conducts his performance of a performance ofthe French Revolution. The theatre in which Sade makes his theatre isa converted mad-house called the Bedlam.
The production of this important play istightly paced and stimulating. Ladders. an upturned cart. papier maehe heads and a pair ofgigantic hands. litter the stage. The inmates ofCharenton gurgle and grunt like maddened animals. swinging up and down rattling metal scaffolding at the back of the stage. The idiot playing Marat.
scratching his putrid sores. sits defenceless and weak in a raised bathtub.
James Eastaway's glittering. cruel Sade quivers with delight as he crushes the idealism ofthe Revolution. revelling in the eroticism he introduces into Charlotte Corday's assassination of Marat. lle lellsthe dribbling Marat ‘man who kills without passion is a machine.’
The strength of the play is its ideas. and the use of its theatricality for conveyingthem. lts relevance for the 1980s. as Sade‘s concept of power goes unchallenged in our own time. is as profound as ever. (Nicola Robertson)
I See l litlist for venue details.
WHEN FIVE YEARS PASS
The British premiere of Lorca's surrealist drama ensured the National Student Theatre Company's production was a sell-out. The performance is slick. well-acted and respectable. combining a solid young cast with the dance expertise of Vernon Douglas and Trevor Olowu from Ballet Rambert.
That said. I can't help feeling the directors. Robert Delamare and Maria Delgado. miss somethingof the texture and spirit of the piece. The work is not a ‘play'. it is rather a poem for voices. which drift in and outof the young man's head. Like the expressionist
films ofthe Twenties. where reality becomes distorted and inverted in a Kafka-esque nightmare. this piece is an experiment with form.
Unfortunately. the rough edges are smoothed over by the company. Voices and images are puffed out into motivated characters who try to make sense of the action. Things are taken literally — a cat stoned on the roof of a house comes to life as a purring pussy who nuzzles the dead son ofthe concierge. Imagination becomes reality. leaving little for the audience to behevein.
In this respect the performance is very British. well-done. but lacking theatricality or risk. (Nicola Robertson) I When Five Years Pass (Fringe) National Student Theatre Company. Festival (‘lub (Venue 36). 225 8283. Until 2 Sept. 6.15pm.£4(£3).
Once again lnchcolm Island is the starof Richard Demarco‘s ambitious production of Macbeth in the Forth estuary. The ruins ofthe 12th-century abbey have in Shakespeare's words ‘a pleasant seat. and the air nimny and sweetly recommends itself‘.
After the disastrous pull-out by the Sicilian company a week before the run was due to begin. John Bett'sabridged version of the Scottish play is a triumph. It is ﬂawed. and in some senses very traditional. It relies on decent weather and a sturdy audience. but it manages to exploit the setting. and through some fine acting. particularly by (ierda Stevenson as Lady Macbeth. to carry the play ()ff.
However. as a promanade performance there are too many people. Many ofthe audience found the continual jostling and the discomfort of pouring rain miserable. others were bewildered at the way the play had been cut and rearranged.
Yet. such physical. environmental hazards
are part of the production. and. to my mind. enhance it. As lords ofthe isle fora night. the audience find themselves hearing Shakespeare’s verse in conditions very similiar to those of the first ever showing of Macbeth around 1600.
I Macbeth (Festival) Demarco Gallery (Venue 22).557()7()7. 17.20—22 Aug 7.30pm (ferry leaves from South Queensferry at 7pm). £15.
Lorca‘s lyrical dialogue presents any director with the problem of how to approach the reality and power of a play like Yerma. The piece is startlingly modern. dealing with women‘s issues. and a society in which codes ofbehaviour are religiously obeyed. However. it goes deeper than that. as Yerma discovers that she cannot. emotionally or physically. break free of the bonds that she has had imposed on her by external forces. The situation is intolerable; her pent up desires are continually frustrated. not in the end by society. but by herself.
The key to the play lies. it seems. in the poetry. and it requires actors who can speak verse. Theatre in the Sands production. directed by Tom Watson. opt for a semi-realistic approach which does not do justice to Lorca‘s suggestive lyricism. translated for them by David Johnston.
The ritual elements of the play. the songs and images of fertility. sit uneasily with the down-to-earth realism of Highland shepherds discussing marital problems. In many ways it is a combination that the play itself leaves unsolved. however the rather weak singing voices of the cast. contrastingly accompanied by a brilliant Spanish guitar. do not help. (Nicola Robertson) I Yerma (Fringe) Theatre In The Sand. Lyceum Studio(Venue 7). 229 9697. Until 2 Sept 7pm.£5 (£3).
