Complicite's emphasis on improvisation. ‘He justtook
out a pair of scissors and cut
out anything he could find. He‘s very much into the idea of making something out of nothing.‘
He obviously did so effectively- the resulting designs are going on exhibition in London. ‘Anything for A Quiet Life'. Tron. Glasgow. See Theatre
Kenneth Branagh has a reputation for excelling in every medium that he chooses to tackle. The winner of the coveted Bancroft Gold Medal from HADA. he made his West End debut in Another Country and won the SWET and Plays And Player Awards as Best Newcomer of 1982. Praise for his classical stage work at the RSC has established him as one of the most gifted actors of his generation and his own plays. Tell Me Honestly and Public Enemy. have revealed an equally perceptive dramatist.
The multi-talented chap has conquered television too with the trilogy of BBC ‘Billy' plays and the hugely popular Fortunes Of War. It seemed that only the cinema remained immune to his gifts; his debut in Clare Peploe's High Season disappeared faster than last summer's tan. The. he made Pat O'Connor‘sA Month In The Country. a sensitive story of two World War One veterans trying to overcome their traumas during an idyllis peacetime summer. The plaudits have come rolling in forhis performance and now he's a promising newcomerto the cinema. The unstoppable Branagh triumphs once again.
~ ) Kenneth Branagh
UESTLl T MARIA AlTKEN
‘I would do a bit of hotcoals crossing to work with him.‘ says Maria Aitken of director Philip Prowse. In fact she has only had to travel from London to Glasgow. where she plays Florence Lancaster in Prowse's forthcoming production of Noel Coward's ‘The Vortex‘ at the Citizens‘ Theatre.
Having started acting at
herself into a professional career with unconventional flair. ‘After universityl wrote 150 letters forjobs. and I think. because I had never gone about it before. the eccentricity otthose letters got me a lot of replies.“
She got a job asAssistant Stage Manager at Coventry. and moved from back- to on- and. eventually. centre-stage. when she appeared in the opening production of Stoppard‘s ‘Travesties' at the BSC. Her career since then has ranged from appearing in theatres up and down the country and television drama. to presenting a documentary abouta nineteenth-century woman explorer who died going up the Amazon. Fora brief spell she even hostedthe chat show “Private Lives': ‘I was ill and couldn't act. and lhad to live-so I becamea journalist! It was intriguing fora little while. butit didn't reallyteel likea properjob.
lnthe end. though. theatre remains herfirst love. ‘lt‘s always seemsto me that on stage you are. to some extent. master otyour own destiny. whereas you certainly aren‘t in tv orfilm. I like the working ambience ottheatre as well. It‘s like being in an air raid or something-it’s very binding.‘
Noel Coward. often produced. and almostas often produced badly. wrote deceptively easy-looking comedies. Maria Aitken feels there is a technique to playing his work well: ‘lt's definitely written with its own musicality and you have to find that. Ironically though. the thing I've always seen as the keyto
Coward doesn't really apply to this role. Normally. I think ifyou look afterthe subtext. Coward looks after thejokes— ifyou start thinking of it as a brittle numberit becomes incredibly boring. But in this play I'm playing a fantastically brittle and superficial woman.‘ Florence Lancaster. the role she plays. differstrom many of Coward's heroines
, is almost irredeemable. an early age. Marla launched ‘
The play itself is also one of
: Coward's strangest: starting ; offwithtypicallywitty social satire. it revealsthat
the son of Florence. the
giddysocialite.is ondrugs. : and suddenly changestack
and tone when he
challenges her. Strongly critical stuff; yet the play ' becameimmensely
produced in the twenties. ‘I think it’s extraordinary how
people can see themselves
being parodied and not get the connection.‘ says Aitken. ‘Like yuppies all rushing off to see Caryl
Money‘. I don‘t think it‘s making any impact."There
is perhaps a little irony . about the play's subject matterfor Maria Aitken.
who was charged last Autumn with bringing a small amount of cocaine into the country— a case which is sub judice atthe
moment. She isfairly
adamant about this— ‘A huge misconception is that
the play is fundamentally
about drugs. It isn't- it isn't
peripheral. but it's by no
means central. It's really
about the mother-son
relationship and I think it‘s even more about a kind of
‘ mild nymphomaniathanit A is about drug addiction.’- and points out that. having agreed to appear inthe
' production two years ago.
she would have done it, no
matter what: ‘In theatre there is a kind ofhonour between rogues and vagabonds-ifyou say you‘re going to do a play you can't not do itjust because something in your private life makes it embarassing.
