AROUND THE FRINGE
THE NORMAL HEART
The Normal Heart. receiving its Scottish premiere atthe Mandela Theatre. is already dated— butas a historical play. charting the raising oi consciousness about AIDS in America. it is not without considerable interest. lnevitably. it relates the American experience with the disease -which. bythe time it crossed the Atlantic. we could see coming (not thatwe learnt too many lessons irom it. so we have less excuses). What remains. though. is a tender love story atthe centre oi the play between crusading gay activist Ned Weeks (alter ego torthe author. Larry Kramer) and Felix Turner. his loverwho contractsthe disease. As the play reveals the shattering personal eiiects olAIDS. it puts it intoa heartbreaking human scale that is harrowing. and all but overcomes both the excesses oi sentimentality and politicizing that otherwise threaten to diiluse a riveting drama. The Focus Theatre Company production is not quite as highly charged as the Royal Court version (later also seen in the West End). but it boasts periormances oi considerable commitment. particularlylrom Ronald Aitken as Hed. John Hamage as Felix and Fiona Farley as Dr Emma Brookner (the only iemale lnthe cast). (Mark Shenton). o The Normal Heart. Focus Theatre Company (Scotland). Mandela Theatre. The Gateway Exchange. 2—4 Abbeymount. 652 0l8|. Until 29 Aug (not Sun). £4.50 (£3.75)
You'd think the perenially popularsubjects oi war. women. and peace had long ago been exhausted by the writers oi the Fringe. but Red Stockings. a iive women theatre company irom Manchester at least rearrange the material in a pleasing manner.
Combining outspoken sketches attacking the exploitation oi the ‘weaker' sex with musical diatribes. the cast present diverse cases oi oppression. The auxiliary workers oi the Great War. the suddenly ambitious company secretary thwarted by male management, and the downtrodden Kelly. victim oi her yobbish boyiriend. are all cited as examples.
Some excellent songs. appealineg blunt humour. and immense sympathy with the trials and
tribulations oi womankind will doubtless lind this musical lriends amongst audiences oi both sexes. (Helen Davidson)
0 Red Stockings. Breaking Rank. Pleasance Theatre. 60the Pleasance. (venue 60).5566550.Aug. 9.11. 13. 15. 18. 20. 22. 5pm. £3 (£2.50)
THE YELLOW WALLPAPER
AuthorCharlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935)wasa ieminist pioneer and remains a heroine oithe women's movement. This show is an adaptationior one actress oi hermost iamous short story.
A woman incarcerated ior a rest-cure by her well-meaning doctor husband in a hideously decorated room submits graduallyto paranoic delusions, which culminate in hertearing downthe wallpaperto releasethe imaginary womantrapped behind it. This symbolic emancipation is alas an escape notirom her predicament butlrom sanity: Gilman‘s autobiographical despair with socio-sexual repression. One mightwish iormore variety oi tone and pacing irom Ms Kurowski's periormance; this would add credence to thetinal plunge into hysteria. but her portrayal oi the brinkoi madness is committed and torthe mostpart convincing.
Coincidentallythis Festival Hogwash Theatre Company presented Willpower and Wallpaper, (run now iinished). a biographical musical devised by the company which attempted to compare Gilman's Iile with herworks.
Despite sound. inventive dramatic technique. the show was rather clumsily assembled. lacking dynamic direction and locus. It wastoo slow and lengthy. and only two oithe iive actresses possessed the technical precision demanded by the script. Pete Rosser’s music. however, was excellent and well sung; and humourdid much to lighten the tone. (Andrew Bumet)
o The Yellow Wallpaper. Mary Kurowski. Southside lntemational. 117 Nicolson Street. (Venue 82). 667 7365. Until 29 Aug. 5.50pm.
BLOOOWARD AND HER BROTHER
ll Bloodward and Her Brother is any indication. The Works — an enterprising and ambitious new Cambridge company
devoted to producing new workirom within theirranks - are going to prove a iorce to be reckoned with. A remarkably assured iirst play. this production is also superbly directed bythe author Kate Coiiey to achieve something quite remarkable. Serious yet accessible. and wonderiully periormed. it is set in a conventschooland concerns (the programme states rather ominously) the girls ‘body image underthe indoctrination oithe Iemale-dominated but patriarchal religious system'. But it is lessa leminist tract than an observant. oiten amusing story about theirgrowing pains. (Mark Shenton)
o Bloodward and Her Brother. The Works Theatre Co-operative. Chaplaincy Centre. Bristo Square (Venue 23). 20. 22 Aug at 5pm. 24-29 Aug at8.30pm
THE RUFFIAN ON THE STAIR
This briel, desolate early Orton play is a typically teasing tale oi a sexually provocative stranger invading a couple‘s bleak liie. At a time when Orton's lite (and more particularly his death) ratherthan his work is the subject oi celebration on both screen (Prick Up Your Ears) and stage (The Orton Diaries) this comes as a timely revival to see where he started out. A bit like a drait torthe lull-length Entertaining Mr. Sloane, this was his iirstplay. Though lull oi good one-liners. it is more sad than iunny. In Heliei Theatre's production, John Michie is the attractive stranger and Noreen Kershaw and Philip Whitchurch a brilliantly lecherous pair. (Mark Shenton)
o The Ruiiian on the Stair. RelieiTheatre, HeriotWatt Theatre. 30 Grindlay Street. (Venue 7) 229 3574. £3.50 (£2.50)
lncongruous. but successiully so, John Downie's CYBORG combines elements oiiolk lore and sci-ii. the play. set somewhere in the (not too) distant iuture. shows the earth back in a state oi original chaos. devoid oi light. love and humanity. The uncanny. beautilul iolk music. written and periormed by Kneehigh Theatre company, emphasizes the monstrous inhumanity oi man to man in a world where love is toxicity. and happiness pure hypothesis. (Helen Davidson)
0 Cyborg. Kneehigh Theatre. Theatre Workshop.
49 Blackfriars Street. Edinburgh Off the High Street. (Royal Mile)
SCOTLAND’S FOLK 8i TRADITIONAL SPECIALISTS
SALE NOW ON! RECORDS TAPES INSTRUMENTS BOOKS
Information on all
Festival Folk Events
Tel: 031 557 3090
Open Ham—5.30pm Mon—Sat
ACA PPELLA COCKTAIL
, Heriot-Watt Theatre
30 Grindlay Street
Box Office: 229 3574
12. midnight (1.10am) 10th - 29th August (except Sundays)
ACA PPELLA SANDWICH VENUE '71
Box Office: 556 7066 £1.50
FOUR SOLO CONCERTS BY
INSPIRED COMPOSER. ACERBIC LYRICIST. AND LEGENDARY GUITARISTI
SATURDAY 22~o AUGUST AT II.45PM * LATE-NIGHT * SUNDAY 23RD / TUESDAY 25TH /WEDNESDAY 26TH :9.30PM
GEORGE STREET BOX OFFICE / CREDIT CARDS 031-226 2427/8 I
MICHELLE- SIIIIIIIIEII .
"AMERICAN MUSIC OF STUNNING SIMPLICITY. HARKING US BACK TO THE DAYS WHEN ONE ACOUSTIC GUITAR AND A VOICE WAS CONSIDERED THE MOST EFFECTIVE TOOL FOR THE TRANSMISSION OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE."
WEDNESDAY 26TH TO SATURDAY 29TH AUGUST.
I'he IN 31 .\Ilj_‘ 3 Sept 17