Arms and the man

David Toole is a remarkable performer who has made it to the top of the dance world with all physical odds stacked against him. Ellie Carr heard his story.

()ver the years. dancers have been known to insure their prize assets their legs for princely sums. For David Toole a dancer with CandoCo. the UK‘s top integrated dance company and now Company Pyke who launch their first show at the Fringe damage limitation of this kind has never been a choice. Amazingly. Toole was bom without legs. For years he worked in the sorting office of his local post office where. as you might imagine. a career in dance was the last thing on his mind. Then he met CandoCo. And almost overnight his life was catapulted into a new world beyond his wildest mailroom daydreams. Working with

able-bodied and disabled performers in

the company he began to build up a strength and agility in his arms and torso that have since made him CandoCo‘s star dancer and a man capable of running rings round able- bodied performers both in and out of his wheelchair.

Looking back on his mailroom days Toole says: ‘lt doesn‘t compare. lt [professional dance] is just a

completely different lifestyle.‘ So what was it that finally prompted him to throw down his mail bags and take to the stage? ‘lt was a combination of the challenge of pushing yourself and being able to express yourself and the whole freedom of it really. Being able to go out there and do what you want to do. Even when the work is

choreographed by someone else it‘s 99

per cent you out there.‘

Toole and the other CandoCo performers are the first to admit that their remarkable breakthough onto the able-bodied dance scene over the past few years is in part due to having their

I repertoire shaped by big name

dancer/choreographers like Siobhan Davies. Lloyd Newson and Emilyn Claid. Having established themselves as a professional dance force to be reckoned with. they feel the time has now come to let their own choreographic skills loose on the world. Enter Company Pyke. which they‘ve formed as a showcase to enable five out of the nine CandoCo dancers to debut their own work.


Company Pyke: Integrated dance group whose time has come

Entitled I’ssrL as a sly reference to the way society sweeps disability under the carpet. Company Pyke‘s Fringe offering is a free-flowing. observational piece choreographed by all five of the performers taking time out from CandoCo. ‘The piece itself is kind of a show within a show,‘ says Toole. ‘lt‘s like reality and performance mixed. It really just comes from things that have happened to us. things that have made us laugh. the way people have behaved to us. and the way people get on with each other within the company.‘

lt's a pretty vast. freewheeling subject matter. so how did they go about selecting the best material for the job‘.’ ‘We had so much material to start with.‘ says Toole. ‘So we just chose the really obvious things like how people behave towards me and exaggerated that.‘ So how do people behave towards Toole? ‘That varies,‘ he laughs. ‘That varies considerably.‘

I Psst! (Fringe) Company Pyke. Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550. 22 Aug—2 Sept (not 30 Aug). 3.40pm. £7l£6 (Hi/£5).




Mel And Sue: funny as hell Porridge, in case you don’t know,

can’t be too milky. Hairshirts and

laggy clothes In general must be worn at all times. Cake, obviously, Is the

‘sugary food of satanic hussy hoors’. It you so much as dream of it you will be

forced to wear pants with a barbed wire gusset and lie face-down in the . piggery. For three days.

In the space of two minutes and with the aid of no costumes, Mel and Sue have set the scene and pitched the characters: a weak-willed nun and her fascistic Mother Superior, battling with temptation and denial in a dour, uptight, Calvinist Scottish convent. It’s funny as hell.

Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins are Women In Uniform. rhe ‘uniiorm’ consists of perkin-coloured suits, of the type worn by holiday reps - and sure enough, the first skit in their tleet-ot-toot show features two glaikit 18-30 hostesses on the coach trip from hell (“the toilet’s for liquid

purposes only . . . we’re passing an old

church that’s been here since time . . .’) Thereafter the clothes remain the

same but the characters spiral into deep space (cadet). Aided by the odd wig and the odder accent the pair introduce us to their celebrated Dutch VJ’s (key players in last year’s brilliant Kittens Go Gm! show), their girlz in the ’hood (who are wiseass dope muthas despite attending St Swithin’s School For Girls), the simpering synchronised swimmers, and those

other Iavly gals, Emma Thompson and

Elizabeth ‘You make me want to’ Hurley.

Round and round spins the revolving door of their comedy cornucopia, the

1 speed and versatility of those accents ' and roles skating over the occasional

thin comedic ice. Move over Entield and, er, roll over Emery - character comedy has some new queens. (Craig McLean)

Women In Uniform (Fringe) Mel And Sue, Pleasance ( Venue 33) 556 6550, until 2 Sept (not 24 Aug), 4pm,

.’ £6.50/f 7.50 Kim/£5.50).


Five shows worth cutting the teatime soaps for, as recommended by Ellie Carr.

I The Big Afternoon Out Big laughs in the afternoon with two hours solid of some ofthe best comedy on the Fringe including Dylan Moran. Rich Hall. Bob Downe. Arnold Brown. Ticket prices are on the hefty side but remember it‘s all in aid of chariddee. Scottish European Aid to be precise.

The Big Afternoon ()lll (Fringe) The Adam Suite. George Hotel. 226 5/38 (Fringe box office) 19 Aug. 3pm. £12. I Girls with Big Jests Another couple of comedy sisters doin' it for themselves. Philippa Fordham and Henrietta Garden are hot on the trail of last year's surprise hit. female double- act Mel and Sue. ‘A double D in the laughter stakes.‘ says our esteemed reviewer.

Girls With Big Jesls (Fringe) (Ii/(led Balloon ll (Venue 5/) 225 6520. ll Aug—2 Sept. 5pm. £5 (£4).

I Zany of Sorrow Top of the fops Oscar Wilde is placed in the spotlight by Balloonatics’ Paul ()‘Hanrahan. who trawls through the great man‘s life and works. A simply sumptuous production.

I/xmy ofSorrois' (Fringe) Ballrmnatics. Theatre workshop (Venue 20) 226 5425. until 2 Sept (no! Suns), 5.45pm. £5 (£4).

I The Salt Wound Family conflicts and the lure ofthe sea are at the heart of Stephen Greenhom‘s intense tragedy

' set in a remote fishing community. A

revival of last year’s hit from Glasgow‘s much-loved 7:84 Theatre t Company.

The Salt Wound (Fringe) 7 :84 Theatre Company. Pleasance (Venue 33) 556

6550. until 2 Sept. {ll/£7 (£6/f5).

I Pssst! Five dancers from the UK's

' cutting edge integrated dance company

CandoCo make their Fringe debut travelling under the name Company Pyke and go out on a limb to present their own choreography for the very first time.

Pssr.’ (Fringe) Cmnpany l’yke. Pleasance ( Venue 33) 556 6550. 22 Aug—2 Sept. 3 .40pm, £7/f6 ( £6/£5).

The List l8-24 Aug 1995 35