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Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2017 Theatre Reviews 7 - Party Game - Wee Red Bar - Four stars / What Would Kanye Do? - The Space - Three stars / How to Act - Summerhall - Four stars

The gang are all here in Party Game, the latest communal experience from Canada's Bluemouth Company and Necessary Angel. As the audience enter Edinburgh College of Art's student union and musical institution transformed here into a lo-fi function room, the chairs are out, Bruce Springsteen's playing on the stereo and our hosts are rounding us up to surprise a very special guest.

Instead, as the four performers and in-house backwoods band welcome us over the threshold, co-opting us to shift furniture, pour wine and hang bunting, we get to eavesdrop in on a series of intimate exchanges that hint that all may not be as fun as it initially looks. Anecdotes turn into bittersweet deliberations of regret, and all that's left are the most private of memories.

Bluemouth last appeared in Edinburgh in 2011 when they brought the self-explanatory Dance Marathon to town. This new work is a more personal and infinitely sadder affair that taps into a sense of shared loss and collective grief that's as full of everyday heartache as a Raymond Carver short story.

In execution, beyond the stories, jokes and card games the audience are invited to take part in, the performers themselves go gently into a series of linked vignettes that gradually reveal the effect of what they're attempting to both honour and move on from. Jennifer Tarver's production navigates her company through a touching display with an elegantly aching yearning in search of closure.
Run ended.

The tiny, terrier-like young woman pimp-rolling on the stage glares at the audience as they enter for What Would Kanye Do?, scowlingly just stopping short of having a square go. Meet Marcy, tough cookie, would-be rapper and, according to her own legend, a close personal friend of Kanye West. She also happens to be a white girl from New Zealand desperate to be something she's not and in thrall of heroes who really should know better.

Clare Marcie's monologue may last just over half an hour or so, but it manage to pack in an album's worth of commentary on identity, white guilt and the failures of our would be gurus as young wannabes like Marcy attempt to become themselves. Marcie the actress is an unfettered fireball as her near name-sake in Sarah Short's production. As she faces up to life beyond her disappointment, Marcy raps and dances her way to some kind of personal liberation.
Until August 26.

As the audience gather for How To Act, famed theatre director Anthony Nicholl is limbering up for the sort of open masterclass or actors familiar to drama students and viewers of 1970s Open University clips on YouTube. Stepping into the breach is Promise, a keen bean actress of Nigerian descent, who is encouraged by Nicholl to tap into the 'truth' of her art in a workshop situation drawn from his own experiences in Africa. As it turns out in Graham Eatough's new play for the National Theatre of Scotland, Promise's actual truth is intertwined with Nicholl's in a way he never expected to catch up with him.

There are shades of David Mamet's Oleanna in Eatough's own production as Promise turns the tables on her apparent guru in a deliberately spartan looking affair. As Robert Goodale's Nicholl and Jade Ogugua's Promise lurch into circles of cultural colonialism and subsequent fetishisation, the double-edged sword of the title suggests something far worse in a tale of everyday exploitation that becomes a microcosm for a more insidious forms of appropriation that leave their mark.
Until August 27.


The Herald, August 22nd 2017

ends

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