While Edinburgh iestivates madly, Glasgow flexes its cultural muscles and quietly draws international talent to rival the best the Capital has to offer. The fastest arrival is Gilles Maheu’ company Carbone 14 from Montreal with their dance theatre piece, The Dormitory.
Montreal has been making something of a name for itself in the dance theatre world, with recently acclaimed performances by La La La in Glasgow and Robert Lepage‘s company in London. Carbone 14 are very much from the same stable. ‘ln the last 10 years, there has been a real change in mood in Quebec with a lot of new dance and theatre that is very different from the more political style of drama in the 1970s. I admire La La La very much and I suppose there are a lot of affinities between our work— but it’s hard for me to make comparisons.’
Maheu himself, now 40, spent several years exploring different kinds oftheatre in Europe, he trained in mime with Etienne Decroux in Paris and with Eugenio Barba’s Odin Theatre in Denmark, Europe‘s leading theatrical research institution. Since founding Carbone 14 in 1980, Maheu has produced several performances very much in a non-narrative, visual style with a minimal amount of text. This show, with a large cast and over 6 tons of decor, is set in a dormitory, exploring the dreams of a woman recovering from her husband’s suicide. ‘lts a little bit autobiographical‘, says Maheu, ‘I lived in a dormitory once. I often start a show like that with a strong scenographical idea. There’s no storyline— it’s a landscape of dreams really. For me creating is often about going into your ‘night‘, your unconscious.‘
That said, he is well aware of the current move back to text and narrative (especially in Britain which never cultivated a taste for much else) in theatre. ‘There was a big, world-wide revolution in what is called visual theatre in the 1960s, and now there is a current coming back for the big texts- Shakespeare, Moliere, story and plot. It's only natural I suppose, but I tryto stay faithful to my beliefs, and for me form is still very important. Life, at least mine, has never been chronological, except when you look back on it. It's always a mix and that's how i try to understand the sense of it, by creating objects that reflect that
experience. I often think that I am more a painter than a theatre man.’
He agrees that violence and sex have become almost formulaic obsessions for many working in this genre. ‘Yes,
this struck me, having seen several 3 performances in Europe. I find it very I tragic in a way— people not finding a lot
of meaning to life, especially politically. Everything is a dead end and you come back to this basic
relationship of love and hate. These
kind of performers are literally burning on stage.’
But with The Dormitory, Maheu has tried to create a subtier kind of vision. ‘I think it's a very “soft” show, going back to a kind of naively. The critics complain about images of violence and they complain about this softness too,
. but i feel it's a very positive play
.- compared to our previous work.‘ (Simon Bayly)
Seen at The Citizens Theatre, Glasgow, now on tour. As the exposition gets underway, you
‘ may feel your shoulders tensing and an
innervoice wailing tremulously, ‘0h no, not another middle class musical about about poor people!‘
But the arrival of unemployed Willie Wilkie, daydreaming desperately of megastardom as he prepares to toddle down to the Job Club, reassures us that Wildcat’s latest offering is not another round of well-trammelled cliches and fake anger. The play is largely set in a very unfamiliar Easterhouse where everyone wears bright dungarees and rolls up their sleeves to muck in forthe communal good, and focuses on Willie’s humiliation by and subsequent revenge on the flash, upwardly facile Desirable Designer Dining Rooms.
The ambidexterity of the Wildcat cast is displayed in their ability to combine musicianship (mixing sophisticated synth sounds with sultry brass work) with brilliant comic delivery and spirited acting.
However, the plot is lacklustre and the point elusive; nothing ostensibly substantiates the strong sense of statement. Although Designer Glasgow is efficiently satirised, vapidity seeps through as some mythical socialist past is continually harked back to while the narrative slowly but surely vanishes up its own bottom.
Owing to the catchy eloquent songs and well-crafted witticlsms (many non-verbal), The Appointment still manages to be entertaining, though with an ultimately unsatisfying disjointedness rather than the intended impressionistic coherence. (Stewart Hennessey)
Mitchell Theatre, Glasgow. A dewy-eyed homage to our national
: tipple, Whisky Galore by Jimmy
Logan's eponymously named theatre company, is a nostalgic trip down a well-trodden lane hedged in with the usual cliches, stereotypes and oh, those old jokes . . . ‘Try mixing your drinks, Biffer. Drink one afteranother then jump up and down.’ ‘My cousin read In the newspaper that drinking was bad for you . . . He gave up reading the newspapers.’
Logan and comic stalwart Russell Hunter indulge in some merry riposte, much appreciated by the audience (predominantly elderly, with a few SAGA busloads), but the rest of the play falls rather flat. James Scotland’s adaptation of the well-loved novel by Compton McKenzie is a cumbersome affair; jam-packed with intrusive set changes, long-winded dialogue and lacking the swift, quirky flavour of the film. The humour is essentially of the ‘let’s laugh at the teuchters’ variety- always a favourite Glaswegian pastime, so the cast were on safe, albeit boring, ground.
