commercial success but why don't So and So and other thespian purveyors ofold chestnuts turn their talents to more original and adventurous things. (Colin Teevan)
I The Lover (Fringe), So & So Theatre Company, Calton Studios, (Venue 71), 556-7066, until 26 Aug (possibly running till 2 Sept), 4.30pm, £3 (£2)
THE DUMB WAITER
Plays by Harold Pinter, once denounced by ﬁrst-night critics, regularly draw large crowds at the Fringe. Dumb Waiter is one of Pinter's popular early pieces, and John Higgins and Maurice Dee promise a ‘startling reworking ofa familiar play‘. Ifthat means adding a hint about the two characters and the organisation they work for as ‘hit-men‘, vis-a-vis Northern Irish accents, which are not always consistent, and Brummie pubs, the two actors are adding a realism which detracts from the claustrophobia and absurdity of the piece. However, the acting is sharp. Both Ben and Gus, pace the tiny set like caged animals. The comic side of the situation is cleverly exploited, but I felt the work lacked the dangerous, darker side, which builds up towards the end, and culminates in the actualization of the ‘hit‘ being one of the two characters. (Nicola Robertson) I Dumb Welter (Fringe) Maurice Dee & John Higgins, Tic Toe at Marco‘s (Venue 98) Until 19 4.45pm, 28 Aug—2 Sept 6. 15pm, £3.75 (£3).
LEONARDO’S LAST SUPPER
Peter Barnes‘ 1969 black comedy is a clever speculation on the last hours of Leonardo da Vinei's life. It‘s one of those plays that succeeds in being contemporary and historical at the same
time. Full of earthy detail about the ordinary business of daily Italian life, the play pokes ironic fun at the discrepancy between Leonardo‘s ivory-tower Renaissance genius and the poverty and plague being suffered by the rest of the population.
In Front Row Production‘s version - a fast-paced, top-volume romp - snatches of 20th-century music and dance, slapstick humour and even a spot of fruit juggling, combine in an entertaining, thought-provoking hour. Some of Barnes‘ speeches
remain long and unweildy '
and some of the delivery could do with some light and shade , but it‘s a lively, energetic and enjoyable production. (Mark Fisher)
I Leonardo’s Last Supper (Fringe) Front Row Productions, Marco‘s Leisure Centre (Venue 98), 229 7898, until 2 Sept, 6.30pm, £3.50 (£2.50).
ATASTE 0F HONEY
Shelagh Delaney‘s kitchen-sink drama looks a little shabby and old-fashioned nowadays, but despite the much hyped feminist march from the ironing board to front-door, single mothers still struggle to survive in a society geared for the family-unit.
Strathclyde Theatre Group have decided to set this sad play in Lancashire. The street-ﬁghting corseness of Helen, a single-parent whose daughter J 0 was the result of a quick ﬂing with the village-idiot, is not quite Bet Lynch, but close. Jo, the daughter, still dressed in knee socks while her mother manages to procure fur-stoles, is forced to traipse after Helen and her fancy-men.
Although the performance is rough around the edges, the actors have an indeﬁnable charm, particularly Karen Mykytyn‘s Jo and Alan Morton‘s Geoffrey. Lynda Swan is indefatigable as the dreaded Helen. The
is the detached haziness of the production. (Nicola Robertson)
I A Taste of Honey (Fringe) Strathclyde Theatre Group, Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 226 2151 , Until 29 Aug, 1.15pm, £4.50 (£2.50).
Maxim Gorky's attempts at naturalism, like many of the ‘realistic' playwrights at the turn of the century, may seem melodramatic and old-fashioned, but Vassa Zhelyeznova written in 1906 and premiered in this country nearly ninety years later by ACG Productions at the Edinburgh Fringe, is reminiscent of Ibsen's great dramas.
ACG perform this tale of family disintegration on a truly Chekovian scale, with professionalism and poise. The money- grubbing bourgeoisie represented by Vassa‘s corrupt progeny and a brick-making buisness, around which the inheritance ofa dying father is centred, are presented with a freshness and lack of fuss that casts the modern day
equivalents of Dallas and Dynasty in a superficial light.
Polly March is superb as Vassa. A dominant, gritty woman, made of the granite blocks she so dcterminedly manufactures. she bullies and batters her household. Her crippled son is baited and finally dismissed to a monastery, and her enemy, Prokhor, murdered by a daughter she has corrupted. All this, she claims in the name of‘family'. Money is stronger than blood, and yet the women in this Russian provincial society are fierce, beautiful and bold compared to their pale, confused menfolk. (Nicola Robertson)
I See Hitlist for venue details.
