Happy Birthday Mister Deka D ****

This at times painfully comic view of a shattered love story is 45 minutes long and has about 35 minutes of dialogue. And lots of Beckettian silences.

Lika, Mister Deka D and Trisk are characters out of place and out of time. Lika reads the news but doesn't know what is happening in her own life. Trisk drops in on her having previously walked out on her, fought in a war and had a baby. Mister Deka D thinks every day is his birthday.

The acting style is distanced, the set surreal. The script plays lots of word games: questions are answered before they are asked; Mr Decker speaks in spoonerisms. If you like Beckett you'll find this invigorating; if you don't you'll be bored. (Gabe Stewart)

I Happy Birthday Mister Deka D (Fringe) Told By An Idiot, Traverse (Venue 15) 228 1404, until 4 Sep (not 23, 30 Aug), times vary, £9 (£6).

THEATRE REVIEW On The Whole It's Been Jolly Good


Peter Tinniswood and Leslie Phillips a perfect combination. Tinniswood’s observational script is at turns gently humorous, touchingly tender, and sweetly poetic. Foxy, charming Phllips connects with his audience instantaneously. He has the impeccable timing and self-assured body language one expects from a pro in the biz for 65 years.

Phillips plays John Malcolm Plimpton MP, reminiscing on his ’dalliances' and uninspiring 60 years of service in the House.

A touch overlong with barely a discernible stumble, but there was no disguising the very genuine affection in which Phillips was held by the full house.

This is a masterful Fringe debut for 75 year old Phillips. See him this year and pray he returns. (Gabe Stewart)

3‘ TIIEIJST 19—26 Ann 1999

theatre - dance 0 comedy 0 kids


I On The Whole It’s Been Jolly Good (Fringe) Leslie Phillips, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 30 Aug (not 23) £8/£ 7 7/£ 6).

KIDS PREVIEW Arabian Nights

'A fantastic, moving story of a woman who saves her life through her storytelling,’ is how Dominic Cooke, director of the Young Vic's production of Arabian Nights, sums up the collection of ancient tales.

The woman in question is Shahrazad, the wife of the charming King Shahrayer who, as a result of his first wife's infidelity, marries women and then murders them.

Cooke puts the previous success of this dynamic amalgam of dance, drama and singing down to the fact that 'it has a mix of flavours: mystery, slapstick, horror and - my favourite - a classical fairy story.’ Should be a helping of fun - Eastern mythology for all the family. (Dawn Kofie)

I Arabian Nights (Fringe) Observer Assembly (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 30 Aug (not 23) 2pm, £13/£ 10 (£10/£8).


Constantly fighting a battle against big-time Losersville, one which he invariably loses, Nigel's sorry excuse for a life is emphasised by the constant good fortune of his best friend Ben. However, when things seem to have reached the point of no return, Lady Luck begins to smile on him - bringing its own problems.

Bond successfully integrates text, mime, dance, rhythm and a kitsch/cool soundtrack to create a play of hugely comic proportions. Managing to be both incredibly stylised and direct simultaneously, this truly unique and imaginative production will restore your faith in theatre. (Kirsty Knaggs)

I Bond (Fringe) General/y Better Productions, Gilded Balloon ll (Venue 36) 226 2151, even dates until 30 Aug, 2.30pm, £7 (£6).

Bond: story of love and Lego

THEATRE REVIEW Lyrebird: Tales Of Helpmann *****

Majestic drama queen

Robert Helpmann was a choreographic chameleon, a clown who could play Hamlet. With his long line, lantern jaw, imposing manner and tight buns, the versatile Australian scored internationally as classical dancer and dance- maker at the Royal and Australian Ballets, stage and screen actor (remember Chirty Chitty Bang Bang or The Red Shoes?), and director-producer. Ozzie-born writer-actor Tyler Coppin turns in a tremendous performance in this tribute to one of the theatre's old-style sacred monsters. His Helpmann lives a life full of reflection - most of it caught in a dressing-room mirror. The time-ravaged thespian is between acts in a staging of Don Quixote, affording him the chance to bitch and remember and sneer and impart wisdom and toss away some of the best one-liners (‘I wouldn't queue for a seat at the Last Supper with the original castl') on the Fringe. This wicked drama queen, high on hairspray half the time, also reveals a tender side but

without going all mushy on us.

Coppin's writing is rich and clever. For 90 glorious minutes director Adam Cook lets Coppin the performer run unbridled on Genevieve Blanchett's atmospheric backstage set. We're with him all the way. (Donald Hutera)

I L yrebird: Tales Of Helpmann (Fringe) Tyler Coppin, Observer Assembly (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 30 Aug, 2.15pm, £9. 50/£8. 50 (£8. 50/£ 7. 50).


And No Talking concerns the relationship between a somewhat neurotic drama teacher and a difficult but talented pupil as they prepare a school play for the millennium. The sixteen-year-old schoolgirl is caught between loyalties towards the play, her best friend, and her father who is coping with a divorce and being a single parent.

If it sounds a bit convoluted, that's because it is. While it is nicely observed for the most part and even exudes a certain amount of charm and humour it never really seems to know precisely what it's about and so the themes it raises are never satisfactorily developed. (Ross Holloway)

I. . . and NO TALKING (Fringe) Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 226 2151, until 30 Aug (not 24) 2pm, £7 (£6).

THEATRE REVIEW Eleanor Of Acquitaine, Mother Of The Pride

**** Proud, forthright and endowed with an enormous amount of self belief, Eleanor of Acquitaine, mother of Richard the Lionheart, was not someone to mess with.

During this one-woman show which traces her life story, the audience are regaled with the grisly details of how

the only person to be queen of both England and France dealt with those witless enough to wrong her (so beware if you're squeamish). Enthralling from the moment she appears on stage until the moment she leaves it, Eileen Page delivers the lyrical, yet powerful, monologue faultlessly, vivifying the episodes she recounts. (Dawn Kofie) I Eleanor Of Acquitaine, Mother Of The Pride (Fringe) Eileen Page, Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 226 2151, until 30 Aug, 1.30pm, £6.50 (£5.50).

THEATRE REVIEW A Kind Of Alaska Think

Mornings may well be a time of universal ugliness, but, in Pinter’s drama, a sixteen-year-old girl fares considerably worse, waking up to find herself a middle-aged woman. Tricia Thorns plays the awakening Deborah with a gusto that, although girly, is not convincingly girlish. Additionally, she seems as confused about her age as her character, pitching her as a coquettish ten year old. However, the play, based on real life events, reeks with emotion, and although Deborah, bed-bound for 29 years, is unable to easily move her legs, she is ultimately able to move us. (Judith Ho)

I A Kind Of Alaska (Fringe) Two '5 Company, Pleasance (Venue 33) until 30 Aug, 1.25pm, £7/£6 (£6/£5).