The Hoxton Firm's East has a ring ofsinccrity about it. Berkoff‘s mock-heroic odyssey through the obscenity and brutality of East End London is given a tough and uncompromising treatment — since they come from Hoxton they probably know something about it. Keith George. boots and braces. and Robert Hopkins. a sinister Harry H. Corbett formed a sharp double act as Les and Mike. assembling skilfully the mime and pantomime the play demands. Berkoff‘s poetry though. wrought from London rhyming slang. and Southend pier. is the play‘s centre. and the cast effortlessly capture its savage spirit. Bar a few technical problems the producton was assured and confident — but a word of warning. there's heavy use of strobes that they didn‘t say anything about. (Andrew Pulvcr)
I East (Fringe) The Hoxton Firm . Tic toc at Marco‘s (Venue 98). 229 7898. Until 2 Sept. 11.45pm. £4 (£3).
Church has always been a good place to laugh at spiritual humbug and at St John‘s it's being laid on with wit and horror. The church is the venue for Theatre West End; their production of Joe Orton’s Funeral Games begins with organ music and ends in quadruple arrest. following the Revd Pringle through enemas. decapitation and dismemberment to tabloid fame. Joe Orton saw life as perverse. his own ending under a club wielded by a jealous lover. and this attack on religious hypocrisy is cheerfully black.
Orton‘s characters run into each other at bizarre angles. tolerating and using each other‘s odd needs. Inside the lurid twisting plot is an edgy. sardonic view ofhuman comparability and warmth — a burglary becomes a friendship. ‘a bang on the nose is human contact.‘
The dialogue is quick and sharp. sweeping from individual perversities to wholesale slagging of modern society. with religion as the primary target. The production is a bit slow. the cast seeming a step or two behind the pace of the script . though Myles Jelf. as the shifty.
cherubic Caulfield is
consistently on target. Attention on Orton has faded since the release of the biographical film Prick Up Your Ears. but his bitter humour is worth tasting. (John Thompson) I Funeral Gaines (Fringe) Theatre West End Productions. St. John‘s Church (Venue 126). 14. 188.8.131.52.25.28.3() Aug. 1 Sept. 8pm.£3 (£2.50).
Edinburgh Theatre Arts have staged an admirable. and at times compellingly sincere production of Uncle Van ya. This is no easy task. Even ifthis difficult but wonderful play has not been ‘set on its heels' it has been opened before one. The humour and the pathos of (‘hekov is all here.
Right from the beautiful plumpness of the Professor‘s entry. the feeling ofa cycle of entrapment sealing around provincial Russia encroaches upon us. The beginning. though slow. is haunted by this claustrophobia. The ogre Serebriakov is revealed as the vision ofa suffocating tyrant; bitterness oozes from his bent rheumatic hands. Good performances from Vanya and Astrov. each in their own way nervous and disappointed. carry us to the crescendo of the Last Act.
Though it may not be new and innovative theatre. this Chckov is good and solid. (Charlie Fox)
I Uncle Vanya (Fringe) Edinburgh Theatre Arts. St Philip‘s Church and Hall (Venue 8) until 26 Aug (not Sun) 7.40pm; 19.26 Aug. 2.40pm.£3.75 (£3)
TWELFTH NIGHT Well. it's Shakespeare isn‘t it'.’ Everyone likes to have their fun with old Bill. and the HullTruck Theatre Company have poked and tickled him this way and that. doinga little softshoe shufﬂe around the revered Script. though without skewing it out of recognition. The Music Hall is grander than most Fringe venues and the production has a big
theatre feel — snazzo lighting and a soundtrack. Sir Toby‘s pals are a couple of lager louts. Malvolio‘s a corporate dweeb with a pinstripe up his arse. and the Fool does a great Fifties doo-wop. Besides being fun in themselves. the mode rnisms underscore the gorgeousness ofthe language. Shakespeare also pulls off a few laughs. with a wacky plot involving cross-dressing. mistaken identities and some serious drinking by the irascible Sir Toby. Jokes on and by the Bard - lighthearted all the way around.(John Thompson) I Twelfth Night (Fringe) Hull Truck Theatre. Assembly Rooms Music Hall (Venue 3). Until 2 Sept. 3.45pm. £6(£5).
BLOOD WEDDING A large energetic company in a new piece choreographed by Beyhan and directed by David (ilass. perform a dance-based interpretation of Blood Wedding. l.orca's tragic work about passion and death beneath a cruel
The performers mix mime. dance and small sketches. with a vigour reminiscent of’I‘heatre De (‘omplicite or Faceback. and many of the scenes and dance routines seem to have been developed using the ideas ofthe performersthemselves. I particularly liked Raffael's mother. who sang and danced her way through cooking the eggs.
Towards the end. however. the story becomes confused and repetitive. There is an unnecessary break in the action for five minutes while the stage is cleared. and the freshness and pace of the piece fades the longer it goes on. It‘s worth seeing if you enjoy imaginative. lively theatre. (Nicola Robertson)
I Blood Wedding ( Fringe l l’usion. Theatre Workshop (Venue 2“) 226 5425. until 19 Aug. 3pm. £2.5(l(£l .50).
The List 18— 24 August 1989 33