Nicbla Robertson picks this week’s best classical plays. Reviews below and overleaf.


The audience are mesmerised by the absurd fantasy and power olthe Tottering Bipeds' reworking of Ionesco's bizarre story about Semiramis and her 98 year-old husband. Highly recommended.

Tottering eipeds. Carlton Studios (Fringe venue 71) 555 7055. Until 2 Sept 3.45pm. £4 (£3).

5 l I

I VASSA leELYEZNOVA stimulating production oi

oi pre-revolutionary bourgeois society. The cast perform with a professional ease that makes a difficult and potentially melodramatic play refreshineg modem.

St Paul's and St George's Church Hall (Fringe venue 114). 557 8100. Until 2 Sept. epm. £3.50 (22).

Gorlty’s powerful indictment

I LA CELESTINA/EL ALCALDE DE ZALAMEA Madrid's leading classical company pertorm their productions of two 01 Spain's but known plays. Compania Naclonal de Teatro Claslco. Lyceum Theatre (Festival). La Celestine 22. 23 Aug '

I 7.30pm. El Alcalde de

Zalamea 25. 25 Aug

2 7.30pm. Both shows


Tempestuous TAG

Sara Villiers gets washed away with a new Scottish production of The


‘TAG is aimed at young people. we try to be relevant to them. To make The Tempest accessible we‘ve cut it considerably, but have hopefully retained the sense ofpoetry.‘ says director. Alan Lyddiard about his forthcoming production which he hopes will further consolidate TAG‘s reputation for challenging


The group of soldiers who arrive on the island of Prospero (Vincent Friel) and Miranda (Sarah Darcy) are depicted as brash and macho lager louts who gradually become enamoured by the strange place in which they find themselves.

The adlgtation explores self-imposed


on male emotions. ‘It‘s about men

finding it difficult to accept art or to show


vulnerability,’ explains Lyddiard. ‘Eventually the allure of the island allows them to disclose the feminine side of their nature.‘

The six actors in the production are joined by six dancers from Dundee Rep Dance Company (choreographed by Tamara McLorg). With music from Peter Gabriel‘s Last Temptation of Christ and a set swathed in dark blue cloth. Lyddiard hopes to create an intense impression of the island’s mystique. The magical aspect is further enhanced by the use of mirrors for illusory effect; characters are reflected fivefold. constantly appearing and disappearing onstage.

Lyddiard whose previous productions include the recent City and Scottish Youth Theatre‘s Romeo Andluliet in 1988, revels in what he sees as The Tempest‘s eternal isssues. ‘There’s a lot of strong imagery - of a father searching for his son, a father who is giving up his daughter to her lover and how that effects him; these are intriguing

The play also examines the differences in the

love shared between two men and that ofa man and a woman. ‘The kind ofearthly love which is represented by Caliban who lives on the island and the sort ofethereal love which Ariel epitomises. The Tempest is crammed with that kind of sexual politics and also politics.‘ he adds. ‘it’s about power-seekers and


He pauses then considers further. ‘lt‘s very much about spiritual development as well.‘

By Lyddiard‘s reckoning. The Tempest swells out to become a sort of theatrical Life. the Universe and Everything— a play which dramatises militarismInd revenge. new truths and illusions, sex. love and. ofcourse. happiness.

‘Well. I think you should put Shakespeare into a modern-day context; I guess that my Tempest is not very reverential.‘ Lyddiard muses. ‘but it remains an indisputably beautiful play.‘

I The Tempest TAG Theatre Company. Lyceum Studio (Fringe Venue 7) 229 9697. 28 Aug—2 Sept. 4.30pm. £4.50 (£3).


llampered by an overcrowded and minute stage the company of Brooklands College made an exciting. if at times predictable. journey through Jim Cartwright's analytical study of social deprivation in the North of England. Pendulum-like. this production swings from instantly penetrating. vivid and imaginative action to laboured moments of intensity that dissolve the exciting. almost breathtaking simplicity of the author‘s message. The heavy weight of loss. despair and hopelessness leads the company towards sledgehammcr-like scenes that offer no optimism for the inhabitants of Road. At times the dangerous vigour of Cartwright‘s humour. a fundamental form ofcommunication for a play that touches so many too many painful themes. is lost in a misleading and oppressive intensity of action or through flippant caricatures of the Waynes

and Tracys who haunt the clubs of Northern England, (or Scotland for that matter).

