—_.-. v . . Andrew Pulver makes his pick of this week’s dramatic adaptations. Below — previews of the best. “a r " ' "- . u... ’ '2" . ., .» IV(Fringe) Eye Level $251in THE “I? v Theatre.Gilded Balloon
Adaptation of Douglas' gory classic oi Scots literature by iour tlrnes Fringe First winners Communicado. Communicado, Lyceum Studio (Fringe Venue 7) 229 9697. Free preview 12 Aug. 99m. 14 Aug-2 Sept (not Suns). 99m. 25 (£3).
Vis one of the more celebrated products of contemporary poetry: written during the 1984 miners‘ strike and published a year later. it caused a furore when poet Tony Harrison recited it on Channel 4.
(Venue 38) 226 2151.11 Aug—25ep.2.30pm.£4 (£3).
I ROLLING THE STONE. Wacky verslon oi Homer and Sisyphus by record breaking award winners. Crane/Williams. Dernarco Gallery (Fringe Venue 22).
Proudly boasting four Fringe Firsts and more recently the Prudential Award For Theatre , one of Scotland’s most popular companies are returning to their roots. Andrew Pulver talks to Gerard Mulgrew about Scotland past and
Six years after its original production, Communicado are reviving the first play they ever did, an adaptation of George Douglas‘ The
House With The Green Shutters. Scripted and directed by Gerard Mulgrew, Communicado will be seeking to confirm their reputation as one of Scotland’s premier theatre groups. With little recourse to technical trickery, their performances are impressive for their strong,
stylised visual imagery.
Douglas’ novel is one of the classics of Scots literature — a concerted attack on the myths of Scottish pastoral and high romanticism embodied in writers like Walter Scott. Village life in ‘Barbie’ is detailed in all its bitterness and arrogance; symbolised by the House itself, occupied by the overweening John Gourlay and his blustering, ‘splurging’ son. Douglas skilfully arranges the melodramatic action, culminating in an apocalyptic final confrontation resulting in one murder and three suicides.
Mulgrew is not slow to spot the theatrical
.potential of this material. ‘Douglas himself pointed out the dramatic structure of his novel,’ he says. ‘He was a classical scholar at Oxford, and constructed the story along the lines of classical tragedy. We are going to use the ‘bodies’ - the village gossips — as a kind of choric device,
controlling'and directing the narrative.’ The company’s last production was an adaptation of Antigone, which should stand them in good stead. ‘I didn’t direct it,’ says Mulgrew, ’and it’s interesting that we chose independently to perform two plays whose formal similarities we didn’t discover until later.’
Communicado’s past record is remarkable (four Fringe Firsts in ﬁve years) in their search to establish a Scottish idiom within a broad European context. ‘We’re hampered by the fact that little Scottish theatrical tradition exists,’ says Mulgrew. ‘We and other groups like TAG and Wildcat have had to almost invent it. Communicado are looking primarily to European models rather than a narrowly British
And The House With The Green Shutters? ‘We think it deserves an audience that it didn’t achieve when we were unknown — now things are different and we can use it to affect and entertain
a lot more people.’
I The House With Green Shutters Communicado (Fringe) Lyceum Studio (Venue 7) 229 9697. 14 Aug-2 Sept (not Suns), 9pm. £5 (_£3).
BED WIND Dulwich-based Partisan Theatre (listed unfortunater as Public Theatre in the Fringe programme) are bringing up their own version of Raymond Chandler‘s Red Wind. ‘We are a company interested in developing local talent and influences,‘ says actress Jan Prince. ‘One of the main reasons behind doing Red Wind was that Chandler went to Dulwich College , just down the road.‘ Armed with this bit of luck, Partisan have developed a show that takes Chandler beyond the traditional Bogart image. ‘We‘re intercutting the actual story with six stages in Chandler‘s own life.‘ says Prince. ‘while he is coping with his depression after the death of his wife. Cissie. You‘ve got this fifty seven year-old guy. drying out in a sanatorium after trying to shoot himself . picking up an old manuscript of Red Wind and finding himself actually in it.‘ Partisan are well aware of the strait jacket that cinema has imposed. ‘In a way the short story itself wasn‘t the first interest — you‘ve seen it done a hundred times on ﬁlm. In the play we really have
two separate stories running concurrently. so we want to reflect that stylistically. The film style . for the story itself. will be played very high.
: tocontrastwithamore f natural style forthc : sanatorium.‘lnfact.
Partisan Theatre are pretty lucky all round - a lot of high-powered people live in Dulwich.
I Jack Sheppard and Bob
Peck are round the corner as well. and they wrote and acted in past shows.
