Frank Dunlop's World Theatre Season torthe Festival has been a triumph so tar. with some stunning pertormances by veryline loreign companies. While the season continues with Chinese and Japanese drama. we review a law oi those been and gone and a law oi those still on view.
Festival director Frank Dunlop has assembled a cast glowing with well-known names tor his production at Schiller's gothic masterpiece MARY STUART. With Hannah Gordon in the title role. Jill Bennett as Elizabeth. and a budget at thousands. the end result. one might reasonably hope. would surely be a ﬁrst rate production. However, although the show borders on excellence it's never quite makes it overthe brink.
Centre as it would be in a lorest clearing or a village ball. by a company olactors
sending up the characters'
5 sell-pity while not losing
compassion lor them. Uncle
production olTroilus and Cressida. What promises to be a straightforward rendering ot a tragic love story. blossoming amidst the slaughter ot the Trojan War. turns into. by skiltul shitting in balance at moods. a richly bitter tragi-comedy. with the accenttirmly on comedy. The central message is stark: once started. the war. though its origins now seem obscure. must continue to whateverconclusion the Gods have waiting. On a slightly less spiritual level. the war continues and it must theretore be given a reason tor doing so. to return sense and order to a chaotic world. And against this backdrop ot lutility and irrationality. the story at
Troilus and Cressida unlolds.
Otten overemphasising comedy reveals a lack ot laith in the strength at the text- an easy option lor any weaker moments- but in this inventive production it leels just right. Sothe
A WHOLLY HEALTHY GLASGOW
lain Heggie's prize-winning play is set in the massage room at the Spartan Health Club. a seedy back alley
invective and colourtul protanity. One does long to
venture outwith the
contines ot the massage room and encountersome olthe trequently mentioned peripheral characters but. that aside, this is atirst protessional play at some
Vanya. at the heart otthe play. was a great bear-like man in Oleg Basilashvili's pertormance.ahopeless picture at unlullilled tile 3 and unrequited love-yet bitterlytunny. Exquisite
on their lirst visit to Europe —and not the least bit alt-putting to tind it delivered in a barely-comprehensible pidgin English. This is theatre at its most primitive .
meeting at Hector and Ajax. long awaited and one at the climaxes ot the play. becomes nothing more than a pointless slapstick. over in seconds. between the bored and the petulant. The
establishment run in cosy partnership between unscrupulous instructor Charley Hood and world-weary masseur Donald Dick. The lormer extracts the maximum
Hannah Gordon appears ill at ease. prevented by a bizarre Franco-Scottish accent. a long red wig. and a pleasant but homely demeanourlrom achieving
promise; salty. exuberant. engaging and pertectly perlormed by Tom Watson. Gerard Kelly and. especially. Paul Higgins as the not so dumb newcomer.
any true aura ot regality. In the scene preceding her execution her attendants and tickle lover Leicester. played by John Fraser. are more touching.
Paradoxically. one's sympathies come to lie more and more with the Tudor queen Elizabeth. lorced trom the cradle to play a power game. and unable to commit hersell permanentlyto any one man. in marked contrast to her rash cousin who toolishly allied herseltwith three at lile's losers.
One ot the mostarresting moments is the controntation at Fotheringhay Castle between the two queens. Here Mary's sell-control llnally snaps and she openly insults the woman who decides hertate.
A play concerning itsell with power. and the characters who use and abuse it. the ultimate message to be gleaned is that Mary tails because at her delusion that she may be both a woman. and a powertul queen. (Helen Davidson)
0 Mary Stuart. Assembly Hall. 7.30pm.
RAUN RAUN THEATRE
The Festival seems to hold as many surprises and new discoveries as the Fringe these days. and this must be one at the most enthralling: a slice ot Polynesian lolklore. pertormed in St Bride’s
-and atits mostpowertul;a i Dado'mmes'mmme entire cast brougntour
riotous cacophony ot sound and a jubilant celebration at New Guinea tribal dancing. national costume and customs. The storyline is traditional and direct. a simple allegory on the birth of New Guinea. rooted in the mythology ol the South Seas. But it was the music and the dazzling visual eltects that make this production spell-binding: a raucous. but pertectly disciplined. blend ol percussion. voice and pounding leet accompany the dialogue. while costumes changed time and time again-tribal jewellery. conch shell totems, animal head masks.
o Haun Haun Theatre. Sail The Midnight Sun. St Bride's Centre. Haymarket. Bun linished.
To see Chekhov done by the Gorky Theatre ol Leningrad was a rare privilege indeed. Nevera dull moment. Their marvellous, mature production at Uncle Vanya did not once lose sight ol the deep sadness that runs through Chekhov’s ‘scenes lrom country lite'. his portrayal ot a group ot unlullilled people. yet played the drama's comic potential to the hilt. Constantly tunny — at times even tarclcal -the production lound every ounce ot melodramatic potential in the play. so
' highly-charged . relationshipsbetweenthe characters and the acres at
meaning behind every line.
. On a beautilul sombre set. this was an ambivalent
picture at a bygone Russia. capturing brilliantly Chekhov's prematurely elegiac mood. Here is hoping it returns to Britain sometime.
Uncle Vanya. Gorky Theatre Leningrad. Kings Theatre. Bun linished.
TROILUS AND CRESSIDA
An exhilarating sense at discovery runs through the Berliner Ensemble's
set is sparse. Only a vast white drape intrudes into the black and grey otthe stage. Wrapped around itsell it becomes atree. Troilus and Cressida's tryst point; doubled up. a balcony upon which to watch the parading heroes; billowing down towards the stage. the canopy ot Achilles's tent; and stretched taut across the back. a screen, behind which the death at Hector is enacted as a shadow play. This was a bold choice ot play and a beautilully judged rivetting.
o Troilus and Cressida. Berliner Ensemble. King’s Theatre. Hun linished.
ﬁnancial reward lrom every '
unsuspecting ‘punter‘. the latter lives only tor the daily
‘nookie' that may arise trom .
the men who slip through his hands. Well-being and titness are minor considerations until the arrival ot an idealistic new recruit with a sell-appointed mission
impossible to transtorm Glasgow into a wholly healthy city by 1990. His youthlul retorming zeal strikes tear into the hearts otthe older men buthis naivete should not be taken atlace value.
A Wholly Healthy Glasgow revels in the use at language. tilting the mouths at its characters with a stream at blunt
0 A Wholly Healthy Glasgow. Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre Company. Churchill Theatre. Momingside Boad. Until 22 Aug. 7.30pm; 20 and 22 aug also 2.30pm. £7 (£5).
JUNO AND THE PAYCOCK
The Dublin Gate Theatre's production olJuno and the Paycock uttered a rare chance to see a line lrish production at a O'Casey's great classic. Focussing on the terrible deprivation laced by the poor in Dublin during the turbulent years tollowing the lrish Civil War. 'Juno' is a tribute to the resilience and strength otwomen — a tact brought out brilliantly by Geraldine Plunkett in the central role olJuno Boyle. HerPaycock is a strutting. work~shy procrastinator. but he is not without leeling tor his wile and son. crippled inthe struggles against British occupation and Joe Dowling's production locussed beautilully on the touching. charged relationships between the characters and the contlicts between idealism and the relaity ot poverty. As Juno Boyle says on hearing other son‘s murder. ‘He wasn’ta diehard terrorist. he was just my dead son.‘ Juno and the Paycock. Gate Theatre. Royal Lyceum Theatre. Hun s linished.
The List 21 Aug»- 3 Sept 13