American Poodle (FringeTIX)
Guy Masterson @ Fringe Factory (The Pastry Room)
9:00pm, Fri 29 Feb 2008
Borne of desperation when prepping for the Edinburgh Fringe one year(the programme is really worth a read), American Poodle (the term coming from a less-than-affectionate nickname for the departed Tony Blair) is a pair of short plays dealing with two perspectives of the American Revolution.
The first piece, Snowball, is a fact-heavy and deeply historical view on the British perspective towards the American colonies. From discovery, through settlement, through to the Revolution itself (including some gloriously lyrical descriptions around the Boston Tea Party), this Anglo-centric performance is played in Guy Masterson’s typical style: roaming the length and breadth of the stage, refined sweeping movements, sudden jumps for impact. It’s a great bit of work; educational, even.
The second piece, Splayfoot, was penned by an American for the US viewpoint on Britain. It’s terribly contrived and, in contrast to the earlier British FactFest, very story driven: an American in London to strike a deal. Masterson is less convincing here as an American but, as it’s mainly played for laughs, it doesn’t really matter all that much; it’s most definitely the weaker of the two pieces, but is by no means a flat conclusion.
Yes, it’s a funny bit of work – but the (future President) John Adams quote regarding standing armies stands out as a distinctly contemporary message. No, really, it stands out; almost (but not quite) smug in it’s “look at me”-ness. But that’s fair enough; sometimes, for all those looking only to the future, a slap is needed to remind them of the past.
(And, again, I’m just going to mention how utterly impressed I am that Masterson pulled off great performances so soon after his personal tragedies. That’s professionalism for you… says I, who’ll painfully take a day off work after stubbing my toe.)