist, Wylie, finds a crumpled receipt. Mere litter to his bemused work colleagues, yet representing a link to another living, breathing human being to the emotionally faltering Wylie - he embarks upon on a passionate quest to trace its owner.

Clearly remaining loyal to its improvisational roots, the twists and turns of the narrative seamlessly pass back and forth between Adamsdale and Branch. The sound design is delicately woven into the fabric of the play, and adds an unexpected and satisfying dimension. The Receipt is a series of topographic snapshots of a man, searching the desolate city wastelands, for signs of a heartbeat. Adamsdale and Branch satirise contemporary horrors, such as ludicrously-named all-pervasive brands beautifully. Before the play ends we're awash with references to Oyster cards, Eat(eries), Plexiglass, BusyWall (yes, as nightmarish as it sounds), Goldfish cards, DrinCoffee© and Bar Space Bar (believe me, you wouldn't want to imbibe there).

The Receipt is a wonderful exploration of our need for individual purpose. Oh, and some one please bring back the Moog. It rocks.
© Leanna Rance - 13 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 28 August at 11.30 every day, excepting 14.
Company - Will Adamsdale and Chris Branch.


The Republican Prince. (Page 200).
Drams full glass full glass full glass full glass full glass.
Venue Café Royal Fringe Theatre. (Venue 47).
Address 17 West Register St.
Reviewer Anna Kay.

A black stage shows some candles and a wooden cross. The air is eerie and dank as the actors enter, carrying a coffin. I am hoping against hope that this play is not the obscure, self-indulgent piece it inevitably turns out to be. Set in a non-specific country in a non specific country, a royal family are burying their first born, leaving an entirely boring struggle of the new heir as to whether he wants to be King.

The issues he faces do not seem to parallel or imitate any world issues today and are inspiring of very little sympathy (though this may be due to their vagueness). The supposed hero of the piece comes across as a spoilt little brat. The actors' lack any emotional subtleties or levels of passion - they are angry when they have been directed to be angry, they are sad when directed to be sad and they grab their arms, or heads, when directed to do so, without any of it coming across as remotely believable. I wish at least someone would teach them what a stage whisper is, rather than leaving them to merely whisper, making them difficult to hear.

The supposed heroic climax of the piece is ridiculous and idealistic, rather than in any way feasible. Perhaps I am missing the point, but I leave the theatre wondering what the theory behind any of it was supposed to be.
©Anna Kay 18 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to August 27 (not 22) at 12:00 every day.
Company - Ragnarcom Productions.
Company Website - www.ragnarcom.plus.com.


Johnny Miller presents Rope. (Page 192)
Drams 1 dram
Venue ENCLA (Venue No 132)
Address . 67 Northumberland Street.
Reviewer Vivien Devlin .

Hitchcock's 1948 thriller "Rope" starring James Stewart was based on an earlier stage play by Patrick Hamilton. Similar to "Dial M for Murder" and "Strangers on a Train," these are not Who-dunnits, but Will-they- get-away-with-it murder thrillers. At the very start of Rope, two young men kill an old school friend, just for the experience, without malice or motive. Like an extreme dangerous sport, they plan to commit "the immaculate murder" .. to create "a work of art".
The setting is an elegant Edinburgh New Town drawing room draped with white curtains with blood-red Francis Bacon-style painting on the wall. Philip is playing the piano as Brandon casually chats to their friend David when this quiet scene of respectable hospitality turns to horror as David is attacked and strangled. His body is wrapped in a blanket and hidden in a large trunk centre stage. They then give themselves the ultimate challenge by inviting a few friends to the flat for a party. First is Leila, a beautiful blonde, fussing over the canapés, Kenneth, the quiet intellect, Rupert, former school teacher and mentor. With cool conceit, they have even invited David's father and aunt.
Pink champagne is poured as Philip and Brandon chat politely with small talk to their guests. But when the conversation turns to why David has not arrived, and a discussion on the morality of murder, like the Macbeths, the two men gradually show palpable signs of stress and guilt. With the action taking place right in front of us, rather than a cinema screen, the atmosphere and tension is unbelievabably gripping. Alex Warren (resembling a young Ian Charleson), plays Brandon with a chilling, controlled manner, is partnered well by Charlie Harrison as the emotionally frail Philip. This remarkable mature ensemble from Manchester University pull off this classic drawing room drama with conviction, pace and dramatic skill.
(c)Vivien Devlin, 23 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com
Runs to 26 August at 3.30pm every day
Company -Johnny Miller presents.
Company Website - www.johnnymillerpresents.com

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. (Page 201).
Drams .
Venue C.
Address Chambers Street.
Reviewer Edmund Gould.

Tom Stoppard certainly isn’t the most accessible of dramatists - frankly, he’s just a bit too clever for his own good. With this in mind, Chimeric Productions’ wonderfully colourful staging of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead seems even more impressive. It’s a fresh, vibrant production of Stoppard’s Absurdist re-imagining of ‘Hamlet’, held together by a terrific double act from Tom Oakley and Dan Jennings in the title roles.

The play begins in the vein of ‘Waiting for Godot’, which preceded Stoppard’s 1966 work by over a decade. The central pairing are originally to be found as peripheral figures in Shakespeare’s Danish tragedy, but are here re-cast as the heroes of the piece. They certainly owe a lot to Beckett’s original odd couple, Vladimir and Estragon, but Stoppard at least affords his protagonists some semblance of a plot. We join them tossing coins and locking horns in an existential debate - the two seem purposeless and bewildered, even confusing each other’s names. After an encounter with a travelling circus troupe led by the charismatic Player , Mike Thompson, they stumble into the plot of ‘Hamlet’, and are sent first to interrogate the Prince, and then escort him on a perilous sea voyage to England.

The constant repartee between the two leads is handled with real skill, and the actors seem to have forged some genuine on-stage chemistry. Oakley’s bespectacled Rosencrantz is the straight man, taking the role of philosopher, as Jennings clowns around with gay abandon as his witless sidekick. They sink their teeth into Stoppard’s playful script with delightful vigour, and their verbal tennis matches make for some sizzling dialogue. There’s plenty of cheeky allusions to Shakespeare’s text, and amid the talk of hawks and handsaws director Ben Waring even manages to sneak in a dig at the Scottish smoking ban. While the lesser characters do seem rather overshadowed by the towering lead performances, some imaginative direction and stunning stage effects make for a production of real dynamism. Audiences will always be challenged by Stoppard’s intellect, but in the hands of a team as talented as this, it’s a challenge worth meeting head-on.
©Edmund Gould 20 August 2006 - Published on EdinburghGuide.com.
Runs to 28 August every day at 14:30.
Company – Chimeric Productions.

(R) 4 out of 156
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