'l‘l IEA'I‘RE LIST
LA NEG RA ESTER
Seen at Riverside Studios. London. Now at Tramway Theatre. Glasgow Wed 19ﬁSat22July. There'snodoubtthata programme cheatsheetand an adeguatelylit auditorium helpyoufollowthe complicated plotofthis Spanish-language Chilean drama. But whatreallyholdstheattentionfora predominantlyEnglish—speaking audience isthecompany'stechnique. commitmentand unashamed theatricalily.
Roberto Parra'sautobiographical lovestoryis setinthe seedy atmosphere of a Chilean brothel and explorestheyoungsinger‘sinfatuation with a prostitute. La Negra Ester. The play‘s strong. visual humourdraws on pantomime. clowning. cumedia dell'ai'te and slapstick. but although the acting is broad. it is sufficiently controlledtoportraya range of well-defined characters and to engage your feelings. Playing on a brightly lit stagefurtherdefined byfootlights. the actors declairn directlytothe audience behind heavy make—upto emphasise character.
Throughoutthe perlormancean exceptional three-piece hand provide accompaniment. atmosphere and ingenious souan effectsand hecomean integral part of the ensemble. They lead the company through some rousingdanceseguencemvhich almost. but not guite. fire the reserved British audience into bouts of clapping along.
MySpanishaspeakingcompanion assuresmethattranslated into English the ripe language of the Iii—strong cast would have shocked if not offended a British audience. It is arguably only the technical excellence and orginality of deliverythatexcusesan admittedly funny. Benny Hill strain of humour. as the performers outline women'sbodies chauvanisticallyandswap loutish crudities.
Given its flimsy plot line. the play couldbe shorter. especiallyoncethe noveltyofbeingenthralled byaforeign languageproduction beginsto wane. The poetry often line stanzas declaimed in astrangelyunperturbing monotonedoesbecome increasineg hard on the ear. but I'd recommend anyoneto seetheplayifonlytowitness thetwopeasantgirls' hilariously bastardised renditionoftwochildren's songsThisisrude. energetic and entertainingvisualtheatre—it'snota mortal sin to miss it. but maybe a venialone. (Sue Ernmas)
Alison-E'Pe'ebles in lnes De Castro. Photo Sean Hudson. See Review.
INES DE CASTRO
Inesde Castro. Traverse Theatre. Edinburgh.
Grandlybilledasa 'worldpremiere‘. John Clifford'slnesde Castroreceived itsfirstperformance on Saturday8
July. Consciously modelled on the formalisedstructuresofhighclassical tragedy. itdeals withthetrue story ofa Spaniard murdered inPortugalwhile her lover. Prince Pedro. is warring in Spain. and whosefive-year-oldcorpse is venerated asqueen on Pedro's accessiontothethrone.
Ian Brown'sproductionbegins promisingly:acage-Iikeset.incense and chanting. trickling music. all generatinganappropriately haunting atmosphere. The narrative itself. simple and macabre. is confidently and skilfullyhandled—occasionally teasing. oftengruesome—dominated by a strong central performance from Alison Peeblesaslnes.Thehightragic mode ofthewritingfinds its expression? in a mannered. high-cheekboned mode ofacting.aspiringtothat‘intensityof feeling'thatJohn Clifford talks oflsee lastissue'sListpreview).
Aspiration. though. seemsto bethe name ofthe game. In histreatment of thelneslegend. Cliffordpickshis way tentativelybetween Gothic sensation and rhetoricaldecorousness—allthe actionnecessarilytakesplace off stage. In persuing the latter. the stagingisuneasilyhitandmissinits effectiveness. On the one hand. Ines' confrontation withherlovertacklesthe inhumanity ofpoliticalaction—onthe other. the more Gothic scenes are depressinglyineffectual—the King‘s dream ofdeath isrecited ratherthan lived. and soisdrainedofimpact.
Like CommunicadoinAntigone. the Traverse andJohnCliffordfailto come totermswiththe functionoftragic rhetoricthatwasgeneratedfrom ritualistictheatre. engagingits audienceinawaythatmore sophisticated contemporarytheatre never can. There is a need to develop a comprehensivetheatrical languageto sustainthetragicrhetoric:this production stands back. offering bodegon-Iike chorus scenesto counterpointhightragedy.The promise oftheexcitingopening passagesis notliveduptoztheir sensuousintensitydissipated ina cloud of aspiring rhetoric. (Andrew Pulver).
