In the Olympic arena ol one-woman, multi-character shows at this year’s Fringe, Flip Webster should get a gold Ior Pertormer Masochism. She boasts a list oi ten characters- not separate monologues - but all mingling together at a wedding. Showcasing this accomplished comedian and established character actor, the pertormance is virtually a curriculum vitae at her talents.
‘I thought I’d do a really simple show with a lew characters,’ explains Webster, ‘who all have this llipside to their personalities.’
So that makes the head-count twenty, I suggest, wondering it I should arrange tor Flip to have a private
session with Anthony Clare. ‘There are scenes where I play three characters at the same time,’ she says, ‘a couple oi duologues, some songs and a dance, some children who aren’t real. on and there’s one scene without any words at all.’
The list at invited guests includes the bride, the bridegroom, a Deaconess, the mothers, the lathers, a waitress, an old lady, the bride’s mother’s daily— in tact everyone except the postman and a stray dog ortwo. ‘Oh, and I’m playing with the idea at having a dog in there as well,’ laughs Webster, as it reading my mind.
I have only one question —why on earth is she doing this? ‘Well, when you conceive it in your mind, it seems so simple,’ replies Webster, as it considering the question tor the lirst time. ‘Then you realise you’ve been making a film In your head and you’ve iorgotton that you’re not going to have a team ot people working with you. It’s tun. The hard work is making these characters real in themselves and then suddenly changing into someone else. I have to make them real because ill don’t, the humour won’t be complete and lull. It I manage this, then I don’t have to worry about the anarchy oi the situation. II it wasn’t challenging, I wouldn’t want to do it. II it was too easy, I’d think what’s the point?’
This woman deserves a medal. (Michael Ballour)
Flipside (Fringe) Flip Webster, Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 226 2151, 15 Aug—5 Sept (not Wed), noon, £5 (£4).
mm- Flying colours
Originally a Convent Garden busking act, this acrobatic, slapstick and clowning show lor children ol tour and upwards, has been going now lor iour years. It’s toured the country, played on the continent and has been broadcast on several radio and television programmes. The show continues to evolve all the time. ‘We’ve gone away lrom the traditional painted lace clown with its one set expression, and we’ve really worked on developing the characters and the relationships between them,’ says Peter Glanville, who plays one ol the two clowns.
An energetic show with hoop diving, egg juggling (which like many things goes all wronO). acrobatic balancing, and jumping on top oi each other, the show is about how brother Chesty and sister Chesty (Alison Perrin) are constantly lighting each other. ‘They express their love by always trying to get one up on each other and making tools out oi each other. But they always make up at the end,’ says Glanville.
Like all good kids’ shows it has its lair share ot audience participation. ‘Members oi the audience have to come out and help the clowns jump through the hoops, and they have their own Chesty rap at the end ol the show
when everyone joins in,’ says Glanville. At one point a member oi the audience is asked to come up and tickle one at the clowns who is leeting ‘very, very, very poorly’, which always gets an enthusiastic response.
At another point a Chesty Colt attempts to do a triple somersault into the hands oi a member at the audience. ‘It’s a routine that builds up over about ten minutes, where they keep saying that they’re going to do this, they’ve got to get their arms ready- but whether the Chestys actually do it or not you’ll have to wait and see. . .’ (Robert Alstead)
The Flying Chesty Colts (Fringe) Hill Street Theatre (Venue 41) 225 7294, 16 AuH Sept, 11 .10am, £2.50 (£1.50).
THE BIRTHDAY OF THE INFANTA
‘My favourite choreographer is Walt Disney.‘ claims Jonathan Burnett, former soloist and teacher to the Irish National Ballet. ‘As a choreographer‘s manual something like Fantasia is excellent, just in terms of music, colour and the extraordinary use of movement within it.‘
The Disneyesque aesthetic is prominent in the ﬁve internationally diverse solo pieces that the director of Vestris offers, in which subjects as
, varied as Oscar Wilde and
a physical ABC are presented in mime and dance with enough theatricality and music to bring a smile to Walt’s cryogenically preserved face.
Burnett has been concerned with integrating contemporary dance with more populist approaches ever since he did a series of nude performances and found he ‘wasn't getting the bookings anymore.‘ Nonetheless he is willing to use the obscurity of stylised dance forms to lead the curious viewer through a piece, while maintaining interest with a series of striking visuals.
