list.co.uk/festival Festival TheatreReviews at a Glance
Balloon Boutique ●●●●● Gentle, moving little story about a childless couple told with mime, masks and balloons. There’s an awful lot of waiting around for those balloons to inflate, and some rather stuttery uses of music, but there are some stunningly beautiful moments, and the production has such a big heart that picking faults seems churlish. (Kirstin Innes) C Too, 0845 260 1234, until 30 Aug, 2pm, £7.50–£9.50 (£6.50–£8.50). Becoming Marilyn ●●●●● It’s a neat concept presenting Norma Jean and her screen idol alter ego Marilyn Monroe as a showbiz Jekyll and Hyde, and having the dead blonde bombshell narrate their story to that effect. And Issy Van Randwyck does a very presentable impersonation of both women. Unfortunately, this is a by-the-numbers show – chat, song, chat, song, repeat – that fails to ignite. (Miles Fielder) Assembly Rooms, 623 3030, until 31 Aug (not 17), 3.10pm, £12 (£10). Birthing the Crone: The Crone Chronicles ●●●●● Lisa Wilson’s battle with the menopause and a number of unforeseen obstacles come together in this one-woman show that takes a refreshing look at ‘the change’. Intelligently written, and performed with honesty and humility, Wilson takes you on a highly emotional, comical journey that reveals the menopause is not the end, but a new beginning. (Amy Taylor) The Spaces @ The Royal College of Surgeons, 0845 508 8515, until 21 Aug (not 16), 7pm, £7–£8 (£5.50–£6.50). Bloodbath: the Musical ●●●●● The bad taste musical has become a mainstay of late evening fringe entertainment, and if this piece isn’t any more than a standard example, it shows enough gusto to keep you tapping your feet and groaning pleasurably at its acidic American-style wit and wordplay. While no classic, it works hard to amuse and should play well to a mildly boozed crowd. (Steve Cramer) George Square Theatre, 651 1292, until 31 Aug (not 18, 25), 9.30pm, £10.50–£12.50 (£9.50–£11.50). Catwalk Confidential ●●●●● Talent-spotted by Valentino aged 14, 70s fashion icon Robyn Paterson jumped a plane from Miami to Paris in search of fame and fortune. While a familiarity with the lifestyle of 00s glitterati makes the shock value of this well-heeled one- woman show a tad pedestrian, Paterson’s charm and delivery injects some style into proceedings. (Anna Millar) Assembly Hall, 623 3030, until 30 Aug (not 17, 24), 6.20pm, £9–£10. The Chronicles of Irania ●●●●● The pleasantries of tea, sweets and traditional stories are juxtaposed with harrowing tales of violence towards women and homosexuals. The country may be fictional but its real-life inspiration is all too clear, and Maryam Hamidi’s beautiful turn as Khadijeh, the sole performer, makes this play a joy to watch. (Yasmin Sulaiman) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 30 Aug (not 18), 1.30pm, £7.50–£8.50 (£6–£7). Chronicles of Long Kesh ●●●●● A cappella Motown numbers provide an unexpectedly effective accompaniment to Martin Lynch’s history of the infamous Irish prison camp. The episodic style allows the well-
drilled ensemble to cover decades of Troubles – from internment through hunger strikes to the camp’s closure in 2000 – in two furiously paced hours. (Matt Boothman) Assembly Hall, 623 3030, until 30 Aug (not 17, 24), noon, £13–£15 (£11–£13). Facebook Fables ●●●●● Comedy about the dangers of internet revenge and social networking in which a woman scorned sets up a fake Facebook page for her ex-boyfriend hoping to trap his (imagined) new girlfriend. The personable performances from Andreya Lynham, Amber Nobel and Samantha Lyden make this piece fun, perky and a little risqué, despite the clichés. (Henry Northmore) Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, until 31 Aug (not 15), 1.45pm, £9–£10 (£7–£8). The Fall of Man ●●●●● An affair between middle-aged, middle-class Peter and his children’s Slavic nanny is told with contemporary dialogue and passages from Paradise Lost. Milton’s lines feel rushed and therefore unlike real-life musings, but powerful body language, unnerving music, and the