But they‘ll never match up
to Chandler. A local boy who made good. (Andrew Pulver)
I Raymond Chandler's Bed Wind (Fringe) Partisan Theatre. Lyceum Studio (Venue 7) 229 9697.12 Aug—2 Sept (not Sun) 10pm. £4 (£3).
ROLLING THE STONE
Billed as a ‘3000-year old world premiere‘. record breaking award winners (eight Fringe Firsts) Crane and Williams are bringing their version of the myth of Sysiphus to the Dcmarco Gallery. ‘It is based on six lines in The Odyssey - in the Book of the Dead.‘ explains 'director Faynia Williams. 'There‘s just this guy who‘s condemned to roll a stone up a hill for ever and
ever. But he‘s an eternal optimist.‘ Promising us ‘a comedy with a twist in the tail‘. Crane and Williams‘ show will be less strictly theatre than an approach to the less rigid conventions of performance art. ‘We want to go beyond what people say we should be doing. We like workingin non-theatrical spaces. and it means we can use a very weird set.’
Crane, (Richard. husband to Faynia) will provide the acting. and Susan Strangward. Guildhall student. will sing opera as ‘The Diva’.
- Standing by their eclectic
mixture. Williams refuses to be categorised. ‘l think you‘ll find this crosses all sorts of barriers — it‘s impossible to label.‘ And the secret of their success? ‘There‘s nothing new under the sun - itjust depends on how originally you use it. We always try to do something new and different.’ (Andrew Pulver)
I Bolling the Stone (Fringe) Crane/Williams. Dcmarco Gallery (Venue 22) 557 0707. 14—26 Aug (not Suns) 9pm. £4 (£3)
THE BATTLESHIP POTEMKIN
Eisenstein‘s early silent masterpiece. The
Battleship Potemkin, is being transformed into a stage play by director Steven Hudson of the Cambridge Mummers. ‘Our approach.‘ he says. ‘is basically one of ensemble mime. dance steps- we‘re working with the idea of caricature. with posture and gesture. We can‘t ever hope to recreate the film in its cinematic breadth, so we are concentrating on the dramatic moment. the dramatic effect.‘
The film. made in 1925 and dealing with events surrounding the abortive 1905 uprising in Tsarist Russia, is a textbook classic. and is justly renowned for the astonishing skill of its assembly: ‘Yes. the way Eisenstein arranges the picture is wonderful.‘ says Hudson, ‘but the limitation of the film is that however involved. however swept up you get . you‘re never actually there. In our play we can re-create conflict and interplay in terms of visual space by actually breaking down the barrier between stage and audience.‘
‘We‘re not necessarily undermining anything,‘ he continues. ‘but forcing people to change the way they think.‘ The production will be spare. dominated by a set of
heavy chains. adapted for different moments of the performance. ‘But in the end. there‘s a point at which you have to say “the ﬁlm is the ﬁlm“. to letgo and concentrate on making the theatre work on its own terms.‘ (Andrew Pulver)
I Battleship PotemItln -the Play Cambridge Mummers (Fringe). Overseas House (Venue 100) 225 5126.96.36.199, 18. 20. 24. 26, 28. 31 Aug & 2 Sept. 5pm. £3.50(£3).
IHE FALL 5F THE
HOUSE OF USH
Berkoff's The Fall of the House of Usher is far from new— in fact it received its premiere at the Traverse at the 1975 Fringe - but his version of Edgar Allan Poe‘s short story remains one of the most extraordinary pieces of theatre to be seen. Berkoff has become one of the most performed writers on the Fringe (Lunch . Agamrnemnon, Sink the Belgrano. East and West this year alone). and this is one of his most spectacular works. Aspects Theatre Group from Salford College have chosen to take it on. and they are aware ofthe daunting nature ofthe
task ahead. ‘Berkoff’s plays are based completely around his performance .‘ comments director, John Barnett, ‘it will be very difficult to try and emulate him. But we’re working hard, and the response to our performances has been very encouraging. '
In his adaptation Berkoff up-ends the direction of Poe‘s narrative. Through mime and gesture the house is made wholly symbolic — an image of decadence and decay. But Berkoff never obstructs Poe's legendary ability to generate the macabre. Garish make-up. dramatic lighting and intricate dance are central elements in maintaining the unerringly grotesque atmosphere.
It remains to be seen whether Aspects Theatre Company will measure up to the the kind of rigorous physical theatre that The Fall of the House of Usher demands. but the work itself is of such quality that it cannot help but to make memorable theatre. (Andrew Pulver).
I The Fall oi the House oi Usher Aspects Theatre Company (Fringe). Hill Street Theatre (Venue 41) 225 7294. 14— 19 Aug. 12.30pm. £3.50(£3).
The List I l — 17 August 1989 29