formidable talent in its hands. Delan Hughes has excelled at the difficult task of directing the writer in his own play. easily matching the verbal wit (feel my leg. it's like Butlin‘s rock only hairy") with physical invention. ()‘Kelly races about the stage with toothless grin and middle-age paunch. putting in more work than would reasonably be expectedoftwoactors. I suspect that were he not working so hard. the play's lack of a clear structural resolution might be more apparent. btit as he takes his curtain call with one last rabbit-like skip it is impossible not to forgive him. (Mark fisher).
1000 AIRPLANES ON THE ROOF
Theatre Royal. Run ended. As one of the most trumpeted productions in this year's May lest ‘ ltllltl Airplanes on the Roof“ at least partly earned its keep. Jerome Sirliii's stage design w as an unqualified success. being an innovativ e series of staggered cinema sci eens through which the drama's sole actor could walk. When a semi-transparent reflective curtain was pulled over the front of the stage the possibilities multiplied. and produced breathtaking effects like none I have seen in a theatre before. Philip (ilass's music kept toa supporting role. surprisingonly by its conventionality . while David l lwang‘s script came across as being the weakest link in the production. giving off the aura of a student excitedly bashing out his first piece ofexistential theatre. By the midway point. though. Patrick ()‘(‘onnell‘s fine performance had surpassed its job of engaging our sympathy. and the monologue had at last got to grips with the point — that whether or not people actually are abducted by flying saucers. what is important is that if they really believe what they 're saying. then to deny it in order to fit in with society destroys their integrity. From this point on. ‘Airplanes‘ was finally airborne. taking the onlooker with it. (Alastair Mabbott)
Tramway Theatre. Until Sat 20 May.
There is something of
Wildcat in ‘Harmony Row‘. See review.
Harold Pinter in fan lleggie‘s excellent new play for the Royal (iotii‘t. like the early Pinter. lleggie is fascinated by the way people try and generally fall to communicate. But whereas the characters in a play likc'l'he Dumb Waiter are estranged. roofless and away from home. lleggie goes one stepfui'ther by piittiiigliis characters in a family context w here emotional cruelty is the norm. In American Bagpipes the Naiildie family is reunited for the first time in ten years. but beneath the superficial impression of being together. these characters are alone and distant.
lleggie's sophisticated. stylised and very funny dialogue plays on the selfishness. protectivencss and insecurities of his characters. liveryone wantsto talk. but nobody is prepared to listen. lleggie makes no allowances. even for the audience. dravy ing each characterwithout compromise. As first daughter. mother. father then son are introduced. we slowly settle intothcir style. adjust totheir cross-talk and pin down their deeper motivations.
Sandra (Lesley Manville). the daughter. is back in (ilasgow for a holiday from her new home in Fraserburgh. NewJersey. At first enthusing tediously about her life in the Land ofthe l-‘ree. she is in truth shielding herself from much unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Mother Rena ( fiileen Nicholas). meanwhile. hears only what she wants to hear.
desperately trying to smooth over domestic rows with her much vaunted ‘sense of humour‘ in an effort to keep the status quo and to avoid the truth of her situation. \Villic(KenStottl.the father. is the kind of male wlioexpresses himself only in extremes violence or soppy affection - and only after several whiskics. And Patrick (Paul Higgins). the son. an unrepentant criminal. has seen through the domestic cliarade. has accepted the cruelty of it. btit has failed to recognise the crazy human need for it.
.lust w hen you thought that the world needed no more domestic comedies.
laii l leggie has come along and subverted the w hole genre. American Bagpipes has many or the trappings of sitcom. from the three flying duckson the living room wall tothe father playing Jim Reeves records. but lleggie turns the form upside down to give a penetrating look at the forces. both negative and positive. that hold a family together. This isa black comedy whose humour lies in a verbal violence that makes you feel genuinely uneasy.
I leggie pries into the darkest cornersof family relationships and uncovers uncomfortable truths. American Bagpipes confirms his position as one of Scotland's major play'writing talents. (Mark Fisher).
i Seen at The Pavilion
Theatre. now ontour. Glasvegas is the sort of show where you clap after every scene. This isn't because it is particularly
good. It‘s just that .sort ofa
Morag Fullarton‘s tale of three young male (ilaswegians trying to make it big in the music business has an episodic structure rather like a Wildcat play. Iiach short. fast—paced comic scene culminates in a song .- cue audience applause — and then straight into the next scene. It isan irritating format if only because the music is never stirring enough nor the dialogue exciting enough for you to feel that clapping is at all justified.