clash of native and non-native idioms and priorities create loaded moments. (Griselda Murray Brown) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6557, until 30 Aug, 2.45pm, £8.50–£8.50 (£7–£8). Faust in the Box ●●●●● Giving Goethe’s classic the hand-puppet treatment in just an hour was never going to be a walk in the park, and unfortunately Bridge Markland has strayed far from the path in this cringeworthy adaptation. The use of pop music to express the characters’ feelings quickly becomes tiresome and the execution of the puppetry is decidedly shaky. (Laura Ennor) Underbelly, 0844 545 8252, until 29 Aug, 4.25pm, £6.50–£10 (£8–£9). Funny ●●●●● There’s a great idea behind Tim Nunn’s new play for Glasgow’s Reeling & Writhing about the army’s use of humour to interrogate suspects. Instead of tackling the clash of comedy and combat head on, however, the playwright gets distracted by his back-story about a comedian being drafted into the Middle East and finishes the play at the very point it should begin. (Mark Fisher) Assembly @ 7 Holyrood Road, 623 3030, until 30 Aug (not 18), 2pm & 6pm, £9.50–£11.50 (£7.50–£9.50). Hamlet ●●●●● A skilfully edited script cuts Shakespeare’s tragedy down to a high-impact 75 minutes without compromising on depth or sentiment. Stylised costumes and set create a slick visual backdrop to the theme of travel and exploration while the youthful cast bring angst and energy to a familiar classic. (Amy Russell) C Chambers Street, 0845 260 1234, until 31 Aug, 7.25pm, £8.50–£10.50 (£7.50–£9.50). Iago ●●●●● Iago re-performs his soliloquies and conversations in a one- man abridgement of Othello. The other characters, filtered through Iago’s perspective, become caricatures, and his own pathology is thrown into relief. This production resists the urge to humanise Iago. Here he is indifferent and Iago is chilling, claustrophobic and eminently watchable. (Griselda Murray Brown) The Zoo, 662 6892, until 31 Aug (not 17), 5.45pm, £10 (£7). King Ubu ●●●●● Runaground theatre adapts Alfred Jarry’s absurdist masterpiece, setting the scene for the rise and fall of their greedy protagonist against the inspired backdrop of a vaudeville theatre. A talented ensemble cast shamelessly over-plays it, capturing with style and pace the more comically ribald elements of Jarry’s work, in this playfully robust take on power and its outrageous (mis)fortunes. (Anna Millar) The Zoo, 662 6892, until 31 Aug (not 17, 24), 10.20pm, £8–£9 (£6.50–£7.50). Lotte’s Gift ●●●●● Three generations of women and their battles with adversity and heartache through music form the basis of this one woman show starring acclaimed classical guitarist Karin Schaupp. Written by David Williamson the piece combines emotive storytelling with haunting melodies to create an uplifting journey into one family’s past. (Amy Taylor) Assembly Rooms, 623 3030, until 31 Aug (not 18), 12.15pm, £12–£13 (£11–£12). Manband – They’re Not A Boyband ●●●●● Like Flashdance set in a supermarket, with flashbacks to The Full Monty, Stuart Price’s play follows ex-boyband member Christian (Chris Grahamson), resurrecting the act to impress his daughter. Teasing with the promise of song and dance numbers, then only delivering one, it’s fun, but would benefit from more heart clutching and leg-sweeping moves. (Claire Sawers) Sweet ECA, 0870 241 0136, until 31 Aug, 6.35pm, £9–£10 (£8–£9). The Montana Ranch ●●●●● A pair of con-men take advantage of President Obama’s green initiative to relieve the environmentally concerned public of a cool $2 million, but come unstuck when one of them gets a conscience after spending a month up a tree with a sexy activist. It’s the kind of misanthropic tale that could have been penned by Neil Labute, though it lacks bite and edge. (Miles Fielder) C Central, 0845 260 1234, until 31 Aug (not 22), 8.05pm, £7.50–£9.50 (£6.50–£8.50). Mother/Son ●●●●● Jeffrey Solomon’s warm, moving monologue depicts the relationship between a young Jewish man and his over-protective mother as she struggles towards accepting his homosexuality. Solomon gives