Posts Tagged Fringe 2011

MILTON JONES: Lion Whisperer

Milton Jones, Lion Whisperer

Assembly Hall,Mound Place, Venue 35

MILTON JONES is the king of one-liners and absurdity. They just keep coming out of the man so fast that it’s hard to keep up. If you’re too helpless laughing at the last one, you might miss the next one.  Introduced by ‘his grandfather, the warm-up man’ who shuffles onto the stage in long coat, flat cap and shopping trolley, any latecomers arriving get told the same joke; ‘I had a nephew who lived in Leith. He doesn’t trust banks so kept all his money under the mattress. He reckoned that nobody will look for it in the front garden.’

After ‘granddad’ Milton bounds on to the stage in a strikingly loud shirt. He keeps up a steady stream of one-liners, enlivened with a few props from the shopping trolley and one of those large jotter pads on an easel you see at earnest meetings and seminars.

Some of his lines falls into a pattern, so the audience can anticipate what’s coming and still enjoy it; ‘Not all horses are Trojan horses… I know that now… That was a messy afternoon’; later, ‘Not all pigs are piggy banks…’ and ‘Not all ducks are toilet ducks…’  It’s wonderful surreal stuff. Milton Jones is just the tonic you need after a stressful day.

Reviewed by David Kerr

***** Five Stars

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Time for the Good-Looking Boy

Time for the Good-Looking Boy

 Box Clever Theatre Company

 Pleasance Dome Jack Venue23, Bristo Square

 

YOUNG mixed-race men from London; especially those speaking in cod-Jamaican patois and dressed in ‘gangsta-rap’ gear and hoodies aren’t getting a good press at the moment what with recent disturbances and outbreaks of looting in and around the city.

Coming in with all this baggage, it’s natural for the audience to prejudge Time for the Good-Looking Boy.  Many may dismiss it in Daily Mail terms as, ‘probably some soft, leftie claptrap making excuses for the kind of scum who are looting and wrecking all round them in London’.  Well, it’s not.

Lloyd Thomas plays the nameless ‘good-looking boy’.  He’s brash, but he doesn’t want you getting the wrong idea, ‘I’m Mr Average. Mr Ordinary.’ He does nice things like nice boys are supposed to do. Occasionally breaking into rap he says, ‘I ain’t no bad boy wanting to cause midsummer madness’. He loves his mum, who has brought him up, ‘real proper’. He’s likeable, as well as good-looking.

In a light-hearted manner he tells the audience how he has had a fight with his girlfriend, Sammie.  Not a ‘fight, fight’, though; a word fight.  A member of the audience was persuaded to provide her words, ‘What time do you call this?’, Why didn’t you phone? Don’t you have a watch? We get the picture. It’s good knockabout stuff and the packed audience laps it up.

As more details unfold, the mood changes subtly.  We hear more about the party, his kid sister who thinks that he bosses her about to much and his best mae.  As details of the young mans’s story emerge the audience starts to notice odd things;little details about his white trainers with coloured laces. As we’re listening to this young man’s story of how he loved his girlfriend, his kid sister and his mum, we realise that something terrible has happened.  Why have the police called at his mum’s door? Why did she go off with them?

As he relates the drive home from the party it all becomes shockingly clear. The effect on the audience ispalpable. Thomas gives a flawless performance in this haunting story.  This is my Pick of the Fringe.  If you see only one play, make it Time for the Good-Looking Boy

Reviewed by David Kerr

***** Five Stars

Box Clever

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I, the Dictator

I, THE DICTATOR

Teatr Wiczy

New Town Theatre,George street.  Venue 7

JUST THREE people turned up to see this woeful production.  Perhaps I ought to have taken this a warning.  A man clad only in underpants stood centre-stage clutching a length of celluloid film. He’s Charlie Chaplin, apparently preparing to shoot the last scene of his film, The Great Dictator which satirised Hitler’sGermany and Mussolini’sItaly.

There were elements of tapdance, jazz and mime but your reviewer was past caring by this time.  I was startled back into wakefulness when the solo performer stood bullock-naked in front of me with his trousers around his ankles.  I couldn’t see any relevance to the plot. Great Dick-tator perhaps? Mercifully the end came and three intrepid theatregoers were able to make our escape out into the heavyEdinburghrain.

 

Reviewed by David Kerr

 

** Two Stars

www.wicza.com

 

www.universalartsfestival.com

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Macbeth

Macbeth

Icarus Theatre Collective

New Town Theatre

George Street, Venue 7.

