FESTIVAL 1-3pm continued

THEATRE REVIEW War & Glaur ***

Poignant poppies

This intimate panorama of the effects of the World War I, from a Scots perspective, is a gem. (The word ’glaur’ is Scots for mud). John Nichol has woven together verse and song for a telling, memorable reconstruction of a killing time. The tone veers from patriotism to pacifism. He displays a truly impressive range as reluctant recruit, kiIt-clad comic or hard-nosed officer. Hilary Bell gives voice to war's distaff side in a piercingly clear, sweet

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soprano. Together the two performers conduct audiences on a gently passionate, poignant journey from parlour to trench. (Donald Hutera)

I War & Glaur (Fringe) Rowan Tree Company, Famous Grouse House (Venue 34) 220 5606, until 22 Aug, 2pm, £ 7/£5.

OPERA PREVIEW Mister Butterfly

This new 'mini-opera' presented by First Act Opera International was first performed in Beijing to rave notices earlier this year. Written as a direct sequel to Madame Butterfly, in Mister Butterfly the grandson of Pinkerton from Puccini's original opera falls in love amid the backdrop of the Vietnam war. But in this tale the roles are reversed when he is betrayed by his new bride.

But Mister Butterfly is not a complete reversal of the original, according to the show's producer John von Nuding. ‘In a grander political sense it is showing there is as much imperialism in the 19705 when this is set, as there was in 1900 when Puccini wrote his piece'.

A contemporary opera that utilises Vietnamese folk themes, Mister Butterfly also features elements of Puccini both musically and lyrically. Its producers believe that it is very much ’an opera for the people', with the theme of how people are manipulated by circumstances having universal appeal. (Ross Holloway)

I Mister Butterfly (Fringe) First Act Opera International, St John’s Hall (Venue 726) 225 5 705, 22-27 Aug, 1.45pm, £7 (£5).

THEATRE REVIEW How I Got That Story ****

This timely piece follows the fortunes of a young, idealistic reporter covering a war in the eastern country of Amboland (read Vietnam). During his quest to document the conflict, he encounters a myriad of individuals from both sides of the war and, unbeknown to him, historical events. Both actors put in excellent performances in this blackly comic, yet

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A darkly comic story of burglary and betrayal

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.. A: Anyone for Godot?: The Meeting

lf Beckett and Pinter were locked in a dark room, The Meeting could well be

the resulting devilspawn.

This series of seemingly unrelated scenes starts off promisineg with nosey parker Russell Hunter striking up a conversation with John Stahl (Godot anyone7). Stahl continues to interreact to a greater or lesser degree with a bunch of disparate characters, each emotionally and physically scarred close to their hearts. But we never feel any emotional connection to them or their problems. Themes such as time, and joblessness are touched on but not


Increasingly, we get the feeling that the intuitive, out-of-work, lucky gambler Stahl character, is more than just odd. There's something vaguely sleazy about this man who hangs around toilets and station platforms. Eventually we see him as a sad, confused and angry man.

What‘s impressive is the purity of the set design, the skill of the scene- changing fairies and the restraint of the performances. But it's hard work trying to engage with the obtuse script. Catalan writer Lluisa Cunille and director Xavier Alberti leave us with more questions than answers, but the effort to enquire further hardly seems worthwhile. (Gabe Stewart)

I The Meeting (International) Royal Lyceum Theatre, 473 2000, until 21 Aug.

times vary, £6-E22. 50.

38 "Elm 19-26 Aug 1999

thought-provoking look at the way in which the media are frugal with the truth, and how war is all too often regarded as a source of voyeuristic pleasure. (Dawn Kofie)

I Howl Got That Story (Fringe) Seasonal Productions, Chaplaincy Centre (Venue 23) 662 8882, even dates until 30 Aug, 2.30pm, £6 (E 4).

THEATRE PREVIEW Skerry Vhor, 'Ultimate Islands'

'Ultimate Islands' was the phrase used by Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island and Kidnapped, to describe Samoa. The Edinburgh writer died there, suffering a brain seizure while mixing mayonnaise.

Stevenson's influence as a writer often goes unrecognised, but he fore- ran Conrad as a critic of colonialism and was greatly admired by Jorge Luis Borges and Graham Greene. Stevenson was the first person to open a debate about the nature of the novel. He argued with Henry James that realism was strangling imagination to the detriment of the form.

He led an extraordinary life. His American wife Fanny came literally straight out of the Wild West. His relationship with her has been a subject of controversy with biographers and this play centres on that relationship.

Edinburgh writer and actor Michael David aims to translate the same

passion he feels for the subject off the page and onto the stage.

(Ross Holloway)

I Skerry Vhor, 'Ultimate Islands’ (Fringe) Famous Grouse House (Venue 34) 220 5606, until 29 Aug, 2. 75pm, £6 (£4).

MUSICAL REVIEW Poisoning Pigeons In The Park

*‘A t it

Sick, shocking and very, very funny, songwriter Tom Lehrer was reviled by the establishment and adored by students for his perceptive, acerbic lyrics. A fine selection of his work is performed in this musical tribute to the man who was something of a cult figure in the 605. Pollution, racial and social intolerance . . . he had an opinion on everything, and his talent for songwriting ensured that those opinions were aired, no matter who they offended. The cast perform his songs in the spirit with which they were written, with just the right amount of hamming-up, and their superb voices do his work justice. (Kirsty Knaggs)

I Poisoning Pigeons In The Park (Fringe) Gilded Balloon ll (Venue 38) 226 215 7, until 30 Aug, 2. 15pm, E 7 (£6).

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