Festival Theatre



The tremendous performance by Phillip York in this one-man show about Robert Maxwell is so impressive you're likely to find yourself admiring. and even feeling sorry for the once reviled late media mogul. But as towering a performance and uncannin accurate an impersonation as York‘s is, credit must also go to writer Rob Beacharn for his incisive postmortem of the Iarger-then-life figure of hate who set himself up as editor of The Daily Mirror, siphoning off the pension fund of its employees before being found drowned under SUSplCIOUS circumstances off the coast of the Canary Islands in 1991.

The show takes the form of a monologue delivered by Maxwell. defending his character and rebuffing his critics. Basing his defence on the supposedly irrefutable facts of his life. Maxwell fills in his background as a Czech Jew who lost his family to the Nazis but escaped extermination to become a self-made millionaire in Britain. arguing a reasonably convincing case for being a victim of anti-Semitism in postwar London. Beacham‘s clever. frequently hilarious script. however. has its subject playing fast and loose with the truth. while the final judgement. that the man was

sunk by his own insatiable greed. rings

true. (Miles Fielder)

I Assembly Rooms, 623 3030, until 25 Aug (not 79), 2pm, £7 l—E73

(2 70—5 72).


Two go mad in the countryside OOO

Him and Her move to the COuntry on her family's money. Mostly. He contributed. though. He's not as rich as her. rather lacks her breeding. But he's kind. and she is trying to civilise him. The important thing is. it‘s their house. All theirs. Away from the city. its terrorism. its rat race. Their large

house by the sea.

This sharp little two-hander by award-winning playwright Torben Betts is semi-autobiographical. based on Betts and his wife's efforts to leave London and live off the land. Perhaps this explains the disparity in the relationship at its centre. Neal Barry's tender-hearted cockney Him. throwing himself into digging potatoes. plays to the audience's sympathies. while Nia Gwynne's shrill Her is never allowed to evolve beyond comedy Sloane archetype. Anything noble in their intentions to escape 'the system' is undermined from the start by their Thatcherite obsession with property ownership.

There's some beautiful wordplay here. but like the stupendously rnrsmatched couple at its centre. the play never looks much beyond its own London-y navel. With characters played so blatantly for laughs. when the pressures of isolated co- dependency deteriorate. inevitably. into mental strain. it's difficult to take them seriously. (Kirstin Innes)

I Pleasance Courtyard. 556 6550. Linn/25 Aug, 72.30pm. EBSO—CQSO (£7438).


Polish satire lost in translation 00

BOYS OF THE EMPIRE High-camp boy’s own comedy deserves six of the best 00

This self-consoously silly, satirical stab at the boy's own adventure wants to be Just Will/am with a nod towards The History Boys by way of Michael Palin's Ripping Yarns. Set between an English boarding school in the late 19303. and the newly re-named Iraq then ruled by British colonial puppet King Faisal ll the piece plays as a rum mystery concerning diplomats' sons and foreign spies. framed as a serialised tale of derring-do in the titular Iad's periodical. complete with commentary by its pipe-smoking editor.

What promises to be a smartly postmodern take on the milieu. however. turns out to be a rather dim- witted and over-egged affair. The historically intriguing parallels between Iraq then and Iraq now. which are touched on in the proceedings. together with the potentially subversive treatment of homoerotic public school culture. are all but lost in a barrage of very lame lOkBS abOut “posh poofs'. And. while one or two of the gags are so very bad they generate bewildered

laughter, the consistently hysterical high camp tone quickly becomes utterly tiresome. The best that can be said of this show is the young cast is game and energetic. but Edinburgh- born writer Glenn Chandler (creator of Taggart) should be given six of the best for this grade D nonsense. (Miles Fielder)

I C Chambers Street, 0845 260 7234, until 25 Aug, 8pm,

2960—27 7.50 lease—£70.50).

Online Booking

Fringe www.edfringe.com

International Festival www.eif.co.uk Book Festival wwr.v.edbookfest.co.uk

Art Festival wwwedinburghartfestivalorg

Germans with only a lumbering wooden cart for protection, it is a series of self-contained scenes between four soldiers. That the actors perform in

First there is the show that should have been. Originally staged in the late-70$, Bite the Dust is a satirical sideswipe at the military mindset. It proved so controversial in Poland that playwright Tadeusz Rolewicz withdrew the performance rights. People didn’t like to think of the underground Polish National Army as anything less than noble and patriotic; in this play they were neither.

We’re given an inkling of this in a voiceover that precedes this production by Teatr Provisorium and Kompania Teatr. Here the writer tells us that he hopes Bite the Dust, released from its historical context, will be seen as a humane anti-war drama.

But then there is the show that is. Despite coming with enthusiastic advanced word, the production has been so released from its context that it is hard to make any sense of it at all. Set on some forlorn World War II frontline where Polish troops fend off unseen


English should be a blessing, but in practice, their unfamiliarity with the language - and tendency to bark out their lines - strips the play of its subtlety and negates its darkly comic undertow.

It means that after the promising physical business of the opening scenes in which faceless soldiers drag themselves around the stage wielding huge logs strapped to their backs, it is very hard to get a handle on what the play is about. The obsession with bodily functions and thirst for grain alcohol is one thing, but the conversations about dialectical materialism and the military pecking order are hard to fathom. I reached the end of the play feeling no wiser about who these men were and what it was they’d been through, still less about why it was ever considered controversial.

(Mark Fisher) I Universal Arts, Freemasons" Hall. 220 0743, until 25 Aug (not l3l. 5pm. {Tl2—El4 (SQ—Cl l).