theatre/NEW PLAYS


Parodies of student acting groups have certain favourite targets. There is the megalomaniac director. the predilection for over-acting and. of course. the tree. Up until this play. I‘d never seen even a student theatre group have the gall to include the line ‘1 am a tree.‘ But the St Andrew's Mermaids ensured that my great ambition to hear it was finally realised. This dramatic presentation is an adaptation of Edgar Lee Masters‘ monologues for characters culled (if this is possible) from an American graveyard. 1t succeeds only in dissuading you from purchasing Mr Masters' collected works for none of the characters makes a lasting impact on the consciousness. ()nce the next one is wheeled on. the last is instantly forgotten. The company deserve better for they all have considerable talent when portraying humans rather than trees. They should get rid ofthat megalomaniac director. though. The ‘dramatic movement' is hackneyed. (Philip Parr) I Spoon River(Fringe) The St Andrews University Mermaids. Edinburgh (‘ollege of Art (Venue 73). until 25 Aug (not Sun). 11.04am. £2 (£1.50).


lfthere‘s one thing more boring than being in a claustrophobic relationship. it‘s watching somebody else's. Hamish Gillies' Taking the Woodbine is therefore in trouble from the start.

It is the early 70sand Scot lan Donaldson has left his wife and medical career for a younger American woman and writing. The play traces their career failures and successes. their quarrels and reconciliations in a series of disjointed scenes usually ending in one or other throwing themselves on the bed in either anguish or passion.

Domesticity is notoriously difficult to write about and (iillies‘ tributes to Tolstoy's mastery ofthe subject does little to help his own problems.

Only for self-absorbed couples who want a

darkened room and nice background music. (Harriet Swain)

I Taking the Woodbine (Fringe) Springwell House (Venue 32) 337 1971.24.26. 28. 30 Aug. 1 Sept. 8pm. £3.50 (£2.50).


(‘lairc Booker‘s new play dramatiscs the bringing up of a Down‘s Syndrome girl of nineteen. tackling the consequences of her awakening libido frankly.

The acting ofAnn Wenn.herse1fnineteen. shows Polly‘s boisterously affectionate nature. but she seems to think that Down's Syndrome‘s vocal symptoms amount to bellowing. I'm not sure if Mark O‘Callaghan‘s almost military stiffness result from his character‘s embarrassment at being the object of Polly's demonstrative affections. or from amateur actor‘s rigor mortis.

()verall. the play lacks the sensitivity to leave the audience with anything more than some laughs and a sense of facile optimism. (Tom Johnstone)

I Rainbow Raby(Fringe) Blow Up at Abbotsford. Abbotsford Lodge. (Venue 84) 447 1 122. until 25 Aug (not Sun). 10pm. £3 (£2.50).


Dispute may rage over whether Acid House is the ultimate postmodern music. but there is little doubt that it is the only music of the 1980s which fits Euripides in both form and spirit. The adaptation is an effective dramatic response to the recent ban on raves. highlighted by energetic dancers and Nick Marcq‘s marvelous Bacchus. When the show is over. cross town to the Brain Club for continued worship. (Wes Shrum)

I Bacchae- In the House (Fringe) Upfront Theatre, Marco‘s (Venue 98) 229 8830. 13 Aug—l Sept. 11.45pm. £4 (£3).


The subconscious roots of myth and fairy-tale are strikingly dramatised in this compelling adaptation of Angela (‘arter's adult fable. (‘omic and horrifying by turns. it conjures a powerful sense of darkly brooding menace. exploiting our uneasy fascination with the atavistic savagery which can lurk beneath a civilised veneer.

Amanda Kane gives a finely-balanced performance as the pre-pubescent heroine. virginal yet instinctively consciousof her latent sexuality and the power it bestows. (iary (‘ondes' Huntsman strikes just the right note of seductive. satanic arrogance. and the supporting performances are similarly impressive. Tightly directed. with an ingeniousand effective set. this is exciting. spine-tingling stuff. (Sue Wilson)

I The Company of Wolves (Fringe) Birmingham Rep Youth Workshop. (ireyfriars Kirk House (Venue 28) 225 3626. until 26 Aug. l2.30am.£4(£3).


lffolktales are your thing. you could do a lot worse than visit Barbara Neville‘s Fireglow and Moonshine, comprising six world tales recounted in an atmosphere reminiscent of story time at infant school. However, at school I rarely liked my teachers. whereas Ms Neville

exuded the warmth and intimacy ofa surrogate mother. I halfexpected her to sit me in her lap. but it was not to be.

