The Mitford blend of moneyed glamour and bizarre political extremism has somehow endowed the family with near-legendary status. While this production is an effective. at times powerful. retellingof Unity's story. it failsto question the validity of mythologising an aristocratic Fascist.
The play begins with Unity. pitiably brain-damaged following her suicide attempt; her dementia. Convincineg portrayed by Joanna Walsh. forms the backdrop to recollections of her earlier life. By suggesting she was deranged even before she shot herself. this approach devolves responsibility. and the play as a whole tends to gloss over the moral implications of Unity‘s infatuation with Hitler.
Instead it tries to invite our sympathy; Walsh‘s i Unity is a sort ofarrested ‘ adolescent. seduced by ' the glamour and charisma of Nazism. There is some
point in the suggestion that she was an intelligent woman whose background denied her l any outlet for her talents. but it doesn‘t alter the fact that she was a passionately committed Fascist. To depict this as misguided naively seems questionable to say the least. (Sue Wilson)
I Unity (Fringe) Oxford Theatre Group. Overseas House (Venue 19) 225 5105. until 1 Sept. 3.30pm. £3.50 (£2.50).
THE CARLIN MOTH
)uite the most striking ind unique aspect of this day by Theatre Alba is hat it is written in Braid Scots. a rich and musical anguage that dates back othe 16th and 17th :enturies. The foreigness )f the tongue threw me at
lThe list 17 -- 23 August l‘)‘)0
first. but soon the mist began to clear and the words to cast their spell.
The story goes that a carlin (witch) moth visits a young croftcr and turns into the woman ofhis dreams. The crofter lives in domestic bliss with this creature of perfection. until the local lass that he neglected tries to discover the reason for his sudden disinterest in her. When the lass intrudes into his fantasy. the idyllic woman suddenly turns into a haggard old witch.
There is an amusing. touching portrait ofthe relationship between the lass and her cunning mother. Enhanced by an exciting stage set. appropriately eerie music and simple choreography. the play works well as an evocative and fantastical parable on love. and the relationship between reality and fantasy. (Robert Alstead)
I The Carlin Moth Theatre
Workshop (Venue 20) 226
5425. until 1 Sept (not Suns). 5.30pm. £4 (£2.50).
This is a tricky play to grasp. The scene is post-holocaust South-East England. l00or so years from now. Characters resembling Stonehenge hippies skulk in peat bog-lands talking in a mutated. primitive form of English: Canterbury is Canbury. Folkstone becomes Forkstone. It soon becomes apparent that the knowledge of the technological age in which we live has not been completely lost. but absorbed into their poetic mythology as a magical time of great wonder.
There is a fair share of choral figures. demons. spirits in masks. and figures on sticks. nursery rhyming and gibing. and a prevalent atmosphere of mysticism. but it is difficult to grasp the thread of the play. or to ascertain a lot of the time what exactly is happening to the hero Riddley Walker.
It may seem unfairto gripe about how bad the seating was (this isthe Fringe after all!) but how are audiences supposed to appreciate a show when halfof them. me included. are looking at the back of the other half's heads for much of the show. This doesn't help with this play in particular. where understanding the language and mythology of this imaginary people
. theatre/ NEW PLAYS
l l l l l
In a Fringe that has venues as unlikely as a restaurant in Portobello and an outdoor Tennis Court in lnverleith Park, perhaps the most peculiar is a secret private house in which an invited
; audience will enjoy the British
premiere at the only stage play by film
director Eric Rohmer. Performed by a local actors Harley Loudon and James
! D. McKechnie, Trio In E is a
requires a lot of concentration.
lfthe bit in the Fringe programme about this show makes some sense to you then you will probably get on better with it than I did. Otherwise avoid it. (Robert Alstead) I Riddley Walker (Fringe). Festival Club (Venue 36) 2200539. until 25 Aug (not Tue) 2pm. 26 ; Aug-7 1 Sept (not Tue) 7pm. £3.50(£3).
Find Me. by POW Theatre is the true story of Verity. an emotionally disturbed young girl. passionately in need of proper love and attention. but denied it by an unsympathetic bureaucracy. and ultimately sent to Broadmoor.
