Full in th ace)

John Binnie has had great success in

Edinburgh over the years with human- scale, social issue-based plays such as Killing Me Softly, Beyond The Rainbow and A Little Older. This year’s offering, the transatlantic lesbian love story Accustomed To Her Face, has already been awarded a Fringe First, but while it continues the Binnie tradition in terms of theme and quality, the pacy, gutsy style is something else. Binnie could hardly have packed in more punchlines: and punchlines is exactly the right word. Each one knocks you back with its force, venom and outrageous crudity - and leaves you weak with mirth.

Mary and the aptly named Basher are two Glaswegian hard women,

brutalised by mind-numbing )obs, family problems and relentless poverty. As Erin, the bundle of health and optimism that drops into their lives from America, quickly finds out, they are an ugly, aggressive pair. Their single admirable feature is their resourcefulness, speed and tenacity in coming up with put-downs-to-die-for for the hapless tourist. But in fact, Erin is not so hapless. The tables turn when she pulls out a trump card of her own - her lesbianism - and seduces Bashen

The story stretches the bounds of credibility somewhat, particularly in that the hostility and negativity of the Claswegians drops from them like a lightly worn over-gannent. At one point, Maxy even goes so soft, so middle-class, that she brings the lovers breakfast in bed toast and strawberry yoghurt! But, characteristically, Binnie sends up his overnight transformations by having his actresses burst into songs from the musicals - Mr Sunshine as Erin does a Snow White make-over of the girls’ grotty flat, for example.

I couldn’t help thinking that the tremendous enthusiasm with which I saw this performance greeted had almost as much to do with the audience’s conscience as it did with the brilliance of Binnie’s writing. (Catherine Fellows)

Accustomed to Her Face (Fringe) Clyde Unity Theatre, Theatre Workshop (Venue 20) 226 5425, 27, 29, 31 Aug, 2, 4 Sept, 2pm, £5.50 (£3.50).


A Feast During The Plague

Themes of death are very much to the fore in this Russian company’s inventive production of Pushkin’s graveyard meditations. The piece is split into four parts: two different stories (lion Juan and Mozart) dealing differently with human mortality, which are framed by set-piece scenes of plague survivors confronting the stalking figure of the Brim lleaper hhnself.

lots of tulle drapes the stage (as well as a hanging skeleton festooned with fairy lights) giving the proceedings a curiously crisp atmosphere. The costumes seem to be made of similar material, in monochrome shades, as the company lolls about the stage singing sadly over their dead.

The opening scene’s plague-ground

Theatre 0n Podol: curiously crisp

becomes the graveyard where lion Juan first sees Donna Anna, and commences the intrigue that will result in his death at the hands of the ghostly Commander. With the same parallel as Shaffer’s Amadeus, the scene flips to the murder of Mozart at the hands of Salieri.

Although heavin reliant on its Russian dialogue, the tales are so perfectly played and the haunting atmosphere skilfully maintained that, with a bit of concentration, much that is valuable can be extracted -weirdness, comedy, music and passion. (Andrew Pulver)

A Feast During The Plague (Fringe) Theatre 0n Podol, Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 4 Sept (not 31 Aug), 2pm, 2650/2750 (2550/2650).


Breaking into a flea-bitten bedsit. Warren and Clarke plug in the phone. set up the typewriters and continue on their determined way to being huge in comedy. spinning wildly elaborate fantasies

Huge: all the funnier for understatement and rigorous control



Nice idea - Alfred Jarry's

monstrous. fascinating

of earth-shattering success

while waiting for the phone to ring. Eventually the strain starts to tell. and the comic partnership which was going to shake the world is soon in ruins. Ben Miller and Simon Godley’s taut. nervy two- hander is all the funnier for the understatement and rigorous control it displays. and the effort put into characterisation and building the details of the pair’s interaction more than pays off. providing a solid foundation for the show's sharp. shrewd humour. Tight. polished and satisfying. (Sue Wilson)

I lluge (Fringe) Ben Miller and Simon Godley. Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 4 Sept. 2pm. £5.50/£6 (£4.50/£5).


‘lt’s got live electric violin and it’s short.‘ said the person touting Tree Monsters outside the venue. She lied on one count: short is a relative term. Granted the violin was electric and live. Some people did physical theatre. Others sat on boxes pretending they were in the trees. Some threw water at each other. They all mentioned 'The Enemy' with some fear.

The meaning is quite obvious: people are frightened of each other and invent myths to justify their pasts. What was not obvious was why this message had to be told in this. admittedly inventive. marriage of dance. drama. music and repetition. (Thom Dibdin). I Tree Monsters (Fringe) Talking Birds Theatre Company, Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49) 225 9893. until 28 Aug. 2.10pm (30 Aug-4 Sept. 10. lOpm). £4 (£3).

creation. King Ubu. as a guest on a late-night arts programme. fielding pretentious questions as he tries to plug his new book. single and video

shame about the show.

The Python/Steadman- esque drawings by

cartoonist Steve Geary.

shown as slides to

illustrate Ubu’s history.

are the sole accomplished element of this sub- knockabout farce Penelope Dimond as the pseudy presenter leaps rather than falls into the trap ofcrude cliche’. Rob lnglis‘s Ubu is loud.

coarse and gratineg

unfunny. the narrative

soon abandons all

pretence to coherence and

the whole thing gets more ;

irritating by the minute. Avoid. (Sue Wilson)

- I An Audience With Pa

llbu (Fringe) Psychotic

; Theatre Company. Gilded : Balloon Theatre (Venue



38) 226 215]. until 4 Sept. lpm. £5.(£3).


Tough. violent. sexy.

that's Liberty Belle. In her

daily strip-cartoon the enormously busty American private dick makes Tank-girl look like

; Scooter-girl. Her English creator was trying to get ; over a crap boyfriend

Q when she invented her. and now the cartoon is

running the woman’s life.

This funny and inventive one woman show makes almost


schizophrenic demands of the actress. Julie Riley

; comes right up to form.

} believable as both cartoon ; character and frightened

' creator. The down-beat

final confrontation. where

the now alcoholic woman

discovers her creation's

origins. flags slightly. but 5 only in contrast to the

play's explosive start. (Thom Dibdin)

I Stripped (Fringe) Altas Theatre Company. Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 226 2151.13 Aug—4 Sept.

1.30pm. £5 (£4).

Julie lliley in Stripped: tough, violent and sexy


I Boarding-house land. the 50s. and a couple of

: unemployed blokes sit

' aroundjawing and

' knocking back whisky.

lt's Joe Orton territory.

, where sexualities may be

5 gay or straight but.

; although bursting to get out. are forced by society

to remain unspoken.

The young company twists Kathy Burke's play by having women play the male roles and a man the female. This neatly perturbs the audience’s : expectations about male

bonding. focusing

attention on the way men do and don‘t —- touch

each other. Although the delivery is often hesitant.

this is an attractive and

questioning production. (Thom Dibdin)

I Mr Thomas (Fringe) Exacting Theatre Company. Southside ’93 (Venue 82) 667 7365. until 4 Sept (not 31 Aug).

2.10pm. £3.50 (£3).

It Thomas: neatfy‘per‘tltluJ|

The List 27 August-9 September l993 27