Review by Paul Nelson
I OFTEN wonder if people get bored by me constantly batting on
about the delights of the London Fringe theatres.
Well, at the height of the tourist season, I would ask them,
apart from extremely long running and by now, tired, musicals,
what they can offer to attract the visitor or citizen that can
Proof, if I ever needed to go to the Old Bailey and swear an
oath, comes yet again from the Union Theatre. Whether it
is an in-house presentation or a visiting production company,
this tiny playhouse manages to give more than value for money.
For example, at present there is a bill of three one-act plays
under the generic title of A Night In The Desert.
This triple, tiny, tour-de-force, is one of the most interesting
evenings, and entertaining to boot, that I have seen for some
time. I do not know nor recognise any of the writers, though I
have seen a couple of the performers before, but I suspect that
within a fairly short time they will all be dress circle as opposed
to household, names.
Tender Eyes is a very delicate re-telling of the Old Testament
related events involving Jacob, Leah and Rachel. A truly desert
What the Bible doesn't say is remedied in this piece which dramatically
offers a realistic and romantic purpose to the related sequence
of events that makes not only sense, but an intriguing playlet.
It is directed by the author and is a gem.
Rushing into shrieking comedy, the evening continues with
General Schwarzpoot Hunts Pink Tigers in the Sahara Desert.
This is an all too believable encounter between a GI marine and
a displaced deserter from the Iraqi army (pictured above).
Fear from both sides becomes an enjoyment of each other's escapist
dreams, aided by the odd spliff, and after descending delightfully
into rap, which I have to say is a house shaking event, the play
ends on a serious note. We all ultimately react atavistically.
It is about isolation in the desert and clutching at straws. Another
The third play, On Sundays, is a surreal delight.
This play depicts another type of desert, that of desolation.
At the seaside, a man ogles the couples, in particular the women.
The one he really goes for is unattainable, untouchable, and
unreachable. She, however, has her own demons to conquer.
As the years go by, the unrequited and the unattainable naturally
grow older until the time comes when the unattainable is freed
by her own hand. Alas, it is too late. The unrequited is no more.
Quite rightly, in my opinion, this play is kept until last. It
is funny, sad and moving and holds its message as strongly as
do the other two plays, though with the added ingredient of making
you think as you leave the theatre to go off into the night.
Now for the reckoning. All three plays are acted with supreme
confidence by a cast so sure of their material that you really
have to ask yourself, which came first, the play or the performance?
Both meld into a glorious theatrical event, and make me, for
one, rejoice that the theatre is alive and thriving if only you
know where to find it.
Well, that is why Indielondon is here.
Go or regret it. All performers and plays are more than memorable.
A Night in the Desert, 3 UK premieres. Designed by Penelope
Challen, Lighting Designer Maria Christina Thanasoula, Sound Stephen
Guy Daltry, Co-Costume designer Vanessa Frank, Choreographer (On
Sundays) Francois Testory, Puppet Master Mervyn Millar.
Tender Eyes by Michael Aharoni, Directed by the author, WITH:
Christopher Kouros (Jacob), Nicola Welburn (Leah), Siren Turkesh
General Schwartzpoot Hunts Pink Tigers in the Sahara Desert by
Josef Mundy, translated by Adi Drori and Ariella Eshed, Directed
by Ariella Eshed, WITH: Alex Falk (Iraqi Prisoner), Kevin Golding
On Sundays by Lynne Alvarez. Directed by Dale Heinen, WITH: James
Bellorini (Jules), Pascale Gillet (Sylvia), Emilie Feron (The
Produced and Presented by Ocotillo Theatre Company at The
Union Theatre, Union Street, Southwark, London SE1. Tickets 020
Picture shows Alex Falk (Iraqi soldier) and Kevin N Golding (US
Marine) in a scene from General Schwarzpoot Hunts Pink Tigers
in the Sahara Desert. It was kindly supplied by Stagephoto.co.uk