The company are students of the Polytechnic of Wales. and though the acting is ofa mediocre quality (apart from two enjoyable performances by Kevin (‘rowther and Mike Carter). the company function as a determined ensemble. working hard and believing in what they try to achieve.
With some complimentary George Winston-esque live piano accompaniment. a simple black and white set and a topical story ofcurrent value. this play should be appreciated for the commendable efforts put in. (Robert Cavanah)
I Find Me (Fringe)Celtic Lodge. Lawnmarket (Venue 6) until 25 Aug. l2. 15pm. £3.50(£2.50).
contemplation of the power and importance of music to a romantic relationship. The production by First Framework aims to be ‘simple, austere, calm and yet still alternative‘. (Mark Fisher)
i Trio In E (Fringe) First Framework, i Private Residence 071 739 4384,
' 22—25 Aug, 6.30pm; 26 Aug, 2.30pm.
Not quite as stunning as last year‘s exceptional production of Punch and Judy. Femme Fatale is nevertheless gripping stuff.
The story of Georgia and her transvestite husband Jimmy. it portrays a marriage suffering the tension of one partner‘s secret obsession. successfully combining comedy and tragedy. in a way that allows one to fall about laughing without losing reference to the seriousness of the situation.
Typical of the standard one has come to expect of the Snarling Beasties. Femme Fatale should not be missed. (Paul Maverick)
I Femme Fatale (Fringe) The Snarling Beasties. The Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428. until 1 Sept. 4pm. £5.50 (£4.50).
_ MY ARMY, PART 2
This is the second helping ofTim Barlow's autobiographical account of his experiences fighting in the British Army. Barlow‘s rambling monologue intercuts the campaigns in Malaysia against Communist revolutionaries with his participation in NATO exercises in West Germany. skilfully blending the two strands to produce a thoroughly absorbing whole. Ilis ability to bring out tlte
married with a remarkable control over bison-stage presence — with the assistance of a table and a couple of pot-plants he careers from jungle landscape to tanks to mess-rooms. and back again. The post-war tone is set further by a hilarious civil defence movie telling housewives to whitewash their windows to protect against atomic llain in true 50s style.
Devotees of Complicite's characteristically wild and grotesque style might find it hard to recognise in Burlow‘s monologue. despite the McBurney Ilouben direction. Nevertheless liarlow's honesty and sheer delight in the telling of his story make this something of a treat. (Andrew l’ulver)
I My Army, Part 2 ( Fringe) 'l‘heatre de Complicite. I’leasance (Venue 33) 556 6550. until 1‘) Aug. 2pm. £5.50(£4.50).
THE HOME SERVICE
The Home Service is a bitter comedy that turns nasty. From Dad‘s entrance into a sinister half-light, dancing idiotically as he sings "Thank Ileaven for little Girls'. to the family's
drunken exit forthe Christmas service. the play is all good unpleasant fun. And thenJulic returns. after a nine-year absence. to fill an aching vacuum in the heart ofthis broken family.
At least she should. What emerges. however. is that the vacuum lies not within the family. but within each of its constituent members. And Julie. the abused victim. is more concerned with revenge. in a play that explores the infantile side of adults. and men’s relationships with their children.
Superbly written and acted. The Home Service holds the audience right up to its final. chilling denouement. when we discover it ultimately to be a play about colonialism. Well recommended. (Matthew Barrell)
I The Home Service (Fringe) Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428. until 1 Sept. 1.30pm. £6.50(£5.50).
It must be said that the Traverse Theatre has never been synonymous with musicals. Ifanything the values ofsmall-scale theatre are the antithesis of those ofglitzy Hollywood showbiz. So to stage Herringbone. a one-man Canadian song and dance show. in the studio theatre only emphasises what a peculiar artefact it already is.
As a performer. Kerry Shale could not be bettered. L'nder Ben Twist‘s punchy direction. he jumps with amazing agility and physical presence through no less than eleven distinctive characters. The problem is that while Tom ('one's story has a surreal. dark edge. it never manages to subvert the genre or to disguise its own superficiality.
This is bright. sharp mUsical entertainment that fails to deliver the punch it promises. (Mark Fisher)
I Herringbone (Fringe) Traverse Theatre (Venue 15) 226 2633. until 1 Sept. various times. £5.50 (£3.50) g" "N