‘Theatre should be passionate and it should be ambiguous,‘ argues Burnett, although he admits his re-working ofa Scottish sword dance has more obvious political and sexual connotations. In that piece he performs tethered to a large Claymore which moves through various degrees of erection, putting the danger, he feels, back into ‘the cutting edge‘. (Stephen Chester)
I The Birthday olThe Intanta (Fringe) Vestris, Theatre Workshop (Venue 20) 2265425, 17—22 Aug, 1 lam, £2.25 (£1.75).
l CELEBRATE MYSELF
‘We all have some form of disability,‘ suggests Deborah Fairlie, director of Nottinghamshire Education‘s special needs play.
Takingthe first line ofa Walt Whitman poem asits starting point, [Celebrate Myselfsets out to illustrate how ‘every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.‘ by creating a ‘history ofall young people with disabilities.‘
Fairlie is keen to stress that this is not another play written for the disabled but the product of a series of workshops which began with discussions about the cast‘s experiences of disability. This avoids the ’does he take sugar‘ tradition of speaking for the disabled which is symbolised on stage by a large mouthless puppet. around whom the various vignettes of the play are enacted.
The scenes are presented as a form of ragged. travelling circus which moves back and forward through time. from the wild boy of Aveyron to the Eugenics movement which preceded the Second
World War. To avoid the
bare didacticism which is so often attendant upon this type of theatre there will be two figures ‘representing the worst form of audience‘ sitting upon the stage. linking together the actors and the real audience to fulfil the promise Whitman made to ‘assume what you shall assume‘. (Stephen Chester)
l l Celebrate Mysett (Fringe) Nottinghamshire Education, The Nottinghamshire Venue (Venue 16) 667 2388. 17—22 Aug, 10.30am. £3.50 (£2).
Sean Curran and Bonni Chan Lai Chu arrive on the Fringe with impressive credentials. Their skills range from both European (Jacques Lecoq/Philippe Gaulier) and Oriental theatre/dance traditions. Melting Wings, their first show, explores various theatrical forms including melodrama, clowning, tragedy, commedia dell'arte, mime and Chinese opera.
What is essentially an inter-racial love story, set in downtown Hong Kong, between a Muirhouse man and a mysterious Oriental girl is developed and deepened by the company’s visual and physical style. ‘We are not limited by textual constraints,‘ explains Chan. ‘The show jumps away from naturalism and plays with melodrama, mime and dance styles— often in a very humorous way.‘
The play deals with problems of loneliness, communication, cultural identities, and fate, while also drawing inspiration from the myth of Icarus,
‘Does the man
give up his hopes and give in to his fears,‘ asks Curran , ‘or does he stay on the path of absolute faith and love as he reaches for the sun? ‘ (Michael Balfour)
I Melting Wings (Fringe) Theatre Du Pif, Richard Demarco Theatre (Venue 22) 557 0707, 17—29 Aug (not Sun), 12pm,£4.50 (£3.50).
AREA ONE CONTEMPORARY DANCE
Since 1981, Area One has regularly showcased its latest work on the Fringe. In this its eighth year, the company is presenting four pieces, ranging from the lighthearted to the intriguing and including a commissioned piece from Alan Greig with support from the Scottish Arts Council.
‘There are no direct thematic or stylistic links between the pieces,‘ explains Anne Perret, company member. ’This reflects the varied interests and characteristics of the individuals involved. For example, one piece is about the problems in Africa, another explores the interaction between a father and daughter, and the piece I am working on at the moment questions the external social pressures and inﬂuences on an individual.‘
Perret, though, seems reticent to describe the pieces in terms of themes or issues, preferring to explain how the dances evolve and develop. ‘The work is a mixture of personal feelings, or a reaction to a piece of music. It is both inspirational and planned. Increasingly, the company are discovering a great strength from improvising. And our group ethos, if we have one, is simply to dance, perform, and enjoy.‘ (Michael Balfour)
I Area One Contemporary Dance Theatre (Fringe) Chaplaincy Centre (Venue 23) 650 8201 , 16—22 Aug, 10.4Sam, £3.50 (£3).
24 The List 14 - 20 August 1992