Telephone Booking Fringe 0131 226 0000 International Festival 0131 473 2000 Book Festival 0845 373 5888 Art Festival 0777 169 3470 AN EVENING WITH PSYCHOSIS Maddeningly unfunny verbatim play ●●●●●
An Evening with Psychosis is a tiresome and ill-conceived multi-media play about losing touch with reality comprised of dramatised extracts from verbatim interviews conducted with people whose lives have been affected by psychosis (the mother of a psychotic teenage boy; a social worker), which are interspersed with scenes set in a claustrophobic ‘Space Command Vessel’.
Intended ‘irreverently’ to explore the
emergent themes of madness and reality, the spaceship scenes seem unable to decide whether to be comically absurd or serious and moving. Achieving neither humour nor profundity, these long sequences include videos of the action on stage filmed live and projected onto the back wall and equally gratuitous musical numbers. The production lacks coherence and
momentum, leaving it unable to engage its audience. Fortunately, the cast appear to take great pleasure in their own performances, whizzing across the stage on wheelie stools and shouting loudly at each other. (Griselda Murray Brown) ■ Underbelly, 0844 545 8252, until 30 Aug (not 18), 7.30pm, £6.50–£10.50 (£8–£9.50).
THE CONTEST Art school confidential ●●●●●
Amanda and Karl are the Brangelina of their graduating class at art school: beautiful, talented (Amanda maybe more so than Karl) and in love in that starry-eyed kind of way that happens when you’re 22. They’re also about to go head-to-head in a high profile contest that knows it will make the winner’s career (fortunately the competition doesn’t seem to have had
a detrimental effect on their sex life). Into their orbit comes fascinated first year Faith, less talented but determined to inveigle herself a piece of their glamour. Fifteen years on, we see the quiet, devastating fallout. Jennifer Rowland’s well-crafted, moving script asks pertinent questions about the priorities and necessary selfishness of the artist, about the need to put career before love, and of the pressures that structured career plans can place on very young lives. Ironically, given its subject matter, The Contest is a solid, traditional rep theatre piece that concentrates on telling a story without any artistic flourishes. However, performances of depth and grace, particularly Jules Willcox as luminous, vulnerable Amanda and Heleya de Barros’
manipulative ingénue Faith, elevate it into something special. (Kirstin Innes) ■ Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, until 30 Aug (not 18), 4pm, £9.50–£10.50 (£8.50–£9.50).
THE BITTER BELIEF OF COTRONE THE MAGICIAN Package Tour Theatre piece that’s worth it for the scenery ●●●●●
Considering it demands £25 of your cash and nearly five hours of your time, Cotrone the Magician is inexcusably incomprehensible and unsatisying as a piece of theatre. But it’s also impossible to judge independent of its venue – the island of Inchcolm – and it’s primarily the venue that makes it worth the investment. It’s an hour and a half by coach and
boat from departure to curtain up, and even once the wait is over the onstage action ranges in pace from ‘stately’ to ‘moonwalking through molasses’. The plot is slow-moving to the point of non-existence, and what little does happen is performed in achingly slow motion.
But the trip is an enjoyable one, the island has an undeniable charm and the tumbledown Inchcolm Abbey is a tourist attraction in itself. The play is a bonus. Call it Package Tour Theatre. Add the bizarre and ingenious costume puppets that bring to life Cotrone’s magical creations, and you have a spectacle that’s worthwhile with or without a narrative to drive it. Just one caveat: deduct a star if it’s raining. (Matt Boothman) ■ Sweet in the Firth of Forth, 0870 241 0136, until 16 Aug, 7.30pm, £25 (£20).
THE HOTEL The suite smell of success ●●●●●
TRILOGY Feminism in ‘relevant again’ shocker ●●●●●
Trilogy is a night-long, three-part exploration into the state of contemporary feminism. It’s joyous, life-affirming stuff; an adrenaline shot to a movement that seems to have lost its way in a world where increasingly brutal pornography is common currency and airbrushed, surgically-resculpted bodies are presented as the norm.
Part one is a call to arms. And, ah, legs. And buttocks. The idea is a simple one to anyone familiar with Gok Wan’s oeuvre, but devoid of self- help schmaltz: bodies are beautiful. A screen flashes up images of jellies wobbling as the performers, with huge grins, do an aerobic workout, naked. Then they’re joined onstage by four rows of marching naked women who take part in a punk dance routine, punching the air and revelling in the capabilities of their sinews.
Part two is about reconnection with the energies of the past. Five
modern-day feminists (one man, four women), in their mid-20s, interact with Town Bloody Hall, a documentary about the famous 1971 panel discussion ‘on Women’s Liberation’, featuring Germaine Greer and ‘noted misogynist icon’ Norman Mailer. The film itself, playing onstage, is still startling in the passion and ferocity of the opinions it displays; watching performers born over a decade after it was made respond to its problems could renew the faith of even the most jaded politico. There are difficult and unfashionable ideas here, but the performers’ conviction sells it all. They’re vibrating with enthusiasm and questions, unfailingly courteous to each other and the audience, not afraid to send themselves up for the sake of a laugh, equally unafraid of making serious political points. And it’s incredibly affecting. Even the few gentlemen in the audience who may have come in with less salubrious motivations seem moved into something else by the end of part three, when we all gather on stage to sing Jerusalem, the anthem of the early Suffragette movement. And some of us are naked. (Kirstin Innes) ■ St Stephen’s, 0141 565 1000, until 31 Aug (not 18, 25), 7.30pm, £12 (£9).
If Punchdrunk, the fashionable London site-specific theatre company, gave the job of artistic director to Arthur Smith, the comedic genius behind the Fringe’s Arturart exhibitions, the results would look a lot like The Hotel. Throw in a touch of Fawlty Towers and the sly wit of Mark Watson – the show’s writer, director and troubled health and safety inspector – and you have a piece of gloriously bonkers immersive theatre in which the audience play the guests at an establishment famed for picking up the highly commended award for best integration of TV in lounge or games room in 1991.
In a madcap hour, you make your own way through a New Town house, speed-eating cream crackers in the dining room, breaking athletic records in the wellbeing room, overseeing a job interview in the board room and playing on the computers in the business suite. En route, you stumble across mind-readers, masseurs, cabaret entertainers and officious staff, all the while aware that something even more batty is likely to be happening elsewhere in the building. It’s daft, delirious and exactly what the Fringe was made for. (Mark Fisher). ■ Assembly Rooms, 623 3030, until 31 Aug (not 17), 4.15pm, £10.50–£13 (£9–£10).
74 THE LIST FESTIVAL MAGAZINE 13–20 Aug 2009