Festival Theatre


SURVIVING SPIKE The taming of the Goon O.

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father. gather at their family home in the aftermath of their ailing mother's suicide. Mum (Jill Gascoigne) is still in the bathroom. her wrists slit. and as

emotional journey has produced four daughters. each named after the place of their conception. Carolina (Susan Zeigler) is a go-getting lawyer midway through a divorce; Austen (Freedman) a slovenly novelist; Dallas (Nickella Moschetti) a conventional suburban housewife and Baltimore (Jade Sealey) a promiscuous postgrad. Each has a secret which emerges when mother appears in a flashback monologue.

He was a maverick. a one-off. a free- associating comedy anarchist. So what's the point in paying tribute to Spike Milligan with a bio-play that is safe. conventional and cosy? The tone of Surviving Spike by Richard Harris has far more in common with the mainstream appeal of star Michael Barrymore than anything the eccentric Milligan produced. The former Goon is being sanitised for the nostalgia market.

Not that Barrymore is to blame. It's hard to say whether the Strike it Lucky star makes a convincing impression of Milligan because so little of the script reguires him to do so. Charting the three-decade relationship between Milligan and his secretary-turned- manager Norma Farnes (Jill Halfpenny). the play indulges the memory of the comedian without showing any feel for his comedic genius.

What Barrymore is able to bring. however, is a feel for the swings of manic depression that plagued the comedian and. surprisingly. for the frustrating infirmities of his final years. The play is a very ordinary trot through the events related in Farnes' Spike: An Intimate Memorr. but it does capture something of the volatile relationship between the two. This is enough to make it pleasantly watchable. but neither of those words should be assOCiated With Milligan. (Mark Fisher) I Assembly Rooms. 623 3030, until 25 Aug (not I l), 4. 75pm, El7.50—E20 (5375—278).

SISTER CITIES Death and the maidens 0000

If naturalistic plays set in living rooms are not your bag. then it might be wise to avoid Sister Cities. But. for all its conventionality. Colette Freedman's black comedy contrives to constantly amuse wrth crisp. observant dialogue and nicely tempered performances. Four sisters. each born to a different

we await the coroner we can only wonder at her adventurous life as a former showgirl whose unorthodox

The comedy of contemporary life that emerges has a touch of post- feminist Sex in the City about it. but

YASSER An original take on the Middle East conflict 0...

The concept of national identity becomes ever more fragile in the absence of a nation state. A people bereft of the glue that binds modern communities together - whether real or imagined - risk having their identity defined by others, moulded by ‘enemies’ to become disenfranchised from their own history.

The Palestinian experience is obviously one that many modern works of theatre have attempted to do justice to. Too often, however, grand historical narratives loom over the everyday, with the banalities and frustrations of a generation being cast as mere footnotes to the current conflict in the Middle East. In contrast, Yasser, which focuses on a young Palestinian actor preparing to play Shylock, succeeds in illuminating the intricate crevices of the conflict where other works fail.

As the play states, it is almost the case that to be born Palestinian is a political act in itself. The piece depicts the mutual incomprehension of Yasser and his British girlfriend at his mother’s shame on learning he is to play a Jew, opting to concentrate on a small-scale human conflict where many would opt for the polemic.

All of this is cemented by William el-Gardi. He is a first-rate actor, as evidenced by his appearance in last year’s The Container, 3 moving site specific piece about human trafficking. His performance here provides further evidence of his enviable talent. (Miles Johnson)

I Assembly Rooms, (523 3030, until 25 Aug (not I l), 6. 15pm, £72 (El 7).


for GLASGOW THEATRE see non-Festival magazine

there‘s more honesty to the emotional dilemmas expressed. and great wrt in dialogue that pointedly locates the traps into which modern women fall. It's as much West End fare as Fringe. but this is a smart and accon'iplished piece of drama. well performed by its cast. (Steve Cramer)

I Gilded Balloon Teviof. 668 7633. until 24 Aug (not 78). 6.45pm. 8960—2 7 0.50 ($860—$950)


Electric cabaret with a dark side

This isn't any cabaret show. This is a circus on acid (or perhaps the poppers that the beautiful freak crowds are into nowadays). This is a late-night step into the realm of nightmares for a dastardly conglomeration of comedic. titillating. cringe-inducing Sideshow acts. followed by three hours of DJing. Master of the realm is The Bloody Ringmaster who whip cracks everyone into line with an acerbic flick of his tongue. He is ably assisted by deck monkey Margaret the Gimp. resplendent in hot pants and not much else (except a gimp mask. nature/lenient). as they preside over the revolving line-up of acts. Stand-out performers on this particular night included a very clever burlesque performance from Lamb Chop Magoo and various pain- enticing acts from Chrisalys. Most notable was The Boy with Tape on his Face. who. in reality (if Such a thing exists). is a Kiwi comedian who combines audience-baiting stand-up with Buster Keaton-like physical comedy. all without uttering a word. Clearly the success of the show depends on the nightly changing acts but the Ringmaster and Marge have been running the night weekly in London to much acclaim among the alternative hip young things. Go on. Everyone needs to get drunk. sweaty and horny in the bowels of the Underbelly at least once. (Suzanne Black) I Underbelly, 0844 54:3 8252. until 24 Aug, Mon 8 Tue 7 1.45pm; Wed—Sun 72. 75am, £70—le.50 (£‘9—L‘l 1.50).