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Gender terrific: The Cholmondeleys & The Featherstonehaughs

The Cholmondeleys & The Featherstonehaughs

Challenging not only in their titles but also in their experiments at the forefront of contemporary dance, the all-female Cholmondeleys (pronounced Chumlees) and all-male Featherstonehaughs (pronounced Fanshaws) will be collaborating once again for the first time in six years.

In a show indebted to the cabaret-style of 19305 Germany, founder and choreographer of both groups, Lea Anderson, will explore the combined dynamic in a unique fusion of physical, musical and visual entertainment. Formed in 1984, The Cholmondeleys have rapidly gained a reputation for freeform dance movement inspired by observations of everyday movement and behaviour. Shunning conventional dance techniques, the company has instead nurtured a highly individualistic and idiosyncratic style.

Originally intended for a one-off performance, The Featherstonehaughs emerged from the same ethic in 1988. 'Lea was always keen to explore each company separately and together,’ explains Eddie Nixon, performer with The Featherstonehaughs for three years. ’There was never any real gender statement meant in the division.’

As they continue to operate as the only all-male dance company in Britain, The Featherstonehaughs present, in Nixon’s words, ’a more pedestrian, humorous and theatrical approach to modern dance.’ Commenting on the collaboration, Nixon says: ’it's exciting because the movement changes a great deal when we work together'.

The Victims Of Death In Smithereens will, as the title suggests, present diverse fragments of cabaret-style entertainment. In tribute to old-time Music Hall variety, influences include Brecht, Marlene Dietrich and the Weimar Republic. Imagery in the form of large scale photographs, light installations and costumes ‘varying from the plain to the outrageously flamboyant' will all work to heighten the dramatic effect. Live music, courtesy of two musicians - The Victims Of Death - will be a new addition to what promises to be a bizarre and eclectic performance. (Catherine Bromley)

I The Cholmondeleys & The Featherstonehaughs at The Forum, Mon 18 Oct, 8pm, £9 (£7).

(Monkey business: Claire Dowie

Claire Dowie

An actress, comedian, playwright and novelist, the nauseatingly talented Claire Dowie has more strings to her bow than a gang of double bass players. A favourite on the festival circuit, Dowie has spent ten years perfecting the art of what she calls ‘stand-up theatre'. 'Stand-up tragedy’ might be a more appropriate label for work that often mixes sharply observed comedy with sad, serious subjects. Her most frequently produced play, Adult Child/Dead Child, though brimful of humorous insight, is an open wound of a monologue exploring a teenager's slide into mental illness.

Her long-time collaborator, Colin Watkeys, believes that Dowie’s ability to provoke a heartfelt response from audiences lies in her sympathy for character. 'It's tempting to see Claire’s writing as autobiographical because her performance in these harrowing roles is so convincing - she really gets into their minds.‘

Dowie’s versatility will be on display in The Year Of The Monkey, arguably her most ambitious solo work to date. In a quartet of bittersweet monologues, Dowie slips under the skins of four very different characters. ’Bonfire Night’ is the bleakly comic tale of an elderly woman who takes revenge on the world with a 5th November massacre, while in ’Allotments', an entire street of senior citizens embrace the freedom of self-sufficiency.

’Arsehammers!’ (a serious contender for title of the year) examines a seven-year-old boy’s relationship with his grandfather. In the title piece, Dowie plays a devoted wife and mother who suddenly makes contact with her emotions, spectacularly blowing her top at her daughter’s wedding.

Watkeys is particularly excited about this latest piece: 'Although the combined length of the stories in Year Of The Monkey is the same as a full-length play, this piece is as exhausting and exhilarating as four full-length works.’ (Allan Radcliffe)

l Claire Dowie at the Lemon Tree, Sat 23 Oct, 7.30pm, 15 7 (£6).

86 THE "81' 7-21 Oct 1999

More highlights to rock the Granite City

David Strassman Dragging ventrilquism into the next century, Strassman follows up his run at this year’s Edinburgh Festival and an ITV series, bringing his handy amigos, Chuck Wood, Ted E Bare, and a host of others for some potent puppetry. David Strassman, His Ma/esty's Theatre, Mon 78 Oct, 8pm, £8—[75 (£6—£13).

Gomez Gomez return with a new album, Liquid Skin and it's every bit as good as it’s predecessor. Their potent mix of the best bits of Tom Waits, Dr John and Afrika Bambaataa result in a beautiful mess. Gomez, Music Hall, Mon 78 Oct, 8pm,

fl 7.

Gravity Wheels A unique collaboration involving over 100 performers, including members of Urban Dance Theatre and Team Extreme. This is a multi-media mix of rollerblades, skateboards, trapeze, stilts, breakdancrng, mu3ic and Video, creating a show around the idea of falling through space. Gravity Wheels, Amadeus Nightclub, Tue l9—Fri 22 Oct, 7pm, [4 (£3).

Adolf After three successful visits to the Edinburgh Festival, writer/ performer Pip Utton delivers his uniquely powerful portrayal of Hitler’s betrayal by his Generals at the end of World War II. Guy Masterson directs this thought-provoking cautionary tale. Ado/f, Lemon Tree, Wed 20 Oct, 7.30pm, f 7 (£6).

Joan Baez Few have managed the longevity or consistency in folk leSIC of Baez. 40 years since her debut at Newport Folk Festival aged seventeen, she has been an unerring voice of protest, helping to define the basis of acoustic political music. Eliza Carthy and Saul Rose, considerable names in their own right in folk circles, are supporting and performing with Baez. Joan Baez, His Majesty’s Theatre, Thu 27 Oct, 8pm, £8—f77.50 (£6—fl6).


The festival runs from Fri 15—Sat 23 Oct.

Tickets for all shows can be purchased at Aberdeen Box Office, l Music Hall, Union Street, tel. 01224 641122/620011.

The festival office provides full programme details and brochures and is situated at 15—1 7 Belmont Street, tel. 01224 635822.

For travel and accomodation, call the Aberdeen and Grampian Tourist Board, tel. 01330 825917.