News Column

The calm is shattered in mystery performance

August 12, 2014

neil cooper; neil cooper

Show 6

Summerhall

IN a sun-kissed land dripping with beautiful people in swimming costumes and shades, the lazy calm is about to be shattered by the aftermath of a fatal car crash in which an unnamed golden boy who may have killed someone who told him the truth just found out he's a cuckoo in the nest.

What comes out of this mix of oedipal envy and Ballardian future- shock is an urgent three-hander in which revolutionary spirit is reborn in the shadows.

This world premiere of an unnamed work by Mark Ravenhill is the latest offering from the Lyric Hammersmith's Secret Theatre Company, in which audiences effectively go to see something blind and without any kind of marketing hype to tell them in advance what to think.

The fact that the company have let slip that this is a Ravenhill play, however, is probably wise in the hurly-burly of the Fringe.

Ravenhill's clipped, pared-down exchanges are invested with a classical weight in Caroline Steinbeis's production, in which Steven Webb's young hero and Cara Hogan's partner in crime spars with Matti Houghton's possibly wicked stepmother in this punchiest of calls to arms.

Runs to August 17

Lippy

Traverse Theatre

PUTTING words into other people's mouths is the playwright's great privilege. This is something Bush Moukarzel makes clear, even as his characters' silences and longeurs are possibly mis- translated by a lip-reader in Moukarzel and co-director Ben Kidd's genre-busting production for their London/Dublin-based Dead Centre company.

It begins with a post-show discussion of a play we haven't seen, as Moukarzel plays the cocky interviewer of Dan Reardon's Lip Reader. What looks initially like an in-joke opens out into an inquiry of how things can be misinterpreted before exploding into the play's second part.

This focuses on the real-life tragedy of four women who starved themselves to death in their boarded-up house in a small Irish town. Instead of attempting to find out why, Moukarzel casts the four women as silent witnesses to their own fate by way of a series of woozy routines watched over by the Lip Reader.

The upending of perspectives and lip-synching to doo-wop songs may all be the hallucinatory product of the women's fevered imaginations, but this audaciously poignant dreamscape is far more than vogueish deconstruction. It ends with a life and death monologue by Mark O'Halloran as delivered by one sister's disembodied lips seen in close-up on-screen.

With such a delivery clearly referencing Samuel Beckett's Not I, this might not be about the women's plight in any conventional sense, but has made them immortal anyway.

Runs to August 24

Mush and Me

Underbelly

WHEN Jewish girl Gabby and Muslim Mush are put next to each other at the call centre they're both marking time in mutual disdain and a knack for conning the customers soon blossoms into something else in Karla Crome's new play that embraces cultural and religious divides to heartwarming effect.

Inspired by actress Daniella Isaacs's 102-year-old aunt, who declined a marriage proposal from a Christian for fear of what her parents might think, Crome brings things bang up to date in Rosy Banham's sassy little production that has Gabby and Mush, played by Isaacs and David Mumemi, skirt around their differences with the diffidence only the young can have.

The result in this Underbelly Ideas Tap winner is not only one of the most street-smart love stories to define modern, multi-cultural Britain, but is a quietly political little microcosm of how age-old conflicts might be dealt with by a younger generation, not with bombs and boycotts, but with tolerance, love and a mutual distaste for bacon rolls.

Runs to August 24


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Source: Herald, The (Scotland)


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