Sunday, 17 August 2014

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2014 Theatre Reviews 7 - Chef / Little On The Inside / Britannia Waves The Rules

Chef
Underbelly
Four stars
How does a high-flying young girl from the back-streets go from getting
her big break working in a swanky restaurant to serving slops as a
prison inmate working the kitchen? Sabrina Mahfouz's street-smart solo
verse play tells all over several courses, in which a high-flying club
kid from a troubled background goes on a rollercoaster ride, from being
the emotional appendage of a wannabe gangster to getting sent down for
something she didn't do.

In the thick of all this, Mahfouz's heroine finds salvation for cooking
up elaborate dishes that become a means of expression as much as
anything else. In the thick of all this are comments on the penal
system in all its slopped-out glory which our woman manages to transcend

Onstage alone for an hour, Jade Anouka gives an uber-cool and
thoroughly believable delivery of Mahfouz's dramatic poem which flows
with a gregarious musicality. By the end of being served up such an
overload of wordy riches, the message of Mahfouz's mini masterpiece is
to stay hungry, whatever gets thrown at you.


Little On The Inside
Summerhall
Three stars
Where do you escape to when you're in the darkest of places to keep
yourself alive? The answer for the two women in Alice Birch's new play
for the Clean Break company is a little patch of green that can become
anything they want to. In Lucy Morrison's bare bones production,
Estella Daniels and Sandra Reid play the two women with a tangible
sense of antipathy before each one gradually mellows enough for them to
become co-dependents.

This makes for a raw and no-holds barred affair, in which the power of
the imagination is ranked up even more by it being played in a bare and
neutral space that allows the company to open up for business without
much fuss. Daniels and Reid belt out Birch's text with a gutsiness
which at times might benefit for more restraint in such an enclosed
space, but which still manages to pack a punch.
Until August 24

Britannia Waves The Rules
Summerhall
Four stars
Blackpool out of season is a dead end town, as the hero of Gareth
Farr's blistering little play for the Royal Exchange Theatre,
Manchester makes clear in his opening monologue, a northern English
grimoir straight out of the Tony Harrison and John Cooper Clarke school
of urban grit laced with poetic wit. Carl is a secret poet in a
wasteland of drug-dealing Brit-pop casualties, a widowed father
obsessed with model train sets and a girl seemingly out of his league.

The only way out is to do a runner, join the army, and see the world,
even if it does mean a tour of Afghanistan in which he learns to kill
inbetween watching his best mates get shot. Sleep-deprived and
stressed, at heart Carl is still a little boy who wants his mum.

Nick Bagnall's production taps into the human psychological cost of the
dole queue cannon fodder thrust into the frontline to fight for causes
they barely understand.  Dan Parr gives a fearlessly gutsy central
performance as Carl, with some great support, especially from
Franscesca Zoutewelle as Goldie, who is gifted with some of the
funniest one-liners in a play that, like Carl, comes out fighting and
takes on the world.

The Herald, August 14th 2014


ends

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