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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 August, 2003, 00:17 GMT 01:17 UK
Fringe breaks phone box record
Phonebox
Twelve adults and two children fitted into one phone box
A Belfast theatre group has broken the world record for the number of people that can fit into a phone box.

Fourteen people squeezed into a phone booth on Edinburgh's Royal Mile at 1300 BST on Tuesday, beating the previous record of 12 set in Germany in 1997.

The Kabosh company was using the stunt to promote its production of Eugene Ionesco's existentialist play, Rhinoceros, which is part of the Edinburgh Fringe.

The attempt, dubbed the World's Maddest Stuffing Extravaganza, initially looked as if it was going to fail.

Actors from the group were joined by volunteers from the crowd, some climbing into the roof of the booth, others sitting on each other, as they slowly shoehorned themselves into the tiny space.

A first attempt reached 12 before a volunteer complained of claustrophobia and demanded to be let out.

The second try also started off unpromisingly, with organisers struggling to recruit volunteers from the audience of onlookers as the booth became increasingly cramped.

But it eventually filled up over 10 minutes and as the volunteers, including two children, were counted out of the box, it became apparent that a new landmark had been set.

Kabosh Theatre Company
Absurd theatre from Kabosh

Jimmy Robertson, 52, of Edinburgh, was crouching at the bottom of the phone box and said determination to break the record had carried him through.

"It was very tight but everyone was there because they wanted to make it happen," he said

"I wasn't uncomfortable - being small, I just pushed myself in and went for it."

Another volunteer, Niki Williams, 18, of West Sussex, joked: "It was pretty claustrophobic but it's a quick way to get to know people.

"We all wanted to make it - I have always wanted to be part of a world record."

The ambitious effort has similarities to the play itself, which is running from 18 - 23 August.

Rhinoceros is performed inside a box installation, which is only big enough to cram in a small number of actors and 30 audience members.

The absurd play concerns a group of citizens in an unnamed French town who all turn into rhinoceroses.

The lead character eventually succumbs to the metamorphosis himself.

Playwright Eugene Ionescu was born in Romania in 1909 but moved to Paris as a child before returning to Bucharest to study in 1924.

He went back to Paris in 1938 and went on to become a founding member of the avant garde theatre movement.




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