Simon Bayly makes his selection of top shows from around the world. Reviews below and overleaf.
I OGURI HANGAN. TERUTE HIME Never mind thetitle. see this exuberant combination ot masks. movement and visual effects in a tangled love-story Yokohama Boat Theatre, St Bride‘s Centre (Festival) 225 5756. 21-26 Aug 7.30pm. 24. 26 Aug 2.30pm. £5.50-28.
I so WHERE TO? Powertul black South African drama revolving around three pregnantteenagers. played with passionate intensity. Sabiltwa Players (Fringe) Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428. Aug 11-Sept2 6pm. £5 (£4).
I POOR LIZA New Russian company. previously unknown outside the USSR. with their startling adaptation of the Karamazin noveHa.
Theatre on Nikitskikh (Fringe) Traverse Theatre (Venue 15) Aug 22-27 5pm. Aug 29—Sept 2. noon. £6 (£3)
THE LADY AND THE CLARINET
An atmospheric and highly enjoyable sexual comedy centred around the experience of a precocious Manhattanite called l.uba. Luba unfolds the story of the three men in her life to a mute clarinettist hired to accompany a dinner for two. First there was l’aul — a gauche adolescent who relieves her ofher virginin and is soon abandoned. .\'ext comes Jack. with whom Luba pursues a sustained and loveless affair. ller filial attempt at happiness with a man is made through a marriage to (ieorge - a balding widower who stays at home during the day and likes to go shopping.
This may sound like lightweight material. But Michael (‘ristofer's script is exploited brilliantly by Imelda Staunton as Luba. who gives an expressive and sophisticated
30 The List $1611.15; .1989
performance both as a sixteen year-old filled with sexual curiosity and as a middle-aged women still searching for everlasting love. Whilst the rest ofthc cast and Derek ('ornhill on the clarinet ably assist. The Lady and the (‘larinet derives its success from the energy with which Imelda Staunton turns Luba into an amiable off-beat heroine.
If you try hard you may be able to get a ticket for this play. (Luke I larding) I The Lady and the Clarinet (Fringe) The Netherbow Centre. 43 High St (Venue 30). 556 9579. until 2 Sep. 2.30pm. £4.75 (£3.75)
1959 PINK THUNDERBIRD
When someone totals your drop-top T-bird in Texas. do you shoot him?
: Normally so. but not in this affectionate drama by James McLure. Billed as a
double. its structure neatly mirrors the gender segregation of small town
Texas life and the main characters in each halfare married. The women stoke the bourbon and coke; the men start with Lone Star beer. but wind up on the Beam. too. Jennifer Ehle‘s foghorn Hattie sounds the theme as she opens the porch door. ‘There must be somethin‘ wrong with your buzzer.‘ There is. but not with Elizabeth‘s. the stoic. forgiving wife of Ray (Geoffrey Cantor) who is AWOL. Ray‘s memories of hell-raising and Vietnam permeate the second act. Stephen Casey plays the likeably wretched who inadvertently provokes a night of fraternal revelations and scrumptious dialogue between Ray and Roy. I'd never seen the Festival Club in a cozy mood. but Downtown Theatre overcame the most Texophobic of us tonight. (Wes Shrum) I 1959 Pink Thunderhird (Fringe) Downtown Theatre. Festival Club (Venue 36). 225 8283. until 1 Sep. 8.30pm.£4 (£3).
OMICHO—JUST BETWEEN THE THREE OF US
A strange one. this. Promising an assembly of Japanese theatrical and musical formsJus! Between The Three of Us proved instead to be inescapany American. A priest falls in love with one ofa pair of identical twins. and. to prise them apart. enters into their childlike games of fantasy. The producton began promisingly: one of the twins was performed by a lifesize hunraku puppet. traditional Japanese instruments playing pleasing melodies. stylised theatrical devices of fire and water.
As the play progressed. the performance entered a more obtrusively American mode — kitchen
sink emotion. good-ole-boy clowning.
rumba on the koro. and a fundamental change from symbolic expression to realistic. traumatic description. in all. it made for a strange mixture of styles. a cultural meeting-point like Schraeder‘s film Mishima. but it lacked the latter's formal rigour to succeed fully. (Andrew Pulver) IJust Between The Three Of Us (Fringe) Omicho Theatre Company. Netherbow (Venue 30), 5569579. until 2Scpt. 9pm. £3.50 (£2.50)
The Mahabharata is the cycle of l lindu mythological drama relating the internecine strife between rival branches of the ruling dynasty. Wonderful. magical allegories spanning several generationsand incorporating the Hindu pantheon. it illustrates the central credo of 'dharma‘. L'nlike Peter Brook's recent celebrated epic production. this young newly-formed. improvisational company has condensed the labyrinthine detail ofthc
original into two and a half
hours. concentrating on
the action (rather than the philosophy) with graceful. athletic movement and cleverly staged set-pieces. An attractive. talented cast make inventive use of the huge space. highlighting the visual. humorous and spectacular elements of this ancient talc. Well worth the trip to an out-of-the-way venue. (Lily Macgillivray).
IThe Mahabharata (Fringe) A 6'; B(‘Theatre ('ompany. Ainslie Park Leisure (‘entrc (Venue 89). 551 2400. 26—28 Aug. 7.00pm. 24.25 Aug. 2.30pm. £4 (£2.50)
South African maidservant. Keentseng. visits America with her awful white employers and finds a more feisty example ofblack pride in Frances. the shrewd ‘houseworker' for a Machiavellian corporate big shot. Written in 1978 by American Steve Friedman and black South African Selaelo Maredi. Homeland is a comic exploratiion of US complicity in apartheid and has been acclaimed throughout the USA. The play has been updated to reflect current US corporate ‘divestiture'. but there was nothing radically startling or hilarious about this production by Antioch Theater from Ohio. The performances by the three black actors were delightful. but the rest of the cast verged on the
hysterical and the accents of the South African whites were decidedly wobbly. The result was an uneven. sporadically funny performance spoiled by shrill histrionics. (Lily MacGillivray)
I Homeland (Fringe) Antioch Theater. Mandela Theatre at The Wee Red Bar (Venue 79). 229 1003. until 26 Aug. lpm.£3 (£1.50)
OGURI HANGAN, TEHUTE HIME
After the extraordinary eccentricites of butoh and the kitsch classicism of Ninagawa at Festivals past. the Yokohama Boat Theatre do not disappoint. What they offer is something akin to a Far Eastern version of Brook's Mahabharata — a true synthesis of story and spectacle told with a seamless interweaving of different theatrical and musical styles. In his version of an old folktale. writer/director Takuo Endo blends the elegance and simplicity ofa Japanese aesthetic with the rough drama and ritual intensity of Indonesian dance theatre. The combination of straight narration and athletically choreographed action allows the large cast of masked and unmasked players to switch time. place. role and mood with kaleidoscopic effect — the first seven scenes alone take the royal hero and heroine ofthc title from birth through love and jealousy to poisoning and hell. Played from both sides ofthc stage..\1akuto Yabuki's sublime score. a wildly intoxicating combination of Balinese gamelan rhythms and percussive effects. rivals the action for attention. without dominating it. Though the machine-gun style Japanese delivery can be wearingon the cars. this is nothingless. or more. than a feast of pure fantasy. (Simon Baﬂy)