THE DEVIL’S LARDER Terrific site specific 00..
In Western culture, and particularly the British variety, there is a privileging of mind over body, where we deny much of the influence of the latter in favour of the former. The upshot of this is repression, as we joke away, conceal, or simply ignore the influences of our many appetites until the anarchy of the body bursts through our defences, liberating itself in uncomfortable or even catastrophic manifestations. One company willing to confront the issue head on is Grid Iron, back to their very best here.
Make your way up the murky, semi-darkened stairs of Debenham’s at dusk, following two theatrically phantom-like figures, and you’ll find yourself in a world which explores a repressed selfhood through the metaphor of appetite. Moving through the staircases and shop floors, an eerily half lit affair in the one of the familiar temples of consumerism, we walk into a succession of short vignettes to do with the body, and eating. From an eerie, MR James-like monologue of food poisoning in a plush hotel, to a 705 swinger fondue party and on to a bachelor doctor growing mighty vegetables from a dying old man’s stool, the body stays at the centre. A particular delight is the pay off to a scene, rooted in much older mythologies, in which a couple afloat in a lifeboat must choose sea water or piss to survive.
Director and writer Ben Harrison shows a deftness of touch with his outlandish adaptation of Jim Crace’s book, giving a vague nostalgic retro feel to each sequence. It’s all delightfully playful, leaving the darkness to be pondered on, like the mannequins and consumer goods in the distant gloom of the store. And Debenham’s itself plays a role, for there’s a light touch of beguiling mockery in the choices of location in Cliff Dolliver’s sets. David Paul Jones’ music adds a subtle and profoundly witty spice to the whole proceeding, 3 rendition of ‘Somewhere Over the Sea‘ en francais a highlight, while Catriona McKay‘s harp accompaniment is a treat. And it is beautifully performed by these two and four splendid Scots/Irish actors. It’s almost invidious to pick one of them out, but Andrew Clark is in particularly fine fettle in a succession of roles. Harrison’s text moves with the bodies to perfection, complimenting the action perfectly. There are just a couple of imperfect sight lines, but seeing 90% of this piece is better than seeing several other shows. Bon Appetite! (Steve Cramer)
60 THE LIST FESTIVAL MAGAZINE ‘34, Aer; .”“
YOU MIGHT AS WELL LIVE
An engaging portrayal of Dorothy Parker .00
Sarcastic. bitchy and witty. This one woman show. performed by Pandora Colins. shows us another side to the woman more commonly associated with the latter. Focusing on the later part of Dorothy Parker's life. the monologue explores her active liberalism. while reflecting upon her time as a writer and poet. She's an intriguineg complex character who's insecure. selfish and sometimes suicidal and yet she became an ardent human rights campaigner and political actiVist.
Colins captures her prolonged desperation and aggression with a harsh sardonic wrt and effectively portrays her simmering frustration With herself and those around her. You can't empathise wrth this woman. yet you can't draw away. 1920s period costume and music from the likes of Ella Fitzgerald deepen our engagement with Parker’s world. The unvaried tone of the script becomes weary in parts and lighting decisions
occasionally rely too heavrly on cliches.
but overall the show reflects realistically on the era. The script focuses on her inner struggle. her pursuit for moral goodness — an eternal dilemma that shows a lot more to Parker than is ever remembered. iClaire Pielal
I Pleasance Count/(1rd, 5:36 (5550. until 25) Aug (not 5). 7(5). 12.90pm, 57.90—58.50 il‘(>‘—l‘7i.
IRUNNERS - THE RETURN Group therapy as audience participation show 000
Audience participation is a tricky thing to pull off successfully and painlessly. But this interactive drama written by Brazilian playwright Cristina Teixeira embraces the idea and exploits its possibilities to the utmost.
Staged as group therapy session for people with mental illnesses. the show's set comprises a circle of chairs arranged about a MUSIC/lll/ll(/~Slyl(} swwel armchair in which sits the group's psychiatrist. Dr Roberts. The doctor's patients are composed of the
NEXT ISSUE OUT WEDNESDAY 24 AUGUST
show's audience (who are name- tagged for ease of interaction) and. as it turns out. planted cast members. As the drama/therapy session progresses (and. dysfunctionally, regressesl the audience is encouraged to participate as a group member (something that with this set-up is quite easy to doi. Simultaneously. the plants begin to make themselves known. with various emotional outbursts. some of which are funny. others Quite disturbing. What's really interesting in all this is that by the end of the show. when the make-up of the cast and the audience is fully revealed. you'll find that yOu mistook one for the other and vice versa.
The show's interrogation of psychiatry isn't particularly illuminating. but lRunners is really more about the experience than anything else. And an invigorating one it is. too.
(Miles Fielder) I Underbelly. 0870 745 3083. until 28 Aug. 7.30pm, £78—L‘9 (IV—f8).
GIVE UP! START OVER! IN THE DARKEST OF TIME I LOOK TO RICHARD NIXON FOR HOPE)
Unreality TV 0000
With a title nearly hitting the 20-word mark. it is not wholly surprising that Give Up.’ Start Over.’ (In the Darkest of Times / Look to Richard Nixon fer Hope) is a rambling babble of a show. But that is no bad thing in the hands of Jessica Alrnasy. Like a pixie firecracker. she darts about the stage and into her fridge as she COiiducts a one-woman experiment on the fine line between reality and TV reality.
Give Up! Start Over.’ is a frenzied monologue bursting with characters who barge across Almasy's face. carrying with them their lust for all things televrsed. As the story is increasingly commandeered by the man who made lying an art form. President Richard Nixon. Almasy shakes her imaginary jowls and preaches to us on the language of intimacy — declaring that off the cuff speeches take the longest time to prepare.
New York company the TEAM have created a sensory overload of a show and it is hard work to keep up. And while the mediated nature Of modern liying may not be a new topic. this energetic piece has a lot to say about it. One hell of a lot. (Corrie Mills)
I C. Chambers St. 0870 70/ 5 105. until 29 Aug, 72. l5pin. 1‘7. :30 (£6.50).