JOAN OF ARC
Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow
The epic scope ol the German dramatist, Schiller’s account oi the heroic lite ot Joan oi Arc is well reilected in Robert David Macdonaid’s line new translation and in his soaring production at the play.
The setting has been ‘updated’ lrom the medieval to Second World War France, the action taking place in a semi-ruined, white tiled cellar in Paris. But the spirit oi the play isn’t tied to one era. The English army oi the 15th century become synonimous with the Germans oi the Hitler’s army. Throughout the production makes the much oi such parallels, making oiten iascinating and sometimes coniusing iuxtapositions, but seemingly always aiming to broaden the scope oi the interpretation. The vascillating allegiances lor example at The Duke oi Burgundy, one momentlighting iorthe French, the nexttorthe English/Germans, acts as a commentary on the schizophrenic existence ordinary Frenchnmen were iorced to live during the Second World War.
The production makes clearthat the Duke is basically not an evil man any more than the King, Charles Vii is a weak one. Played by Laurance Budic as a wonderiully civilised man who would willingly sacrilice his position tor the lives oi his people he is a ‘modern’ king rather in the mould oi Edward VII. More than this though, he comes to represent the complete bewilderment oi civilian government when swept into the horriilc warthe implications oi which they tail to comprehend.
Amongst all this is the ligure ol Joan hersell. Attimes she is a depersonalised ligure acting in a lrenzy or at other times a trance. At others she is the ordinary girl almost capable oi lalllng in love with a ordinary man. The onlookers in the production sometimes hold her in awe, sometimes dismiss her and ilnally brand her a Jew. The character oi Joan barely survives the weight at meaning imposed on her in this production and Charon Bourke’s pertormance perhaps doesn’t go tar enough in giving this Joan individuality.
However, it is Joan in an epic landscape that the production best portrays. That landscape id one oi allusion and constantly changing relerences. Sometimes these are to historical parallels but just as oiten they are to other plays and other art lorms. The production rises to the challenge oi iustiiylng the updating,
two plays by John Binnie (See also below), both dealing with different aspects of being gay. Mum, Dad is about the problems of coming out. Killing Me Sottly Fri 23—Sun 25 Oct. 7.45pm. Prices as for The Wizard Lady. Clyde Unity in the second of their plays by John Binnie (See Above). Killing Me Softly is about AIDS.
KenzenBogey Tue 20 Oct. 7pm. £1 (50p). The Edinburgh Playwrights’ Workshop continue their series of weekly workshopped productions of
at? its g“ P. *5:
and specilically allowing Joan to represent the plight oi the Jews, by showing Shiller’s drama to be one about universal themes. (Nigel Billen)
A DOLL’S HOUSE
Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh
This is a perlormance and a play that grips lrom ilrst to last. The Lyceum company, under guest dlrectorJules Wright, have managed to make the two main motive iorces which drive lbsen’s great play compelling and believable. That is no mean teat when it might well be expected that the excesses oi melodrama would render the ilrst at these incredible while our more liberated thinking make the second simply irrelevant.
The play's narrative strength lies in the story oi the young, pretty wile expected by" society to be the naive, instinctively innocent possession oi her husband. In order to save her husband's Ilie she is iorced to lie to him. it is one ol those plots (although based on real events) which teeters dangerously on the edge at the lmplausable. in order to borrow money to pay tor a lite-saving holiday ior her husband, Nora - played here with a carelully controlled nervous energy by Judi Bowker— iorges her lather’s name. Her husband, Torvald’s luck changes: he recovers his health and becomes head ol the bank. Moraliy unlmpeachable, as he believes himsell to be, he prepares to sack a lowly bank clerk-the very man who has lent his wile the money-ior a past lndlscretlon.
The complex reverberation oi possible consequences lor the
new plays, followed by a discussion. Kenzenbogey, subtitled The Secret History of the Japanese Economic Miracle, is by Kenneth Howden and is described as ’a zen pantomime in bogey time’.
The Private Lives oi Deacon Brodie Tue 27 Oct. 7pm. £1 (50p). Edinburgh Playwrights’ Workshop in a workshopped production of a play by Donald Mackenzie.
The Alexander Sisters Fri 16 & Sat 17 Oct. 10pm. See Cabaret.
Liz Lochhead Fri 23 & Sat 24 Oct.
