Fringe Choices 2009 – First Pick

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JOYCE MCMILLAN: FRINGE 2009 CHOICES  (1)  FOR SCOTSMAN CRITIQUE, 27.6.09
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1) TRILOGY

The Arches Theatre hits the Fringe with this brilliant, controversial trilogy of shows by young creator/director Nic Green, in which she and her company explore the relationship between 1970’s feminism, and today’s generation of twentysomething women.  Green is already famous for inviting female audience members to strip off and sing Jerusalem in the nude; but there’s much more than that to these powerful pieces of multi-media theatre.

The Arches at St. Stephen’s, 9-31 August.  p.122.

2) BARFLIES

Fringe superstars Grid Iron – famous for great, sensual site-specific shows, from The Bloody Chamber to Those Eyes, That Mouth – invade their own local pub with a new show based on Charles Bukowksi’s semi-autobiographical film script about whether booze is a creative force in human life, or just a slow form of suicide.

Traverse@The Barony, Broughton Street, 7-31 August. p.181

3) THE GIRLS OF SLENDER MEANS

Thanks to the Homecoming Fund, Scotland’s top female theatre company, Stellar Quines, create a new stage version of Muriel Spark’s magnificent 1963 novel, set in a London residential club for young gentlewomen in the last months of the Second World War; and offer some of the juiciest roles for women in recent Scottish theatre history.

Assembly@George Street, Assembly Rooms, 6-31 August.  p. 198

4)  INTERNAL

They first rose across the Fringe horizon in 2007, with a great emotional journey for solo spectators called The Smile Off Your Face.  Now, after last year’s explosive success with Once And For All…. ,  Ontroerend Goed of Belgium return with a new one-on-one theatre experience exploring the possibilities of instant intimacy, in just 25 minutes.

Traverse @ Mercure Point Hotel, 5-30 August.   p. 202.

5)  ORPHANS

Dennis Kelly scored a huge Fringe hit in 2005 with weird yuppie psychodrama After The End, set in a nuclear bomb shelter behind a suburban house.  His new play shows a similar obsession with the dark underbelly of bourgeous English life, as a blood-drenched brother invades the lives of a quiet young couple; Roxana Silbert directs.

Traverse Theatre, 1-30 August      p.217.

6) PALACE OF THE END

Despite the huge success of Black Watch, the theatrical response to the Iraq war remains muted.  So it’s good to see the full-length  version of Canadian writer Judith Thompson’s remarkable Iraq trilogy, built around her Lynndie England/ Abu Ghraib monologue My Pyramids, first seen at the Traverse three years ago.

Traverse Theatre, 5-30 August    p. 218.

7) WAITING FOR GODOT

It was an Irish company, Semper Fi, who first opened up the St. James Public Toilets as a theatrical venue; and now, another Dublin group, Nod Nod, attempt a bog-bound Waiting For Godot.   On one hand, a toilet seems as good a venue as any for Beckett’s famous masterpiece about hope and hopelessness; on the other hand, what are they going to do with that line about “nobody comes, nobody goes”?

St. James Public Toilets, St, James Centre  25-31 August  p.237.

8) THE WORLD IS TOO MUCH: THEATRE FOR BREAKFAST

After the roaring success two years ago of Mark Ravenhill’s short, sharp, intensely political breakfast plays, the Traverse asks a whole range of top UK playwrights – including David Greig, Zinnie Harris, Rona Munro and Simon Stephens –  to provide short breakfast dramas, served up with coffee, tea and bacon rolls.

Traverse Theatre, 11-30 August.    p.240

9) THE WORLD’S WIFE

The new Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, appears in person on this year’s Fringe, in children’s show The Princess’s Blankets at the Scottish Storytelling Centre.  But here, the great Linda Marlowe, famed for her work with Steven Berkoff, takes on Duffy’s mighty 1999 collection of poems, that evokes the voices of all the hidden wives and partners of western myth and history.

Assembly@George Street, Assembly Rooms, 6-31 August.  p. 240.

10) THE YEAR OF THE HORSE

Made In Scotland supports Tam Dean Burn’s superb new show, built around the 52 magnificent and harrowing weekly political cartoons created by Richard Horne (aka the cartoonist Harry Horse) during the last year of his life, 2006-2007.   Think Bosch, think Munch, think the visions of William Blake applied to the horrors of Iraq and Guantanamo; more exhibition than show, but unforgettably theatrical.

Assembly@George Street, Assembly Rooms, 6-31 August.  p.241.

11) BEACHY HEAD

The temptations of suicide loom large as a theme on this year’s Fringe.  Here come gifted young company Analogue, Fringe First winners two years ago for Mile End, with a story which fuses text, CGI animation, physical performance and serious research to  explore the ripple effects of a single fall from England’s most famous suicide cliff.

Pleasance Dome, 8-30 August.  p. 182

12) DAVID LEDDY’S SUSURRUS and DAVID LEDDY’S WHITE TEA

Following his magnificent Sub Rosa at the Citizens’, Glasgow-based site-specific genius David Leddy comes to the Botanic Gardens with a revival of his beautiful 2006 show Susurrus – a meditation on a man’s obsessive love for a young boy, based around the music of Benjamin Britten’s Midsummer Night’s Dream – and to the Assembly Rooms with his new Japanese-themed show about love, brutality and beauty.

Assembly@Royal Botanic Gardens, 4 August-6 September; Assembly@George Street, 6-31 August.     p.189

13) THE EVENT

Famed for past award-winning shows from Americana Absurdum and Horse Country to Fatboy, New York director John Clancy and actor David Calvitto return with a new show about the nature of text and performance, in which a man alone on stage attempts te ultimate trick of disappearing, while remaining in full sight.

Assembly@George Street, 6-31 August.   p.193

14) KURSK

Brilliant young London producers Fuel arrive in Edinburgh with this acclaimed show about the Kursk submarine disaster of 2000, which combines spectacular scenic effects, stunning technical presentation, and a text by Bryony Lavery, to create an outstanding show about human beings trapped in an impossible, beautiful and immeasurably dangerous environment.

University of Edinburgh Drill Hall, 20-29 August.  p. 205.

15) SUCKERVILLE

The financial crash came so swiftly, last autumn, that the response to it seems more likely to appear in instant breakfast plays and scratch nights than in fully-prepared Fringe shows.  But here’s one, from ambitious young company Spitting Distance, that seeks to examine our current economic meltdown through the prism of the 1929 Wall Street Crash.

C cubed, Brodie’s Close, 6-31 August.    p.231.

ENDS ENDS

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