Preview for the week: 1 – 7 February, 2010

Feb 1 2010 | By More

By Thom Dibdin

February hits the ground running with a circus dance production at the Festival for three nights, the UK Amateur Premiere of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast all week at the King’s and the arrival of the third Manipulate Visual Theatre Festival at the Traverse. The depth is still there with a pair of top-rated sparklers of their genres at the Lyceum and the Playhouse while a couple of hits from the Fringe return to town: up at the Big Red Door on Lady Lawson Street Ricky Payne is Wombman on Friday and Saturday, while Reeling & Writhing bring Funny, Don’t Make Me Laugh, to the Brunton on Saturday.

At the Festival Theatre, Canadian company Les 7 Doigts de la Main bring Traces from Monday to Wednesday. Set in a makeshift bunker, five characters hide from an impending disaster outside the door. Combining traditional acrobatic forms with street elements such as skateboarding and basketball, mixed in with some theatre and contemporary dance, they use every mode of expression available to them, hoping to put down a last mark and leave their traces as best they can. High-energy urban acrobatics – poetic and explosive, humorous and thoughtful – set to a pumping soundtrack.

At the King’s Theatre, Southern Light Opera have the UK Amateur Premiere of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, running daily until Saturday. This musical stage adaptation of Disney’s hit animated film is Broadway’s sixth longest running show of all time. Although it features the Academy Award-winning score, including the title song and the show-stopping Be Our Guest, this isn’t necessarily five-star gold as recent professional touring productions have shown. There’s plenty of room for SLO to find the humanity at the heart of the story, although they will have their work cut out to cut through the kitsch of the dressing-up box costumes that come bundled in with the show.

At the Traverse, things are really hotting up with the third Manipulate Visual Theatre Festival which runs from Tuesday to Saturday. Presented in association with Puppet Animation Scotland this is theatre and animation of the highest award-winning quality for consenting adults. Companies from Germany, Spain, Portugal, England and Scotland present a varied programme of performances, master classes and events designed to entertain, challenge and inspire. Not one for the kids, its best to leave your preconceptions at the door when you enter the colourful world of innovative international theatre. With two different shows nightly, at 7.30pm and 9.30pm, full details are on the Manipulate website while booking details are on the Traverse website.

One of the most intriguing new year-round theatre spaces in Edinburgh is up at Lady Lawson Street, behind the Big Red Door that used to be Lawsons Timber. Mostly used as space for workshops and rehearsals by performance arts charity te POOKa, it has been renovated into a production house to showcase local arts and performance and grassroots artists from around the world. This Friday and Saturday, it welcomes Ricky Payne of RJ Arts with a charity performance of his one man show which received rave reviews at the fringe in 2007/08 and is shortly to tour America.

Out at the Brunton in Musselburgh, Reeling & Writhing present Funny, Don’t Make Me Laugh on Saturday. A terrifying and shocking play based on real reports of torture and interrogation techniques from secret places, Funny looks as what happens when the state uses humour as a weapon. Inspired by Tim Nunn’s experiences as a human rights campaigner, the closer it gets to the truth the less you’re going to believe it. The young cast features Jonathan Holt (Black Watch, NTS), Donald Pirie (Mancub, NTS / Vanishing Point) and Paul Cunningham (Macbeth, Mull Theatre).

Finally, a couple of five star shows continue their runs. At the Royal Lyceum, Arthur Miller’s big hit The Price (until Saturday 13 February) provides a satisfying start to the year. At the Playhouse, Connie Fisher stars in The Sound of Music until Saturday 20 February. Bright and impeccably cheery, but harbouring a darkly sinister note, this big touring revival gives the film version a run for its money – and even betters it on some levels.

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