off council homes or doing dodgy arms deals. Jenny Frazer's new play Spit revolves around four people: the morally bankrupt business man who loses no sleep over the homeless or twenty drowned sailors in the (iulf. the bored suburban housewife who married this monster. the nice middle class girl with a social conscience and the jobless yob who. surprise. surprise. can have his feelings hurt.

It depresses me that these characters can be so neatly categorized but they do appear to he two dimensional. [Every word that they utter is a Play for Today cliche.

The staging which intersperses naturalistic scenes with a plodding (ireek chorus is similarly uninspiring. It is curiously unphysical and even the stabbing at the climax seems a half hearted fumble. Spit might as well he a radio play. (Lucy (\SlT)

ISpll Signsofl.ife Theatre ('ompany. Southside International. (venue 82) (167 7.3(i5.17ntil 3 Sept (non Suns). 7.55pm. £3.75 (£3).


Jane Thornton has an impressive list of award-winning plays to her name. but her latest one. Handle Wit/i (are. while maintaining her high standard. dances dapgerously close to a doctrinaire treatment.

In an emotional roller-coaster. she catapults her audience through the whole gamut of post-'I‘hatcherite teenage angst: YTS schemes. hopelessness and poverty. as well asthc current social issues of incest and teenage pregnancy. This could all have easily dissolved into dogma. but [)onna Murphy. Lorraine (‘olton Darren Dates and Stuart Emmerson who portray: the part of [immo particularly well keep a tight control over their performances and use the sprinkling of humour to full effect to humanise the plight of each of the four central characters. Ultimately play and production do succeed in highlighting the plight of too many teenagers today (Ron Aitken)

I Handle With Care 8? Springboard. Southside International (Venue 82). Until 3 Sept (not 28) 8.45pm. £3.50 (£2).


‘Ifyou‘d gone around like that during the War you'd have been shot'. an irate woman told Alan ('ampbell as he stalked the streets. swastika armband to the fore. flogging his one-man show. IIis portrayal of Arnold Ilindley. variety artist and impersonatorof Hitler. is. forty-odd years on. still a little close tothe bone.

Having struggled free of the Rosebriar Residence for Senior ('itizens(higher death rate than Belsen) Arnold Ilindley gives his final performance as the Fuhrer of Fun. Alan (‘ampbell‘s portrait of the shaky Yorkshire pensioner is sensitive and there are some taut one-liners. The script tends to ramble a little. however. and we could all have done with a lot lessof Hindley's co-star. Mitzie the Teutonic Superhound. Putting Hitler on stage isa dangerous idea for any company. and when the staging and humour smack a little of the school

play. as these do. it could all end in tears. I-‘ortunately. Abattoir Theatre fail to live up to their name and the show skirts cringes and gaffes to arrive at a credible. if undramatic performance. (Julie Morrice)

I The Third Rule Abbatoir Theatre (‘o. Cafe Royal Bistro Theatre 0836 70-1791 (venue 78). Until 27 Aug. 4.30pm. £3(£2)


From the moment you enter St Martin'sChurch to be greeted by the smell ofjoss sticks. Kaleidoscope Theatre launch an all-out attack or your senses. Highly sophisticated lighting. beautiful costumes and a non-stop musical soundtrack combine to lure us into a semi-mythical world of Ancient China.

Based largely around movement. mime and dance. the 30-strong cast create atmospheric tableaux behind colourful often nightmarish masks. Visual surprises abound a the play explores the classical struggle between good and evil.

At times the story is not totally clear and perhaps there are one or two dances too many. Nonetheless. Kaleidoscope demonstrate their complete control of theatrical device and more

than prove their worth as

Britain‘s foremost mentally handicapped theatre company. (Mark Fisher).

I Tang of the Sea Kaleidoscope Theatre. St Martin's ('hurch (\‘enue 39). 3379714. l'ntil27 Aug (not Suns). 8pm. £2.50 (£2).


Billed as a two-man opera. thouin it is. rather. a piece of musical theatre. this is an adventurous production and. in many ways. a successful one. Interspersing descriptions of the paintings with imagined episodes front his life. the Bosch Project explore the dark and gloomy world of the artist with an admirable lack of fuss. In thisthcy are helped greatly by a superbly designed set: the stage looks like some crazy Boschian fantasy. and even by the venue. a church. We are not quite. however. completely transported back to the 15th century for one ofthe strengths of the production is that it highlights ways in which Bosch's paintings. and the experience of the artist and his contemporaries. are relevant to our own times. Writer and actor Tony Lidington draws. for example. a most effective parallel between the religious intolerance and bigotry of both ages when he delivers a I-‘lagellant sermon in a modulation more than slightly reminiscent of Ian Paisley. Nor are the contemporary references overdone; the AIDS message. although obvious. is almost understated. so it never becomes intrusive.

lam not sure that the music is quite so successful. Played on a variety of instruments. sortie of them. like the Blue Peter Annual ( 1973)

xylophone. home-made. it seemed occasionally to get

in the way of Lidington‘s acting. though never at the crucial moments. so this is a relatively minor quibble. At most times. particularly when more melodic. the music worked fairly well in the supporting role to which it

should have been confined

all ofthe time. All in all.a rewarding production. however. and well worth going to see. (Iain (irant) I The Lite and Times ol Hleronymus Bosch The Bosch Project. Roxburgh Theatre. Roxburgh Place (off South Bridge). Until 28 Aug. 1pm. £3.50 (£2.50).


