Half Nelson's Column

Getting to grips with the Lords of the Other Ring.

The Romans had gladiators, the Japanese Samurai, and the British a fat man called Shirley Crabtree. That was the real name of the warrior poet better known as Big Daddy, who captivated a nation of grapple fans each Saturday tea- time. This golden age returns in Alex Lowe's one man show The Wrestling, as fictional former champ Scott Bradley remembers the titans of yesteryear. The actor also ’becomes’ various real life Boston Crab experts as he charts their rise and fall.

Author Simon Garfield, who wrote the book on which the play is based, met many former household names in the course of his research. 'Giant Haystacks, Kendo Nagasaki, Mick McManus - the whole gang meet up once a year in a pub and talk about the good old days. They all still hate each other, and they all admit it was fixed. Except [commentator] Kent Walton. He insists it was for real, maybe because he fears for his reputation as a broadcaster. Odd chap, Kent, he had a second career producing soft core porn movies. Nothing too extreme. The very British type. I think one was called "Can You Keep It Up All Week?"

Something else unites the veterans. 'They hate the American version, the World Wrestling Federation, but they’d all give their right arm to be involved in it.‘ The show’s premise is that Scott Bradley’s going to use the takings to launch himself Stateside. 'He likes the idea of using these very arty Festival types to fund his comeback.‘

Garfield hopes the show can convey the pathos and

theatre - dance - comedy 0 kids

Knowing the ropes: The Wrestling

the patent absurdity which characterised the sport even in its heyday. ’There's a real poignancy to the story of these men's lives. They went from fame to obscurity practically overnight. Once ITV axed its coverage because it was only attracting working class viewers, they were doomed; and a lot of them are left with crippling injuries. The play confronts all these issues, but at the same time there's Alex's marvellous Brian Glover impersonation and the amazing sight of him donning Giant Haystacks' head.’ (Rob Fraser)

g For details, see Hit list, right.

\‘fi , s .Q ‘_ ‘fi 0“ {‘1 f “i

Big issues in Big Mary

play bUlldS forward to a ludicrously tragic conclusion. Given that it’s based on a true story, Jesus, are we talking ludicrous. 'Mark originally developed the play for schools,’ explains producer Ginger Perkins. ‘Vi5ually, it’s stunning, the Circus action is great, so kids enjoy it, but ultimately their parents relate to it too.’

With a cast drawn largely from US and Scottish schoolkids (stand up Leith Academy), Big Mary’s core themes transfer well from its American roots to contemporary urban Scotland. ’It could so easily be about the Scots and the English, or


Big Mary

Despite its billing tinder ’Theatre’ In the Fringe programme, Big Mary is essentially a gripping morality piece, equally resonant to children and adults alike The best children's drama has always embraced dark issues.

From the disturbing tWists and turns of Dahl and the Grimm Brothers, it’s a form most thrillineg potent when refusing to shrink from reality. One such dark issue, racism to be precise, is the focus of Mark (Children of a Lesser God) Medoff in this unflinching study of irrational intolerance.

Set amidst the calamitous arrival of a circus in a small Southern town, the

Catholics and Protestants. It needn’t be about racism in the Deep South. Wherever it plays, the context may alter but the message remains the same. Children get to consider the darker, realistic aspects of what the play encounters.’

The Brothers Grimm would no doubt greatly approve. (Barry Mcpherson) a For details, see Hit list, right.

9am— pm

Picked this morning, the (ham of this Week's crop of Fringe shows.

Richard III Malachi Bogdanov sets one of Shakespeare's goriest plays in the nursery, With a toddler King Richard killing off the cuddly toys to ascend the throne in his bouncy castle. Original text, with a new physical twist. Richard //I (Fringe) English Shakespeare Company, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, 9—23 Aug, 72.30pm, [8/f 7 (£6/f5). Preview 8 Aug, [5. See preview on following pages.

The Wrestling See preView, left. The Wrestling (Fringe) Masked Man Productions, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, 8—31 Aug (not 70)

72. 70pm, [7/[6 (f 6/f 5). Preview 7 Aug, [5.

A Soldier's Song He melted your marrow With Under Milk Wood; he Cut you to the quick With Animal Farm, God knows what Guy Masterson's performance of Ken LukOWiak's Falklands brutal battlepiece Will do to you. Intimate, hard-hitting stuff before lunch. Quaff a strong coffee and expect to be emotionally battered. A Soldier’s Song (Fringe) Guy Masterson Productions, Observer Assembly (Venue 3) 226 2428, 9 Aug—5 Sep (not 76, I7, 26 Aug) 17.30am, £9/f8 (£8/f7).

Big Mary See preview, left. Big Mary (Fringe) Frantic Redhead Productions, Randolph Studio (Venue 55) 225 5366, 7—75 Aug, 71am, [4 (£3). Scapin/A Dickens of a Christmas Your day Will be one thousand times better if it starts off with a Shoestring Player show. These Fringe First favourites are bound to brighten your day with their fresh, fine-tuned ensemble playing. Admirable inventiveness and a light touch with the classics. Scapin/A Dickens of a Christmas (Fringe) Shoestring Players, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, 9—37 Aug (not Mon) 72.25pm,

f 7/£ 6 (f 5). Preview 8 Aug, [4.

6-13 Aug 1998 THE usr 37