FUNCTION OF THE ORCASM
‘Frequent and repeated genital gratiﬁcation' was Wilhiem Reich’s answer to most of civilisation’s ills. as expounded in his book The Function Of The Orgasm. It's sad that this odd but inviting theory was somewhat discredited by his later invention of the Orgone Accumulator. which supposedly harnessed the energies of the orgasm to cure cancer and fascism.
Function of The Orgasm seeks to illuminate Reich’s later work through an investigation into his childhood. an upbringing so bizarre that it makes much of his later work appear tame in comparison. Sexual obsession and massive repression were the key features of the Reich household, a signiﬁcant highlight of the average day being the recitation of domestic events. sufﬁxed by the coda ‘Thought no lustful thoughts.’
This. as the play reveals, was a bit of a ﬁb. as Mrs Reich was at it with her son’s teacher and the precocious Wilhelm himself was getting extra curricular tutorials from the family nurse. All this is staged in an underplayed. indirect fashion by Cambridge Mummers. who soft-pedal slightly on the sexuality of the piece by opting for lots of fully clothed sex under the ubiquitous white sheet of the student production.
Tom Smith’s script is not particulary coherent. but its inconsequential air is part of an overall narrative design which is well supported by the acting skills of several mummers. A stimulating, not to say f. . . lipping good show. (Stephen Chester)
I Function In The Organ (Fringe) Cambridge Mummers. Theatre West End (Venue 126) 228 9292. 30 Aug. 1. 3 Sept. 3.25pm. £3.50 (£2.50).
V THEATRE THE ROAD TAKEN
With a titular nod to Robert Frost’s famous. ambivalently regretful poem ‘The Road Not Taken'. this engaging. proﬁciently performed musical two-hander employs the novel setting of a ‘celestial way-station' in which a soul between
incarnations is rehearsed for her next earthly role by a kind of angel- director. It’s an unglamorous part — an American woman whose dreams of being an actress or dancer refuse to die despite her becoming a wife and mother instead — towards which the feisty female soul feels ﬁrstly scorn. then a growing sympathy. Diverting and enjoyable. if a tad slight. and movineg illuminated right at the end by a lovely twist. which I won’t spoil by giving away. (Sue Wilson)
I The Road Taken (Fringe) Playful Theatre Company. Randolph Studio (Venue 55) 225 5366. until 4 Sept. 4pm. £4 (£3.50).
Circuses are just not the same these days. If the performers aren’t throwing Chainsaws at each other or bringing up the contents of their stomachs. the public just isn’t satisﬁed. Zippo‘s is a classic circus of the old school — minus exploited animals — and is billed as ‘Europe’s No 1 Human Circus‘.
Although the acrobatics of Jens Larson and the Chinese Zhang Houde Troupe were genuinely breathtaking. other performers didn’t appear to live up to this billing. Circuses like this should not rely only on their traditionalism in order to survive. and ought to retain standards of performance to rival the bizarre cheap thrills of Jim Rose and others. A pair of blue tights and greasepaint sadly aren’t enough.
Nevertheless the kids still loved it and I stuffed my face with popcorn until I was sick — which is what a real circus is all about. (Simon Yuill)
I lepo's Circus (Fringe) Zippo’s Big Top, The Meadows (Venue l09) 662 0352. until 4 Sept. 5pm/7pm. £4.50 (£3.50).
It’s double because not only does John Lennon imagine he’s talking to Mark Chapman, Mark thinks that John lives in the cupboard of his violently repressed American home. This is where the problem starts, as despite the promises the play makes ‘to unravel the psyche of an assassin’.
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I V COMEDY
there is so little documentary information that it’s difﬁcult to make out where symbolism ends and the truth begins. Even worse. by the end you still haven't got a clue as to why Chapman did it. The irn'tation caused by endless recounting of drug experiences (‘just look at the colours. man’) is relieved by the stunning performance of Grant Smeaton as Chapman, who manages to blend sympathy with psychosis to carry the story forward. Fun ifyou lived in the 60s. If not. not. (Stephen Chester) l Double Fantasy (Fringe) Arches Theatre. Stepping Stones (Venue
until 4 Sept. 3pm. £6 (£4).
Keaton and Davies return with their Hell Guide format. this time a series of sketches loosely based on an exploration of the occult — a theme which offers the opportunity for plenty of spoof. documentary-style voice- overs. It’s hardly a new idea. but little about this show is. so instead the duo rely on the kind of stock characters and schoolboy humour that prop up far too many television comedy routines.
Free-ranging stand~up comedy can afford to move off at tangents but Keaton and Davies have opted for a more structured format which requires gags to be not only funny but relevant. Every time they make an audience aside or out-of- context pun. it reinforces the impression that they are using off-the-peg characters. rather than ones of their own devising. The arresting tension of the ﬁnal sketch involving a suitcase and ventriloquist’s dum my showed just how slack the preceding hour had been. (Eddie Gibb)
I lloll Guides (Fringe) Ben Keaton and Paul Davies. Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 226 215]. until 4 Sept. 3.45pm. £6
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The List 27 August—9 September 1993 31