I SOTOBA KOMACRI tlinagawa returns to the Festival with Mishima’s modem tloh telling the story of a famed Japanese beauty. Plus a traditional Noh. Sekidera Komachi. performed by Yukio Yoshimura. Ninagawa Company (Festival) Royal Lyceum. 20-22 Aug, 7.30pm (also 2.30pm on 22 Aug). 25-210.
I HORN 0F SORROW Improvised musical play by South African cast dealing with the plight oi the Black Rhino. See Preview. Theatre For Africa. Springwell House (Fringe Venue 32) 337 1971. 13 Aug-1 Sept. 6pm. £4.50 (23.50).
I SPERSER'S LAYE Witty and well-acted comic drama in which the poet Spenser triumphs amongst the intrigues of the Elizabethan court. See Review. Connacht Productions, Assembly Rooms (Fringe Venue 3) 226 2468. 10 Aug-1 Sept. 5pm. £6 (£5).
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I CURL UP AND DYE Market Theatre. Johannesburg. are back with another award-winning anti-apartheid satire. this time set in the confessional atmosphere oi a hairdressing salon. Market Theatre/Michael’s Company. Traverse Theatre (Fringe Venue 15) 226 2633.14 Aug-1 Sept. various times. £6.50 (£3.50).
I KOCROU Successful Japanese company in new stage version of10th century puppet drama. written and directed by Saburo Shlmada. See Review. Lasenkan. Randolph Studio (Fringe Venue 55) 225 5366.13-25 Aug. various times. 24 (£2.50).
Greek Tragedy lays gently to rest any claim for Mike Leigh to seriously represent an innovatory voice in theatre. Although his working methods are still to some extent unique — producing big-stage plays with little in the way ofprepared script. relying on the improvisatory qualities of actors in rehearsal to create the stage action — the kind of theatrical texture he creates is rapidly losing the relevance it once
Set in the immigrant Greek community in Australia. Greek Tragedy probes the frustrations and vulnerabilities of a married couple. Alex and Calliope. as they suffer the tensions and irritations of poverty. pregnancy and a lack of tenderness. That said. the performance offers little to raise its dynamic above the formulaic nature of its theme. As realist theatre it offers the seedy atmosphere and ‘mundane' textures ofthe ‘angry‘ decade. but with only a fitful sense of the protest. weight. even the sense of history that makes them still watchable.
For a start. does it really matter that the characters are Greek. or even Australian? Apart from the odd lines ofGreek language on
stage. there is little exploration of the immigrant experience that is promised. Much better was the relentless grinding ofthe jumbo jets. making the theatre itselfshake as they pass over the couple's mean home. Set against this is Leigh‘s customary practice ofcaricature — again developed through personal experience and the detailed study of human beings as creatures in a habitat. Why then. I wonder. does it seem like the result ofa ten-minute chat just before the show? Particularly with the more grotesque characters. the acting and satiric understanding seems rudimentary to say the least. another formulaic re-hash of received stereotypes. Where Leigh scores is if the actors manage to be funny. Nicolas Papademetriou as the meek.
unflamboyant Perry is consistently excellent. acting as a foil to the overbearing Larry (George Spartels). He manages to strain a great deal ofhumour from his role. where other set-piece gags fail. But then Leigh‘s ever-present symbolic division between the warm-human and the grotesque-dislikeable breaks down under its own weight at the end. as Calliope. loaded with various attributes ofvulnerability. gets bashed in a deeply ineffectual climax and then delivers a set speech of breathtaking banality. This may be unfair to a production that has had great success elsewhere. but out of context this play is like a fish out of water. (Andrew Pulver)
I Greek Tragedy (Festival) Bclvoir Street. Churchill Theatre 447 7597. 13—25 Aug. various times. £5.5()—£8.
THEATRE FOR AFRICA
Alter recent media overkill. be forgiven for trying to avoid anything remotely Green at this year’s Fringe. Don't make that mistake with Theatre iorAfrica. This fascinating ensemble of both black and white South Africans is committed to wildlife conservation. but they never let the issue override the
humanity in theirwork. All
ex-members of the very successful Lott theatre company. they use a
combination of movement.
self-generated sounds and a little dialogue to get their message across. By vividly personifying the animals that they are concerned about, they believe their work can cross all cultural
‘We call it Theatre for Africa because it is based in so many African ways. We don’t use props and we don’t rely on lighting. We use our spirit to reach the audience — it is the spirit that makes Alrica,’ says performer Madoda Ncayiyana. Obviously aware that ‘
see that we are making a political statement’.
Dynamism makes up for the lack of props at their shows. ‘If we need a table we create it out of bodies.’ states Hugo Le Roux, the group’s choreographer. He leads a grinding physical class daily to keep the company in shape. Things don’t wind down after the show either— each cast member gives the others a note of their performance. so they are continually ironing out any faults that may set in. Madoda explains, ’We have to revive things all the time because. if you are playing an animal. it is so easy to let it slip away from you, to lose its spirit.’
Westerners have a somewhat distorted “Mom or Sorrow" (T.F.A. ‘s
view of South Africa. he continues. ‘We don’t have to raise our list in the air and shout “Mandela”. With the subject
matter and by working together. people
centre-piece) deals specifically with the plight of the Black Rhino,’ says Hugo. Re is quick to quality: ’You are never aware of the performance being
a lecture. but by the end you certainly know there is a big problem with this creature. and unless we do something now. itwill become extinct.’ Underthe misguided idea that its horn contains an aphrodisiac. the Black Rhino is illegally over-hunted. However. the play refuses to blame the poachers and emphasises that they are the victims of a monetary system that ensures that someone will always pay forthe horn. ‘lnstead. we make people fall in love with the animal. You love your daughter. you love your brother. you love your son, someone could give you a million dollars and you wouldn’t kill them, that’s what we want you to feel about the rhino,’ says Madoda. (David Mackenzie) All performances are at Springwell House, Ardmillan Terrace from 13 Aug—1 Sept. Horn of Sorrow runs daily at 6pm, Aadvark and Eagle on even dates at 11am and 2.30pm respectively and Kinross on odd dates at 100pm.
FREE lOADER TICKETS P87
The List 17— 23 August 199037