Maria Aitken appears in The Vortex. Citizens' Theatre. Glasgow from Fri 22 Jan. See Theatre Listings.
ADR AN LYNE
In America. Fatal Attraction has been the film phenomenon ofthe winter season. A visceral thriller. glossily examining the horrifying repercussions of a happily married man‘s casual infidelity. it has evoked violently varying responses from its massive audiences. Some have decried it as misogynistic. others praise its pro-family stance. Commentators view it as an AIDS allegory. others as a meretricious pot-boiler.
Director Adrian Lyne. no strangerto public brouhaha in the wake of the dubious couolino in his 9% Weeks. is revelling in the British success of Fatal Attraction whilst continuing to deny any responsility for its controversial content. ‘I think it‘s sad that the press add a lot of labels toa movie after it’s been made. I don't give a shit aboutthe AIDS angle. orthefeminist angle, ljust like making movies about relationships. I set out to do a thrillerthat would engage the attention; ifl don‘t do that then the film hasfailed, ifit entertains and excites then I've succeeded.
Expanded from his short film Diversions. James Dearden’s screenplay appealed to Lyne because. ‘It is practically the only script I've ever read that I just couldn‘t put down. The story is a wonderful. Hitchcockian cliffhanger I found irresistible. It's horrifying. yet ultimately very moving. We can all identify with it. lthinkthe scariest things are those closest to us and notthings that go bump in the night. I was anxious thatthe audience saw a marriage that worked sexually and in every other way. His infidelity is just an act of horniness and well into the film my sympathies were torn between him and the woman character.‘
Success breeds a I
thousand claimantsto its
parentage. and with an American gross of8130 million. Lyne has been
accused ofplagiarism from
the director of The Naked
Edge. ‘I hadn't heard ofThe Naked Edge orseen itbut
this is a genre film and Ido admire the work of
Hitchcock and Chabrol. The
film uses the basic . Hitchcock maxim ofthe
difference between surprise and suspense. If a bomb goes off in a room then it's a surprise, but ifyou see it being planted and then someone enters the room then there is a situation of jeopardy that has been set
g up and that‘s suspense.‘
Lyne's technical mastery ofthe suspense elements. with a little help from Les Diaboliques. a tremendous cast and a chance to provoke every viewpoint, can perhaps explainthe extent of the film‘s success. something, at least. that Lyne is happy to share in. ‘I thought itwould be
successful after attending a ‘
preview that felt electric. The first day people were standing in line to see it. I didn‘t expect it to be such a phenomenon. I met a psychiatrist who said that seven out of eight ofhis patients were talking about. lthink the reason is because it‘s just such a damned good story.‘ (Allan Hunter)
Fatal Attraction continues
at selected Central Scotland
venues. See Cinema Listingsfordetails.
CULTURE CITY KITTY
She has been a cover girl in hertime. Not to mention being sculpted fora limited edition. But Smudge is no
L adopted home. the People's Palace and she proudly carries her own Union Card.
Elspeth King, deputy
curator of this museum of
Glasgow’s social history. is
preparing herfor the big day - Saturday 23 January from 10am — when Smudge appears at the Scottish Cat Show at the Scottish Exhibition Centre. ‘She gives credence to the name of the show‘ says Elspeth. ‘There will be Abysinnians.
Devon Hex‘s. Persians. Siamese - not a Scottish cat
, among them. Smudge will
be the sole representative.‘
While she'sthere. this
f exceptional black and white
because she's famous.
purrs Elspeth) will be signing copies of ‘The Scottish Cat' (published by Aberdeen University Press.
' £6.95). a delightful compilation of catty
a imagery in Scottish literature. old and new.
I edited by Hamish Whyte. Not a thin volume as you might imagine. but full of
furry, fanciful feline lines.
Smudge will pawprint
your copy at the show (with non-toxic ink of course)— And after a busy session
with the public. Smudge will meet the Blue Peter Cat. a svelt young Balinese
Smudge is Glasgow‘s own
stray-to-lame story. (Alice Bain)
may purr to the VIC treatment. she may have been called the ‘Culture City Kitty‘ by Glasgow's Lord Provost. but Smudge is not above mousing in her
The List 22 Jan — 4 Feb] .