Edinburgh Festival Fringe dance review: Poker Night Blues, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Sally Stott.
Possibly the most unusual reworking of A Streetcar Named Desire I have ever seen, this distinctive production is the result of a collaboration between a group of Los Angeles theatre makers and a Chinese cast. Performed almost entirely in Mandarin, with English surtitles, and delivered through a combination of physical theatre, dance and directly addressing the audience, it’s the kind of piece you’ll probably only see at Summer-hall this festival.
While the fractious relationship between two sisters is well established, the subsequent plot developments – delivered through an ambitious use of flashback – get lost in favour of more stylistic concerns. But the cartoon-like characterisation and, at times, formal delivery give a fascinating insight into what happens when a classic American tale is reimagined from a Chinese perspective.
There are also some amusing moments, as Richard Alger’s script playfully pokes fun at social attitudes and, as the male leads form a Bugsy Malone-esque dance troupe, the spirit of 1920s cabaret is another ingredient thrown into mix. While the piece struggles to coherently convey the story it intends, it does offer a fascinating, if at times incongruous, mash-up of theatrical and cultural influences.
Summerhall (Venue 26) until 30 August
Published in The Scotsman on 22 August 2015
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