This is a passable production of an interesting. ifcloying. piece of drama based on the lives of two reclusive sisters in the service ofa fastidious mother and her cloistered daughter in Paris 1930.

Playwright Wendy Kesselman creates a subtle web ofobsessive. jealous relationships. the most powerful of which is between the sisters. Although passionately in love with each other. the elder sister turns to violence in moments of extreme frustration. The impassable gulf between master and servant results in suspicion and intolerance.

There is some fine attention to detail in set and costume and the actresses succeed. in moments. at raising the right kind oftension. Ilowever the pace often drags and the production errs towards cuteness. which means that the final twist doesn‘t quite work against previously soft characterisation. (Jo Roe) I My Sister in this House (Fringe) Increasingly Important Theatre Company. Tie Toe at Marco's (Venue 98). 229 7898. until 2 Sept. 12.45pm. £3.25 (£2.50).


Bulgakov hobbles onto the stage and introduces his play about .\Ioliere. the French playwright who wrote masterpieces of satirical wit under the inconsistant patronage of Louis XIV. Alex Smith's Bulgakov draws parallels between the Sun King and Joe Stalin in the opening minutes of the play and Cambridge Iixile's production looks set to take off.

Unfortunately. the initial direction is deceptive. The company look under-rehearsed and half~hearted about the play. Why. when most of the performers are clearly good actors. the audience had to endure garbled lines often mumbled to the floor or back wall and lazy staging. was the question on the lips of those who walked out.

Individually the actors seemed to cope. but asa group they lacked tension and pace. which is a pity as the play. had it not been marred by a lack-lustre approach. is self-reflexive and has at its core an important and relevant

message about theatre and its relation tosociety (Nicola Robertson)

I Moliere ( Fringe)

Cambridge lixile'l‘hcatrc.

Chaplaincy Centre (Venue 23) 6. 15pm. £3.50 ( £3).


()n the importance of being Iinglish. ()i. For Iingland is violent. abrasive. and very. very good. It could be a chronicle of the early ‘80s. when high unemployment resulted in frustrated working-class youth shaving their heads. donning DMs. and taking out their aggresion upon racial minorities. However. the legacy of this violence still lives and the 7. Theatre Company (through references to Salman Rushdie) make it quite clear that this isa horrifying glimpse ofthe future. set within a historical context.

The generous use of expletives may affront the liberal sensibilitiesof some. But Trevor Griffiths doesn't fall into the trap of branding these brutal 'bovver' boys with identikit personalities. For example. Richard Standing is excellent as I-‘inn. the Skinhead with a moral consience. For. torn between the chance of success for his Skin band (with the necessity of aligning themselves with the NI" in the process) and remainig in the obscurity of the rehearsal room. he chooses the latter. Sadly. plays such as this exist. not as an excursion into some grotesque fantasy. but as an important reminder of the times. (\‘icky Senior) I 0i. For England (I’ringe)

7. Theatre Company. St

Bernard‘s Church Hall (\"enuc l0). 3320122.3l Aug. 8pm. until 1 Sept. llam. £2.50(£l .50)


The Iixecutive Theatre Company should have been on to a winner here. With an extremely central venue and a well-established play such as Loot. one would think that they could hardly fail. Then why. oh why. did we


our watches'.’ Because ()rton's incredible insight into the foibles of human nature is totally lost when you can't even here the lines.Then. from bad to worse. The cast completely miss the relevant emotions in this blackest of comedies. Thus. what should be

()rton at his most ironic is reduced to a slanging match betw een actors. This is. presumably . our cue tolaugh. It couldn‘t even raise a smile.

The cast then attempt to extricate themselves by much frenzied activity. 'I'hercfore. completely

t drowningoutany

possibility of our hearing

the mumbled. incoherent


Positively painful. .loe ()rton would probably have loved it. (Vicky Senior)

I L00! ( Fringe) Iixecutive Theatre Company. Chaplaincy Centre (\‘enue 23). until 2 Sept. 8. 15pm. £3.75 (£2.75)


Some of you may be disappointed to hear that. in spite of the all-female cast. this is a perfectly straightforward production of Marlowe's play. Although I-‘atisttis and Mephlslopheles are

: presented as women.

there has been no attempt

lotwist Marlowe's dramatic conccrnsintoa I specifically feminist

morality tale. The only

~ pointofthisall-female I production isto demonstrate the

considerable performing skills of the women in the company. In thisit succeeds admirably The audience is treated to a brisk. but not hurried. run through an intelligently shortened version ofthe play in which line acting is supplemented by the occasional use of brilliantly conceived and effective masks and even. at one point. a superbly dramatic sequence of fire eating by Mcphistophilis. It‘s hard to believe at the

end of the play. as the actresses take their bows.

that everything you've seen was done by just these four. (.lohn I lcnry) I Doctor Faustus t I’ringc) I’ark Bench Theatre

Company. Chaplaincy Centre ( \‘enue 23). until 2

Sept. 1 1.15am and 2.15pm.

