COMEDY PREVIEW The League Of Gentlemen

Seen at Canal Cafe Theatre, London, Mon 30 Jun.

50 first of all, it has to be said: The League Of Gentlemen’s brand new show is just as dark and twice as disturbing as last year's.

'l don’t think it’s a conscious thing, you see,’ says Mark Gatiss, prime-Leaguer. 'Our interests just lie in domestic tragedy.’ Other members of the three- man sketch-based show are Quick to agree. 'I think we've just got a grim sensibility around us,’ says Reece Shearsmith. 'lvlaybe we’re just amused by sad and disturbed lives'

Whatever the reasoning behind it, this new, unflinching, comedy of terrors is an excellent display of inch-perfect character-acting, with Gatiss, Shearsmith and the just-as-talented Steve Pemberton proving themselves new macabre shockjocks of the comedy world.

The laughter at this London show flows pretty much the whole way through the hour, with the Gentlemen introducing us to the likes of an uncle who lzkes toads just that little bit too much, one of the most bitterly inept stand-up comics known to man, and German bloke Herr Lipp (whose shady fascination With exchange student Justin prowdes one of the most shocking laughs of the show). It's brilliantly- judged and faultlessly-polished stuff. Just make Sure you leave your grandmother at home.

(Danny Wallace)

I The League Of Gentlemen (Fringe) Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, 8—30 Aug (not 77, 26) 5.30pm, £7.50/f850 (£6.50/f750)

COMEDY REVIEW Lenny Beige One Man And His Talent

Seen at Battersea Arts Centre, London, Tue 22 Jul. * * *

The League Of Gentlemen:


Tony Bennett. Go Beige. No one else can lay as many ’little golden eggs of light entertainment’ as this jewel- encrusted, tightly-rugged, Tandoori- tanned showbiz legend in a black brocade tux.

Performer Stephen Furst wrings a good deal of fun out of what is basically a one-joke alter ego, bouncing between hoary gags and weirdly witty metaphor and alliteration. He's thoroughly at home in Lenny’s self-absorbed gUIse, whether belting out renditions of 'Goldfinger' or slinging arrows at the Spice Girls and David Mellor in an unctuous, emphatic style. (Donald Hutera)

I Lenny Beige One Man And His Talent (Fringe) Lenny Beige, The Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 30 Aug (not 72, 27) 4pm, f6/f7 (£5/f6).

THEATRE Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning Juliet)

Seen at Grace Theatre, London,

Sat 26 Jul. ii kit!

The premise of award-Winning Canadian actress and novelist Ann- Marie MacDonald's first play is terrific. Take a repressed, love-lorn academic and, thanks to a psycho-literary time- warp, thrust her into the worlds of Othello and Romeo And Juliet The result is a scramble of Shakespearean tragedy, post-feminist politics and slapstick farce.

The only downpOInt are the fussy scene changes in act two, which dissipate from the energies of the cast, anchored by Helen Fittock's endearingly comic lead. If you’ve ever imagined Desdemona as a bellicose beauty, or fair Verona’s teens bonded in bisexual boredom, then this literate screwball caper is for you (Paulo Post) I Goodnight Desdemona (Good Morning juliet) (Fringe) The Total/y Portable Theatre Company, The Garage Theatre (Venue 87) 228 22 75, 70—23 Aug, 3. 75pm, £6.50 (IS/[4.50)

Your gran wouldn't like it



m u JSfifimt’f Fan ~” . M '

Hand of freedom: Mister V

Seen at the King’s Head, London, Sun 3 Aug. 1H: **

If you harbour even a remote faith in theatre as a vehicle for social awareness, this Tel Aviv production is for you. It's stirringly simple theatre: one actor - the excellent Jonathan Cherchi - vividly emoting and

communicating ideas.

Director Yigal Ezrati's script is subtitled Searching For Mordechai Vanunu. Yet the world knows the exact whereabouts of the former nuclear technician. Having blown the whistle on Israel's atomic weapon’s programme to the Sunday Times in 1986, he was kidnapped by secret agents, tried in camera and sentenced to eighteen years for treason. Now 42, he is in his 11th year of solitary confinement in an Israeli prison.

Rather than explicate the facts linearly, autobiographical memories and probing questions are used to present a mosaic-like portrait of a complex man trapped in a grossly unjust situation. The personal illuminates the

political. (Donald Hutera)

I Mister V (Fringe) The Local Theatre, The Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, 70—23 Aug, 5.20pm, 1? 6/£ 7 (ES/£6). Preview show, 9 Aug, 5.20pm, £5.


Looking for a Fringe performer with pedigree? Consider Austin Penclleton, writer and star of psycho-drama Uncle Bob. In a 30 year career, the 57-year-old American character actor has racked up an impressive list of stage and screen credits, working WIIlT some of the biggest names In showbiz

Pendleton was the original Mottel the Tailor in the Broadway Fiddler On The Roof, and directed ElIYéibt‘lli Taylor's stage debut He's also a long-standing member of Steppenwolf, the theatre company that spawned John Malkovrch

On film, Pendleton has worked With everyone from Orson Welles to Miss Piggy and specialises in nervous underdogs; In The Mirror Has Two Faces, he's the graying rabbit of a professor who pounces on Streisand

PendletOn's Uncle Bob is a kamikaze 95 minutes of Wired, barbed dialogue and explosive plot suiprises It concerns a New Yorker With AlDS whose solitary life is upturned by the unexpected arrival of an unstable nephew.

’The material is difficult, upsetting and kind of kmky,’ Pendleton says. ’Each of the characters is primarily heterosexual, and that confuses the issue a lot '

The script is great, the lead is a showbiz legend, the show is bound to be wonderful Bob's your uncle. (Donald Hutera)

I Uncle Bob (Fringe) The Marsh,

Randolph Studio (Venue 55) 225 5366, 70—23 Aug (not 78) 4pm 81 4. 70pm, [5 (£4),


3 Seen at Battersea Arts Centre, London, Thu 31 Aug.

The six-man team behind The Cheese

Shop have had their ups and downs. Ups like their first Edinburgh show, their c‘oIIntless radio and TV

' appearances and their hugely positive

audience reactions -- have made them pretty much at home In the world of

: sketch comedy. On the other hand, 3 downs like their painfully average 3 Festival show of 96 haven't.

This year's show, however, proves

, their woith once more Brilliantly directed, it's a slick and polished set of i sketches, performed With finesse and

class‘Ic timing A few gags have been

I recycled, but it's all set up With DiofCSSItMTallSlTT 'We had two hours of

material,’ says performer Tim Verrinder, but we‘ve had to wliittle it down ouite

l a bit We even had to Cut out twenty

minutes of material from one preVIew to the next ' Productive they may be, but quantity has never been a sign of quality.

This, though, Is a tight and classy hour which reeks of the stuff (Danny Wallace)

I Boofl (Fringe) The Cheese Shop, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, iO~-30 Aug, 5 (Op/Ti, [7.50/f8 (£6.50/f7). Preview shows 8 8i 9 Aug, 5, 1 0pm, f 5

8 ~l-1Aug l997 THELIST49