Dennis Potter’s The Singing Detective may seem at odds with masked theatre but it’s precisely what provided the inspiration for Top Storey, performed by innovators of the masked form, Trestle Theatre Company.
‘We were interested in the way the narrative was told in a disjointed fashion, chronologically mixed-up so the audience have to piece it together,’ explains director Toby Wilsher. ‘This forms the main dramatic thrust of our piece.’
The story, told with minimal dialogue through ﬂashback, fantasy and real
Top Storey: masked emotions
time, sees old age pensioner Stanley Croft rummaging through his loft for a photo album to show his ex-pat brother, who has returned to the OK after 40 years abroad. Childhood memories resurface and a guilty secret the brothers share is gradually uncovered. It’s not just old codgers dwelling on the past, however, as an octopus and 405 comic strip heroes inject humour into proceedings. ‘Masked theatre has always been hampered with the image of being rather fey and insubstantial, and with Top Storey we wanted to confound that view by doing a piece that had depth and substance.’ (Claire Prentice) Top Storey (Fringe) Trestle Theatre Company, St Bride’s Centre (Venue 62) 346 1405, 14-31 Aug (not Suns), 1.30pm, £6 (£4).
When William Wordsworth found a promising description of daffodils in his sister Dorothy’s diary, he thought it looked like a good idea for a poem. He proceeded to write one of the most famous pieces of verse in the English language. Such overt plagiarism would leave most people slightly miffed, but, as Kelly llunter’s play demonstrates, Dorothy Wordsworth was an extraordinary woman, not given to jealousy.
Exquisite Sister is a one-woman play based on Dorothy Wordsworth’s intensely poetic diaries. Kelly Hunter, who devised the show and also plays Dorothy, finds her a complex, romantic character. ‘She had an incredible relationship with nature. She would describe the sun, the moon, the stars. Every day, she would write about how the sky was looking. It was almost ritualistic.’
In spite of this rare combination of talent and passion, Dorothy never wrote anything for publication. However, her life and her diaries were a constant inspiration for her brother, and his friend Samuel Taylor
Dorothy Wordsworth: Kelly llunter as the unsung genius
Coleridge. They became world famous while Dorothy was pushed to the margins of history. But Kelly llunter celebrates the fullness of her life rather than dwelling on what she could not achieve. ‘Dorothy was a great diary writer, and I think that is an achievement in its own right. Seeing into the truth was her thing rather than making things up.’ The play celebrates an intense, passionate woman who chose to live the poetry rather than write it. (Catriona Craig) Exquisite Sister: The Diaries 0! Dorothy Wordsworth (Fringe) West Yorkshire Playhouse, Assembly Rooms (Venue 3), 226 2428, 9-12, 14, 15, 18-&, 26, 28-31 Aug, 2.05pm, £7.50 (£6.50), 16, 17, 23-25, 2.05pm, £8.50 (£7.50).
ORANGE: MADNESS IS A MOVABLE FEAST
Tire dix iding line betvveen iitadness and sanity is one that's been explored on stage many times. but almost by delinrtioii. there's alyvays room (or another angle.
(‘o-vy ﬂiers and (lttcclots Robert Barton and Alec ('liristie ol'()i'ange are rising to the challenge it ith a many -t‘aceted presentation. ('on\ mced that (hues a vs ide gap between the performing arts and multi-medta \ytit'k. tltey'\e slt'l\L‘lt It) till it with pie-recorded \ ideo. lite camera link- tips. super-S lillllls. slides and music. boiii pre- recorded techno and live accompaiiiment.
Thwarted by unrequited love. tlte plays central character Nick spirals (lt)\\'ll into madness. giving them an opportunity to examine
‘society at large and
speciﬁcally a post-raic culture that's creating its own reality — 'attd altered i'ealities.' adds Christie. 'lnitially. I guess. it's a rave against the l‘i'etidian paradigitis of mental illness. We're both ol' the beliel‘ that ttiadness is not esclusively a titeiital illness. We all have the capability to lillll-ll these pat'adigitis that have been set down by modern psycltiati'y.' (Alastair Mabbott) I Orange: Madness Is A Movable Feast (Fringe) ()i'angc: Theatre And Visual Arts Project. ()tit ()t‘ The Blue (Venue 143) 556 5204. ll—3l Aug. |.3()pm. £4 (1.3).
AN ALIEN STOLE MY SKATEBOARO
The premise is this: three girls play Dungeons and
Dragons. get transported
to another (liitieiision and do battle against ultimate evil.
