I PDPEYE IN EXILE A hitat the London Mime Festival. David Glass‘s Popeye is witty. exuberant and energetic.
David Glass New Mime Ensemble. Assembly Rooms (Fringe) 226 2468, 1DAug-1 Sept. (not 13. 20. 26 Aug). 4pm, £5(£4).
IARCHADS Lastyearthey took Edinburgh by storm. This year they bring a new show, just as exciting and lrreverentas before.
Leith Links (International Festival) 225 5756.11 Aug-2 Sept. (notMon). 6.30pm. Sat 6 Sun mats 39m. £8 (£6).
I KING LEAR An intriguing fusion of East and West from a highly praised classical Indian dance company.
Kathakali (international Festival) 225 5756, 15—18
I MAPAPA ACROBATS It you didn't catch them atthe List party. find these redoubtable athletes on the ange.
Assembly Rooms (Fringe) 226 2468.12 Aug—1Sepl. 11 .30am. £6 (£4).
I ALICE Lewis Caroll's magnificent tale is given a good dose oicircus madness.
Circus Burlesque (Fringe) 0860 826829. 16-18. 26 Aug-2 Sept.7pm,17.18. 26Aug,1.2 Sept. 3pm. £6 (£4).
At least 400 years old. the South
Indian dance form known as Kathakali is a highly stylised dance drama. which gives its name to the Kerala Kalamandalam Kathakali company. Built on a sophisticated language ofgesture each movement represents an idea. Exaggerated facial espressions denote emotion. accentuated by vibrant make-up. whilst a vocabulary of traditional movements stand for more abstract ideas such as life and death and grammatical gestures for pronouns. tenses and soon. The result is a fo;m which could speak to the deaf.
()ne of the most striking features of this company is the effort which goes into costume and make-up. Preparation begins hours before each performance when the actors design geometric patterns on their faces. Then follows the application of elrutrr’. layered white gum and paper which provides a base for bold. colourful designs. The process takes around an hour and a half. during which time the performers lie back and relax. perhaps fall asleep. before applying their own make-up. The whole process is accompanied by religious ritual. A small oil lamp renders the area sacred. in front of
which the actors put on elaborate headgear. sprinkled with drops of water as a symbol of purification.
Although the actors don‘t speak. two singers on stage chant the text. Divided into three sections. each part begins with a Sloka. a passage which sums up the scene. followed by Pudams. sung poems carrying the dialogue. illustrated word for word in gesture by the dancers. In between these are Attams. text represented by gesture accompanied by percussion. Within this fairly rigid structure, the actors are constantly improvising, so that each performance is different from the last.
It should be interesting to witness King Lear through Eastern eyes. The play was in part chosen by the company for its relatively simple
structure and themes of renunciation. royal succession and man versus nature. already common in Indian Classical dance. By omitting the intrigue between Gloucester and his sons. it has been paired down to a simple. powerful tale ofdestruction and regeneration. involving character types — Lear violant and vulnerable. Goneril and Regan calculating and evil — instantly indicated by costume and make-up. Involving nine dancers and five musicians. adorned with elaborate costume and dramatic mask-like make-up. Kathakali do King Lear like you‘ve never seen it before. (Jo Roe) I King Lear (International Festival) Kathakali. Royal Lyceum Theatre. 225 5756.15—18 Aug. 7.15pm. “SO—£8.50.
v i s i o n
Minimalism is one of those ‘isms’ of the sixties that has not, like so many others, become a ‘wasm‘. It‘s clarity and antiseptic quality appeals not only to Scandinavian kitchen designers, but also, it seems to artists from these countries. The Danish performance art group, Hotel Pro Farm, has used the language of minimalism to explore ideas about space and perspective, in a series of productions specifically relating art and architecture. They bring to the Festival this year a piece, Why Does Night Come, Mother.
Song, poetry, performance and setting are all used - minimally—the song is sung by a single unaccompanied soprano (though layered with recorded material of the same), the poetry simply recited, the performers dressed in black, grey and white, and the set rather like the afore-mentioned kitchens in its antiseptic, lineardesign.
What revolutionises the performance
is the idea of placing the audience above the set, looking down from
balconies to the floor. Yet the perspective of the set is designed to retain the impression that the usual horizontal relationship between viewer and player is still in action. This simple
optical illusion allows Hotel Pro Forma to play with such certainties as gravity, shifting from the vertical abyss to horizontal screen at will.
The title of the piece, Why Does Night Come, Mother, refers to this questioning of things usually taken for granted. It is taken from a Danish song about a boy who is dying, asking his mother all those big, awkward questions parents like to avoid. Hotel Pro Forma don‘t want us to avoid them either.
it must be said that the work was created and first shown in a particular architectural context— more Mies Van der Rohe and his curtain walls of glass, than the crazy tuscan neo-greenhouse that is Chamber Street museum, where Hotel Pro Forma will be appearing. But the director, Kirsten Dehlholm relishes the contrast and promises us a performance of intense concentration and high tension.
Due to the width of the main hall of the venue, the word on the ground is - go for the higher of the two balconies to get youriuli quota ofvertigo. and Danish dictionaries are not required — the poetry is in English. (Fly Freeman)
; Why Does Night Come, Mother
i (International Festival) Hotel Pro
l Forma, Royal Museum of Scotland, 225 5756,15—18 l Aug, 9.30pm, £6.
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The List 10— 16 August lUUli39