MUSIC PREVIEW Camberwell Pocket Opera

Intimate version of Wagner’s colossal opera

Tristan And Isolde is big; a colossus of the operatic repertoire. It also boasts some of Richard Wagner's most sumptuous, sensual music and is not an obvious choice to scale down in size. However, in a bold, brave and, by all accounts, extremely successful production, Camberwell Pocket Opera bring Tristan And Isolde to the Fringe in a new version for two pianos and six singers. 'One chap is playing four roles,’ explains Holly Stout, the company's administrative director. 'And as the chorus is not that prominent, we don’t have one.’

With a special translation by Carlos Wagner (no relation) and conducted from the first piano by English National Opera’s Jeremy Silver, this Tristan is big on intimacy. ‘You can really hear the words, as there is no orchestra between audience and singers,’ says Stout. ’lt’s so close that the characters begin to feel like real people, in real human dramas.’ (Carol Main)

% Tristan And Isolde (Fringe) Camberwell Pocket Opera, Queen's Ha/l (Venue 72) 668 2079, 25 Aug, 8pm; 27 Aug, 7pm, £ 74/£ 76

(£7 7/£73).


Mundo Jazz ***

Latin musical comedy

Jumping on the Latino bandwagon is one thing, half-heartedly clinging on is quite another. This is essentially a series of one-liners from a cheekin coifed Panama parody propped up by songs of varying comedic success. The key themes are racial banter, Brazilian sleaze and amusineg inappropriate analogies.

Disappointingly, the musical element is largely sidelined in favour of stand- up, and when the bongos do get their beating, it’s all too restrained. Most of it is diverting enough, with a certain amount of low-key charm, but this band of Latin limpets fail to get beyond the impression of being an extended (luke-) warm up. (Judith Ho) % Mundo Jazz (Fringe) P/easance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 28 Aug, 9.50pm, £8/£9 (£7/£8).


The Pound Shop Boys *** Musical mimicry and mirth

Before launching into their double act, Joe Rooney and Patrick McDonnell have a solo stand-up slot each. However, it is their joint performance which is most successful.

Donning ridiculous costumes and wigs, they become The Pound Shop Boys, with a musical repertoire which has to be heard to be believed. Cashing in on two bygone fads, their 'Kung Fu Robot' complete with Kraftwerk-style dance routine is truly hysterical, as is the underwater 'Queen Of The Dance’.

COMEDY Priorité A Gauche ***** Gallic rappers bring house down

Forget MC Solaar; the hottest new rap act to come from across the Channel is Priorité A Gauche. Although they’ve already had minor success in this country with a single which reached the dizzy heights of number 57, they’re not that well-known. However, that‘s all about to change, as they're back with a UK tour, promoting their new album Viva Le Devolution. Make no mistake, Priorité A Gauche will soon be gracing the covers of self- respecting music magazines everywhere.

If you haven’t already twigged, all the above is complete fabrication. Jean-Francois and Didier are actually the alter egos of Ben ‘n’ Arn, winners of last year’s Perrier Best Newcomer Award. Created for their 1999 show Ben 'n’Arn’s Big Top, Priorité A Gauche - in typically pushy French fashion have taken over the whole show this year. Their signature rap is combined with acoustic numbers and spot-

on observations about the differences between our two cultures, in a show which will leave your cheeks

aching from laughter for hours.

Ben ‘n' Arn have an uncanny talent for Gallic mimicry; their accents, attitude and attire are thoroughly convincing, and their musical ability, although cloaked in comedy, deserves to be taken seriously. Still, you can

IOIuVUI Ben-109m theatre comedy dance music books

Uncanny talent and genuine star quality

like, and you’ll be no closer to defining what gives these boys their star quality. Maximum TV coverage is

definitely on the cards, but you can bet your derriere

analyse the elements of their show as much as you

patchy. (Kirsty Knaggs)

The Pound Shop Boys (Fringe) Joe Rooney And Patrick McDonnell, Gilded Balloon (Venue 36) 226 2 75 7, until 28 Aug, 8.75pm, £7.50 (£6.50).

MUSIC PREVIEW Robyn Hitchcock Ex—Egyptian’s odd bedfellows What does Robyn Hitchcock have in common with politicos William Hague and Tony Benn,

SCarY ,, .,. astronomer {6; ' Patrick Moore and cricket umpire legend Dickie Bird? Sod all,


think. ‘Q Well,

they all

The Pound

appeared on an album together last year for Millennium Thoughts, which included more obvious bedfellows such as Billy Bragg, Jarvis Cocker and Bono, as they spouted their musings on the new era.

Having been going on record now for 23 years since his early days with The Soft Boys, Hitchcock may not have set the charts on fire but his cult status has been confirmed whether recording

under his own name or with The

Egyptians. His latest

they won’t be seen on Eurotrash. (Kirsty Knaggs) Priorité A Gauche Dans La Maison (Fringe) Priorité A Gauche, P/easance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 28 Aug, 9.05pm, £8/£9 (£7/£8).

album A Star For Bram a series of ’out-takes’ from Jewels For Sophia namechecks Nietzsche, Nick Drake and Judas and he may treat the fans to some new stuff from his forthcoming release, provisionally titled The Unbaby. (Brian Donaldson)

Robyn Hitchcock (Fringe) Scottish International At Dynamic Earth (Venue 78) 530 3557, 25 & 27 Aug, 8.45pm, £70 (£8).


Ian Stone ****

Freewheelin’ bar mitzvah boy

Oy vey, Benny my boy, a funny thing

happened to me on the way to a

chicken soup supper. Jewish

comedy is probably the most

. parodied in the world and being such an easy target, even when it

I is good it is very self-knowing.

Ian Stone then, is a welcome addition to an abused genre; he is like a cross between Tony Hancock

and Frankie Howerd, with juvenile

puns and word plays that belong in the schoolyard; and they’re great. The wide-eyed and innocent Stone is probably better than we deserve. Ultimately, it is the sheer quantity of funny material that really impresses. (Paul Dale) A Little Piece Of Kike (Fringe) lan Stone, Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226

If they devoted the entire hour to The

Pound Shop Boys, this would be a 2428, until 28 Aug, 9. 75pm, £9/£70 l i





Boys much stronger show. As it is, it's a little

l ! Shop l

42 THE llST FESTIVAL GUIDE 24 Aug—2 Sep 2000