1'73" @- FESTIVAL
The Uncles are not your usual brand of street performers. John Fealey and Alex Dandridge may ‘do skills’ like juggling and unicycling but on the day I saw them, these were almost an afterthought. What marks them out is an eccentric brand of impromptu comedy using the place, the weather or the audience as a springboard for a string of off-the-cuff jokes and observations. Even the appearance of a genuine nutter shouting bible jokes from up a telegraph pole couldn’t faze them and was woven seamlessly into their act.
After 50 minutes the audience were still waiting for the ‘act’ to start.stili wondering what was going to happen next and still laughing. The Uncles are the near perfect Fringe act — funnier than most stand-ups, different every day, and free! (Frances Cornford)
I The Uncles (Fringe), Wireworks Playground (Venue 1), until 5 Sept, 1pm, Free.
For a Canadian play that really reveals the nastiness that emerges when a playwright writes the truth about his or her family you should seek out a copy of Michel Tremblay’s Le Vrai Monde. lt’s unfair to compare the much younger writer Dawn Severenuk to Tremblay, but despite a reasonably interesting plot structure, her play Esau attempts the same kind of thing and comes across as
theatrically dull. Constrained by its own naturalism and thin on humour, Esau is about a young woman with terminal cancer and the reactions of her brother and sister. There’s a refreshingly down-to- earth acceptance of her illness — no slushy sentimentality here — but it‘s otherwise unambitious and LG4‘s production is merely perfunctory. (Mark Fisher) I Esau (Fringe) LG4 Theatre Company, Hill Street Theatre (Venue 41) 225 7294, until 5 Sept. 2. 15pm, £5 (£4).
THIS AND THAT/ MONUMENT
Two actor/writers perform their own material in this double bill badly in need of a brief interval. Troy Webb‘s This and That is a Berkoff-style monologue complete with broad gestures, lilting rhymes and lots of rumpy-pumpy. That, of course, assumes you survive the overlong opening strobe sequence which left this reviewer dizzy and slightly nauseated for the next half hour.
Following this assault on the senses, Mark Jenkinson serves up Monument, a story of inﬁdelity, violence and homelessness in London. It is an all-too-pertinent
allegory of familial rivalry ’
and its consequences, told in a heightened literary style which sits rather uncomfortably with its content, and an accent which is altogether too posh to make the character believable. There’s a lot of polish and promise here, perhaps an omen of more fulﬁlling offerings to come from these two men.
A word of warning to nudity hunters, though: the publicity photo (as published in last week‘s List) is misleading. (Roberta Mock)
I This and That/Monument (Fringe) Triad Productions, Celtic Lodge (Venue 6) 225 7097 , until 5 Sept, 2pm, £4 (£3).
Operation Elvis embroils us in yet another debate. Not only is there the question of whether C .P. Taylor is a playwright worthy of such concentration, but we
must also ask ourselves whether Theatre~in- Education is a valid exercise for an international festival. Taylor‘s play may be TIE of extraordinary quality, but it is still a simplistic piece of right-on proselytising, preaching and promising a happy-ever-after ending for children who can accept otherness and disability. The message is the play. While it may be an important one, we are still left with slight, Utopian theatre. Furthermore, the actors‘ immaculate performances are disabused by this draughty barn of a venue with poor acoustics. (Roberta Mock) I Operation Elvis (international Festival) Byre Theatre Company, The Corn Exchange, 27 Aug, 11am, £5.
NEW MAN IN PROGRESS
It’s unlikely that a man punched unconscious for giving some other bloke‘s bird ‘an appreciative squeeze’ would then be left comatose for hours on the floor ofa pub. But if he were (and in this show he is) I suppose it‘s conceivable that he might experience a philosophical dream vision about the true nature of his sexual desires.
That is, at any rate, what the audience experiences, and it takes the form of a supposedly mythical debate between our prone protagonist and his two ideals of womanhood — the Angel and the Temptress. And does he draw any conclusions? Does he heck-as-like. For the fact is that the approach is so meandering, that — while I grant there are no obvious answers to the questions raised — it‘s perfectly clear that we‘re not goingto reach any this way.
