Theatre Uncut – Traverse – 4 stars
One Hour Only – Underbelly – 3 stars XXXO – Pleasance Courtyard – 3 stars Theatre Uncut was a wonderful idea that brought together living playwrights to pen short, off-the-cuff miniatures responding to the world's ongoing economic collapse. Performances of these were co-ordinated worldwide to produce a global day of theatrical action. The idea took root, and this year the Traverse are presenting three programmes of bite-size works taking place each Monday morning in the theatre bar. This first one opens with In The Beginning, a pithy dialogue between a young advocate of the Occupy movement and his disappointed dad. If the title at first suggests the biblical roots of protest, the exchange that follows reveals one more rich kid slumming it as much of the original hippy movement did. Lena Kitsopolou's The Price finds a consumer friendly couple finding the ultimate supermarket bargain in the shape of a cut-price dead baby. The Break Out by Anders Lustgarten sees two incarcerated women taking advantage of the lack of prison walls due to budgetary restraints. Hottest off the press is London 2012:Glasgow, Kieran Hurley's hilarious dissection of the Olympic games' Hampden Park Korean flag fiasco via two nonsense-spouting PRs worthy of Olympic sit-com 2012 itself. As the pair attempt to pass the buck and wriggle out of any responsibility for the diplomatic faux-pas, Hurley's piece speaks volumes about the international blame game when capitalist pursuits mess-up. Performed script-in-hand after just an hour's rehearsal by the likes of Phil Jupitus, Iain Robertson and Jimmy Chisholm, Theatre Uncut is the epitome of recession-culture turned good. Two even fresher Theatre Uncut programmes take place on August 13th and August 20th. The prostitute forming a bond with her client in a let's talk scenario is hardly a new one. In One Hour Only, which forms part of the Underbelly's Old Vic New Voices strand, however, writer Sabrina Mahfouz brings it bang up to date in a multi-cultural London, where Forensic Biology student turned high-class hooker Marley prepares to meet her first client. As it turns out, as he celebrates his twenty-first birthday, it's would-be civil engineer AJ's first time as well. During their allotted time together, Marley and AJ both let down their guards and have a brief encounter that has nothing to do with sex. If it starts off a tad too Belle de Jour, soon they're like a pair of kids hanging out in their bed-room, smoking spliffs, inflicting their music on each other and basically finding out who the hell they are. While in other circumstances they might become a couple, the responsibilities of the grown-up world will force them apart. Mahfouz never judges in Matt Wilde's production, in which Nadia Clifford's Marley is as street-smart as Faraz Ayub's AJ is studiously naïve. As the pair part once AJ's hour is up, you can't help but wonder what might have been in a sassy and at times tender peek into an off-limits world. Until August 26th. It's been fascinating watching Belgian company Ontroerend Goed this year. While not a full production by them in the way that All That Is Wrong is at the Traverse, XXXO is supported by the company. The latter show's two performers too are graduates of Once and for all we're gonna tell you who we are so shut up and listen, which announced the then teenagers precocious arrival in a riot of mess and noise. In XXXO, Nathalie Marie Verbeke and Charlotte De Bruyne, both now in their early twenties, sit side by side with laptops and explore what makes them cry. They repeat the lines from Bambi and Titanic as those films most overwrought scenes are projected onto screens behind them. They act out scripts from Sex and the City and Home and Away, and watch YouTube footage of lame dogs and 9/11 phone calls. Sometimes its just simpler to rub chopped onions across their eyes. Anything to make them feel. As with the young people in All That Is Wrong, this is the Once and for all generation coming of age and doing their growing up in public. While not without humour as Verbeke and De Bruyne tap into the ridiculousness of their contrivances to share the pain of others, the fifty-minute exercise is also an honest account of the pair's friendship that goes beyond child's play to somewhere that's very much for real. Until August 26th.
The Herald, August 8th 2012 ends