Wildcat, on tour It is nine years since Wildcat broke away from 7:84, and their charter is unchanged since then: to produce lively, musical, comic shows on serious, topical themes. They are a people’s company— no arty staging or obscure allusions here — and therefore a Socialist one. Jotters, written and directed by David MacLennan, explores the relationship between Scottish education, (un)employment and national, capitalist policies. Wildcat have always been a strong musical company— each member sings and plays at least one instrument to professional standard — and Jotters amply displays their ability to switch easily through various styles including a cappella, country and western, and jazz/rock. Particularly successful are the opening song, ‘Desolate North of Watford’, and the use of three saxophones.
0n the acting side, however, Wildcat are weaker. The sketches which lay out the show’s theme and narrative are witty and informative, but performed with little panache: many oi the horrifying statistics(95% of new jobs are created in Southern England) are swamped by over-pacing, for example, and the dance routines, though funny, are shoddily executed.
But the show makes its points: British (especially Scottish) education is on its knees, Government training schemes are counter-productive, the results are appalling; all this is clearly and humourously demonstrated. What Jotters lacks in focus and emotional depth its repays in melody, entertainment and political sincerity. (Andrew Burnet)
Douglas Morris reports from the fifth Scottish Student Drama festival.
Historic Stirling, nestling at the feet of the Dchils, played host to the 1987 Scottish Student Drama Festival during the lastweek in February. This theatrical assault course returned to its first home, a university strong on beauty but weak on tradition, where students from all over Scotland (well Central Scotland) gathered for a week to exchange ideas, experiment, present their plays and socialise.
A question was posed at the Opening Reception by Bill Bankes-Jones, Artistic Director of the embryonic Scottish Student Theatre Company (launched at this year’s hence all the more significant Festival. See News). ‘Is there a distinct identity to Scottish theatre?’ he asked. He also answered. ‘We think there is.’ Was this the week to ratify the statement? Is the English
Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh
Edwin Stiven's Tamlane was first performed by Theatre Alba in 1981 and Charles Nowosielskl, Artistic Director of both the Brunton Theatre and Alba Theatre companies, has revived it for the Musselburgh Theatre’s final production.
It has all the hallmarks ofTheatre Alba work. It is based on a Scottish legend concerned with the supernatural and skilfully dramatised in an old Scots brought to life. The staging is Immaculate — creating a woodland glade straight out of a child’s picture book, then eerily placing stone tombs and an altar in the background. In essence it sums up what is best in the play and the production- here the Scottish borders of the Middle Ages - complete with innocent maidens, kindly nurses and a bewitched young nobleman is well presented. At the same time, Nowosielski has highlighted the symbolic and allegorical weight that these simple tales often hide.
Anne Lannan and Shirley Loughlan as the sisters at the beginning of their sexual awakening convincingly present this in a mixture of naturalism and symbolism and Garry Stewart as Tamlane communicates the dangers oi ‘men’, as well as a young man’s own painful emotions.
Tamlane is the link between the ‘real’ world and the world of faeries, but it is the representation of evil that is least convincing. Maggie Jordan and her henchman Alexander West are too like pantomime characters to succeed. The production hints at disturbing sexuality, even eroticism, but stops short of delivering it, leaving the
Mr Bankes—Jones qualified to make it? All too soon the mumblings about an ‘English’ festival started, rival factions started to bitch, and there was even publication of an unofficial festival magazine. Could the theatre win through?
An exhausting schedule including nine productions produced in the excellent facilities of the MacBobert Arts centre proved it could. Festival Administrator, Lesley D’Hare, made sure everything somehow ran smoothly and box office expectations were reached by the second evening. The writers' workshop was the best attended of the myriad available on all aspects oi the theatre, perhaps because It offered a possible opening, to potential writers, performers and technical crew alike, to the Scottish Student Theate Company and onward to the Edinburgh Fringe. The festival didn’t just stop at workshops and organised performances, however: some excellent (and some dire) music and comedy was seen in the festival cale cabaret, especially Wednesday’s appearance of Bannockburn Youth Theatre, who offered some refreshingly original entertainment.
With the plays, well . . . where do you start? The ‘home’ team turned in some excellent characteristalon in ‘A Day in the Death of Joe Egg’and Arm in Arm
Priest’s attempted rape of one of the girls without adequate context.
Nevertheless, this is an entertaining production of a play that shows that the old Scots language and Scottish legends are potentially an electrifying context for an exploration of the human psyche. (Nigel Billen).
In Chekhov’s Three Sisters, life doesn’t seem to have any meaning, society no direction. The sisters live in a house without a ‘head’ —theirfather having died. In this society only men seem to be useful and their brother, who lives with them, squanders his potential, losing his way in his careerand making a disastrous marriage. Butthen so have all the men—soldiers, aristocrats, doctors. Wildly optimistic or in the depths of insane despair, no other alternatives are offered unless they be the pathetic self-delusion ironically invested in a teacher.
