THEATRE REVIEW * *
THE WAR IN HEAVEN (lo-written by American avant-gardists Sam Shepard and Joseph Bhaikin, The War In Ileaven was created alter Bhaikin sutiered a stroke which left him virtually unable to speak. Originally pertonned by Chalkin on radio, it has a poetic tom and an existential desolation, both reminiscent oi Beckett’s bleak, introverted monologues. loss oi identity and longing tor escape are recurrent themes.
in John lleraghty’s production for Glasgow’s 7:84 Theatre Company, the tussle with despair oi an angel who ‘crashed in a moment oi doubt’ is broadened to encompass three perionners, recruited via 7:84’3 community outreach programmes. Dn Mark Leese’s clinically white set, this angelic trio - also clad mainly in white - pour out their responses to the damaged world where they’re trapped, having iallen irom a higher sphere.
Dividing the character three ways allows a multi-tiered characterisation: the youngest perionner (Pauline Sweeney) exudes bright optimism, tempering the despair oi her elders Michael Cannon and Sheila Docherty
(understudied at this performance by the director). But the piece - dependent on linguistic rhythm and poise of delivery - carries huge pitfalls oi monotony, which only Cannon eiiectively bypasses. Despite its briei duration (around 40 minutes), this in an ambitious choice of material which really demands more experienced actors. (Andrew Burnet) The War In Ileaven (Fringe) 7:84 Theatre Company, Theatre Workshop (Venue 20) 226 5425, until 25 Aug, 7.15pm, £7(£5).
The War In lloaven: earthbound angels
remarkable performance. (Catherine Pound)
I She Knows You Know (Fringe) West Yorkshire Playhouse with Stars and Angels. Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550. 6.15pm. until 3| Aug (not 26. 29) £8.50/£7.50 (£7/£6).
THEATRE REVIEW * ‘k * *
overly ornate in places. the bare-all tone grates a little towards the end. and the number of vignettes could have been thinned. Still good stuff. though. (Paul Welsh)
I Martin And John (Fringe) Stratford-On- Guy Productions. Hill Street Theatre (Venue 41) 226 6522. until 3i Aug. 7.20pm. £7/£5 (£6/£4.5()).
abulous Baker girl: She Knows You Know MARTIN AND JOHN * * * F This show has two sides. Telling the story of a gay * * * * * man in present day THE "uAI-As severely affected by These lrish crooners have SHE Knows AIDS. it’s mostly a funny. the kind of saccharine- You Know frank. challenging sweet voices a choirboy
Jean Fergusson. best known as Marina in Last of the Summer Wine. undergoes a startling transformation in this dazzling one-woman play.
She poignantly portrays Hylda Baker. an ageing Blackpool comedienne. as she struggles with Alzheimer's disease and the impending loss of her star status - the only thing she has to hold onto in a life with many acquaintances but few friends.
We alternate between scenes in her nursing home and in her heyday where signs of deterioration are already apparent. ‘Genius is close to insanity.‘ she observes, before pushing the thought away.
You cannot fail to be moved by this truly
in great form.
monologue with actor/adapter Sean O‘Neil
From abused. unhappy childhood to pom-ﬁlled youth and adulthood. O'Neil sketches the emotions of boy/man with conviction. Deprived of love (for which he substitutes sex). when he finds love and Martin. he also finds the virus.
However. there are problems. The language is
would trade his Adam’s apple for. But while St John and a nun get a mention. the trio. with inﬂuences as far afield as punk and a cappella. are unlikely to appear alongside Harry Secombe. One‘s a nymphomaniac. another’s a party animal and the third string on their guitar isjust plain loopy.
The humour is in the absurdity of their material.
and the truly tenuous rhymes they concoct. They start slowly. but end upbeat. with a riotous ode to a sleazy Spanish waiter. An original night. full of corn. which leaves you pleasantly satiated but not gasping for more. (Claire Prentice)
I The llualas (Fringe) Gilded Balloon Theatre (Venue 38) 226 215l. until 31 Aug. 6.45pm. £6.50 (£5.50).
6550. until 31
* * (£6.50/£5.50).
Piano. trumpet. electric bass. contra-bassoon - you name it. Hans Liberg plays it. Sporting scarlet pyjamas and spats. the Dutchman conducts us through a musical tour of composers past and present in a performance that has echoes of Hooked On C [as-sits and Harpo Marx.
Unfortunately. this is not a show for the musically illiterate. nor indeed the tone deaf. Indeed. the act falls more ﬂat than sharp. Talented. yes; entertaining. well. maybe; funny. no.
Mr Liberg claims one composer had no ideas of
his own. adding: ‘1 know how he feels - nowadays they call it post-modern.‘ i know what i call it. (Alan Crawford)
I llans libBTg (Fringe) Pleasance (Venue 33) 556
l **** l
Using only three stools. the odd plank of wood and stacks of physical energy. Theatre For Africa have created an original performance celebrating the inauguration of President Mandela.
In a bid to become chief of the village. one man ventures on a mission through thejungle. encountering a world of strange birds and creatures portrayed
acrobatics. Their enthusiasm and consistently entertaining
inventiveness brings to life a vivid and colourful allegorical tale about the search for wisdom which is found in nature and in the life of birds. (Tanya Stephan)
I Bittl (Fringe) Theatre For Africa. Netherbow Theatre (Venue 30) 556 9579. until 30 Aug (alternates daily with Theatre For Africa's Mission Bay) 6. 15pm. £5 (£3).
lllgh tiier: Mandela's struggle told allegorically in Bird
llggviw star ratings
w w w n t llnmissable * n t * Very good
* w it Worth seeing is t Below average t You've been warned
THEATRE REVIEW * ‘k
A SATIRE OF THE FOUR
In his latest pageant play tor Wildcat, John McBrath drags Sir David tyndsay’s epic morality tale into the late 19%. Scotland, as ever, is on the verge oi being reborn, and the added iourth estate oi the media calls the shots, while the homeless are the new-age common-weal.
It’s all very clever, lavishly and prettily staged in a venue representative oi everything the play is against, with some rousing traditional music and a superlative cast ot Wildcat regulars who can do this sort oi thing in their sleep. For despite its scale, )oie de vivre and McBrath’s poetic tlourish, this is really Wildcat by numbers.
Di course, it’s important to put the lies oi Thatcher, Malor, Blair and their
h Satire Di The Four Estaltes: ‘Wlldcat by numbers’
1 Satire 0! The Four Estaites
tabloid mouthpieces (and eiiective masters) onstage, but Page Three and the despicable machinations ot press barons are very obvious targets, too much pmodies ot themselves already to take anywhere new. All this approach achieves is to placate the liberal bourgeoisie into believing they’re being somehow radical.
There are a iew pointed one-liners, which )ust skirt the libel laws, but there’s an overall smugness throughout, as though the barricades will be manned immediately after the show. This is a conceit which twenty years ago might have held some credence, but now is a joke tar tunnier than anything onstage. Then again, as one oi the onstage TV moguls says, ‘lt’s only there to entertain.’ (llell cooper)
(International Festival) Wildcat, Edinburgh Intonation! Conference centre, 225 5756, until 28 Aug,
7. Sum; 24 Aug, 2. m. 25-214.
The List 23 Aug-5 Sept 1996 39