It must be said that Fullarton has not done badly at directing her own play. This may be a comedy. btit it requiresa good deal of conviction to be able to gloss over the major improbabilities in the plot. The question is not even addressed. for example. of how an unknown and untalented band can not only stand in for Big ('oiintry. but also achieve instant recognition as a result. At two and half hours. (ilasvegasistoolong— itis not until the second half that anything very much happens - but it cracks along with enough pace to stop you worrying about such obvious flaws.
But there are greater problems than this. Despite the occasional good joke. the script hasa second-hand feel to it. This is not just because litillarton declines to develop the play's basic ideas of unemployment. criminality and the false glamourofstardom. liven without anything particularly new tosay'. she could have avoided the peculiar and inconsistent rhyming scheme and the clever-clever sprinkling of Shakespeare quotations (not to mention the echoes of Brecht's Arturo ti). and instead concentrated on the (ilaswegian speech patterns for which she obviously has an ear.
Perhaps the show's biggest weakness is the songs. I have never considered myself to be a llue And ('ry fan. but the use oftheir 'Looking for Linda' single midway through the play serves only to emphasise how dreary and forgettable the rest of the music is. [iach song arrives from nowhere. over- amplified and with neither emotional relationship to the text nor development of the plot. Being pre-recorded. the music has no feelingof
spontanaeity and many of
the words are lost either in
the mix or. more commonly. in the delivery of awkward lyrics.
The large audience on the night I saw it seemed mostly happy with the show. no doubt impressed by the actors' energy and geniality and by the constant movement of the production. Who knows. maybe they just liked clapping. but for myselfl couldn‘t say that (ilasvegas is anything more than borderline. (Mark Fisher).
Seen at Dolphin Arts Centre. Bridgeton. Now at Crawford Theatre.
You could tell the difference as soon as the cast drifted onstage. All life was there. Not the honed-down. spruced-up shiny image of American humankind which ’I'\' imports have created: these people are too fat and too thin. their features are too irregular. their bodies too lived-in. There are no beautiful people in Free Street Theater. and it is a shock to see ourselves reflected
Whether it was due to the workshop held that afternoon. or simply good advance publicity. the audience greeted the players like loiiglost cousins. It was a sell-out. In the dark heat of the studio space. spangled with sunlight from the scratches in the painted black-out. the atmosphere was wild. Kids yelled. mothers yelled. teenagers yelled. and a small dog panted under its owner's arm. Yet as the cast came on. someone said. ‘it's started' and everyone shut up.
The format of Project? is immediately recognisable. the story all too familiar. 'l'hese residents of(‘hicago's notorious. violent. high-rise ghetto. want to give the other side ofthe picture. to show the people behind the statistics. and they do so in the established manner by bursting into song and throwing themselves into synchronised dance. The dramatic devices of the musical theatre often sit unsteadily on Scottish stages. but l’ree Street Theater use them as if they were their natural means ofexpression.
These people can sing. Some of the voices are sweet. some not so. but the massed sound has a rough harmony which speaks of the city. Within and against it. individual voices shout or soar.
evoking the plight ofthe individual in a world of
gang-warfare. 'l‘lie brilliantly choreographed dances have none of the symmetry of a corps dc ballet. but an electricity and energy which turns the small stage into a battle-ground of jerking hips and punching arms. the performances staiid on their own merits. but the most inspiring aspect of Project? is that it has happened at all. The truth of the pain and courage which has brought (‘hicago to ( ilasgoys . fills these faces. 'l‘hcrc‘s is a powerful message which makesmeaninglessthe fact that those on stage
were black. those in the audience. white. (.lulie Morricc).
—3 THE GUID Q SISTERS
Tron Theatre. Glasgow. One question which anyonetranslatingaplay i
must confront is whether the society presented onstage will belong to the original work's culture. or to that of the new audience. Bill l-indlay's translation of Michel 'l'remblay 's Les Belles-Soeurs sets the play firmly in its native Montreal. preserving l‘rench ('anadian names and references. but the characters are in most respects(ilasw egian.
'l’remblay's themes are poverty. hypocrisy. avarice. srnall-mindcdness. loneliness and sex 4 all pretty universal in fact. Some of the specific
references are also transferable: the envious talk of refitted speech and a better standard of living in litirope might easily be made to comment on the North South divide. for example.
But the decision to maintain the play 's (‘anadian location has two bases. The first is an attempt to establish Scots as an acceptable language for translations. which does not rely on a Scottish setting for viability. the second is the impossibility of transposing some of the original play's specific references. such as the ('atholic mass broadcast on the radio. a nightly event in 1960s Montreal.
Like all'I‘reinblay's work. his first play l.es Belles—Soeurs is structurally experimental. though it lacks some ofthe confidence of his later work. A deliberately stagey piece. it alternates betw een earthy naturalisin. choreographed set pieces and tragi-coniic monologues. and Michael
The List 1‘) May— 1 June 198915