Susan Penbaligon

The Diana in question isn’t the media star, but the media mogul. Dario Fo’s monstrous creation is Diana Forte- McKaye, the abduction interrupts one of her regular afternoon toy-boy sex sessions and, as three kidnappers whisk her away, Fo whisks his audience into another frenetic farce.

An absurd plotline emphasises the confusion of control and responsibility in the media, to the extent that anarchist kidnappers become unwitting tools oi the capitalist society they’re trying to destroy. ‘like all Po, the play’s overall tone is funny,’ says director Jonathan Banatvala. ‘Whatever he says, you come out laughing. But this play shows the change in politics, universally, over the last ten years. The tables are turned.’

Whereas before, cops were just plain silly or stupid, and the proletariat were ‘good’, now, the proletariat are

Abducting Diana


\ and Benedict Taylor proving their director correct: Fe is an actor’s playwright, actors would die to do it.’

kidnappers, and far from good. Does this make the overall picture less

. black and white, and more grey? ‘You

could never say it’s anything other than black and white,’ says Banafvala. ‘Except perhaps that it’s black and black. There ain’t no goodies.’

The play’s world premiere was in 1987. Administrative gremlins, funding difficulties, and a perceived lull in Fo’s popularity all contributed to delaying the British premiere on which Banatvala and adaptor Stephen

' Stenning have been working since

1991. ‘My premise was that in order for if to work, it had to have an entirely English setting, and reflect English culture.’

(Gabe Stewart)

Dario Fo’s Abducting Diana (Fringe) Moving Theatre, Pleasance Dne (Venue 33) 556 6550, 1D Aug-3 Sept (not 15, 22 Aug), 6.30pm, £7l£8 (£7/£5).

Six Foot, Silly and Sexy

‘I only tell the truth: I don’t know how to lie,’ claims the woman Western Australians recently dubbed thelr llew Queen of Comedy. Tracy Bartram

by way of drive-time radio and wann- up act for such celebrities as Shirley MacLaine.

It must be pointed out in Bartram’s defence that Maclalne sacked her after her first night because of an ‘inappropriate’ song about condoms.

Bartram’s entry into the male dominated world of stand-up, with a show that encompasses everything from PC (argon to pastiches of

Meatloaf songs, is hardly a blow for

radical feminism however. ‘Sure I talk

3 about things that affect me as a

woman, because I am a woman,’ she says. ‘But I’m a person first and foremost and I get )ust as many men

coming up at the end of the show saylng nice things as I do women.

‘I really admire people who can be

9 surreal and make up really wacky

things. I’m just lucky that I can see something and turn it into a story.

-I Embelllsh is the word I like to use. I’ve been embellishlng from an early age.’ (Thom ledln)


If you can‘t indulge your personal obsessions at the Fringe. then where else would such behaviour be tolerated? Fortunately for Roy Smiles and James Poulter of Bocs Productions. their personal obsession had four Number One hit singles and helped ratify the enduring ‘angry young man' persona. so the popular appeal of The Jamshow should at least extend to the frustrated thirtysomething male contingent of the theatre- going public.

This homage to the angst political post-punk powerhouse that was The Jam (1977—1983 RIP) combines the musical talents of John Cunningham (wrote the music for Fever Pitch). the anecdotal prowess of James Poulter (co-wrote Louise Rennison’s Stevie Want/er Felt My Face) and the biographical skills of Roy Smiles (co-wrote the ill-fated Maxwell The Musical which has been suspended by the Attorney-General until the trial of Kevin and Ian Maxwell is over).

In telling all about ‘the trials and tribulations of the band. the hotel rooms. the vomit and the white socks'. the production takes some comedic license. a bit like French and Saunders‘ idiosyncratic interpretations of the cinema greats. Plus Smiles exercises the Stars In Their Eyes tendency with his portrayal of Paul Weller. What would the voice of a generation make of it all?

