One of the surprise comedy hits of this year was a radio show created by some of the new wave‘s backroom boys. Christopher Morris and Armando lonucci have been writing for the likes of Spitting Image and Wee/(ending for years. but nobody expected 0n the Hour. their frighteningly accurate pastiche of Today and PM. to be quite so good. lonucci and Morris surrounded themselves with a team of old-hand writers and performers from BBC Light Entertainment Coogan. Herring. Lee. Marber and Munnery - and this quintet are bringing their own live show to Edinburgh.

Stewart Lee sees the Edinburgh run as a chance for the group to move away from the tight. pacey format which characterises 0n the Hour. ‘We‘ll be thinking ofit very much as a stage format.‘ he says. ‘Although what it will share with the radio show is that we have to get humour from character situations and style of language as opposed to jokes.

‘We work well together as a unit. and Steve (Coogan) especially. crystallises ideas that the rest of us have really quickly. It‘s great fun to bounce ideas off each other rather than do straight stand-up where you‘re just out there on your own. What can I say as a closing remark? It will be different to any other comedy show on the Fringe. That‘ll do.‘ (Philip Parr)

I The Dum Show (Fringe) The Dum Show. Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550. 12 Aug—5 Sept (not 180r27).6.15pm.£7 (£5.50).



Good theatre exists ‘between the extremes of

| l



‘I can teach you microphone technique,’ says John Shuttleworth who on some days is Graham Fellows. ‘Should you hold it too close, I can tell you to move it away a little bit, but not too far oi course . . . you know, Freddie Mercury, he was too tar, wasn’t he, you know on ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, the video, you can see he’s too far. The bass player knows; he’s clocked it, he’s trying to tell Freddie, but he obviously can’t let on because they’re lilming.’

‘Johnny Rotten had ittoo low, didn’t he,’ continues Shuttleworth who boasts three guitar sounds on his organ. ‘I like a lot of Johnny’s work, but it’s just too low down and the point is, your vocal chords are all crunched up.’

‘Sir Harry Seacombe, he doesn’t need a microphone, because he’s a properly trained singer,’ elaborates Shuttleworlh who as Graham Fellows once became Jilted John, famous for his song called ‘Jilted John’. ‘He just uses the natural reverb oi the church


‘l’m not very experienced to be honest, Mark,’ admits John Shuttleworth who as Graham Fellows once played a lorry driver in Coronation Street. ‘I worked for Comet, I got a bit of experience doing that. I used to demonstrate audio equipment. I used to play Kaiagoogoo, you know ‘Too Shy’, it’s good production. I used to sell a lot of systems on the strength at that

one.’ (Mark Fisher)

John Shuttleworth’s Guide to Stardom (Fringe) John Shuttleworth, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, 14 Aug—5 Sept


: (not18,27),7.05pm,£5(£4).

brothel and convent‘. Carlos Fuentes said recently in an interview about his play Orchids in the Moonlight. which is to be performed in English for the first time at the Richard Demarco Gallery. The Mexican novelist’s play has been translated by Sebastian Doggart. who also directs this production, and in true Latin-American style. at its heart isthe nature ofambiguity.

On the surface the play is about two real Latin American film stars. Maria Felix and Dolores dc Rio. and the strange relationship that has grown from their many years of living together. But from the outset it is unclear whether these women really are the actresses. or obsessive fans engaged in a bizarre fantasy. The real women on whom the characters are based expressed mixed feelings about Fuentes‘s play. Dolores del Rio loved it and

wanted to perform the

play on Mexican

television. Her fellow

actress was not so flattered: ‘Maria Felix

: suddenly shunned me and

said I was a horrible individual for having written it. and that I had smeared her. which simply wasn‘t true.‘ Fuentes explained to Doggart. ‘It is a homage to a myth. to a goddess. that goes beyond biography.‘ (Miranda France)

I Orchids in the Moonlight (Fringe) Southern Development Trust. Richard Demarco Theatre (Venue 22) 557 ()707. 17—29 Aug. 7.30pm. £4.50 (£3.50).



