9 the Holy Grail but to understand with

Abel's help that death can be

conquered through the imagination as

= represented by stories. It was at course the Middle Ages that marked the

beginning oi the realisation oi the

? imaginative power oi art, beginning its

divorce lrom religious icons, and saw

. the beginnings at modern printing.


Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh

A remarkable piece of theatre opens up the new season at the Traverse. Peter Jukes’ Abel Barebone gathers whatever interesting snippets oi world history happen to be lying around, including a 6334 year-old Abel, brother at Cain and Grandson oi God, sets the action somewhere in the Middle Ages and coniures apparently out oi nothing very much a persuasive humanist challenge to the despair that is so otten the theme oi 20th-century art.

Abel, engagingly played by David Gant, as a Merlin-cum-demigod-cum- lrlsh tlnker, assembles a group oi the ‘disenchanted oi the earth' and proceeds to weld them into The Humble Company. Together they embark on the crusade oi the Middle Ages- not to iind

The Humble Company’s punning

is. name points to drama and periormance itseli as part olthis liieiorce, and at its

best Stephen Unwin’s production reaches a level oi theatre that transcends any everyday trouble and even makes one cheeriully disposed to seeking solutions to the problem ior our times which Abel leaves us - how to overcome the threat oi complete extinction (by nuclear weapons or whatever means we or nature might have in store tor us).

This is a iunny, inventive, production oi a play that has room ior even the biggestthemes. (Nigel Billen)


Focus Theatre, On Tour

Skirmishes has the ingredients oi a successiul and satisfying black comedy, but it ialls short oi success in Focus Theatre‘s production mainly because at a monotony oi tone and mood. Catherine Hayes’ play concerns the relationships between two sisters overtheir mother's deathbed. Their conversation throws up such a wide variety oi themes-guilt, compassion, duty, iertility, iidelity among others-





by Robert McLeish Directed by David Hayman

Don’t miss this exciting new production

ROYAL LYCEUM THEATRE Tue 26 —Sat 30 May 7.45pm

Tickets: £4, £2.50 concession, available from Lyceum Box Office, 031 229 9697 (open Mon—Sat 10am—8pm; 6pm on non-performance days) and from the Ticket Centre, Waverley Bridge, 031 225 3732.

MON-SAT 24 APRIL to 16 MAY 7.45 pm Sat Matinee 9 MAY 3.15 pm


. Thnnessee Mlliams Pass1ons flare as dreams are shattered


Tickets from £2.50 (031) 229 9697 PERFORMED BY


that none is ever seriously considered. Jean, the sisterwho has nursed her motherlor years speaks at desperate boredom and later coniesses a terrible need tor her sister's support. Both issues should stick in the throat and lead to deeper discussion: neither does. And the sisters' relationship: pragmatic Jean’s nonchalance against empiily emotional Rita’s deiensive outrage even this is basically unchanged by the end, as Rita weeps in her mother's iinal embrace and Jean calmly closes the corpse's eyes. Thus the development otthe play is predictable where it should be constantly surprising, revealing implied, concealed emotion in the under-written subtext.

But the show is by no means disastrous. Dolina Maclennan’s portrayal oi the mother is completely, painiully convincing; the humour is well sustained ii lacking in variety; and there are some very eitective tensions towards the end. But compared with, say, dance company Kosh's Telling Tales about a similar sunbject, one is left unmoved and asking, like Jean. ‘Is there anything else?’ (Andrew Burnet)


Critical Mass Theatre, On Tour Cordelia Ditton's play is essentially concerned with the multiplicity oi harrowing questions that have grown up around Britain’s increasing dependence on nuclear power.

Group. a company who tour women‘s work nationally. in a show that looks at the lives and choices available to three women;

0 Mrs MacKechenie meets the Megaloths Thurs 28 Sat 30 May. £2 (£1). A new production by Lung lia Theatre Company.

0 TRAVERSE THEATRE 112 West Bow. 226 2633. Box office Tue—Sat lOam—8pm; Sun 6—10pm. Bar. Rest. Tickets also available from the Ticket Centre. 22 Market Street. Seats from £2. Sundays ALL SEATS £2 (non-members £2.50).

Abel Barebone and the Humble Company Against the Great Mortality Until Sun 31 May. 7.30pm. Day members £4.50; Econ members £4; Full members £3.50: Student members £2. All seats £2 on Sundays. Sizeable reductions for anyone booking all four productions before 21 May. Please contact theatre for details. Premiere ofan excellent new play by Peter Jukes. starting the Traverse‘s season of new writing. Cain’s brother Abel returns in the Middle Ages. and. with his Humble Company. demonstrates that it is possible for the poor to reshape their lives. See Review. Oscar McLennan Fri 15 and Sat 16 May. 9.30pm. £3 (£1 .50) plus 50p membership for non-members. Oscar McLennan‘s wonderfully black, off-the-wall and semi-autobiographical comic monologues made him a deserved hit at last year‘s Edinburgh Festival. Here he makes his debut at the Traverse as part of the new cabaret

However, through iarce, verse and the other dramatic levels around which the play is centred, emerge interests beyond the immediate tears oi seeping waste and inevitable nuclear combustion.

Two women (played with vigoure and conviction by Maggie Ford and Cordelia Ditton) attempt to substantiate with iact their own intuitive dislike oi nuclear power and its unsavoury byproducts. Via their research and enlightenment we are guided through the bugbears, irustrations and incomprehensible jargon the nuclear age has borne. Meanwhile questions oi personal compatibility are raised, plus the problem oi exactly where they both stand in relation to the environment they wish to protect.

As theatre, it is deliberately sell-conscious but never indulgent, systematically divorcing itseli lrom the

points raised by the characters to evaluate their worth with sell-mocking precision. Where the play succeeds is the manner in which it iniorms without boring, alerts without sensationalising and ridicules without trivialising what is ultimately an alarming and encroaching presence. ‘The Day the Sheep Turned Pink’ is an uncompromisineg direct play about Dounreay, Bradwell and other nuclear hotspots, but is also a deit and involving analysis oi human compatibility, resilience and compassion. (Conor McCutcheon)

season. Peter Capaldi Fri 22 and Sat 23 May. 9.30pm. £3 (£1.50) plus 50p membership for non-members. Local singer/songwriter/star of Local Hero Peter Capaldi who splits his personality with well-known bank clerk about town Gavin Meekie in two evenings ofcabaret.


o The Day the Sheep Turned Pink Critical Mass Theatre Comazany tour a new. comic show about the issue of nuclear power. See Review. For further details please te1:()l 485 0077.

Highlands and Islands Fri 15—Sat 23 May; Denny Civic Theatre, [)umbarron Tue 26 and Wed 27 May. 7.30pm; Tron Theatre, Glasgow Thurs 28—Sun 31 May. 8pm. 041 552 4267.

0 Wallace Guardian oi Scotland Theatre Co-Op in a new play by Patrick Evans that attempts to strip the legendary hero of his romantic status but not his stature. Wallace emerges as a pugnacious, proud hard-man, a product and spokesman of his times and his divided. oppressed country. Through his story. narrated in short, punchy scenes, Evans paints in a picture of a ravaged. ununified Scotland ruthlessly economically exploited by the English Edward I. A bold. imaginative play, marred by overwriting and. at the outset ofthe tour, overacting.

For further details please contact Theatre Co—Op on 031 558 1610.

30 The List 15 28 May