Hello 100 Dollar Bucks!
4 stars ****
New Town Theatre (Venue 7)
SINCE IT PREMIERED in Georgia last year, it’s been acclaimed as an outstanding new play from a theatre culture better known for its productions of classics, seen and admired in New York, Paris, and Athens. At the New Town Theatre, though – thanks to a series of administrative disasters – this fine play by Inga Garuchava and Piotr Khotsianovsky is playing to an audience of five people and a dog; except that even the dog has failed to turn up.
Which is a pity; because like their terrific production of Ionesco’s Bald Soprano, which played last week, this show features a masterclass in beautiful, mature ensemble acting, possibly the finest in Edinburgh this year. The play focusses on one of the major themes of this year’s Fringe, the care of the elderly and infirm. Its heroine is a cheerful, lovely Georgian woman in her forties who has come to America for a year to make money – 100 dollars a day – working as a carer for an elderly millionairess called Mary, who suffers from both paralysis and dementia; she is counting the days until she can return home to her husband, daughter and grandchild.
In America, though, she has encountered another Georgian, a violinist called Ben, who loves her, and comes round to play the Guarneri violin that Mary owns as a investment. The plot finally takes a fantastical turn, and loses some of its force, when Mary bangs her head, makes a miraculous recovery, and begins to speak Georgian. The quality of the acting, though – from Nineli Chankvetadze, Nanan Pachuashvili, and Ramaz Ioseliani – is simply dazzling, rich, human, full of a rare sense of compassion for Mary in her dotage, and buoyed up on a tide of excellent music, from bursts of Mozart to great American love songs. “Life is an interesting thing – you have to live its every day” says the lovely Caterina to Mary, in the broken English of the surtitles, when the old lady despairs. And unlike many western treatments of this vital subject, this show makes the audience feel that life-force – the interest, the unpredictability, the possibility of love, and the need to live it out, right to the end.
No fringe brochure entry, NTT brochure p.6