Orange: a multi-media meditation on madness
‘lt's a l'antasy adventuref says 'I‘uenty l’iist ('entury l'(i\ Youth 'l'heatte's artistic director l)clttsc (itlltty le. \\ lit) played last war 's l'itnge \\llll Yes And .\'o 'l‘healre (‘oiiipany 's Ann it n, in art e\cellent impersonation ot' the original bubbly lliunimie. she continues. 'l'm making II as comic book ad\enture as I can
llasetl tit lliiitiinghaiit's ('tistaid l‘actoty. this young prolessional company has air axeiage age ol l'outteen in just (illc year. lllctl sttt ccss ts almost enough to e\aspeiate. "they‘ve all done better \\()ll\ than I've met hath ()ite's just come back from l'ilining an American Robin Hood TV series in litliuania lltctcis .l litl til svioidliglitmg Ill out new sliovv. so \ve'xe taken a levy pointers oll llllll. actually. he left them practising lit the garden. They can‘t leax e the s\\()l'(l\ alonef l'.ll()l l-ly iin. eat your heart ottt. ((iabc Stexvartr I An Alien Stole My Skateboard (l't'tttgc) 'l‘xventy l-iist (t‘llllll) lio\ Youth Theatre. St Johns Church Hall (Venue Do) 556 ()«l‘ll. l3 7 Aug. lpiii. L11 (£3.5tli,
An AllenStle My Skateboard: ‘comlc book' adventures
ORY SLOPES . . . IN THE FLESH
Radio is a l'ertile ground for comedy. as is the tradition ol‘ the Great British Saddo. from Frank Spencer to Adrian Mole. Put ‘em together and you‘ve got I)r\' Slopes. the series which. its creator Nick Ball complains. has only ever had 'about an inch in the
()lm'r'i ('I‘i. but is picking tip a cult audience.
Ball's take on the Great British Saddo is Angus Dry. a pathetic 29-year- old \\ lio seems never to liaxe got the hang ot' giomiig up. 'lle's itot tragtcf says Hall. bcl'ore recantmg. ‘\\'el|. actually. he is tragic. btit he doesn‘t realise ll. llc's (pute sell.- conl'idenl. lle’s vsorking on a screenplay l'oi‘ Spielberg called St III/rillt’r'v ()l/it'r l.r\l.'
liall. a \eteran ol (int/re /.Il't' \\ Ito \\ as thrashed at conkers by McCauley (‘ulkrn ( 'the little baslard' i arid sucked (ioidon The (iopliei' tip a Mom er (u ell played. sirl). believes that the most \aluablc lesson lie learned lt'tiltl cltlltllclis television is that 'one really good character is \voitli a thousand really good sketches‘. \Vith Angus thy. lies pio\ing his point. (Alastair Mabbolt) I Dry Slopes . . . In The Flesh (l-ringe) Nick Ball. l’leasance (Venue 33) 556 0550.” l4. IS 23. It). 27. 30. 3| Aug. l.-15pttt. UHLJ); lo. 17. 2.1 25 Mtg. l.~15[rttt. £7 (£5).
THE LAST OF THE McEAOHANS
\Vliilc .lolin McGrath i‘eheaises his ollictal l'L‘slH al blockbuster. xl Sit/ire ()1 HIV l'tllll' lit/inlet. his \\ ilc. actress lili/aheth .\lacl.ennan. is preparing her my n piece of micro-theatre. The /.(I.\! N) Na .lh litre/tum. It is the latest It) a series (ill one-vvoman plays that McGratli has \\'l'tllcll (or her. and she claims that it is one or the funniest he has ever produced. 'lt is a comic culugy ttlitittt what is happening iii the Highlands today. about the relationship between the native Highlanders and the “white settlers". btit it is also a very personal story about a woman's stii‘vi\'al.'
As lidiiiburgh opens its arms to people from all over the world. Macl.eniian is pleased to be telling a story that is speciﬁcally Scottish. 'A lot ol‘ people come to Edinburgh because they want to know what is‘ going on it] Seotlandf This funny. intimate piece of theatre should help satisfy their curiosity.‘ (Catriona Craig)
I The last Of The McEachans (Fringe) Freeway Stage. Theatre Workshop (Venue 20) 226 5425. ll-ZJ Atig (not l8). 2.30pm. £5 (£3). See also John Mchth prol'ile iii i‘ront ()l' House.
The l.ist "- l5 .-\(ig I‘l‘Ni 31