The term ‘ieminist comedian’ is widely regarded as an albatross around the
neck oi any would-be iunnywoman, but Jo Brand makes no attempt to shake oit
the label, she just gets on, in her inimitable, laid-back, sell-mocking style with a steady stream oi caustic one-liners and bitingly iunny observations irom an unashamedly iemale perspective. Her subject matter this year includes For Women magazine, the Chippendales, iemale condoms (‘I’m going to buy one and give it to the next bloke I sleep with; l won’ttell him it's iorwomen, Hi just say it’s the standard European size.’), travelling on Sudan Air (‘only two drawbacks- no drinking on the plane, and you have to have your clitoris ! removed when you go through passport ; control. But then there's not much use ior a clitoris in this country anyway.'), Essex Man (‘the sort oi bloke who doesn’t think he's had a decent holiday unless he’s been charged with manslaughter.') and, oi course, periods (‘useiul it your next-door neighbour votes Tory and has a white soia’). It’s always good fun (at least it you’re iemale it is) to go to a show where all the women are wetting themselves laughing while the men shiit uneasily in their seats, and Brand takes particular delight in seeing just how iar she has to go to upset the right-on male members of the audience. Just how new is your New Man? Here is the ultimate acid test. (Sue Wilson)
Jo Brand (Fringe) Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, until Sept 5, £6.50 (£5.50).
lineman- Cyrano de
Even superlative: iall short at doing justice to Communicado's brilliant rendition oi Cyrano de Bergerac. The production is the result at a very happy three-way marriage: Cyrano, one of the greatest plays oi the last 100 years, thrives when transplanted to Edwin Morgan's Glaswegian Scots. The verse is light on its toes, easily incorporating modern words into the Scots rhythm, and Morgan knowswhow to get laughs out oi his own word-games, without taking away any oi Bostand’s original humour. Even better, he incorporates French expressions, and makes the odd well-placed local allusion (Emilio Cola will doubtless be pleased to be lmmortalised in one verse). Communicado’s collective performance on this occasion surpasses any previous triumph and the apparent kick they get out oi Morgan's translation is contagious. Throw in the jaunty music and clever injection oi Parisian camp into the scenery and costumes and the end result is one oi the best, it not the best productions in the iestival. it seems redundant to point out particulartalent in a cast which works so well together. Nevertheless, the
\ . excellent periormances oi Tom Mannion as Cyrano and Sandy McDade as Roxanne must be acknowledged. Mannion is captivating irom the very start, exactly embodying the gentle giant with a mind lull oi poetry envisioned by Bostand. Boxanne’s stringy elegance and her bird-like lace express so much more than beauty. She is not at all the passive recipient oi love, but a gutsy ‘gamine' in yellow satin and red DMs. Kenneth Glenaan gets the best oi the nerdish Christian, in the absence of Gavin Marshall, who has injured his leg. Buithe real star at the show must be director Gerry Mulgrew, for his imagination, daring and loresight. (Miranda France)
Cyrano de Bergerac (Fringe) Communicado, Traverse Theatre (Venue 15) 228 1404,
Until 30 Aug various times.
GRIMM—THE TELLING OF TALES
Once upon a time the brothers Grimm collected peasant tales. But the wicked wizard Walt bowdlerized the stories. robbing them ofall meaning. Luckily the EUTC took some ofthe tales (including the brothers‘ own. about how they moralised the stories and picked out the especially racy bits) and wove them into a riveting production for the Fringe.
It was everythingthe Fringe could have wanted. with an inventive set. imaginative masks and costumes in stark white. black and red. There was live music. singing and dancing. scary bits and romance. And of course there was storytelling. It was even unsuitable for children!
When the reviewer saw the play he wondered at the tight ensemble playing of the cast. allowing each actor to shine in their own speciality. ‘This should win some awards.’ he thought. ‘I bet it sellsout quickly. I should tell everyone to get their tickets soon.‘ (Thom Dibdin)
I Grimm -the Telling oi the Tales (Fringe) EUTC. Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49) 225 9893. until 29 Aug. 8. 15pm. £4.50 (£3.50).
IOECLARE AN INSPECTION OF THIS MAD HOUSE
Appealing to the human soul to find answers to life‘s eternal problems can be a tricky business— particularly if you are a palm tree.
Weaving together three allegorical short stories by neglected writer Vsevolod Garshin. the Moscow Youth Theatre probes the themes of good and evil , light and darkness, love and death. in a highly stylised manner
reminiscent of the expressionistic melodrama Dr Mabuse.
The three main characters are a morbid madman. who believes the root of all evil is concentrated in a red ﬂower growing in the yard ofthe asylum, a palm tree in a botanical garden who longs to break the glass-topped roof and lastly. a prostitute who begins to feel love.
The writing has an inverted logic all of its own, as does the
company's absurdist style.
The play manages to be symbolic. funny. surreal. serious and bizarre all at the same time. A little over-long. it is nonetheless a challenging and unconventional production. (Michael Balfour)
I l Declare An Inspection oi This Mad House (Fringe) Moscow Youth Theatre ‘Bridge‘. The Festival
Club (Venue 36) 6502395.
until 22 Aug. 8pm.£4 (£3.50).
3 PBESSING THE
The prologue is spoken by
: water, dripping from
above the stage intoa plastic beaker. A memento mori plagiarised from butoh. this is the first of numerous motifs employed by Peter Ireland in his maverick Doctor Fausrus. adapted for one actor. video screens. tape recorders, a slide projector and a small quantity of white powder.
Excising all the crap bits that weren't written by Marlowe anyway, Ireland focuses on the central relationship between Faustus and his soul-bought slave Mephistophilis. The latter he portrays live on the stage. while the former, conned and trapped by his damning contract, is confined to the video
But Ireland goes further than this, drawing in snatches of ‘found‘ text. recorded interviews. a virtual reality simulation and the story of an evangelist in search of Noah‘s Ark, and framing the whole show as a corporate promotional presentation.
Complex. not to say confusing. performance art which will reward an attentive audience with glimpses of genius. (Andrew Burnet)
I Faustus/Pressing the Flesh (Fringe) Peter Ireland, Southside ‘92 (Venue 82) 667 7365, until 29 Aug (not 26 Aug). 8.20pm. £4 (£3.50).
ALAN PARKER— URBAN WARRIOR
It may seem strange to talk of authenticity when discussing an anarchist. but that‘s the key to Alan Parker‘s show. This is as authentic an evocation of a punk gig. circa 1977. that you could hope to find (or avoid. depending on your disposition). There‘s the support act just achingto be spat at — in this case it‘s Patrick Marber in the guise of Bobby Sunshine. a kind of Tommy Cockles without the charm or humour.
Then. to sustained apathy from the cooled-down audience. Parker appears with the strains ofThe Jags still ringing in our ears. IIe rants and rails against the government. the police. teachers and bourgeois barmen. while always hinting that beneath the ultra-hip exterior there lies an ultra-tosser. Truly. a Jimmy Pursey for the 90s. It'sjust a shame that he didn‘t take the authenticity one step further and leave the stage in a huff after ten minutes. for that‘s about the maximum length oftime that this one~joke comedy remains amusing. (Philip Parr)
I Alan Parker-Urban Warrior (Fringe). Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550. until 5 Sept. (not 27), 8. 15pm, £6.50 (£5.50).
44 The List 21 — 27 August 1992