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Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2005

Angry Young Man Pleasance Dome
Ben Woolf's Angry Young Man is being sold as a comedy about immigration. In many ways this is misleading. It conjures up images of earnest students creating sub-Ben Elton (the eighties comic, not the nineties hack) right-on material about how we live in, like, a fascist state, man. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Andrew Haydon

Dublin by Lamplight Traverse Theatre
Imagine a strong Vaudeville, throw in some engaging American Story Theatre and then add a dash of Commedia dell'Arte and what one gets is a surprising homily to the great city of Dublin, set like Ulysses in a single day, only this time it is 1904 and centred around the launch of The Irish National Theatre.
Alan Miller

Faust Assembly Rooms
This radically truncated version of Goethe's Faust myth from Poznan's Nowy Theatre has been garnering some enviable reviews and critical plaudits. On this showing, it is rather hard to see why. It's a solid enough bit of work, but with the hype it's been getting, one is led to expect something more than solid.
Andrew Haydon

Guardians / Making The Difference Both Pleasance Courtyard
There are a number of plays on the Fringe this year dealing with various aspects of the 'War on Terror', from 9/11, through the invasion of Iraq, to the recent suicide bombings in London. The most fervent area for dramatic attention is provided by the massive shock to national self-image caused by the Abu Ghraib photographs - the moment when America and Britain were conclusively seen to have strayed away from their self-appointed role as the Good Guys upholding liberty, freedom and fair play. Of these many plays, two of the best are Guardians by Peter Morris and Making The Difference created by Small Change Theatre.
Andrew Haydon

Halo Boy and the Village of Death C
Everything about this production, from the ominous music, the imaginative costuming, the shocking make-up and the beautifully pitched acting, adds up to a cross between Czech puppet-theatre and The Simpsons.
Austin Williams

Heart of a Dog Assembly Rooms
Elitism can be forgiven in a novel as good as Heart of a Dog, and this production retains enough of what is good in the novel to render similar criticisms of its take on Zimbabwean politics beside the point.
Dolan Cummings

Losing Unity C Electric
Michael Arditti's recent novel Unity concerns a group of Cambridge students who take a scurrilous and brilliant May Week show that they have written about Unity Mitford to the Edinburgh Fringe festival in 1975 and are picked up by a genius German film director. Sad to report that, were the novel set thirty years later, the fictional film maker would have probably walked out after ten minutes of New Era's similar project.
Andrew Haydon

Macbeth Assembly Rooms
The disappointment begins with the production's overbearing soundtrack: spooky noises worthy of Scooby Doo establish a rather naff atmosphere from the beginning and often threaten to drown out the actors' words.
Dolan Cummings

Macbeth - The Hour C
The idea of presenting the witches as lesbians seemed an interesting one compared to other productions I have seen, and certainly made the first scene stand out a bit more.
Martha Williams

Missing Persons - Four Tragedies and Roy Keane Assembly Rooms (Venue 3)
Well-known RSC stalwart Greg Hicks performing five brief monologues by the acclaimed translator and playwright Colin Teevan should be one of the more sure-fire quality offerings on the Fringe; and so it is.
Andrew Haydon

Moon Journey Pleasance (Venue 33)
It seems that there are two sorts of satire. The first and more conventional form takes pains to highlight hypocrisy, puncture pomposity and attack the powerful; the second sort takes a very silly thing and highlights how silly it was in the first place by making it even sillier. Moon Journey falls happily into the latter camp.
Andrew Haydon

Petrograd Pleasance Courtyard
Ava's project is complicated by factors outside her control, and Badham skillfully draws a parallel between Ava's authorial frustrations and those of the Russian revolutionaries.
Dolan Cummings

Phone Play Gilded Balloon
'Phone sex' is real sex, one character insists, protesting too much. Real, no, safe, yes, but it is also unsatisfying. And the same seems to go for life in general.
Dolan Cummings

Pramface Gilded Balloon
This is neither a straightforward joke at the expense of impressionable working class teenagers, nor a polemic against the snobbery of their detractors. Instead it combines both by focusing its satirical ire on the magazines that promote superficial celebrity culture.
Dolan Cummings

!Runners: the Return Smirnoff Underbelly
If we start off uncertain about how much freedom we have to join in and shape the performance, by the latter half of the play it is clear that anything we say is a side show.
Dolan Cummings

Shakespeare for Breakfast C
If Shakespeare had been commissioned to write a Carry On script, this would have been it.
Austin Williams

Sins of the Grandfathers Smirnoff Underbelly
Dan Tetsell manages the neat trick of creating a very funny hour of stand-up comedy based on the fact that his maternal grandfather was a non-commissioned officer in the Waffen SS. Tetsell comes pre-recommended by virtue of having written comedy for a number of Radio and TV shows, as well as Basil Brush apparently. But as well as being an excellent writer, he is also a talented and engaging stage presence.
Andrew Haydon

Stories for the Wobbly-hearted Traverse Theatre
Occasionally one sees something in a theatre which it is impossible to do justice to in a review. Daniel Kitson's story-telling show, Stories for the Wobbly-hearted, is just this...
Andrew Haydon

Wetmarsh College C Electric
As an attempt to make fun of the manners of the established order - in this instance the gleaming spires and sherry drinking conformity of the masters - it becomes too indulgent and safe.
Austin Williams

Women of Trachis C
The emphasis is very much on the chorus, the six women of the title, who sing and dance us through the story, ensuring we react to its theatricality rather than getting hung up on its 'timeless theme' or whatever.
Dolan Cummings


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