a good show on the Edinburgh Fringe is like looking for the proverbial
needle in a haystack: there are 1,541 shows to choose from.
As early as next month some of them will start popping up in London
- transfers are already lined up for plays from the Traverse Theatre
to the Royal Court's Theatre Upstairs (Playing the Victim, from
1 September), the Bush Theatre (Nine Parts of Desire, from 10 September),
and Hampstead Theatre (The Straits, from 29 October).
Others may yet end up in the West End - last year, Jerry Springer
- the Opera and Alan Davies in Auntie and Me were both Edinburgh
offering a taster from this year's daunting Fringe, let's hope there's
a further life for these five shows!
GORMAN'S GOOGLEWHACK ADVENTURE
it sounds faintly obscene, to googlewhack is actually to find two
words that, when entered into the google internet search engine,
returns a link to only one site instead of the thousands that usually
Dave Gorman was told that his own website contained one, he embarked
on another obsessive pursuit, as he previously did with his last
one-man show based on finding people who shared his name, of people
whose sites also contained them - and it took him literally across
the globe in a race against time, to find a chain of ten of them
before his self-imposed deadline of his 32nd birthday.
result is a really inspiring true documentary tale of a truly pointless
quest, and Gorman tells it with such fire and fervour that I was
as enthralled as I was gripped and ultimately even moved. He is
an instinctive storyteller with a great story to tell, and for sheer
comic exhilaration, there's nothing to beat this.
also full of the kind of disturbing self-revelation that makes this
the most consistently surprising, original and deeply worrying show
on the fringe.
What kind of man pursues something as demented as this so doggedly?
It's as extraordinary for what he tells you about himself as it
is for what he tells you about the quest itself.
George Square Theatre to 24 August; 0131-662 8740; www.davegorman.com)
STREET-PORTER'S ALL THE RAGE
evening of self-revelation, but of a different though no less disturbing,
and maybe even disturbed, order: that of a supreme egotist, who
clearly likes nothing better than to hold forth on her favourite
subject, namely herself, for an hour. She's a real, take-no-prisoners
original - but the ultimate prisoner of her entirely self-centred
approach to life is probably herself.
had a frequently dazzling career as a media luvvie - she has headed
BBC departments, edited a national newspaper (The Independent on
Sunday), and presented and directed tons of TV shows - but she's
also had a no less busy personal life that has embraced four marriages
and three more live-in relationships of five years each. "I'm
useless at relationships, but I'm brilliant at leading a big team,"
she tells us immodestly.
she now finds herself, at 56, professionally adrift: "My career
is going nowhere". So she turns the audience not only into
her confessor, but also a focus group - we listen rapt as she tells
us the quirky story of her life, and then are asked to make suggestions
for what she could now do next.
comedy or acting is probably not options on this evidence - but
after the current trend for reality television, she may have invented
a new brand of reality-check theatre. Next year, maybe Jeffrey Archer
can follow her to the fringe for a similar re-branding.
the Assembly Rooms to 24 August; 0131-226 2428; www.assemblyrooms.com)
year without fail there are complaints that there's too much comedy
on the fringe at the expense of drama; but this year many of the
comics are fighting back by going 'straight'. Even last year's Perrier
Award winner Daniel Kitson is performing a theatrical monologue
entitled 'A Made Up Story' as opposed to stand-up; and Jo Brand
is complementing her stand-up set with an earlier evening play that
she's written with Helen Griffin and they both perform, about psychiatric
nursing that they once both did.
the piece-de-resistance of the comedy set is a gripping account
of Reginald Rose's classic courtroom drama, 12 Angry Men, which
features 9 Funny Men from the comedy circuit plus three more traditional
actors as the jurors deciding the fate of a 16-year-old boy accused
of murdering his father.
former Perrier nominated comedy stars like Owen O'Neill, Bill Bailey,
Jeff Green and Phil Nichol, amongst others, are more accustomed
to making people laugh, here they have the far more serious purpose
of deciding about matters of life and death and justice, and they
pursue it with rigour and vigour.
are ably complemented by American actor David Calvitto, the brilliant
Scottish character actor Russell Hunter (who participated in the
very first Edinburgh Fringe in 1947 and has since won no less than
eight Fringe Firsts for his numerous one-man shows here), and Gavin
Robertson, creator of the stage version of Thunderbirds F.A.B.
Masterson's masterly production is taut, tight and satisfying.
the Assembly Rooms to 25 August; 0131-226 2428; www.assemblyrooms.com)
FOR A NEW WORLD/SCHWARTZ IT ALL ABOUT
Since musicals not only usually require larger casts but also orchestras,
musical theatre tends to get a little lost in the melee of a fringe
dominated by one-person shows. So most of them tend to be done by
student groups instead.
London-based production company Louder than Words have produced
a double-bill of ideal small-scale cabaret musicals, performed in
rep by an outstanding professional cast and backed by a terrific
three-piece orchestra, that provides Edinburgh's best musical experience.
it All About, originally seen all-too-briefly at the Finborough
Theatre in Earl's Court with co-deviser and director John Cusworth
the sole remaining cast member from that production, deserves far
wider exposure. This exemplary revue of the songs of Broadway and
film composer/lyricist Stephen Schwartz cleverly weaves a new story
of the relationships of three couples out of Schwartz's uniquely
lyrical and lilting love songs.
for a New World, meanwhile, is Jason Robert Brown's ravishing off-Broadway
song cycle, previously premiered in the UK at London's Bridewell
Theatre in a different production, which is here also newly given
a narrative thread.
cast of firebrand talents puts both shows across with passion and
the Pleasance Dome to 25 August; 0131-556 6550; www.pleasance.co.uk)
PEOPLE NEXT DOOR
those in pursuit of real new plays on the Edinburgh Fringe, the
first port of call is inevitably the Traverse, Edinburgh's year-round
theatre devoted to new writing. Every year they somehow manage to
produce a programme of their own and visiting productions that includes
several of the smash hits of the fest, and this year is no exception.
in-house production of the blazingly funny and urgently topical
The People Next Door is a surprising, touching and occasionally
shocking comedy by a young Scottish writer, Henry Adam, which turns
the 'war on terror' into a domestic issue on a British council estate.
Nigel's innocent life of idleness and spliff is suddenly disrupted
when a corrupt policeman comes calling in search of Nigel's brother
Karim - whom is suspected of being a terrorist.
that includes Fraser Ayres as Nigel and Joe Duttine as the policeman
Phil beautifully plays the darkly funny play that results, with
Eileen McCallum and Jimmy Akingbola as a pair of upstairs neighbours
who also impact on Nigel's life.
is a play that deserves, like last year's Traverse production of
Rona Munro's Iron that transferred to the Royal Court, to have a
longer life outside of Edinburgh.
the Traverse Theatre to 23 August; 0131-228 1404; www.traverse.co.uk)