Robert Lepage versus Simon McBurney

In Edinburgh recently I saw two new one-man shows which will be coming to London. Both are quite brilliant, and have this much in common: one relies considerably on visual effects, and the other on sound, and the audience quickly tunes in and gets swept along happily by the ensuing riot. I won’t say any more but “887” and “the Encounter” are not to be missed.

Also on stage in Edinburgh was “Mrs Shakespeare”, another riot of a play, on a smaller scale, and also a solo tour de force. For this one it helps to have a smattering of Shakepeare in the back of one’s brain, since the gist of it is the desire of one crazed Irish woman who has been reincarnated as a modern day Shakespeare, to put right a certain imbalance in the original plots, hitherto running in favour of the male characters. How long, one might ask, will it be before this is actually attempted for real*, given the rise of the quota approach to equal opportunities.

Two other stages featured in my visit. On one was an imaginative attempt to visualise dementia, though this ran out of steam in the latter half I thought; and on another was a brilliant show in which two lost Tony Hancock radio scripts were presented, as if we were the studio audience in around 1960, perhaps in the old BBC Paris theatre London, watching these being recorded for transmission. All beautifully done, a warm tribute to a very funny Hancock and his amazing scriptwriters Galton and Simpson.

Five shows in three days – six if you count Hancock as two! Edinburgh busier, sunnier and generally more fun than ever.

*Update: Glenda Jackson as King Lear: what did I tell you?!


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