New Man also contains some tired Shakespeare, Chaucer and Spenser plagiarisms, some naff homemade poetry, a handful of badly presented songs, and three game performers who strive to make something coherent ofthis mish-mash but clearly haven‘t been aided much by their writer/directors. (Andrew Burnet)
I New Man in Progress (Fringe) King‘s Players, Theatre Zoo (Venue 21) 225 7995, until 4 Sept (alternate days), 2.30pm, £3.50 (£3).
A WINDERNESS OF MONKEYS/ EVERY INCH A KING
Despite being performed on alternate days, these two companion pieces by John Carglll Thompson about long-dead thesps really should be seen together to be savoured. A recently deceased Charles Mackiin, played by Alec Monteath, is the protagonist of A Wilderness of Monkeys. The llesty old codger pontilicates on the turmolls of being an 18th century player, the availability of whores, the murder he committed over a wig, his famous portrayal of Shylock, and the parsimony of little Davey Garrick.
The following day, John Shedden, as David Garrick, tells the other side of the story in Every Inch A King. The same unseen supporting cast of fellow actors and unscrupulous managers are employed for both shows, although the
perspective is vastly different. The overwhelming impression is that Garrick was a bit of a dull git. Monteath and Shedden bring to Macklin and Garrick weighty maturity and lull-bodied fruity voices, which can easily sustain long monologues, preventing these pieces from being relevant only as (albeit creative) lessons in theatre history. (Roberta
A Wilderness of Monkeys (Fringe) Prime Productions, Festival Club (Venue 36) 650 2395, 26,28,31 Aug, 2,4 Sept, 1.45pm, £6 (24).
Every inch A King (Fringe) Prime Productions, Festival Club (Venue 36) 650 2395, 27,29,30 Aug, 1,3,5 Sept, 1.45pm, £6 (£4).
v COMEDY 7
THE ORANGE PENGUIN
The show starts promisineg enough, with the appearance ofan ingenuous Scot (an amiable and consistent portrayal by lan Angus Wilkie) in a London peopled by rogues and swindlers of the criminal and leisured classes.
John Random’s inventive script, sparkling with one-line gems ofwit, sets about satirising contemporary Britain in general and the Smoke in particular, with a wicked eye for detail.
The cast — who have previously collaborated as Newsrevue — offer a series of neatly conceived caricatures, though I found Brian Jordan’s characterisation of gangleader Sykes (the play being loosely based on Oliver Twist) too slender to convince.
But somewhere after
an amblc. i left like a
material for female actors. We usually penetrate no
the halfway mark, the storyline becomes confusing, the energy drops, you stop caring about the characters and— despite the boost of a thoroughly enjoyable dance routine — what should be a romp becomes
headmaster, muttering ‘could do better.‘ (Andrew Burnet) I The Orange Penguin (Fringe) Risk Theatre Company, The Roxy (Venue 27) 650 8499, until 1' (not iSept), 2pm,£4.50 : (£3). i
DOROTHY PARKER’S DEAD
Yes, Parker is dead. But like her tough-but-tragic sisters, Mesdames West, Monroe, and Holiday, she is oft resuscitated to provide monologue
deeper than surface likeness and apocryphal biography, but lam
pleased to report that Jane Hollowood‘s Parker, as drawn by Marvin Close, is no mere exercise in morbid body-snatching. Yes, all the usual bitchy pubdowns are part ofthe parcel but Dorothy Parker's Dead is also witty, well-constructed. and informative theatre. Close paints a picture of the fear behind the glamour, a Parker not entirely sure of what she wants and suspicious of what she has; a Parker whose view of herself as ephemeral leads to a suicide attempt with either too many motives or none that are tangible. Although Hollowood‘s portrayal of angry self-pity often seems forced (perhaps, I concede, by design). her accent is convincing and her effortless delivery of barbed aphorisms is flawless. (Roberta Mock) I Dorothy Parker’s Dead (Fringe) .lane Hollowood. Gilded Balloon Theatre (Venue 38) 226 2151, until
5 Sept, l.30pm,£5 (£4). A
24 The List 28 August — 10 September 1992