' FESTIVAL THEATRE
. Andrew Pulver looks at some top dramatic adaptations. Reviews below.
I TRISTRAM SHANDY I THE PURSUER ‘An I HOW TO KILL Based on Adaptation oi Steme's exploration into the the worlr ot wartime writer rambling classic as a metaphysics oi )au'. Keith Douglas. Explores in one-man-show. ._ Charlie Parker by the writer multimedia the violence Shandyhall productions, of 'Blow Up'. Julio Cortazar. oi modem warhe. Chaplaincy Centre (Fringe ‘ Pleasance (Fringe Venue Demarco Gallery (Fringe Venue 23). Until 2 Sept. ‘ a... 33) 556 6550. Until 2 Sept. Venue 22) 557 1707. 28 5.15pm/4.15pm. 23.50 ‘_ 3pm/9.30pm. £3 (£2). “9.2 sgp(,1pm,23.5g (£3). .41 (22.50) well the original montage Short as a powerful drenched with an It may then be too much ' relationships in the minds _ format (although the condemnation 0f ‘atmosphere of to expect this play. of the audience.‘ (‘ast celebrated Odessa Steps anti-semitism. But it is a irredeemable gloom‘ it created by acting lron‘s approach is one of scene ironically falls ' gallant attempt at will take more than the students. to match in the radical simplicity —
‘The oldest play in the world‘ is bound to be of interest. Performed annually at Sumerian New Year rites. it is the storyof the fertility goddess. Ishtar — her choice between farmer and shepherd. descent to the underworld and resurrection. This version has been re-adapted back to play form. Becky Johnson delivers a powerful Inanna in the midst of a surfeit ofﬂuffed lines by her support. marring the hypnotic structure of the poetry. In all a worthwhile visit to make for those who were disappointed with last year‘s unintelligablc Gilgamesh. (Wes Schrum) I Inanna (Fringe) Company Theatre. Festival Club (Venue 36) 225 8283. until 26 Aug. 2.35pm. £3 (£2).
BATTLESHIP POTEM KIN
A fresh-faced group of seven Cambridge undergraduates seem an unlikely crew to re-enact the heroic events aboard the revolutionary Battleship Potemkin. but this disciplined company display much conviction in their freewheeling adaptation of Eisenstein‘s silent classic. The'action focuses mainly on the struggles of a group of sailors. from dissent over rotten rations to the winning over of the Black Sea fleet in support of their fight; yet the script fails to convey the wider issues affecting the sailors despite the audience‘s involuntary complicity with the insurrection. Steven Hudson's direction holds together
somewhat ﬂat). Much imagination is shown in the use ofspace and form throughout. although some of the exuberant flag-waving scenes would have benefitted from a little more room. The entire production carries its message beyond the bow— stand together against injustice. but not alone — pass it on. (James Patterson)
I Battleship Potemkin (Fringe) Cambridge i Mummers. Overseas House (Venue I9) 225 5105. until 2 Sept. 5pm. £3.50 (£3).
A novel which was used as propaganda by both sides in the run up to the last war is obviously one which has great ambiguity and hence enormous potential.
This production. in the main fails to realise that potential. In spite oftwo powerful central portrayals of the roles of Suss and Duke Karl Alexander. one is left with a largely one-dimensional view of Feuchtwanger‘s fable. Suss should not represent a simple victim for he was power-hungry and manipulative. The moral tale of the potential for injustice which racial bigotry creates could be all the more forcibly told if Suss's character flaws were emphasized rather than skirted around. The court elders accepted. even welcomed. a tyrannical leader but only ifhe was ‘Christian‘.
This adaptation. while cleverly using simple narration to chart Suss‘s cold and calculating rise to
glory. ultimately falls
adapting what is a masterpiece of political literature. (Philip Parr) I Jew SUSS (Fringe) Golem Theatre. Diverse Attractions (Venue 11). 225 8961 . until 26 Aug. 4. 15pm. £2.50 (£1 .25).
A PEASANT OF EL SALVADOR
lfyou want to see hard-hitting political drama in the Fringe you will not do any betterthan this. Originally a two-man piece. this new American play has been superny adapted by Mick Fitzmaurice. who also strongly directs his cast of eight. whose ages range from eleven to thirty-three.
It centre round the peasant of e title whose hard but happy life is
transformed into loss. despair. and eventual proud resistance by the reign of terror inﬂicted on his country by those benefiting from the international posturing of the United States government. His story is a parable we should all note.
