the back row). The content of the show is so polished as to be sparkling; the seamless blending of songs and stand-up routine can teach Bob Downe a thingor seven about slickness. About the brain? I reckon Ms. Ilarmer would be able to cut dead a heckler at 50 paces when encased in concrete. so a small dose ofjet-Iagofferslittle in the way of a challenge. Above all. this is a show and a performance which simply oozes class and style. When such components are accompanied by a wit this incisive. a mere review cannot come near to doing justice. You simply have to see her to appreciate how good she really is. (Philip I’arr) I Love Gone Wrong (Fringe) Wendy l iarmer. The Assembly Rooms (Venue 3). 226 2428. until 1 Sept. midnight. £5 (£4).


I remember the songs. but I don‘t remember girl groups sounding this good when l was a kid. Maybe

that's because they didn‘t try it a capella like the Frigidaires. Set as a retrospective on the career ofa mythical group like the Shangri-l.as or the Shirelles. the game isto figure out which stars the

eventsintheir past referto

(Diana Ross will usually

3 be a good guess). Sixties

sequins. high hair. and de-dum sh-booms are the only way to pull off‘My Boyfriend's Back'. You have to watch out for the odd ear-splitting scream. but that was always a

; danger with girly-girls. Swell harmonies. (Wes

Shrum) I Lite Could Be a Dream (Fringe)’l’he Frigidaires.

; ChaplaincyCentre (Venue 23) l3Aug—l

Sept. 1 lpm. {4.501550).


We‘ve all heard tramps muttering to themselves as we hurry past: this play makes us listen to what they might be saying. The

; nameless baglady ofthe

! title recitesa kaleidoscopic monologue of fragmented memories

anddream-likcimages. Water. drowning. blood

and the tramp's father are recurrent motifs. as she circles gradually closer to the central. terrible secret which torments her.

Jane Guernicr creates a convincing portrait ofa disturbed mind. reverting to childhood with a little-girl voice or writhing on the floor in furious distress. jerky. disjointed movements accom- panying fractured speech as the flotsam and jetsam of recollection float randomly to the surface.

What is missing is any kind ofcontext for all this; despite a vivid performance. the play‘s lack of reference to anything beyond the confused mind ofthe protagonist makes it curiously insubstantial. (Sue Wilson)

I Baglady (Fringe) Park

: Bench Theatre Company.

Chaplaincy Centre Upstairs (Venue 23) until 1 Sept. noon. £3 (£2.50).


21A is the number ofabus route from Minneapolis to St Paul where eight characters interact. giving away their lifestyles and personalities with humour and sensitivity.

Written and performed by Kevin Kling in numerous costumes and splendidly various voices. the play begins with a pacey introduction which assures the audience they are in the hands ofa very capable actor/raconteur and are in for atreat.

Then the versatile actor changes from Gladys with her penchant for Love Boat to amongothers, Captain Twelvepack. the highly amusing drunk.

Subtle and clever. the script deftly switches from each character. working up to a lovely final twist. which brings the enjoyable play to a neat end. (Melissa Nathan).

I 21A (Fringe) ()n the Bus Productions. Randolph Studio (Venue 55) 225 5366. Until 1 Sept (not Aug 28). £2.95 (£1 .95).


Cut Back Theatre and Limelight Productions have combined to produce a double-bill ofpoetry re-intcrpreted as drama. Gertrude Stein‘s ‘Lifting Belly' celebrates feelings oflesbian sexuality in a lyrical. tender but ultimately obscure narrative. The

three-woman cast grapple bravely with the textual ambiguities. but for all the sensitivity conveyed the veiled poetic intimacy remains ex'cluding.

Ted Hughcs‘s Gaudete is given a more dramatic exploration. the poem re-invented by the company to pursue themes of male potency and female sexual liberation. The result is imaginative. but the characters lack sympathy. falling too frequently into negative stereotyping to enforce audience reaction.

Two bold undertakings however. which prove intelligent but difficult theatre. (Mark Willis)

I Lifting Belly/Gaudete (Fringe) Festival Club (Venue 36). 2200539 until 1 Sept. 2pm. £3.50 (£2.50).


