[FESTIVAL aim—8pm

THEATRE REVIEW Life With Idiots it it

ART-VIC's Anglo-Russian presentation is a tale of guilty passions. It is apparent that company writer/director V. Sobchak has a penchant for onstage nudity and angst-ridden Russian literature Dostoyevsky is the man here that is presented in a provocative and sometimes confrontational style.

Constructed around an unlikely menage a trois between a husband, a wife, and the insane imbecile whose potent sexuality stirs her passions, this play fires best when it shocks, but is somewhat ponderous and pretentious when it aims for levity andingght

Good, energetic performances are not enough to make up for what proves to be an incoherent script. (Ross Holloway) I Life With Idiots (Fringe) ART-VIC, Venue 723 (Venue 723) 558 9997, until 30 Aug, 6pm, £6 (£5).


Stephen Frost's Impro All Stars ****

You’ll either love this to death or it'll make you go on a mass killing spree inspired by the self-indulgent wankiness of it all. Mr Frost, Colin Mochrie, Steve Steen the star on this particular night and Andy Smart take a random sample of audience suggestions and improvise their little socks off.

Top moments were Caught Wanking On A School Trip, Car Breakdown and their extended Ninja Killer Chickens routine with Paxo and baldness as dreamt up by Messrs Tarantino, Shakespeare and Chekhov. None of the above will be repeated ever again in this life but each show is a lesson in bravery meeting talent. (Brian Donaldson)

I Stephen Frost’s Impro All Stars (Fringe) La Belle Ange/e (Venue 707) 226 2757, until 23 Aug, 7.30pm, £7.50 (£6.50).

THEATRE REViEw Elephant Wake ****

Bastard simpleton Jean-Claude is sole resident of St Viege, a crumbling, remote outpost in the Canadian prairies. Full of half-comprehended mythologies, bereft of social or commercial function, yet possessed of charming innocence and creative energy, he stands for Canada's francophones outwith Quebec, entirely marginalised by anglophone Canada and the USA. A slender salvation lies in his love of vast but graceful elephants especially the one he crafted from papier-mache with the grandmother who raised him.

This complex and highly poignant monologue written by director Jonathan Christenson and adorable performer Joey Tremblay cannot fail to move, enlighten and entertain. (Andrew Burnet)

I Elephant Wake (Fringe) Catalyst Theatre, Hill Street Theatre (Venue 41) 226 6522, until 30 Aug (not 26) 7.30pm, £6 (£5).

THEATRE REVIEW Big Word Performance Poetry

* 1% * ir

'Big Word’ is one hour of full-throttle verbal assault. Both MC Jabber and Jem Rolls deliver ultra-quickfire polemical verse, formed from caustic words and phrases ripped from crisp packets. Populist, relevant, black humour that pulls the audience in and sends heads spinning.

Sandwiched between them is Steve Tasane, a fierce poet with more of a theatrical style. He gives two extracts from a poetic novel-in-progress concerning the exploits of a pair of South London serial killers mocking Mickey and malevolent Minnie hijacking a bus, and causing chaos down at the zoo. Revenge fantasies don't come much more gleefully irreverent than this. Superb.

(Ross Holloway)

I Big Word Performance Poetry (Fringe) Southside (Venue 82) until 30 Aug, 6pm, £5 (£3).




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46 THE UST 22—28 Aug 1997 i

I EAST PALACE, WEST PALACE is a unique Festival crossover. Zhang Yuan's drama will be performed as a play at the International Festival, while his film of the same story is screened at the Film Festival. An intense study of sexual identity and political repression, it begins when a cop catches a young writer cottaging in public toilets at Tiananmen Square; and is set in the grim surroundings of a police interrogation room. East Palace, West Palace is Zhang Yuan's first stage play he’s probably best known for the film Beijing Bastards - and both versions are

receiving their UK premieres.

East Palace, West Palace (International Festival) Gateway Theatre, 473 2000, until 23 Aug, 7.30pm, £12; (Film Festival) Cameo cinema, 228 4141, 23 Aug, 5.30pm, £6 (£4). See film review, page 74.


’Pretence is abandoned as two friends face up to leukaemia,’ reads the flyer for David Howard’s semi-autobio- graphical new play. Accurate, but it doesn't do justice to Ben Francombe’s fine production.

Thirtyish Kenny (John Molloy) and Joe

(Peter Turner), former college classmates,

speak directly to us That they met in the theatre department is a clever deVice, allowmg for a frequently funny, sometimes contrary and ultimately movmg post-modern spin on how each came to terms with Joe's unexpected illness and subsequent death,

Simply staged and acted With sensitive agility, Howard's script rarely rings false and carries a welcome unsentimental ache. (Donald Hutera) I Stages (Fringe), Think Twice Theatre Company, C3 (Venue 726) 226 5738, until 23 Aug, 6 30pm, £5 (£4)


Walking On The Roof

* at it

Community spirit’s gone out the Window. The Tories saw to that, And in a housing estate where no one nips next door to borrow sugar anymore, we find three women livmg in a climate of fear, trying to get on With their lives Via very different coping mechanisms. But then one woman's apparent madness galvanises the gang-ridden tommunily

This is a compassionate and humorous story told with vitality by Fiona Knowles, who metamorphoses convincingly from unhinged outsider to no-messing survivor. While Rona Munro’s play is an engaging yarn, stuff like this arguably feeds rose-tinted remembrances of a society which, for most of us, never was. (Claire Prentice) I Walking On The Roof (Fringe) MsFits, Diverse Attractions (Venue 77) 225 8967, until 23 Aug, 7 45pm, £5 (£3.50).


Caught wanking: Stephen Frost

STAR RATINGS it t t t * Unmissable * i t it Very ood * t * Wort seeing it * Below average it You‘ve been warned