THE LAST LAUGH
Set in a sort ofBrothers Grimm landscape. and peopled by Lihu Rex — styled despots. the mythical country of Funfree serves as both an allegory on the existence of dictatorships and as a colourful arena in which disturbing issues are made accessible by incorporating aspects of farce and slapstick.
This delicate balance between humour on the one hand. and quite menacing undertoneson the other. works to keep the production lively and impressive. though the company makes few
compromises for the audience. Even the happy ending is dissipated by a warningthat 77161413! Laugh is merely a fairytale. lfthis is theatre with a purpose. the children in the audience will one day be takingout subscriptions to Amnesty and vigorously writing to Prisoners ofConscience. (Aaron llicklin)
IThe Last Laughtlill Street Theatre (Venue 41) 225 7294. until 31 Aug (not Sun). llam.£~l (£3.50).
SCHOOL FOR CLOWNS
A classroom of three anarchic clowns
: constantlyupsetting a teacher's lesson may sound a potentially good idea. Unfortunately this company disappoints — creating a show that is unfocussed. ill-conceived. ‘ badly directed and low on production values. The overall impression is one of confused noise coupled with a woeful lack of pace. Occasionally. interesting ideas shine through: for example. there is a
healthy abundance of
word-play running throughout. and there is a nice sequence when the actors paint clowns‘ faces on the children. But on the whole the show causes
much bemusement and
toolittle mirth. (Michael Balfour)
I School For Clowns (Fringe) Pre Paradise Productions. Calton Studios (Venue 71). 556 7066. 8—31 Aug(not Mons). 10am. £3(£2).
TRY IT ON THE DOG
Impromptu Theatre Company is. five minutes
24 The List-1.6 — 22 August i931-
Two barefoot women. A step ladder. A stark empty stage. A performed relationship in which the couple ‘share everything‘ —depicting their lives— beginning to destroy themselves. Through linking physical tableaux, the two performers explore the theme of 5 the cruelty and pain of intimacy. , Managing to avoid cliche and : pretension, the two use a stylised naturalism fraughtwith intensity and l ironic humourto express the ; paradoxical theme of ‘I possess. lam !
The company’s bold visual style scratches at the scabs of mundanity with controlled and precise choreography. A brave and compelling drama of movement and stillness, directed with genuine sensitivity and economy. Inventive and gently innovative theatre. (Michael Balfour) Slight Possession (Fringe) Talking Tongues, Richard Demarco Gallery (Venue 22). 557 0707, until 24 Aug, noon, £3.50 (£2.50).
~ before curtain. hopping
about on the street. thrustinglcaﬂets and grinning. Ah. the earnest
1 faces ofthe young.who beam and josh so much
that we‘re sure we must be having a good time. Unfortunately the
collection of sketches in
the style of Boccaeeio or Chaucer attempt a bawdy.
puppeteer from (ilasgow, starts by introducing various puppets from
big-hearted humour which
is embarraSsing rather
than funny. Writtenin rhyme with rhyming
slang. it‘s all a bittoo
much. as we struggle
desperately toward another terminal sound. And of course. being tales of peasants. the RP vowels are suitably
- cropped for similitude — a
whiff of the patronising or
merely a gale ofnaivety‘.’ Saved by excellent
T which fills the
unnecessarily long scene
breaks (‘Would you like a ' mint while you wait. sir’?‘)
and a generally good design. the show is aimed
at no one in particular and
still manages to be well clear ofthe mark. (Stephen Chester)
I Try It On The Dog (Fringe) Impromptu Theatre. Overseas House (Venue 19) 225 5105. until 31 Aug (not Tue). noon. £2.50 (£2).
world. inviting boys and girls onto the stage in turn to make the puppets work. He has an easy way with children. involving
everyone in the tellingof
the story with traditional singing. clapping. and magic chants. as well as creating the roles ofthe
cat. dog. pig. and cow for
four of the children to play with stick masks. I feel the show could be more absorbing and magical if there was more stage
puppetry. but the children seemedtoenjoy it.
IThe Gingerbread Man (Fringe) Ian Turbitt Puppet Theatre. (iilded Balloon (Venue 38) 22h 2151.16—1833-232931 Aug. 10am. £4(£2).
('rossing elements of pantomime with the traditional ('omcdy of
Manners. this restoration romp playfully retells the
exploits of the diminutive.
yct heroic. Tom Thumb. Designer (iabriella lngram's colourful and inventive costumes are a visual feast. from the drunken queen
crown perched on a large barrel. to Mcrlin's suit of cards.
(‘ouchcd in restoration
vernacular the story works
on a basic level. with lots of clowning about on
stage. wordplay. and song
(with somewhat shakey string accompaniment ). Take up the invitation to make lots of noise. and have some rumbustiousljv
good fun. (Robert
ITom Thumb(Fringe) Theatre Agog. Festival
until 2-1 Aug (not Mon 19). l lam. £3.50(£3).
SHAKESPEARE FOR BREAKFAST
What do you do ifyou are a lost cause as a theatre company? You put on a play when there's nothing else for punters to go to. clothe it in the name ofthe ‘bard' (even though it is definitely not Shakespeare) and add the gimmick of'continental breakfast' (in fact. a chewy jam roll ancia plastic cup ofinstant). But this still fails. [I has all the elements ofa school play: a shambolic storyline that serves only as a vehicle for patchy and trite humour. which is Usually poorly delivered. At least the play ispacey. and to be fair I did laugh
once or twice. But
breakfast with TVA M
would have been more
rewarding. (Robert Alstead).
I Shakespeare for Breakfast ( Fringe) Sec Red (Venue 4) 2200541. until 26 Aug (not Suns). 10am. £2.80.
Stuart llcpburn and Liz l.ochhead are an oil rig worker and his wife. who as their monologues indicate. lead separate but adjoining lives. l.ochhead. as author. has a poetic command of Scots idiom which she uses superbly to detail the long littlenessoflife. ller \‘ercna is a tragi-comic masterpiece. an oil-widow covering up an empty existence with a welter of information about
clothes. Christmas presents and family feuds. Hepburn. as the aptly named Derek. hits precisely the right note its the rig worker returning home from his enforced exile for Christmas. fuelling his maudlin reminiscences with a crate of Tartan Special. l.ochhead as Verena is absurd and very funny. but never loses the sympathy of the audience in a'play that is hilarious and affecting by turns. (Frances (‘orn ford) I Ouelques Fleurs (Fringe) Liz. l.ochhead. Assembly Rooms(\'enue 3) 220-1349. until 31 Aug (not Suns). 12 noon. £6 £7 (£5 Eb).
A slightly revised production ofJohn (iodbcr's award winning play from 1984. withthe ' same proven mixture of stylised action. humorous i one-liners. pathos and 1 comic strip stereotypes.
The simple plot centres on I underdog Arthur who makes a foolish bet with top dog Reg. that he can train a crack rugby league team out ofa bunch of ‘tissuc paper warriors‘.
The humour ofthe script is ofan above-average sit-com. the play‘s main strength being the imaginative stylisation of the production. which adds a tongue-in-cheek commentary to the men‘s ‘tabloid dream of winning .
While accessible and popular. the play refuses to patronise — only occasionally indulging in uncomfortable sentimentality. The show is watchable. entertaining and amusing. (Michael Balfour)
I Up ‘n’ Under(Fringe) Ilull Truck Theatre. Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 2204349. 1820—22 Aug. 12pm. £7(£5.50); 16. 17. 23. 24 Aug.£8 (£6.50); 26—31 Aug.
3. 15pm. £7 (£5.50).
Up 'n‘ Under