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Edinburgh Fringe 2016: Alix in Wundergarten/4D Cinema/Bucket List | reviews, news & interviews

Edinburgh Fringe 2016: Alix in Wundergarten/4D Cinema/Bucket List

Edinburgh Fringe 2016: Alix in Wundergarten/4D Cinema/Bucket List

Theatre highlights and lowlights from week one of the world's biggest arts festival

Wild, freewheeling satire from Cardiff-based company difficult|stage in 'Alix in Wundergarten'

Alix in Wundergarten ★★★★

Think Alan Ayckbourn on acid: a commonplace (well, almost) set-up, exaggerated further and further beyond what we’d ever anticipate. In François Pandolfo’s wild, freewheeling and hugely entertaining satire on the acting world, delivered by Cardiff-based difficult|stage theatre company, it’s a gaggle of hammy actors who occupy a studio to make an audio recording of Alice in Wonderland – before the whole thing degenerates into chaos and spins off in entirely unexpected directions. Pandolfo himself is wonderfully nervy and needy as the assistant director, attempting to shepherd a veteran of West End musicals, a New York heartthrob and a fresh-out-of-drama-school nobody to do his bidding in a show that’s almost certainly entirely unlike anything you’ll have ever seen before. You’d even be hard pushed to say when it starts – and when it ends. It’s an anarchic, bewildering, wildly entertaining piece of theatre.

Underbelly Med Quad, alternate days until 29 Aug, 7.10-8.10pm


4D Cinema4D Cinema ★★★

Three years back, Japan-born and Edinburgh-resident Mamoru Iriguchi put together the zany, deadpan Projector/ Conjector, in which he alternately strapped a video projector and a TV to his head to interact playfully with images on a large screen. He’s gone one better this year, becoming part of the screen itself – it’s again strapped to his body – to recount a fictitious history of a Hollywood icon. It’s a demanding show that tests the audience’s patience by rewinding time halfway through its hour and making us watch what we’ve just seen all over again, only in reverse. But it’s got a ramshackle, lo-fi charm that’s immediately captivating, and it deals with ideas of celebrity with a playful intelligence.

Summerhall, until 28 Aug (not 15, 22), 5.50-6.50pm


Bucket ListBucket List ★★

Theatre Ad Infinitum are virtually Fringe royalty, having put together some exceptional productions in recent years – including the heartbreaking silent masked love story Translunar Paradise and the Arab-Israeli conflict audaciously reimagined as a drag show in The Ballad of the Burning Star. Which makes the blunt revenge fantasy they offer this year all the more unaccountable. Set on the Mexican border where protesters against US exploitation are summarily killed or raped, it plays out a dodgy fantasy of holding the perpetrators – however high up the pecking order they go – accountable in the most brutal way. Starting at screaming intensity and only getting louder, it quickly becomes just the kind of crass agitprop that does their anti-globalisation message no favours at all, despite some fearsomely passionate performances, and slick, lithe movement from George Mann. Nevertheless, it’s a remarkable volte-face for a company that has shown they have bags of talent.

Pleasance Dome, until 29 Aug (not 16, 23), 3.50-5.20pm


BlankBlank
★★★★

Iranian-born, Berlin-resident playwright Nassim Soleimanpour launched his White Rabbit, Red Rabbit at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2011, and since then it’s toured the world, performed by a different actor every night, none of whom has ever seen the script before. Blank is his follow-up, and takes its inspiration directly from White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, or at least the hundreds of emails that Soleimanpour received as a result of it. And it’s hard to describe without giving the game away. Suffice it to say that again a different actor performs it blind each evening, but it’s inspired – indeed draws directly on – the lives of others, and slyly blurs the traditional theatrical distinctions between writer, performer and audience. It’s witty, involving and deeply human – well worth seeing.

Summerhall, until 28 Aug (not 22), 6.30-8pm


The LoungeThe
Lounge
★★★★

The room of the show's title is death's waiting room, the lounge of a high-class care home where seconds pass like hours for 97-year-old Marsha, divided between Jeremy Kyle and incessant offers of tea. But this pitch-black, glacially slow geriatric farce from London-based Inspector Sands pulls a neat trick in amusing you one moment, only to make the laughter stick in your throat the next, as it rails furiously against the way we treat our elderly and the systems we've set up to ensure we don't need to come into contact with them. It's enjoyably absurd, bringing together Tati-like physical comedy as well as plenty of squirm-inducing awkwardness, and the trio of part-swapping actors, especially Giulia Innocenti as suffocating nurse Valentina, are magnificent. It's a bit of a riot, as well as a serious prick of the conscience.

Summerhall, until 27 Aug, 3.25-4.45pm

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