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Return of 1 less.‘ a mother. husband. daughter and newsboy overlook a spear wielding viking in drag and get slayed while moaning about their troubles. In ‘The Brannock Device.‘ (‘IA agents and foreign spies bumble through their appointed tasks. In "TV: Transcendental \'egetatiori.' various television shows and commercials are sent tip. Sounds dreadful? It is. If this is meant to be absurd comedy about the soft American underbelly. it fails because it is not funny. As none of the plays are introduced. you have to figure out what you were watching. The poor audience did not know if a scene was over or the play had finished. forcing some applause every time the theatre went dark. liven though the performers try their best. the material frankly is embarassing. (Kerry Napuk)
I Temporary Lucidity Third Step Theatre (‘ompany of New York (‘ity. Moray llouse Ifnion (Venue ltlS‘) 5565184. l'ntil 3 Sept. (not Sundays). ltlpm. £2 (£1 ).
BLOOD ON THE NECK OF THE CAT
'l he altcr'native title. ‘Marily n Monroe Versus the \'ainpir'es' was an elusive element of l-assbimler's play but his picture of a society both sick and grasping was all there. Phoebe Zeitgeist wings in from outer space and takes a crash course in human relationships. Playing a fly on the wall at key moments. as time after time relationships turn sour or echo with hollowncss. she picks up human language by learning from these exchanges. But the language is not the code; when she returns these phrases to their ‘owners' they are shocked into literally eating their words.
()n a set which was at times an obstacle course. questions about personal image and reality came across like drum beats. Some of the direction was inventive and witty as simple truths about human relationships were revealed in all their nakedness. A seething. involving production ofa kaleidoscopic piece. each encountera coloured fragment in a black world. (Tinch Minter)
I Blood on the Neck ofthe Cat Kazzum. Festival (Tub. (venue 36) 220 2278. Until 3 Sept (not Sun) 4.30pm. £3.50.
THANK YOUR LUCKY STARS
This student company have previously won Fringe First awards; but this latest production seems to be not ofthe same calibre. The most notable element in this heavily turgid kitehensink drama was the appearance of a real. live kitchen sink on stage.
The storyline is so weird it leaves you goggling. Robert. an ungainly. smirking youth enters the life of the reclusive Monty and Jeff. imagining himself drawn there by Madame Zelda and the stars. Monty inﬂicts himself upon the boy. delighted to have found someone naive enough not to guess at his painful insecurities and inadequacy. Tragedy strikes when Madame Zelda leaves behind her knitting. climbs on topof Robert and insists that he get rid of the offending Monty and Jeff. Robert dutifully does as he's told. and proceeds to re-enact llungerford.
It's all remarkably silly. and rather a waste of effort on the part of both audience and cast. ( l lelen Davidson)
I Thank Your Lucky Stars lissex University Theatre (‘ompany . The lidge. (venue 1 lo) 26 Aug 2.30pm: also (‘anongate Lodge. (venue 5) 2‘). 31 Aug & 2 Sept (i.3()pm £3.5()(£2.5())
AGONY FOR BEGINNERS/ GRIEF UNDER CONTRACT.
There‘s a TV sketch in which Tracey Tillman plays a young wife who explains to the expectant camera that the greatest problem of her married life has been all the television documentaries. In (irief Under Contract. the second oftwo engaging new short plays by Inside Leg. the company takes a less frivolous look at the voyeuristic nature of the ‘ny-on-the-wall' documentary. A close- knit family of five share the emptiness and pressures of unemployment with an unresponsive film crew until a domestic tragedy brings into sharp focus the contrast between real life and ‘good‘ television. Beforehand. the first play. Agony for Beginners. has taken us through lesson number one in a night school class
for would-be Agony Aunts. lt isthe less successful of the two plays ifonly because it fails to convince us that Problem Pages are of any serious social consequence. At times it becomes a rather dry debate between talking heads. but it is repeatedly rescued by moments of wit and energetic clashesof character. (irief L'nder (‘ontract has a similar »- though much less severe ~ tendency to be overly explicit. but here the deftly drawn picture of family life quickly strikes a chord and pulls us in. A diverting and pleasantly satisfying couple of plays. (Mark Fisher).
IAgony For Beginners/GrietUnder Contract lnside Leg. Festival (’lub (Venue 3(3). 22(12278.L'ntil3Sept. 8pm. £3.25 (£2.75).
—I ADAPT 0R DYE
lt's disturbing in itselfthat South Africa‘s most radical white comedian is middle-aged. balding and wearing a smart suit. Not for him the madcap rantings we had rather hoped for. Pieter-Dirk l'ys remains calm and affable throughout (though some of his wide repertoire ofcaricatures do transport themselves a little)and is thus impossible to dismiss as irrational or deluded. This satirical expose of apartheid and censorship is hard to take: comedy that really hurts. and definitely unfunny monologues that are far too true to be good. ‘No more jokes left'. he saysat one point. ‘just the facts.‘
Nor is liberal complacency left unmolested. (‘l lypocrisy.‘ L'ys suggests. 'is the vaseline of political intercourse.) The P. W. Botha routine (among his best impersonations) is a subtle dig at all ethnic oppression. and Ulster is among its targets. (‘hanging into drag towards the end of his act allows L'ys to conclude with a delightful (and surprisinglyaccurate) Maggie T. whose gestures strangely resemble those ofP.W. It's not funny. (Andrew Burnet) IAdapt 0r Dye Pieter-Dirk L'ys. Run at Traverse finished. ('an be seen at the Hackney Empire. London on 34 Sept.
It‘s post socialist Britain. and a lot of nasty people are on the make. flogging
16'l'hel.is12 — 15 September WSS