theatre/NEW PLAYS


Judy Pascoe's Australian. modern feminist version of Pygmalion. differs in subtlety from the original as much as a classical statue from a piece of pork.

Shirley Puts. a charmless young woman from 02 who has invented a method of turning shit into mineral water. arrives in England for the presentation of her project. There she falls for the red-braced marketing director. tries to speak proper like him. puts on a short skirt and red lipstick. is rejected and rejects and then goes home. Meanwhile. her feminist writer aunt speaks into a tape recorder about prehistoric sex.

Let us just say that in Pascoe‘s treatment of Bernard Shaw‘s play. Shaw's is definitely the mineral water. (Harriet Swain)

I The Australian Plg (Fringe) Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550. until 1 Sept (not 30 Aug). 10pm. £5.50 (£4.50).


Despite a promising start - actors dispersed throughout the auditorium converge onto the stage singing in eerily religious tones one soon wearies ofthe over-sustained intensity of Bulmershe Revival‘s new play.

There is little room for relaxation in Xavier Leret's fiery polemic about Communism in wartime Greece, as the characters grapple with universal questions on the nature ofwar. Occasional bursts of action are not enough to compensate for the mental concentration required for the long monologues.

Still. a commendable effort by Laret. who also directed and acted in the play. and some nice performances from a company with a solid

reputation. (Aaron Hicklin)

I I, Catechurnen (Fringe) Bulmershe Revival Theatre Company. Randolph Studio (Venue 55) 225 5366.24. 26.28.31 Aug. 10pm. £3(£2).


This is an amusing black comedy revealing the sorry state of the NHS and how private health care is open to exploitation by the unscrupulous. Overworked Junior Doctor Lopez has a chance meeting with old school chum Nigel. Nigel is an entrepreneur and Lopez is desperate. They collude to open a chain of resting home cum funeral parlours conveniently commiting ‘geriatricide’. Writer Matthew Hall plays Lopez with tragic realism but the yuppie character of Nigel is not expanded fully. In the final scenes the chillingness is poorly projected and the real architect of the scheme escapes retribution. (Konrad Manning) I Dog MurdorOno (Fringe) Renaissance Comedy Associates. Marco’s (Venue 98) 229 8830, until 25 Aug. 6.25pm. £3.75 (£3).


In this gentle and restrained play. two lifelong friends discover the history of Anastasia. a Russian princess who escaped death in 19180n|y to end up in an asylum in Berlin.

Melanie Thompson is elegant as the quietly-suffering Sarah whose loss ofidentity parallels that of Anastasia. and Joanna Forster is controlled and powerful as the selfish. preoccupied Maud.

The play is overly symbolic. however. leaving the audience to rely heavily on the detailed programme. and does not develop fully as a story. But the actors‘ professionalism shines through and the melodious tunes. songs and sound effects create a haunting and nostalgic atmosphere in this mature piece of theatre. (Melissa Nathan)

I Duet (Fringe) Intimate Strangers. Theatre Workshop (Venue 20) 226 5425. until 25 Aug. 12.30pm. £3.50 (£2).

Volcano Theatre are

appropriately named. Their adaptation ofTony Harrison‘s famous poem erupts with a violent energy. the power ofthe words matched by the physical passion ofthe performance.

As KillingJoke alternates with Verdi. ballet with pogoing. assaults with embraces. Harrison‘s exploration of the conflicts between classes. races. sexes. generations and cultures is given vivid vocal and physical expression in an astonishing display of strength and skill. Perfectly timed and controlled. words and movements fire off from each other. crackling with a dangerous anger.

Electrifying. stunning. exhilarating. menacing. hilarious. heart-rending— this show is all of these and much more. (Sue Wilson) I V (Fringe) Volcano Theatre. The Netherbow (Venue 30) 556 9579. until 1 Sept. 9.30pm.£4.50 (£3.50).


There is a rare intimacy in the Splinter (iroup's Prevention (if/rinrn‘enu'. an evocation of the life of Lewis Carroll.

()ne afternoon. Alice Liddell and her friends tail to arrive for tea. and their undersized chairs are instead taken by uninvited adult guests. These include the Rev l.ey ton Pryce. an aspiring roy alist poet (John llorvsood. full of feline. nostrilled insinuation ); Miss (‘harlotte Venn-l layelock (Tanya Scott-Wilson l. a rotund old maid yv hose bubbly sociability conceals an increasingly rabid strain of Victorian bigotry; Miss May Keble (Kerry Drury). whose social graces include spreading jam around her mouth with her tongue.

