almost save the day, but are severely hindered by“ intrusive mood music, heavy-handed direction and a script that is often cringingly trite. The trivialising inﬂuence of 19805 Hull Truck is apparent. The subject deserves more than it gets. (Jon Webster).
I Impressions (Fringe) Aspects Theatre Company, Hill Street Theatre (Venue 41) 225 7294, until 26 Aug, 9pm, £3.50 (£3).
MY ARMY PART TWO
‘1 can see it all like yesterday‘. says Tim Barlow of his fifteen years in the Army. Those who have seen the vivid first part of his dramatised memoirs My Army will not find this hard to believe, though the events it describes are hardly mundane. MyArmy Part Two. premiered this week, promises to be even more extraordinary, beginning as it does in the rainforests of Malaya.
‘I had dreamed ofwhat it was going to be like,‘ recalls Barlow, ‘but the truth. . .‘ His amiable face takes on an inscrutable grin as a hearty laugh escapes. Although he can hardly hear a thing, he can certainly make himself heard. .
The first phase ofthe new work (still not fully scripted when I spoke to him on Monday evening) was a series of presentations Barlow gave for the other members of Theatre de Complicité. ‘It was a question of making it theatrical.‘ he explains. ‘We didn‘t want it to be anecdotes. but to transport the audience so they really feel they‘re there. It was avery awe-inspiring experience; quite a shock, and the encounters— when they came — were short , sharp and bloody. When somebody shoots at you for the first time it takes some getting used to.‘
Barlow says he has enough material for ‘about eight‘ instalments of MyArmy, and thethird and fourth are already being planned. As he rehearses Part Two, and allows Part One to
develop naturally in performance (that is, working ‘in complicity‘ with the audience). themes are starting to emerge which characterise each part. ‘Part One is about class, and family connections,‘ says Barlow. ‘Part Two is about finding your niche. You join the Army for challenge and adventure, but everybody‘s actually trying to make themselves comfortable and secure.
‘I found my niche after ﬁfteen years, and the moment I found it lgot itchy feet. That,‘ he reveals, ‘was when I left to become an actor.‘ (Andrew Burnet) I My Army Part Two (Fringe) Theatre de Complicité, Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, 29, 30 Aug & 2 Sept, 6pm, £5.50 (£4.50).
THE MAN OUTSIDE
‘An employee oer Demise and Mr Decay‘. the death figure in The Man Outside stealsthe show. Described by an ineffectual and self-pitying Almighty as ‘the new god‘, he is the one beneficiary ofthe post-war Germany Wolfgang Borchet‘s play describes.
In a play populated by sinisterly anonymous characters wearing drab combat uniforms and inhabiting a barrenly empty stage. the ‘murdered murderer‘ Beckmann returns from a Russian POW camp to find that nothing has changed in Germany. The road in this world is ‘grey, cruel helpless‘ and in its portrayal ofa beaten race the work manages to make even Samuel Beckett look light-hearted, unredeemed as it is by any humour, however black.
With his crew-cut and gas-mask glasses the central character epitomises a humanity brutalised by war. Haunted by nightmarish visions even the escape suicide might offer him is denied as the personified
River Elbe rejects his attempt to drown himself. Although he is described as a gifted comic in ironic recognition of the dull monotone with which he recounts his bleak past, the real comedian — a cross between Ted Hughes‘ Crow and the Jokerfrom Batman — is the belchingly self-indulgent and grinning Undertaker. (James Penn) I The Men Outside (Fringe) Oxford College Players. Festival Club (Venue 36) 225 8283, until 2 Sept, 3.30pm, £3 (£2.50)
THE UGLY N00 N00
‘l‘ve never met a nice South African,‘ goes the Spitting Image song. I‘ve met two this Festival. Taking an altogether different approach from Pieter-Dirk Uys‘ sophisticated ironies, Andrew Buckland is a splendidly zany antidote to apartheid blues.
The Ugly N00 N00 is a ‘Parktown Prawn‘, a large and unpopular — but harmless- insect, which inhabits upmarket areas ofJohannesburg. ln Buckland‘s show, the paranoia induced by contact with this creature somehow embodies every hysterical response engendered by South Africa‘s political system.
Solemn it certainly isn‘t.
Drenched with sweat. Buckland hurls himself with great vigour. precision and imaginative flair through two related scenes, portraying two humans, several insects, a dog and a militarist chicken; coining on the way such memorable terms as ‘specist‘ and ‘the Creatures' Community Congress‘.
The resulting romp is an ingenious anti-racist satire. But its immediate and irresistible appeal is to the laughter-glands. (Andrew Burnet)
I See Hitlist for venue details.
It is always difficult, in this
socalled‘post-feminist‘ 4 age, to raise questions
concerning gender and sexuality without appearing dated. Maybe these issues have ceased to be compatible with a society which manufactures stereotypes as a reward for entertaining the consumer age. It is therefore to this company‘s credit they have managed to address such issues without falling victim to any oftheir attendant dangers.
