It’s hard to review a Phil ltay show without resorting to physical demonstrations. lie was a bit like this . . . (thrust arms in air and shake head). And then he was lflre this. . . (twist legs together and stick two lingers up at innocent bystander). Which is not to say that this is a show without pro-planned material - or does Phil always carry an ironing board around with him? it‘s just that

Phil Kay: comedy doctor

the thrill oi watching this man comes irom those moments when his chaotic energy and sharpness combine to make you laugh instinctively and uncontrollably. Phil Kay is good ior you. (Justin McKenzie Smith) Phil Kay (Fringe) Gilded Balloon ; Theatre (Venue 38) 226 2151, until 3 2 Sept (not 22 Aug), 7pm, £6 (£5).


Set in Auschwitz. Arthur Miller‘s play is a grim. tragic drama about a Parisian singer. Fania Fenelon. whojoins the camp orchestra. The pathetic band are employed to entertain the SS and drown out the screams of fellow prisoners as they are herded into the gas chambers. While living with the threat of disbandment and certain death if they slip below a certain standard. the women endure illness. cruelty and the pressure to perform yet still maintain their dignity.

This piece is well staged and orchestrated. although some of the performers are clearly better musicians than actors. Apart from a selection of cartoon Germans. the performance has pith and enough sincerity to carry the emotional weight of Miller‘s excellent script. (Beatn'ce Colin)

I Playing for Time '(Fringe) Bedlam (Venue 49) 225 9893. until 27

Aug (not Suns). 6pm. £5




It usually takes three or four years to earn the monicker ‘Fringe favourites‘: Poland’s Wierszalin Theatre has done it in two. Merlin is a more than worthy successor to Roll-A-Pea. its sell-out hit of 1993.

Depending as much on

visual communication as it does on the spoken word. this is an accessible adaptation of the legend of King Arthur and the

Knights of the Round

Table. suffused with

§ Catholic and pagan ritual. 2 Actors interact with

carved wooden puppets. as the quest for the Holy Grail and the fall of Camelot are played out with humour and

. compelling energy.

When set against recent events in Eastern Europe. the play's reflections on the impossibility of sustaining an ideal. virtuous state take on a penetrating significance. (Justin McKenzie Smith) I Merlin (Fringe) Wierszalin (Poland). Theatre Workshop (Venue 20) 226 5425. until 3 Sept (not Suns). 7.30pm. £7.50 (£4).



An autobiographical account of one woman‘s nightmarish night out. a night that would change her life and affect her forever. The play deals sensitively with the subject of date rape from the victim‘s point of view.

a side usually ignored or I’ forgotten all too soon.

Writer/performer Michelle Couves is a great

; talent. From the powerful.

sassy self-confidence of

her character at the start to the shattered. broken

i l

shell she becomes after

the event. Her portrayal is

' always believable and

very. very emotional. Beautifully written.

superbly performed with an excellent contemporary soundtrack: go see. (Joe Lampard)

I Storm in a Teacup (Fringe) Cafe Royal (Venue 47) 556 2549. until 27 Aug. 6.30pm. £4.50 (£3).


Meeting Cassandra: Fiery,

wistful. sublime i

Tortured. passionate. physicality: Tmu-Na Theatre’s Meeting Cassandra works the myth of the Goddess and Apollo into a highly wrought one woman tour de force. Antonia Smits

E seduces with an intensity f augmented by stage

minimalism and stark lighting. Slow motion and

exquisite detail inform

Smits movements. She

gestures her way through

sensuality and power struggles. torture and nostalgia with poise. Echoes from famous historical liaisons resound through the piece. Smits namechecks Evas Braun and Peron in her monologue. staring resolutely at the outset. prostrating herself crippled later on. infused with conceptual layers of interpretation and inner wisdom. An aesthetic delight. (Bethan Cole)

I Meeting Cassandra (Fringe) Tmu-Na Theatre Company. Demarco European Art Foundation (Venue 22). until 27 Aug. 6. 15pm. £4 (£3).


This is a must-see for Jam nostalgia fans. The play follows the fortunes of Weller. Foxton and Buckler from Woking to stardom via dreary talent shows and countless games ofcards.

All the trappings of mod

culture are there sharp style. pencil ties and the

fashion faux-pas of the

century. white socks. The tale of the rise and demise of the band is handled gently. respect is the key word rather than savage satire.

While there are no gut- splitting belly laughs. there are plenty of wry chuckles and fond

'memories of mis-spent

youth. That's entertainment. (Jonathan Trew)

I The Jamshow (Fringe)

Bocs Productions. Gilded Balloon (Venue 38). 226 2151. until 3 Sept. 7.15pm. £6.50 (£5.50).



Harry ilill: pub promotion

Whereas many comedians are content entirely to cover one subject before linking into another.

Harry Hill jumps from observations on red hair (a cause of pregnant women eating too many cheesy

Wotsits). to Africa (where

there's lots of off-the-road parking). to his father's meanness (he hypnotised

his mother never to order starters). Perhaps scientists have

- proved the human brain

can only take twenty minutes of tangential humour. but I would have been happy to die of an overdose. There follows a 30-minute pastiche of all

. include Elvis singing ‘Tie g a Yellow Ribbon‘. a

3 cockney knees—up

l ‘Bohemian Rhapsody'

F songs from a chorus made up of Colonel Tom Parker. a smackhead Jerry Lee

Beautiful (Fringe) KUTA - Theatre. Pleasance (Venue |

1/ .’ I

Elvis was a heroine to and

; Graceland where Elvis

plated bowl. Setting the

. difficulty coming to terms ' with the pressures of her

: doubts about the fidelity of her latest flame (the ; suitably-monikered

' comedy. which features

the world‘s worst pub bands. whose numbers

and a punk ‘Yesterday'. Filling out to 70 minutes. the show works out at 10p per laugh-filled minute. and not a swear word in sight. I wouldn't have believed it possible. (Gabe Stewart) I Pub Internationale (Fringe) Harry Hill. Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550. until 29 Aug. 7.50pm. £7/£8 (£6/£7).


The fun and frivolity begins in the Vatican of Rock ‘n‘ Roll. the stately little boys‘ room in

last splashed the gold-

appropriate tone. it's here that we first get a glimpse of the phenomenon that is Grace Lovitt. Blackpool‘s most in-demand Lesbian Elvis impersonator. Grace/Elvis is having

superstardom on the dyke club circuit and nursing


Manic mayhem is the order ofthe day in this camp-as-Christmas

guest appearances and

Lewis and Bobby Ewing as the Man From Atlantis looking to reclaim a I wayward Priscilla. The I King is dead. long live the Queen. (Stan Ferguson)

I Elvis is Alive and She‘s

33) 556 6550. until 3 Sept (not 22 Aug. 1 Sept). 7pm. £5.50 (£4).

If ":

l 44 The List 19—25 August 1994