Ilalf llalf: Talking in tongues
‘ I’m sitting in a busy London cafe and
7 Jonathan Stone is talking gibberish to
me. ‘0ch’n ken a pint a bass, set a
that, I got a clean a brlse a ba barna
and that’s a combwarna but,’ he says
in something akin to Glaswegian. Talking in tongues is what he,
brother Barnaby and now also lather
Ralf do for a living. It’s Staring You Right In The Face is their latest show as Italf Ball and follows the pattern established by The Hour, The Summit and Dinner by being performed almost entirely in made-up language. ‘The audience becomes much more concerned with watching behaviour,’ explains Stone who, like his brother, is as interested in choreography and music as he is in straight acting. ‘But we are also able to manipulate the same reaction out of the audience as we would with real words. Barnaby does a stand-up routine in gibberish and when that’s going well it’s possible to get exactly the same reaction.’
The latest show, which comes to Edinburgh in a newly revised version after performances in Nottingham and Europe, is set in a TV studio which produces a series of programmes, from tacky game show, to intellectual chat show, to TV evangelism. Zipping through an endlessly changing array of characters - ‘the same way that showbiz characters like Bowie or Madonna are constantly changing their image’ - Ralf Ralf make light of the bizarre behaviour that passes for normality in front of the small screen.
‘One point Is to do with the way that people who work on television seem to suffer some personality loss due to the massive increase in self- consciousness they get,’ says Stone. ‘Another point Is about the loss of magic in our society; television has very successfully garnered all those tricks of shamanism - over ten hours a day, it’s not very ecstatic but it grabs people’s attention.’ (Mark Fisher)
It’s Staring You flight in the Face (Fringe) Ralf Ralf, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, 11 Aug-4 Sept, 5.15pm, 26.50/27 (25.50/26).
Dave Cohen is such a sensitive driver
, that he has more than once given a
cyclist too much room, thereby almost crushing another one. He’s got his own bicycle now and goes around hitting
; car roofs. Or he did once, until he got
glared at. He’s been on Radio 0ne’s
loose Talk, and has even been asked
back, but says he prefers the Fringe,
f where he doesn’t have to butt in, but
can create his own ambience.
So, with only his mike and acoustic guitar, he should have enough space at the Stepping Stones Theatre to sing his comic songs and tell his mild- mannered lines and personal observations about Israel, having a ' mortgage, having a bicycle, being
Jewish and having sex. Accolades such as ‘The sort of comic I’d take my mother to see’ trouble him not. ‘lfl was wanting to be young and thrusting and vibrant, all the things that I want to be when I'm a pop star, I suppose it would be a bit embarrassing really,’ he says. Instead he’s back and proud, with his slightly touched-up eyes, less
34 The List I3- I‘) August I993
‘ l ' “EME- g i |
Dave Cohen: ‘Young and thrusting and vibrant'
paunch, more pathos and a show he has finely honed with a dozen dates in London. (Thom Dibdln)
0l’ Black Eyes is Back (Fringe) nave Cohen, Stepping Stones Theatre (Venue 51) 225 6520, 13—23 Aug, 4.15pm; 25 Aug-4 Sept, 6.45pm, £5
THE TIME BEFORE THE TIME AFTER
The Time Before The Time After: ‘Both memory and personality are fragmentary!
The time of the title is. for playwright David Greig. ‘very fragmentary‘. which explains how he manages to expand the professed ten minutes of action — in which a woman on holiday packs her suitcase — into the 75 minutes of the play‘s duration.
They‘re pretty action- packed minutes too. as Greig also investigates the concept that ‘both memory and personality are fragmentary. as one person is the memory of four people over hundreds of times‘. This can get a tad confusing for the actors. as Greig is the first to admit. ‘It‘s a really hard play to do. There are scenes in it where people are conducting conversations in the present and the past at the same time.‘
‘The simplest way of describing what it's about is this.‘ he continues. 'it's about a marriage falling apart. but it‘s also dealing with themes ofcreativity.‘ Those themes. he later reveals. are not the simplest to have graced a production. however: ‘It‘s about the creation of relationships and how you create your own personality — and. in the process ofchanging. Mary discovers that she’s not who she thought she was. and she creates this new person.’
Strangely enough the show also features an itchy T-shirt salesman. (Stephen Chester)
I The Time Before The Time After (Fringe) Rough Edge. Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49) 225 9893. 16—28 Aug. 3.15pm. £5 (£4).
One in twenty teenagers and one in four gay men testing for HIV are positive: it was these shocking figures. published by Gay Men Fighting Against Aids. which prompted John Roman Baker to write his play Easy.
According to company director Rod Evan the subject of AIDS has never been dealt with in an honest or realistic fashion until now. The issue has been oversimplified and sentimentalised or. in the case of the AIDS musical Elegies in London. treated in a very questionable manner.
However. AIDS Positive Underground aim to redress the balance with their controversial account of the last five days in the life of a person with AIDS; an account that has
already provoked walkouts at the I993 Brighton Festival.
Evan is adamant in his argument for staging such an uncompromising and graphic piece. ‘Everyone knows about HIV and AIDS. yet the ﬁgures show that in reality the message isn't getting through. especially to teenagers.’
The play has not only raised hackles with its unglamorous portrayal of hospice life. but the ﬁery combination of death and eroticism. as embodied by the protagonist Frank and his partner Jim. whose sex lives are far from death's door.‘
As Evan sums it up. ‘Eusv isn't a classic AIDS piay.‘ (Ann Donald)
I Easy (Fringe) Aids Positive Underground Theatre Company. The Carlton (Venue 71) 558 3758. 16—28 Aug. 4.30pm. £5 (£3).
V COMEDY THAT REMIHDS ME . . .
The fashion fascists that rule youth programming on television have forced the likes of Barry Cryer. self-confessed old fart of British comedy. to earn a crust on the after-dinner speaking circuit.
A just punishment. you might say. for someone whose credits include a string of imaginatively entitled radio shows. all of which feature various permutations of ‘ciue‘. ‘what's my'. ‘give us‘ and ‘punch lines.‘ Cryer is the kind of act who symbolises that comfy- jumper. all-chums- together image of BBC light entertainment and it is that cosy feeling that he hopes to invoke with his Fringe show Thar Reminds Me.
‘It's not going to bejust
a run through of my CV.‘ he promises. ‘It will more of a discursive chat about life with a few relevant jokes thrown in. I'll go where the topics lead me.‘
Cryer points out that this is no impro show. but the audience will be given the chance to submit subjects for his attention in 'Barry‘s Bucket'. which he expects will turn into something of a nostalgia slot. As Cryer points out. the survival rate among comedians he has written for is not high; Eric Morecambe. Tommy Cooper. Frankie Howerd. Les Dawson and Dick Emery have all been called up for the great command performance in the sky.
Cryer. by contrast. is still around to tell tales. (Eddie Gibb)
I That Reminds Me (Fringe) Barry Cryer. Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428. 13—19 Aug. 4pm. £7 (£6).