j rhythms ol speech are undercut and ; contradicted by the rhythms ol music.


3 Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

By the time he linished The Cherry Orchard, Chekhov was seriously ill. Perhaps this helps to explain why the play catches so brilliantly the dilticultles ot letting go, and why it combines, so movingly, sympathetic

; allection lor human beings with comic observance ottheirweaknesses.

Any production has the hard task at

matching this beautilully balanced

style and ambivalent characterisation. . The characters in The Cherry Orchard seem both big and very small, struggling to understand, yet unable to really get a perspective on the changes that surround them - and the

, production has to manage this

extraordinary leeling ot a great deal at activity in an atmosphere at strangely suspended animation.

Hugh Hodgart's production does this skillully. Gregory Smith‘s set, with its tall, dark wooden shutters and delicate white curtains, seems at once solid and

; The Cherry Orchard at The ! Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh

assembled in one place, the leeling ol 5 a world gone lorever, yet at people who s are curiously close. It is not perlect, it

We lollow the imaginations ol the writers trom contemporary Central America to 1970s Highlands. lrom a young couple migrating to Wales to a habitual convict with cancer. trom

In a misguided attempt at coherence. Welsh denies the plays a chance to work lorthemselves.

But Long Story Short is a commendable. entertaining and highly worthwhile venture lor 7:84. although as a showcase tor Scottish writing it suggests that. while there are many promising talents around. lew are yet able to make truly spectacular jumps into unchartered territory. Like haute cuisine there's plenty to nibble. but you‘re not quite lull up at the end. (Mark Fisher).


Seen at Tron Theatre, Glasgow. Touflng.

It‘s a good thing that the Traverse now celebrates its successes by sending them out on tour; but this double bill at plays originally seen in the Scottish Accents 88 season last May is perhaps a slightly unlortunate coupling.

Ann Marie Oi Mambro‘s Sheila,

which begins the evening, is a charming comedy which examines problems like class, sex and unlullilled aspiration lrom both middle- and working-class perspectives. Snooty

politicaldramatoromanticcomedy. Theplaysthatstandoutaretheones

é thathavecometotermswiththis

é miniature lorm.making sell-contained statementsand notappearinglike

slows down towards the end and has

I some slightly overdone comedy, but it goes a long way towards meeting the beautiful depth and simplicity of Chekhov's masterpiece. (Sarah

slightly unreal. The cast, meanwhile,

armed with Stuart Paterson's warm and lunny adaptation, speak in their natural

Scottish accents —which works

surprisingly well, makingthe

i characters seem all the more vivid. The Hamming). , exjracjs or condensed forms oj ; Sheila balks when the painters arrive precision ol the production brings their somemjng bigger. Ann Marie 0) : unannounced to paint herllat; but once idiosyncraciesalive-lett holding one LONG STORY SHORT Mambm-srhe Lettergox jsjhe perjecj : the barriers are down there arelessons

to learn on each side. The warmth which Blythe Dull brings to the title role easily overcomes the character’s unattractive qualities, and she quickly

datiodil alter dropping the rest at the bunch on the lloor, the awkward Yepikhodov panics, tolds it up, and stults it in his pocket (a lovely pertormance lrom Steve Owen) and by and large the comedy is handled lightly and well, and not ladled on. Well brought outtoo is the sense at non-communication, particularly between the central characters. The gull between the new-moneyed, business-man, Lopakhin, and the hopelessly unrealistic, yet charming Ranevskaya and Gayev opens wider and wider. Alec Reggie‘s Lophakin, pragmatic and well-meaning, proud ol . his achievements and desperately lrustrated at his lriends' unrealistic behaviour, is yetbluntand short—sighted—a veryline performance, lunny yet not ridiculous. James Cairncross as Gayev is equally

example. Taking as her subject the simple but deeply moving image ol a battered wrle thrown out onto a winter

doorstep.she paintsaclearand . , , penetrating picture that is above all “ms a"“"’"“ sympathy? "we Douglas Sannachan (who plays Rab

complete(notwithstandingthe o . distraction Ojapasse,-by who i lrke OorWullIe grown up)andAndrew

annoyingly destroys the intimacy ol the Barr's ’eSignPd'V Pail!“ Tam make "‘8 monologue). Ol those that stand out 3 m0” 0' a 39"“ Wh'Ch '5 "0‘ 8'10" 0' less sharply. somelack solid 5 paflero'l’?"‘°3- . . construction while others need tighter The-may 5 easy "mum's"! lUS' direction; the poetic Nora's Place by °c°a§'°"a”y breaks Wimomem. Tom Leonard. )0, example. fails to possubly due to llaws In La Carruthers‘ catch the attention because it is staged Othem'se seam'ess d'rem'ngi bl"

) . . . . : without style or delinition. while the many Shem '3 a We“ 9'” ‘3"

j evemually sharp comedy 0, Gurmee, entertainment which gently demands a



Seen at the Bedlam Theatre. Edinburgh. Now on tour.

