BEAUTIFUL CHILD Touching and tragic tale of delusion OOOO
Blame your parents. Freud said. His theory has been widely rejected yet constantly reappears: the impact of nurture is difficult to ignore. But when a son (or daughter) grows into a Suicide bomber or paedophile. who then takes the blame? Nicky Silver delicately creates a picture of Isaac's deluded playground: his fascination for a blonde haired young boy at the school where he teaches. This gentle artist turns to his parents. (Richard Weinman and Emily Murphyi. forcing them to confront repressed realities. Directed by Lucy Van Den Heede. the play relies on hard-hitting naturalism; poignant. edgy dialogue which paints tragic images of off-stage action. before transcending into an almost dreamlike surrealism. where words overlap in a chanting chorus. Blatantly borrowing the ritualistic style from Edward Albee's drama. the piece treads the fine line between comedy and (Sophocles-type) tragedy. The funny is mostly down to Murphy's sarcastic wisecracks. which slowly dissolve as the non-chronological stOry unravels. The Visual imagery is conjured by eloquent language: descriptions of light reflecting off snow. details of the pale-faced young school boy and the reOCCurring dream of the woman in the blue coat. Beauty and pain seems to haunt these characters. On a very human level it touches upon the mother's struggle to justify her sorrow in the face of the Victims. In the end the parents choose to protect their son in a way that feels abruptly twisted. but one that's faithful to the tragedy. (Claire Piela) I C Central, 0870 707 5105. until 25) Aug (not (6), 6.05pm, $8.50 (57.50).
GUIDED TOUR History revisited .000
This rather intriguing piece of theatre takes us down a fascinating road of cultural discovery. although not necessarily the one it starts out on. In it. we're taken on what appears to be an absolutely conventional tour of Edinburgh's McEwan Hall. yet the history it appears to retell merely uses the mighty Victorian monument to philanthropy to quite different ideological ends.
What emerges is an account of the history we choose to conceal, both political and personal. Tour guide Peter Reder begins slowly to explore not just the building, but the entire nature and purpose of the heritage industry. as well as interrogating the ideological purposes of the production of history. He moves. fascinatingly. from old tvlcEwan himself. to none other than Frankfurt School MarXist Walter Benjamin. and finally through to an apparently personal Vision. exploring not so much history. as memoiy and subjectiVity within the context of hegemonic political process. Which makes it all seem pretty heavy, but actually it's endearing and lightly amusing. With a rather self effacing and likeable host, interacting modestly with his audience. at the centre. (Steve Cramer)
I Traverse Theatre. 228 1404. until 28 Aug (not l5. (8, 22;. 7pm, 1‘] 1—5‘8 ($4.50).
THE ODD COUPLE
Weak but crowd-pleasing production of Neil Simon’s hilarious original 000
While the combination of Neil Simon's sublime comedy about two co- habiting bachelors and the casting of two of the Fringe's most popular stand-up talents. Bill Bailey and Alan DaVies. makes for an entertaining show. Guy Masterson's production of The Odd Couple is not great theatre. For a start. neither Bailey nor Davies can act. Bailey just about holds it together (awful American accent notwitlistandingl as the slovenly divorced sportswriter Oscar. but DaVIes. playing the pernickety soon- to-l_)e—divorced Felix. looks like he has no idea about where he is or what he's doing.
And in comparison Wllll the best known version of Simon's play. the 1968 film with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon (as opposed to the original 1965 staging of the play or the later television SONGS). this Odd Couple comes off even worse. Taking their leads from lvlatthau and Lemmon (and the film is most certainly the performers point of reference). Bailey and DaVies nevertheless consistently miss-time and wrongly emphasise their lines and Visual gags. If you've seen the film. watching this cack handed production is a painful experience.
But if you're an Odd Couple noVIce. then Simon's often hilaiious writing is good enough to proVide a decent afternoon's entertainment. But remember: it's Simon who's making you laugh. not Bailey and DaVies. (Miles Fielderl I Assembly Hall. 2296 2428, until 2’5) Aug. 53’. lop/n, 5‘16» l‘é’t) ll‘l-l l‘l:">l.
Powerful, moving true stories from off Death Row .000
It would be difficult to find a more deeply moving play at the Fringe this year than the Culture Project’s Off-Broadway hit. Working from a script by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen comprising interviews, letters and court transcripts, The Exonerated’s cast of ten performers tell the stories of six victims of injustice, six people from all walks of life in the American South who were wrongly convicted of capital crimes, sentenced to death and imprisoned on Death Row and who were later released to tell of their horrendous experiences.
Sonny Jacobs was a young hippy mother when, in the late 19705 she was imprisoned for the murder of two police officers. She spent 16 years on Death Row (despite the real killer confessing to the crimes 11 years before she was finally released), and while in prison Jacobs’ parents died, her own children grew up parentless and her husband Jesse (who was also convicted) was executed by electric chair. It was a particularly notorious execution as the chair failed and it took three attempts over 13 minutes to kill the man, who died with his head on fire.
And that’s just one of six shocking stories. Lined up along the stage of the Queen’s Hall like witnesses at a trial (no irony lost there), the cast do a superb job of breathing life, humour and humanity into these traumatic testimonies. In America, performances of the show have featured a rotating cast that has included a number of famous faces — Mia Farrow and Lynn Redgrave — from the stage and screen, and the Edinburgh run is rumoured to be guest attended by star names Aidan Quinn and Robert Carradine. Those names have been attracted to the project, which has thus far raised $500,000 in prisoners‘ aid, in part because it’s a powerful rallying cry for the abolition of the death penalty (indeed, the Edinburgh audience is invited to write to that old executioner President Bush).
The Exonerated does get you in the gut. It’s impossible not to be moved by these miscarriages of justice, here presented in a compelling dramatic form. And as if the show wasn’t affecting enough, at the end of the performance this reviewer attended, the cast member who read Jacobs’ part was introduced as the real Sonny Jacobs, prompting a spontaneous standing ovation — and floods of tears. (Miles Fielder)
I Queen's lla/l. (itit’w’ .‘ ’(llfl 1’. ’b‘ .’ ’J.‘ ’8. until (’XAi/g. l‘lii’ l‘lf) (l‘ll S‘i’.’i.
it.» THE LIST FESTIVAL MAGAZINE 61