theatre - dance 0 comedy
All spooked "P
Special effects? Who needs them. Phelim McDermott bound his ghost story 70 Hill Lane together with sticky tape.
The distance between cinematic and theatrical magic is huge. To conjure a poltergeist for the movies requires great expense and a battery of digital computer experts. Yet in 70 Hill Lane, Phelim McDermott brilliantly suggests a poltergeist’s troubling manifestations purely with the help of a pair of actor-animator mates (Guy Dartnell, Steve Tiplady) and a few rolls of sticky tape. Six or seven a night, in fact.
The show, named after the address of Mancunian McDermott’s chilhood family home, is a work of nimbly imaginative autobiography. One half-term holiday during his mid-teens, the house was invaded by what seemed to be a trickster spirit, whom McDermott dubbed 'Polty'. From this premise the London-based Improbable Theatre knits - or rather sellotapes - together an exceptional piece of theatre which is spooky, funny and touching in turns, and prodigiously inventive in its seamless simplicity. Blue Peter meets Blue Velvet is how one critic put it.
It was only as an adult that McDermott understood Polty’s theatrical potential. Consequently the show has as much to do with his life now as then. In an economical, engaging 80 minutes, McDermott's entire house - complete with back garden, stairs and Polty's lair, the attic — continually materialises and vanishes, thanks to judicious movement and mercurial manipulation of the aforementioned tape.
70 Hill Lane: enter at your peril
'The audience likes watching people construct stuff,’ explains the show's curly-headed creator and star. McDermott certainly has a penchant for converting mundane material — newspapers, foam rubber, Sellotape - into wondrously moveable sets, props and even characters. His touring version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the English Shakespeare Company went through nearly fifty rolls of tape nightly. His ability to bring out the spirit in inanimate objects marks him as something of an onstage poltergeist himself.
One of McDermott’s aims, is ’to create sets that are not disconnected from the performers’. And as a big believer in improvisation, he's not averse to making small changes from night to night, playing off the audience. ’But the heart of this show is storytelling and the real emotion that comes from something personal,’ he says. 'What happens visually is a bonus’. (Donald Hutera)
I 70 Hill Lane (Fringe) Improbable Theatre, P/easance (Venue 33) 556 6550, 25, 2730 Aug, 8. 75pm, f8 (f6)
Cegada De Amor (Blinded By Love)
Forget the Festival — here's the fiesta. La Cubana is Spain‘s most successful theatre company, and Cegada De
Amor is its most successful pr0ject, already seen by nearly a million people in Spain and Andorra. Not surprising: this ebullient, inventive, colourful and technically brilliant show should warm the most granite of Scottish hearts.
Set Within a cheesy 605 musical film, in the studio where it’s being shot and in the cinema showmg the film, Cegada De Amor is on one level a meditation on artistic illusion, and on the different ways in which theatre and
Olé terror: La Cubana in Cegada De Amor
Cinema conjure it. It’s also a rogwsh satire on the follies and pretensions of showbiz people. But La Cubana is not interested in intellectualising these themes. Instead, writer/director Jordi Milan uses them as an excuse for a Wildly funny and constantly surprising multi-media performance.
Audience partiCipation is demanded, but the generosity of La Cubana's spirit overcomes any sense of threat. Nor should you worry about any language barrier. For this UK premiere, the ensemble company has worked hard to translate and adapt the script, introducmg references to Sean Connery and Cherie Blair and jabbering fluently in English The surtitles that flash up during the Spanish dialogue would be superfluous if they hadn’t been used to introduce another layer of fun to the proceedings.
If you don’t laugh you must be Mona Knox. If you stop smiling for more than a few seconds I’ll eat my 3-D specs. (Andrew Burnel)
I Cegada De Amor (International Festival) Edinburgh /nternationn/ Conference Centre, 473 2000, until 23 Aug, 8pm, [6 [74
Hit list Seven surefire investments for Festival speculators
Preacher Man Edinburgh-based director Toby Gough pulls out all the stops with this stunning, provocative open-air extravaganza based on the adventures of 19th century Scottish explorer David Livingstone. See review on following pages. Preacherman — Livingstone’s Quest For The Source Of The Nile (Fringe) Theatrum Botanicum, Royal Botanic Gardens (Venue 793), until 24 Aug, 8.30pm, £9 (£5).
Jack Dee The poker-faced star of numerous TV shows and that beer advert, proves he's not bitter or too big for the Fringe as he strides in with his latest touring show — and not a penguin in sight. See preview on following pages. An Evening With Jack Dee (Fringe) Jack Dee, Edinburgh Playhouse (Venue 59) 557 2590, 27 & 26 Aug, 8pm,
£73. 50 (£72.50).
Tiernan And Byrne Two fresh-faced Irish stand-ups on a dynamite double-bill which had our reviewer rolling in the aisles before he'd touched his first drink. Tommy Tiernan And Jason Byrne (Fringe) Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 226 2757, until 30 Aug (not 28) 9. 75pm, £7. 50 (£6.50).
Sean Lock Seventies throwback Sean Lock flies in on a winged collar with this sparkling new set of slightly surreal stories that are anything but retro. See review on following pages. Sean Lock (Fringe) The P/easance (Venue 33), 556 6550, until 30 Aug (not 26) 9.25pm, £8/f 8. 50 (f 7/£ 7. 50).
Disco Pigs Corcadorca's heady tale of two Cork teenagers on a birthday bender to remember, serves up urban poetry by the slice. Disco Pigs (Fringe) C orcadorca, Traverse (Venue 75) 228 7404, until 30 Aug (not Mon) 9.45pm, £8 (£5).
Cegada De Amor Loud, brash and gloriously in your face, La Cubana's technicolour dreamboat is a ticket so hot it wears shades. See review, left. _
70 Hill Lane Improbable Theatre achieve the impossible with this rave-reviewed ghost stOry held together with sticky tape. See preview, left.
22- 28 Aug 1997 THE lIST49