At last year‘s Festival. wiry Canadian Kerry Shale, played more than a dozen characters in an adaptation of John Kennedy Toole’s A Confederacy of Dances. This summer. with cutomary versatility,
he says he‘ll be bringing ‘Iast year’s
5 show turned inside out.‘
Dreaming of Babylon. set in San Francisco in 1942. is the tale ofa weird private eye who thinks he’s living in a movie, adapted by Shale from Richard Brautigan’s novel. It will be ‘subtler and funnier’ than last year’s triumph which played to full houses and transferred to London as part of Perrier‘s Pick ofthe Fringe’. ‘Subtle ’5 probably the kiss ofdeath,’
‘ Shale adds immediately,finding it
hard to explain that a sub-Bogart
crime melodrama could be dark as well as absurd. ‘This private eye, C. Card, is sitting in his room losing his mind. or maybe dreaming. Shadows
- keep closing in on him, Mexicans are
' in theshadows, light bulbs are
i exploding. . . . he's so poor he spends
' the frist act asking everyone he can
- thinkoffor bulletsfor his gun. . . . it seems comic, but the character ’3
. panicking more and more as the play goes on. ’
. Dreaming of Babylon is, in form at least. a reversal of last year’s one man show however. Confederacy was ‘more about character than plot’
I with cameos ofequal importance,
whereas Dreaming focuses on one man beset by a cast of personified twists in the story. Five foot four inches, Kerry Shale will, as usual, be
‘ playing all the parts— but he’ll be
playing them, as it were, through the
i eyes of his bafﬂed hero.
E Going mad in the Festival is still a
l challenge for Shale. ‘It takes more
i courage this year. Last time it could
. have been a disaster and I would
have chalked it up to experience.‘ (Stephanie Billen) Dreaming of Babylon, Kerry Shale, Theatre WorkshOp (venue 20) 34 Hamilton Place. Tickets 226 5425. A ug 11 -30 (not Suns). Preview Aug 95pm £2. 75 (£2.25).
14 The List 8 - 21 August
THE GIFT OF THE GAB
One of the most charming characters from last year’s Festival Fringe was a ‘clarty-bum’d’, but nonetheless debonair puddok. This frog (to use
i his anglicized name), took to the
boards in Theatre Alba’s Braid Scots pantomime The Puddok An' The Princess. The production, a mixture of fairyland fantasy and bawdy comedy, won the company a Fringe First.
Theatre Alba’s aim is to present shows in the original Braid Scots, which artistic director Charles Nowosielski sees as ‘undoubtedly the richer language for us to express ourselves in theatrically’.
Their new play, Alexander Reid’s comedy The Lass WI’ The Muckle Mou', recounts a border-raider’s choice between the gallows and marriage to Meg, an unfortunate lassie with an obtrusive mouth.
: Meg’s father, Sir Gideon, is a good ? example of the male characters
5 whom Nowosielski derides as ‘chauvinist pigs, so weak and so
Proving Nowosielski’s claim that
5 the play is ‘as populist as possible’, it
has been translated into numerous foreign languages, including even
Serbo-Croat, and was used for many % years by the Moscow Arts Theatre as a training play. Needless to say the
play has a gudely dollop of ricth observant Scots humour into the bargain. (Helen Davidson)
The Lass Wi The Muckle Mou’, Theatre Alba, Edinburgh Suite, Assembly Rooms, 54 George Street (venue3) 8—30Aug (not Suns) 6pm. £4 (£3) Rickets: 226 2427/8. [F]
THE SIDOUP STAND UP
Funny clothes, regional accents and cute catchphrases figure little in Roy Hutchins’ one-man show. Dressed in
a suspiciously normal tennis shirt, he , seems every inch the nice boy next door.
But this Sidcup-born comedian is
anything but innocuous - he
specialises in making the audience squirm. The anonymous facade soon dissolves and the embarrassingly personal is mercilessly exposed. Hutchins’ subject matter is autobiographical or seemingly so: family meals, school pranks, masturbation, his relationship with Jackie and bedsit blues. If all this
sounds rather mawkish, his gift is to elicit from the audience that unmistable shudder of recognition - that terrible sense of ‘I’ve done/said/felt that too’.
