Bed Shilt are perennial Fringe favourites and obviously getting a little cocky. They can cram out the Assemny ballroom in the mid-afternoon and have a little lun with an audience straining to get any semblance ot a view. Forwe sit there expecting something of a fringe theatre masterclass and are greeted with heightened theatricality ol an am-dram grand dame playing Lady Bracknell.
ln tact, Buth Mitchell is portraying a very dilterent grand dame -Virgina Woolf. And she most certainly is not grasping lortechnique as a generation ol Lady Bs have. The over-emphasised performances run right through the production, but then that is just what this surreal play from Robin Brooks demands.
Our Ginnie is staying with her chums Vita (also her lover) and Henry (Vita’s husband). Vita is Ginnie's muse, her inspiration for Orlando: dashing, immortal hero ot the novel which Woolt is writing. So Orlando’s adventures, naturally enough, are played out by Vita (who is played by Fiona McAlpine). It this sounds confusing, it is, at lirst. But gradually a warped logic builds up momentum and the shifts
i lrom liction to reality and back again
= seem completely natural.
' The pace is helped by a simmering
: (and sometimes boiling) eroticism as
! Orlando/Vita pursues, and is pursued,
1 by virtually every other character.
, Moody onstage musical
i accompaniment adds atmosphere to
i what is already a very evocative
i production, while the wit of the script
I and assurance of the cast make this a play which is wickedly enioyable. (Philip Parr)
Orlando (Fringe) Red Shift, Assembly (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 5 Sept (not 24, 1), 2pm, £6.50/£7.50 (25/26).
This being Physical Theatre, the show begins with loud music, the actors appearing in lycra shorts, DM boots and white tacepaint, and intimidating members of the audience. Being wise to such tactics, I am lurking in the back row, brandishing my reviewing-pen like a Red Cross flag in Bosnia, and consequently miss the opening speech, which is delivered at navel-level to the tront row.
But tirst impressions can deceive. Despite the clichés (comparisons with Volcano Theatre are irresistible), this is a serious and impressive piece about the battle of the sexes, written by director John Keates lrom women’s poetry, and thus harbouring a decidedly leminist stance. This is
rellected in an extremely lit cast ol live
; women and one man, who declaim,
gesture, strut, struggle and stre-e-etch
; theirwell drilled way through an hour’s 5 worth at poems, structured around the
; lirst, second and third cuts at leminity— ) menstruation, virginity-loss and
motherhood — but concluding on a less
3 I could take issue with the surteit of
i staccato delivery (particularly from
7 Coleman), and the dearth of humour
i amid the angst (so that the show’s best
joke - about the incorrect attribution of
j pleasure — goes almost unnoticed), but 5 you can’t argue with bodies so
disciplined and supple, norwords so
strong (and ultimately moving) as
f these. (Andrew Burnet)
': Face To Face (Fringe) lecund Theatre,
' Marco’s Leisure Centre (Venue 98) 228 2141, until 5 Sept (not 28 Aug), 1.55pm, £4.50 (£3.50).
V THEATRE PEER GYNT Ibsen is heavy going at the best of times. but an adaptation with a Buddhist perspective seems like wading through treacle. Watching Bastinado‘s production. one has the recurring thought that the company's heart is in the right place. Unfortunately. most audiences not being composed of Buddhists. our hearts are somewhere entirely different: certainly not on the same wavelength. anyway. Traditionally ‘difficult'.
Ibsen is given new levels ofobscurity that are barely imaginable. and the end result is ponderous and bewildering. That‘s not to say that there isn't potential here. and several good ideas which hint at an underlying quality. but until Bastinado can bring these positive aspects to the fore their performance is too dour to entertain and too confusing to provoke much debate. (Philip Parr)
I Peer Gynt ( Fringe) Bastinado. Hill Street Theatre (Venue 41) 225 7294. until 5 Sept. 1.15pm. £5 (£4).
There's a good chance of the actors inflicting severe injuries upon themselves during the course ofthis show, so come early in the week to avoid any cancellation through hospitalisation.
