Frances Cornford gets up sharpish to talk sex with Emily Woof.
In 1989 Emily Woof‘s Sex I]. with its rapid-fire succession ofcharacters and use of mime. dance and song was
warmly received on the Fringe. ‘She creates a whole new style in theatre.‘ said one reviewer. This year she returns with a much-coveted slot at the Assembly Rooms to present Sex [I]. The intervening three years have seen her finish a degree and train in Paris with Philippe Gaulier and Monica Pagneux; they have also seen her develop her ideas on what theatre should be like.
‘Sex I] was non-stop images.‘ she says. ’Once you‘ve got hold ofthat way ofdoing things it can become quite automatic. I got bored with it — it‘s more ofa challenge to follow characters through. to follow their development as well as an associative chain of images.‘
Accordingly. Sex Ill follows the story ofa young girl going out to work in Spain and experience life while she waits for her lover to join her. This does not mean. however. that Sex [I] will be in any sense conventional. Woofstill works with a melange of images. sounds and genres. The show contains. among other things. music from Otis Redding to Beethoven. songs at the piano in the manner of Marlene Dietrich. echoes of Shakespeare and Tolstoy and acrobatics on the trapeze. Not only does the outsider find it difficult to envisage what the fusion of these disparate elements is
like. Woof herselfadmits that the show is ‘very hard to describe.‘
What does emerge is that this is an intensely personal view ()f life and love. What might sound pretentious on paper is redeemed in person by the conviction of Woof‘s idiosyncratic view of the world. The show aims to be a celebration of the extremes ofexperience. both on the stage and off it. based on Woof‘s own feelings and experiences. The ‘Sex‘ of the title is about the possibilities of androgyny and transformation. as well as the well-worn themes oflove and misunderstanding, though. as Woofcandidly admits. it is also about ’bums on seats.‘
Shying away from labels. Woof winces at the idea that her show might be described as performance art. "I'hat‘s got so much attached to it.‘ she says. ‘lt sets out to be alienating and I set out not to be.‘
‘lt‘s an eccentric show.‘ Woof admits. ‘It‘s very personal. I“ don‘t get the audience at the beginning I could be lost. They have to come a long way with me. It‘s a different world — a dream world.‘
I Sex Ill (Fringe) Emily Woof. Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428. until 26 Aug. noon. and Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49) 225 9803. 31 Aug—5 Sept. 8.30pm. prices VZH'V.
amm- Snakes alive
‘Kill Me I Love You’ is an umbrella term to suggest the extremities of operatic themes —traversing both comic hysteria and cruelty. The lounder members at Opera Circus, David Pearl and Tina Ellen Lee, both trained singers, have been developing a lively ; and unconventional approach to their work, bringing together seemingly disparate elements oi opera, commedia dell’arte and physical theatre.
‘The story is really laced around our characters,’ explains Lee (the tall soprano). ‘There is no plot as such. And while we use contrasting numbers by Rossini, Mozart, Puccini, Beethoven and others, we mostly take things out at context. It’s our relationship with each otherthat’s important.‘
The characterisations are drawn from the traditions of commedia, and include principal ligures such as the ley lovers, the hypocrite and Harlequin. ‘I spend a lot at the time being eitherthe romantic lop orthe cynical git,’ grins Pearl. ‘ln commedia dell’arte, there is a kind oi mad logic as to what’s going on. When we’re on stage we have a very dellnite idea at
what we are doing and why. Our aim is that everything should be clearto the audience—even it it‘s a little crazy. That’s why we don’t have programme notes, we want the audience’s attention lor every second.’
Although'devised by the company, the show has benelited lrom the involvement at David Glass, the international mime artist, who was able to show them how to do prattalls and slaps without hurting each other. But Glass also pushed them to develop their ideas. ‘We needed him to come in and say it’s OK to be this physical,’ admits Pearl. ‘He’d say things like “Just walk up to the top at the ladder, without using your hands, while singing a Rossini aria.” And we’d say, "Sure, no problem.” '
‘There is a wonderful, singer’s habit that David called Snake Eyes,’ recalls Lee. ‘He said you could see a high note coming live minutes belore it was sung. The eyes at an opera singer reverse and go inwards. So when we were rehearsing we'd suddenly hear David hissing and saying Ssssnake Eyes. But it’s been exciting tor us to see how tar we can go. How much physical stutt we can do and still be able to sing. It’s a lallacy that you have to stand in one particular position. But you do have to be unbelievably strong.’
The company has enjoyed its work with Glass and is planning a new project which will contain opera and music, but will be much more ; theatre-based and story-led. Both [ performers like the tact that their work I is appreciated by opera connoisseurs
and newcomers alike. ‘There are ‘ people who say we are taking liberties , with conventions. Dur line on that is , that we adore opera. We are first and , ioremost opera singers. It’s so easy to ; send up opera, but what we do is jolt it 3‘ right out of its context. We love it so F much, we do violence to it.’ (Michael i Ballour)
. Kill Me I Love You (Fringe) Opera
3 Circus, Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 l 2428, 22—5 Sep (not 26, 3D) 12pm,
l ems (2550/2650).
Michael Ballour jumps out at bed to catch live lirst-thing laves.
I Hook, Line and Sink Her A gang of pirates — good guys. bad guys. sword fights and buckled swashes. You what? Check it out.
Hook. Line and Sink Her (Fringe) Welsh College ofMusic and Drama. Harry Younger Hall (Venue 13) 24—29Aug, 10am, £2 (£1.50).
I An Event in the City at Goga Expressionistic and theatrical premiere of a Slovenian play. Bizarre and unnerving portrayal of the inner lives behind the fragile facade of normality.
An Event in the (‘in ofGoga (Fringe) Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49) 225 9893, 24—29Aug, [0.30am. £4.50 (£3.50).
I Hijos Del Sol Four Peruvian performers lead a musical journey exploring the origins of Peru’s culture.
Hijos Del Sol (Fringe) Hill Street Theatre (Venue 41) 225 7294, I6 Aug—5 Sept (not23. 24, 1) 11am. £3.50 (£2.50).
I Harvington Fair Young performers present a lively and humorous reworking ofan English folktale. Songs. dances. comedy and drama. Harvington Fair (Fringe) Central Television Workshop. Old St Paul '3‘ Church (Venue 45) 55 7 6696. 24—29 Aug, 10.30am. £3.50 (£2.50).
I One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest OK. so you‘ve seen the movie a dozen times. Nonetheless a brave attempt to stage an examination of the comforts and cruelties of madness.
One Flew Over the (‘uekoo 's Nest (Fringe) Richard I )emareo Theatre (Venue 22) 5570707, 17—29 Aug (no! 23). 10am. £4.50 (£3.50). J
The List 21 — 27 August 199517