Theatre Volteface have produced a modern street-theatre take on a classic tale of crown and strife. Christian Coulson is the young Prince Hal, arrogant yet charismatic, cohort of Tom Cornford's Falstaff in Shakespeare's exploration of honour and betrayal.

Urban areas such as multi-storey car parks generate an innovative representation of the power struggle across Britain, avoiding the static in favour of a sometimes surreal mix of contemporary costumes and music.

Although the doubling of parts by the female chorus creates more than a little confusion, this is amply compensated for by a spectacular and captivating conclusion in Bristo Square. Volteface confronts Shakespeare With daggers drawn! (Caroline Brown)

3% Henry IV (Part One) (Fringe) Theatre Volteface, Calder’s Gilded Balloon Nenue 38) 226 2157, until 27 Aug, 7.30pm, £6 (f 5).


3-. /._ -.-

You have to be a smart-arse to do improwsed comedy. And a smarter one to do ll well.

Boom Chicago, six ex-pat Americans now residing in Amsterdam, are smarter still: not only doing it well, but making you fall for them in the giddy, frantic process.

Their formula is as simple as it is effective. We, when implored to do so, shout suggestions. They, as expected, chip them back flecked with fluid, spontaneous madness.

To wit: freestyle skits on everything from Titanic to US foreign policy, satire a-go-go and global pariah lampoons by the truckload. All quick as forest fire and smart-arsed for sure. More please. (Barry Mcpherson) sits Boom Chicago (Fringe) Boom Chicago, Calder’s Gilded Balloon II (Venue 36) 226 2 751, until 37 Aug (not 27) 7. 75pm, £8.50 (£7.50).

theatre ° dance 0 comedy

DANCE REVIEW Cape Youth Dance Company ease

Fringe groups of young dancers don't come much more enjoyable than this bouncy bunch from South Africa, exuding energy and enthusiasm as they fly through ten varied numbers in an hour.

Good costumes, sassy jazz dance and a range of mu5ical styles from Hugh Masekela to Mendelssohn all ensure there’s something of interest for everyone. The two boys are particularly strong performers and it's encouraging to see a racial mix in the company now but they're all good, full of concentration and commitment. The choreography is well Within the range of their ability without being banal, allowing them to look sweet but never sickly. (Don Morris)

a Cape Youth Dance Company (Fringe) Youth International at St Oswald ’5 (Venue 728) 346 7405/229 5562, until 22 Aug (not Sun) 6.30pm, £5 (£3).

COMEDY REVIEW Paul Thorne we

Paul Thorne really needn’t have apologised every time he said 'bloody'. He was minding his language because of two kids in the front row. 'We heard that you were kind,’ explained their parents, and they’d heard right. Thorne has a pleasant manner and an unassuming mice that many of us had to strain to hear. In fact, some asides were so mumbled l doubt anyone caught them.

Unfortunately, our effort to attend his every word wasn't repaid with any exceptional material. Whimsical stuff about anthropomorphic farm animals, aliens, Subbuteo and other broadly inoffensive fare.

Ultimately, the gags were as insubstantial as soap bubbles, floating for a brief moment on a gentle laugh, then gone and swiftly forgotten.

(Rory Ford)

E Paul Thorne (Fringe) Paul Thorne, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 31 Aug, 7.40pm, [850/050 (USO/£6.50).


THEATRE REVlEW The Robbers ****

A bleak romance: Benedick Bates and Sophie Ward in The Robbers

Friedrich Schiller is usually said to belong to the Romantic movement. but if The Robbers were written today, he would be called a bleak existentialist. Essentially, the play is a melodramatic dialectic between two schools of nihilism: the rejection of morality and the refusal of forgiveness.

The two ideologies are personified by a pair of estranged brother princes: conniving Franz, who seeks to usurp the throne by deceiving his sick father. and Byronic Karl, who rebels against the establishment‘s enfeebled order. joins forces with protooNietzschean demagogue Spiegelberg and forms the outlaw gang of the title. Both roles - each containing lengthy. philosophising monologues - are played by Benedick Bates in what amounts to a towering performance.

Robert David MacDonald's vibrantly contemporary translation and Philip Prowse’s mighty. mannered and handsome production seem intent on including every syllable of nineteen-year-old Schiller‘s immature and overlong text. The result is overstatement, yet the Citizens' company's quixotic determination to provide the real deal is admirable and‘ndt without its glories.

The play is riddled with Shakespearean references ~ King Lear especially, though Hamlet, Macbeth, Richard III and Henry IV inform certain scenes - but the ultimate message is less cathartic. and thus blealcer. than anything from the Bard's quill. Full of Sturm and Drang. signifying nothingness. (Andrew Burnet)

The Robbers (International Festival) Citizens’ Theatre Company King's Theatre, 473 2000, until 27 Aug, 7.30pm; Fri mat 2.30pm, ifs-£22.


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50 THE llST 20—27 Aug 1998