I One Two Three (Fringe) American Actors Alliance. Abbotsford llall (Venue 84). 447 1122.] Sept only. 10pm. £3(£2).
We‘re in an airport lounge. Two sisters meet again after a long separation. ()ne is straight forward and down to earth. whilst the other is an irrepressible bun i'i'wml. The play startsout as a naturalistic treatise on sisterly relationships and dupes its audience accordingly. Things soon turn upside down as we are treated to a seriesof surreal sequences. These involve an original use of audience involvement. part ofwhich is the introduction onstage of an unsuspecting punter from the adjacent bar
Writer and director Sebastian Michael manages to mix styles and conventions with skill and originality. The piece could easily descend into self-indulgence ifit were not for the specifics surroundingthe characters — we never lose sight of the sisters and the exploration of their relationship. Consequently the experimental sections always have a solid foundation.
Sisters embodies much ofthe best of Fringe theatre. It is bold. confident and and absolutely different. You either love or hate it —I loved it and so did the audience. (Paul Pinson). I Sisters (Fringe) Aesthetics on Stage. Calton Studios (Venue 71) 556 7066. until 2 Sept. 7. 15pm. £3.50(£2.50).
KRAY vs KRAY Bovver boys Ronnie and Reggie Kray are on the loose again. lookin‘ for a spot of bother. In Red Rose‘s production the sixties East End gangsters are played by two very dissimilar women. Adele Forbes and Natashe Gordon-Dean show up the ridiculous side ofmale attitudes to thuggery. buggery and beefcake. Bully boy techniques. macho posing. spivvy attitudes and aggressive gestures are revealed as just plain daft in the capable hands ofthese two actresses. As the twins wind themselves up to the kill — the final test of worth in a world where guts equal glory - their acting becomes increasingly manic. though very funny it can be. A serious topic. fierce
acting and a highly comic treatment make this a hilarious piece. Finely observed male characteristics add up to a neat inversion of the usual drag shows. (Tinch Minter)
I Kray vs Kray(Fringc) Red Rose Theatre Co. St Columba's by the Castle (Venue 4) 220 1410. until 1 Sept. 3.45pm. £2 (£1.75).
l I walked out of this in a scunner. despite the free haggis dinner. No, the meal was fine; but the show was a disgrace to the haggis. and more importantly. to Burns. Edinburgh Acting School‘s show takes a light-hearted look at the Bard‘s life and loves. Fine. Everyone‘s entitled to a laugh.
Aye. it‘s all very well to trivialise a national poet. But this bunch hardly amuse. The performance begins with a passionless rendition of Farewell to Nancy. and other Burns songs and poems receive similarly lukewarm treatment. The set is amateurish. the writing is facetious and the direction and acting infantile. This might be forgiveable. if they‘d picked a more insignificant subject. [can only ask. with MacDiarmid. ‘What unco fate mak‘s him (Burns) the dumpin' grun‘,’ Fora‘ the sloppy rubbish they jaw oot'."
For cultural tourists with a taste for the tacky. (Tom Johnstone)
I Lunch With Rabbie (Fringe) Edinburgh Acting School. ()ld St Paul‘s Church 8: Hall (Venue 45). 557 568-1. until 1 Sept. lpm.£3.75 (£2.75).
ALAN BATES: i MUSE OF FIRE
Could Alan Bates. when deprived of the characters which Lawrence. Greene. Fowles et ul appeared to have written specifically for him. prove to be worthy of the idolatry which he's received from me since I first saw Women in Love as an
year-old? I doubted it.
The first halfofthis performance saw my gravest fears realised. Bates meandered through a collection of literature ranging from Galileo‘s diatribe on the ignorance of the Church to Samuel Pepys‘s description ofthe incineration of London in 1666. At times he almost seemed bored with the tales he recited. My image of Bates was teeteringon its pedestal.
However the events after the interval proved that you cannot keep a good idol down. Beginning with an hilarious account of the premier of I landel‘s firework music. running through Evelyn Waugh and (naturally) Lawrence. and offering a moving interpretation of the events in Prague afterlan Palach‘s self-immolation. Bates had the audience hanging on every nuance ofexpression and every perfectly-timed pause.
With the two encores raising. through exquisite timing. uproarious laughter so soon after Palach‘s story had raised tears. Bates stays upon the pedestal after all. (Philip Parr)
I Muse of Fire (Fringe) Alan Bates. Assembly Roooms (Venue 3). 226 2428. until 2 Sept. 6.30pm. £8.50 (6.50).
PARCEL OF ROGUES
‘We mun fight‘. cries John Fletcher in despair. as he witnesses the result of three centuries of English domination ofScotland; unemployment. cultural degeneration. crisis in education and loss ofthe Lowland Scottish language.
Parcel of Rogues is a hard-hitting condemnation. not so much ofthe English. who
‘ after all have always been i the Auld Enemy. but of
the apathy ofthe Scots. who have kowtowed to an imperialist yoke rather than defend their country.
. It is a highly charged. very
controversial political statement. which 1 fear tends toward Kailyard sentiment and overlooks
historical fact. Scotland
was not a united country
I at the time ofUnion; indeed John Fletcher. the
hero of the play. who is catapulted forward in time from 1707 to the present day by his father‘s magic ink. scorns the plaid ofthe Highland clansmen and presumably cannot speak the language of the Gaels. Fletcher‘s Scotland is Edinburgh and the Lowlands.
