Born from a reasonably intriguing premise, that if six authors were to play a written version of the Chinese whispers parlour game something interesting might occur. It might. But it doesn‘t here.
The thrust of the play is about writer‘s block. funnin enough. The scripts, although variable and in need ofediting. sport some solid ideas. But rather than getting diverse styles and approaches, the plot remains surprisingly consistent, apart from the introduction of new characters.
What is also consistent. unfortunately, is poor direction and some ham acting. The performances are saved from absolute disgrace by Cassian Wheeler‘s comic cameo of a government minister and Marina Fiorato‘s Muse. (Michael Balfour) I Chinese Whispers (Fringe) Mind The Gap. Theatre Zoo (Venue 21) 225 7995, until 29 Aug. 10.30am; 30 Aug—5 Sept, 12.30pm, £3.50 (£3).
v THEATRE i
r < ‘ y' id“. 1
To begin with there‘s a girl on a beach, having just killed her dad with a tin of tomatoes; a bit of a loon, observing a man whose trousers smell of pee. Slowly and with delicacy,
I a victim’s sardonic I ' confession of abuse
‘ reveals itself. Ghosts from i § the girl’s memories eat
; away at her. Fiction and fact become inextricably
l confused. The girl plots a
l murder with a mother who 9 isn’t there.
’ Impressive ' i performances garnered i from a script full of . richness, irony and i ‘, pathos, steer the play
through off-beat humour 1 towards darker, more 3 refracted emotions. Both ' moving and funny, the show disturbs and provokes. (Michael Balfour)
I Swallowing Oysters (Fringe)ExactingTheatre Company, Southside ’92 (Venue 82) 667 7365, until 5 Sept (not 27, 2) 10am, £3.50 (£3).
: THE MAGIC STORY BOOK
There are ideas ﬁghting to get out of this lacklustre
' effort calling itselfa
children‘s show which comprises two stories, the
ﬁrst one being about how
Crab got his shell. While an interesting choice. the tale is clumsily staged and noisy to the point of irritation. The story is lost in a mish-mash of unfocused energy. and goes straight over the heads of the young audience. I would also question the suitability of suggestive overtones. such as a scantily clad woman and a hint of naughty nude swimming.
The second offering is an altogether more
' cohesive piece. a stylised adaption of Cinderella. g
But inventive direction is, once again, frequently marred because of performances that could l have been phoned-in. (Michael Balfour)
I The Magic Story Book (Fringe) Oxford School of Drama, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 5 Sept
Before Hotpoints and tumble driers and smiling housewives with loads of dirty kids, there was the laundry. These
; small, privately-run businesses
thrived, with over 200 in one square
mile of London in the 1930s. While iob
, prospects for working-class men were limited, most Iaundries were setup,
. run and stalled by women.
Director, Jane Dewey, has gathered
- together a collection oi rose-tinted memories from 30 West London laundry workers to create a powerful piece at reminiscence theatre. ‘lt’s a celebration at the sense at community,
the comradeship, and the pride these women took in their work,’ she says.
‘All the dialogue is word lor word what
With a cast of live women and two men, the production takes the stories and expands them into scenes using popular music at the time. These include a trip to the seaside, a romance, and the close relationship established between laundry workers and their customers. ‘People might say it's not realistic,’ says Dewey, ‘but lact plays with the memory. This was the storythey told us.‘ (Beatrice Colin). Soapsud Island (Fringe) The Duestors Theatre, Old St Paul’s Church and Hall (Venue 45) 557 6696, 31 Aug—5 Sept, 12.45pm, £5 (£3).
hint of Groucho Marx, and although the rest of the cast do not match his ﬂair, with the maniac at the helm, the play takes on a furious momentum. With plenty of slapstick, disguises, absurd goings
(not 1) llam,£3.50 1 (£2.50).
g v THEATRE
SHAKEN BUT NOT
Despite the corny, off-putting title, this show just manages to hold the attention with its gentle pathos about loneliness in bachelor bedsit land. Offering no surprises, the male character sits around his room anecdoting, wallowing in his worn-out dreams and dead-end life like a trainee angry young man. Dipping in and out of memories and day-to-day issues, anything from failed relationships and
package holidays to getting mindlessly beaten up, the show might have been described as stand-up comedy, if it were funny enough. But the performer is clearly an actor, and the play works best when he explores the i vanity and sensitivity of the character. The music, self composed, is an added bonus to what is rather uneven material. (Michael Balfour)
I Shaken But Not Stirred (Fringe) Trafalgar Hall (Venue 63) 554 0290, 30 Aug—5 Sept (not 3) 10.30am,£3.50(£3).
HEEL-i WENDY THE ' WIZARD, THE WITCH AND HER CAT
An amateur production by children for children following the exploits of a witch and cat versus a wizard in their battle for the title of Order of Woods Wickedness. Caught up in their spells are two small children who get trapped in the woods, to the accompaniment of sound effects, jokes and helpful animals, including a Yorkshire-bred lion with an appetite for one-liners (‘I‘ve got my pride to
consider‘). All is eventually resolved, with help from the four seasons and a good fairy, but not before important lessons are learnt.
production that gives
young children an experience of performing and should be judged accordingly. (Michael Balfour)
I Wendy the Wizard, the Wllch and her Cat (Fringe) Diverse Attractions (Venue 11) 225 8961 , 31 Aug-5 Sept, 10am, £2.50 (£1.50).
v THEATRE ‘
? DEATH OF AN
There are no less than four productions at the Fringe of Dario Fo‘s popular political satire. An anarchist ‘accidentally' falls from the fourth floor of police headquarters in Milan while under interrogation. A ‘maniac‘ disguised as a judge decides to conduct his own investigation into the incident, not only uncovering the policemen‘s guilt but also their embarrassing personal foibles.
Gerry McHugh as the maniac is superb, playing his part with more than a
on , and some current political comment thrown in, this is a good way to start the day at the Fringe. (Robert Alstead)
I Accidental Death of an Anarchist (Fringe) KYBO Theatre Company, Gilded Balloon Theatre (Venue 38) 226 2151, until 5 Sept, 11am, £4 (£3).
i HEEL- THE sEAsHELL
_; Admittedly l was twenty
years older than the rest of
the audience, but [did
f ﬁnd the jokes in this quite
funny. But there again I
wasn’t quite as frightened
by the seagull dream
sequence as the small girl
in the front row, probably
; because I hid behind my
seat as soon as it started.
This charming tale of
‘ eco-damage is mapped
. out by two actors and a lot of mime, dance and panto
' gags. It did make some demands on the audience,
but at the same time didn’t patronise them, and being
a paranoid neurotic, I’m sensitive to that sort of
_ thing. (Stephen Chester)
‘ I The Seashell (Fringe)
Hill Street Theatre
. (Venue 41) 225 7294, until 5 Sept, noon, £3 (£2).
“ETIE- gSECDND : BREAKFAST
This dance theatre
} company is American-led i and German-based with
1 four accomplished
i dancers and a talented
i composer/musician who creates live and original
1 music. Although there isa l garlic-smelling concoction on the boil throughout there was little reference to breakfast. and indeed it was sometimes hard to
i make thematic connections between the title and the collage of dancing and acting. As promised in the programme there are power games, played by using the manipuation of ﬂoppy bodies or mimicry of body language. But somehow the choreographer does not seem to have yet found a vocabulary of her own. (Tamsin Grainger)
I Second Breakfast (Fringe) Desperate Figures Dance Theatre. Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49) 225 9893. until 5 Sept (not Suns), 12.30pm,£4
The List 28 August — 10 September 1992 21