Tramway Theatre, Glasgow
When Peter Brook’s radical version of Carmen first opened in Paris, a revival in Glasgow might well have seemed unthinkable. Seven and a hall years later, as the city's cosmopolitan image gains international acceptance, one can afford to be a little blasé.
Combining elements of Bizet's
romantic opera and Mérimée’s unsentimental novella, Jean-Claude Carriere‘s adaptation distils Carmen into something like a studio play set to music. It‘s a formula that induces a certain culture shock, which is entirely healthy, but it doesn’t altogether work.
Carmen is not a well made tragedy, it is a camp melodrama, full of loose ends and anticlimaxes, and the stripping away of operatic pomp helps highlight the plots weaknesses. Bizet's bohemians may be artificial and two-dimensional, but the ritual of grand opera lends them a certain consistency.
Brook‘s beautifully earthy and organic production with its cast of seven and its minimal props deals admirably with the problem of finding a convincing psychological truth in the thinly drawn characters, but seems to fall between two stools in its approach to the less naturalistic elements. When Escamillo the toreador prepares to meet his death in the bullring, for example. the audience needs to see a vivid spectacle of skill and colour, which John Rath‘s cloak-twirling only partially fulfils.
Of the leading players, James Hoback‘s Don José is- like every other part - extremely well sung, though his physical appearance seems somewhat ill-matched to the role of hotheaded renegade romantic, while Alain Maratrat's Lillas Pastia flirts
scurrilously with the audience, dropping ‘by the way’s and ‘chancer's into the script‘s one translated passage.
With music adapted by Marius Constant and interpreted with passion and intensity by the sixteen members of the Scottish Chamber Opera Ensemble, the production is satisfying, if not deeply moving, and draws great strength from its central performance, Cynthia Clarey's enigmatic and stunningly sensual Carmen; but one is bound to wonder if the same size of audience would be attracted by a less revered director. (Andrew Burnet)
THE HOUSE OF BERNARDA ALBA
Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh. The cloying control of Catholicism hangs heavy over lan Wooldridge's production of Lorca's last play. Everything from the opening peal of funeral'bells to Bernarda’s uncertain claim that ‘my daughter died a virgin’, is governed by the laws of the church. And this is just one layer of social restriction imprisoning Bernarda Alba, her mother and five daughters. Brimming with latent energy, these characters are confined by morality and convention to a stultilying life indoors. Each daughter’s single hope of escape lies ironically in finding a man who would simply transfer her to a prison of his own making. Lorca's play is a pioneering feminist tragedy written some 35 years before the first bra was burned.
The arrival of each actor on stage is heralded by ominous shadows dancing across the stone walls of Marjoke Henrichs' set which is all white wash, high windows and tall chairs. Striking in their black mourning dress, the actors circle the stage like caged
creatures, fanning themselves in the Spanish heat and feeding on the gossip of life outside. At the opening of the first and third Acts, the stage shelters behind a black veil, as if to emphasise Lorca's twin themes of repressed emotion and imminent tragedy. ‘What matters to me is the way things look,’ prescribes the matriarchal Bernarda, at a time when it is only too apparent ' that a volcano is bubbling inches beneath the surface.
Central to the performance is Jennie Stoller’s stubborn and forthright yet convincingly human interpretation of Bernarda. You believe she could ‘stand there like flint and dash [her neighbours] to pieces,‘ but you can also see how her grip is just loose enough to allow her daughters a degree of self-expression. Kate Gartside as Adela, the youngest daughter, is captivating in her tragically rebellious exuberance. She attacks the play like it was a llamenco dance, moving rhythmically round the large stage with a fluidity that shows up a couple of the other actors. Eleanor Slaven is an ideal foil as Martirio, the jealous sister and fresh-faced sparring partner to Adela. And Ida Schuster introduces echoes of King Lear in her perlormance as Maria
Joseta, the aging and muddle-headed grandmother whose senile voice carries the distant sound of sanity.
John Clifford's new translation makes no great departures from the past, but it does the job and has some nice touches. His seemingly simple choice of the word ‘sheep' instead of ‘lamb’, for example, demonstrates his understanding of the dramatic impact of the spoken word. While his decision to have the cast slip into Spanish and not Latin for their communal prayer adds something to local atmosphere, it also jars in terms of accuracy. But this is a minor grievance in a translation which leaves us otherwise unaware of outside interference.