However. the play argues. understandably. for the right to self-determination and a Parliament in Scotland deciding on Scottish issues. Through the combination of Gillies‘ beautiful verse. with snatches of Rabbie‘s ‘red. red rose‘ and Hugh MacDiarmid‘s poetry (an odd mix) to spice the pudding. and clever plot-device. the piece is stimulating and ambitious. (Nicola Robertson)
I Parcel of Rogues (Fringe) 13.14Theatre. The Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550. until 2 Sept. 7.35pm. £4.50 (£3.50).
MOMENT OF DECISION
A sizable chunk ofthis short one-woman piece is taken up with a slide show. We see the wealthy Americans of the turn of the century and their poverty-stricken counterparts. we see relaxation in comfort and hard graft in sweat shops. we see beautiful surroundings and squalor. Gradually we are introduced to portraits of the subject. Margaret Sanger. the founder ofthe American Birth Control League. All this might have been an integrated part of the action to its advantage. Casandra Neckar tells ofthe struggle to become more than a witness of women‘s plight; we hear the case history of a mother of three who died after her second back-street abortion. we hear ofthe despair that led to these desperate measures. we hear ofthe ignorance and neglect. we hear ofthe arrogance ofdoctors. But all this comes at one remove and therefore fails to engage us dramatically. (Tinch Minter)
I Moment of Decision (Fringe) Brooks Theatre Company. Institut Francais d‘Ecosse (Venue 55) 225 5366. until 2Sept (not Suns) 6.30pm. £2.95 (£1.95).
In this world premiere of his two act comedy. Charles Dennis plays Alfred and Gwendolyn Humble plays Lynn. Both are stuck in the bowels of a theatre as understudies to lead players in a Broadway hit. In a life characterised by insecurity. neurosis. bitchiness. false alarms. terror and dressing room colds. you wonder why understudies even bother. As Alfred remarked: ‘nobody gets rich as an understudy.‘ Perhaps they are driven by the Big Moment when the lead is unable to perform. they go on brillantly and Mr Big happens to be in the audience to discover them. Dennis. a professional novelist. playwright and actor. has devised a neat piece of theatre about the theatre. Like all good comedy. there is plenty of pathos bubbling underneath. The performances are excellent and the production is well staged. cleverly conveying the feel of New York and Broadway. Go see it. (Kerry Napuk)
I Going On Royal Scots Club (Fringe. Venue 57). 557 5091. until 2 Sept. 2 pm. £3.75 (£2.75).
Professional actor Robin Meredith becomes John Newton. the slaveship captain who became a Man of the Cloth and wrote the hymn. ‘Amazing Grace.‘ Born in 1725. Newton discovered unrequited love at 18. which started a nautical adventure ending in West Africa. While learning the slave business in Sierra Leone. Newton became. in his own words. ‘The Young African Blasphemer.‘ Saved from death at sea. Newton reﬂected and decided God meant him to live fora reason. Yet. he still took
command of a slave ship
before quitting and trying to preach. Newton‘s early ministerial experiences
went badly but eventually
he was ordained and went
to London where he guided Wilbur Wilberforce in the fight to
Clearly. Meredith is an accomplished actor and delivers a strong performance. The production is well staged with excellent use of sound effects. props and lighting. Unfortunately. the play failed to deal
effectively with Newton‘s (
metamorphosis from slaver to preacher. Too much emphasis is placed on autobiographical narrative and not enough on the man‘s transformation over the slavery issue. (Kerry Napuk)
I Amazing Grace (Fringe), Arter Theatre (Venue 101). 557 1785. unti12 Sept. 5.15 pm. £3 (£2.50).
— OPHELIE sum;
Ophelie Song is billed as a ‘minimalist opera‘. This is certainly borne out in every possible way by the performance. There is very little singing. less speaking and virtually no costumes. The company concentrates on movement and not especially subtle imagery to recount the tale of Hamlet‘s Ophelia.
This imagery would give a Freudian psychiatrist a field day. A comment such as ‘director Antoine Campo is sexually obsessed‘ would contend with ‘Hamlet had a bit ofa family crisis’ for understatement of the year. The final nude dancing scene was completely unnecessary for we were bombarded with pseudo-eroticism from the opening scene onwards. Ophelia was presented as a one dimensional sex-crazed Scandinavian whilst the others were merely peripheral characters aiding her indulgence.
Ifall this makes the show sound exciting. don‘t be fooled. it isn’t. The one redeeming feature is Pascal Humbert’s hypnotic music but even this cannot lift Ophelie Song out of the realms of pretentious clap-trap. (Philip Parr) I Ophelle Song (Fringe) Antoine Campo.1nstitut Francais D‘Ecosse (Venue 55). 225 5366, until 2 Sept. 4pm. £3.95 (£2.95)
Uninspired indeed: a lightweight political allegory based on Hamlet. Why. I don‘t know. It is roughly the standard and depth of Blake’s Seven. but where the intrepid crew of the Liberator were wonderfully over-the-top. the cast here strut around in their period outfitsto little effect. The welcome exception is Frank Lajko who plays the evil councilor. Cole. like Servalan with a beard. destroying everyone in his lust for power.
Eventually they all meet
The List 1— 14 September 198915