Ian Wooldridge‘s production captures the feeling of spiralling down into a void of pointlessness: the set begins by being cluttered, but ends sparsely dressed, almost empty. Paradoxically however, outside the confines of the house and in the light there is a sense of hope, an ambiguity echoed in the text. Throughout, Wooldridge’s successful production uses humour both as a means of showing the ridiculousness of the society but also to hint at one aspect of the hope that does ultimately sustain the characters. Bridget McCann as Natasha in an excellent Maggie Smithesque performance exemplifies the former and, John Bett as Vershinin equally well the latter. (Nigel Billen)
(Royal Scottish Academy of Music and
Drama) offered ‘Bites’, an emotionally
shocking production which seemed to teeter hypnotically on the borders of possibility and impossibility. Edinburgh University Theatre Company’s ‘Groomsnicht’ was an uproarlously funny Scottish sex
comedy and certainly one of the highlights. In ‘The Beautiful and the Damned’, E.U.T.C. offered an ambitiously staged and beautifully polished snapshot of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel about society in decline. But where was it aiming? Kirkcaldy College’s ‘Monkeyhouse
Blue' offered a much more relevantand
challenging snapshot, one of ‘80’s Scotland in decline. Sometimes lt suffered for its ambition, verged on preaching and maybe attempted too much, but Ittrled and wasn’t afrald of the adventure theatre can offer. ‘Eve
Set the Balls of Corruption Rolling’ was
an ambitious attempt by St Andrews at Marcella Evaristi’s TV play and in ‘Tls Pity She’s A Whore’, John Street Theatre Co from Strathclyde made a bold attempt at Jacobean tragedy. Such a variety of theatre showed what the SSDF should be.
0 A Pick of The 1987 SSDF will be
shown at Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre
from 17-22 Mar. See Listings.
(£1.50). Soor Plooms in a feminist parody of the trad panto.
O TRON THEATRE 63 Trongate, 552 4267/8. Box Office Tue—Sat Noon—8pm; Sun 12.30—8pm. Cafe/Rest. Bar Tue-Thurs
Noon—l 1pm; Fri and Sat Noon—midnight; Sun 12.30—11pm. Panic Until Sun 8Mar. £4 guests; £3 members (ofTraverse or Tron Theatres); £1 students. OAPs, UB405. disabled and under 21. Lumiere & Son. experimental performance art group who have established a following at the Edinburgh Fringe, in their latest show Panic, a highly visual. tightly choreographed show about modern life for a young woman.
Hocus Pocus and In Nomine Patris Tue 10—Sun 15 March. 8pm. Tickets as for Panic. Annexe Theatre in their successful double bill. See Theatre Workshop. Edinburgh.
Mugshot Tue 17—Sat 21 March. 8pm.
Tickets as for Panic. Cumbernauld Theatre Co in their touring production: a Chandleresque thriller set in Glasgow. See Touring.
Lika Sat 7 March. 2.30pm. In the bar. Free. A welcome return of the playreadings in the bar, this first being Lika: the first showing in this country of a Russian play by Zowabov, in which Louise and Maureen Beattie play two close sisters who suddenly discover they are in love with the same man.
Who Dunnlt? Sat 14 March. 2.30pm. In the bar. Free. Playreading ofa new play by Bill Jesse. described as an insane, obscene farce in which Rab the Butler has his way with the hoi polloi of English rural society.
O ADAM HOUSE Chambers Street, 225 3744.
Much Ado About Nothing Sat l4—Sat 21 Mar (not Sun). 7.30pm. £2.50 (£2) (tickets available Usher Hall Box Office, 228 1 155 in advance). Edinburgh Graduate Theatre Group in Shakespeare’s comedy in which the witty Beatrice and Benedick' meet their match in every sense.
0 ASSEMBLY ROOMS 54 George Street.
Whalers Fri 6 and Sat 7 Mar. 8pm. £3 (£1.50). Tickets available Usher Hall Box Office,228 1155. in advance. Return to the Assembly Rooms of Michael Elder's much-acclaimed Fringe First winning one-man play about the history ofwhaling in Dundee. See panel.
0 BEOLAM THEATRE 2 Forrest Road, 225 9893.
Dverthe Bridge Until Fri 6 March. 7.30pm. £2.50; £2 concs;£1.50 members. A play by Sam Thompson set in a Belfast Shipyard in the 50‘s, presented by EUTC.
God Wed 11 March. 1.30pm. £1 members; £1 .50 non-members. Lunch included in price. EUTC in Woody Allen‘s comedy.
A Bespectable Wedding Wed 18 March. 1.30pm. £1 members;£1.50 non-members. Lunch included in price. EUTC in Brecht’s comedy about a wedding feast where the gradually collapsing furniture mirrors the shaky structure of the society and relationships on stage.
20 The List 6- 19 March