Theatre 0 Comedy 0 Dance
Technology can cure our physical ills and collapse the distances that separate us; but it can't combat the most pervasive modern malaise. It can't comfort the lonely or integrate the alienated. The sense of a void at the heart of modern life, a stillness at the eye of the storm, inspired Scottish company boilerhouse and New Zealand's Trouble to collaborate on Bleach, an ambitious devised piece. ‘Ultimately it's about isolation,‘ says boilerhouse's Paul Pinson. ’The place of the individual in a society; a search for identity; a cry for help.‘
Bleach has been in development since early 1998. The irony of working on a co-production via trans-continental e-mail is not lost on either faction. ‘Our themes were isolation and feeling alone; and we were communicating over a 12,000 mile gap,'-says Pinson; while his co- director Andrew Foster adds that the alienating effect of the electronic message shaped the mood of the piece. ‘What a weird way to communicatel You don't connect like you do in a letter; interpretation is more open. It’s a kind of abstraction; words out of context.‘
Distance also affected the aesthetics of the piece; accustomed to working on lavishly technological spectaculars, both parties appreciated the imposed discipline of stripping down their style. The result - framed as a journey, with a road as the stage and the audience gathered on each side - is what Foster terms ‘spartan multi-media’. He sees the play as a lament for a lost ideal of national and individual autonomy. ‘We are in a time that seems less defined; the result of globalisation is a loss of individual identity.‘
Theirs seems a bleak and weary worldview. Is there
boilerhouse and Trouble cross the tyranny of Distancezsleach
no place for hope? ‘lt's all about looking for hope,‘ argues Foster. ‘The one thing that binds us together is that we're all questioning and searching.‘
An elegy for lost unity and a statement of defiance against encroaching isolation,Bleach promises to articulate not only the fears that divide us but also the hope and faith that draws us together.
I Bleach (Fringe) boilerhouse/Troub/e, Grafﬁti (Venue 90) 557 8330, 18-28 Aug (not 23) 5.30pm, £8. 50 (£6. 50). Preview 17 Aug, £5. See Festival Free/oaders page7777. . . .
THEATRE REVIEW Nixon's Nixon ﬁnite
Final moments of a career: Nixon's Nixon
Despite knowing the outcome, Russell Lees’ portrayal of the last hours of Nixon's presidency is riveting. As impeachment threatens ignominy, a wary Henry Kissinger meets with an unhinged Nixon, and from the very first second we see his uplit unmistakable jowls, Keith Jochim is Nixon. He runs the gamut from babyish innocence and childish petulance, to adolescent paranoia-inspired verbal excreta, and finally to decrepit broken man, bereft of honour, respect or dignity.
In contrast, Tim Donahue's Machiavellian, Teutonic-vowelled Kissinger uses Nixon's weaknesses to negotiate his place in the new administration.
Both of the actors' body language is impeccable. Nixon unhinges at will: volcanic with bitter anger and broken by the realisation that ‘800,000 died on my watch'; whereas rigid, emotionless Kissinger sees power as a formulaic equation: power = force x
The play is full of laughs, such as Kissinger losing his dignity by impersonating Leonid Brezhnev and Mao Tse-tung. And as the two of them get progressively plastered, the play teeters between farce and tragedy as Nixon thinks up increasingly mad ways of staying in office, until he has to accept the inevitability of his resignation.
We see beneath Nixon’s ruthlessness to the melancholic weakling: 'the great man, unjustly brought down - like Alexander the Great.’ Incredibly, eventually the pathetic fragile man inspires sympathy.
For that miraculous feat alone, and for opening up other ways of seeing these icons of the 705, all credit to director Charles Towers and his team. Electrifying theatre. (Gabe Stewart)
' Nixon ’s Nixon (Fringe) Observer Assembly (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 30 Aug, 3pm, £9/£8 (EB/£7).
I I \
Keeping you on the ball this week with the unmissable shows Bleach See preview, left. Bleach (Fringe) boilerhouse/Troub/e, Grafﬁti (Venue 90) 557 8330, 78—28 Aug (not 23), 5.30pm,
£8.50 (£6.50). Preview 77 Aug, £5.
Nixon's Nixon See preview, left. Nixon ’s Nixon (Fringe) Observer Assembly (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 30 Aug, 3pm, £ 7-£9.
.. .‘ 'jg Cooking With Elvis One of the essential shows of this year’s Fringe, this is the touching, macabre yet strangely funny story of a quadraplegic Elvis impersonator, his family, their tortoise and the local baker. See review on following pages. Cooking With Elvis (Fringe) Live Theatre Company, Observer Assembly (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 30 Aug (not 16, 24) 4.30pm, £8-£ 70.
Yank Me! San Fransiscan Harmon Leon makes his Fringe debut with a comic splash. Yank Me! is an enlightened look at American life in all its incarnations and absurdities. See review on following pages. Yank Me! (Fringe) Harmon Leon, The Stand (Venue 5) 558 7272, until 29 Aug (not 76) 5pm, £5 (£4).
The Water Carriers Returning to the Fringe after last year's sell out run, this magical tale of the importance of water will undoubtably impress and wow the crowds of all ages once again. Superb stuff. See review on following pages. The Water Carriers (Fringe) Theatre Talipot, Continental Shifts at St Bride '5 (Venue 62) 346 1405, until 28 Aug (not 15, 22) 4pm, £8. 50 (£7).
12—19 Aug igggrutun‘n