For actress Andrea Moor. this means leaping from bent, wrinkled old lady. to comely wench and then to strutting, vainglorious — but thick — Lario. with all the appropriate accents and manerisms. She does it so well it makes you dizzy. one minute her face full oflines. her joints arthritic, the next knocking over chairs and ripping imaginary bodices. There are other characters too— Moor plays both Lario and his wife on their wedding night. as well as four or five of the wedding guests and Lario‘s Mama.
Witchplay is not just an excuse —
‘My tribe invented waiting. but I don‘t think the Messiah will arrive in time‘. laments Batcha. 75-year-old Jewish Australian, Auschwitz survivor and now a clairvoyant. Alone in a small. dingy flat in Bondi Beach. with a rabbit and her young friend Narelle. she is trying to summon up the spirit of Narelle‘s mother. Maureen. for a few handy wedding tips. But in her efforts to reach Maureen. Bateha‘s body is overtaken by two lusty spirits— raunchy Italian peasant Lario and buxom. 17th century weneh. Elspeth.
and a very good one — for one woman to play umpteen parts. Infused with Jewish humour, many one-liners are more bitter than sweet. It is easy to create a fascist state. says Batcha. just take any city. two nationalities, mix in some colour and some unemployment and there you have it —Jerusalem, Brixton. Berlin. But, what does revenge get you? ‘Nothing but cancer‘.
So why ‘Witchplay”? Batcha and her spirits (excluding Maureen) are, it emerges, all linked by a common theme ofsuperstition and ignornace. Elspeth is found to be a witch and drowned. Lario suspects his wife of being a witch and Batcha‘s spiritualism. pretty noisy for the neighbours, probably makes her suspect too.
Whether or not Witchplay is setting the record straight for the persecuted mediums. ‘witches' and clairvoyants ofthe last few centuries is, I think. mostly irrelevant. More importantly, it makes a case for the power of imagination in the face of dictatorship ofany kind — ‘you become a human being only when you doubt‘. says Batcha. l-‘unny, thought-provoking. soulful and beautifully acted. See it before it goes back Down Under. (Miranda France)
I Witchplay (Fringe) Three Women and a Passion. Theatre Workshop (Venue 20) 226 5425, until 31 Aug, 4pm, £5.50 (£4.50).
Dress Suits To Hire
One of the more intriguing shows in this year’s Assembly Rooms line up looks to be ‘Dress Suits to Hire' by New York's Split Britches Theatre Company. Brought to the Fringe in association with the Drill Hall Arts Centre in London, the company have been coming over to play there for eight years but this is their first trip to Edinburgh.
An all-women company, Split Britches‘ play concentrates on the relationship between two women, maybe sisters, maybe lovers, who run a tuxedo rental shop. Couched in the language of the pulp thriller, the play explores the passions of the two women and the borrowed identities they have access to through their stock of second hand clothes. These film noir-ish themes of love and mystery are cleverly sent up by the company. In thrillers the strong women always come to a sticky end. In ‘Dress Suits to
Hire‘, one of the women is already dead but this doesn‘t prevent her from coming back to join in the fun.
Lois Weaver, actor, director and collaborator on the script found inspiration forthe play in her own neighbourhood where a woman lived on in the dress hire shop where her sister had been murdered, leaving everything unchanged. She is also interested in the idea of hiring out
with the adventures of their owners so that ‘every tuxedo tells a story‘ and indeed provides the perfect means for
clothes which then come back infused
an actorto become a host of different characters.
‘Dress Suits to Hire’ has already been Z
met with acclaim on the crowded theatre scene in New York so Weaver hopes that it will be noticed here.
‘The last time I was in Edinburgh was twelve years ago and it was very frenetic, a lot of energy went into just getting people’s attention. But then, that makes it just like New York.’ (Frances Cornford)
Dress Suits to Hire (Fringe) Split Britches, Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) I 220 4349, 26—31 Aug, 5.30pm, £6 (25). l
You‘ve seen the films.
now meet the woman they 7 called the ‘Freddie Laker
Miranda France recommends five ways to while away an afternoon.
M7. ' I Light in the Village John Clifford‘s powerful new play dwells on the dangers of Western capitalism to an under-developed country and features the brilliant line ‘Don‘t worship me, it'll wake the babyf Light in the Village (Fringe) Traverse Company. Traverse ' Theatre ( Venue 150),}26 2633. until 31 Aug (not 26). various times. [8 ([4) I Sweeney and Steen in Play by Ear Gentle afternoon impro meets chilling whodunnit — you get to decide who. as well as why. where and how horribly. Sweeney and S teen in Play by Ear (Fringe) Assembly Rooms. (Venue 3) 220 4349, until 25 Aug, 5.30pm, £6/[7 ([516). I Kings Christopher Logue‘s latest instalment of a translation ofThe lliad which has so far taken him the best part of 30 years to do, and shocked academics with its moderness — read here by Alan l loward and Logue himself. Kings (Fringe) Alan Howard and Christopher [.ogue. Assembly/ Wildcat (Venue/16) 220 4349 until 24Aug. 5.45pm. [7(I5). I A Conversation with Georgia O'Keefe Small. unassuming, but enlightening. this play gets to the heart ofthe great American artist. and features3] slides other work. A Conversation with Georgia () 'Keefe (Fringe) Stageworks Theatre ( ‘0, French Institute, (Venue 55) 225 5360, anti/31 Aug. 4pm. £3 (£2).
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I Cynthia Payne at Home
This isthe big one- do you waste the rest of the day in the bar orslumble oil to catch a
535. 2 8
you‘ve read the books.
( ‘ynthia Payne at Home (Fringe) 'I‘he l’leasanee. (Venueii) 556 1513. until 3/ Aug (no127). 4.30pm. £7l£5.5()).
The List 23 — 2‘) August [WI 33