Skip lunch and check out these promising shows chosen by Catherine Fellows.

I The Soiree An exquisite and powerful dance drama based on Jean Paul Sartre‘s Huis Clos, choreographed and performed by the exceptionally talented Yvette Bozsik company from Hungary. Catch the last few days.

The Soirée (Fringe) Yvette Bozsik Theatre Company. Demarco European Arts Foundation (Venue 22) 557 0707. until 20 Aug, 1.15pm. £5 (£4.50).

I iluge Ben Miller and Simon Godley in a two-hander about the pitfalls and pretensions of the comedy circuit seen through the talentless routines of a pair of aspiring stars.

Huge (Fringe) Ben Miller and Simon Godley, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 4 Sept (not 23, 31 ), 2pm. £6 (£5).

I Peking Opera Eastern extravaganza mime, dance, acrobatics - by an internationally famous company whose members undergo the most rigorous training imaginable.

Peking Opera (Fringe) FEAST (Venue 73) 228 9666/228 2234, 24, 25 Aug, 2.30pm, £6 (£4).

I Stripped Funny and inventive one- woman show in which a sassy cartoon character dominates her creator. Stripped (Fringe) Altos Theatre Company, Gilded Balloon Theatre (Venue 38) 226 2151, until 4 Sept. 1.30pm, £5 (£4).

I 1080 Original Gravity This remarkable performance by trapeze artists Sarah Jean Couzens and Matt Costain embraces everything from love and desertion, to life on board the good ship Jezebel, and is accompanied by live sax and flute.

1080 Original Gravity (Fringe) Exstatic, Pleasance (Venue 33 ) 556 6550, until 4 Sept (not 23. 31 ), 2.30pm. £5/£5. 50 ( £4/£4. 50).

The emperor’s clothes

The Peking Opera rarely comes to the UK but the company has made a big impression on western circus performers. Tamsin Grainger ducked under the guyropes to find out more.

Young Chinese who aspire to perform with the Peking Opera must start training by the age of ten if they are ever to earn the chance to wear the three inch platform shoes and elaborate head dresses which are the hallmark of this troupe.

The colourful productions, which mix extravagant costume with noisy instruments, might be described as multi—media or physical theatre in the West. Despite its traditional roots, the company has been a strong influence on ‘new circus‘ performers in Europe.

‘The Peking Opera was consolidated about 200 years ago when an emperor invited opera troupes to Beijing to entertain him,‘ according to Rachel

Henderson, who has brought this production to Edinburgh. ‘Peking Opera as we know it today was formed using the most popular elements from each of the shows and joining them together.‘

Peking Opera‘s work is frequently used as an ethical or moral vehicle which carries political allegories, and consequently the company suffered severely during the Cultural Revolution. Only politically orthodox plays like Raise The Red Lantern and The Detachment 0] Woman by Madame Mao were performed during that period.

However the company has now returned to performances based on traditional stories such as Madame Whitesnake. ‘It is the tale of a snake who has been reincarnated as an immortal in human form' Henderson explains. ‘She is played by the only female performer in the company. in a fighting scene, she stands among four spear-throwing waniors and uses all sorts of acrobatics involving dance and gymnastics.’

The other excerpts from the production, which features three short highlights from the company‘s repertoire, promise to be equally fascinating. ‘Eight Big Sticks involves war hammers huge polyhedrons on sticks which are juggled and stacked on top of each other while the performers are dancing,‘ Henderson says. ‘At The Crossroads is a case of mistaken identity featuring an entertaining scene where two men do battle in the dark with their antics clearly mimed for the delight of the


I Peking Opera (Fringe) FEAST. Edinburgh College of An (Venue 73) 228 9666/228 2234, 24. 25 Aug. 2.30pm, £6 (£4).

mism- Body politic

Bimitre, the last tree on earth, has just one hour to enter the body oi axe- wlelding lumberiack it. Soul, iind his mind and change it. In the right buttock, he is adopted by a couple at subversive blood cells who lead him on his Incredible quest. The Ieit and right testicles are locked in debate, the socialist kidneys are preparing a stone to launch against the iasclst dominator. But no-one seems to know exactly where the tyrannical decision maker actually is.

This has to be a story iantastic enough to attract attention to even the most obscure Fringe company, but coming irom Andrew Buckland at South Airica’s Market Theatre, there is reason to get really excited. Anyone who saw Buckland’s The lieg lloo iloo two years ago, or his work with Theatre tor Airica, will know him as not only an ingenious playwright but an extraordinarily talented physical perionner.

Bloodstream relies almost entirely on the mime and vocal skills oi Buckland and his iellow actor Li Newman, skills that have been honed by political urgency. As Buckland exp us: ‘I wanted to iind a term oi theatre that was accessible to a wider section oi the community here (in South Airica), not exclusively vocal, nor perceived as dance or mime, both oi which tend to alienate, but which could deal with issues that seemed important.’

Though Bloodstream promises to be amusing, it also has some very serious messages to convey. The play aims to communicate the extent to which all things are interconnected and interdependent, whether it be in the human body, the wider natural environment, or the nation state, and the disastrous consequences oi ignoring this. When Blmitre eventually reaches the brain, he discovers silence.

‘The tact is, all the cells oi the body make up the mind,’ Buckiand says. ‘It's a simple analogy to democracy: ior God’s sake let everyone have a voteasaiirststep,thenwemightbe in a position to iind out how the body's

Bloodstream gets tnuier the skin going to resolve itseli and what position it will take as a unit.’ (catherine Fellows)

Bloodstream (Fringe) Market Theatre, inverse Theatre (Venue 15) 228 1404, 24, 27, 31 Aug, 3Sept, 1pm, 25, 28 M. 1.4%.4-30III. 26. 29M.2 Sent. 89-. £7 (24).

24 The List 20—26 August 1993