unm- Don’t tell me to Shaddup You Face

Difficult Women tell it like it was. Neil Cooper listens and tries to keep his sanity.

Suddenly I‘m hearing voices. Only a minute ago i was listening to the charming Aussie lilt of writer/performer Linn Van Hek. now it's Virginia Woolf. now Amelia Earhart. now Viv Elliot. All very eloquent and all quite hilarious. But they‘re all completely barking. Or so the legend goes anyway. but even so l’m glad all this is happening on the phone and not in my room. l’m also glad Van Hek‘s herself again. telling tne all about the show she devised and performs with partner in crime Joe Dolce (yes. that one). taken from the lives and works of some of the greatest ladies of letters to ever take up the pen. most notably Virginia Woolf and Charlotte Perkins Gilrnan.

‘lt‘s about women in literature who‘ve been called mad and examines the disordered genius of these women who

Difficult Women speak up

were effectively silenced. So this is an informal dialogue between women.They spoke very quietly at first, and before long they were raving.‘ This is proved by the fact that Gilman’s novel The Yellow Wallpaper. once thought unpublishable. has since become the most widely read work of fiction written by a woman ever, while Woolf 's A Room Of One is Own can be viewed differently when put in the context of the sexual abuse she suffered at the hands of her brother.

‘The myth of women being mad goes right back to primitive man’s fear of menstrual blood. It was a fear far greater than any fear ofdeath, and the


men based their hunting and sleeping patterns around it. There were all sorts of taboos. many of which still exist today in Third World countries. Women were killed if they went into the sea in a fishing village. and it's why nine million women were killed as witches. Women couldn‘t even get a pilot’s licence until Amelia Earhart came along, because it was presumed they would have a loss of concentration if they flew at a certain time of the month.‘

Monologue Of A Mar/woman brings into the open a still repressed history via a heady brew of songs, sketches. drarnatised readings and biographical anecdote in one of the most startlingly dynamic and entertaining cabarets around. As for the women, whose voices Van Hek schizophrenically slips into while making a point, larger than life doesn’t even come close.

‘They‘re very funny, my characters. They were all chosen for their grace and humour. Viv Elliot was practically a speed addict, always bumping into things. and after the Lunacy Act was passed it almost became a fashion statement for women to “take to their bed". They‘re all in my mould edgy. dark-haired women who are very physical.‘ Hmm? Sounds like the type who might just drive you crazy.

I Monologue Of A Madwoman (Fringe) Difficult Women, Gilded Balloon ll. Stepping Stones Theatre (Venue 51) 225 6520. l l Aug—2 Sept, 2pm. £5.50 (£4.50).

mm- The Pigeon/The

Double Bass

The inclusion of Perfume author Patrick Suskind’s play The Double Bass is down to one man’s inability to find change for a itouens parking meter last summer which in turn led him to seek change in a local bookshop where he purchased a copy of the play.

Suitably weird origins for this originally German play billed as ‘a grand tour of music, love, history, politics and the double bass.’ As the young man in question Leo Carey explains, his first task, after feeding the parking meter, was to translate this unwieldy 12,000 word text into English. Wiser deciding that a two and a half hour production might test the staying power of an audience be trimmed this hilarious tale of one obsessionist man’s complex and oscilating love/hate relationship with

M 9%;

his musical instrument down to one hour. ‘I didn’t want it to be set pieces going from peak to peak,’ he says. ‘I wanted that process of self revelation to emerge as well.’

In something of a Suskind celebration, fellow student Jacqueline Haigh has based her one-woman show on The Pigeon. A novella and surreal comedy that depicts the burgeoning paranoid fears and insanity of a woman, triggered by a trip to the toilet and the stares of a pigeon. Carey explains his friend’s play thus: ‘She only read the first fifteen pages and has made it into a tight and very distinctive piece that has also been

AE Productions work gets on top of them

screened on Dutch TV.’

As for Mr Suskind, he is according to Carey, a reclusive Munich-based millionaire and renowned obsessive, which presents problems for actors performing his work. ‘They live in terror of him because he’s so fussy about what happens to his plays,’ before adding in conspiratorial tones. ‘So, I haven’t told him about how much I’ve cut out of his play.’ (Ann Donald)

The Pigeon/T he Double Bass (Fringe) AE Productions, 0 Venue, Over-Seas House (Venue 19) 9 Aug-2 Sept, 2.30pnr/3.05pm, £4 (£3) each play, £6 (£4) double bill.

and get out there. 3 3 highlights the, er, hi .

I The Mapapa Acrobats Combining Chinese and North African acrobatic traditions with Benga beat music to create a style all their own. these seven Kenyans stunned audiences at their last visit to the Festival in 199]. it seems likely that they'll repeat the feat.

Tlte Mapapa Acrobats (Fringe) Pleasanee (Venue 33). 556 6550. until 2 Sept (not Aug 2/) 2.30pm. £6.50 (£5.50). £7.50 (£6) [8. 19. 25—27 Aug. I Doing Bird This play about the lives of three women prisoners premiered to critical acclaim at this year‘s Mayfest and attracted glowing reviews. The List was moved to describe it as ‘exciting. theatrical. authentic and passionate political theatre.‘ The actors. writers and director of the play are all active in Scottish theatre and represent some of the most innovative work to come out of this part of the world.

Doing Bird (Fringe) Cat A. Theatre Company. The Calton Studios (Venue 94) 558 3758. 15—20 Aug. 2.30pm. £6 ([4).

I The Lottery Ticket Ben Harrison. who formed part ofthe team oflast year's Fringe success Hare and Burke returns to Edinburgh to direct this fast- moving and rnordant satire on the causes of poverty and its effects. Not that there‘s likely to be a poker face in the house as the absurd swiftly transcends the surreal and the barbed laughter starts to flow.

The Lottery Ticket (Fringe) Stontpin g Feet Theatre Company. Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550. until 2 Sept (not 30) 2. l5ptn. £5.50 (£4) 9—I7Aug. 28' Aug—2 Sept; £6.50 (£4) lrS—IQAug. 25—27 Aug.

I Black Bride Andrew Kelm's one- rnan show uncovers a more disturbing side to nursery rhymes than would appear to be the case judging by surface appearances. This is comedy that’s as black as sin and not one for the kids.

Black Bride (Fringe) Ambrosia Productions. Theatre Workshop (Venue 20) 226 5425. until 2 Sept (not 2]) 2pm. £4.50 (£3).

The List l 1-17 Aug I995 27