Skip to main content

A Canadian Bartender At Butlins / Mile End / The Importance of Shoes - Edinburgh Fringe 2007

A Canadian Bartender At Butlins
3 stars
The phrase hi-di-hi probably doesn’t mean much in backwoods Canada. So when TJ Dawe arrived as a teenager to work a summer at the Bognor Regis branch of Billy Butlin’s idea of a cheap and cheerful fun palace for the people, you can only contemplate how alien a land it must have appeared. Such a mammoth cultural divide forms the basis of this motor-mouthed monologue, as Dawe finds himself serving endless pints of lager inbetween rooming with a Doncaster prankster, dodging the fire alarms and eyeing up the red-coats. Thoroughly British raconteur Jasper Carrott may have got there thirty years ago with observations on the linguistic differences that oceans bring with them, but they don’t get any less funny.

What emerges out of all this is a neatly observed reminiscence of apparent inconsequentialities which loops its wry snapshots into a more significant whole. There’s something of Raymond Carver’s plain and simple depictions of ordinary lives at play here, making for an off-peak, out of season gem.

Mile End
Pleasance King Dome
3 stars
When one man’s dream looks set on coming true, as any horror movie fan knows, you should try and avoid your destiny at your peril. So it is with Alex and Kate, who can feel static in the air, knowing something’s about to burst any second. Elsewhere, Michael’s having stairwell confrontations with himself, self-destructing by the minute until he can’t help channel his anguish elsewhere.

Not to be confused with the recent TV drama of the same name, playwright Dan Rebellato’s collaboration with the young Analogue company draws from a series of events on the London Underground involving potentially avoidable fatalities involving mentally unstable protagonists. Utilising new media into something that’s part psycho-supernatural thriller, part dissection of a city’s collective mental state, by throwing so much into the mix, company directors Hannah Barker and Liam Jarvis haven’t quite decided what they want Mile End to be.

The animation which peels back the floorboards so we get a bird’s eye view of the flat below may dazzle, but beyond such techniques its pretty domestic stuff. Taking inspiration from the likes of Suspect Culture and Frantic Assembly, and with clear aspirations on modelling themselves in those companies image, Analogue may be still finding their feet, but the possibilities look endless.

The Importance Of Shoes
The Green Room
3 stars
When Vanessa buys the pair of perfect shoes from Sebastian, a salesman who genuinely cares about her feet, it’s an irresistible addition to her addiction that sets in motion a laced-up network of liaisons. Chiropodist Dylan steps out with Marise whose collection of high heels become a totem of erotic potential that’s tried on for size by all involved. Somewhere in the midst of all this playing footsie, two monologues detail a brutal rape of a woman whose shoes were left on.

Jay Johnson’s script, produced and performed by the young Weaver Hughes Ensemble, aspires to the relationship merry-go-round of Patrick Marber’s Closer, but at the moment at least is far too mannered and self-conscious in its attempts at profundity. Timothy Hughes’ production puts its four curiously barefoot actors onstage throughout in a stylisation shoe-horned uncomfortably around what’s essentially a piece of bourgeois mid-1990s naturalism.

There are nevertheless some interesting things being said here, in a piece where footwear made for walking tall in are also made for walking away.

The Herald, August 2007



Popular posts from this blog

The Honourable K.W. Harman: Ltd Ink Corporation

31 Bath Road, Leith Docks, March 17th-20th

In a monumental shipping container down by Leith Docks, a Sex Pistols tribute band is playing Anarchy in the U.K.. on a stage set up in the middle of the room. Either side, various constructions have been built in such a way so viewers can window shop as they promenade from one end of the room to the next, with the holy grail of a bar at either end.

Inbetween, there’s a confession booth and a mock-up of a private detective’s office with assorted documentation of real-life surveillance pinned to the walls. Two people seem to be having a conversation in public as if they're on a chat show. An assault course of smashed windows are perched on the floor like collateral damage of post-chucking out time target practice. A display of distinctively lettered signs originally created by a homeless man in search of a bed for the night are clumped together on placards that seem to be marking out territory or else finding comfort in being together. Opp…

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Scot:Lands 2017

Edinburgh's Hogmanay
Four stars

A sense of place is everything in Scot:Lands. Half the experience of Edinburgh's Hogmanay's now annual tour of the country's diverse array of cultures seen over nine bespoke stages in one global village is the physical journey itself. Scot:Lands too is about how that sense of place interacts with the people who are inspired inspired by that place.

So it was in Nether:Land, where you could see the day in at the Scottish Storytelling Centre with a mixed bag of traditional storytellers and contemporary performance poets such as Jenny Lindsay. The queues beside the Centre's cafe were further enlivened by the gentlest of ceilidhs was ushered in by Mairi Campbell and her band.

For Wig:Land, the grandiloquence of the little seen Signet Library in Parliament Square was transformed into a mini version of the Wigtown Book Festival. While upstairs provided a pop-up performance space where writers including Jessica Fox and Debi Gliori read eithe…