(‘locktower. a company which comes out of Leicester Polytechnic's School of Performing Arts. have chosen to experiment with Shakespeare's tnost contemplative tragedy. Hum/e1. I'sing Shakespeare's dialogue. which they cut dramatically to fit a one hour slot. the cast of four women present a version ofthe play that works against the psychological grain of the text. The simple but effective set of tie-dye hanging tubes compliments the sty lised presentation of the characters: Claudius. evil htit hearty; ( iertrude. poised and pursing her lips; ()phelia. her head hanging and feet dragging along the ground. Their traits are easily recognisable in a production where the partsare constantly in flux.

There are llashes of brilliance in this women's view of the male dominated world of Iilsinore; Barnardo looking like an apish bouncer: ()phelia screaming at the wrongs done to her: the mask-like faces of the court as they enter the empty space. However the production relies heavily on a good knowledge of Hamlet: without it the sheer speed of the playing becomes bewildering. Too often the text resists the non-psychological interpretation given it. which leads to an unconvincing deflation of Shakespeare‘s play and introduces an uneasy element ofsly self-assurance into the performance.

The fact that the company's interpretation remains ambiguous. works on different levels and poses all sorts of questions about performing Shakespeare. The show is an interesting and bold experiment. (Nicola Robertson)

I Hamlet (‘locktoweL Pleasance 2 (venue 33). 556 6550. Until 3Sept. 10.30pm. £3.50 (£2.50).


lna is less attractive than her sister ( am and makes a bad match partly to escape from duties at home. A picture of women's low expectations develops through a series ofshort scenes. many of which go over the same ground. Danny the hard man desperate to make his mark. the family constrained by poverty. the ('hurch. a girl‘s need to keep a good reputation. the brother I Iugh eager to become an adult before his time. are all re-iterated. Marie Binnie‘s Ina grows intoa poignant performance as her situation goes from bad to worse. There are ironic questions raised. but few answers given in this moving study of inescapany repressed lives. ()n such a small stage. the use of fewer props might have made it more streamlined and hard hitting. whilst releasing the actors to express the emotions behind these repetitive. ritualistic actions. More allowance might also be made for audience intelligence. (Tinch Minter)

I Can Ye Sew Cushions? ('lyde t.'nity Theatre. Masonic Lodge (venue

41 ) 225 729-1. 20. 23. 30 Aug. 1.3 Sept. b.30pm.£3 (£2)


Aboriginal poet Jack Dan‘s play Kit/lurk leaves no doubt that the ‘real Australian story ' is hardly worthy of bi-centennial furore. A contemporary Aboriginal family are placed against a backdrop of their history in white Australia 7- 200 years. 27 characters. 7 cast (all white) and 70s‘ rock music from a neighbouring show. (‘an it be done'.’ The answer. in the ease of South I Iampton

L'nive rsity Theatre Group is yes. They manage to retain the play’s authenticity. and the performers prove their versatility in a numberof

3’ E E 2

roles each. A good first act is. however. a little let down by the second. where the play loses its rhythm amongst the dialogue and white characters stray close to caricature. It does. however. regather. and there is the added bonus ofSteven Pcarle’s beautifully sung ballads. If you don‘t know the real story. here's your chance. (Suzanne (iibson)

I Kullark Southhampton l.'niversity Theatre (iroup. Pleasance (venue 33) 556(155“. I'ntil 3 Sept. 2pm. £3 (£2).


What can you say about a play that gives grateful thanks to the officers and inmatesof I IMP Dartmoor? Michael Sambridge. who plays Bobby. has written a first play that takes place in Aldershot Barracks and a central Iiuropean training site in the mid 1070s. As you enter the theatre. a four ntan squad is standing at case like a display at Madame 'l'assaud’s. but not for long. A lot ol military hardware and equipment is strewn about the stage and the play crs manage to execute a lot of movement in a little space. So. what does happen when two men end up in a trench dressed for chemical and nuclear combat and they think the balloon really has gone up‘.’

This play on the horrors of modern warfare is challenging and worth watching. although it would hay e been more effective it Sappcr Bates' character was more developed. (‘lill I’arisi is very good as Bates and Katie Baring. making her debut. played a soldier. his wife and several instruments including a bottle. (Kerry Napuk)

I Two Men in a Trench Blind Summit. Assembly Rooms ( Venue 3 ) 22!» 2427. Ifntil 3 Sept. 12 noon. £4(£3).


In Iiden Song. Sue I.cnier's vision is of a dark and barren wasteland where man and woman have grown apart.

In an all-absorbing quest. two men try v'ariotis methods to beget children having forgotten how to procreate. However. even after having trapped a woman. they fail to recognise her as such until. slowly. the secret of

fertility is revealed.

Although set in

The List 2 l5 September lUHb' 17