And he makes a memorable figure with his bursts of physical energy and his wonderfully expressive hands which spread around the stage like white tarantulas. (Robert Sakula) Roy Hutchins, Wildman Room, Assembly Rooms, 54 George Street (venue 3) 8—23 Aug 10pm £4 (£3.50) Tickets: 226 242 7/8. [F]
PLAYING FOR TIME
When Geese Theatre Company present The Plague Game in the Mandela Theatre, it will be an unusual experience for them; usually they appear in prisons. The American company, directed by John Bergman spend months at a time on long, physically gruelling tours of US penitentiaries playing before the inmates to tremendous acclaim.
Their guiding line seems to be a belief in the therapeutic power of
1 art. Sarah Braikie, who spent nine
months touring with the company. attributes their success to their willingness to learn from their audiences what they needed to see;
Their shows deal with hard subjects head on — like the self-image of criminals or the difﬁculty of adapting to release. The Plague Game takes on the pressures on family relationships and the strain of visits.
Also at the Mandela, Leeds Women’s Theatre Group take on life behind bars from a different angle. Women Imprisoned tells the stories of several women and their experiences in prison, based on the accounts of seven women they interviewed over long periods of time.
‘We didn’t go into it thinking, we’re going to have a go at the system,’ explains administrator Louise Doughty, ‘But the same stories emerged again and again. Stories about the high level of drugging— far higher than in men’s prisons — about brutality and strip-searching. If we make a few people think, then it’s worth it. But most important of all is that the women feel that at last their stories have been told.’ (Sarah Hemming) The Plague Game, Geese Theatre Company. 11—23 Aug, 10—11.30pm. £3 (£2) [Fl Women Imprisoned, Leeds Women ’s Theatre Group. 11—16 Aug. 4—5.30pm. £2.50 (£1.50) [F]
Both at Mandela Theatre ( venue 79) The Gateway Exchange, 24 Abbeymount. Tel: 661 0982.
AS YOU LIKE IT
Glasgow’s tiny sassy touring company TAG has already gained an enviable reputation for mounting accessible productions that are intelligent and full of energy. But their production of As You LIke II will move them into pastures new.
The whole thing has been co-ordinated wit the help of a dance choreographer. Director Ian Brown
Robin Sneller: Mayakovsky
invited Liz Ingram of Rotating Dancers ‘not just to work on dance, but to come into rehearsal and make actors aware of movement as part of the way that they communicate.’ He also called on composer Richard Sissons — who wrote the music for TAG’s earlier production of Hard Times — to compose new music, for what is one of the most musical of Shakespeare’s comedies. The production, mounted as a play within a play ‘to point up the plays’ ironies’ promises to be a dynamic, tightly structured piece of theatre. As You Like It, TA G, Assembly Rooms (venue 3) 54 George Street, 226 2427/8. 18—30 Aug (notsun 24) 4—5.40pm. £4 (£3). [F]
ONE MAN AND HIS DOG
Does every actor have a one-man show tucked away somewhere? Steve Owen and Robin Sneller, friends on and offstage, are dusting theirs off for the shop-window of the Fringe and share the extraordinary Jacobean refectory at Heriot School for a venue.
Owen’s is a classic test for an actor, switching instantaneously between two sides of a paranoid
schizophrenic. It is nothing less than a one-man encapsulation of Hogg’s nightmarish masterwork Confessions of a Justiﬁed Slnner. Owen has made portrayals of Robert Wringhim, the novel’s tortured central character, a speciality in recent years, playing him in two previous stage adaptations and now reviving his one-man version after its successful tour of Hogg country last autumn. ‘I’ve laid the ghost low now,’ says Owen. ‘The first time I played him I got very moody. The second time I distanced myself too far from the
character. Now I’m approaching him :
in the right way.‘
Sneller’s Mayakovsky-A Tragedy works on a more straightforward level with well chosen excerpts from the Russian revolutionary and futurist’s own poetry and prose and Iashings of Sneller’s brand of boundlesscommitment.
To be fair, Sneller is genuinely fascinated by Mayakovsky and originally compiled the show while he was still at drama school. ‘I really enjoy doing it. All that stuff about “throwing Pushkin, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky and the rest overboard