Review: Edinburgh Previews – Saturday Night Forever & Alix In Wundergarten @ Chapter

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Edinburgh Previews 2016* | Saturday Night Forever & Alix in Wundergarten | Chapter Arts Centre | Saturday 30th July 2016

*Edinburgh Previews 2016 at Chapter are exclusive previews of Welsh shows heading up to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

A flurry of lucky local theatre companies are flocking to Edinburgh this month. The work should highlight the best of Wales and speak up for another Celtic nation on tour. As these shows have been tried and tested here in Wales, they are now worthy to grace the Fringe.

August 012’s production is also having a preview as well. I saw it last year and struggled with its forced comedy and lack of pathos, the after-effect of which was discovering a bad taste in the mouth. Scottish audiences should see this with a strong stomach and stronger willpower.

[Related article: Review: Augst 012 – Yuri @ Chapter]

Saturday Night Forever is an attraction of sorts. Written by Roger Williams, this average work is a third update and is now overly familiar. It’s a typical monologue of some gay upstart, living only for the party hours in Cardiff. This is nothing new (how many times do we have to hear about Grindr, shopping and sex?), and after seeing work like Llwyth [Tribe], a torrent of short films at the Iris Prize and my own experiences in the gay community, I can confirm this.

It also feels like a checklist of random Cardiff locations to which we should all nod our heads in approval. The ending barely justified the work, with its hate crime message, without any real sense of tackling the issues faced by gay men today.

Delme Thomas, as Lee, worked as best he could with the script and delivered many little pleasing moments. He expressed Lee’s vapidness and lack of decorum brilliantly. The lights, strobing behind him, were their own character. How they would react in phases and ripples to his words, creating a slight psychedelic experience, not too far from being in a gay club. The end does utilise a certain song and make an audience want to cry with Lee. If the play taught me anything, it’s that I really should moisturise more often.

Knowing of the striking reputation that François Pandolfo’s Alix in Wuntergarten has gained since its premier last December, an opportunity to see it again should not be missed. This is essentially the same show that opened at The Other Room, with only slight adjustments and amendments. The character of the RADA-trained actor, Toby has been cut (I guess there are only so many actors with arm impairments), more futile props have been thrown in and there is the addition of even more shocking material.

My first review of the show still applies very much, even for this tighter and much more tour-able version of this dark, absurdist take on radio comedy.

Watching Alix again, I’m reminded of that great speech by the cult classic animated character, Duckman: “Comedy should provoke! It should blast through prejudices, challenge preconceptions! Comedy should always leave you different than when it found you.”

Best of luck to all going to the Fringe!

Saturday Night Forever Rating: 3 stars
Alix in Wundergarten Rating: 5 stars

Saturday Night Forever, Alix in Wundergarten and Yuri tour to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this month.

Cover image creditSaturday Night Forever via Chapter Arts Centre website

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