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Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012 - Theatre Reviews 8


Daniel Kitson – As of 1.52pm on Friday April 27th 2012, This Show Has 
No Title
Traverse Theatre – 3 stars
The first surprise of Daniel Kitson's new show is his appearance. The 
stand-up turned sit-down story-teller's shaggy locks and beard of old 
have been excised in favour of a shaven-head that makes him look, well, 
harder. Second, it's his material. As the title hints at, there is the 
distinct possibility that Kitson didn't have a clue what he was going 
to do when he signed up for his Edinburgh run. Or maybe he did, because 
the script he reads from while sat at a trestle table on a bare stage 
is a stubbornly self-reflexive form of anti-theatre cum artistic 
suicide note that would put Alfred Jarry to shame.

The story Kitson reads, then, is categorically not the sort of lo-fi 
affirmation of life that he could have dined out on and charmed 
audiences with until time immemorial. Rather, it's an angry and 
contrary two-fingers to expectations which charts his unwillingness to 
kow-tow to commercial forces as he spectacularly fails to come up with 
anything for his new show beyond writing about not writing about it.

As a masterpiece of wilful self-sabotage, it's on a par with getting 
the smartest kid in the class to read the lesson at school assembly, 
only to watch them tear it into small pieces and throw them up in the 
air. In Kitson's hands, it's like The Fall's Mark E Smith sacking 
himself in a bid to kill off everything he ever did. As with Smith, 
however, whatever Kitson does will only make his core fan-base love him 
more for a show that manages to be artistically pure, cantankerous, 
bone-idle self-indulgent rubbish and a smash hit all at the same time. 
Until August 26th.

Theatre Uncut – Traverse Theatre – 4 stars
The second of three Theatre Uncut programmes of work delivered in a 
lo-fi script in hand presentation in the Traverse bar is as revelatory 
as the first. Of the four plays designed as rapid responses to the 
world's ongoing financial crisis, Stef Smith's contribution, 250 Words, 
is the most recent. Inspired by a story in a national newspaper at the 
end of July, it charts would-be suicide Blythe Duff's life measured in 
column inches. Indulge finds a quartet of bankers including Phil Nichol 
and Molly Taylor attempting to rebrand their image via the seven deadly 
sins in Icelandic writer Andri Snaer Magnuson's pithily pertinent 
little piece.

A Chance Encounter is Syrian writer Mohammed Al Attar's study of a 
young man's encounter with his friend's father on a beach in Beirut. 
Best of all is the morning's opening piece, Spine, by Clara Brennan. A 
beautiful monologue performed equally wonderfully by Rosie Wyatt, 
Spine's narrator is a young student looking for somewhere to live who 
chances on an old woman who , along with her neighbours, has stashed 
all the books that were dumped after the local library was closed down.

The young woman becomes an auto-didact, effectively inheriting her 
accidental mentor's vast store of wisdom. In its simple set-up, Brennan 
presents a devastating portrait of standing up for yourself in broken 
Britain. Wyatt's character is a twenty-first century Beattie Bryant in 
a heart-wrenching miniature that's about learning to care, and caring 
enough to learn, that should be a compulsory set text for every 
politician and public servant who ever decided that a little knowledge 
was a dangerous thing. August 20th only.

The Static – Underbelly – 3 stars
When troublesome teenager Sparky hears voices in his head, it's the 
start of an awfully big adventure in which he finds out exactly how 
special his powers can be. Sparky only really finds his potential when 
he meets kindred spirit Siouxsie in detention one night. Together, the 
pair could move mountains if they wanted to.

Davey Anderson's play for the young Thickskin company taps into the 
sort of generic amalgam of of science-fiction and yoof TV that made 
Misfits so great to work through a set of adolescent neuroses that nods 
to John Wyndham's The Chrysalids and The Midwich Cuckoos in terms of 
dealing with being different. Stylistically it's something else again 
in Neil Bettles' high-octane multi-media production, featuring a 
melange of video projections, choreography and a fine electronic 
soundtrack.

While the central story is Sparky and Siouxsie's,  played by Brian 
Vernel and Samantha Foley with wide-eyed  brio, the grown-up 
back-stories of love-lorn teachers and step-parents illustrate lives 
equally out of kilter. The energetic charm that flows throughout this 
very telling little fable is as captivating as the kiss that puts 
everything and everyone, Sparky included, back on the right track.
Until August 26th

The Herald, August 16th 2012

ends

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