Under Ian Wooldridge‘s direction, the play is a constant pattern of movement. It takes a little time forthe actors to find their stride, but once Lorca's plot takes its grip, so they too are driven inexorably forward. The production acknowledges the streak of humour that sits precariously alongside the tragedy in the play and for the most part handles it well. That it is overplayed towards the climax softens only some of the blow of the genuinely affecting conclusion. (Mark Fisher)
THEATRE ACCESS DIRECTORY
In conjunction with the Scottish Council For Disability, The List will be expanding on venue information of relevance to disabled people overthe coming months. The project begins with the Theatre section and it's hoped that over the next few issues all the venues listed in this section will jointhose encoded this time. During the change-over period, the existing disability codes ( for lacilitiesforthe disabled, and [E] for facilities forthe hard of hearing) will be run alongside the new system. We're keento hear your views and suggestions on what information is most useful and how itshould be presented. Write to The Editor, 14 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1TE.
Access: P = Parking Facilities. PPA L Parking to be Pre-Arranged. L 2 Level Access. R = Ramped Access. ST = Steps to negotiate.
Facilities: WC 2 Adapted Toilet(s). WS = Wheelchair Spaces. AS = Adjacent Seats. E 2 Induction Loop System. (i 2 Guide Dogs Allowed. R = Restaurant Accessible. B = Bar Accessible. T = Adapted Telephone.
Helpf A = Assistance Available. AA = Advise Venue in Advance.
Theatre is listed by city first. then by venue, running in alphabetical order. Touring shows are listed separately under the relevant heading. KEY: [01 facilities forthe disabled. [E] facilities for the hard of hearing, usually an induction loop system. For prices, price in brackets eg (21 .50) is the concessionary price. Long running shows, unless specified otherwise, do not run on Sundays.
I CITIZENS' THEATRE (iorbals Street. 42‘) 0022. Box Office Mon Sat 10am-8pm. Bar. [Accessz P. 1.. Facilities: WC. WS. ii. (i. R. Help: AA]
A Tale of Two Cities From 5 May. See Mayfest listings.
I CRAWFURD THEATREJordanhill College. 76 Southbrae Drive. Glasgow. 0419503437 3438. [Access: P. R. Facilities: WC. W8. Ii. (i. R. B. Help: A. AA].
Them Through The Wall 1 May. 7.30pm. See touring.
Tag 'City' Dance Workshop 2 May. 7.30pm. See Maylest Community Listings.
I CUMBERNAULD THEATRE Cumbernauld. 0236 732887. Box Office Mon-Fri lllilnT—‘bplTTLSdl l0am 3pm;f> 8pm perf. cvgs Bar'Cale. [Access: PPA. ST. Facilities: WC. WS. (3. B. Help: A. AA]. King 0' The Commons by John (‘argill
Thompson. and C'Mon Get All by Doreen McCardle. Thurs 20-Fri 21 April. 7.45pm. £3.50(£2). Robert Paterson warms up for being the writer and director of the theatre’s next community play by directing these two monologues.
Harmony ROW Tue 25-—Sal 2‘) April. 7.45pm & 2.30pm Sal Matinee. Tues. Wed 8; Sat Mat £2.50 (£1 .25). Thurs- Sat £3.50(£2). See Touring.
I DRAMA CENTRE 126 Ingram Street. 552 5827. [Access: P. ST. Facilities WS. (i.
llClpl /\. I\I\].
Romeo And Juliet Mon l--Sat 0. 7.30pm. £3 (£1.20). See Mayfest Community Listings. I EAST KILBRIDE VILLAGE THEATRE Maxwell Drive. 03552 480w).
The Yeoman of the Guard Mon 24—51113) April. 7.30pm. Mon £2; Tue Thurs £3 (£2); Fri—Sat £3.50. The iiast Kilbridc (iilbert and Sullivan Society in the 1888 operetta.
I GLASGOW ARTS CENTRE 12 Washington Street. 221 4526. lAcccss: l’l’A. R.
Translated from Federico Garcia Lorca by John Clifford
THE HOUSE OF BERNARDA ALBA
A Theatrical Sensation! 7 APRIL-29 APRIL
NOW SHOWING Mon-Sat 7.45 pm
Matinee 22 April 3.15 pm (£3.00) (031) 229 9697
The List 21 April — 4 May 1989 51