THEATRE REVIEW Still Life rm )2
If there was no real reason to go on moving, is it possible you might just stop? The premise of this one- woman-show, inspired by a statue that writer Danusia lwaszak saw on a railway platform, is a simple and striking one. Actress Jean Farrell is compelling in a role that requires her to stand motionless, using only her eyes and voice to relate the tale of an ordinary woman driven by quiet desperation to an extraordinary response. A poignant, vi e inner life of one accustomed to self-restraint and quietly resigned to disappointment. (Hannah McGill)
a Still Life (Fringe) E tcetera
Theatre Company, C Too (Venue 4) until 31 Aug (not Sun) 1 1.30am,
A Dickens of a Christmas sir-5r 25:.
Shoestring Players' reputation for ensemble playing precedes them, but this show, despite being good, is not quite up to previous years' very high standards. Dickens himself delves deeper into the spirit of Christmas by retelling three European pre-Christian ’Christmas' tales: one romantic, one sad and one ghostly.
The literal quality of the ensemble playing is still refreshing and Shoestring's youthful enthusiasm is still exuberant, but there's less overall inventiveness. Where once a cast of fourteen would be the sea, woods or whatever was required for a scene, now there’s a lot more singing and dancing. Unsung heroes are the percussionists who emphasise the cartoon quality of the narrative. (Gabe Stewart) § A Dickens of a Christmas (Fringe) Shoestring Players, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, 22, 23, 29—31 Aug, 12.25pm, £7 (£5).
A Dickens of a Christmas . . . in August?
THEATRE REVIEW The Last Man in Europe twee
Spending ninety minutes in the company of the socially conscious author of Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four could've been a dry exercise in literary hagiography. But in playwright/performer Michael McEvoy’s expert hands, this absorbing portrait of George Orwell (real name Eric Blair) is brought quietly but compellingly to life. It’s 1949 as Blair, ailing in slippers and robe, guides us down a memOry lane rich with incident and detail. We're drawn in and held, whether he's piling up furniture to explain Franco-era Spanish politics, reliving shameful moments of British imperialism, or recalling a lost love. It's a vivid, personal history lesson (Donald Hutera) a The Last Man in Europe (Fringe), Diverse Attractions (Venue 11), 225 8961, until 22 Aug, 10.40am; 24—29 Aug, 11.35am, £7 (£5).
THEATRE REVIEW The Three Bonazzi it we
Laurel and Hardy meets the frayed- cuffed, poor relations of the night-club act in the film Cabaret. The Three Bonazzi, a failed European vaudeville troupe, live out the myth that theatre people make the best of a bad job. Otto’s an extremely dim Eric Sykes; Kurt is Ben Kingley's Ghandi gone Groucho; and Luise is Thora Hird in a crimson crushed velvet show-girl unitard and tights.
It's simple, clean fun, and delicately understated. The trio sympathetically draw out all the pathos of their predicament, but one too many pregnant pauses has one yearning for a Caesarian section. Having said that, it's certainly one of the most unusual shows on the Fringe. (Gabe Stewart) w The Three Bonazzi (Fringe) Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 31 Aug (not 25) 12.10pm, £7/£6 (£5/£4).
DANCE REVIEW Monkey And The Waterfall
This all-ages fusion of Asian and Western theatre styles treads a fine line between bits of delightful invention and a rather drawn-out attempt at a naive magic. Collaborators Yukie Shiroma (the short) and Ben Moffat (the tall), plus a third performer, use masks, cardboard cut-outs, stilt-walking, dance and eclectic music (from Frankie to Nino Rota) to tell three shakin integrated narratives: a creation myth of Japan, a spot of spoiled domestic bliss, and a rather lovely titular encounter between primate and nature. This wordless, basically twee-free hour goes down easily, but on opening day' the skills on view lacked sufficient spark. (Donald Hutera)
ﬁ Monkey and the Waterfall Dance
kids - theatre 0 dance 0 comedy
Mir-Puntil‘ahnd l-lis Man
*f***f _ I ‘muchéheraldetl collusion of .TTQM Size and 'Ihd‘Almﬁida Theatre
has lot to live up .2», and on-the whole does not
the only ele'iheht’to; let down the players is thefplafyjitself. .
‘, Bertolt‘ Biecht’s3948 fable focuses ‘Iohf'hntiia, a rich Finnish landovimer: egalitarian c'ominunist-sympathiser when drunk: heartless capitalist when soben'His'chauffeunMatti,
lore; oir‘ir’éiiohi? Méfﬁfliélps N'mlla‘s :
daughter escape engagement to a stuffy diplomat. and in-the process she falls her hit ofrough,
Hamish Mccoll and Sean Foley as Mr Puntila and Matti are simply Superb. supported byKathryn Hunter's de’ftj'clirectioniiand an adept cast. The'set. mamas a starring role in the penultimate scene. l-loWever. despite Lee Hall‘s engaging and witty adaptation. one
No catharsis for the «retinitis
too, many rants in the script about the ruling classes/brotherhood of
has the eyes glazing over.
The Brechtian distancing devices work very well: the megaphoned scene; -_ _ announcements: the open set changes: the self-referential musical'interludesggy. which delightfully rhyme ‘catharsis' and 'theatre-going arses‘; 'rinkyfdink'y'I“ with ’Helsinki'. Apart from being highly amusing in their own right, these; devices aim to avoid cathartic identification with the characters. But j
' emotional investment in characters' plights. one‘is simply left with '22:. ;
black and white intellectual arguments for and against capitalism. list as well
it’s so funny.
Go prepared to be highly amused, but not necessarily to have your mind
expanded. (Gabe Stewart)
a Mr Puntila And His Man Matti (Fringe) The Right Size with The Almeida Theatre, Traverse Theatre (Venue 15) 228 1404, times vary, until 5 Sep (not 31 Aug).
Theatre Company (Fringe) Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 31 Aug (not 25, 29), until 24 Aug, 11am,- 26-31 Aug, 4.35pm, £7. 50/£6. 50 (£6/£5).
KIDS REVIEW The Chipolatas air 1% if?
A ganeg character with a mini- mohican and a Teletubbies giggle incredibly manages to keep almost all of his young audience riveted for a full ten minutes without saying a word. HIS simple but effective repetitive actions seem to have them entranced. Eventually the other two affable- looking Chipolatas join him on stage, and what follows is traditional children’s entertainment with a 90s twist: magic, acrobatics, simultaneous juggling and eating of food, rounded off with a rendition of Michael Rosen’s Bear Hunt, which was tinged with the scent of desperation towards the end, as kids began to fidget. Otherwise, good. (Gabe Stewart) e The Chipolatas (Fringe) Famous Grouse House (Venue 34) 220 5606, until 20 Aug, noon; 24-27 Aug 6.30pm, £6 (£4).
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This is quite possibly the most complicated piece of theatre around. Fortunately, Shoestring Players' narrators summarise every scene in case we didn't quite get the last forty plot twists.
Scapin follows the destinies of two pairs of lovers, determined to be together despite parental disapproval. They enlist the help of their dastardly servant Scapin, played by the brilliant David J. Kelly, to meddle and weasel his way to victory.
The play is particularly good for children, with the almost pantomime-like sense of audience involvement retaining their interest in both plot and character.
Shoestring aim to bring classic theatre to everyman, and with Scapin they truly succeed. (Nicky Agate)
% Scapin (Fringe) Shoestring Players, Pleasance Two (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 21, 25—28 Aug, 12.25pm, £6 (£5).
STAR RATINGS itttt 'w« n.
20—27 Aug 1998 TIIE usrss