The Edinburgh Fringe
Fringe 2008 Reviews (27)
Steven Berkoff was always one to ignore standard practice and offers the first interval at Pleasance in living memory. He also provides an impressive theatrical production on a large scale with only the limited set, backed by Liberty holding a meat hook, reminding visitors that this is the Fringe.
For almost 2½ hours we are plunged into the tough world of Irish immigrant longshoremen in 1950s New York, so familiar from the iconic film starring Marlon Brando and Eva Marie Saint. The period is subtly invoked by a constant soundtrack mixing jazz with rock and roll.
Simon Merrells plays the Brando part of Terry Malloy and like the whole cast, acquits himself well. He is a former boxer with the legendary line "I could have been a contender" followed by the lesser known but equally evocative "I could have been somebody instead of a bum".
With the encouragement of spunky convent girl Edie (Coral Beed) and the burliest priest you ever saw, Vincenzo Nicoli's Father Barry, he eventually regains the pride that seemed lost forever when he started taking dives in the ring.
The impediment is John Forgeham's tough Gentleman Johnny, supported by Terry's unscrupulous brother Charley The Gent (Robin Kingsland). He is the leader of the union with a finger in every pie and a disciplinary regime that can only be described as murderous.
The whole is presented in characteristic Berkoff style with his greatest strength, creation of atmosphere especially through beautifully realised slowed down action scenes, as good as ever.
The performance builds to a showdown that will be familiar to the film's many devotees. This is proper theatre and should satisfy all those who have seen enough solo shows and amateurish nightmares to last a lifetime.
In a couple of efforts at Traverse, Joel Horwood has shown himself to be a great talent and this coming of age comedy confirms the impression. He is a chronicler of ordinary lives in Constable Country, this time a town that sees Lowestoft as the height of sophistication and exciting night life.
The story focuses on a trio of teenagers during their GCSEs and each is a well-rounded, sympathetically drawn individual.
Aaron Foy as Fitz and Harry Hepple playing Wheeler are best mates with different outlooks. The former has great common sense and needs it. He lives with a father who three years on is still almost catatonic following the loss of his wife and requires the support of his young son to hold on to sanity.
Wheeler enjoys the luxuries of a stable family with money. He has university aspirations and a good brain but the ability to bypass it after a couple of drinks.
They enter into a wild, picaresque journey after meeting a gorgeous nymphet called Dani(ella) (Gemma Soul). Spoilt does not adequately describe this young, blonde heiress whose mother makes up for a broken home with every luxury and great tolerance.
Dani persuades the boys that a night on the town would be more fun than Biology revision and then winds them around her little finger with consequences that could blight their lives forever.
All three of the younger actors play their parts perfectly, seemingly recreating their own experiences - at least to an extent- while Andrew Barron and Rosie Thomson as all of the parents prove to be character actors with a sense of both drama and humour.
Read some other reviews, as the audience were whooping at the end, having discovered some merit in this bland musical about boys behaving boringly.
A quartet looking and singing like a boy band to the accompaniment of a pair of acoustic guitars have got stuck at a Costa airport where they relive the excesses of the previous week. Their ideas of humour are strictly 18-30, talking about vomiting and shagging when they are not calling each other gay.
The catalyst for the drama is slaggy Essex girl, Sophie. Each of them has had sex with her except for her devastated boyfriend of around three nights, Ross. He inevitably takes the news badly.
In song and insult, the show continues in this vein for 75 minutes. If you have a puerile sense of humour and go for the obvious bad taste jokes or if you love boy bands this might just be the one. Otherwise .....