Archive for the ‘ Fringe 2017 ’ Category

THE PORTABLE DOROTHY PARKER

The Portable Dorothy Parker

Known for her acerbic razor-sharp wit and in being in possession of a tongue you most certainly wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of Dorothy Parker makes excellent subject matter for any playwright and this outing does a commendable job of representing this.
Written by Annie Lux, directed by Lee Costello and with Margot Avery in the central role as Parker- we, the audience are the invited publisher for Viking that Parker really can’t be bothered with- this production captures something of the spirit of its protagonist as she reminisces through her memoirs for selected works to be known as The Portable Dorothy Parker.
Taking us through a list of her achievements: writing for Vogue, Vanity Fair,. Her stint as a Hollywood screen writer to hanging out with literary bigwigs such as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway all leading to those legendary lunches at The Algonquin Hotel where she held court with members of her ‘round table’; it is an exhilarating ride. It is of course peppered with wonderful anecdotes and spiky comments drip fed and delivered with almost icy detachment. In fact sometimes they are delivered a little too coolly and subtly so therefore are not always easy to spot.
Avery does a great job as Parker and you get the sense of the authoritative superiority and sense of entitlement those of supreme intelligence seem to possess. You also get a sense of the ennui and subsequent loneliness that lies at her core with the only real companionship she feels is with the ever-present bottle of Haig and Haig she keeps replenishing her glass from.
The portable Dorothy Parker is a nicely paced- not too fast as this would dilute the essence of the character whose laissez-faire attitude is essential to the role- and even if it does slow down towards the end it always manages to retain your interest.
****
The Portable Dorothy Parker is showing at Gilded Balloon Rose August 5th-28th-not 14th or 21st- at 4pm.

FROM IBIZA TO THE NORFOLK BROADS

From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads

‘From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads’ borrows its title from one David Bowie’s greatest and most loved songs and cleverly opens with Frank Sinatra’s ‘My Way’, the song Bowie wrote ‘Life on Mars’ as a retaliation to after having his lyrics rejected –Paul Anka won out- and this one man play focuses on a teenager who is not only a Bowie obsessive but also suffers from mental health issues including an eating disorder.
Martin, played by Alex Walton, is the confused teenager at the centre of this work, which may actually disappoint Bowie fans expecting a musical homage to their hero but it is still a compelling drama in its own right. It is in essence a voyage of discovery for the teenage misfit as he tries to make sense of his dad who abandoned him at an early age but who left him a box to be opened on his 18th birthday which retraces the steps of both his life and that of his idol David Bowie.
Written and directed by Adrian Berry the production is not always easy to follow but it is always compelling. Likewise the use of Bowie’s music is slightly on the sparse side and more use could have been made of it in order to sustain a narrative thread.
In fact one scene which uses the isolated vocal from Ziggy Stardust track Five Years loses its momentum slightly as the impassioned vocal is set alongside a hysterical outpouring from Martin which distracts rather than adds to the drama. The vocal alone would have been more effective and I found myself more gripped by it than the dialogue.
At the end I was unsure of what conclusions had been reached and at times it felt as if the whole production was slightly under developed. I have seen this play before-about 15 years ago I think- and I felt much the same then. That said it is still worth seeing just don’t go along expecting it to enlighten you in any way about David Bowie as his role is a minor and at times inconsequential one even if he is the subject matter at its heart.
***
From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads is on at Pleasance Courtyard August 5-28 at 13.55pm

THE GIRL WHO JUMPED OFF THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN

The Girl who Jumped off the Hollywood Sign

This one woman play both written and acted by Joanne Hariston is a powerful tour de force which captures perfectly the illusion and subsequent disillusion of the golden age of Hollywood, 1949, where in a prescient warning to the wannabe stars of today ‘Celebrity has a short memory’.
Hariston plays Evelyn ‘Evie’ Edwards a budding hopeful starlet who has suffered one rejection and indignity too many and is making a last ditch claim for fame by jumping off the capital H , part of the Hollywood sign, which gazes authoritively over the city of dreams reminding those below of their failures or, in limited cases, their successes. Following in the footsteps of Peg Entwhistle who jumped off the same sign-different letter- twenty odd years previously due to the same lack of success and subsequent humiliation, Evie believes that if she can’t be a star in life then she should make a bid for it in death and even if she fails then at least she won’t have to be reminded of it.
The brutality of the movie industry is picked at like a sore scab as Evie prepares to make that final leap and peppers her thoughts with anecdotes involving Bette Davis,Judy Garland, Jean Harlow and MGM canteen gossip. She shares what led her to Hollywood in the first place and her family background is put in the spotlight also. She tears apart the Hollywood notion of ‘creating’ stars and how removed from the reality of the real person they actually are. It is a fascinating insight into a harsh industry which so many even today wish to enter even though the chances of success are slim if any.
The dialogue is helped along by musical interludes which provide poignancy and nuance while Vince Fusco does an admirable job as director.
Starting at 11.30 The Girl who Jumped off the Hollywood Sign is a prefect way to kick off a day out at The Fringe.
****
The Girl who jumped off the Hollywood Sign is at Assembly Roxy August 3-28 at 11.30am