AS YOU LIKE IT
Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh
The opening scenes of the Royal Lyceum's As You Like It take place down stage before closed proscenium curtains — rather like those wordy bits in The Good Old Days. Naiver we forgive the cumbersome exits and entrances, the two-dimensional characterisation and the hatch patch of costumes, in the belief that once the curtains open we will be drawn into an idyllic Forest of Arden where games of love are played out in the comic exuberance of spring.
But no such luck. In a gesture of no meaningful consequence, Hamish Glen - aided and abetted by designer Peter Ling — sets his production in a bleak Scottish scrub and not even a visually interesting scrub at that. The one solitary tree is flown down as a begrudging concession to the demands of the play. None of yourwild Highland romanticism here.
So what starts as an uncompelling performance merely continues in the same drab way. It is not without the odd spark of life and, with the plot established, the second half works much betterthan the first, but ultimately the production lacks the sexy vigour needed to coax the humour and insight out of Shakespeare's comedy.
Siobhan Redmond as Rosalind and Sarah Collier as Celia create the most interesting and believable relationship - Redmond punctuating her performance with wistful love-struck pauses while Collier looks on with the thinly veiled enthusiasm of a bosom buddy. The eccentric casting of Myra McFadyen as Touchstone the male fool is surprisingly successful and the portrayal of the country bumpkin is gently amusing. Elsewhere performances range from the forgettable to the irrelevant- Sean Scanalan playing Jaques like an inebriated George Melly has as much to do with the rest of the play as the thermos flask, the two men in modern suits and the unexplained scenes of pagan dancing.
But even given the most inspired acting, Hamish Glen’s production would still cry out for a coherent
spiritual dimension to make sense of the superficial tartan dressing that he has uneasily draped overthe play. (Mark Fisher).
Netherbow Theatre, Edinburgh.
In March 1989, Edinburgh District Council opens a new ‘People's Museum’ in the Royal Mile, exchanging grand textbook tales of Robert the Bruce, John Knox et al. for
I PAVILION THEATRE I21 Rent‘ield Street. 332 1846. Box Office Mon~Sai 10am—8pm. Bar.
Harry Enfield Sun l3 Nov. 7.30pm. £4.50 seatsonly left at time olgoing to press. See (‘abaret and Feature.
I ROYAL SCOTTISH ACADEMY OF MUSIC AND DRAMA ltifl Renfrew Street. 0-11 332 4101.
The Long and the Short and the Tall 'l‘ucs- S—Fri 11 Nov. 7. 15pm. £2 (£1 ). Final Year DDA students in Willis llaIl's play. set in
the realities of the lives, work and pastimes of ordinary people living in the City from the 18th century to the present day. Changed Days, performed by Edinburgh-based Winged Horse Touring Productions and written by Alan Spence, brings this alternative history to life in a completely successful mix of information, nostalgia, wit and energy.
Derived from the memories of older Edinburgh residents, as well as from archive material, Spence's lively script packs in the years from 1929 onwards, from the days of 50% infant mortality in 19205' Old Town to 505’ nights out at Europe's largest dance hall, from the Hungry Marchers to Tommy Smith, with a final wicked glimpse of the future. The documentary format never lets the pace flag and the experienced company whip through kaleidescopic changes of character, time and place with confidence and a welcome lack of formality.
The wealth of insight into the details of everyday lives is continually fascinating, mixing grim economic realities with the humour and resilience of a community facing up to change. The Scottish tradition of Labourism is an obvious linking thread, but it is the sheer cultural depth and vitality of the language that comes across as the mainstay of the community's self-image and solidarity. Though the jokes come thick and fast on a varying scale of tackiness, what don't seem to change through the years are theirtargets—the timeless classics of religion, nationalism and football. Plus (:3 change. . . (Simon Bayly)
Bedlam Theatre, Edinburgh The thirteen scenes in Edward Bond’s controversial play are driven home like rivets. Switching between a cage-like South London flat and the local park. this vigorous production hurls its characters into the limelight, few voices lower than screaming pitch, and scene changes are accompanied by a volley of heavy-metal, as if EUTC hope that by making you wince, they will prevent you seeing theirslick stage-dressing.
A violent piece, in which one baby and a lot of dreams are killed, Saved opens the lid on the seething lives of
Pam, herviciously estranged parents, 5
and Len their lodger, whom Pam has spurned for the arrogant Fred, a swaggering chauvinist who treats his woman (and child) worse than the worms he uses as fishing bait. Achieving a bleak portrayal of alienation, frustration and raw cruelty, EUTC give a credible rendering which, while enthusiastic, rarely goes beyond
the Malayan Jungle. locussing on a group of British soldiers and what they learn about their occupation. Directed by Stewart McKie.
Wild Honey'i‘ues lS—I-‘ri IS Nov.7.15pm. £2 (£1 ). Second Year Diplomaof Dramatic Arts students in Michael l-‘ray n's much praised translation and adaptation of(‘hekhov’s' play I’lulmim'. locussingon the changing place of women in society. Men Should Weep Tues 32- i-‘ri 25 Nov.
