WHEN THE WIND BLOWS
Seen at Church Hill Theatre, Edinburgh. On Tour. Gerard Kelly’s production of Raymond Briggs' nightmare nuclear drama lor 7:84, makes a worthy, but misguided attempt at introducing some down-to-earth, Scottish realism to a soil-centred, sketch-book script. Set in a drab council house living-room, Hilda and Jim Bloggs read over their government issue ‘Protect and Survive’ leallet while an international conllict heats up outside. When the bomb drops, they are temporarily saved by a"
., . their makeshllt shelter, but lnevltably get caught out by the radiation.
Briggs' iolly, round-laced cartoon characters translar to the stage In the leaner lorm at Anna Marie Tlmoney and Andrew Barr. In trading oil the cute, homesy appeal at the originals torthls solid, ordlnary-lolk-next-door image, 7:84 replace small-minded naively with patronising stupidity. The running gag conluslng the ‘Ruskles' lor the ‘Jerrles’ stretches credibility, and having started at that level oi Ignorance, the play is incapable ol expressing any complex thought.
Opening up with a sleepy, breakfast-time energy, the production's tempo actually manages to decrease. Tlmoney and Barr— both line actors— plod through the play in a low-key manner that has no relation to the events outside. It Isn’t until their gums start bleeding and their hair Ialls out that they show the slightest hint oi tear or awareness oi what is going on. II this Is meant to be an Ironic statement It doesn’t work.
These problems stem lrom trying to give lile to a cartoon original and it is notable that the production’s strength lies In Its theatrical, powerful and very disturbing special ellects-the grating, unworidly wind between scenes and the ear-splitting, sensory bombardment ol the explosion ltsell. But, like Brecht never happened, 7:84 manage to tell us-surprlse, surprise — that nuclear war Is not very pleasant, and give no hints on what we should do about It. (Mark Fisher).
SCOTLAND THE WHAT?
Kings Theatre, Glasgow. On Tour. ‘A show tor the Eighties —the over Eightiesl’.
There is a bit at comic licence involved in this opening gag, but the reader should be warned that ‘Scotland The What?’ are traditional music hall entertainers, who pitch their appeal at an older age group. The humour, which satirises such great Scottish institutions as Sir Harry Lauder, ‘The Beechgrove Garden’ and Prostate operations, is unlikelyto impress those at us who have been weaned on Monty
Python and TV sitcoms.
Interested? Well, why not. For all that this is a dated and slightly embarrassing brand ol humour, the Music Hall was once a centrepiece at Glasgow entertainment. Now on the verge oi extinction, it might be worth taking the chance to have one last, lingering look. Not only that but, allowing lorthe fact that the show appeals to the more ‘mature' citizen, it is slick, and capable of being genuinely lunny. The show is presented as a series oi songs and sketches and these, for the most part, kept the audience laughing. You might like to take an elderly relative along with you. (Philip Kingsley)
Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh. Beneath the gilt ol Gregory Smith’s opulent set, slabs of dirty grey stone show through. Walls ot golden excess, like some plrate’s booty, are held up by unwieldytimbersupports. Likewise, lrom under each oi his decadent, gaudy costumes, the lrayed hems of cheap cohonpeepout
It's an appropriate theatrical image to sum up the superficial values of the avariclous characters in Ben Jonson’s seventeenth century comedy. Duped by the unscrupuloust greedy Volpone and his side-kick Mosca Into believing that they stand to get a major cut at his will, three gentlemen shower him with presents In the hope at securing their Inheritance. It Is, however, all one big scam to bring greater riches to Volpone who Is no nearer death than any at his
hangers-on. It is only his unrelenting desire to punish as well as protlt by their greed that runs him into trouble.
At the start and finish of Hugh Hodgart’s production the house lights come up as it to draw a parallel with the gold-leafed interior of the theatre ltsell. Perhaps the audience are meant to be the ragged edges, butthe contemporary comparison doesn’t stretch. Neitherdoes Hodgarttry. He plays It straight with no gimmicks and lets the massive cast remain true to the Venetian setting and classical poetry of the original.
Holding the performance together is Paul Spence as a deliciously loppish Mosca having a whale of a time manipulating the gullible money-grabbers on behalf ol Dudley Sutton’s Volpone who is all little boy grins and cunning delight. But despite the spirit and energy of these two, the production never moves into the comic
gear needed to keep the play continually lunny. What you get are sporadic bursts ol humour interspersed with lengthy plot-setting passages. The production Isn’t laboured, but neither does it make you laugh that much. Maybe it the set had been bedecked with compact disc players and lridge-Ireezers instead ol golden goblets, the play could have been more instantly and comically accessible. As it is, this is a solid, well acted, period piece that has yet to find a contemporary comic rhythm. (Mark Fisher).
_ Tron Theatre, Glasgow.
Back home in Glasgow alter its run in the Edinburgh Festival, my initial feelings about lain Heggie’s Clyde Nouveau are on the whole pleasantly conllrmed. its early performances in Edinburgh showed a play out of focus. Hindered by hopeless acoustics on the cavernous stage at the Church Hill Theatre and blurred by actors not ready to distinguish speed lrom haste, the play was conluslng and sometimes impenetrable.