This is a double bill of one-woman plays the first of which leads neatly into the other. Backstage at the National is an amusing skit on the types who hang about on the fringes ofthe theatre world. Nicola Rauh‘s bossy. patronising theatre guide catches perfectly the nuances of one who thinks herselfin the know.

Eleanor Zeal‘s I wanna be a Vicar is an utterly bizarre piece in which. with a few props including a portable pulpit. she creates her own crazy reflection of the crazy world of religion. where a girl who wants to be a vicar can succeed against all odds by the simple expedient of dressing up as a man while her boyfriend dresses up in drag. Very funny and very peculiar. it succeeds through Zeal‘s ability to make the stage completely her own. (Frances Cornford)

I Backstage at the National and I want to be a Vicar (Fringe) Theatre Caddis. Greyfriar‘s Kirk House (Venue 28) 225 3626. until 1 Sept. 7.05pm.£4 (£3).



A bell tolls against the fierce rush of wind. as two nuns drag themselves on

f stage and begintheir

agonised dance of


Nic Scott and Amanda Lennon have devised a performance piece which is at once inspiring and disturbing. Inspiring for

. theinsightwhichinforms i theirpiecezdisturbing

because it reminds us that motherhood is perhaps

3 the one. unbroachable I difference between men 3 and women.

In graphic movement. the two performers aspire to illustrate the soul-destroying aspects of motherhood. without actually denigrating the experience. We see them feeding baby. amusing baby. cleaning baby. snatching what precious moments they have for a drink at the local.

[Ireastfeedfng (he Violin may not correspond with cveryone‘s understanding

of motherhood. but is

nevertheless a vivid

portrayal of the way in whichachild‘sneedscan

dominate and control the mother. (Aaron llicklin)

. I Breastfeeding the Violin i (Fringe). ()xford College I’Iayers. Festival Club

(Venue 3b) 220 0539. 24. . 25 Aug. 12.30pmz26


Aug—l Sept.7pm.£3.50 (£3).

I l


A spartan. dimly-lit set and two memorable outbursts of erotic and religious frenzy. seem to promise a diverting hour or so of Russian rnelancholia.

But these actors' anaemic efforts disappoint such expectations. Francois Moss's hunched. fidgety Zhenya. even after the evident hardships of custody. fails toconvince

us of the character’s

voracious sexual passion for Stepashka (Francesca Campbell. more like a Barbie doll than a ‘hot-bloodcd' peasant girl).

In Moss‘s long speeches lack of vocal variation. allied to interminable pauses. makes the minutes seem hours. Iilaine Finch‘s continual repetition of ‘My thin legs . . .mypitifulbreasts' eventually becomes as laughable as it is tedious. But the play is sostiflingly earnest that you can hardly breathe. let alone laugh. ()ne to miss. (Tom Johnstone)

I Love in the Meadow (Fringe) Diabolo Theatre Productions. St ('olumba's by the Castle (Venue 4) 2200541. until 25 Aug (not Suns). 11.15pm; 27 Aug—l Sept. 7. 15pmz26 Aug. 1pm;27 Aug. 12.30pm.£3.50.


This short play vividly recounts the story oftwo vs hitc survivors ofSotlth Africa's biggest mining disaster. At a deeper level it is about how a white miner realises his deep sense of brotherhood with fellow black miners through shared suffering and tragedy . The terrible day's events are energetically re-enacted through mime and sound the descent into the pit. the blasting and tiring under the earth‘s surface. the discovery of gas. the panic. suffocation. burning and grief. 'l'ogcthcr with its intimate. touching portraits of heroesand \ ictimsol the disaster. it is a play full of pathosand horror. sadness and hope. See it and be mos ed. (Robert .-\lstcad) I Kinrossthe '84 Mining Disaster l I‘ringe) Springsscll Ilouse ( Venue 32i337 197l . until 3| Aug (odd days only ). lpm. £1 (£3)

The List 31 August 13 September 199019