Fringe Theatre

Neil Cooper

Wild Bore

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Traverse Theatre

four stars

Power Ballad

Summerhall

four stars

The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk

Traverse Theatre

four stars

NOW that everyone with a laptop is a critic just as professional reviewing is under threat, it's all too timely for the critics themselves to be critiqued. This is the rude intention of Wild Bore, a manic hatchet job by Zoe Coombs Marr, Ursula Martinez and Adrienne Truscott. These three (dis) graces of comic performance take a very public revenge on those who dissed them and their wares in print and online with a hammed up creative fury not seen since Theatre of Blood hacked off the Critics' Circle.

A trio of bare backsides line up like maids in a row, spouting forth verbatim quotes from real reviews of the performers' own back catalogue. Out of this develops a series of knowing routines that morph into a deliberately outrageous and ever so slightly self-obsessed caper. It's a wheeze, a dare and a giant theatrical raspberry as the trio effectively put two fingers up to critics and audience alike. It's also a meticulously planned assault that reinvents the early confrontational spirit of Peter Handke for the stand-up age. Naked dada is alive and kicking, it seems, in a playfully spiteful show.

Run ended.

IN Power Ballad, New Zealand iconoclast Julia Croft goes for the jugular, in an hour-long mash-up of live art and karaoke that goes some way to give full unfettered voice to a brand new way of being. From a nihilistic opening fusion of pleasure and pain, Croft embarks on a wordless assault on patriarchy and performative norms in order to break on through to the other side where a collective display of elation awaits. Inbetween in Nisha Madhan's production, she screams, she shouts, she adopts different voices and identities, and, ultimately, she doesn't give a flying one in a magnificent provocation that culminates in a karaoke finale that takes the double edged sword of the show's title and shakes it into submission. Girl's talk was never like this.

Run ended.

“BUT don't you hate the theatre?,” painter Marc Chagall says at one point when bemoaning his lot in The Flying Lovers of Vitebsk, Daniel Jamieson's dramatic homage to Chagall's love affair with his writer, wife Bella. “With its endless dreary words...and all that pointless moving about...” He goes further. “I don't know,” he says. “I just wish they'd stand still sometimes and let the audience look at the scenery.”

It's not difficult to see why Kneehigh Theatre's former artistic director Emma Rice fell for Jamieson's 1992 play, which sees Marc and Bella living through the Russian revolution and the dawn of Nazism, finding their own artistic and personal liberation en route. As played by Marc Antolin and Audrey Brisson, they are the ultimate arty couple, burling their way through the greyness of history, filling the world with colour as they go, even as Bella is left holding the baby while Marc indulges his muse.

Accompanied by musicians Ian Ross and James Gow, Rice's production taps into the high-flying irreverence of old-school alternative cabaret to breathe pure unfettered life into a passion-filled romance that never stopped moving for a second.

Run ended.