_ THE MAIDS
The production of this classic French psycho-drama which explores claustrophobic relationships under conditions of poverty and degradation, is workmanlike rather than inGenetous. Director Joy Mitchell has opted for a literal interpretation of the text and exacted relatively orthodox portrayals from her cast
direction is unhurried, as
34 The List 25 — 31 August 1989
rather than searching for
the stylised intensity achieved, for example, by Jean Pierre Melville in his interpretation of
Cocteau‘s ‘Les Enfants
i Terrible‘. This said, there
are impressive performances from Elizabeth Bowe and Bethan Dixon Bate asthe maids, while Joanne Muller, as Madame, is forrnidible if suggesting a little too much of the Lady Bracknells.
Yet something about the production didn‘t quite gel. French psychological drama cannot be convincingly performed with English accents and naturalist acting methods. In this case the English character is not usually associated with firework temperament and technicolour imagination. A slight quibble , but nevertheless, it put a barrier between this reviewer‘s involvement and the piece. A case where the interpretation didn‘t quite suit the Jeanre. (Colin Teevan)
I The Held: (Fringe), Aardvark Theatre Company, Chaplaincy Centre,(Venue 23), until 26 Aug, 12.30pm, £3 (£2).
SEXUAL PERVERSITY IN CHICAGO
A remarkable play. It and Waiting for Godot are two of the few pieces of theatre that manage to make taut drama completely out of phatie statements. Yet where Waiting for Godot deals with the ontological problems of life, Sexual Perversiry concerns itself with matters closer to home - namely relationships or, as Bernie, its central character, might have it— Chic-ague. On the whole,
Mainstream‘s production is sharp and involving. Angela Rawlinson, Chris Chappell and Kaethe Cherney give good performances as the various sexual frustrates of the Chicago singles world, but their characters are entirely overshadowed by that of incorrigible Bernie. played with gusto by Greg Anderson, a cross between a Jackie Collins caricature and Yogi Bear. My one complaint with the production is that director Don Fellows has opted to blackout between even the shortest of scenes, having the various characters shufﬂing on and offstage ratherthan leaving them there for the duration of the piece. Nevertheless, an enjoyable way to end a theatrical evening. (Colin Teevan) I Sexual Perveretty In Chicago (Fringe), Mainstream Theatre Company, The Arter Theatre, (Venue 101), 557 1785, until 26 Aug, 11.15pm, £4 (£3).
THE TAMING OF THE SHREW
The Taming of the Shrew is one of Shakespeare‘s ‘Lesser known plays‘. Praise God for small mercies. It is only a shame that it is not the ﬁrst of his buried plays.
A play celebrating the woman’s vow of obedience within marriage in contemporary Britain should grate the nerves ofa nation. Apparently not. The appropriately named Lost on The Road are not satisfied with re-dredging three hours of morose misogyny, they have to transpose it to 1989, complete with a servant resplendent in Les Miserables T-Shirt. Couldn’t have put it better myself.
The cast resembled a star-studded Crimewatch reconstruction. Eddie Waring as gormless Gremio. Ken Barlow as the impervious, loveless father, with Wayne Sleep tamed the Shrew. There was no mistaking the crime , though, as
f Petruchio was publicly
E acclaimed for his
: Katherine, his reformed ‘Shrew‘, exemplified the traits of many women demoralised through mental and physical abuse with her soliloquised
ravings on love, honour,
obedience and adoration. Before driving completely into oblivion,
Lost on the Road should
i put their brains into gear.
Is such a rampant celebration of oppression and domination really worthy of display in 1989? (Claire Davidson)
I The Taming of the Shrew (Fringe) The Lost Theatre Co, Southside
International (Venue 82), until Aug 26, £4 (£3).
This is yet another drab student production of
Woyzeck marred not so much by the acting but by an incoherent adaptation. In Georg Buchner‘s original version the action is fragmentary and episodic. In theis version it is often difficult to make out what the hell is going on. Whilst the basic idea of a simple soldier experimented upon by the army authorities comes across intact the other strands of Woyzeck‘s story — his relationship with the faithless Marie — are left hopelessly unclear.
As a backdrop to each scene the cast freeze into a various postions — holding their hands in front of their faces or their arms in contorted postures. It is a piece of functionless stylisation which characterizes the production as a whole.
It is therefore a brave performance by Christopher Staines as Woyzeck, who does admirably in conveying the pain of being force fed a diet of peas for over two months in the interests of medical science. Guy Pugh as the drum-major also acts well. But all the cast seem to struggle against an inadequate directorial vision. (Luke Harding)
I Woyzeeli (Fringe) Oxford College Players, Festival Club (Venue 36), 225 8283, until 26 Aug, 5.30pm, 27 Aug--2 Sept, 3.30pm, £3 (£2.50).