Sarah Smith. Spanish-speaking throughout. heads an excellent cast as the peasant Jesus. However. all give performances of astonishing accomplishment and make this piece highly dramatic and deeply moving. (Jon Webster)
I A Peasant oi El Salvador (Fringe) Company Theatre. Festival Club (Venue 36) 225 8283 until 26 Aug. £3 (£2).
FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
lfyou can accept the idea that Roderick Usher is a kind ofJoel Gray. leering about in mime-face. whose melancholy takes the form ofspasmodic smokescreens, then this Berkoffian potion is for you. On the other hand. if your imagination is
green-hued attic oinIl Street Theatre to ﬁll your fissure. (Wes Shrum)
I Fall at the House of Usher (Fringe) Aspects Theatre Company (Run ended).
THE DEVIL AND STEPASHKA
This new play. performed by the Duke‘s Head and Bristol Express, was written by Claire Booker as a development of Tolstoy's short story The Devil. Set in pre-revolutionary Russia. the play opens where Tolstoy ends— wealthy landowner Zhenya in prison. awaiting trial for the murder of his alluring peasant mistress Stepashka.
Although the story of this crime of passion is not an unustlal one. Booker‘s well-scripted play keeps us hooked. effecting successful portrayals of both the guilt-ridden Zhenya and his wife Lisa. whose dogged devotion to her husband is both horrific and movingto watch. The fearful. chauvinistic attitude of this bourgeois couple is contrasted with the victim's sister Dasha. who gives a humane. realistic account of Stepashka. The production is skilfully acted and produced. but lacked the vitality that - would have made it truly gripping. (Tanya Nash)
I the Devil and Stepashka (Fringe) Duke's Head. Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550. until 2 Sept. 4pm.£4 (£3)-
WEDDINGS AND AFTER
William Mcllvanney‘s evocative tale ofa wedding. reception and honeymoon is a tightly observed satire on the institutionalization of marriage. Laced with imaginative dialogue and vivid characterization. the poem from which this theatrical adaptation evolves. creates an intensity rare in contemporary literature.
theatre what McIlvanney . I
creates on the page. However. one hoped for more than this from the cream of Scotland‘s young actors. After all. they had a fine script to work from. But the overall impression is ofa group ofstudent actors going through their language and movement exercises. Maybe you should buy the book instead.
I Weddings and After (Fringe) Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Harry Younger Hall (Venue 13) Until 19 Aug. 4pm. £3 (£2).
Ted Hughes' Crow remains one of the most sophisticated products of 1970s‘ poetry — a song-cycle telling a ritualised. mythical narrative infused with the highly physical feel of Hughes' savage literariness. Cast Iron Touring Company. based in Leeds. are presenting a stage version —— scripted and directed by Stamiatos Mesmeris. ‘We're playing on this central feature of
I Hughes‘ work: its
fragmentation and wholeness within a larger structure. We have set the play in the aftermath ofa nuclear holocaust. where all sense of coherence has been destroyed. and remaining fragments of culture are collected together in a book.‘
As Mcsmeris explains. the poems take their place hside this relic of the past: ‘As the play moves on. the dialogue is filtered out - leaving the poems to exist’ in their own right. creating their own structural
echoing the poem‘s mood of bitter. bleak humour. ‘We see theatre as a ritual act. a Promethean sacrifice - we‘re exposing the actors in all their nakedness.‘ (Andrew Pulver)
I Crow (Fringe) (‘ast Iron. St Philips (‘hurch (Venue 8) 28 Aug—2Sep. 9.30pm.£2(£1.50).
KISS OF THE SPIDER WOMAN
The (‘alton Studios may well be the perfect venue for a production such as this. The distinctlychilly atmosphere and black brick walls combine to transport audience and actors alike into the confines of the prison cell. And herein lies boththe strengths and the weaknesses of this production.
There is an excellent portrayal of the growth of understanding and intimacy between two characters. whose only common ground is their shared suffering. Francis Hills is wholly believable as Molina. with his careful blending of sensitivity and camp mannerisms. Whilst Adrian (‘Igasby‘s sometimes impassioned interpretation of political detainee Valentin is . worthy of note.
However. by concentrating on the developing emotional relationship between the two. a little of the wider context and political content of the play is lost. Thus. the prison walls effectively reduce outer reality to merely ﬂashesof antagonism within the relationship. ()n the whole. this is a well crafted work. that is sensitive without resorting to sentimentality. but one which could profit from a little more of a cutting edge. (Vicky Senior)
I Kiss 01 The Spider Woman (Fringe) St. Andrew‘s University Mermaids. ('alton Studios (Venue 71). 5567066. until 2 Sept. 11.15pm. £3.50’(£2.50).
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