London‘s Almeida Theatre Company and physical comedy

duo The Right Size take on a big Brecht.

Alcohol is used endlessly as an excuse for bad behaviour. And in Brecht’s typically class-conscious comedy Mr Puntila And His Man Matti, a few swallies effect a Jekyll and Hyde-like transformation in the lord of the manor. Directing the Almeida Theatre/Right Stuff collaboration, acclaimed actress Kathryn Hunter invites us to rethink our preconceptions of Brecht as 'dull, dour and finger- wagging'.

Set in Finland in the 19305, at heart, the play is an exploration of the relationship between the master Mr Puntila and his servant Matti. A friendly, humane pussy cat when drunk, in his sober moments Mr Puntila is a cruel, arrogant tyrant who wreaks hell on the lives of his workers, especially long- suffering chauffeur Matti. But while Matti gets on with the daily grind, it is Puntila who goes in for a spot of navel-gazing and considers carrying out some personal self-improvement.

'This play is not a dry lecture on capitalism or Marxism. Rather Brecht humanizes the issues,’ believes Hunter, who has spent much of her acting career on the Lecoq- inspired work of Theatre de Complicité. ’It looks at how politics affect the minute-to-minute negotiations in our relationships with each other.’

After the huge success of last year’s hit Do You Come Here Often? Right Size duo Sean Foley and Hamish McColI seem to be morphing into a kind of Morecambe and Wise of modern comedy. They are an inspired choice for a play that, as Hunter explains, could just as easily be about two brothers as about master and servant.

Brecht foot forward: The Right Size

'Because they (Foley and McColl) share a ten-year relationship they can explore and express the relationship better than most actors could, both physically and emotionally,’ explains Hunter. And in spite of, or perhaps as a result of, his large wealth, Puntila is as much a prisoner of the system as those in its lower reaches.

One of few actresses to have played the title role in King Lear, Hunter draws a parallel between Puntila and Shakespeare’s tormented monarch. 'Through Puntila, Brecht is trying to ask what is man’s true nature? The real question we are trying to explore is: How do you go about becoming a human being?‘ (Claire Prentice)

For details see Hit list, right


Warren Kimmel and Marcia Carr get intensely physical

Queenie and Burrs, Set in the

March's Jazz-ster poem finally sees its world premiere some 60 years after it was banned. The primitive passion of the piece is portrayed through the intense physicality of Warren Kimmel (Burrs) and Marcia Carr (the irresistible QUCE’HIQ). The two seamlessly metamorphose into all 30 eccentric characters at the party in a pacy poetic fashion Directed and choreographed by self-admitted oddball Julia Smith (who brought Birmingham Rep's The Magic Toyshop to the Fringe in 199T, bagging a Fringe First among other awards), its racy and raunchy delivery wrll raise pulses, eyebrows and unmentionable body parts.

Slick production, a retro-minimalist set and steamy JBZZ soundtrack help make this a piece not to be missed. It’s

The Wild Party


Problems with your sex life? You ain't seen nothing until you’ve met

twenties, two fast-Iivmg vaudeVille actors host a debauched party attended by a bizarre collection of fellow artistes.

Deemed too "lewd and Iascwious’ for America in 1928, Joseph Moncure

big action from a small theatre group performing an innovative and very sexy production. See it With an extremely close friend . ,

(Tracy Griffen)

For details see Hit list, right.

Wakey, wakey. The world of theatre is awaiting you . . . Mr Puntilla and his Man Matti See pi'ewew, left Air Puntilla and his Man Matti (Fringe) The Rig/it Size with The A/iiieida Theatre, Traverse, (Venue i5) 228 7404, 76 Aug 3 Sep (not 77, 2:1, 37 Aug) various times, [72 ((7.50). Prewew 74 Aug, 8. 75pm, 75 Aug, 7 lam, [7.50 ([4). The Wild Party See revrew, left The Wild Party (Fringe) The Mouse People, Pleasant e (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 37 Aug (not 24)

72 45pm, [7 50/[6 50

([6 SO/[5.50)

Ol/Othello An exceptional montage for our age, concerning timeless iSSties of sex and power, \VlTKlT gets uncomfortably under the Sklll, OJ/Othe/lo (Fringe) Observer Assembly (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 75 Aug, noon, [9/[8 (HI/[7)

A Soldier's Song Guy Masterson's power-packed performance of Ken Lukowiak’s Falklands battlepiece A Soldier’s Song (Fringe) Guy Masterson Productions, Observer Assembly (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 5 Sep (not 76, l7, 26 Aug) 7 7 30am, [9/[8 (IS/[7)

,. 9 P -, , i u‘ l a. I ‘j r .

A Dickens of a Christmas/Scapin If you fancy an eaSier start to your day, ease yourself into consciousness With a Shoestring Players play, Two to choose from, both fine-tuned comic ensemble theatre for children and grown-ups. A Dickens of a Christmas (Fringe) Shoestring Players, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 37 Aug (not Mon) 72.25pm, [7/[6 ([5).

13—20 Aug i998 ms usr 37