Ibsen‘s John Gabriel Borkman is a strangely poetic marriage of naturalism and symbolism. which in Ingmar Bergman‘s production for the Bavarian State Theatre has a chilly and mesmerising force.Borkman, a banker. has sacrificed love for money, and is condemned to housebound solitude, ostracised by members of his family. who in their own turn exist above a wealth of destructive, gnawing 'jealousies and desires.

Bergman’s production beautifully balances humour with the dark, psychological and symbolic undercurrents - handled with understated intensity by Christine Buchegger and Christa Berndl as his wife and sister-in-law. Staged in huge echoing austere rooms, the stark beauty and simplicity of the final scene, where Borkman (a resigned Hans Michael Rehberg) and Christa escape from their confined house and feelings into the light for a brief moment, remains firmly etched on the memory. (Sarah Hemming).


Trailing clouds of critical acclaim as the most avant-garde ensemble ever to tread the boards they came. What they presented was. if not the future of the theatre as we know it, a consistently engrossing, sometimes disturbing, and frequently amusing evening.

An impressive set greeted a wary audience: a long steel table set up with a row ofseats and mikes giving the impression of that celebrated American pastime the Congressional hearing. The places were filled by a variety of actors reading from a variety of introduced texts, Burroughs, Ginsberg and Kerouac among them. This gave way to a cock-eyed ‘version’ of interrogation scenes from Arthur Miller’s The Crucible (a flying lawsuit from the author prevented the real thing) which managed to be both hysterically funny and just plain hysterical. Next up was the part we had been waiting for; the acid trip section recreated from the actors' own experience on LSD. As we might have expected, it proved profoundly irritating. Music (see the actors turn into The Velvet Underground before your very eyes). video (strangely dislocating images of a man’s face and some buildings) and a bizarre

Latin-American sneaker-dancing routine ended a challenging and energetic show.

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Simon Gooch catches the Karamazovs in action

The message? Well. apart from the fact that Timothy Leary is a complete bimbo. the piece seemed to illustrate the hysteria we can get ourselves into in the search for knowledge of higher consciousness. of the truth of demonic possessions. of the order of the show‘s narrative which in the end isn‘t really worth knowing. The finale acts as an easy conclusion: the actors whirl in an idiotic routine while video screens. and presumably the audience. ask ‘What is this dancing!‘ a question whose answer isn‘t worth bothering about. Unlike the show, which is more than worthy of your rapt attention. (Trevor Johnston) The Road to Immortality (Part II), The Wooster Group. Run ended; but The Wooster Group will perform at London '5 Riverside Studios and Chapter A rts Centre, Cardiff, in the nearfuture.


Those visiting The Dome in Pilrig Park hoping to see Circus triumphantly restored to its proper place will have been disappointed by Circus Senso‘s colourful but po-faced checklist of acrobatic skills. The young team are not quite good enough to get away with the ‘look we nearly made a mistake‘ routines and only the more experienced ringmaster/clown/tightrope-walker communicated the personality of good circus. And boy. traditional or not, how I longed for some kind of verbal communication so lacking in most ofthe show. (The Dome itself. on this night. proved to be a charming and exciting venue).

( Nigel Billen) Circus Senso. The Dome. Pilrig Park. off1.eith Walk, 225 5 75b. Until 30 Aug (not Mon 25), 6.30pm; 23. 24. 27and3()Aug. 3pm.

THE GENTLE SHEP ERO The elegant Signet Library complements The Gentle Shepherd very graciously. Its arched. columned length and saucer dome, painted with Apollo and the Muses enclose a piece ofelegant artifice in Allan Ramsay‘s popular 18th century play. Set almost in the round. it has the intimacy ofa chamber piece.

The plot is slight and rather frilly, full of be-ribboned shepherdesses, but it is played in robust broad Scots adding some conviction to the basically insubstantial characters. Over twenty songs are interspersed through the piece . admirably executed by the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, making a pleasing and effective ballad opera out of what would otherwise have little substance.

The staging is not especially imaginative nor the interpretation particularly original but both in its setting and for its music it is a very pleasing performance. The Gentle Shepherd . The Signet Library, (behind St Giles Cathedral), High Street. Until 24 Aug 6. 30pm, also 2.30pm Sun 24. £5.


The Festival World Theatre Season this year has offered the opportunity to see some marvellous and hugely varied pieces ofinternational theatre the Nuria Espert Company from Spain‘s Yerma was one unforgettable production. Lorca’s tragedy is an immensely poetic. symbolic work about a childless Spanish peasant woman‘s overruling passion to have a child. Lorca transfers the rules and basis of grand tragedy from the nobility to an ordinary woman and so doing questions also the chauvinistic code of honour to which she is obliged. The production is magnificent staged on a huge trampoline like set. a triangular membrane suggestive of a womb, pointing up the play‘s symbolic nature. But it is also full of life and vitality, the company working beautifully together around the central performance of Nuria Espert. whose gradual development

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from a radiant, lovely girl to a grief-striken middle-aged woman is delicately controlled and deeply ; moving (Sarah Hemming). Yerma, Nuria Espert Company, Royal Lyceum Theatre. Run ended.

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The Flying Karamazov Brothers took the International Festival by storm last year-‘ no one here had seen anything quite like it. Their return with a new show was eagerly awaited and again proved to be a memorable night. Juggle and Hyde takes the patter further but leaves some of the previously so casually achieved skill behind. It rather reminded tne of exhibition tennis the need to win isn‘t there quite so strongly and nobody seemed to mind dropping the pins (they‘re pins when you catch them, clubs when they hit you). But like exhibition tennis, the formula .. actually produces more adventurous shots, more outrageously audacious f juggling. It all seems to be part ofthe; : process ofturningjuggling from a “j i trick to an art. The humour is as gentle and as self-mocking as ever and is really a saving grace when it comes to the introduction ofperhaps over-elaborate electronic gadgetry: " Literary and intellectual quotations... are juggled with as much as ever ancb‘. one is almost left with the feeling that throwing objects to each other is a perfectly natural extension of polite. conversation. (Nigel Billen’) The 3;: Flying Karamazov Brothers. Jugng and Hyde. Leith Theatre, Ferry Road. Until30Aug. 7.30pm. [3—f4: l

Norrie ~Esrten in Yerma