A certain energetic frissmi is created by the dangerous vigour the cast display. and this combines well with several interesting stage devices. Unfortunately. the resulting creation myth (at least I think that's what it's about) is no more than a huge dollop ofpretension.
It's difficult not to laugh. for instance. when the rather impressive off-stage pseudo-religious chanting gives way to lines like ‘1 am lovely because you are Iovely.‘
lt's twenty years too late to be considered successful as either challengingororiginal theatre. but nonetheless daddy's allowance has not been entirely wasted. (Stephen Chester)
I Goddess (Fringe) Cambridge University A.D.C. Southside ’92 (Venue 82) 667 7365. until 5 Sept. (not 25 Aug. 1 Sept). 2.4()pm.£3.5(). (£3)-
! V CABARET !
1 THE TATTOO 3 O’CLOCK POETRY ; CLUB
; There now follows a series
E of superlative-laden
i phrases ofvarying length.
i These can be used by
; publicistsin orderto
convert others to the
' Hegley Cult. Quotation marks will be provided.
‘John Hegley. the myopic‘s guru. is the funniest man on the Fringe.’
‘Hegley‘s so sharp you’ll need Elastoplast.‘ (He actually does a song about a scoutmaster who always carried one but then got run over by a bus.)
‘Hegley‘s got a new folder of poems which are guaranteed to induce chuckle cramps within minutes.‘
‘Hegley‘s control ofthe audience is positively Nurembergian.‘
‘Only an international conspiracy led by contact lens manufacturers has prevented John llcgley from achieving global stardom.‘
‘lfthere‘s anyone funnier then you can smash my glasses.‘ (Stephen Chester)
I The Tattoo O'Clock Poetry Club (Fringe) John llcgley. Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428.14—28 Aug. 2.00pm. £6.5()/£7.5() (£5/£6).
MUMMY’S LITTLE GIRL
The'dependence of good comedy on emotional pain is well documented. but for a splendid example of their inseparability. look no further than Jenny
co-written with Julie Balloo. Sally Darling.
thirtysomething and angry. relives her
nightmare youth as a child television star gone off the rails. the ghastly public incident which sent her
intoself-imposedexile. W and above all her fraught relationship with an impossibly pushy mother. for whom she is preparing a vengeful video diary. Though the mother is represented in various ways. the focus throughout is on Eclair's unfortunate Sally. lt‘sa breathtakingly energetic performance. combining spurts ofhigh-speed delivery and physicality with moments of anguished. sometimes brutal comedy. Very entertaining it is. too. but — as if to prove a point on dramatic validity - it's the woman's pain you remember. (Andrew Burnet) I Mummy's Little Girl (Fringe)Jenny Eclair. Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428. until 5 Sept (not 27 Aug). 2pm. £617 (£516).
DOUGAL AND THE BLUE CAT
Without being over-influenced by the rosy tint of nostalgia. I think I can safely state that the television Magic Roundabourwas a pretty hard act to follow. This stage adaptation (based. in fact, on Serge Danot's spin-off movie) sets itself that challenge and — sadly — falls some way short of meeting it.
Cunnineg Caned have tried hard to match the gentle psychedelia ofthe original. and do fairly well in the design department. with some brightly coloured costumes and imaginative lighting design. And there‘s some passably good acting. notably from Richard Trout and Jerry le Sucur as the protagonists of the title.
But to rival that distinctively wacky animation. the production needs a much more stylised. energetic and pacy staging. rather than the vaguely sub-naturalistic approach ofthis rather inexperienced company. The storyline could do with some tightening. too: its crisis and resolution are rushed and somewhat mufﬂed.
Nonetheless, this is a brave attempt. which seldom drags, and will keep younger audiences entertained most ofthe time. (Andrew Burnet) I Dougal and the Blue Cat (Fringe) The Cunningly Caned Company. C Theatre (Venue 19) 225 5105, until 29 Aug, 1pm. £4.50 (£3).
24 The List 21 - 27 August 1992