FEMALE PARTS Franca Rame's brilliant monologues are a perennial Fringe favourite. Their portrayal of women trapped and expoited by a male dominated society has retained its freshness and topicality. Park Bench Theatre Company have chosen to present three of the four monologues ~- The Same Old Story. Waking Up and Medea.

Karen Bowlas performs them at breakneck speed. the effect of which is to present us with three women who seem to be victims of their own obsessive behavior. rather than victims of exploitation. By verbally pummelling her audience. Bowlas loses any feeling of mockery that the pieces contain.

Bowlas is undoubtedly a talented actress. but she has been misdirected. By playing all three women the same. she is makinga valid point. but unfortunately its insistence is boring for the audience. The performance cries out for a little variety. a little light and shade. (Paul Pinson) I Female Parts (Fringe) Park BenchTheatre Company. Chaplaincy Centre (Venue 23). until 26 Aug. 10pm; 28 Aug--2 Sept. 6. 15pm & 10pm. £3.50 (£3).

THE CHAIRS Semiramis and her husband have been sat upon for too long: tonight will see their vindication. Before an invited audience drawn from the most prosperous and worthy parts ofsociety. an orator is to speak on their behalf. The world will know at last how they have suffered.

In this astonishingly exuberant and energetic production. Katie London and Uri Roodner create a bewildering fantasy. mesmerising the paying audience. as they seek to fill the holes of a broken memory. and draw some meaning from their frustrated lives.

In a remarkable display of physicality. the actors are both fluid and frenetic. almost dancing at times. Tottering Bipeds have staged a complex and absorbing play about old age. fantasy. memory and the nature ofdramatic reality. It is well worththe walk I doubt I shall see better this festival. (Matt Barrell)

IThe ChairS(Fringe) Tottering Bipeds. Calton

Studios (Venue 7| ). 556 7066. until ZSept. 3.45pm. £4 (£3).


('hosing to do Jacobean playwright. John Webster‘s most obscure and silly play. ()xmad Theatre Company manage to present an entertaining version ofit. This is due. mainly. to some good verse speaking; Webster‘s convoluted style demands clear delivery. and a solid. ifsomcwhat unirnaginative. staging of the action.

The plot twists and turns. like Webster's writhing syntax. and doubles up on itselfin a confusion of intrigue. incest and disguise. The company battle against the archaisms and entendre'softhe piece. but at moments the audience are totally adrift as short interludes and vignettes are introduced to spice up the flailing action.

Siri Neal's Jolenta is memorable as the wronged sister who quickly becomes as adept as her brother and mother at the social past-time of court intrigue. and Michael Wolfe plays the swashbuckling Contrinano with a wrv humour. which in the-end is all the play deserves.

(Nicola Robertson)

I The Devil's Law Case (Fringe) ()xmad Theatre Company. Celtic Lodge (\‘enue 6). 225 7097. until 2 Sept. 6. 15pm. £4 (£3).


The Edinburgh Graduate Theatre Group have staged a satisfactory version of Moliere's The Misanthrope. as rendered by Tony Harrison. It isa play about middle-class sycophancy. one man's refusal to play the game. and the unenviable predicament this lands him in.

acting was wooden at times even clumsy. the cast managed to sustain a pace good enough to assure an attentive audience. Robin Thomson as the protagonist Alceste put in a worthy performance. (Matt Barrell)

I The Misanthrope (Fringe) Edinburgh Graduate Theatre Group. Adam House (Venue 34). 225 3744. until 2 Sept. 7.30pm. £3 (£2).


The Moscow Art Theatre School. an establishment whose founding fathers Stanislavski. Nemirovich-Danehenko and Meyerhold east along and dreadful shadow over the current intake of students. is stepping into the international limelight with a play written by Arthur Miller.

The Crucible. a comment on the spate of commie-bashing initiated by Senator McCarthy in the Fifties. is directed by Brian Cox of the RSC. The mix of cultural input is interesting. and the actors rise to the task of performing a piece set in 17th Century Puritan New England with vigour and skill.

The problem. ofcourse. islanguage. It‘s strange to see a company playing out the witch-hunts ofSalem in the language ofthe Steppes. and it‘s best to do your homework by reading the play before seeing it (there are no simultaneous translations available. just a synopsis). However. the refinement of the actors. from the hero John Proctor to the walk-on part ofMarshal Herrick. combined with the pace of the production and the clever simplicity ofthe set. make it well worth a visit. (Nicola Robertson)

I See Ilitlist for venue details.


Take one marvellous play

The List I 14 September 1989 23