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Hotel blues: Mainstream

You'd imagine that the Fringe might become old hat for a company as established as Glasgow’s Suspect Culture, but according to Graham Eatough the reverse is true. 'It’s always stimulating,’ he says, ’and it’s a fantastic opportunity to extend the life of work.’

Mainstream certainly has no longeVity problems; already a hit on its Scottish spring tour, it's been restructured for the Fringe and WI” then move on to London, Dublin and a European tour. The play, deVIsed by Eatough With DaVid Greig, Nick Powell and Ian Scott, explores identity and performance via a meeting between two strangers in a hotel.

'Stage presentation works as a metaphor for how peOple define themselves in life,’ explains Eatough. 'We’re paring away at ideas of character, and looking at the fragmentary nature of experience and memory. We always attempt a balancing act between experimentation and innovation; and hopefully Mainstream achieves that.’ (Hannah McGill)

! Mainstream (Fringe) Suspect Culture. Observer As‘sembly (Venue 3) 226 2428, 7-30 Aug, 4.50pm, £8.50/f950 (£8.50/E 7.50).

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Michael Smiley: The Parting


Described by Smiley as ’a lovely piece of drama in the great Irish tradition of st0ryte||ing’, The Parting Glass follows the emotional journey of a drunken man as he reminisces about his life during the final throes of an Irish wake. In turns both highly comedic and disturbingly dark, this one-man semi-autobiographical play is, above all, incredibly moving.

Theatre is just one of Smiley's many talents: he is multi-media personified. Stand-up, sitcoms, radio and television presenting, spoken word . . . the list goes on. ’It’s like sex really,’ he says Cryptically. 'If you’re open-minded about it, you prefer to experiment and you become better at it.’

By this rationale, Smiley should be a red-hot performer both in bed and out. You can find out the latter by going along to his show - the former is probably best left to the imagination. (Kirsty Knaggs)

3 Michael Smiley: The Parting Glass (Fringe) Michael Smiley, Observer Assembly ( Venue 3) 226 2428, Aug 6-30 (not 9. 23) 5pm, £8. 50/£ 7. 50 (f 7.50/£6.50).


Nixon's Nixon

While the British may not feel quite the same repulsion for Richard ’Whitewash’ Nixon as the average US citizen, this savage political satire from Russell Lees will still no doubt strike a chord.

’It's a study of power and the loss of power,’ explains director Charles Tower. 'The fact that it’s Nixon and Kissinger is almost incidental it could just as easily have been Antony and Cleopatra.’

The play focuses on three hours of Nixon’s life - the ones he spent in the White House with his Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, on the day before he resigned as President. What was said during that time has never been revealed, so the incidents enacted in the play are based on pure speculation. Nixon ’s Nixon combines elements of farce with vicious satire, wild comedy and deep pathos to create a picture of a troubled man who knows he has lost the fight.

(Kirsty Knaggs)

. Nixon ’s Nixon (Fringe) Watergate Productions, Observer Assembly, (Venue 3) 226 2428, 6-30 Aug, 3pm. £ 9/£ 8 (£8/E 7).


Unfair but true, youth theatre generally has a poor reputation. West Lothian Youth Theatre is an exception to this, and are about to prove why once again.

An exploration of love, friendship and sexuality, Friendly Fire is a challenging and highly charged piece centring on three teenagers struggling to come to


Brainspotting: The Opium Eater

The Opium Eater is just one in a catalogue of critically acclaimed plays by Andrew Dallmeyer. Part fact, part fiction, it is centred on Thomas de Quincey, an intellectual who pioneered exploration of the subconscious through his addiction to opium and is considered an important forerunner

of Freud.

Though stylish and witty, de Quincey was hopeless at coping with the pressures of everyday life and spent much of his time destitute and penniless. Set in 18205 Edinburgh, the play focuses on the extraordinary (but fictional) relationship between de Quincey (who lived here for several years and even spent time in Holyrood debtors' prison) and a down-and-out simpleton called Willie. The story takes them from their squalid room on fantastical journeys around the world, as de Quincey's intake of laudanum (a glorious cocktail of opium and alcohol) and Willie's paranormal brain allow the two to come together via the power of their imaginations.

This play has been performed many times before, most notably for television with Peter Mullan, but Dallmeyer believes that 'the current cast of Stuart Preston and Victor Greene are the ideal couple'. The Opium Eater promises to take you on a surreal psychological adventure through the netherworld of early 19th century Edinburgh. (Victoria Nutting)

l The Opium Eater (Fringe) Gilded Balloon ll (Venue 36) 226 2157, 6-30 Aug.

5pm. £7 (£5).

terms with the tangled love triangle they find themselves in. A minimalist set makes the emotional play-offs between the characters all the more prominent. ’The audience can concentrate on the actors much more,’ explains actor Nicol Hay. ’You get a lot more impact from the play.’

Director Mari Binnie is incredibly impressed wrth the performances. ’They are difficult roles for young people,’ she says. 'They’ve shown real guts and commitment.’ And Hay believes that this piece will vindicate youth theatre. ’I think peOple are surprised when they come and see this and find it’s not crap,’ he remarks. ’It’s a very professional performance.’ (Kirsty Knaggs)

I Friendly Fire (Fringe) West Lothian Youth Theatre, Theatre Workshop (Venue 20) 226 5425, 6- 77 Aug. 4.30pm, £5 (£3).

DANCE PREVIEW Egiku Hanayagi

This will be Egiku Hanayagi's second visit to Edinburgh, but still one of the

very few times she has performed outSide Japan. Born into a family of ClaSSlCal dancers, Egiku's mother began training her at an age when most of us are still trying to locate our feet; but traditional Japanese dance is a long learning process so it’s best to start early.

Egiku’s conventional training forms the basis of her dancmg but she has moved away from its rigidity to develop her own personal style. Apparently, this move towards modernity did not go down well at first. ’People were very shocked and her family were horrified that she had dared to flout convention,’ explains her translator. Despite this, she is now one of the most acclaimed modern dancers in Japan. This year at the Fringe she is performing The Crow and Spring Has Gone in which she dances ’the falling of cherry blossom like Spring snow.’ You don’t want to miss that.

(Victoria Nutting)

I Egiku Hanayagi Japanese Dances

(Fringe) Egiku Hanayagi. The Garage Theatre (Venue 81) 227 9009. 8-30 Aug, 3pm. £6 (£5).