- x g. .. .» ..§3\‘:__ __ ‘ gmﬁx A .‘ I. ,. - \‘v‘ - “ \“"‘“ -‘ ANK‘NN -~' ‘\%i t&\‘ " .G-‘V ‘ ‘ \ \S-v \\ “7;, “I-x“. :- " ‘-‘ A " .‘ ‘X
characters never completely buries the leellng that it only all the iacts were made open there would be no plot left. But Ibsen tantalisingly plays with this notion - ior a good part oi the action the Ietterwhlch would reveal all lies (in a Hardy-esque manner) locked in Torvald’s letter box.
As we are drawn by the second driving lorce oi the play, an intriguing moral argument about the nature oi liberty and happiness, we realise that this is more a than a play oi misunderstandings. Despite the passage ol time and the rise oi the women’s movement (and with it women’s relatively greater iinanciai independence), the supresslon ol a woman’s right to be a ‘grown up’, to break out ol the Doll’s House, is almost shockingly relevant (only last week we were reminded irom the unlikely source at the Tory party cenlerence that a wile still does not sign her own income tax lorm). But, as is well brought out by Jules Wright's direction, the moral debate goes deeper than this. The couple’s social aspirations are right to the lore and the play at times (and oiten very lunnlly) appears ior all the world to be a commentary on contemporary Yuppies. (Nigel Blilen)
THE WIZARD LADY OF BRANXHOLM
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
The romantic and bloody history oi 16th century Scotland elevates, yet is ultimately the downlail oi The Wizard Lady ol Branxholm.
Judy Steel’s new play (ilrst shown at her own Borders Festival oi Ballads and Legends), centres on the lormidabie and passionate Janat Beaton, Lady at
10pm. See Cabaret.
e TRIANGLE ARTS CENTRE West Pilton Bank, 332 0877.
The Country Doctor Wed 21 Oct. 7.30pm. 50p. The Merry Mac Fun Co in their latest comedy. See Touring.
0 WILKIE HOUSE Cowgate.
Jelly Babies Thurs 22 Oct—Sun 1 Nov. Further details and advance bookings from Theatre Co-Op, 11a Forth Street, 558 1610. The ﬁrst in a new season of previously unshown plays, organised by the Theatre Co-Operative. This play by Ann
Buccleuch, giving a trash and oiten interesting insight into the characters and society oi the time oi Mary Stuart.
The simple, eiiectlve setting, an atmospheric musical accompaniment, and a tension created by exploring local history: all these augur well tor the play. But, Judy Steel lalls to bring lite to a script which remains history enacted, not dramatised.
Weighed down by steadiast devotion to iacts and tortuous explication oi whys and wheretores, the characters seldom shake oil the smell oi the archive. Hazel Eadie, as Janet Beaton, looks every inch the part yet tails to bring conviction to the many lacets ol the lady’s character.
A iascinating glimpse oi our history, The Wizard Lady is evidence oi admirable research, and well-judged leellng ior Scotland’s past but it never quite lulills its own potential. (Julie Morrice)
PHILADELPHIA HEREI COME
Though the economic problems oi ireland and its lack oi luture lor the 27 year old Gar O’Donnell provides the lramework ior Brian Friel’s play, ‘Philadelphia Here I Come’, the politics are not the main locus ot attention. What Friel concentrates on in this liner written piece, and what Michael Boyd’s production brings out so well, are the tiny everyday complexities oi lamlly llle which add up eventually to a huge and unbreechable gull between a lather and his son.
Peter Ling's sparse, uniussy set with its low-key colours gives the production something at the look at an old black and white lilm and it catches admirably the social world young Gar so wants to escape. He and his lather have a relationship as lrozen in ritual and devoid oi thinking response as their saying at the rosary which they kneel togetherto mutter. Gar’s inner sell, portrayed by Gerard Mannix Flynn, screams out in irustratlon and despair and a luture in America, with all Its promise and possibility becomes his reasoned but reluctant way out.
This duality oi character is both plausible and touching. When Gar goes to sleep, his alter ego curls up at the loot oi the bed and Flynn and James Durrell are both excellent in their parts. Phil McCall as the lather and irene Sunters as the housekeeper are equally strong and Michael Boyd’s well paced direction keeps the production clear and lorcelul without ever allowing it to slip into nostalgia. (Sally Kinnes)
Downie handles the difficult subject of abortion and is set in a gynaecological ward. See Panel.
o The Steamle Wildcat Stage Productions return with Tony Roper’s wonderfully funny play about four Glasgow women in a communal washhouse. Superb stuff - if it comes near you and there’s a
The List 16 — 29 October 23