‘Somebody I know actually mentioned it to him.‘ says Smiles. ‘He just looked blank.’ (Fiona Shepherd)

I The Jamshow (Fringe) Bocs Productions. Gilded Balloon Gallery (Venue

Never one to say no to a good raucous comedy and always one to fall over itself to gel to the good raucous Irish comedies. The Arches Theatre Co is playing sort of safe but also sort of with gelignite with its production of Brendan Behan's second full-length play The Hostage. last tackled in Scotland by the Citizens' Theatre in 1972.

One of its stars. Terry Neason. reckons this tale of a young British soldier taken hostage by the IRA and held at a brothel is still explosive stuff. despite the escalation of the Troubles over the years.

‘In those days it was a really big deal to be taken a hostage.‘ she says. ‘.\'ow tit-for-tat killings are happening every single day over there. It‘s no longer a hostage situation theyjust kill folk.‘

Neason and co-star Eamonn Hunt have performed the play together be fore. touring Ireland in 1988 with Druid Theatre Company.

‘Working in Belfast for the little time I did. you'd be amazed at the strength ofcharacter people have. adapting to these situations. how much a way of life it becomes for them. It’s like the kids here who were brought up under the Thatcher government where they don't know anything other than 'I‘hatchertsm.’ (l‘iona Shepherd)

l The Hostage (l‘ringe) Arches Theatre Company. Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428. 12 Aug--3 Sept. 7.40pm. £8/£7




! l

s Uri Geller is the god of ' the weird and screwy

world of the specialist

. variety act. This esteemed

showbiz position may explain why his name blesses the title of David Cosgrove and Kevin Kopfstein’s nutty one-man show. According to script-

(lilnnuflinn|||tlilflflzjlla|||| ! THE HosrAc


readers and such prodigious talents as 70s magician The Great Randini. Carlos the Juggler and. of course. that ubiquitous Indian guru who is actually a drop-out (nos acid casualty with an overblown sense of his own spirituality.

According to an impressed Cosgrove.

Kopfsteiu is a wizard at

the 30-second costume change. ‘lt‘s all down to

the magic of velcro!‘ he says.

Cosgrove. w ho boasts such diverse scripting achievements as the rock ‘n‘ roll musical Three Steps Ti) Heaven and Viv On Sunday. is also a man with a serious side. Sum/av S'Iufi'zilttl Saturday Night Nmtsense are two one-act plays featuring those well-kent faces Maureen Carr and Jimmy Chisholm. Cosgrove explains the sombre tone underpinning his second Fringe offering. ‘lt's about a married couple living in Glasgow‘s West End who realise one Sunday that their relationship is dead. A mutual friend's death causes all these hidden feelings to come to the surface and spill out.‘ he


Though there is a hint of bleak laughter lacing this script there are a few

3 more laughs to be had in a Saturday Night Nonsense.

A natural progression front Sunday. this essentially optimistic piece looks at two mismatched thirtysomethings. both divorced and both trying to get to grips with the confusing world of dating second time around. From anarchic variety acts to agonising West lind couples. Cosgrove is obviously your man. (Ann Donald)

I Uri Geller Ate My Dinner (Fringe) Kevin Kopfstein. Gilded Balloon “(Venue 51) 225 6520. I2 Aug~3 Sept. 6.30pm. £6 (£5 ).

I Sunday Stuff and Saturday flight Nonsense (Fringe) Gilded Balloon. Stepping Stones (Venue

5 l ) 225 6520. 12 Aug—3 Sept. (rpm. £6 (£5).

David Cosgrove writing comedy and drama

London-born but Ozzy-bred, has made the tortuous route from after-dinner speaking circuit to stand-up comedy

Slx Foot, Silly and Sexy (Fringe) Tracy i 38) 226 2151. 12 Aug-3 3 Bartram, Gilded Balloon ll (Venue 51) g Sept. 7.15pm. £6.50 225 6520, 12 Aug-3 Sept, 7pm, £6 (£5), (£5.50). ,

j writer Cosgrove. the show is an offbeat guided tour introducing us to mind-

40 The List l2—l 8 August 1994