RUN FOR YOUR WIFE
Mitchell Theatre. Glasgow. Quite the silliestplay on offerto Scottish audiencesthis summerisJimmy Logan‘srevival ofRay Cooney‘s bigamistfarce which between now and October is touring to Perth. Kirkcaldy. Stirling. Ayrand Edinburgh. ltwas received in Glasgow bya respectable family audience outin search ofsafe sitcom smutanda chanceto seethe ever-popularteam ofJimmy Logan and Russell Hunterin action.
Thisisjusthowfarce should be seen. Logan has been treading the boards since the age of seven and. like pantomime. this sort ofthing is second nature to him. Theman can geta laugh out of folding his arms and crossing his legs and he injects intothe production the precision timing essential to make comedy work. Without the show-biz values ofthe experienced cast. the farce could easilydegenerate intoa pointless and offensive mess. As itis. this bunch are such old—hands that they even workinaspotofcorpsingto liven up the proceedings. Clearly enthusiastic. they approachthefarce in an appropriatelylightand unpretentious way.
Having setupthe basic situation ofa taxi driver(Logan) injeopardy of having the cover blown on his secret life of bigamy. Cooneythen lets deceit overtake unlikely deceitasthe cabbie lies his way in and out oftrouble. By the end of the play everyone on stage—two policemen on the same case. two wives withthe same husband—hasa chaoticallydifferentunderstand‘ng of what is going on. Russell Hunter as the cabbie‘s mate always eagerto help. shoulders mostofthetaII-outfromthe preposterous series offibs with allthe cruel comedy ofthe innocentvictim.
You'll be pleasedto knowthatthere is no worse punthanthatofthetitle and even more pleasedthatnone ofthe all—Scottish castlosestheirtrousers.
embodies the attitudes and the politics
of its performers who must accept that
responsibility. You can be silly for only so long before the blunt truth of real life intrudes. (Mark Fisher).
- SAUCHIEHALL sr.
Up From Sauchiehall Street (or Bali Kathi Kali) by Robbie Moffat at Eastwood Theatre. Glasgow. When Scot Robbie Moffat graduated from Newcastle University he decided to do some travelling. and so he did. to seventy countries. He is not inclined to do things by half: at 35 he has nine novels waiting to be published and an awesome 600 poems to his name (some published) and that is despite concentrating on drama for the last live
years. during which time he has had no
fewerthan nine plays performed. Afterthe opening nightofthe most recent ofthese. Up From Sauchiehall Street. he commented that he . .. liked writing. Thisplayis basically
entertainment rather than trying to be instructive. It's written forthis theatre. this area: I now realise you've got to get the particularwork for the right market.‘
Hence the play. a light—hearted farce about filial duty. is set in a particularised lowlands idiom. and
gently satirises philistines. the pretentions of youth and moralising
But when the company states proudly in
the programme notes that they ‘do not comment on social conditions‘ and ‘have no political aims‘. they are treading on shaky ground. Whether intentional or not. the play is male-centred and hetro-sexist. Virtually the whole of the second half is based onthe premisethat homosexuality is deviant and something to be laughed at. That they succeed in being moderately funny is no excuse. Every stage performance
Run ForYuurWife. See Review.
aboutsexual misconduct. It's a sprawling affairwith an intricate narrative. occasionally bordering on the convoluted. revolving around the misfortunes ofAndrew McDonald Mackay. the kind-spirited butrather weakson ofaniggardly status-conscious Glasgow merchant. whoiscajoling him into marrying Chrissie Campbell—into aristocracy. Unfortunater onthe day ofthe wedding histrue lover. Kathi Kali. a lowly dancer. givesbirthtotheirchild. The day is one of bluff and deceits as Andrew's half-brother. a conniving fly-boy attempts to rectify matters while making a play for Maisie Madras. Kathi‘s maid. Furthercomplications occurwhen laird Charlie Gordon. Andrew‘s schoolfriend. appears declaring unquenchable passionsfor Chrissie. Twists concerning undiscoveredfamilial relationships pointto an inevitably happy outcome.
It'sacheerful romp. whichthe actors ham up to caricature levels. The wealth oftalented performanceslnotably Graham McLaren. Isadora Mann. Keith Neilland Neil Benedict) ensurethat it never lapses into banality. but instead maintainsthe enchanting romanticism thatisessentialforafarced'amour. (Stewart Hennessey)