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Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014 Theatre Reviews15 - The Future For Beginners / Animal Farm / Anthem or Doomed Youth

The Future For Beginners
Summerhall
Three stars
When boy meets girl and things start to get serious, making plans for
the future can take many forms. In the case of Jennifer Adams and
Matthew Bulgo in Alan Harris, Martin Constantine and composer Harry
Blake's lo-fi musical rom-com for the liveartshow company, that means
meticulously cataloguing every detail of every single day of their life
together in advance.

She sings operatic arias and might just be a Russian princess. He plays
the ukulele and is into Buddhism and skateboarding. As if such hipster
affectations weren't quirky enough, the perfect fantasy life they map
out more resembles an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder inspired art
project than real life domestic bliss. It is when things go wrong,
however, that things get really interesting in a sweet little
construction performed with considerable charm that makes for a show
that is about the unexpectred surprises which happy ever afters can
bring.
Run ended.

Animal Farm
Assembly
Three stars
George Orwell's metaphorical novel about how power can corrupt an
initially well-meaning ideal has continued to be as pertinent as it was
when it was first published in 1945, as Stalinism raised its ugly,
self-serving head. It is perfect material too, for the large cast of
the Tumanishvili Film Actors Theatre Company of Tbilisi from Georgia,
the birthplace of Stalin himself. It is a story too that director Guy
Masterson knows well from his own solo adaptation which he has
previously performed in Edinburgh.

With some twenty-six people onstage here, Masterson's production is
about as far away from such an intimate rendition as one can get. Seen
on such a scale, it is impossible to avoid something of a school play
feel as the ensemble moo, honk and cluck their way through proceedings
as the animals rise up against their human captors, only to fall victim
to an even crueller regime. Yet, for all its seeming scrappiness, there
is heart and soul aplenty on show in a work which brings home the
universal relevance of Orwell's vision.
Run ended.

Anthem For Doomed Youth
Assembly
Three stars
To suggest that Guy Masterson's solo reading of poetry from the First
World War is a greatest hits show might sound glib given the
seriousness of its subject matter. That is pretty much what Masterson's
compendium of works by Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, Rupert Brooke
and their contemporaries is delivering, however. Neither is this fact
to the show's detriment, as Masterson gives grandiloquent performances
of Dulce Et Decorum Est, the show's title poem and a myriad of others.

Accompanied only by an occasional soundtrack of falling bombs,
Masterson's style as he reads from a folder is engagingly low-key. More
than merely reading, he occupies each poem intensely, only to step out
of character as it were once he's done and chat with the audience.
Given the amount of other, far flashier First World War-based material
on show in Edinburgh this year in response to the hundredth anniversary
of irs start, it is testament to Masterson's no frills approach that he
can command the stage and deliver each work with the gravitas it
deserves.
Run ended.

The Herald, August 25th 2014
ends

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