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Edinburgh Festival Fringe Theatre 2014 Theatre Reviews 14 - Every Brilliant Thing / Bill Clinton Hercules / The Initiate

Every Brilliant Thing
Summerhall
Four stars
How life-affirming can you get about suicide? If that’s not an easy
question to answer, try asking the hero of Duncan Macmillan's solo
play, who probably has it filed away in his list of great things in
life that keep you going. The motivation for this was when his mother
attempted suicide and he began a list to help remind her of why she
should be alive. As performer Jonny Donahoe leads us through all the
love, loss and messy twists and turns of our hero's own life, his
ever-lengthening list becomes part diary, part totem of survival.

Goethe and Daniel Johnson all make an appearance by way of the
meticulously numbered epigrams that come to life when Donahoe asks the
audience to recount them throughout the course of George Perrin's
production for Paines Plough. The audience too become assorted key
players in the unfolding drama as they go willingly onstage in what may
be the gentlest form of audience participation ever. This is largely
down to Donahoe's skill as the jolliest of hosts in what, despite its
starting point, is one of the loveliest shows of the year.
Until August 24th

Bill Clinton Hercules
Assembly
Four stars
“You don't want to be hero-worshipped by me,” says the former President
of the United States at one point in Racheal Mariner's solo play cum
TED talk. “It guarantees you an assassins bullet.” Bill Clinton is
talking about pressing the flesh with JFK and hanging on every
inspirational word of Martin Luther King before both men were gunned
down out of history.; He doesn't make such an observation with
sombreness, but, as played by Bob Paisley, with a positive spring in
his step.

This sets the general tone for an insightful portrait of the
jazz-loving hippy whose flight into the establishment was only
inevitable if you pay heed to the classical yarns of Odysseus and
Hercules which he treats mores as a lifestyle choice than literature.
Kosovo, the Arab Spring, Lewinskygate and his later playing second sax
to Hillary are all in the mix in the sort of speech that Tony Blair
would kill for.

Despite its factual root, Mariner's script lifts things beyond dull
political biography to a sort of
self-deprecating poetry, replete deadly one-liners delivered by Paisley
with aplomb in Guy Masterson's production. Speaking out in support of
the Occupy movement, this is the one-time Slick Willy as born-again
radical, a wannabe hero who only ever wanted to be one of the good guys.
Until August 24.

The Initiate
Summerhall
Four stars
Life is just one long series of negotiations for the Somalian mini-cab
driver at the heart of Alexandra Wood's punchy new thriller, that
twists and turns its way around the back-alleys of the psyche as a
driver taking the 'scenic' route around London might. This is the
trouble. There's not enough wide-open spaces, everyone is in too much
of a hurry and, above all, there simply isn't enough money to make it
big in multicultural London. When the cab driver's son son is teased
about Somalian pirates kidnapping a local couple, some kind of meaning
beyond being an invisible migrant.

One of several presentations of new work held in Paines Plough's new
Roundabout venue housed in the grounds of Summerhall, Wood's play is an
intricately woven thriller, in which the driver navigates his way
through his home life with wife and child, to his country-men and the
hostages he becomes a go-between for. With a trio of performances  from
Andrew French, Sian Reese-Williams and Abdul Salis that fizz and
crackle their way through George Perrin's production, Wood's prime-time
narrative simmers with a tension that says something quietly profound
about the complexities of cultural roots in twenty-first century
Britain.
Until August 24th

The Herald, August 22nd

ends



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