‘ V THEATRE
‘ Graveside humour
‘Personally i work in the theatre because it is like a big family,’ says .f Vasily Malakov, director of Theatre on
Podol. The Kiev-based company is , bringing an adaptation of Pushkin’s A Feast During The Plague to this year’s Fringe and, like other companies from
the former USSR, it is having to make
the painful transition from state- . funded repertory company to Western- '- style project-based set up. ‘llow actors have no security, and it is very difficult for me from a moral ' point of view, because i am hiring and 3 firing my friends,’ Malakov says. The change also has implications for the productions. A Feast During The Plague is very much an ensemble piece which incorporates a lot of improvisation. Malakov calls it ‘theatre iazz’, which he says depends on actors knowing each other and working together over a long period of ? time. Each performance is different, as the actors respond to changes in each other and their environment.
Pushkin wrote the play while trapped in his village because of a plague raging through Russia. It is in three parts, each a sketch based on an existing story, each looking at moments when the living are confronted by death, and each set in a graveyard.
The Chernobyl nuclear disaster was one of the reasons Malakov decided to produce the play, but he has avoided any specific references, feeling that these detract from a more general relevance. lie also insists that the show is neither bleak nor morbid - the irr'everent Don Juan of the first part
and the genius prankster Mozart of the
A Feast During The Plague: Pushkin uses death to teach us about life
second make sure of that. According to Malakov, the final part, which brings the whole piece together, is above all a celebration of life. Pushkin leaves the decision to us.’ The performance is in Russian but because it is so theatrical, almost circus-like - and because it draws on well-known characters such as lion Juan, Mozart and Salieri - Malakov believes that it will be accessible to Edinburgh audiences. ‘Anyway, I have presented a different version to non- liussian speaking audiences before, so I know the places where the spectators went to sleep,’ he says. ‘liow in these places I am having loud music!’ (Catherine Fellows) A Feast During The Plague (Fringe) Theatre on Podol, Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, 13 Aug-4 Sept (not 24, 31), 2pm, £6.50/£7.50 (£5.50/£6.50).
1 Mad world
An Audience with Pa um-
Pa llbu has always been a favourite on
the Fringe, and for some reason or
other, Alfred .larry’s dadaist creation, a monstrous and cruel despot, was particularly in demand during the
years of the Thatcher administration.
And now he’s back. Again. lot in .larry’s original form but, appropriately for our time, he has emerged from years of exile as an author desperate to get media coverage for his latest books: ‘The ilough Guide to Bonking’ and ‘Fasclsts That I Knew and loved’. ‘l decided to go with a new look and a new image, like a Les Patterson type,’ says Steve Geary, who conceived the show and whose designs and images are used as backdrops throughout. ‘iie’s bored shitless with .iarry and llbu llol, all he wants is to promote his new products. When he gets onto the show though, the interviewer exposes his shabby past using slides - which is where my visuals come in.’ Geary is distinguist as ‘Mad' magazine’s only ilk cover artist and a contributor to the likes of Viz, so his work is suitably crude for Pa llbu. The only problem could be that this re-creatlon is simply too much of a iiew Man? ‘Oh no, he dellvers,’ says Beary, ‘he's still a bad person.’ (Thom lllbdin) An Audience With Pa llbu (Fringe) Psychotic Theatre, The Bilded Balloon Theatre (Venue 38) 226 2151,13 Ave-4 Sam. in. £5 (23).
‘Lucy Kaseiitz was a little girl when she fell into a deep coma. She was 48 when she ﬁnally awoke.‘ explains Dr Philip de Glanviile. Though he was inspired to write Lucy K by a case history featured in the now famous novel Awakenings by Dr Oliver Sachs, this is no schmaltzy Robert de Niro version. Neither is it a 40- minute reading of extracts from ‘Gray’s Medical Dictionary’ — though the author is himself a GP.
As he explains, ‘the play is set in the 1960s when the wonder-drug L-dopa first became available to treat post-encephalitic Parkinson‘s Disease. it is primarily concerned with the reasons why people retreat into illness and why it is sometimes safer to leave people rather than open the lid and create more problems.‘
in Lucy’s case. the anivai of the drug provokes a battle between an over-zealous doctor keen to try out the miracle cure and an over- protective mother determined to preserve her ‘baby’ as she is. Neither considers Lucy‘s needs, nor are they prepared for them when she eventually emerges. briefly, able to determine her own destiny.
Lucy K was received with great enthusiasm at last year‘s British One Act Play Festival, and won its author a handful of awards. it is also produced by a wholly amateur company. Two good reasons for catching it during its short run. (Ann Donald)
I Lucy K (Fringe) Troupers. Hill Street Theatre, 13—20 Aug. 1.45pm, £3.50 (£3).
V COMEDY HUGE
You could never accuse Ben Miller of being unadventurous. Astute Fringe observers in 1990 would have spotted him in the Fringe Club fronting
The Dear Johns, a rockin’ three-piece power pop combo belting out ditties like the paean to bathroom suites. ‘Armitage Shanks‘. Last year his affectionately obsessive tribute to Blue Peter’s John Noakes had the critics reaching for their psychiatry manuals. if nothing else. By contrast. his offering this year. Huge, a play about ‘two guys who wanna be huge‘. perfomied with comedy circuit veteran Simon Godley. looks indecently conventional.
‘Forget it,‘ he says. ‘lt’s fucking weird the whole thing. These two characters are determined to be the comedy equivalent of rock ’n‘ roll stars. and it gets very wild. They‘re both desperately unfunny. and one of them is verging on the psychotic.’
The play was written as a response to Miller‘s ratherjaundiced view of
the comedy circuit. where he believes talent is distinctly secondary to ruthless ambition. Can we expect a few veiled references to certain characters on the scene? ‘Well. not that veiled actually.‘ he says. 'There are quite a few namechecks. i guess in that way. it is an excuse to slag off a lot of comics.’ (Tom Lappin) I lluge (Fringe) Ben Miller and Simon Godley. Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550. 14 Aug—4 Sept.
4.15pm. £5.50 (£4.50).
weekends £5 (£4).
Ben Miller and Simon Godley are iiuge
V THEATRE SAHS TEETH
‘At least for part of my life I’d been out of control and the chaos of the stories reflects the chaos of my disorder.’ Actress Sadie Hamilton has a nice line in catastrophic and bizarre tales for the dinner party. Trees fall on to roads seconds after she had driven away and strange coincidences pepper her wacky existence.
Part of the cause, she claims. was a history of anorexia and bulimia. which left her career
floundering and her health ' end up like that". People
in ruins. Now she has
collaborated with writer
lan Bailey to string these anecdotes together to
create Sans Teeth. a tragic
yet hilarious play. ‘lt is not a show about anorexia. it shows my
every day life but from
that the audience will glean what’s happened. For example, i come in
Sans Teeth: catastrophic and blurs tales
from work and i get my supper — six crisps.‘
As well as being a form of self-help therapy to dissolve the anger that this damaging disease has provoked. and a personal attempt to do something creative with the experience. this play aims to have a more general resonance.
‘1 think Princess Diana has been very brave about her experience of anorexia, but there‘s a danger there because she is a lovely. glamorous person. i think of all the young people out there seeing her talk about it
‘ and i think. “hang on a
minute. it doesn‘t always
don‘t talk about the real shit side of it. You can end up infertile with weak bones. scarred kidneys and n0 teeth.‘ (Beatrice Colin)
I Sans Teeth (Fringe) Accidental Productions. Marco’s (Venue 98) 228 9292, 16—21 Aug. 2.40pm, £4.50 (£3.50).
30 The List l3—l‘) August I993