The toupee is a beauty. A moment’s silence fills the room as we admire the fluffy grey rug concealing Russell Hunter’s smooth pate. The recently- shorn Hunter is clearly rather chuffed with it too. With such a perfect peruke you would never guess that he is already in character for his revival of Cocky - Jack Ronder’s one-man play about bald Lord Cockurn, one of Edinburgh’s most charismatic historical figures.
It’s 25 years since Russell Hunter first performed Cocky on the Edinburgh Fringe. Although he has tackled all manner of roles since then - securing his reputation as one of Scotland’s best-loved performers - people have forever been asking him when he would do Cocky again. ‘lt’s one of those plays which the people who saw it on its original run seem to remember,’ he says. ‘It was the first one-man play I ever did. So I thought, if this is the last Festival at which I do a play, why not go back to the one 1 did then.’
In Hunter’s opinion, Lord Cockburn - advocate, judge, historian and poet - was one of the most entertaining characters that Edinburgh ever produced. ‘He was a great, great humanist, and a very modern man. He was also a library of wonderful Edinburgh stories, the likes of which you will never hear on those ghost walks or Man Friday (sic) buses! For example, why do Edinburgh people still spit on the Heart of Midlothian? The play tells you why. And it’s got nothing to do with Tynecastle, I assure you.’
Cocky: Russell Hunter revives lord Cockburn
Cocky may be the best-remembered of the many one-man plays with which Russell Hunter has delighted Fringe
' audiences. However, in every other
respect, Hunter is part of a unique double-act. He and his wife, the irrepressible Una McLean, are handling every aspect of this production. At the same time, they are also staging an anniversary one- person show for Una - I’m Still Here! - marking her 40 years in show business (‘I started when I was five!’ she calls out from across the room). Worrying about printing tickets as well as learning lines has been hard work for
them both. However, you sense that
these are two anniversaries which will be well worth celebrating. (Justin McKenzie Smith)
Cocky (Fringe) Russell Hunter, Royal Museum of Scotland (Venue 43) 225 9954, 10 Aug—3 Sept (not Suns), 7.30pm, £6.
I’m Still Here! (Fringe) Una McLean, Royal Museum of Scotland (Venue 43) 225 9954, 12 Aug-3 Sept (not Suns), 10.30pm, £6.
A representative sample of journalists on The List has chosen this as the most tasteful and elegant publicity photo of the Fringe so far. In particular, we admired the innovative use of costume, the refined
Bare Naked Fighting
composition and the way in which it asks powerful questions of a potential audience.
(in hearing of this prestigious honour, comedy couple Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller were evidently humbled. Armstrong - with pipe — described the lengths they went to to achieve the perfect shot. ‘You’ll
notice that Ben’s head, which is
usually pretty big, has been specially enlarged for this photo. l think you’ll
appreciate why . . .’ Bare Naked Fighting is likely to
demonstrate a similar concern for 5 good taste and sophistication. ‘l have
had some success at Edinburgh before,’ admits Miller, whose Fringe credits include the celebrated Cone
With Hoakes. ‘But now I realise that
the best way to get an audience is to give them what they really want -
bare-nakedness and lighting. This
year there will be plenty of both.’
(Justin McKenzie Smith)
Bare Naked Fighting (Fringe) Armstrong and Miller, Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, 13 Aug—3 Sept,
Spill, Elm/£8.50 (£6.50/E7.50).
_ OM' ' DURIAN coox
Dorian Crook is a difﬁcult man to pin down — either he's offcavorting with his showbiz pals The Wonder Stuff and Reeves and Mortimer or he's busy making our airports a safer place in his professional capacity as an air traffic controller.
Crook is a slightly-built comic who first came to audiences‘ attention when he took his character The Toff on tour with Vic and Bob on their live shows. This character‘s success was due to the Pavlovian audience response of ‘Fuck off Toff‘ every time he appeared. Obviously a catch-phrase with a limited timespan. Crook decided to dump Toff and specialise in slick one- liners such as ‘I got ajob on an origami magazine — it folded after three issuesf
His act has now led critics to compare him to such British acts as The Two Ronnies and Dick Emery. an observation that he wouldn't refute. ‘If people still used the term ‘alternative' it wouldn‘t be to describe my act.’ says a mild-mannered Crook. ‘l‘m more into word plays and puns than ramming any political or social rant down people‘s throats.’
