“The first thing Berkoff said to me.‘ Victor Spinetti recalls. ‘was "Why d‘m‘t You IUCklng Play it Yourself?” And I said. “because it‘s time younger people took hold of it. I think these two would be very good in it." ‘The play in question is Decadence. Steven Berkoff‘s viciously funny critique of British complacency and self-indulgence.
which visits Glasgow this fortnight.
Berkoff is notoriously reluctant to grant performance rights. and in the only previous production. he was both director and halfthe cast. In this case. however. he was convinced. Fenton (iray. who plays the two male characters. suggested the project to Spinetti while they
were working together in Oliver. and ‘
introduced him to the cast's other member Stephanie Prince. who is making a very enviable professional debut. ‘I've already told everybody I know about her‘. says Spinetti. ‘She‘s wonderful.‘
Berkoff too is an admired colleague. ‘l've always been a great fan. I think his stuffis brilliant. wonderfully gutsy. And he wrote about yuppies before the name was invented. When he‘s talking about greed and self-absorption it sounds terribly like the docklands today.’
Their last collaboration. oddly enough. was on the Prince movie Under The (‘herry Moon. ‘I remember coming on the set one day and the director had been fired and Prince had taken over. and I told Steve and he said ‘oh good. I love change”.
The whims of pop stars do not fare Spinetti either: after all. he appeared in most ofthe Beatles‘ films. ‘I said to Prince “well. nothing's really changed — you‘ve got a big car with black windows the same as John had” and Prince said “well have a look inside my car" and in the back he had a fax machine and a telephone and a secretary and that
was his office. And it’s tax-deductible- I suppose that‘s the Stls. you see.’
The decade has had its joys for Spinetti. too. ‘I've loved working on [)et‘udent't’.‘ he says. ‘I like performing but directing is fascinating. I remember when I was directing Hair in Rome. I used to say. “you must let the light come through your eyes and out of your arse and make a circle". and l was explaining this to an Italian journalist and he said. “oh my ( iod ~~ is this a homosexual production'.’!"'
The recollection brings forth one of
Spinetti's‘ frequent. rumbling and infectious chuckles.
His current project is his one-man show Thoughts From xi l'ery l’ri’i‘ule Diary in the West Iind. He describes the experience as ‘going on stage every night totally naked and roaming through my experience'. though he adds that the nakedness is metaphorical. But he has been rewarded with universal acclaim and ‘the best reviews I‘ve ever had'. The results are an extended run and requests to perform the show from [.os Angeles to Sydney. All of which interferes a little with his reading schedule.
‘It‘s my only vice.‘ he confides. ‘I‘ve given tip smoking ~- which is driving me tip the wall - you can't drink much when you’re working. and I certainly haven’t fucked since. oh. 1977 I should think.' (Andrew Burnet)
Stephanie Prince and Fenton Gray
‘l'nfortunately .' says Susie Maguire. 'most people think I am Marina.‘ The resemblance. however. is purely physical. While Stisic is calm. soft-spoken and quietly self-effaeing. her creation Marina Mel .oughlin is breathy and garrulous. always eager to thrust herselfinto the public eye. In last year's S'I'V Mayfcst coverage. she was the would-be starlet w ho pestered presenter Anthony Wilson at every turn. desperate for aslice of the limelight. ()ne of her regular sttiiits is monopolising the vos pop sections of chat shows.
Not at all the sort of thing you espect from Susie. ‘I started out feeling horribly shy and uncomfortable lcouldn't speak to people. which is really one of the reasonsl started doing this. It w asa very conscious thingto boost my eonfidencc.‘
Although she refuses to take herself too seriously. Stisie hasa very respectable pedigree. having worked with little Red l leii feminist theatre company (‘in the days when you could get jokes 3 out of tampons and diaphragins' i. performed alongside Myra Meliady en as a Midget (ieltt and cti-ftiutided the McKray 'l'w ms with her brother 'l‘im and Rob Sian. both now successful writer directors.
Marina was born
two-and-a-halt years ago. shortly after a disastrous liy e appearance on the Janice Long radio show precipitated the McKray 'I'wins‘ demise. when Susie was required to perform at [.ondon's (‘omedy Store.
'I thought it was a really good name.’ she says. ‘and I decided that she'd be a complete clone. You know when you're at school and someone in your class has got really good shoes and a really good haircut and a good bag and you think “Brilliant” and you run out and you think it's going to look really good and it doesn’t'." Well.
that's what Marina's like. ‘She'snaive notignorant or stupid but earnest she would believe in causes in a way that lwouldn‘t.‘
Much to her surprise (she claims). Marina was well received in London. She is still in demand. and will be compering the programme of w omen's comedy at the Renfrew Perry on the final two nights of Mayfest. The other performers are l.i/, I.oclihead. the new (ilaswegian double act Marie (fair and Irish. and Martha MeBrier. w ho won Mayfest 88's So You 'l‘hink You‘re l‘unny 1’ contest.
Susie is currently writing new material 'beeause I get bored very quickly with my own stuff.’ she says and trying to discover a way‘of rehearsing that doesn't involve performing in front of friends or standing alone in front of a mirror. Id like todoa documentary tliirigaboiit this.‘ she says. expressing a rare. Marina-like enthusiasm for public exposure. ‘Ilow dosolo performers rehearse'." (Andrew Burnet)
[.l: Loch/read. Susie .lluguire. Marl/iii .lii‘lirier (mil .errlt' ( ‘lurrum/ [fl-Ali. I'liurs IN. I‘m 1‘). Still/I. See ( "ii/tare! listings.
SPINNING NEW LINES
Most theatres would like to stage new writing; most have to balance this somehow with the evident
risk it involves. At the ’I‘raverse. the problem is compounded all the more by the fact that. though the theatre w as founded I specifically to mount new plays and has gained an international reputation for doing so. there is never quite enough money todo more than one major in-house season.
last year. however. j they found a canny way to improve matters with Scottish A i'certti. A mini-festival of new writing. it put on four short plays by young Scottish writers within one fortnight. Using one company of actors, one designer and a small budget. and culminated in a weekend when all four plays were staged each day. surrounded by workshops. discussions and cabaret. 'l'hough evidently no substitute for a three-week run. the formula proved tremendouslysuccessful. showing new writing in a working contest and creating a mood of excitement.
This year the project is to be repeated again. 3 though with some alterationsandadifferent name: Spinning a line.
"I'hc name is basically because it is about storytelling. I suppose.‘ says Ben 'I‘wist. w ho eo-ordinatcd the programme and worked on the commissions. ‘\\'c were quite keen on the idea of four stories being told by four w ritcrs. Theatre is finally about storytelling pcrliapsitis
The List 1‘) May— 1 June 198‘) 29