 

SHAKESPEARE’S plays are often regarded as worthy but boring.  That’s what comes of reading them in school rather than watching them performed.  Given the right treatment, Hamlet, Julius Caeser and Macbeth can be as gripping as any Hollywood blockbuster.

This production fits the bill perfectly.  The high-octane opening battle sets the scene for this dark tale on intrigue and violence. Despite the limitations of a small cast of seven, the cast have the choreography so perfect that they can switch roles in seconds with quick alterations of costume. In a red dress, Sophie Brooke is Lady Macbeth; with a cloak over her head she becomes one of the Three Witches.  With other variations of her costume she becomes a Murderer or Rosse.  The action is fast-moving and unrelenting, so pay attention.

Five Stars alone are due to the designers of the simple set and the expressive mood-setting lighting and sound. You’ll find out what a bane-moon looks like.

Reviewed by David Kerr

***** Five Stars

www.icarustheatre.co.uk

ww.universalartsfestival.com

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The Crucible

THE CRUCIBLE
American High School Theatre Festival

Pilrig Studio Venue 103, 1bPIlrig Street

ARTHUR MILLER’S play The Crucible, set in the time of the infamous Salem Witch Trials of 1692 was intended as an indictment of Senator Joe McCarthy’s blacklisting of persons accused of communist sympathies in 1950sAmerica.

This modern dress production is presented by a talented bunch of High School students from Pius XI High School inWisconsin. Despite their youth, they have total mastery of the script.

Young Alex Sobczak’s manipulative accuser Abigail Williams was so convincing that the audience were scanning the ceiling for the imps and devils she claimed to see. Roc Bauman was every inch the stout God-fearing farmer who knew that the accusations of witchcraft against his wife Elizabeth and scores of others were nonsense; Connor could not make himself heard against the clamour for blood. Instead he came under suspicion too, especially as he could not remember all of the Ten Commandments. According to Reverend Hale, his examiner, ‘Theology is a fortress. No crack in the fortress can be allowed.’

The Crucible still speaks powerfully today as there will always be people who act or look different from the norm for one reason or another.  Such folk can become objects of suspicion, fear and hatred and can be vulnerable to victimisation by unscrupulous manipulators with a score to settle or in pursuit of power and influence.

Reviewed by David Kerr

***** Five stars

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DEVIL IN THE DETAIL

DEVIL IN THE DETAIL

Meta Morpho

Zoo Roxy, Venue 115, Roxburgh Place

WHAT on earth is going on here?  That was my reaction when this play opened.  This was a puppet show, for goodness sake.  I don’t like puppets, except maybe Captain Scarlet and Thunderbirds when I was a child.  However, any initial bafflement melted away as things began to make sense.

Devil in the Detail has live actors in huge masks, a bit like the Tweenies, but this story is not for children. There is no dialogue. Changes of mood. Changes of pace.  All the performances are led by the musical soundtrack.

The action unfolds like an old Brian Rix Whitehall farce -as adapted by Quentin Tarantino or the Coen Brothers, with opening and closing doors and characters just missing one-another.  Two tenants, a crooked accountant who is skimming money off a sexy gangster and a dozy night security man, both rent the same flat from a dodgy landlady and her shopaholic daughter. Neither one knows about the other. It’s great knockabout stuff.  Look out for a runaway snake, a barking dog, murder and mayhem in this riot of fun.

Reviewed by David Kerr

**** Four Stars

www.metamorpho.co.uk

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GUTTER JUNKY

GUTTER JUNKY

Presented by Dream Epic and Salida Productions

 

GOD alone knows what the title means, It’s not important. This fast-moving, hard-hitting play has much to say about the road to hell being paved with good intentions.

Harry, an enthusiastic young, naïve writer bunks up with  Bill, a jaded, washed out old hand – a friend of a friend in the chief city of a strategic South American city on the verge of revolution.  Within a few weeks, however, he has become single-minded enough in pursuit of his story to go into the south of the country and ‘rescue’ a girl from the unfolding chaos.

Within a decade, his book has become a bestselling advocate for war against the new South American ideology.  He realises his role as a prophet of fear and paranoia and tries, claims he was sick at the time, and tries to enlist Bill to help,

James Cunningham plays Bill with unrelenting world-weary cynicism.  James Maxted carries off Harry’s early-years Tony Blair-style ‘Bambi’ to perfection.  Andrea Pelaez combines fear, uncertainty and indignation in a perfect mix.

 

**** Four Stars

 

www.salidaproductions.com

www.assemblyfestival.com

 

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