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Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2012 - Theatre Reviews 9


Monkey Bars – Traverse – 4 stars
With the pan-generational mix of teenage angst and impending death 
onstage at this year's Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Chris Goode's new 
verbatim piece taken from conversations initiated by Karl James looks 
to an even younger generation for guidance. Goode's own co-production 
with the Unicorn Theatre then has adult actors suited and booted in 
grown-up office and dinner-party wear. The juxtaposition between 
half-formed voices possibly learned from parents by rote and a 
presentation and delivery that givers the performers the air of 
politicians or bureaucrats is a fascinating one.

Talk of favourite sweets and playtime is subsequently given the weight 
by Goode's six performers of life-changing events that they actually do 
when you're eight years old. This avoids any Kids Say the Funniest 
Things style cutesiness, and is more akin to the very first series of 
Michael Apted's seminal and ongoing TV documentary, Seven Up. That 
crucial social document interviewed a group of seven year olds in 1964, 
and has filmed them every seven years since. While Goode and James' 
play is unlikely to have that luxury, it is nevertheless a telling 
insight into a generation who have been given voice for the first time. 
More importantly, perhaps, they've been listened to in a way that  
allows their un-studied wisdom to flourish. Until August 26


Just A Gigolo – Assembly George Square – 3 stars
The first rule of life, according to Angelo Ravagli in Stephen Lowe's 
solo vehicle for actor Maurice Roeves, is to never disappoint a woman. 
As the model for 'energetic' game-keeper Mellors in DH Lawrence's 
taboo-busting novel, Lady Chatterley's Lover, Ravagli was clearly 
talking from experience. Ravagli, after all, moved from being the 
couple's gardener to hitch up as Frieda Lawrence's third and final 
husband after the novelist's death.

As Lowe and Roeves' portrait of a penniless but still raffish widower 
Ravagli attempts to flog off nine of Lawrence's paintings to his 
hotel-owing chum, Saki Karavas, he gradually unveils his colourful past 
as only someone written into literary legend can dine out on. With the 
images projected behind Roeves as he sits at a cafe table relating his 
yarn as if rehearsing for a late night chat show, pearls of wisdom such 
as that above are reeled off like well-polished diamonds.

It's a fascinating if at time somewhat dense elongated anecdote, 
brought to life by Roeves with a dashingly charismatic sense of 
mischief that's worthy of an old-time matinee idol. It's fitting too 
that Lowe's play is being performed in what is usually one of Edinburgh 
University's modern lecture theatres. Before the bull-dozers moved in, 
Traverse co-founder Jim Haynes' original Paperback Bookshop was housed 
a mere stone's throw away. One of the few places that sold Lawrence's 
works, it was outside the premises where two disgusted ladies from the 
Salvation Army were captured on film setting a copy of Lady 
Chatterley's Lover alight, reducing it to the ashes of immorality. 
What, one wonders, would they think if they knew that a reincarnated 
Ravagli had been in the neighbourhood? Until August 27th.

Strong Arm – Underbelly – 3 stars
Explorations of machismo have been all the rage in the Underbelly’s Old 
Vic New Voices strand of new work. Finlay Robertson's new solo play, 
which he performs himself in Kate Budgens' production takes such 
notions to muscle-bound extremes in the cautionary tale of Roland 
Poland, the picked-on fat kid who starts pumping iron, but who gets so 
obsessed with his own image of being a hunk that he falls for his own 
reflection.

If Robertson himself doesn't physically cut it as Roland, his 
examination of the shy little boy that hides behind the chemically 
enhanced but increasingly tetchy Adonis the world sees is a telling 
one. Men, it seems, are under just as much pressure body-image-wise, as 
women. While Robertson has contrived to make an energetic study of the 
male psyche, for all his verve as a performer, the text needs more 
crafting to give it the weight, no pun intended – required. At the 
moment, Strong Arm has plenty of beef, but not enough muscle to pack 
the punch required. Until August 26th.

The Herald, August 21st 2012

ends

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