_ l MASAKI IWANA
Butoh has become almost . a regular feature ofthe i Mayfest programme over the years. so it‘s probably about time that we
stopped treating this unique and uncompromising dance form from Japan as an exotic novelty. Judging from the crammed Third Eye auditorium for the performance of
Namanari. it now has a substantial and devoted following in Scotland.
Though only 30 years
old. Butoh. even in its variety of styles. has a somewhat jaded ‘seen-it-before’ reputation amongst dance cogoscenti. but Masaki lwana proves beyond doubt that it can still provide as profoundly movingand awe-inspiring a theatrical experience as anything one is likely to witness in a theatre today. Dressed as something between a bride and a butterﬂy. he covers the length of the small stage only once in just over an hour. starts with a single tear on his cheek and ends up bathed in sweat. rarely moving at more than slow-motion speed against a delicately textured background of sound and music.
Beyond this. the dance throws tip a range of images that are ripe material for violent fitsof purple prose and best left to the imagination. Among the most powerful are the gentle raising of a cradled foot (it seems to belong to another body altogether) that inescapably suggest a dead child and flailing limbs trying desparately to break free of gravity. like some demonic puppet.
l have never heard an audience as utterly silent as this one. which is probably the best measure of the sheer emotional density and dtirabilty of
Citizens' Company in ‘A Tale of Two Cities‘.
lwana's performance. A personal Mayfest highlight. but you may well have to wait a year before anything like this comes around again. (Simon (ioodenough-Bayly)
GABDZIENICE THEATRE ASSOCIATION
Henry Wood Hall. Run ended.
A lavishly produced and pricey programme convinced me that Poland's(iardzienice Theatre Association and their tour organizers meant not only business. btit also that the image of Polish theatre as ‘poor theatre' is perhaps one of the past. What is striking and unusual in this production is not so much the style. the combination of a constant flow of movement. scraps of spoken text. ritualistic religious imagery and song. btit itsovcrt professionalism. For all its roots in the fadingoral cultures of rural Poland and in the story of a tortured l7th century martyr. this is a ‘rough‘ theatre possessed of a strangly sanitized slickness.
'l‘he l()-stroiig company move so speedily through a succession of scenes and songs that the dominant impression is one of bewildered indifference to the fate of Avvakum. the martyred priest. Behind the medieval facade of cassocks. chanting and rough wooden sets seems to lie a thinly veiled expression of a contemporary inability to develop authentic responses to the inummerable political acts of atrocity and oppression of which the media informs tis every day. To an extent. (iardzicnice proffer an iron fist in a velvet glove that is perhaps a little too thick for its own good. The wild
waiting for a punchline that you know isn‘t going to come. The audience loved it — well. quite a lot ofthem did.
THE BEAUTIFUL GEMME i
RSAMD. Run ended. Football‘s most hated pundit Jimmy Hill in one of his great philosophical I moments stated: ‘When all is said and done then the talking has to stop'. So it is with Raymond Ross’s rant on football. once his two monologists have said their piece they stop abruptly and you're left feeling as though you had just witnessed a mid-table m:2:111:2232';i... MONDELEYS’ - any real import. 2
However it’s far from beingthe kind ofdotir . =
Alexander used to
relaxed precision. hands expressive and limbs loose. But for all the ease with which these dancers perform. the tatit rhythm ofthe piece is never slackened.
In a linked programme. the series of dances ﬂicked through the emblems and gesturesof nationalism with sharp wit and vision. Arms and eyes were lifted heaven or leaderward. arms were bent across breasts. the Olympics were given a slippery airing. the military waved their medals and folk dance was given a particularly pacy plug. ('riss-crossing serious comment with action and humour makes Flag a winner. (Alice Bain)
j grown men who can argue j about whether more . Protestants marry into 3 (‘atholicfamiliesthan i (‘atholics marry into ; Protestant ones.
liach monologue is fashioned like an intricate midfield passing movement. pleasing to the Punter btit ultimately going nowhere. For while they give lucid appraisals ofthe meaning that the beautiful game holds for them there is no real attempt at examining why it should do so. Still at the end of the day. it'sall about results. isn't it'.’ (Ross Parsons)
- 7 THECHOL-
theatricality of the event and the haste. sometimes verging on the slapstick. of its performers seem wilfully calculated not to allow the audience to indulge in any degree of comforting emotional empathy.
