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Fringe 2008 Reviews (52)

Kunst ist Scheisse
The Caravan of Love
The Space On The Mile
***

If never quite living up to the marvellous Teutonic profanity of the title, Kunst ist Scheisse is a fast-moving burlesque parody that would flourish with a rowdier audience. Keeping on the right side of the erotic and playful, it is a series of sketches - some musical, some dance, some monologues - that don't add up to much beyond some good humoured belly-laughs. It larks around with the format, discovers untold pathos in old eighties' hits and stumbles around pop-culture references.

As with so much modern burlesque, craft and focus are often lost in the general cute amateurism - perhaps to avoid eroticism, the mood is throwaway and absurd. Yet they avoid the self-importance that bloats evenings like Club Noir and willingly work the audience hard. Eva Johansen, MC and chanteuse, has a strong voice, emotive and aggressive, while Alice Palermo and Kate Sumner beautifully send up everything from go-go dancing to romantic story-telling. Individually, each act has a strong theme, but it does not add up to a satisfying whole.

However, it conforms to an important Fringe directive - make it witty and brief - and the late night slot is appropriate. A slightly rowdier crowd, and a tighter script, would make it far more than a great title and a passable show.

Gareth K Vile

Dance without Movement
Peshkar Productions
InvASIAN Festival
clubWEST @ Quincentenary Hall
***

A single actress tells the story of Zuleikha, a Pakistani girl who lives in Britain but finds herself defined by everyone else - except herself. She is an outsider at school, the eldest child at home and duty bound to do what's right. Performing numerous other characters in her family the actress becomes her mother, uncle, husband and family in Pakistan. Working hard in her profession she finally returns home one fateful night to see those people around her with new clarity.

A consummate performance from a talented actress who provides an insightful glimpse into the life of an Asian woman bound to her family duties and yet wanting to pursue her own passions.

Cecily Boys

Finished with Engines
By Alan McKendrick
Arches Theatre Company
Traverse 2
**

This hour-long team up between two founder members of American company, The Riot Group and Glasgow's Arches Theatre will inevitably be compared with Pugilist Specialist.

That play was a quirky, wordy but sparkling meditation on war and life written for The Riot Group by its leading light Adriano Shaplin, now working with the RSC.

Finished with Engines sees Megan and Hemingway, seemingly alone on a US Navy vessel in the Gulf. They are in the vanguard of the War on Terror but these are no ordinary sailors.

Judging by his hat, Drew Friedman's Hemingway is an Ordinary Seaman but with three degrees in different subjects, he is a great philosopher and not a bad sandwich maker.

Megan, played by Stephanie Viola, is an officer, who knows more about a strategy that, it is more than hinted, could include the "red button" or nuclear option.

This is a chilling, short consideration of the global strife caused by 9/11 and its aftermath but having created a worthwhile situation, there is too little discussion or debate on the important issues.

Philip Fisher

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©Peter Lathan 2008