The flattened. colourless inhabitants of Road seek solace in alcohol. dreams. the past and death. Their loss of self respect makes them

too tired to fight yet they -

cry out to escape. This thought-provoking production leaves you with the last answer to the first question NO SOLUTION. (A.C. Davidson)

I Road (Fringe) Brooklands Technical College. Celtic Lodge (Venue 6) 225 7097. Until 26 Aug (Not 20 Aug). 4.15pm. £3 (£2).


Of course it would be easy to confirm that Melanie Nunn (as Felicity) is an actress to keep your eye on. and that Anne Theato (Lady Muldune) is mesmerised with her very entrance. It would be correct to say that critics Patrick McAdoa (Moon) and Don Byrne (Birdboot) distracted with their self-obsessive

presence made no reputations until they became genuinely involved with the show. And it would be fair to

hold Neil Sills (Simon) and Robin Chalmers (Inspector Hound) to their own demanding

; critical standards.

But simplest would be to advise Stoppard fans to truck along to Marco‘s for the show. (Wes Shrum) I The Real Inspector Hound (Fringe) Lost Theatre Company. Tic Toc at Marco‘s (Venue 71). 229 7898. until 26 Aug. 3pm. £4 (£3).


The long, distinguished history of Under Milk Wood must surely be both an inspiration and a burden for any theatre company. It may appear that a poignant. much-loved tale such as this cannot fail to please an audience. However. Dylan Thomas. with his unquestioned mastery of language. becomes a stern task-master. demanding only excellence.

l Fortunately. Alderton Productions succeed

admirably with this straightforward interpretation of his timeless work.

By upholding the concept of this being a ‘Play for Voices‘ the relatively minimal visual aspect of the play (masks and a variety of facial expressions) serves only to enhance the impact of the dialogue. And through relying upon vocal inflections when changing role. the cast of six skilfully interpret the personalities ofthe various characters. The imagination is given a free rein to fill in the details on this landscape of words. Whether a virgin or a veteran of Under Milk Wood. this production will delight you. (Vicky Senior)

I Under Milk Wood (Fringe) Aldcrton Productions. Chaplaincy Centre (Venue 23). 24. 26 Aug. 2.05pm. £4.50 (£3.50).


The hailstones atop Greyfriar's provided the perfect overture for this large and youthful cast to attack a daunting. even

diabolical play. Yerma. skilfully acted by Emily Gray. is the fulsomely nurturant wife ofa husband who sleeps in his fields. Her blood is gradually ‘poisoncd‘ by the lack of children. in spite of her prayers. her suppressed passion for the shepherd. and even a pilgrimage. The . conclusion is disastrous. The desired mood is created by a set dominated by a Madonna and Child. the ever-observant Spanish community. and an atmospheric low chant.

The play itself offers formidable obstacles - not the invocation of submerged passion but the presentation of

l dubious presumptions

about female psychology. By dint of sheer effort Polkatz uphold a reputation hard-won with such productions as Stone ofFire. and demonstrate versatility as well. (Wes Shrum)

I Yerma (Fringe) Polkatz. Greyfriars Kirk House (Venue 28). 225 3626. until 26 Aug. 4. 15pm. £3.50 (£2.50). '


This is a competent production of Moliere‘s Don Juan in one ofthe most dingy venues on the Fringe— the Arter Theatre. The Cambridge Prism Theatre Group

32 The List 25 31 August 1989