Sheena McDonald on the dark ages.
It was one of those moments which columnists describe as
. I’roustian. Icall it
hot. green and
glorious. with its hidden crock of molten gold- an artichoke.
Oh good. I said — I haven't had an
artichoke for—- let me think . . . I
thought. I'll spare you the Wellesian transport ofsense across time. the destination — all Belgian linen and dappled greenery — the company — the long-legged boy with lips like . . . ()K. the point is this: I hadn't had an artichoke for seventeen years.
Bully for nothing. I hear you scoff. So you've had two artichokes in your life — if you really want to bore us. why not tell us where you were in '68? IIaight Ashbery‘.’ Paris‘.’ The pudding club‘.’ Actually. I was in Miss Morris's class. accustoming myself dangerously early to the one perception on my education which I shared enthusiastically with my despairing teachers— that I ('ould Do Better. But Wouldn't. Alas for youthful self-immolation! We are legion. we whose single sad rebellion was to choke and dam our own potential . . . But I digress—we'll laekaday on that thin string another time. Revenons a nos artichauts.
You see. somehow I never anticipated a time when I would — or rather (‘uu/(I— say ‘seventeen years ago . . .‘ I'll go further— I strongly
‘ suspect that the most interesting and
fruitful years of my life thus far were the ones wherein it would have been impossible to utter such a phrase — at least truthfully.
Aha! And there's our second strand! For all that I may profess myself aghast that time passes. I'm darned — perhaps. for all I know. damned— I'll deny the years and davs.
A friend phoned to tell me that his. marriage was on. ()r off. I was vitally investing my life in watching television at the time. No. I can't remember what — give me another seventeen years and I dare say it'll come ﬂooding back like Belgian vegetable-matter. 'Saw your picture.‘ he said eventually. ‘You shouldn’t give the papers your real age. 'I'hey'll check back later.‘
Well. he's wrong and he's right.
ageing. Before me.
daily. it seems. I read profiles of young blades and darnsels who were. I know. envy-inducineg older than me some years ago (more than seventeen). and now are strangely . contemporaneous — or even. in some 9 cases. younger. The implication is clear: in this hormone-boosted age. do not celebrate the achieving of t another year's growth or experience — or even. by perverse gum. decay! Do not ttlulate with rapture that another 365 days have passed without your being scrunched. spattered. flattened. hanged. decapitated. defenstrated. quartered. reduced or fatally invaded! Kid on you're a kid. and the Norns of the colour-supplement will hold you a place in the nursery.
Another strand'.’ I think so. yes — it , takes three wires. they thought. to plait a life. So— time passes: yes. You lie about your age: your choice. but ' don't say you weren't warned when all your pals qualify l'or a free space-shuttle pass before you do. And here's the third: we actually judge each other by some baseless notion of how a human being should react and act at whatever age - She's too young to know. I Ie's too young for her. They're too old for that. She looks good for her age. I Ie's ten years too late.
IIearyourselfsaying it. And stop. 5 OK? Good. Time for my nap — cunning. huh‘.’ You can't be sure whether I'm post-infantile or pre-senile — yuk. yuk! Let me distract you with this thought: had Robert Burns whacked the rheumatic fever and lived on. he would be 22‘) on Monday 25th January.
There is a serious point here — I'm willing to bet my age in groats or bawbees — whichever is the greater — that amongst your true heroes are men and women who are remembered today without the aid of glossy hype or syndicated interview; furthermore. are remembered for work committed by candlelight and uncommitted to celluloid. And that. for some reason (in linctus veritas) cheers me. ()n the other hand. by the time he was my age. Burns had already published — whoops. 'I'hey're about to put the cover on my cage. I believe this is one of those moments that columnists call Flaubertian . . .