a detailed, almost uncanny, performance as the mother, which derives humour from her initial denial, through tentative acceptance, to out-and-out pride, without ever slipping into caricature. (Allan Radcliffe) Sweet Grassmarket, 243 3596, until 31 Aug (not 17), 5.35pm, £9 (£8). Ophelia (Drowning) ●●●●● A heavy exploration of the many forms of Shakespeare’s tragic character, Ophelia (Drowning) gains much from its setting in a swimming pool. It’s an engaging experiment but perhaps a little too immersive, and the sorrow-stricken experience may leave you craving some quick laughs afterwards. (Yasmin Sulaiman) Sweet Grassmarket Swimming Pool, 0870 241 0136, until 18 Aug, 9.30pm, £8–£10 (£7–£9). Opening Night of the Living Dead ●●●●● Shakespeare and Romero form an unholy alliance in this horror/comedy that depicts a zombie attack on an am-dram production of Romeo and Juliet. Fun, but ultimately
predictable, with often repetitive chase sequences, this piece goes for giggles instead of the jugular. (Amy Taylor) C Cubed, 0845 260 1234, until 31 Aug, 10.45pm, £7.50–£9.50 (£6.50–£7.50). The Origin of Species ●●●●● An excitable young Darwin receives an audience in his study, and keeps the tempo rolling with an hour of life’n’works backstory as he prepares his latest work (The O of S, of course) for publication. As he sings, ‘I’ve got a point to get across’, but acoustic guitar and audience participatory tactics keep the didacticism sweet. (Lizzie Mitchell) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 31 Aug (not 18, 25), 12.15pm, £7 (£5.50). Snatch Paradise ●●●●● This deliberately obnoxious satire on surgically-enhanced sleb culture, in which vacuous magazine-fodder pop tarts are manoeuvred to serve the depravity of a pantomime Svengali manager, contains the odd well-aimed joke. Overall, though, the targets are just too soft to merit the crass, rapid-fire punches being thrown, resulting in an angry, over-the- top production with little heart and even less meaning. (Kirstin Innes) Underbelly, 0844 545 8252, until 30 Aug, 10.05pm, £10.50 (£9.50). The State We’re In ●●●●● A fictionalised account of Brian Haw’s camp in London’s Parliament Square to protest the war in Iraq, foreign policy and threats to our civil liberties. Michael Byrne is compellingly impassioned as a man who has taken on the burden of protesting for the masses, in this didactic performance, which engages both the head and the heart. (Suzanne Black) Assembly Rooms, 623 3030, until 31 Aug (not 18), 12.10pm, £12–£14 (£10–£12). The Stronger ●●●●● From time to time the American accent goes awol, and sometimes this monologue feels a little too LAMDA to really grip the audience, but overall Laura Pradelska carries off her one-woman version of Strindberg’s two-woman play convincingly. Sustained by a deeply disconcerting opening sequence, her Mrs X is compellingly and sometimes magnificently tense. (Lizzie Mitchell) The Spaces on the Mile @ Jury’s Inn, 0845 508 8387, until 31 Aug (not 16, 23, 30), 5.10pm, £5. Woyzeck ●●●●● Three actors jump through (and indeed urinate against) the fourth wall, sometimes with a little too much knowing satisfaction, in this creative adaptation of Georg Büchner’s tragic fragment. The unflappable cast excel at portraying the grotesquery of cuckolded soldier Woyzeck’s world, with some brilliant, if not entirely integrated, music written by Duke Special and Aqualung. (Laura Ennor) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 16 Aug, 2pm, £7–£8 (£5.50–£6.50). The Yellow Wallpaper ●●●●● Enthusiastic production of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s early feminist Gothic story that never quite coheres. A brilliant, sensual central performance by Helen Foster as the creative woman trapped by Victorian gender mores is not enough to paper over patchy direction and a constricting, odd script where the necessary sense of impending menace doesn’t quite build successfully. (Kirstin Innes) C Soco, 0845 260 1000, until 31 Aug (not 17), 11.40am, £7.50–£9.50 (£6.50–£8.50).
13–20 Aug 2009 THE LIST FESTIVAL MAGAZINE 75