The play focuses on the female icon, and attempts to define and condemn its contours by introducing a number of famous deviants — Marlene Dietrich, Mae West, Dr James Barrie and Vesta Tilly, women who have had to conceal or parody their gender in order to achieve success.
Members ofthe cast, both male and female, take turns in adopting these characters, and it soon becomes clear that real and complex individuals are emerging from their ‘feminine‘ constraints.
‘Ladies Present‘ is an adventurous play which needs a strong cast in order to be brought to life. The members ofthis particular cast responded impeccably. (Philip Kingsley)
I Ladies Present (Fringe) Across the Mersey
' Theatre Company, Calton
Studios (Venue 7l)556 7066, until 26 Aug, 1 1.30am, £3 (£1.50).
FDDTSTEPS UNDER THE CARPET
I went to the theatre today and l was a sheep. It took some doing. but when Jonathan Kay is on form he could persuade you into anything. And in his early-morning hour and a halfof improvisation, who knows what he might try and persuade you?
This is an ideal way to start your Fringe day. Touching on ideas about performers and spectators. controllers and the controlled, kings and fools. Kay turns the world on its head and digs out the truth. Lacking any ofthe smugness ofJohn Sessions or the showiness
of Theatresports. it is only the linear quality and the occasional indulgencies of the performance that give you any sense that he is making it up as he goes along.
I can give no guarantees about the content ofthe show — the company claims to be eligible for 19 Fringe Firsts — but for the moments of unexpected hilarity it is well worth seeing. (Mark Fisher)
I Footsteps Under The Carpet (Fringe) Jonathan Kay, Cannongate (Venue 5) 556 1388, until 2 Sept (not 20, 27), £3.50 (£2.50).
_ JUST LIKE HOME
Despite Pieter Dirk Uys‘ reputation as a stand-up comic, his new play has too many serious points to make to be regarded as comedy. Rightenough, there are laughs along the way, but when Trevor Juries (Paul Savage), a black exile on the run from South Africa, reminds us that ‘where I
come from banners mean
blood, not beer‘.we realise that some subjects are not easily made light of.
Uys‘ masterstroke is to set his play not on the other side of the world in Johanesburg or Cape Town, but much closer to home in London, where three South African exiles and one Indian, bring their own perspective on racism and apartheid. It is a masterstroke , because instantly the problem becomes something we all have to address directly and not abstractly.
There are some fine performances in this worthwhile play which gives a sensitive , complex and human insight into a difﬁcult issue. (Mark Fisher).
I Just Like Home (Fringe) Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 2 Sept, 8pm, £5.50 (£4.50).
TIME, GENTLEMEN, PLEASE
‘All you want to see behind a bar is a cheery face, ennit?‘ asks Sheila at the beginning ofan unusually busy Monday night at the Royal Oak. It is Everypub and this is
E verybarwoman : strong , intelligent, capable, penned-in, disappointed and oppressed. The familiar characters that surround her are evoked by a restrained and brilliantly timed performance as we get to know the little jokes, the small achievements, the
casual relationships and we begin to feel as comfortable as Dennis who sits there making passes and emptying glasses all evening. Then suddenly the fantasy breaks, writer and performer Margeret Edderman releases all her strength to confront us with Sheila‘s resentment and anger, dropping the mask just before closing time. This is a powerful monologue both
entertaining and moving. (Andrew Williamson) Iﬂme, Gentlemen, Please! (Fringe) Red Rose Theatre Company, St Columba‘s by the Castle (Venue 4) 220 I410. 25, 27, 29, 3| Aug and 2 Sept. 3.45pm, £2 (£1.75).
BDB KINGDOM AS DYLAN THOMAS
The atmosphere was more Book Festival than Fringe. A flock of admirers ﬁled meekly to their seats and sat expectantly; not waiting for something to happen, but waiting for him to appear. Everyone sat to attention and frowned with the back oftheir necks at the woman who whispered to her husband, ‘Did he look like that?‘.
Bob Kingdom is Dylan Thomas for an hour and a halfeach afternoon. With bow-tie, curls and a face like a sweaty walnut. he does look quite similar; his dark, dry, wheezing voice is a good approximation of the voice in the BBC archives; he is five foot six; but most importantly he lives the sinuous, alliterative, plosive-ridden prose and the jangling, melodious, golden poetry as fervently as if he had written it himself.
As tightly-packed and smokey as kippers in a box, the jokes and epigrams keep coming, winding together the sad and the celebratory in a seamless skein. In both the writing and the performance it is often hard to tell where Thomas stops and Kingdom begins. At the end, I wondered who we were applauding so gratefully. (Julie Morriee)
I Bob Kingdom As Dylan Thomas (Fringe) Bob Kingdom, Hill Street Theatre (Venue 41) 225 7294. Until 2 Sept (not Sun), 3pm, £3.50 (£3).
The List 25 — 31 August 1989 27