Among the usual amateur Shakespeares and comedy jugglers, a number of Fringe acts are risking tabloid outrage to tackle taboo subjects and go beyond the pale. ms; Peter Ross
ROLL UP! ROLL UP! GET YOUR TICKETS FOR the theatrical spectacular of the year. Live in Edinburgh fora strictly limited run - Princess Diana. Myra llindley and Adolf Hitler. Thrill as the People‘s Princess dazzles the (ireat Dictator! (io wild in the aisles as the l’iihrer dumps Eva for Myra!
Are you offended'.’ Would such a show be going too far'.’ Perhaps it‘s not so unlikely all three of these dark icons feature in plays at this year's Fringe. (‘onsidcred alongside such recent works as Jessica 'l‘ownshcnd‘s drama
about Fred and Rosemary West. Terms 0/
Abuse. and Marcus Harvey's infamous illyru. a monolithic portrait created from a child’s handprints. it appears that writers and artists are increasingly willing to deal outspokenly with sensitive material and say ‘taboo yah sucks' to public outrage.
Northern Theatre (‘ompany 's Myra .rtm/ Me is a dark drama in which a young woman. commissioned to write a documentary about
Hindley. plunges into a downward spiral of
psychotics. narcotics. secrets and lies. The
play. which attempts to get into the minds of
Hindley and her partner Ian Brady. also addresses the question of artistic freedom and responsibility. It has been condemned by Anne West. the mother of Moors Murder victim Lesley-Ann Downey. Writer Diane Dubois is aware of the sensitivity of the material »- Myra And Me was rejected unseen by a number of English theatres but believes she is doing important work.
‘Anything that involves the murder of
children is going to be considered distasteful by some people. It’ll be seen as a taboo which you can’t go near.‘ she says. ‘but we can‘t afford to just close our eyes to these ugly truths. ()pen-
'Anything that involves the
depict such important but sensitive events.
‘There are some people who think that we shouldn‘t deal with Diana‘s death; that it‘s a terrible event which should be left alone.‘ says Harding. ‘But it‘s part of our history now. If we were not
ended discourse on any subject is murder of to touch that subject. people surely preferable to the _ _ might not be able to pass the totalitarian approach that says Chlldren WI" information down to the next you can‘t talk about something. If be seen as a generation.‘
there‘s any hope for the human race. it lies in talking to each other. opening up and being honest.’
Dubois points to a parallel between llindley (‘a demonic icon‘) and Princess Diana (‘21 saintly icon'). Diana was killed on the final day of last year‘s Fringe. 3l August l‘)‘)7. A year is a long time in the popular consciousness and Diana. canoni/ed in newsprint. has become a tabloid saint. In the twelve months of petal—strewn mourning it has become apparent that she is. for many people. untouchable ~ lingland‘s inunaculate rose is our nation’s newest taboo.
Yet that hasn‘t stopped dramatists gritting their teeth and writing about her. Richard Harding. director of Alternate Shadows‘ The Flowers In The Park. which deals with the period of national mourning following the crash. is clear about the need for theatre to
taboo which you can't go near, but we can't afford to by just close our eyes to these ugly truths.’
Perhaps the 20th century’s greatest taboo is the Holocaust. Nevertheless. Pip Utton is having a crack at it in Adolf. an imaginary hate-tilled monologue llitler which has been inspiring awe and outrage the length and breadth of the country.
In a way. plays which deal with taboos represent what the Fringe is supposed to be all about artistic bravado. risk-taking and social relevance. Perhaps predictability should be the only no—go area.
Myra And Me (Fringe) Northern Theatre Company, Calder's Gilded Balloon (Venue 36) 226 2151, 7—31 Aug (not 11, 25), 4.15pm, £6.50 (£5.50). The Flowers In The Park (Fringe) Alternative Shadows, South Bridge Resource Centre (Venue 123) 558 9991, 17—22 Aug, 4.45pm, £6 (£5). Adolf (Fringe) Company Theatre, Roman Eagle Lodge (Venue 21) 622 7207, 7—31 Aug (not 12, 19), £6 (£4.50).
6—13 Aug 1998 ms usr 27