Festival Theatre


BALDANDERS Polish puppetry for adults 00.

Ba/danders examines the relationship between a freak show master and his caged beast. Inspired by the fantastical. existential ideas of Edgar Allen Poe. Jorge Luis Borges and Topor, it's a thorny and enigmatic show that explores man's desire for control. Presented in four skits. and featuring actors/puppeteers Marcin Bartnikowski and Marcin Bikowski. it's a darkly comic and deeply symbolic piece. In the first episode. the titular character fights with a bare-breasted female puppet for one of her teeth. while. in the second skit. Baldanders argues ethics with seven headless men. The third act features a hissing devil. who entices Baldanders to commit his SOUI. while. in the final vignette. Baldanders meets his alter ego. and successfully chops off his head.

Both Bartnikowski and Bikowski are impressive ventriloquists and puppeteers. who bring their puppets to life by shouting. fighting and dancing with them. Bartnikowski is

especially gifted in the various ways he

uses his body to manoeuvre the puppet around him. This is serious. comic theatre for lovers of the Gothic. but beware of the play's complex plot:

interpreting the many metaphors in the

narrative is by no means an easy feat. (Theresa Munoz)

I Hill Street Theatre. 226 6522. until 25 August (not 20), 7:50pm, CIO—EI 7 (28—2 9).


All theatre critics are bloodsucking scum OOOO

Conor McPherson was clearly settling old scores when he wrote St Nicholas in 1997. Like many of his earliest plays. it's a monologue and tall tale. This one is told by a successful Dublin theatre critic. a self professed 'hack and a drunkard'. Bitter. vindictive and egocentric. he embarks on a mid-life crisis of sorts when he becomes

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obsessed with a young actress playing Salome. His pursuit of her leads him to London and into contact with a house full of unusual creatures of the night.

Full of pontification and tangential minutiae familiar from the spectrum of McPherson's work. St Nicholas is a wonderfully funny text that attempts to drag the Chaucerian frame narrative through old Dublin saloon bars peopled by the likes of Samuel Beckett. Edgar Allan Poe. and of COtirse. John Milton.

Needless to say. a work of this scope and ambition rises or falls on the strength of the performer. and veteran actor Peter Dineen is more than up to the task. Like all great storytellers he holds the audience in pin drop silence for the duration of this remarkable yarn. (Paul Dale)

I Assembly Rooms. 623 3030. until 25 Aug. 2. 70pm. El l—ETI2 (KO—1‘70).

OFFICE PARTY Tasteless delights COO


Confessions in a Sydney hotel suite 0...

Two former Jurors reunite in a hotel room two years after a controversial hung verdict in this smart two-hander from Australian playwright Sti/ie Miller. Both harbour guilty secrets. and sex initially top priority - is soon shelved in favour of a “striptease of truth'.

Miller's script maintains a sense of climax throughout. skilfully teasing out revelation after revelation with barely a wasted word. Emma Jackson and Peter Phelps -— both W personalities in their native Australia more than do justice to the text. but Jackson's performance as the energetic Anna is so captivating that she overshadows her co-star. making his few flaws seem deeper by comparison.

Phelps plays the dour. mournful Mitchell With subtle intensity. His guilt stews silently and ominously. until either he chooses to release it in a measured stream or it explodes Violently and uncontrollably. But. as the play progresses. it demands more and more frequent rapid emotional gear changes and Jackson is simply more


adept at these than Phelps. She bubbles ‘.‘.’llll a kind of eager rernorsefulness that escapes in heartfelt. confessional waves. Both performances reveal important angles of the core theme the guilty compulsion to confess but where Phelps '5; merely compelling .Jackson is enchanting. lMatt Boofhmani

I Assembly Rooms, ($23 3030. until 2:3Ai/g. Iii-1:35.217). Fl] 5‘]?

(5‘70 -.f‘i‘ Ii.

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Topped off with a pole dancing routine and a trapeze act (from the splendidly agile Abbi Collins), there’s

Seldom were ham and cheese so well combined in a sandwich as in Cal McCrystal’s interactive version of that familiar titular institution, the office party. The show may be disrupted here and there by its structure, but this seems to do nothing to dampen the spirits of its revelling guests.

What this piece amounts to is a series of variety turns linked by the conceit of a cringey event of the kind we’ve all attended at some time or other. In Edinburgh University’s Appleton Tower - a cavernous multi-storey monument to architectural errors of the 705 - the perfect venue has been found for the show. Festooned with red balloons and draperies, it feels every tacky inch the part.

The series of turns has a flavour of the burlesque, from the comic CEO (3 strong Glenn Wool), who apes the rapacious, over-privileged boss, to an all-singing, all-stripping version of Chris de Burgh‘s ‘Lady in Red’.


some entertaining work on show for the average, mildly boozed-up audience.

On the night I dropped in, the punters showed willing to participate in various games involving disrobing, eating and pub quizzing. There were high spirits all round from an audience divided up in teams from the fictional firm, from executives, to accounts and on through the ranks to the cleaners. On the night, though, there was a vague sense of milling about in this great hall that broke up the entertainment, with various pauses to buy drinks from the bar interrupting the flow. All the same, when the acts came, they were pretty strong, with some nice crowd pleasing from the likes of Ursula Martinez, who led the crowd in a bawdy bit of Hispanic sing-along in a particular highlight. I suspect that with a little tightening up, this will be a good, boozy night out. (Steve Cramer)

I t/dderl>e//y"s Pasture. 0841 54:3 82:32, until {’35 Aug. 8W". 5‘125‘186‘701.