7. 15pm. £2 (£1 ). l-‘inal Year BA students
Jane Banish as Phedra
the bare (rather gabbled) script. There are moments of more convincing emotion, however, particularlyfrom Lisa Gornick as Pam and Roddy McDerritt as Fred. Efficiently directed by Lisa Baraitser, the company draw a bleak picture, in which no satisfactory explanations are given, and little hope is offered. (Rosemary Goring).
Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow.
Philip Prowse has set Racine's 17th century version ofGreekTragedy in what looks like a room of a military museum. It is a visual clue to the deliberately detached production in which words rather than actions or dramatic staging carry the force of the drama.
To begin with it’s a style that looks unlikelyto succeed. Racine's rhyming Alexandrines impose their elongated and lilting pattern on the dialogue and at the play’s start real emotion seems to be surrendered to the style. Gradually, however, as the ear becomes acclimatised the production draws the audience into the story of Phedra and her taboo love for her stepson.
Jane Bertish plays Phedra as a woman both fascinating and repulsive and for much of the play it is she who provides the drama, her Iisping delivery conveying everything from remorse to erotic desire. But the play moves on to contrast Phedra’s earthly passion first with the calm righteous anger of Robert David MacDonald's Theseus and then with the reported intervention of the Gods. Theseus, returning apparently from the dead, believes the cover-up for his wife's passion offered him by her servant. Accusing his son (Hyppolytus, played by Tristram Wymark) of an Dedipal love for his mother, he calls on Neptune to destroy Hippolytus.
The amazing thing is thatthe distant rationale of a mythological culture has the powerto grip the audience, and the final account of Neptune's
in Izna Lamont Stewart's wonderfully funny and moving play about resilient women living in [930s tenement (ilasgow. I THEATRE ROYAL I lope Street. 33 I 123-1. Box Office Mon-~ Sat Illam 6pm. (7.30pm on perIevgs'). liar. Bullet.
The Selfish Shellfish lines is Sat 12 Nov. Iii.3llain. Afternoon Performance on
one of Britain's best-loved and most respected children‘s play w rights. David
disinterested violence (recounted compellineg by Tristram Jellinek as Theramenes) is genuinely chilling. Somewhere in Racine’s play (translated here by MacDonald and directed by Prowse) lie unpalatable truths about passions and their sometimes uncontrollable consequences. (Nigel Billen)
Kings Theatre, Edinburgh
Elsewhere on this tour, this company are performing Richard III as well as Richard II. Not in Glasgow or Edinburgh, however, which is a pity— it would be fascinating to see how, having played the fall of the arrogant Richard, who starts at the top and abuses his power, Derek Jacobi would play the rise of the more malevolent Richard, who abuses his power to get tothetop.
Jacobi, in this Shakespeare's most lyrical, quizzical treatment of the divine right of kings, makes Richard II a complex and compelling character- explained, though not excused by the world around him. In Clifford Williams“ production, the set (Carl Toms) has the heavy authority of fascist archictecture: rigid, square and made for pomp and circumstance. 0n the tiled floorthe feuding nobles look like chess-pieces, manoeuvring within a rigid set of rules between patriotism, allegiance, kindred ties and personal honour. Here absolute power corrupts Richard according to his natural gifts— imaginative, in love with the power of ' his words, one apart in mind from those around him, he assumes readily his God-given supremacy, and Jacobi makes him beguiling, even at the height of his arrogance.
Richard's egocentric, irresponsible haughtiness has also to do with youth. again part of his appeal, and Jacobi manages to make him age before our eyes as his world falls apart, and the power on which he has ridden proves mortal, notdivine. He speaks the verse, one ofthe gifts of this part, with beautiful, subtle precision, and he is well matched by David Rintoul‘s blunt Bolingbroke, who has right, but not rhetoric on his side.
Elsewhere this production is clear, straightforward and solid, but lacks the spark that would lift it from the rather ordinary. Robbert Eddison's gray John of Gaunt carries off the famous ‘sceptred isle' speech with gravity, and there is a nice performance from Pete Postlethwaite as Thomas Mowbray, but much of the production is more competent than inspired — it lets the beauty of the text speak for itself, which is a blessing, but it lacks fire.
Wood. In The Selfish .S‘lie/lji's'li residentsof the rockpool are threatened by the arrival of a huge oil slick and audience participation is encouraged to helpavert the tragedy. Iicology and entertainment combined for 3- 12 year olds (and othest ). Dave Allen fit I I & Sat I2 Novﬁpm, fell—£9.50. See Cabaret.
Ain'tMisbehavin' Mon lLSut I‘).\'ov, 7.30pm. Sat mat 2.30pm. £3.5lL£‘).5ll. ()ne of the most popular musicals with many of the Fats Waller favourites. "l‘wo