moments after Eva's death.
OUT ON A LIMB
Robert Dawson Scott on the problems of going solo.
You have to be very careful with this ‘()ne-man-show’ sobriquet. In the first place half of them are being performed by women. And while there may be only one performer there are frequently many characters: Paul Alexander has Jesus. John the Baptist. twelve disciples and half the population ofJerusalem to cope with in his telling ofSt John‘s Gospel. Then there are all the others in the production team. Jack Klaffmay be the only person on stage but he insists that his show Stand Up.’ is a team effort and points to no less than three directors. And what about this word 'show“? It might be alright for Elizabeth Mansfield's performance as Marie Lloyd to be a show but it could be very misleading for Manfred Karge‘s Man to Man. hardly an all-singing all-dancing affair. The performer in that play. Tilda Swinton. and several other solo performers. prefer to describe their offering as ‘a play with a cast of one”.
Even when you get past the tricky business of nomenclature. the number ofstyles and subterfuges used to exploit the advantages and minimise the disadvantages of having just one person on stage are as many and varied as the performers themselves. Some could be said to cheat: the show about Jane Austen has two other characters as taped voice-overs and Andrew 'l‘ansey in his Kafka-based piece The Greatest Ape has a jazz guitarist in the corner. Some go to elaborate lengths to recreate a period.
Others. like Sam (iraham in The Prowler take a live bird of prey on stage with them which. in the confined space of the Traverse‘s downstairs space. should concentrate the minds of the audience wonderfully. It‘s clear that a solo performance is a daunting affair. Those who have done it before. like Klaff and Peter Wear. who returns with Our Man in Marzihah after his successful Legend ofRohin Hood four years ago. will tell you that ‘it‘s pretty lonely in the dressing room'.
There are advantages to the form which go beyond the obvious one of focusing an audience’s attention very precisely. For Tilda Swinton the form of Man Io Man is. in large measure. the content. ‘It‘s a play about a woman who cannot communicate with anyone. You just couldn‘t have anyone else on stage.‘ Klaffdidn‘t start off
wanting to write for one — his first modest success.
Nagging Doubts. was originally written for a cast ofeighteen — but there are times when it fits; ‘Kafka loved one-man shows so it seemed appropriate that a show about him should be a solo‘. For most of the solo performers in this year's Festival. however. their reasons for being here are rather less artistically subtle. For Mary Jo Randle ‘it's the last mattress between you and complete unemployment.‘ She put together her memoirs of sex and the schoolgirl while
she was getting bored playing bit parts at the RSC. ‘Now I just do it whenever there‘s a silence in the conversation‘. Josee Konijn is doing her lira Peron as part of the long graft to get an Equity card. ‘It does attract a lot ofattention
from casting directors' concedes Andrew Tansey.
And. ofcourse. at Edinburgh in particular. they may strike it lucky with a rave review or TV exposure. One thing is certain. as you comb through your programme: you will never find a greater concentration of this singular form of theatre than here.
0 COMPANY. Beckett's 1980 novel about being alone in the dark and inventing company for himself. was seized on by solo performers worldwide. This adaptation is by leading Beckett expert Katharine Worth and a British premiere. performed by Julian Curry and directed by well-known actorTim Piggott-Smith. Venue 22. 9-29 Aug. Times vary. Not in the Fringe programme.
0 ACTS OF GOD Acts otthe Apostles. actually. latest instalment in the burgeoning business of Bible reciting. Lance Pierson uses a modern translation. Venue 114. 10-15Aug 3.15pm
0 THE GREATEST APE has learned to speak. But he has news about the nature of captivity and freedom for his supposed captors. Based on a Kafka short story. Venue 114. 17-22 Aug 7.05pm.
0 DEARLY BELOVED The title gives away MaryJo Randle's Catholic girlhood aboutwhich she kept copious diaries. Imagine Edna O'Brien in 1970s Rochdale, but funnier. Venue 3. 7-15 Aug 2pm.
3) o MARIE-THE STORY OF MARIE LLOYD. the first mass audience star, and first to fall prey to the now familiartraumas of success. Lots of familiar songs included. Venue 7. 10-22 Aug 2.30pm 0 EVA PERON. not in person but as described by an oyente, one of Evita's stand-ins, to a joumallst,
Venue 114. 21 .22 Aug 10.30am. 24-26 Aug 5.30pm.
0 YOURS EVER. JANE AUSTEN is researched. written and performed by a confirmed ‘Janeite‘. principallyfor schools touring. Venue 28.
o STAND UP! Jack Klatf. acknowledged master ofthe solo. is back with two brothers confronting our increasingly perplexing knowledge of the physical universe. Venue 3. 7-28 Aug (not 17) 6pm.
0 OUR MAN IN MARZIBAH Shades of William Boyd as former cabaret performer Peter Wear romps through a collection of colonial jolly japes. Venue 33. 7-22 Aug 2.30pm.
0 AS MISS DOROTHY PARKER ONCE SAID . . . and every word is Miss Parker's. Expect more than a fusillade of immaculate one-liners though; Miss Parker's was “a sad, troubled and lost person’ according to performer Sheila Reid. Venue St Cecilia's Hall (ElF)19-23 Aug 3pm.
0 AS THE WIND ROCKS THE WAGON, the wagontrain heads west. in mid 19th- century America. American actress Amy Warner brings you what the wives of the pioneers thought of it all. Venue 82.10-29 Aug (not Suns) 2pm.