James O‘Brien knows that political theatre. particularly about Northern Ireland. is not fashionable. ‘It‘s the kiss ofdeath doing shows about Northern Ireland.‘ he admits. ‘People think boring. boring— who gives a shit'?‘ Yet he is staging three of his plays about the Troubles in an impassioned reaction against this. Although focusing on specifically Irish issues. O‘Brien believes the three plays. Redemptive. Para Para

and Butchers. have wider significance. ‘The increasing marginalisation of the Irish situation really angers me.‘ he says. ‘I think in the North you have a microcosm of some of the political problems which are besetting Europe as it stands now.‘

Thus Redemptive. the story of the Bridgewater Four. imprisoned for the brutal shooting of a paper boy at point-blank range sixteen years ago. asks fundamental questions about the British justice system as a whole. ‘But it does offer hope.‘ says O‘Brien. ‘we're saying these people are innocent. they‘re going to get out and this is why they‘re goingto get out.‘ Butchers. his latest piece. dramatises the story of the Shankhill murderers who in torturous rituals killed over 50 Catholics in just four years. ‘These guys were basically psychopaths who attached their psychopathic

behaviour to the Cause. In

history this tends to happen. ifthere is an unstable political situation all these psychopaths come out of the woodwork and get involved.‘ says

O‘Brien. pointing to the situation in Serbo-Croatia . in the same breath. ‘They‘re not just killing each other. they‘ve been mutilating the bodies and pullingthe eyes out.‘ (Robert Alstead)

' I Redemptive(Fringe)

Giro Theatre Company. Demarco Gallery (Venue

22)557 0707. 17—22 Aug. 6pm.£4.50(£3.50).

I Butchers (Fringe) Giro

. Theatre Company.

Demarco Gallery (Venue 22). 5570707. 31 Aug—5

Sept. 7.30pm. £5.50





In every generation. according to Jewish tradition. 36 ‘just men‘ are born to carry the burden of the world‘s suffering upon themselves. Now adapted by the Besht Tellers. Andre Schwart-Bart‘s 1959 novel. The Last of the] ust. uses this theme to link 800 years ofJewish history. committing the colours and fragrance of a world lost forever to the stage. ‘lt‘s a story ofhumanity and hope.‘ explains producer Rebecca Gringras. ‘lt‘s very easy to close ourselves off in London with a predominantly Jewish audience. so coming to Edinburgh was a conscious decision because what we do should not be exclusive.‘ With a cast of five and two musicians. the story is told in Jewish story-telling tradition. with the performers moving in and out ofcharacters as the play progresses. Inevitably. all roads lead to Auschwitz. the irrevocable conclusion to centuries ofpersecution. That there is a contemporary context for

this is not without

significance.th paradoxically the Besht Tellers‘ style is ofa tradition which ended in the death camps.

Yet there is more here than the dead-weight of

history. In the company of

the Besht Tellers,


moralising is less important than entertaining. and in that defiant spirit we shall all. perhaps, go away having learned a little more about life. (Aaron Hicklin)

I The Story of the Last ol the Just (Fringe) The Besht Tellers. Richard Demarco Gallery (Venue 22) 17—22 Aug. 7.30pm; 24—29 Aug. 10.30pm. £5.50 (£4).



Having been soldier. engineer. barrister. and energy consultant. Sidney Malin decided. at the tender age of 62. to go to acting school. a career move which has led to this his first stab at playwriting.

The inspiration for Fresh Oysters came from a photograph ofChekhov in I898. only six years before his death. reading tothe newly-formed Moscow- Art Theatre Company. his wife-to-be. Olga Knipper. and Stanislavski. the father of method acting. ‘I based the whole thing on Stanislavski‘s famous magic“if".‘ Malin explains. ‘ifStanislavski and Chekhov had lived exacdy contemporaneously. and they didn‘t. this is perhaps what they would have said.‘

The play focuses on Chekhov‘s slow. sad death from tuberculosis. and his three-year marriage to Olga Knipper. ‘It is based 95 per cent on letters that he wrote. she wrote and Stanislavski wrote. plus excerpts from his plays. but not necessarily to each other and not necessarily at the time.‘ says Malin who plays the part of Chekhov.

’There‘sa major dialogue going on between Stanislavski and Chekhov. ‘He didn't like Stanislavski‘s directorial method which he thought was over the top. Stanislavski was a very soulful. serious-minded man whereas Chekhov

was quite lighthearted. and he kept taking a rise out ofStanislavski.‘ (Robert Alstead)

I Fresh Oysters (Fringe)

Theatre Workshop

(Venue 20) 226 5425. 17-22 Aug. 7pm. £4 (£3).

38 The List 14 20 August 1992