In the gallery \L‘ltisL‘ confines. the piece sustains an exquisite

naturalism. inlerysov en with a more surreal use of (‘arroll‘s menacing nonsense verse. to create an afternoon which leaves the whispery. grey. spectral feeling of one of Walter de la Marc's uncanny tales. L'nique and unforgettable. (Tom .lohnstone)

I The Prevention of Innocence ( Fringe) The Splinter ( ‘rroup. The llillside (iallery' (\‘enue 88) 5506440. until 1 Sept (not Suns). 1.30pm: 17. 22. 24. 27. 29. 31 Aug.

3pm. “(8.50).


It is a tall orderto celebrate so lugubrious a character as Philip Larkin but Alan l’later succeeds in SWW’! Sorrow.

The play takesan affectionate look at Larkin through the eyes of four aficionados who have gathered for their annual reunion. As they reminisce. the ‘reactionary' old buffer' appears and each reveals to him how his poetry changed their lives and ask him the question that lurks in the mind ofevery Larkin reader. 'is he really as misanthropic as he pretends to be'?‘

In keeping with the subject. the play is low-key. focusing on ordinary revelations rather than extraordinary ones. Larkin is well played as the crusty. self-effacing persona of his poetry and the other characters are acutely observed. The poignant tone of the play is jarred slightly at the end vs hen one character reveals his spiritual crisis. l.arkin. one feels. would not approve ofsuch excess and indeed at this point. as the play ends. he disappears from the stage leay ing an atmosphere of humour and sadness mixed. indeed sweet sorrow . behind him. (Frances ('ornford)

I Sweet Sorrow ( Fringe) llull 'l'ruck Theatre (‘ompany . Assembly Rooms (\‘enue 3 ) 22o 2428. until 1 Sept (not 19. 2")..‘~~15pm.£o5(l(£5)


In the aftermath ofthe Strangeways Riots. No Remission. written by Rod Williams in 1988. isa piece of remarkable foresight. lt recreates the conditions endured by three prisoners in the aftermath of a prisoner riot.

Characters pace the four walls ofa single prison cell with the aggression and frustrated anger of caged animals. each grasping individually for hope in an attempt to deal with their own confinement. John Cater. Stephen Bent. and Vince Leigh all give superb performances as each prisoner‘s outward facade crumbles under the pressure of the collapsing penal system.

Although impossible to do justice to a play ofthis calibre in such a short space. this has to be one the best productions on this year‘s Fringe. (Adrian Searlc)

I No Remission (Fringe) Lucky Porcupine Theatre (‘0. Theatre Workshop (Venue 20) 226 5425. Until 1 Sept (not Sun).

7. 15pm. £5 (£3.50).


Gladis a brilliant and gripping piece of theatre set in the dormitory ofa hostel for the homeless and based on the experiences ofthe men who live there. What makes it exceptional is that it is performed by a mixture of professional actors and the men from the hostel themselves.

The play focuses on two plots. One. cleverly parrying any charges of exploiting the homeless. has a director coming to the hostel to make a play about the men. so all the arguments about exploitation are aired on stage. The other concentrates on the relationship between one of the men and his retarded girlfriend. Much ofthe power ofthe play. however. arises from the recreation of the violence and boredom of hostel life.

The professional actors are all good. especially Lynne Killen. impressive as the retarded girl Jessie. The real stars however are the men themselves. The remarkable Terence Rigby‘. a savant in a shabby raincoat. had the audience in the palm ofhis hand. At 64 he will shortly

be taken up. I suspect. as a

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star of stage and screen. The other outstanding talent is James Watson. as the violent and aimless Richard. who has never acted before but isas powerful and assured a presence as anyone I have

Having been developed with them. the play neither romanticises or polemicises the plight of the homeless but is theatrical realism so powerful that other plays dwindle by comparison. (Frances Cornford)

I Glad (Fringe) The Grassmarket Project. The Cirassmarket Mission (Venue 21) until 1 Sept (not Sun). 7.30pm. £3.50 (£3).


Nick Perry‘s play seeksto unite the spirit of Agincourt in all Englishmen at work and war. where organised football hooliganism and the South Atlantic task force are the same in all but uniform.

The cast boasts strong performances. particularly from Ben Figgis as Billy. who struggles to emulate his war hero brother. but finds his tail trapped in the door of football and fighting. However. the Falklandshooligans analogy is well-trodden ground. and there is something faintly cold about middle-class college boys pretending to be working-class for a middle-class audience; the aggression is never threatening. and the brutish bad language becomes tired and forced. ()ne senses too much eloquence beneath the masks of yobbishness.

Arrivederci Mil/wall is provocative. affecting drama. but if the audience wants to be trulyshaken up. it should go to (‘old Blow Lane and see the real thing. (Mark Willis) IArrivederci Millwall (Fringe) Bedlam (Venue 49) 225 9893. until 25 Aug. l2.10pm.£3.5(l (£2.50).

22 The List 24 30 August I990