The speed of sound

Michael Balfour begins the morning section by listening out for a couple of noisy shows for children.

Due to a technical error that made my transatlantic interview sound like Pinky and Perky on helium, l was in the embarrassing situation of having to re-do this interview. I apologise to Paul Clement of the Magic Music Box Players on behalfof the equipment and explain that all the voices have been recorded at twice the speed. “Oh good. Because that’s the way we do the show.‘ quips Clement, before launching into an exposition ofthe plot yet again.

‘It is the biggest moment of conductor Gregory Stringfellow‘s life. but everything is going wrong. In the morning his tea kettle went Be-da-ba-da-ba-da-ba-da-ba-doo. On top of that, his first note is missing and he has lost his baton.

The wrong sounds are happening at

the right time and the right sounds are happening at the wrong time, that can only mean one thing— something is wrong down in Music Land. Luckily, Gregory meets up with Oogy Boogy Beat and her magic Wanda and together they fight to restore harmony in Music Land.’

From there the plot thickens considerably, partly due to an array of no less than nine zany characters ranging from Tony Def, Count Cacophony, a bad-tempered Clavier, the Queen of Pitch and Bum-note a Dylanesque street croaker a character not so far removed from Clement in his early days. ‘I started off in folk clubs in England with my brother, then went to America for three weeks and wound up staying. Ever since then I’ve been working with music—

writing, recording and touring. (Look out for his Acoustic Music Centre shows). But I also write children’s poems and songs.’

The other half of the company is Caroline Cromelin, who has her own off-Broadway show, Dick ’3 Island, which premiered in the 1989 Fringe, opening in the autumn.

‘This is really our first fully-fledged collaboration,’ continues Clement. ‘We decided on a children’s show because it seemed like the theme of the Magic Music Box was ideal for children’s sensibility. We don’t talk down to the children, and we’ve put a lot of general humour into it so that it may appeal to the adults in the audience as well.’ _

Meanwhile, if your children have ever wanted to ride a one wheeled cycle, juggle, spin a plate, walk on stilts, be a clown, or learn some amazing magic tricks then Mario’s Magic Circus Workshop is the place to take them. Suitable for anyone ovg the age of six, it lasts one-and-a-half hours. Those taking part will receive expert tuition and each workshop will culminate in an exciting instant show presented by the participants. Booking advisable. I Magic Music Box (Fringe) Magic Music Box Players, Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 226 2151, 14—29 Aug, 10am, £4 (£3).

I Paul Clement (Fringe) Acoustic Music Centre (Venue 25) 220 2462, 19/20 Aug, 7.30pm, £4 (£3).

I Mario’s Magic Circus Workshop (Fringe) Southside‘92 (Venue 82) 667 7365, 15—29 Aug, 10.25am, £2.50.

Sights for saw eyes

Since the 1990 Fringe, Partl-Pris has been producing strikingly visual theatre. The company has a tlare ior inventive and illusory routines that combine successfully with bizarre narratives and recognisable characters. Set in a hardware store as the 20th century limps to its trighttul end, Hatchet Plan, its latest show, is about iear.

‘We decided that tear was a good all round theme,’ explains Edward Woodall, lull-time member ot the company. ‘We were all interested in it, but in very ditterent ways. So we tooled about with the basic idea at a 0" store and tear. We’re not planning anything iuturistlc, but we want to create a feeling oi unease. Some of the characters have a pretty unpleasant

)7"; 16.7179“ 9'1; , g saw a. " 'r '5

attitude to lite around them. Blots till the streets, nobody travels on the tube anymore because it’s too dangerous. It's a kind oi anarchy, where it there’s a job otter It’s so sought alter there will be a big light. We chose a hardware store because it has a very particular kind oi teellng. It’s dark and mysterious, there's always something

happening, someone hanging in the backroom or the sound oi sawing, and when you start to dramatise these things it starts the imagination going.’

The company's tirst play, Obsession, centred on a series of bizarre routines involving suitcases which victimised the central character. In Hatchet Plan there are similar images, only this time they manipulate tools and saws at high speed (Archaos eat your heart out). The illusions and theatrical magic otten create a sense that anything could happen, but they don’t divert trorn the plot or irom the carefully drawn characters. ‘With the characters we want to lead the audience into a sense oi security,’ says Woodall, ‘with types they might recognise and believe in and then we whisk them into a maelstrom ol madness.’

As well they might, but it’s the maelstrom oi saws I’m worried about. (Michael Baltour)

Hatchet Plan (Fringe) Parti-Prls, Pleasance Two (Venue 33) 556 6550, 14Aug—5 Sept(not 16, 23, 1) 12.30pm, £4.50 (£3.50).


Michael Baltour gets up early to catch the tlrst shows oi the day.

I Walking on Sticks A one-woman show conceived and developed from experiences travelling in war zones from New York to Nicaragua. A physical and dynamic form of storytelling, full ofintelligence and humour.

Walking On Sticks (Fringe) Sarah Cathcart, Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, 14Aug—5 Sept (not 16, 25, 1), noon, £6/£7 (£5/£6).

l Mario’s Magniticent Marvels A silly and funny whodunit for kids from 5—11 years old. Mario‘s magical antics include tricks with spaghetti. a fearsome hand-chopper and plucking bubbles out of the air only to transform them into diamonds. Mario’s Magnificent Marvels (Fringe) Magic Carpet Theatre, Southside ’92 (Venue 82) 667 7365, 15—29Aug, 12.25pm, £3.50 (£3).

l Appalachian Patchwork— The Bluegrass Ballet Yes. Believe it. A lively and colourfully costumed ballet to Bluegrass music. It celebrates the lives ofthe people who settled in the Appalachian Mountains in the US in the 19th century. Beat that for your first show of the day.

Appalachian Patch work The Bluegrass Ballet (Fringe) Cumberland Ballet Ensemble, Viewforth Centre (Venue 44 ) 229 0044,17—22Aug, 12.30pm, £3.50 (£2.50).

I Fred's Famous Story Book A collection ofwell‘known and not-so-well-known stories. Told with a mixture ofpuppets, songs. and characters good and bad, all performed by Fred’s oddball family and friends.

Fred ’5 Famous Story Book (Fringe) Herrick Theatre, Viewforth Centre (Venue 44) 229 0044, 17—22 Aug, 11am, £3.50 (£2).

I Persona Five characters drawn from the childhood experiences of Canadian writer Margaret Laurence. An award-winning actor portrays female protangonists. ranging from a girl of five to a woman in her 905. ' Persona (Fringe) Sandra Duncan, Pleasance ( Venue 33 ) 556 6550. 13—5 Sept (n0t16, 23, 1) noon, £5 (£4). J

The List 14 20 August 1992 23