0 BEDLAM THEATRE Forrest Road. 225 9893. (Tickets for this show from Book Fair. Victoria Street. info. Michael David. 346 1838).

Arise from Death Thurs 31 ( )ct—Sat 2 Nov. 8pm. A triple bill for Hallowe‘cn by a new company. 0an Theatre. The Death of 'l‘intagiles by Maurice Maeterlinck. an Arthurian tale of loye and death: The Words on the Window Pane by W. B. Yeats which shifts from the comic to the disturbing when the spirit ofJonathan Swift disturbs a seance meeting. and Purgatory. a short ‘time play’. also by W. B. Yeats.

o GATEWAY EXCHANGE 2—4 Abbeymount. not 0983.

It's a Free Country Wed 3f) ()ct. 7.45pm. Wildcat Stage Productions‘ latest touring show. a satirical political song-cycle about life in Thatcher's Britain.

The Commonwealth Tales Thurs 31 ()ct—Sat 9 Noy. (Excluding Mon 4 (Q Tues 5). £2 (£1 ). Rough Diamond Theatre Company in a new comic version of ('haucer's (‘anterbury Tales. adapted and directed by Pam Strachan. This production is based on the ingenious idea of relocating the Tales into the background of the ('ommonwealth (iames. finding the modern equivalents of ( ‘haueer's highly colourful characters and the udesthcyteH.

O KINGS 2 [even Street. 229 1201. Boxoffice Mon—Sat lflam—Spm. Bar. Rest. [D] [[1]

Scotland the What? Until Sat lb ( )ct. Mon— Fri. 7.45pm. Sat 5 6‘; 8pm. {ISO-£5.50. (‘oncs half price Mon—Thurs. Sat mats. (ieorge Donald. Stephen Robertson and Buff l lardie. the comic trio from Aberdeen. in their latest show directed by James logan.

Life of Galileo Mon 2S ()ct - Sat 2 Nov. Mon—Sat. 7.3(lpm. Sat mat 2.30pm. ill—£5. (‘onc halfprice Mon—Wed. The Scottish Theatre (’ompany in Bertolt Brecht’s masterpiece about the great scientist. Brecht portraying him as trapped between the scientific search for truth and the intervention of(‘hurch and State. raising questions of priorities and morals that remain as pertinent today. Tom Fleming plays (ialileo (ialilei. and Peter Dews directs. (See panel).

0 NETHERBOW 43 l ligh Street. 550 9579. Box office Moanat [lflzfm—4pm. 7- 9pm perf. eygs. ('afe E

Beauty and the Bounders L? mil Sat 26 ()ct 8pm. Sat mat. 19 ()ct 3.30pm. £3 (£2). Polly March plays Lilian Baylis in Douglas Hankin‘s play about the life of Baylis. founder ofthe Old Vic and Sadlers Wells theatres. (See review).

0 PLAYHOUSE 1822 (ireenside Place. 557 2590. Box office. Mon—Sat lflam—opm. Bar.

Kelly MonteithSai 2h ()ct. £5. £4. One man show from the successful American TV comedian.

Billy Connolly‘I‘hurs 31 ()ct. £6.50. £5.50. The Big Yin hits Edinburgh on his latest nationwide tour. S

l)r\\ll) l llllll l

The Nutcracker Suite could easily have been just an attack on the prison system and a plea for the re-establishing in its original form of the experimental Special Unit.

However, Andy Arnold and Jimmy Boyle‘s adaptation of Boyle's prison diaries attempts to do far more than that. True there are many swipes at the prison authorities, the attitude of the Home Office and the irrational press many of these are funny (the prison wardens’ comments at the trial of Boyle and other prisoners for the riots at Inverness prison), some are over the top (the politician craving publicity). True the infamous ‘cages' where men would be kept in solitary for years are shown and throughout the evening much is told about life in prison that is very shocking, butthe overall impression is not that of a social document attacking the prison authorities.

Billy McCall's portrayal of Boyle convinces at every level. McColl not only looks like Boyle and moves like Boyle, but also, thanks in part to the


precise direction of Ian Wooldridge and

1 Andy Arnold, he is able to convey the

same dominating presence. The play

. puts Boyle solidly at the centre of the ' drama it is he who sees the

1 possibilities of Special Unitfirst

i recognising the implications ofa

regime without arbitary rules and

arbitrary punishments.

The play makes no apologies for what Boyle did that put him in the Special

Unit; the audience is merely asked to

follow his development in the unit. It is

3 an exploration of freedom

which is at first a shared experience but gradually the play becomes more and more about Boyle‘s relative freedom; jointly they destroy the punishment cell but if is Boyle who of the three prisoners is able to argue for more freedom and it is he who finds the meaning of freedom (as well as a taste of the outside world at the Edinburgh Festival) in art.

The impressive metal set gives a tangible reality to this portrayal of prison but much is actually heavily stylised; the lifestyle of the unit suggested rather than accounted for in

detail. But Boyle grows more real throughout becoming literally the guide to the Unitshowing round a constant stream of visitors all of whom seem to understand less as he understands more.

Finlay Welsh, as the most sympathetic of the prison officers, effectively portrays Ken‘s pain as he sees the freedom to act as human beings offered by the Unit undermined by the changing attitude of the authorities to the experiment, while Kenny Bryans and Stuart Hepburn as Boyle's fellow prisoners, Larry and Ben, play characters who in their own ways find the Unit impossible to cope with. Boyle is left at the end of the play centre stage hammering away at his art, but there is no illusion that even he has achieved freedom; he has, however, discovered what it is.

The Nutcracker Suite is a powerful examination of one man's successful battle against the forces that imprisoned him in his own acts of beastiality and a moving account of the slamming of doors in other mens' lives. (Nigel Billen)

The List lS—3 l October 13