BIRDS OF PASSAGE
Theatre Workshop, Edinburgh. Bun Ended.
After several successful years, Theatre Workshop’s community performance projects seem to be growing bigger in scale, but perhaps not holder in imagination. Though bringing Birds of Passage to performance has enabled over 150 non-professionals to become involved, the overall impression is that the co-ordinators have spread artistic and directorial responsibility too thinly.
lnterweaving six separate stories written by as many writers, the script charts the forced emigration of Scotswomen over two centuries. The stories themselves are interesting enough — including tales of the transportation of bodysnatcher Burke's mistress and of a spriter 94 year old Glaswegian grannie sent to live with her yuppie son in England - but together make an unwieldy whole.
With no real dramatic focus, the show gets bogged down in individual social histories at the expense of theatrical imagination which made earlier projects like M, an adaptation of Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis, so enjoyable. The theme itself is slightly contrived and provides little in the way of inspiration for costume or stage design.
That said, involving so many in a theatrical venture is a real achievement in itself— and the full houses are proof of that success. Yet it’s worth asking whether such criteria are the only ones that apply here. The ’community’ aspect of ‘community theatre’ has real meaning only when the work takes itself seriously as theatre - which means ultimately taking a few more calculated risks than is the case with Birds of Passage. (Simon Bayly)
Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh
A pall of sweet dissatisfaction hangs over the opening scene of the Brunton Theatre Company’s production of The Seagull. Chekov’s leisured Bohemians stroll and pirouette across the stage, making mazes of their simple existence. Pinpricks of melancholy humour send delicious shivers through
Scotland of Hector MacMillan‘s controversial comedy revolving round a Glasgow Orangcman and his attempts to force his son to attend the Orange Walk. See also Touring. The Wonderful Wonderful Sexy World of Theatre Sat 4 Mar. 8pm. £4 (£2). Confederacy of Fools. alias Tommy Gunn and Harry Bullitt, in a comedy tellingthe tale of the sorrows and tribulations involved in scaling the heights of fame. Not suitable for children. The Tales of Brer Rabbit Fri 10 Mar. 7pm. £2 (£lT. Family ticket £5. The Magical Moonshine Theatre from California tell the well-known tales. using three foot high puppets. I PALACE THEATRE 9 Green Street. Kilmarnock. 0563 23590. [Access: P. L. Facilities: WC. W5. E. G. R. B. Help: A. AA]. The Yellow on the Broom Thurs 23 Feb. 7.30pm. £3.50 (£2.50). Winged Horse Touring Productions in a new play by
The Seag at The Brunton
the audience. It bodes well.
Chekov’s script leads a decorative, winding path towards its goal. The approach is sidelong, the arrival should seem almost accidental. Peopling his stage with contemplative creatures, filling their heads with vain desires and unnameable anguishes, he demands a difficult balance between apparent naturalism and self-conscious exploration. His sharp commentary on our self-torturing species is absorbed, not apprehended.
That first scene in the Brunton production establishes the right feeling: enchanted by the pretty characters unfolding before us, we adapt to their measured pace and look forward to a long, languorous involvement with them. But it doesn’t work out that way. Tempted by the seeming import of the characters’ declamations, director, Charles Nowosielski, moves his production up a gear, actors begin to strut and fret, and the magic is lost.
There are fine performances nonetheless. Ted Valentine’s Sorin, with his poignant chuckle, is perfectly observed as the still, sad centre of the action; Trepliov (Michael David), although annoyingly jerky at times, movineg transforms youthful energy to ghostly depression. The women are less fortunate: Maggie Jordan’s Arkadina is just believable as an infuriating, posturing actress, but Nina (Anne Lannan) is a wailing siren when she should be a quietly tortured soul.
The beauty of the piece shines through, reflected in Nick Sargent’s sensitive design, and lighting (Martin Palmer) which makes the stage balmy and eerie by turn. The production
Anne Downie. See Review and Touring. Provost’s Show Fri 24 Feb. 7.30pm. £2.50 (£1.50). An evening of music to raise money for the Provost‘s Fund. which assists local charities.
Rikki Stevens Sat 25 Feb. 7.30pm. Sec Cabaret.
Dead Dad Dog and Sheila Fri 3 Mar. 7.30pm. £3.50 (£2.50). The Traverse Theatre Company in their touringdouble bill of comedies. See Touring and Preview.
I PAVILION THEATRE 121 Renfield Street. 332 1846. Box Office Mon—Sat 1(lam-8pm. Bar. [Access: ST. Facilities: WS.G. Help: AA].
Peter Powers ch 22—Sat 25 Feb. 7.30pm. Wed £3: Thurs & Fri £3.50; Sat £4. An evening in the company of a man describing himself as a ‘sensational new hypnotist‘. but equally family fare.
I ROYAL SCOTTISH ACADEMY OF MUSIC AND DRAMA 100 RenfrewStreet.041332 4101. [Access: PPA, L. Facilities: WC.
would doubtless have been the better for heeding Chekov’s own estimation of the play: ‘I began it forte and ended it pianissimo’. (Julie Morrice)
King’s Theatre, Glasgow, now touring. The good citizens of Glasgow are known for the warmth with which they receive performing artists, but they reserve a special welcome for homegrown acts, and when the artists concerned represent a successful, nationally networked television show the response borders frequently on rapture. Gerard Kelly, who stars in this stage adaptation of the BBC Scotland sitcom (which begins a new series on BBC 2 on Tuesday) received a spontaneous round of applause for simply stepping onstage when I saw the show. Indeed, the feeling throughout was that writer, director and cast (all original, though three actors are conspicuously absent owing to other commitments) were above criticism.
