Wes Shrum gets a view of pornography from two angles.
Knock-on laughs are back with the auspicious formation of the ()nan team which will — predictably and justifiably — pack the Wildman Room for the duration. The brilliant Robert Llewellyn winds up versatile John McKay and both spin loose for an hour and three endings. The pair has a deal of trouble writing unfunny
Rick Hardkiss is the kind ofguy who plants a virus in your mainframe before he quits work. Dennis meets his men‘s group for ‘supportive shopping experiences‘. His personal vendetta
against third-form tormentor Rick takes the form ofOnan. a right-on. profit-sharing girly mag. Dennis shows us how to melt Men Only into a puddle of New Age sentiments. then answers the question ‘How do you take pics of a naked woman in a subversively ironical way?‘ Backwards and trembling. after you piss her off. In spite of his best efforts. Onan succeeds like Springtime For Hitler. selling a million a month to lefties who look and care. But it only hits home for two truckers in an uproarious series set in the Assembly Rooms' first ten-wheeler.
We have no idea what all this says about pornography. a serious subject treated with sociological precision by Trouble and Strife at the Pleasance. Next to You I Lie is a gently political piece written and performed by a London-based group of four women. It is better than most textbook introductions to the slippery slope from Page Three to razors and spreadeagles. A brief series of interactions between a model. her mother. her friend, and her booking agent raises
the most significant questions about the effects of voyeurism without preaching or offering simplistic solutions. The makeup scene. warm and casual. contrasts favorably with Scandal's gunfighters. The absence of easy characterisation reflects a great deal ofvigorous research and might lead you to rethink your position. It did Linda Lusardi. believe it or not.
The contrast with Onan (a male two-hander?) could hardly be greater. Thematically similar. Onan is the champagne ofsatyrs. Next to You is the double espresso. In Fringe Heaven where gender and genre collide. this pair will play it
I Onan (Fringe) Robert Llewellyn & John McKay. Assembly Rooms (Venue 3). 226 2428. 14 Aug—2 Sept. 2pm. £4.50 (£4)
I Next to You I Lie (Fringe) Trouble and Strife. Pleasance (Venue 33). 556 6550. 10—27 Aug.
SCHISM IN ENGLAND
It's quite a trick to find tragedy in history. but in Calderon's Schism In ling/and. John Clifford has uncovered a Eurocentric viewof Henry VIII that putsthe King at the centre ofa web of catastrophe.
Stricken with the near fatal ﬂaw of misplaced love for the beautiful Anne Boleyn. Henry lets himself be duped by the power-crazed Cardinal Wolsey into foresaking his wife and taking Boleyn for his new Queen. Like a game of chess. each character challenges the other. and in so doing risk theirown downfalls.
linlike stagingsof Shakespeare. a contemporary of Calderon. translator John Clifford is able to use modern. accessible language while remaining true to the style and structure ofthe original. The play is built around a series of long declamatory speeches. occasionally vergingon the melodramatic. that have as much to do with the art oforatory as they do drama. John Burgess' cool and measured direction underplays material that could benefit from being more up-front. and there are passages that over-stay their welcome.
but it is a production that draws you in. involves you in its issues and ultimately rewards you. (Mark Fisher).
I See llitlist for venue details.
' SISTER MARY
f EXPLAINS IT ALL 5 FOR YOU
I am not. and never have
i been. a Catholic. So this
show truly is an education.
dogma are revealed to us
by the thoroughly
: charmingand completely
psychotic Sister Ignatius
and her side-kick Thomas — a precocious seven year-old.
This play. though at first glance appearing to be quite straightforward. holds only slightly fewer surprises than the Spanish Inquisition. It begins asa mildly amusing run-through of the inadequacies of everything all good
Catholics hold dear.
' Suddenlyit changestack and venomously reveals
' the psychological traumas which schools such as ()ur Lady of Perpetual Sorrows create in the minds of the Thomases of this world.
