I ONAN Llewellyn and McKay in a comic expose ot girly-mag morality. Assembly Theatre (Fringe Venue 3) 226 2428. Until 2 Sept. 2pm. £4.50 (£4).
Mark Fisher selects the most promising new plays of the week. Below and overleaf— previews and reviews of the best around.
I SClllSM IN ENGLAND John Cliltord attacks Edinburgh Irom every
J angle: this is his reworking otCalderon’s Spanishview i olllenryVllltorthe
St Bride's Centre (International Festival) Until 19 Aug. 7.30pm. (mat
19 Aug 2.30pm). £5.50—28.
I HANGING THE PRESIDENT Uncompromising, hard-hitting and explicit anti-apartheid play set in a South Atrican prison. Traverse Theatre (Fringe Venue 15) 226 2633. until 2 Sept. Various Times. £5 (£3).
I DICK'S ISLAND The lunniest introduction to the American Southern gentry you can see. No hells. Dick’s Island. Moray House Union (Fringe Venue 108) 556 5184. until 26 Aug. 10pm. £3.25 (£2.25).
l i !
I TIES THAT BIND Disturbing and accutely observed play with minimal use at language and highly inventive design. Assemny Rooms (Fringe Venue 3) 226 2428. Until 2
Sept (not21. 28). 11.45am.
I A FAMILY AFFAIR Realistic and involving study ot a Iamily coping with their son’s addiction to heroin.
Mandela Theatre Company at the Wee Red Dar (Fringe Venue 79) 229 1003. until 26 Aug (not 20) Item; 27 Aug—2 Sept. 5pm. £3 (£2).
Scotland’s Rip Van
Nicola Robertson talks to a company shifting the focus back to
A Parcel ofRogues. like a thistle on the smooth path ofthe fun-loving Fringe. pricks the conscience and makes one think. It is a play about Scotland and about language and culture.
In an international festival it is often easy to lose sight of the home-grown talent that abounds
in Scotland, and Hamish Gillies. author of 1314 Theatre Company‘s brand new offering. is a playwright whose imagination and lyrical grasp of Lowland Scots has had David Hayman of 7:84
Parcel ofRogues is a poignant look at Thatcher‘s Scotland — a country, whose identity has been supressed and diluted for over 300 years. ‘The piece is very much about the loss of a language, the loss of a culture — other traditions have been superimposed,‘ explains Fiona Morrison. ‘We‘re living in a world where, ifwe try and speak the language ofour forefathers it seems to be false coming from us, and those round about us don‘t understand it.‘
It is interesting to see the play in the light ofthe failed Scottish National Theatre movement, when the debate about plays written in dialect was at its height, and Liz Lochhead‘s translations of Moliere into Scots were drawing crowds to the theatre. However, Morrison continues ‘I hasten to say the play is for those who are not Scottish, that non-Scots will be able to understand the play. It‘s not in a totally incomprehensible
v increasingly important.
Gillies avoids the overtly ‘political‘ style of agit-prop. using a blend of absurdism and black humour to make his point. The hero of the piece, John Fletcher, is an 18th century Scot fresh from the controversy of the Act of Union with England, who wakes one morning in Edinburgh, as the 1989 International Festival swings into action. ‘The cleaner who discovers John remarks. “Help ma Christ. it‘s a laddie. Oh I hope he‘s no deid . . ‘and, ofcourse. neither can understand the language of the other.‘ As the action unfolds, questions of identityand of the ‘ consequences of the Act of Union for Scotland and a satirical wink at the Festival itself become
I The play is performed by a professional | Scottish cast with a score by Ron Shaw, who will 5 provide the cello music for the Picts. It will be a
stimulating production with, perhaps, the seeds
I ofyet another great contemporary Scottish
theatre company being sown. I Parcel DI Rogues (Fringe) Pleasance Two. 60
The Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550. 22 Aug—2 I Sept. 7.35pm, £4.50 (£3.50).
It's odd. very odd. but interesting. Terminal. written by James Mavor and directed by John Pope. is not most people‘s idea of ‘theatrc‘. it‘s more an exploration of mixed-media. pushing theatrical possibilities to the limits and beyond. It doesn‘t quite work. but the spirit ofinvention stands naked in the theatre space.
Call it a post-modernist fantasy or functionalist theatre. Terminalscems to be an attempt to fuse the physical elements of ritual and movement. repeated sound and song. symbols and images with the ultra modern. technological. super-sonic world we have created.
The story is confused; it could be Frank‘s fantasy. or did the plane crash above the Pacific. where the two survivors of one of the worst air-disasters in recent times are blended together like John
Carpenter‘s Fly. really
happen? The love-affair in Istanbul. the career woman tough as nails. Frank. the world‘s number 1 courier. who can‘t get enough of ﬂying
- do I detect traces of Salman Rushdie? Technicians and musicans are equals with performers and director in Shadow Syndicate‘s theatre oftricks. Adrian
‘keyboards‘ Johnston provides live music. (Nicola Robertson)
I Terminal (Fringe) 'Shadow Syndicate, Cannongate Hall (Venue 5). 556 1388. Until ZSept (not 20. 27). 8. 15pm. £5 (£3.50).
LIFTING THE WEIGHT
‘The more the audience are shouting. making a noise and saying things the better.‘ says Alun Mountford in an unusual reversal of acting standards. But then Mountford is not used to performing in cosy Fringe venues. he‘s much more at home in Her Majesty‘s Prisons. ‘Prison audiences are the best in the world.‘ he continues. ‘They get involved. Because ofthe nature of the plays. it makes the whole thing very exciting.‘
Mountford is a member of Geese Theatre Company. an off-shoot of a similar group in the USA
specialising in improvised theatre aimed at prison inmates and dealing with issues arising from confinement. The play structures are designed to address problems like going staight . dealing with family and AIDS. The improvised format allows
; for continual feed-back from the prisoners. while
the company offer a programme of workshops and consultancies for more concentrated work. ‘Thcir aim is to fight crime.‘ states the press release unequivoclally. but Mountford reckons that only rarely are they accused of being patronising. ‘We try to be as real as possible.‘ he says. ‘and we need tobe told if the scene we‘re
improvising is not accurate. We‘re not going in to prisons to give entertainment. but we‘re not going in to preach either. We‘re there to bridge the gap between prison and the outside world.‘
So as well as Scottish dates on the inside at Dumfries. Barlinnie. Perth. Polmont and Saughton. the company are performing on the outside in a play that confronts audiences with issues of work. alcohol and drug misuse. ‘We‘re making people aware of what prisons are like.‘ says Mountford. ‘and of the problems of cx-offenders. People don‘t really understand the mentality behind many offenders. I‘m not trying to be an apologist for inmates. but something has to be done.‘ (Mark Fisher).
3 I Litting The Weight
(Fringe) Geese Theatre Company. Epworth llalls (Venue 63)668 109]. 21—26 Aug. 5pm. £3.50 (£2.50).
The List 18— 24 August 1989 21