Roll up. roll up! Ten plays lorthe price at one! Unbeatable value! Something tor everyone! A splendid time in store lrom Scotland's 7:84!

Plays tor a three minute culture. Approximations. Stabs. Slices. Nine writers. some new. some tried and tested. have the rare chance to air their ideas in shortspan compilation lormat. Now That’s What I Call Theatre Vol I. Or maybe not.

There is a danger here ol simplistically contrasting each ol the plays. to rank one against the other like a competition. Ol course there are bound to be some you preler to others. that is one ol the joys at such a venture. but I do suspect that director Finlay Welsh has not realised this himsell.

Mattu's The Storrneris slow to develop , quesnoning "tva'ues- . . because at uncertain introductory Dead Dad Dog 3'30 33'“ quesnonsr "1

scenes, I this case aboutlamily relationships an|ay welsh-s mam way 0, bringing and socral stagnationtbut IS less

a unity to the evening is to blend 'onhcom'ng With POSSIDIB answers.

saxophone pieces (played on stage by When would-be yuppie Eck is vrsrted by

precisely ambivalent— childishly irresponsible, aimlessly restless, yet curiously charming, and Edith Macarthur’s Ranevskaya is lovely— lilling the stage with a wonderlul, warm presence that makes her ! thoroughly irresistable and ; irreproachable, while just a little too much in love with hersell.

They are surrounded by intelligent perlormances -lrom Jamie Newall as the earnest student dreaming ol the brave new world, Carol Ann Crawlord as Varya, worn down by worry about i money, John Grieve as Feers, the old retainer, and Katy Murphy as the light-headed maid, Ounyasha, whose being caught between two worlds is likely to mess up her whole lite. Altogether this production makes you leel very clearly the way individual lives are attected irrevocably by being caught in something bigger, it catches wonderlully the leeling at a bundle at lives at cross-purposes brielly

Ratherthan drawing out and developing the individual character and llavour ol each little play. there seems to have been a move towards homogenisation—as it he believesthe audience couldn‘t cope with too many grand and contradictory leaps ol imagination. But that is exactly what a theatre audience does crave.

Luckily neither actors nor writers let us down. Vincent Friel. Patricia Ross. Anne Marie Timoney and Laurie Ventry are nothing it not versatile. All ol them

I appearinginatleastlourolthe plays. 1‘ they nevergivetheteeling ollreading

old ground. Comtortably accommodating accents lrom every corner at Scotland. not to mention a package ol ages and class backgrounds. they do the work you‘d expect ol 3 cast several times the size. Even out ot the limelight. they sit visible and attentive. contributing casual lines at dialogue or brushes ol scene-setting movement.

Steve Kettley) into the production. Unlortunately this angular modern jazz is insensitive to the moods ot the plays and. rudely jarring between them. it dilluses the emotional impact that might otherwise have built up. Worse than this. the saxophone and also a drum are played occasionally at the same time as the action. so the

Anne Marie Timoney in Long Story Short

his lather, who died twelve years ago, each has a law things to teach the other. A long-gone warmth is partially re-established, but no conclusions are reaHyreached.

What John McKay‘s marvellously

f inventive, oll-the-wall script does oller ( is an opportunity—gladly seized by

directors Stephen Unwin and Jeremy Raison— tor a surreal romp in late-eighties Edinburgh where ‘it's just no' tashionable to be hard up'. Robert Carlyle and Alistair Cording (who also played Dad in McKay's Hellbent on Christmas) have re-created the roles well, both revelling in the play's great verve, exaggeration and silliness; though one visual gag relied on original lather Ralph Riach's height and should perhaps be dropped.

The only real problem is that Oead Oad Dog’s seductive sense at lun tends to overshadow the memory at Sheila; which is actually the more thoughtlul and serious play. (Andrew Burnet)


I- _ _ . -, ,__._. ,-._.._ 22'1‘hclistZ-l Marchflh April 1989