It‘s this intensely disturbing aspect of the production which is its
achievement. However. the fact that the evening‘s largest laugh comes when the audience is at its most shell-shocked. reveals that this company is not short on great comic. as well as dramatic. ability. (Philip Parr) I Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You (Fringe) Source Theatre (‘ompany/Scena Theatre — Washington DC. Moray llouse Union (Venue 108). 5565184. Until2 Sept. 8pm. £3.75 (£2.75).
WORDS BEYOND WORDS
‘The ideal audience for Words Beyond Words would come in on the first day and stay right through the three weeks.‘ says playwright and SAC Associate Literary Director. Tom McGrath. A sentiment no doubt shared by hundreds of groups on the Fringe. but McGrath's season of play readings differs from most in its breadth and variety. Plays drawing on Celtic and mythological traditions. new work from Europe and plays by
‘You're involved in a form ofcultural engineering.‘ says McGrath. rather ominously. but his intentions are honourable. ‘We're encouraging people to see new playwrighting in an international context.‘ he says. ‘In Germany. playwrights have always been a part of the cultural imagination. and they have been left free to think and create to their limits. llere. anything more than a page ofscript is going to be cut. Audience tolerance is geared to what is accepted as play structure.‘
For this reason McGrath was particularly taken with German playwright Tankred Dorst‘s retelling ofthe Lancelot and Guinevere legend in his Merlin. ‘I read the Dorst play.‘ he says. ‘and I see a man who is completely unrestrained. It‘s six hours long and I wanted to read the whole thing.‘ Audiences. it must be
added. will be treated only
to edited highlights in a reading directed by Robert J. Carson on 24 and 25 Aug. (Mark Fisher)
I Words Beyond Words (Fringe) Lyceum Studio (Venue 7) 229 9697. Until 2 Sept (not Suns). lpm.£2(£l). Phone theatre for details of individual readings.
HANGING THE PRESIDENT
‘I wanted them to beat me. The hurt makes me feel alive‘.
Ian Brown's uncompromising production of Michele Celeste‘s South African death-row drama is as violent as it is intense. The claustrophobia of the new studio theatre suits Kathy Strachan's prison cell set perfectly. A continuous soundtrack ofechoing institutionalised noise reverberates outside. while two Afrikaancrs fret and fight through their final hours oflife. Only the stench ofdisinfectant is missing to complete the picture ofcaged confinement.
This is not a simplistic condemnation of apartheid. although its intentions are clear. It is a rich and sophisticated study of human deceit and betrayal born out of desperation. The men play cruel power games and avoid facing their own moral bankruptcy by using violence and sex. As their night wears on and the possibility of a last minute repreive diminishes. so the performance increases in its intensity.
The arrival of a black
cell and subtley forces the two whites to face their own consciences. ‘He's trying to tell us that a thing's worth dying for.‘ cries Stoffel (Stuart Hepburn). about to be
deposed by default from ‘ his reigning position of
Thisis a frighteningly
' powerful production. The . hurt makes you feel alive. (Mark Fisher).
I See llitlist for venue details.
A THING APART This is a play about suffering. The only question is who suffers more. the cast orthe audience in this story ofa woman torn between two lovers.
This is DRAMA in
capital letters. music.
masks and pregnant pauses. And suffering. Most of the suffering is
done by Liz who lives with
Ian. but she really loves Mike. the father ofher
child. But. Mike hasleft -
her for another man.
3 Guess what happens next? Nothing is too obvious in
this long play ofcardboard cutouts and profound silences. (Nick Clayton) I A Thing Apart(Fringc) Stepladder Theatre Company. Canongate
l l3—26Aug.2.15pm.28 Aug—2 Sept. 12.15pm. £3.50(£2.50)
established writers who want to branch out. are all being given an airingover a lunchtime pint inthe
S. l' '
political prisoner towards the end of the play pulls the outside world into the
The List 18 — 24 August 1989 25