improvised theatre

August 27, 2003


Phew! Got back from Edinburgh yesterday lunchtime, despite someone's rather unfortunate attempt to jam the entire network by connecting bodily with my connecting train on its way to connecting with me.

Anyway, apart from the odd bit of photography at some of the shows, and some fliering on the Royal Mile, my role in Out Of Your Mind was pretty much out of the way as soon as the flier and poster designs hit the printers.

Thus, I spent a lot of time wandering around seeing shows and here they all are for your interest and, perhaps, horror...

The Control Experiment
The Girls of May
Hello Dali
Life is Rhythm
Spoonface Steinberg
Alex Horne Making Fish Laugh
Insert Punchline Here
Sunday is the New Saturday
Bill Bailey Part Troll
Baby Wants Candy The Musical
Leonce and Lena
Tails You Lose
Party Monster (film)
Trick Boxing

Having gleefully filled the front row of Out Of Your Mind the first night I arrived, the cast of The Control Experiment persuaded me to reciprocate the next day. I'm glad I did. It was a very nice piece of devised youth theatre about the trials of a girl with ADHD. There was lots of movement, some wonderful physical comedy moments, and a fantastic split scene where the heroine wandered off into a daydream during a lesson at school. It was a thoroughly stimulating start to my festival week.

Not so enjoyable, however, was The Girls of May. It focussed on the experience of French women during the turbulent student riots in Paris of the 1960s. Unfortunately, there were only really two actresses who could boast the kind of absorbing performance that did subject matter justice. The use of video provided some much needed background understanding, but was at times, as is so often the case in my experience, inappropriate and distracting.

Hello Dali had an exuberant review from Three Weeks, but could have done with one less of their stars. The monologue from the raving genius Dali was captivating, and frightening at times, but it was probaby a mistake to be sitting in the front row due to the copious amounts of spittle and shit (though thankfully only the former was real).

The toe-tapping wonder of Life is Rhythm, however, deserved every star it got. Completely sold out, the show was essentially five men in black tap-dancing on drums, and anything else you can think of, including UV-glow sand. And I always approve of audience participation.

Spoonface Steinberg was both fascinating and moving, with live Italian arias. The combination of Spoonface's wonderful musings on life as an autistic child dying from cancer (not nearly as depressing as it sounds), and the soaring voice of the soprano, was nothing short of beautiful.

James L has already reviewed Alex Horne Making Fish Laugh below, so I shan't repeat his sentiments. But on the subject of comedy, Insert Punchline Here was fantastic in its absolute blanket of filth and knob gags. Clearly talented, this lot were just taking the piss, and as I said above I am a sucker for audience participation. Failing to knab that Barry Manilow t-shirt, I won a piece of signed raw lasagne.

Sunday is the New Saturday was a satire on the meaningless lifestyle rubbish that is created each Sunday by colour supplement teams everywhere. Very slick and with some good acting, the scene with the food critic bemoaning the fate of his gourmet fish was the funniest thing I saw on the Fringe.

Bill Bailey. I had a dream about him where he tried to kiss me in a crowded record store - sort of like Black Books/High Fidelity slash fiction. But I was forced to turn him down as I am most definitely a taken woman! As I sat in the front row watching him with the fascination, I would really like to have told him about my dream. But perhaps that wasn't what I was there for.

The next day I sneaked away from Out Of Your Mind to see some of our improvisation rivals, and enjoyed Baby Wants Candy The Musical very much. It was slick and funny and involved a lot of whores.

Leonce and Lena promised "light German comedy" but delivered damp farcical boredom. That's not to say there weren't some wonderfully well-timed moments, and I particularly enjoyed pretending to be a tree in some more of my beloved audience participation, but I think they were suffering from hangovers.

Recommended by other members of The Uncertainty Division, Tails You Lose was incredibly absorbing. It definitely boasted the best acting I'd seen at the Fringe - real acting that was completely believable - and a very clever story.

The film Party Monster, was camp camp camp camp camp. I enjoyed it immensely although it wasn't exactly an award winner.

Finally, I saw Trick Boxing, a show about how a young immigrant boy became a boxer, fell in love, and narrowly missed disaster to triumph in the end. There were ten characters, played moment to moment by just two actors, flawlessly shifting and interacting. The choreography was charming, and in fact having had dinner with the two actors a few days before, I can say that they were charming too.

Posted by Mary Chester-Kadwell at August 27, 2003 11:51 AM

hi its me the kid who saw a small dutch bhoy trying to please his father. it was the one with the flying tv's play days and grumbly jow "children ggggrrrraa" like to say brill show and please e-mail me if you put any shows on in yorkshire (leeds york harro gate any where near there)
ps bill baily rocks but high fidelity the book is much better then the movie

Posted by: joss cook at August 28, 2003 09:50 AM