This gulf between the
. , , Robin Anderson Theatre. performance's style and (103”le 1" lllncnill 1011653 Robin Anderson Theatre. Runended, itsnear-apocalyptic h” Rlls-‘l’liiyh‘k'HUHF Run ended. Dancers are forever
btit sparingly on the language of foootball. that ofcliehe piled on platittide. in his celebration of the beautiful game. liito the mouths of his celebrants he places the apocryphal anecdotes that fill the bars of Scotland where so ever the round ball is recognised. The two monologues contrast the resigned acceptance of a Mother to her son's passion. with the single minded devotion he displays for his football. Scunner. the son is the type of fanatical follower that would sell his mother for a ticket to a big game and who can amuse his friends by playing the Scotsport theme tune on
content turns the Brechtian idea of ‘alienation' on its head — it is more likely to leave you dazed and confused rather thanenlightened. But. pontifications on the social function of theatre aside. that is in itselfnot only a considerable achievement but also a singularily disturbing one. (Simon (ioodcnotigh-Bayly)
At last year's National
Review ()f live Art in
(ilasgow. Bobby Baker j
returned to performing ‘
Flag was all it had been cracked tip to be. A collage of images on the subject of nationalism. it took the Little Red Book in hand and made a kilt of choreography. Willi the Pointy Birds in attendance. tooting out a sound which conjured jazz with the thirties and eastern litirope. this tripartite group made compelling viewing. L'sing few props (a
handful of books) and clever lighting. the nine dancers were never caught napping and filled the stage with visual interest right through. l.ea Anderson's choreography was bright as ever a magical combination of solid. down-to—carth movement and inventive dance. I‘eet clad in anything from cltimpy boots to (‘hinese slippers. they moved in grotipsol
attempting the leap into weightlessiiess. l'nfortunately'. Pauline Daniels. an experienced and respected performer from the Netherlands. takes the plunge.
With a crying cello intro played by her collaborator lirarices-Tslarie l'itti. Daniels made her entrance over the edge of a small metal cliff. Rooted by boots fitted with heavy } magnets. she began l winding and unwinding i
her muscular body with movement which emphasised the contrast between her immovable feet and bending body. l'nforttinatcly.the plaintive mood ofcello and imprisoned dancer. served to produce an impression of fatigue leading to audience droop. With no exceptional bursts of choreography toease the atmosphere. that cloud ncvci' lllletl.
l)anicls' theatrical tle\ ice Ul magnets ()ll
after several years as a full-time mother. She gave an utterly hilarous show which might be described as a very messy. autobiographical cookery demonstration. What is primarily so endearing about Ms Baker isher ’ 1 complete normality - her ' A artless ability todo absurdly nutty thingson stage with an aw kward nonchalance makes you wonder why you aren't tip there with her.
l ler Mayfest show, (‘hocolate Money. is really more of the same: food. mess and a charming lack of theatricality. Beyond that. there isn't really much you can say. Ms. Baker wheelsaround a trolley of chocolate money. throws it around. dances on it. sits on it. offers it to the audience and jtist generally banters on about life in general and chocolate in particular. What keeps you in your seat. oddly enough. is a feeling of
the bagpipes. Whilst his Mother. though displaying an admirable ' knowledgeofthcgame herself. expresses her dismay at the ftitility of
steel. moves to magnets on loam. an equally restricting surface. Icadiiigtoev er more restricted choreography. Despite a change of cellos. l'ittitloes not waver in her mood. 'l'hc tlillictiltiesol course are sell-imposed. btit iicv er does the image of struggle and stress becomebelievable. “hat a relief it is when Daniels comes to the end of her punk ptippethootl when. stripping off her black plastic chains. she fltitters her finale and the show is over. (Alice Bain)
I; t ‘ . dereck dereck in “The Sweet Shop Owner‘.
. -J The List 19May— 1 June 198917