The Edinburgh Fringe
Fringe 2000 Reviews (12)
I Kissed Dash Riprock!!!
Yet another Guy Masterson one-woman show - he does know how to find them! - this time from the USA.
This is unashamedly a comedy - Friends fans would love it - but it does have its poignant moments. Our heroine is a Hollywood wannabe who actually does make it - in theatre with her one-woman show, not films. When she is a waitress and a promotions girl, handing out leaflets while dressed as a milk carton, she meets and has a relationship with handsome film star Dash Riprock. She won't be seduced into having a one-night stand with the star (she will not be the "other woman", for he already has a girlfriend) and he respects her for it. They keep meeting each other and picking up the reins of the relationship, then dropping them again. At each stage she responds with the peculiarly American squealing and screaming and adding numerous exclamation marks to everything.
It is very funny, but just a tad too long. There were moments when I found my mind drifting, a sure sign that we are looking at a less than perfect piece.
This show has become the cult hit of this year's Fringe, playing to sell-out audiences every day. It is actually listed under Comedy in the Fringe Programme but it is very much a theatre piece. After all, it's Shakespeare. It's Macbeth.
And what a theatre company! There's Homer, and Marge, and Bart... Yes folks, it's the good folk of Springfield, with Homer Simpson as the Scottish king.
Is this a dagger I see before me - or is it a pizza?Other characters from elsewhere manage to creep in too. When we hear that all Macduff's family have been slain, we are told "My God! they killed Kenny - the bastards!"
It is hilarious! Moody lighting, a steaming sort-of cauldron thing, a screen on which stills are projected, and Miller himself bouncing around the stage. Oh yes, and eighty different voices. (At least, that's what the Fringe programme blurb says: I lost count!)
And to end the show, he does an amazing version of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody in the style of (quote) 25 crap singers (unquote), including Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Michael Bolton, Elvis Costello, Meatloaf, Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica - and Colm Wilkinson (and he managed to fit every one of Wilkinson's mannerisms into a couple of lines!).
If you can get a ticket, see it!
Further than the Furthest Thing
In 1961 a volcano on the island of Tristan da Cunha, a British possession in the middle of the Atlantic, exploded and all the inhabitants were evacuated to England. This play, which won the 1999 Peggy Ramsay Award, tells the story of one family in the days before the explosion and, eighteen months later, how they coped with life in England.
Whether it is due to the language of the island's inhabitants, which sounds very poetic to modern English ears, or to the totally different way of life, or to both, there is a mythic quality about this play which lifts it far beyond the bald story outline. We feel that we are not just watching a story of a particular family unfold, but something which reaches far deeper into the unconscious.
It's not often that I wax lyrical in this way, but this play has that effect. One critic described it as epic, and whilst it doesn't really fit that description, I know exactly why he said it.
And it is worth seeing for the performance of Paola Dionisotti alone. She dominates the stage: her every word, expression and movement is controlled and directed to produce exactly the right response from the spell-bound audience. From the island, where she is the great matriarch, to the factory in England where, in spite of her distress and sense of loss, she assumes the leadership of the little group of islanders, she is never less than totally convincing. The only performance I have seen in recent years which compares is Maggie Smith's in The Lady in the Van.
Ms Donisotti's performance notwithstanding, this is also a fine ensemble piece. If I have a criticism, it is that Arlene Cockburn's accent sounded too English when compared to the rest of the islanders, but that should not detract from her performance in general.
Niki Turner's sets, along with Neil Austin's lighting, play no small part in creating the right mood for the play. The abstract waterful of Act I and, in particular, the towering pipes of Act II are so simple and yet so effective.
I knew it would be hard to beat All Words for Sex, but this play does so. Obviously it is difficult to compare a one-woman play with next to no set with a major piece like this one, so it is no insult to Jules Leyser to recognise that she comes in second!
The production plays at the Traverse (times variable) until 26th August, then transfers to the Tron in Glasgow from 6th to 23rd September, and finally will play at the Cottesloe (RNT) from 5th to 28th October. See it if you can!