The second half begs the question of whether the brew the cast are swigging back in copious quantities is really the customary cold tea; judging by the plethora of clumsy mistakes, wrong lines and general bad-timimg, it could well be 40 per cent proof and supplied by Bells, the sponsors. (Sara Villlers)
Kings Theatre, Glasgow. This is the direct descendent of the Music Hall shows. lfthat brings to mind images of the Great Unwashed singing Rule Britannia, looking up chorus girls’ skirts and generally ooh-ing and ah-ing the evening away to ‘what a luvverly pearll', ‘pick a card, any card’ and ‘my dog's got no nose. . then you should stop watching re-runs of The Good Old Days and check out the smell of the crowd and the roar of the greasepalnt. 0K, !‘m being patronising. Normallyl wouldn't cross the road to see this kind of show; glitzy formation dancers a la Summertime Special, a big chorus trifling about the big time, some twit risking his neck on a bicycle, and a bunch of quasi-hysterical skits in a Glesga idiom. But Rikki Fulton and Jack Milroy as Francie and Josie, the
loser teddy boys trying pathetically to have a decadent weekend in Ayr, are hilarious, and even the Napoleon and Wild West send-ups manage to avoid total cliché.
The dancing is well choreographed and Alison Mclnnes, the ‘speclal guest' singer would be excellent if she restrained the affected raunchiness. Groupo Malamo Latino from Argentina, play hand-held drums (authentic Pampas hide) and click their heels thus pounding out fast, complicated rhythms to incredible effect; their moody Intense concentration rubbing off on the mesmerlsed audience — an oddly sensual and compelling highlight. (Stewart Hennessey).
I THEATRE ROYAL Hope Street , 331 1234. Box Office Mon—Sat 10am—6pm. (7.30pm on pcrfevgs). Bar. Buffet. [Accessz P. PPA, R. Facilities: WC, W5. E. G. R. B. Help: AA].
No theatre this issue.
I THIRD EYE CENTRE 350 Sauchiehall Street. 332 7521. Cafe open 1 lam—2.30pm Tue—Fri and during evening performances. [Accessz PPA. L. Facilities: WC. W8. E. G. R, B. Help: AA]. The Third Eye are promoting Man Act at the Tramway. See below. Workshop Sun 20 Aug. Noon. Man Act are looking for twenty Glaswegian men to create The Sweat Lodge. a project for 1990 which will take a look at the behaviour of groups of men. Contact Steve Slater on 332 7521 if you are interested in attending this initial workshop.
I TRAMWAY THEATRE Albert Drive. Tickets from Ticket Centre ()41 227 5511 [Help: AA]
Le Dortoir Fri 18—Mon 21 Aug. 8pm. £6 (£4). All the way from Montreal. thisis only the second visit to Britain ofCarbone 14. Set in a dormitory where a girl reminisces about her schooldays and old romances, the play is highly physical and makes no use of text. Should make compelling viewing. See Preview.
Man Act Trilogy Tue 22—Thurs 24 Aug. 8pm. £8 (£5). Back by popular demand after a sell-out run at the Third Eye Centre during Mayfest. Man Act present the complete cycle of three plays givinga poignant look at two men growing from youth to old age.
I TRON THEATRE 63 Trongate, 552 4267. Box Office Tue—Sat Noon—8pm; Sun 12.30—11pm. Closed Mondays. [Accessz R, ST. Facilities: WS. E, G. R. B. Help: AA].
Laurel And Hardy Until Sun 20 Aug. 7.30pm. £5 (£2)/£4 (£1). The Actors Theatre of Scotland revive Tom McGrath‘s tribute to Stan and Ollie in their debut production.
The Tempest Tue 22—Sat 27 Aug. 7.30pm. After the enormity of the City project. TAG scales down its operation to tackle Shakespeare‘s stormy drama. Alan Lydiard directs the production as it heads towards the Edinburgh Fringe next week.
This section lists shows that are touring Scotland. We give detailed listings onlyfor periods when they are in the Central Belt area. There is a phone number for each company should you require more information. Unless otherwise specified, the number after each venue listed isthe telephone number for ticket enquiries for that particular evening (please note, this is not always the venue number).
I The Appointment Wildcat's musical revenge comedy packs in the jokes, but occasionally loses direction. Worth seeing. For more details contact
Cumbemauld Theatre Tue 22—Sat 26 Aug, (1236 732887.
The second Festival of street entertainment is now well underway, as musicians, dancers and clowns from around the world perform for free to anyone who happens to be passing. Rememberthal there is an award ceremony in George Square on 26 and 27 Aug and you can vote for your favourite performer by placing a voting slip in thelrhat.
I George Square 12.30pm. Aerialdaring by France‘s Les Macadam Phenomenes. I Sauchiehall Street 12.30pm. Strange French farce by Les Applicateurs.
I Buchanan Street Noon—2pm. The Happy End‘sIIX1-strong Glasgow Street Band made up of local musicians.
The List 18 - 24 August 1989 77