Good health: the original production of The Cocktail Party, with Alec Guinness (right) at the 1949 Edinburgh Festival
THEATRE PREVIEW The Cocktail Party
In a relatively short time, Philip Franks has established himself as an actor/director with writers in mind. As a performer, he‘s worked with The Wrestling School, efficiently interpreting the often problematic work of Howard Barker. As a director, his Royal Lyceum production of Rebecca earlier this year restored Daphne Du Maurier’s darker textual intentions, taking no liberties with the source material.
In reviving T.S. Eliot’s The Cocktail Party- premiered at the Edinburgh Festival in 1949 - Franks has not consciously updated it. 'That would be patronising,’ he says. ’T he society of the play is very much part of the post- war period, and everyone in the play is affected by the war.’
For Franks, the task at hand is to convey the poetic naturalism of the dialogue. 'It's not a dry and preachy play, as people sometimes expect from poetic drama,’ he argues. 'But you need to listen. It's a verbal play, and the
action comes from the words.’
The narrative deals with the dysfunctional marriage of Edward and Lavinia
Chamberlayne, and Edward’s relationship with his mistress Celia. It has,
Franks believes, a biographical significance to Eliot. ‘In the year of the play's
first production, Eliot’s estranged wife Vivienne died in a lunatic asylum, and he hadn't seen her for ten years,’ he explains.
Ultimately, though, the play is 'profoundly optimistic’, dealing as it does with sin and redemption, and providing the possibility that any of us, whatever our past, may still make better people of ourselves.
I The Cocktail Party (Festival) Royal Lyceum Company King’s Theatre, 220 4349/4 73 2000, 25—30 Aug, 7.30pm, matinees 28, 30 Aug 2.30pm, f 5/£ 22.
DANCE REVIEW Etoko Dance Company it *
Seeing shows on the Fringe can be like flipping TV channels. Just as you're getting interested, somebody changes the channel. Etoko Dance Theatre Is a bit like thatThree figures appear. Two of these ritually disrobe the third and central figure, Seitaigo. The atmos- phere is formal and ceremonial.
Seitaigo has a powerful stage presence.
There Is a sense that something momentous is about to happen. Cue the music ~ the ensemble swrshes into action and the audience is stunned Wllh TV style choreography, vaguely reminiscent of The Benny Hill Show. The postage stamp stage and bland lighting does nothing to help this rather sterile production. (Robin James) I E toko Dance Company (Fringe) Japan Experience, Randolph Studio (Venue 55) 225 5366, until 23 Aug, 6.30pm, £5 (£4).
* 1k * ‘A'
No 16th century solemnity here If you want something to lift you off your feet and hurl you into the air, catch lump! Dynamic a cappe/la group Crying In Public Places Will hum you into a frenzy of delight.
Effortlessly blending song and dialogue, they take a wry look at those moments we all dread. Celebrating the hazards of taking the plunge, whether it be rock-climbing, falling In love or bungee Jumping, their hypnotic harmonies and cracking pace take you With them.
All women and proud of it, they have no need for feminist platitudes — they’re way ahead of the race.
I lump! (Fringe) Crying In Public Places, The Gilded Balloon Theatre (Venue 38) 226 2757, until 30 Aug, 7.75pm, £8 (£6).6 30pm, £5 (£4).
6pm — 8pm FESTIVAL
THEATRE REVIEW Zero ****
Provocatively confrontational and confessional, Frantic Assembly's work is both uncomfortable and impossible to ignore. In Zero, the company offers a disjointed meditation on group dynamics and identity in the shortening shadow of the millennium. Where and who will they be on Hogmanay 1999? How will they relate to each other at the party?
The five performers base their material on personal experience (though they also fictionalise it). It may be self-indulgent, even arrogant, but Frantic is a seductive and playful ensemble, and you can’t help being drawn into and challenged by the mind games. Performed in and around a Wendy house with great charm and vigorous energy, this sometimes alienating piece tackles zeitgeist with zero compromise. (Andrew Burnet)
l Zero (Fringe) Frantic Assembly, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 30 Aug, 6.50pm, f 7/£8 (f 6/£ 7).
THEATRE REVIEW Candides ****
The picaresque nature of Voltaire's Candide is exploited for all its incident and melodrama by Cirque Baroque in this startling and stylised ’alternative circus' presentation. Acrobats with all the skill and grace of their clearly well- practised profession convey a surreal version of the narrative, with Candide white-painted and clownish, surrounded by a masked and largely sinister group of adversaries.
This company could be compared to
Archaos in style, with the same use of live musicians and the emphasis on human, rather than animal, physicality. There is a splendid, eight-person juggling act, some amazing tightrope- dancing, and finally a peculiarly engaging diminuendo, involving hundreds of children's shoes. (Steve Cramer)
I Candides (Fringe) Cirque Baroque, Leith Links (Venue 747) 477 7200, until 31 Aug, 7.30pm, £70 (£8 Tue/Thu only) £ 20 Family (one adult, two children).
Like Reeves and Mortimer, with whom Chuck has worked, you’ll either find Chuck hilarious or embarrassing. I’m in the latter camp.
Chuck is like a disturbed and eccentric old uncle. Barking 'donkey', waving a big stick and following wild tangents with non-sequiturs does not make good comedy. His one-liners might prise out a modest chuckle, but his ad-Iibbing stinks and his practised material is as much of an acquired taste as dog shit.
If you find unbalanced homeless people ranting in the street funny then go down the Grassmarket and save yourself a few quid. That’s not funny. Nor is Chuck. (Jonathan Trew)
l Charlie Chuck (Fringe) Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 30 Aug, 6. 50pm, f 7/f8 (f 6/f 7).
STAR RATINGS * * ‘k s: * Unmissable * i it Very ood it t * Wort seeing t * Below average * You’ve been warned
I SEPTET is the latest show from Gandini Juggling Project, one of the most graceful acts on the Fringe. A far cry from the jugglers you'll see busking at the Mound, the Gandinis specialise in themed and choreographed juggling, complete with specially commissioned music and colourful design. As its name implies, Septet features seven performers, choreographed by Gill Clarke of the Siobhan Davies Dance Company to a score by Ged Barry. If previous form is anything to go by, it
will be an enchanting show.
Septet (Fringe) Gandini Juggling Project, Continental Shifts at St Bride’s (Venue 62) 346 1405, until 30 Aug, 6pm, £6/f7 (£4/t'5).
22—28 Aug 1997 Tamara