This is an ideal opportunity for all age groups to discover the ancient art of storytelling. Seemingly eccentric at the outset - Ms Neville kicks off with a burst of song- it soon turns into a delightful journey through the fairy tale lands of childhood. (Aaron Hicklin)

I Fireglow and Moonshine (Fringe). Old St Paul‘s Church & Hall (Venue 45). 557 9422. until 25 Aug. 4pm. £2.50 (£2).


When Zoe tells her husband she needs surgery for a malignant breast lump. he stares at her and demands she get a second opinion.

Asshc grows accustomed to the idea of dying she has to cope with the ignorance. fear and guilt of her loved ones as well as the pain ofthe illness.

Perhaps the most telling line was that of her suffering mother:

‘l'd take her place ifl could. . . lthink.‘

Written by Daryl l.indstorm who died of metastic breast cancer in 198‘). Purple Brown is painfully thought- provoking. and movineg performed without melodrama by this slick American company. Discussion afterwards. (Melissa Nathan)

I Purple Breasts ( l‘ringe) American Theatre Ventures ((‘aliforniai. Moray House l'nion

j Theatre (\"enue 108) 556 518-1.until18Aug.2pm; 20—25 Aug. 10am.£3.50 (£3)


William (‘arlos Williams was. and is. an important and influential poet. who lived as a doctor in a small town in New Jersey. His life was largely uneventful. which is a problem for this play. a one-man dramatisation using slides. music and a script interspersed with poems. A quiet piece. it attempts to give us a feel of his work and ofits genesis. though it never rises much above the poet'sslightlycharming appeal. The major events of Williams' life such as they were are dealt with: his work in a New York hospital. and his stormy friendship with Ezra Pound. Significantly. his most fertile and interesting period the 20s and 30s is almost wholly left out. A thoughtful play. competently done. (Matthew Barrell)

I Beside The White Chickens (Fringe) Randolph Studio (Venue 55) 225 5366. until 1 Sept. 2pm.£3 (£1.75).


('ambridge Mummers' Bud Breaks is a sharply observed satire on the yuppie consumer culture promoted in adverts where every problem has a designer answer.

Max and Alice have just moved into an apartment together and are having a few teething problems. Their relationship is not improved by another

couple who seem to haunt their flat: glossy. yuppie and. you've guessed it. coffee drinking. As Max and Alice's relationship disintegrates. the sinister yuppie couple and their consumer durables move in.

The play is well written. well acted and very funny. especially the spoof adverts that intersperse it. It you have an incipient hatred of ('1) players. stockbrokers and anything matt black and chrome and would like to seeyour suspicions confirmed. or just it you want a laugh. then this is the show for you. (Frances (‘ornford) I Bad Breaks ( l‘ringcl ('ambridgc Mummers. ()y crseas l louse (Venue

19)2255105. 18.20.23. 25.27.30Aug. ISept. 2.30pm. £2.50 (£1 .50).

i t.

t .' ‘3 ,. WAITING FOR SIR LARRY Kamikaze Gerry Murphy. an Irish would-be actor turned terrorist for easier publicity. has organised the bombing ofseven theatre venues. but as the plot fails around him. he takes a minute or 65 to tell his hostage audience a story about his lunatic ambition to obtain an Equity card.

Directed by Geraldine McEwan. her son Greg Cruttwell wrote and stars in this zany piece of self-indulgent promotion. though he should be commended for his enormous energy and determination to keep the show fast and entertaining.

Between the writing and acting there is still scope for extra humour. but nevertheless. a show worth seeing. (Robert (‘avanah)

I Waiting ForSirLarry (Fringe) Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49). 225 9893. until 25 Aug (not Suns). 6.15pm.£4.50.(£4)


I like the old black and white ones myself. This brilliant play by Dennis Potter features a beguiling and sinister stranger. raising the ancient questions ofconsciousness and evil. A modern couple‘s debate over the awareness of their spastic. invalid daughter is answered in hair-raising fashion by their visitor. a former suitor whose intentions gradually become gradually. A perfect dramatic premise carried off splendidly. the performance had halfthe audience on,the edge of their seats. The tension and despair are so powerful that the play subverts its own ending. (Wes Shrum)

I Brimstone and Treacle (Fringe) Oxford Theatre (iroup. Overseas House (Venue 19) 225 5105.9 Aug—1 Sept. 7pm. £4(£3).

The List 24 30 August 199019