Aimee and Trintignant
TWENTY YEARS LATER
In 1966. Claude Lelouch‘s winning love story A Man And AWoman captured heartsthroughoutthe world. An international popularand critical success. the tilm wontwo Academy Awards and implanted Francis Lai‘s. laidbacktheme music inthe repertoire of every hotel lift on the planet. At the Cannes Film Festival at thatyear. inspired bythe general euphoria. Lelouch joked with his cast. ‘lt we are still triends and still in good health we could do a sequel in twenty years.‘
In 1986. the joke came true. and Lelouch. Anouk Aimee and Jean-Louis Trintignant returned to Cannestorthe grand unveiling otthe snappin titled A Man And AWoman: Twenty Years Later. lnthe sequel. the former lovers are reunited when Aimée‘s tilm producerAnne decides toturn theirpast entanglement into a movie.
Although both actors have worked separately with Lelouch in the intervening two decades. they had resisted all blandishments to appeartogetheragain until the irresistible call of the sequel. Aimee teels that she really didn'twant anothertilmmakerto intertere with theirspecial relationship whilst Trintignant admits to a certain nostalgia attheir reunion. “A Man And A Woman was practically an amateurlilm because we had very little money and only about halt a dozen technicians. Yet. the adventure ot makingthe tirst film was one otthe most important in mylite. Going back I was atraid it might be disappointing hull was very moved.“
A key moment in the new tilm comes with thelirst meeting olAnne and Jean-Louis twenty years on at the same restaurantin Deauville. ‘I truly love that scene,‘ enthuses Aimee. ‘Claude is like a magniticentthietbecause he manages to stealthese feelings awaytrom me. Nobody else does it better.’ Trintignant notes: ‘There were some great things but
they can‘t show everything. He prompted us. we improvised and it was great tun. We know thathe‘ll never be caught unaware of ourmoves. No other tilmmakercould attord taking such risks because. unlike him. they‘re not physically carrying the camera. Lelouch still has the capacity tor shooting at ; top speed. He has retained the physical condition and
,' athlete. He always has the same drive and it is very exciting to work with him again.’
“A Man And A Woman: Twenty Years Later‘ can be seen atthe Edinburgh Filmhouse 24—26 January.
THEATRE DE COMPLICITE
‘You needto |augh.‘says Simon McBurney. talking aboutThealre de Complicite's new show. Overthe years Complicite have laughed. and caused much laughter. about ‘dillicult‘ subjects: poverty. lamin relationships. death. Thistimetheirsubjectis tear: ‘Anything for a Quiet Lite' is set in a nightmarish. grey bureaucratic world. That might sound grim. but the show will unroll in Complicitetashion. building on improvisationto extract hilarious possibilities out oltiny incidents and mundane
Design by Jan Pienkowski.
situations. Complicite's highly visual. precisely choreographed shows are created through improvisation and the ad hoc creativity goes on once the show is running. ‘A show is nevertinished until the last night.‘
The company work collaborativelytrom the start. ‘We arrive atthe subject matter bytalking about our personal lives.‘ explains McBurney. ‘Talking aboutwhat's happening today. And reading texts. Forthis one we used a tiny. tiny early nineteenth-century Scottish text about people havinga massive. hilarious celebration while death goes on around them.‘
The comedy Complicite excel in appealsto deep-rooted tears. ‘You gradually draw the comic out otthe tragic. sothat people see the relationship. For me laughing revealsthe truth. We aren‘tthat dignified. We're often quite hopeless. I like writers in touch with the reality otthe human condition. llike Chaucer and Habelais. who go into intimate detail abouthow people tart and have sex. mixed up with the nobility and dignity. Ithink that‘s important to rememberin these days at plastic hygiene. We do have dignity and humanity. but it‘s in spite otcigarette ads.‘
Forthis tourthe company swellsto seven (partly helped by sponsorship from Becks). with two newlaces: Scottish actress Myra McFadyen and designer. Jan Pienkowski. Pienkowski. long an admirerot Complicite's work and well-known as an illustratorotchildren's books. designed a pop-up programme for the tour. His stage designs and publicity material were conceived very much in tune with
2 The List 22 Jan — 4 Feb 1988