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Drink Vinegar Gentlemen


Those who ever saw Teatr Biuro Podrozy's Carmen Funebre will know that director Pawel Sztotak's unique stage language is centred on symbolic realism and imagery. In Carmen the imagery was all about death, destruction and the strength of the human spirit. In his new production, the company takes an absurdist view of how the little man tries, succeeds, and sometimes fails to overcome the strength of tyrants.

Adapted from the writings of Russian satirist Danii Kharms, this series of scenes uses greater and lesser degrees of chilling humour to quietly highlight the chaos of everyday existence in between-the- wars Soviet Union.

In one scene, three actors tell a simple fairytale-like story about Kalugin, who falls asleep behind a bush and dreams of a policeman. But the actors “tell the story while holding simple fishing rod-style sticks and string, with representations of the three characters hanging on the ends. Kalugin is a gingerbread man: the bush is a brush; and the policeman is a saw. Kalugin's dreams get increasingly nonsensical, until eventually he grows weak and gets

mistaken for a piece of rubbish, which is chucked out. But you need your wits about you to make sense of some of the scenes. Others wash over you without


The cast are a committed bunch: lakub Pierzchlalski plays the drums while wearing an eerily comical death mask; his brother Adam plays a sardonic trumpet at turns melancholic and comic; and Marta Stzalko and Jaroslaw Siejkowsi both perform the most absurd scenes with all the solemn seriousness of a Monty Python sketch. The

Barely discernible menace in Drink Vinegar Gentlemen

very expressive Wojciech Winski holds it altogether. Perhaps the real star of the show is the incredible book prop which symbolises Danni Kharms himself and which

becomes everything from ramp, to coffin to clothing.

(Gabe Stewart)

Behind all the Lear-type nonsense is a very real threatening undercurrent. ‘I am sick of arguing with you,’ says one character at one stage. ’No you are not,’ replies the other with a barely discernible menace.

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ying games with their names

Lekin Lppu lie pla


It's been a tough time for twosomes at this year’s Fringe. Nomad Dance Theatre's Secrets trapped a couple of strangers in an elevator. In Do You Come Here Often? The Right Size stick two men in a bathroom. Now Jason Hird and Elizabeth Besbrode of Leikin Loppu (Finnish for ’playing to the finish’, and a translation of the title of Beckett’s Endgame) have concocted a silent 'motion comedy’ about a man and woman double- booked into the same seedy hotel room. ’They are two very silly, insistent people,’ Hird says, 'who just won't back down once they’ve established their space.’

Hird and Besbrode are an offstage couple. ’We have separate rooms,’ he deadpans, 'but there is some romance,

on occasion.’ They started their Leeds- based company about four years ago, smashing plates to Stravinsky’s Firebird. Their performing style has been compared to cinematic clowns Chaplin and Keaton. Nevertheless their latest show is being brought to Edinburgh under the auspices of Dance Base. Is it really dance?

'It's not about abstract movement and flamboyant gesture,’ says Hird, ’but there's no talking, and it’s all played to ballet music, just about.’ Classical scoring is important in Leikin Loppu’s work because ’very small, ridiculous and stupid actions can be played off this big, grand orchestral sound.’ Hird delivers the last word on the underpopulated world of wordless comedy: 'It'd be nice if there were more people doing it. For us to copy from.’ (Donald Hutera)

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I I It I ‘31: \ Fill up your last List Fringe packed lunch.

Speed The Plow Mamet's investigation of betrayal and morality in the phoney world of film production, masterfully played with a intensity that electrifies. Speed The Plow (Fringe) Birmingham Stage Company, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 30 Aug, 2.20pm, £8/£ 7 (£6/£5).

Drink Vinegar Gentlemen See review, left. Drink Vinegar Gentlemen (Fringe) Teatr Biuro Podrozy, Theatre Workshop (Venue 20) 226 5425, until 29 Aug, times vary, £7.50 (£5). Leiken Loppu In The Tailors See preview, left. Leikenloppu In The Tailors (Fringe) Famous Grouse House (Venue 34) 220 5606, until 29 Aug, 2. 30pm. £ 7 (E 5).

Berkof‘f's Women Like a psychotic Cruella de Vil, Linda Marlowe‘s awe-inspiring five- star one-woman show is a tribute to the genius of Berkoff’s writing. Berkoff’s Women (Fringe) Guy Masterson Productions, Observer Assembly ( Venue 3) 226 2428, until 30 Aug, 7. 75pm, £9/£8 (£8/£ 7).

Lyrebird: Tales Of Helpmann Ozzie-born writer-actor Tyler Coppin turns in a tremendous performance in this tribute to one of theatre's old-style sacred monsters. Lyrebird: Tales Of Helpmann (Fringe) Tyler Coppin, Observer Assembly (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 30 Aug, 2. 75pm, £9.50/E8.50 (£8.50/£ 7. 50).

Bond A play of hugely comic proportions involving love and Lego, this truly unique and imaginative production that restores your faith in theatre. Bond (Fringe) Generally Better Pr 'uctions, Gilded Balloon (L.. we 38) 226 2757, even dates until 30 Aug, 2.30pm, £7 (£6).

26 Aug—9 Sep 1999 THE UST 29