0 MARIE OF SCOTLAND Same queen. different spelling. W. Gordon Smith's version of the tale was well-received first time round some years ago. Performed byfirst-rate Scots actress Maureen Beattie. Venue 87.19-22. 25. 26 Aug 7.30pm.
0 POWER AND HOW TO GET IT Bogus expert B.H.G. Gromek gives a blackly comic lecture on the nature of powerfrom the great dictators downwards. Venue 78.10-29 Aug (not Suns) 4.30pm.
0 ESCAPING THE PAGE, or ‘not just standing there mumbling into a book' is Brian Patten's aim in his show; not so much a poetry reading. Venue 3.17-29 Aug 6pm.
0 THRALIANA Ex TV presenter Oenone Williams says she's left the sexy hits out of her life of remarkable 18th century hostess and intellectual HesterThrale
(apparently her good friend DrJohnson was into bondage and la Thrale did the bonding) but itstill promises much. Venue 28. 20-29 Aug 3pm.
0 THE WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN Astonishineg there are two quite different shows in this year’s Fringe with this title. This is the one about Gerrard Winstanley and the Diggers. a bit of English Civil War history you should know more about. Venue 7910-15 and 24-29 Aug 1pm.17-22 Aug 7pm.
0 BOZZY Revival (it originally won a Fringe First in 1981) of Frederic Mohr's justly praised life of Boswell. Venue 11. 10-22 Aug at 6.50pm. 22-29 Aug 1.35pm.
0 MR JOCK. W.Gordon Smith's unfashionably
. accurate picture of the Scottish squaddie. is back.
twenty years older but no
wiser. Russell Hunterat his
considerable best. Venue 88. 7-29 Aug (notSuns) 7.30pm.
0 THE DIVINE SARAH BERNHARDTAh. yes. but will the Oxford Theatre Group do the whole show on
one leg? Venue 19. 9-29
Aug (not Suns) 2.15pm. 0 ILIAD — THE BATTLE FOR
TROY Richard lngham braves Homer's great 0 classic. The Iliad. ina ’ vigorous early morning production. Venue 126 10-15Aug 10.35am.
o TUMULT Acclaimed stage adaptation of a Botho Strauss novel about a child of the war caughtbetween memories of the previous generation and rejection by the next. A success in Vienna. Berlin and SaIzburg (in German), Alexander Waechter now bravely tackles an English version. Venue 3. 7-16 Aug 6pm.
10-22 Aug 10.30am.
0 THE PROWLER First British performance ofany work by French enfant terrible Enzo Cormann. Nasty little tale of psychotic killer. but a strongteam (translator. Jim Kelman; director. Jeremy Raison; performer Sam Graham) could produce a winner. Venue 15. 7-29 Aug (not Mons) Times vary.
0 OUEST gets my personal prize forthe most pretentious blurb on the Fringe‘ . . . perhaps we can again be in touch with the unicorn. . . ’etc. Butblurb isn't everything. Venue 114. 27-29 Aug 6pm.
0 DOWN THE CLINICAL DISCO/FORGIVENESS (not EH JOE. changed sincethe programme was published) Caroline Weaver takes short stories by Fay Weldon and Rebecca Brown. Comes trailing gloryfrom early try-outs in Leeds. Venue 126. 24-29 Aug 6.25pm.
o SCHUMMANIC is one of the cheating solo shows because as well as Michael Wilcox's Schumann there is a pianist who becomes his beloved Clara. Penelope Roskell. for it is she. doesn't speak though. just plays Schumann’s delicious music. So that's alright. Venue 33. 7-22 Aug (not Suns) 4pm.
0 ST JOHN'S GOSPEL You knowthe story. Paul Alexander keeps to the authorised version. every word. Soon to be a major motion picture. apparently. shot on the orginal locations. Venue 114. 10-15Aug 5.20pm.
0 MAN TO MAN Awoman assumes the persona of her dead husband. a crane operator in Nazi Germany. The beautiful Tilda Swinton. who also appears in three Film Festival screenings. gives an excellent performance of this play. Venue 15. 4.5.8-29 Aug (not Mons) Times vary.
0 ALMOST PERSUADED is whatAnnie Griffin is not by the myths of the Country and Western ethos. Why should
the women always stand by their men? Venue 15. 18-23 Aug 2pm. 25-29 Aug 8pm. BUD has to decide whether he married Myrna. ten years his senior. for love or money. A Cornish background contributes an atmosphere of brooding fate. Venue 15. 11-29 Aug. Times vary.
0 PERSEUS Story otthe Greek superhero as told by Zeus (aka Michael McGrory) as a spiteful 6 year old. which is. after all. how he usually behaves. Venue 102.10-29 Aug 5pm.
0 JONAS FISHER wasthe eponymous hero of an 1875 novel by one ofScotland’s neglected Victorian poets. James Carnegie. Judge for yourselfwhetherthe neglect is justified as Mr Fisher makes his priggish progression among the poor. Venue 24. 10-12 and 20-26 Aug 2.30pm.
0 A COLD DAY IN HELL Described by the performer as ‘Krapp's Last Tape on video'. Father makes a home video to explain to the children why he wants to switch off mummy's life support system. Venue 57 10-29 Aug (not Suns) 4pm.
The List 7 — 20 August 7