But although it can make no claims to seriousness of content, this production
. works hard to come up with the
expected goods, and forthe most part succeeds admirably.
To adapt a 30-minute television format for two hours on one set is no easy task, and Bob Black has borrowed from the Whodunnit genre to structure his stage script, setting it in a country house hotel cutoff by bad weather and peopled by suspicious individuals. As the subtitle ‘The Haunting of Willie Melvin’ suggests, there is also a supernatural element, which gives an effect reminiscent of old Scooby Doo cartoons; but the humour is very much in sitcom mould, often rather predictable but not without its flashes of inspiration. Many of these, one soon becomes aware, derive from Black’s adept characterisation: Willie’s trio of pals - as created by Andy Gray, Jonathan Watson and (perhaps most endearingly) lain McColl -are certainly among the strengths of both versions of the show.
There are those who would prefer Kelly and his performing eyebrows to tone down their relentless overactivity, but there is an undeniable artistry about it, as there is in Annette Staines’ balletic if scarcely believable
WS. AS. R. B. T. G. Help: A.AA].
A Dance of the Forests Tue 28 Feb—Fri 3 Mar. 7.15pm. £2(£1). Maggie Kinloch directs second year DDA students in a play by Nobel Prize winner. Wole Soyinka. In this beautiful play he follows the problems ofthe Forest Fatherin guiding the living and the dead to understand each other‘s needs.
I THEATRE ROYAL Hope Street. 331 1234. Box Ofﬁce Mon-Sat 10am—6pm. (7.30pm on perfevgs). Bar. Buffet. [Access: P. PPA, R. Facilities: WC. W3. E. G, R, B. Help: AA].
Juno and the Paycock Mon 6—Sat 11 Mar. 7.30pm. Sat Mat. 2.30pm. Schools Mat. Thurs 2.30pm. £3.50—£1 1. Concs avail Mon—Thurs & Sat mat (concs bring ticket price two prices down. except for lowest ticket price, £3.50, which reduces to £2.50). Schools Mat. all seats £3.50. The National Theatre on their annual trip to Scotland. in Sean O'Casey‘s searing Dublin tragedy.
chambermaid. What no purist could dispute after seeing Bon Bain’s cleverly contrived production is that Black’s writing, while hardly at the level of Feydeau, transfers comfortably to the medium of stage farce. (Andrew Burnet)
THE YELLOW ON THE BROOM
Seen at Cumbernauld Theatre. On Tour.
How potent is a travelling woman’s curse? That is the most intriguing question raised in Anne Downie's dramatisation of Betsy Whyte’s autobiography of early life, but it is not considered at great length, nor does it form the play into a recognisany dramatic shape.
This is both a weakness and a strength. Ms Downie (whose earlier adaptation of The White Bird Passes demonstrated similar understanding of developing femininity) has allowed the stamp of reminiscence to lie quite clearly over the action, resisting any temptation towards sensation or melodrama and settling instead for a structure which is episodic and at times disjointed— almost, in fact, a metaphor for the travelling life it describes.
The resulting sequence of anecdotes is by turns heartwarming, painful, humorous and rousing. Above all, it seems to grasp the essence of the travelling lifestyle: one which is imperfect but humane, frequently at the mercy of prejudice and poverty, but always socially alive.
This is achieved through an energetic and ingeniously compact production by John Carnegie for Winged Horse Touring Productions, in which one of the main elements is unaccompanied song, using music Betsy herself knew. Libby McArthur’s performance in the central role is invariably believable, while the remaining four actors work together to provide the colourful society in which she grows up. John Shedden is particularly convincing as Betsy’s father Sandy, while Michael Mackenzie’s marvellous handful of characters allows him to display remarkable versatility and invention.
True to life, the play’s ultimate form leaves one moved but mildly dissatisfied, but then so too does the question of the curse. (Andrew Burnet)
For Scottish Ballet details. please see Dance Listings. For Scottish Opera. please see Classical Music.
I THIRD EYE CENTRE 350 Sauchiehall Street. 332 7521 . Cafe 0an 1 lam-2.30pm Tue-Fri and during evening performances. [Access: PI’A. L. Facilities: WC. W5. E. G. R. B. llelp: AA].
New Moves Dance Festival Thurs 2 Feb—Fri 31 Mar. See Dance Listings.
I TROH THEATRE 63 Trongatc . 552 4267/8. Box Office Tue—Sat Noon—8pm;
Sun 12.30—11pm. Closed Mondays. [Access: R. ST. Facilities: WS. E. G. R. B. Help: AA].
The Consul Wed 22—Sun 26 Feb. Glasgow Opera Group — See Classical Music listings.
The Yellow on the Broom Tue 28 Feb—Sun 5 Mar, 7.30pm. Sat mat 4 Mar. 3pm. Winged Horse Touring Productions in Anne Downie's new play. based on the autobiography by travelling woman.
The List 24 February — 9 March 23