Theatre: On The Fringe
The Humorous Lieutenant BAC n Cosi New End Theatre Nixon's Nixon The Bridewell n Mainstream The Bush
Wednesday 15 September 1999
Fletcher was a contemporary of Shakespeare and left behind more plays (57) than anybody else writing at the time. Unfortunately, even in the case of play collections, size doesn't count, and most people have concluded that Fletcher's main writing achievement derives from his collaborations with playwrights such as Beaumont and Jonson.
Even so, Philip Wilson has produced a lively and enjoyable evening, which highlights the positive aspects of the writing. In the intimacy of BAC's Studio II the cast parade around on a chessboard-style floor and debate issues of love, honour, and war with the confidence of the trumpets that herald the first act. Victoria Woodward's virtuous Celia glows with passion and Duncan Henderson is a jaunty successor to the comic soldiers who have crossed stages since Plautus.
Juggling actors' egos is a trick all directors have to learn, but Lewis in Cosi is faced with tougher demands than most. What do you do, for example, with an actor whose idea of fun is setting fire to five cats and watching them zip around like mobile mewing bonfires? Full Circle Theatre takes Cosi fan tutte and shows how seven patients from a mental institution transform it in rehearsal. This curious blend of high culture, psychotic interpretations of Mozart, and left-wing politics is set against the backdrop of Seventies Melbourne. Lewis, the director, is an ardent left-wing idealist who finds his loyalties increasingly torn between going on anti-Vietnam demonstrations and directing at least one individual who tends towards a pyromaniac's notion of bringing the house down. He sticks with the opera, and finds that virtue brings its own chaotic punishments.
Unfortunately, it all jars because director Tim Roseman has mistakenly encouraged caricatures of the mentally ill rather than examining their subtleties. For example, Chelsea Blake as Cherry rolls her eyeballs, bares her teeth and wields her flick-knife for easy laughs, but although she is an able comic actress, her performance carries the unhappy implication that psychosis is simply the scary big brother of stupidity. Only Michael Leslie, as a recluse in schoolboy shorts, and Stan Pretty, as the Mozart fan with a tendency towards toddler temper-tantrums, manage to invest their roles with the dignity and credibility that might eventually make this play worth watching.
Two plays that survived Edinburgh have now resurfaced in London. The Independent has reviewed both of these already, but it is impossible not to urge audiences to make their way to Nixon's Nixon, a truly funny and excellent evening which imagines the conversation that might have taken place between Nixon and Kissinger the night before Nixon's resignation. Then, once you've sorted your political sensibilities out, get personal with David Greig's Mainstream: a minimalist meditation on modern relationships, which rings all the bells while avoiding all the cliches.
`The Humorous Lieutenant' (0171-223 2223) to 26 Sept; `Cosi' (0171-794 0022) to 3 Oct; `Nixon's Nixon' (0171-936 3456) to 25 Sept; `Mainstream' (0181-743 3388) to 2 Oct
There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turningTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Rihanna 'nude pictures' claims emerge on 4Chan as hacking scandal continues
- 2 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': KTVA reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned PR disaster
- 5 Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Downton Abbey fans outraged at Kindle sponsorship adverts
Cilla, episode 2, ITV, review: Sheridan Smith continues to shine as the young singer
Kendrick Lamar announces new song 'i' following leak
Free U2 album: How the most generous giveaway in music history turned PR disaster
Top Gear to launch in France after Jeremy Clarkson banned from driving on roads
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God