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Fringe 2007 Reviews (58)

By Matthew Lenton
Vanishing Point
Traverse 3

The plot may be a little simplistic but this dystopian science fiction thriller with ironic overtones is so brilliantly presented that this becomes entirely forgivable.

The cast consists of two actors, Sandy Grierson shaven headed as Patrick or Scruggs and Rosalind Sydney playing a dozen or more other parts. However, they are complemented by a seven strong Kossovan folk rock band who become major players, in every sense, helping the drama to build to a fascinating finale.

They also maintain the pace from the start, occasionally getting over-enthusiastic and drowning out parts of the text. The music though has been well chosen to reflect the action and is worthwhile in its own right.

The story is set 25 years in the future and follows the return of our hero from Hull to visit his father in Trainspotting country at the foot of Edinburgh's Leith Walk. The atmosphere though has far more in common with A Clockwork Orange or 1984 than Irvine Welsh's novel.

By this time, the Euro is the currency of choice and cigarettes are banned in Edinburgh, which has become a totalitarian state where the goal of every citizen is to get into the luxury private hospitals.

Scruggs and his pal Puggs then launch a subversive underground guerrilla war on globalisation and authoritarianism, taking up the baton laid down by our hero's old man.

There is much subtle humour in the script and the pacing is perfect, with the band racing us along but still knowing how to make sad moments poignant.

This is a really refreshing and vibrant piece of theatre that will appeal to the video game generation with its speed, loudness and designer Kai Fisher's most effective lighting.

At the end of a rousing 90 minutes, this reviewer's first reaction was to see if it was possible to repeat the experience. That chance will come when Subway transfers to the Lyric in Hammersmith next month.

Philip Fisher

Game Theory
By Pamela Carter and Selma Dimitrijeviç
EK Performance
Traverse 3

In three scenes, all set in war zones, Game Theory explores the ways in which people quietly play power games with each other.

It strives for the Pinteresque and, while occasionally getting there, is incredibly slow and ponderous, especially in the lengthy final sequence.

The first scenario features a negotiation between the leaders of two factions that are about to announce the commencement of negotiations that might ultimately lead to a peace treaty. This part of the play is given added significance by the choice of taciturn Northern Irish actors, Meg Fraser and John Paul Connolly, to play these roles.

Every word becomes a battleground, as the moderator, played by Alexis Rodney, probes repeatedly in order to achieve their mutual goal.

We then move into a house inherited by three children from their parents. This slight section explores their interactions as they play power games.

The last piece eventually becomes the most powerful but seems as if it will never reach its conclusion. Chris has been wronged by Sarah. She is a journalist who outed him as a traitor with terrible consequences. A mediator speaks with one then the other and finally both, when the whole situation and its consequences are finally revealed.

The stories are sadly universal and the play makes important political points but under Pamela Carter's direction, at times it makes the Pinter pause seem like a 60 metre dash.

Philip Fisher

Cash in Christ
By Van Badham and Johnny Berliner
Wisepart, Jews & Communists
Assembly Rooms

Maybe this spoof on Evangelical Christianity is too well written but for much of its hour-long duration, it catches all of the tedium of Christian TV without getting many laughs, which is presumably the intention (getting them). In part, the problem is that the words are drawn from real-life evangelists.

Fanny and Bob Comfort, played by the writers come from the sickening school of evangelism, singing along to bland rock, and presenting their born-again disciples on film.

The subversion generally consists of sexual and financial allusions that might be accurate but evaded the audience for much of the time and quickly became repetitive.

There is also spectator involvement of the children's TV show variety as we are forced to clap, sing along and even hold our neighbour's hands as we pray.

The final message that, if we do not do something, people like these will take over the world is certainly chilling. They might promise a great afterlife but we will all too quickly find out if these subhuman preachers are right as they bore us to death.

Philip Fisher

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©Peter Lathan 2007