0n the more manageable stage at The Tron with a cast relaxed Into the supremely demanding requiremants ol
Heggle’s script, Michael Boyd‘s production Is crisp and concentrated. Unilormly excellent ensemble playing ls battered only by Douglas Henshall's masterly, intense and sell-absorbed lnterpretalon ol Danny Noble, the ex-convlct still naive to the crooked ways at the moneyed classes.
But you cannot help leellng that Heggie has set himsell a target that theatre cannot easily achieve. His dense, long script crackles with verbal energy, but it seems to cry out Ior matching visual Images: 1 want to see the orphanage, the warehouse, the prison and Danny's llat, butthere is only so much that Graham Johnston’s
atmospheric set and Nick McCall's precise lighting can do. His words need space to breathe and I wonder it the extra dimension ot Illm would allow the relentlessly Intelligent text more room. Certainly the play could do with more humour- or at least a humour that is less drny subtle. There is deep down in Clyde Nouveau a strain at very black comedy that only occasionally surfaces to produce a very satisfying laugh. A lew more uplront jokes like these might help drive the plot forward and help sugar Heggie’s several serious ideas. Nonetheless this is an energetic and committed production of a distinctive play that is raising important questions about Glasgow today. (Mark Fisher).
revenge drama. See Touring. j Professional Pretenders Wed 20. Thurs‘2l. Fri 22 Sept. 7.30pm. £5 (£2):£4 (£1 ). 23 Sept matinee 3pm. £2 £3. Winged Horse's most recent show brings together two new adaptations: John Clifford‘s The .‘llugie Theatre. based on a Cervantes comedy. and Liz Lochhead’s Patter Merchants after Moliere. They met with a mixed reception when they opened in the Edinburgh Fringe. but the shows have probava tightend up since then. See Preview and Touring.
Sanctuary Tue 26 Sept-Sun 1 ()ct. 7.30pm. £5 (£2) £4 (£1 ). See Dance Listings.
I BEDLAM THEATRE l’orrest Road. 031 225 9893. [Access: St. Facilities: WS. (i. B. Help: AA]
All quiet till the students get back forthe academic year.
I BRUNTON THEATRE .‘ylusselburgh. 665 2240. [Access: PPA. R. St. Facilities: WC. W8. E. G. 13. Help: AA]
The Rising L'ntil Sat 23 Sept. 7.30pm. £4.25 (£3). The Brunton's Autumn season\ kicks off with a revival of l lector MacMillan's highly-rated play about the Scots rising of 1820. Directed lay-Charles Nowosielski.
The Tempest Tue 26—Fri 29 Sept. 7.30pm. £4.25 (£3). See Touring.
I GlLOED BALLOON 233 (‘owgate 225 3013/225 4463.
Next cabaret performances will be in October.
I KING'S THEATRE 2 Leven Street. 229 1201. Box Office Mon—Sat 10am—8pm. Bar. [Accessz PPA. L. Facilities: WC. W5. AS. E. G. 13. Help: AA]
Russ Abbot and Friends Tue l2~Sat 16 Sept. 6pm & 8.45pm. £6.5(L—£12.50 (£2.5lloff the Stalls and Grand Circle at 6pm performances only on Tue. Wed and Thurs). A week oftwice-nightly entertainment from the most popular comedian on television (according to readers of TV Times). See cabaret. AMldsummerNight's Dream'l‘ue 19~Sat23 Sept. 7.30pm. Matinees Wed 20, Thurs 21 & Sat 23. 2.30pm. £6.50 £12.50. Hilltop price tickets are available at £5 on the day for Thurs 21 evening performance. The Royal Shakespeare Company jump into their pyjamas to present the bard's most popular comedy. See Feature.
Scotland The What Tue 26 Sept—Sat 14 Oct. 7.30pm. £4—£7. See (.‘abaret and Review. I LINLITHGOW PALACE
Son at Lumiere (Sound and Light) i-‘ri 15—Sun17;Thurs2l—Sun24. 8.30pm—10.30pm. £5.50 (£3.50concession on 17,218; 24only). 1501ocalactors. musicians and singers bring special lighting and sound effects to a historical production written for Linlithgow Palace to celebrate Linlithgow 600. More details on 0506 8446(Xl. See Preview.
I NETHERBOW ARTS CENTRE 43 High Street. 556 9579. Box Office. 10am—4.30pm. 7—9pm perf. evgs. Cafe. [Accessz R. Facilities: WC. W8. E. G. B. R. Help: A. AA]
N0 theatre until the end of October. The cafe and exhibitions. however. will remain
I ROYAL LYCEUM Grindlay Street. 229 9697. Box Office Mon—Sat 10am—6pm. 10am—8pm on perf. evgs. Bar. Rest Cafe. [Accessz P. L. Facilites: WC, WS. AS. E. G. P. R. T. Help: A. AA]. ('I'heatreSaver Concession Cards cost £1 . last all year. give £1 off the full price each time you come for you and a friend — available to OAPs. L'B40s. Students. Disabled and YTS scheme) Tickets for Lyceum productions are also available at the Ticket Centre. Waverley Bridge; branches of AT .‘vlay's Travel and the Queen's Hall. (‘lcrk Street.
Volpone L'ntil Sat 31) Sept. 7.45pm. £2.50—£ts’. Hugh llodgart directs the first play in the Royal Lyceum's new season. It's Ben Johnson‘s 17th century satirical
24 The List 15 — 28 September 1989