1pm-3pm FESTIVAL

THEATRE REVIEW Thyestes ****

With Greek tragedy, less is often more, and this is a fine example. Simply clad, with only some dangling chains for props, this young company are completely exposed. All they have is their presence and Caryl Churchill's beautifully-handled translation of Seneca's Thyestes. With those, they

create a truly shocking piece of theatre.

It will come as no surprise to those acquainted with Greek theatre that the plot involves vicious family feuding, cannibalism, infanticide and the wrath

of the gods. It's easy for companies to get carried away with the melodrama

of such works and miss the point. The control exhibited by Conspiracy Theatre is admirable and the language is allowed to do the work.

What comes through is the psychological anguish of the two brothers whose hate drives events: war—scarred Thyestes, who can no longer relax, still less trust; and Atreus, who, in the moment of his gruesome triumph, discovers revenge holds no satisfaction. John Donnelly as Atreus rather seizes the limelight from Nathan Rimell's Thyestes, but all the players

perform with verbal and physical grace.

The intensity of the finale is something to behold. It left the audience at this showing motionless and dumbstruck, to the extent that one of the venue staff eventually broke the silence, pointing out that we were, in fact, free to leave. Gruellingly good. (Stephen Naysmith)

I Thyestes (Fringe) Conspiracy Theatre, C (Venue 19) 225 5 705, until 30 Aug,

2pm, f 5 (£4).


The MC Of A Striptease Act Doesn't Give Up

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The MC Of A Striptease Act Doesn’t Give Up: dilapidated man bares his soul

It’s an MC's cold sweat scenario The audience are gently titillated With a warm-up intro that oozes innuendo for a strip act that fails to appear. The MC's role moves from walk-on part to solo player.

In German playwright Bodo Kirchhoff’s one-man play, the preened facade of the eponymous MC falls away to reveal emotional dilapidation. Performed by Patrick Driver, the MC skirts from humorous asides to excavating bOyhOOd memories Of how his mother demanded he farted. The cabaret mood dissolves as the MC throws out fantaSIes, utters the word ’sex’ and lapses into the maniac.

Sharp and cruismg assuredly from the Witty to the tragic, the metaphor is Simple. The MC may reveal his naked backside in the absence of a stripper but he has bared much more his soul. (Susanna Beaumont)

I The MC OfA Striptease Act Doesn’t Give Up (Fringe) Dialogue Productions, Gilded Balloon // (Venue 38) 226 5 738,

. until 30 Aug, 2 75pm, [6 50 (5 50)

COMEDY PREVIEW The Daily Telegraph Open Mic Award Final

There's no shortage of stand-up comedy on the Fringe in any year. But The Daily Telegraph Open Mic Award Final gives the chance to see ten finalists from a nationwide search for future stars and for free. Boothby Graffoe hosts this year’s final, in which ten amateurs compete in front of a judging panel of Jonathan Ross, Caroline (Mrs Merton) Aherne, Garry Bushell and Telegraph editor Charles Moore, for a £2000 prize and a booking on the Newcastle Brown Ale National Comedy Network.

’It was a shortcut,’ says last year’s Winner, Glaswegian comic Frankie Boyle, who is taking part in no fewer than three Fringe shows this year: Scots Pished, The Best Of Scotland and The Comedy Zone, 'I think I would have turned professional this year anyway. But it’s a good one to have won. I got networked gigs, student gigs and a guaranteed income for my first year It gets you into the clubs, but you've got to do well once you’re there.’ (Alastair Mabbott)

I The Daily Telegraph Open Mic Award Final (Fringe) Palladium (Venue 26) 557 2700, 25 Aug, 2pm, free.

THEATRE PREVIEW Anthony And Cleopatra

No matter how many oversized banners are unfurled, battle scenes on a budget look naff. Northern Broadsides' answer to this is to have the cast of What can often look like Shakespeare’s flakiest tragedy beat out their war on industrial-Sized petrol drums. This is typical of the company’s meat ‘n' two veg approach to the classics, personified by actor and company founder Barry Rutter.

’lt’s better than haVIng loads of tossers running across the stage With flags,’ he says With a bluntness worthy of the general he plays. Rutter has also ditched the heavy weather made of the play's allegedly more romantic elements. ’l’ve got rid of all the snogging and cuddling you get,’ he says. 'It bores me stupid, especially because they're middle-aged.

Shakespeare only lists three kisses, yet some directors linger on these great splodges of French kisses, and it's awful. You’ve got to suggest what goes on and not show it.’ (Neil Coopen

I Anthony And Cleopatra (Fringe), Northern Broadsides, Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 5992, 26—30 Aug, 7.30pm, £8. 50 (£7.50).

STAR RATINGS * i it it * Unmissable at It at 4: Very ood * air * Wort seeing it * Below average it You’ve been warned

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