Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman reviews: Leonce and Lena, at EICC (venue 150), reviewed by Mark Fisher.
We tend to credit the punk-like spirit of theatrical subversion to Alfred Jarry and his scatological Ubu Roi. But that play premiered in 1896, a year after Georg Buchner’s Leonce and Lena (★★★★) – and that was nearly 60 years after the playwright wrote it. This is a play about Prince Leonce of the Kingdom of Popo and Princess Lena of the Kingdom of Pipi who escape rather than face an arranged marriage. As any German scholar will tell you, Popo is playground-speak for “bottom” and Pipi for “pee”.
Accordingly, the young Teatro Ma¡quina company stages this satirical romance with a nightclub energy and a playful air of irreverence. It is performed on a raised platform, somewhere between a boxing ring and a nightclub, with the audience sitting close up on three sides. Dressed like they’re ready for a game of football or a night of serious clubbing, the actors tell the story to the accompaniment of a DJ. Their props are little more than a few rolls of bubble-wrap; the wildlife sound effects are of their own making. It adds a note of eccentricity and fun to the play, with its adolescent existentialist musings and fairytale plot. They don’t convince you it is superior to Buchner’s better-known Danton’s Death and Woyzeck, but they do impress you with their vibrant spirit.