FESTIVAL 9am—1pm

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No More Mr Nice Peter Rabbit

Chris Duffy explores the darker side of puppetry in Life And Death In Milton Keynes.

Chris Duffy’s come a long way from playing one of the kids in the West End run of Oliver! His dark past also identifies him as one of the many actors to claim responsibility for the demise of Crossroads. Since moving to Fife as a house-husband seven years ago and starting up his own puppet theatre, Duffy has simply concentrated on his ’loyalty to theatre rather than puppetry. I'm just trying to make exciting theatre.’

He’s just finished a four-star run of Babushka The Bear, for children. The second half of the Fringe is now taken up with Life And Death In Milton Keynes, a darker piece aimed at adults.

'I didn’t set out intentionally to make a dark piece of theatre,’ he says. The work arose out of his own writing, which dealt with themes of broken dreams and depression. ’Puppetry, in this case, certainly lends itself very well to those themes.’

When juggler Jack loses an arm, he turns to ventriloquism. Using a strange dialogue of poetry and prose, the narrative gains access to all parts of Jack's life. Whether we get to see a puppet juggle on stage is uncertain, but Duffy promises the best ventriloquism

; you’ll ever see on stage anywhere.

’l'm in the back, but still in view. My right hand is in

lack the ventriloquist puppet . . . his lips never move

Jack's head. My legs are Jack’s. And then his left hand, which is my left hand, is inside a box, which is controlling the ventriloquist’s puppet. It makes him a very good ventriloquist, because his lips never move.’ Colour and humour play their part - it’s not all unredeemingly dark. ’A lot of it is about childhood, and how what happens to a child can influence the course of a life. So there's hope within the childhood.’ Calling it an adult show protects against parents expecting a show aimed specifically at stretching their children. But he’s not excluding them. ’I don’t have a problem with a ten year old watching a puppet kill itself or hearing a couple of mild swear words.’ But don’t expect an animated Shopping And Fucking. (Gabe Stewart) I Life And Death In Milton Keynes (Fringe) Chris Duffy, Famous Grouse House (Venue 34) 220 5606, until 30 Aug, 70. 75am, £5,

Ken and Benson: comic, frczhy with a deep seam of pathos


Think No Evil Of Us . . . My Life With Kenneth Williams


David Benson's former Fringe First winner is light, comic, frothy, yet all the while mines a deep seam of pathos.

The performance makes us realise we all loved Kenneth Williams, his feigned disgust at double entendres, his nasal whinnying.

Using the black stage like a blank page, Benson becomes Williams: the semi-autobiographical scnpt is well written, tight, interesting and funny. The production is well-balanced and well- judged. Had Williams learned to love himself, he would probably still be alive today, making us laugh.

Stop messin' about see this! (Malcolm Stewart)

I Think NO Evil Of US . . . My Life With Kenneth Williams (Fringe) David Benson, Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 30 Aug, 1 7.45am, HBO/£8.50 (£6.50/f750).

H It list Blow the froth off your breakfast cappuccino and got' down to see these shows! Life And Death In Milton Keynes Adult puppet show. See preview, left. . Think No Evil Of Us . . . My Life With Kenneth William David Benson is Kenneth Williams in this tragi-comic bioplay. See'review left Think No Evil Of Us (Fringe) David Benson, Assemny Rooms,.(Venue 3) 226 2428, until 30 Aug (not 26) 17.45am, £7.50/£8.50 (£6.50/f 7. 50). The Suicide Communicado Theatre Company's slick piece of ensemble playing, performed at breakneck speed. The Suicide (Fringe) Communicado, Traverse (Venue 15) 228 7404, until 30 Aug (not 24, 25) times vary, f 10 (£6). Jerry Sadowitz Usually you’d avoid the front row of this vitriol-fuelled stand-up, but, for a change, get up close to fully appreciate his sleight of hand table top tricks. Jerry Sadowitz (Fringe) Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 24 Aug, 7 0.45am; 25—30 Aug, 17pm, £8/£9 (f 7/£ 8). Dusty Fruit Musical, physical and verbal gags abound in this three- handed comedy-horror-murder- mystery with an ingenious denouement. Dusty Fruit (Fringe) Rejecrs Revenge, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 30 Aug (not 25)

72.30pm, £6/7 (£5/f6).


Bye Bye Blackblrd Actress Beth Fitzgerald (no relation) turns in a no- holds-barred portrayal of Zelda, talented but overshadowed wife of Scott Fitzgerald. Bye Bye Blackbird (Fringe) Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 30 Aug, 12.55pm, f 7. 50/f8. 50 (f 6.50/f 7. 50).

Elsa Edgar Bob Kingdom’s virtuoso performance where he plays 505 Manhattan high society hostess Elsa Maxwell, and FBI boss Edgar] Hoover. In drag. Ambitious stuff. Elsa Edgar (Fringe) Bob Kingdom, Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 30 Aug, 11am, {ISO/£8.50 (£6.50/f7.50).

22—28 Aug 1997 THE “ST 29