The gap left by The Toff has been filled by ()9- year-old raconteur. Sir Bernard Chumley who is the alter ego of nineteen- year-old Bristol student Matt Lucas. A double-bill of vitriol-free gags from two fresh-faced young men is promised. Sounds like good. clean. unsaucy British fun. boys and girls. (Ann Donald)
M Dorian Crook and Sir
Bernard Chumley (Fringe) Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 226 2151.12 Aug—3 Sept (not 16.23). 7.30pm. £6.50 (£5.50).
BOYFRIEND FROM HELL
Gary Drabwell stresses
j that the verbal abuse and
threats are for the most
f part very rare and were non-existent last year. However. he was interviewed by a
journalist searching for
the Voice ofthe New
Right (which sounds a bit
like a Channel Four
competition) but disappointed the hack
2 when he confessed to
The problem comes. says Drabwell. when
; people confuse what his
1 characters say (which can include lots of sweary words) with what he thinks. Given that his characters tend to be violent men of various hair lengths it‘s understandable that the
and no. he's not expecting to offend anyone. (Stephen Chester)
I Boyfriend From Hell (Fringe) Mania Productions. Roman Eagle Lodge (Venue 21) 225 7995. 13. 15. I7. 19. 21. 23. 25. 27. 2‘). 31
j Aug. 2 Sept. 7pm. £5.50 (£4.50).
Over recent years Israel's Tmu-na Theatre has built
' up a wide following in
Europe and America for the strong visual feel of its choreographed performances that border on dance. More recently. director Nava Zukerman
has collaborated with
performers from various
countries in a series of
innovative solo projects. Antonia Smits‘ Meeting
C assanr/ra is the first of
these to be presented in
Edinburgh. Of Dutch
misguided have demanded j
Drabwell be shot.
Which would be a shame. because Drabwell (author of These C olaurs Dan 'I Run) is one of the foremost post-Berkoff theatrical entertainers: a writer who mixes terse. frequently virulent verse with a structure and story-
) telling ability that the 3 Cockney Yobmeister l lacks.
He's also got a wider range. having written a play about World War I and various youth theatre commissions. ‘I wasn't comfortable with all that stuff.‘ he says. however.
3 ‘lt'sjust not what I do best. What my style deals , with best is more directly ' related to ordinary people — lads and women. out doing the things they do.‘
This latest piece is being touted as 'a safe sex comedy rock musical'. It's about political correctness
origin. Smits has travelled widely with her work and is now based in London where she teaches at the Whitechapel Academy. The myth of the female
prophet who. spurning
Apollo's advances. was cursed never to have her
prophecies believed is re-
explored through an actor beset by stage-fright encountering the role. The roles of performer.
; prophet and a woman‘s
personal experience are
E conflated through a
struggle of identity and transition - the struggle of refusing one role in life and accepting another.
Expect the combination of visual elegance and
Zukertnan's direction has brought to previous Tmu-
Na performances. (Simon Yuill)
I Meeting Cassandra (Fringe) Antonia Smits with Tmu-Na Theatre. Demarco European Art Foundation (Venue 22) 556 8967. 15—27 Aug (not 21). 6.15pm. £4 (£3).
The List 12—18 August 1994 43
“a rare intensity. sensitivity and dignity" - The Herald
The huge hit of the Glasgay! Festival 1993 comes to Edinburgh
by Jackie Kay
EDINBURGH SUITE. ASSEMBLY ROOMS
George Street. Edinburgh
Sat 13 Aug Sat 3 Set) sum-- " -. 6.00pm
Tickets: £8.00 £7.00 Box Office Tet: 031 226 24.28
Concesszons: £15.00 L‘> (N‘
“darineg and refreshingly subversive" - The Scotsman