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I PLAYHOUSE THEATRE ( irL-L-nxitlc l’laL'c.

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Citizens Theatre, Glasgow. In a futuristic Macbeth set in a nuclear age chaos, directorJon Pope goes aboutthe play with a pick-axe: large chunks of the text are cut revealing a core that is frightening, immediate and modern. To a menacing rock beat, the witches arrange theirtirstassignation with Macbeth on voice-over, while weary climbers using ice axes bend double in the face of a gale sweeping overthe stage. They seemto struggle fortheirbalance andtheirlives, climbingthe ladderofambition (the prophesy, Thane of Glamis, Cawdor, King) which becomes a pivotal metaphorforthe production. The set looks likethe interiorofa nuclear powerstation, under garish and clinical strip lights, and the cast, dressed in anonymous weatherproof and combative clothing, appear like workers or anarchists in some vast and impersonalstate.

Death, life and blood are ridiculed; blood capsules are summarily burst over corpses and a bucket of blood is

thrown as a cosmetic and amusing atter-thought-nottoenhancethe tragedy, butto emphasise its absurdity. Hell is camped up; Hecate is played like an effeminate, smirking businessman, whose opulence, like thatotall the women inthe play, is an integral sign of the materialistic evil and greed which first led Macbeth to murder. Evil and Hell have become mundane and everyday. All lines praising England are cut, over-powering greed and superficiality cometo signifyaThatcherite oppression overa beleaguered Scotland. The glib showman, Hecate. isa Mephistopholesfigure. the laughing witnessto Macbeth‘s Faustian damnation.

Macbeth is played as an ordinary, slightly slow man, duped bythe witches who pervade every aspectof the play to the point of colluding with his wife, becoming his murderers and servants, ultimately altecting his sanity. The malevolenttates projecta film otharvesters symbolising Death, The Grim Reaper. Hecate is delighted bythe gimmickryandthe lights change to revealthe silhouettes ofMacbeth‘s murdered victims. The horrorot Macbeth's destruction, the awtulness othis guiltand ‘lostsoul' are enhanced in this stripped-down version, although Pope‘s interpretation attimes lies heavily on the play. In this innovative production, a new, less subtle play emerges, which in its contemporary despairand directness offeeling is

reminiscent of Manfred Karge‘s The

Conquest of the South Pole. (Frances Doyle)

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Seen at Crawford Theatre. Glasgow. Nowontour.

Fablevision: ‘a unique blend of dialogue, music, movement and

dramatic visual effects‘. Part of the

Fablevision Theatre Company’s brief is to involve and appeal to as wide a section of the community as possible.

With this in mind. they have developed a style which. by employing a variety of media, opens the doorto all-comers.

regardless of age or ability. In this

particularcase, however, the blend produces a mixed bag of results. The play, by trying to be all things to all people, ends up as being both attractive and repellent: both accessible and remote.

Witch Hunt is first and foremost an

.enquiryintothe behaviourofChristian

Shaw, daughter of a Paisley laird who.

on the strength of her apparent

possession and subsequent accusations. secured the death warrants of seven of her fellow villagers. So far, so good. The analytic content is both well-organised and wide-ranging, and the various stage effects that the company bring to bear on the production lend themselves well to such a searching character study. Trouble arises, however. when the play tries to deal with the more basic information—who was who, and what did they represent in the eyes of Christian Shaw? Plain dialogue is conspicuous in its absence. and we do notfind out.

lwatched the play in a theatre full of schoolchildren. Like me. they were both enthralled and entertained. I suspect, however, that few of them came out any the wiser. (Philip Kingsley).


Brunton Theatre. Musselburgh.

The inhabitants of Little Toddy are well known to lovers of quaint Scottish comedy. From their birth in Compton Mackenzie‘s novel through their

incarnation in one of the more enduring

Eating comedies of the fifties, Duncan Ban Macroon, Jockey. Father MacAlister et al get absolutely stoated at regular intervals through the year on those Sunday matinees which 8861


. l. . ;. . l u 7

Now, The Brunton Theatre Company have attemptedtotransferthistale of happy, intoxicated folk to their intimate theatre and, on the whole. they succeed. The performances, in particularthe pivotal narratorrole of Duncan, musterthe warm glow which normally can only be induced by a dram orsix ofthe amberliquid. It is inthis creation of a relaxed, soothing and proneto merry chuckling atmosphere thatthe cast manageto enhancethe considerable charm of the story. One is truly won over by the characters and drawn intotheirescapades asthey conceal theircache from the ever watchful eye ofupperclass and (of course) Englishtwit—Captain Waggett ofthe Home Guard.

Wherethe productionfalters is inthe staging—a flaw induced morethrough


{it -.."~.?.

performances usually. but not always.

manage to make one forgetthatthe

stage contains the Waggett's living

room. the seaside jetty, the hull ofthe S.S. Cabinet Minister and its water-of-Iife cargo. This, though, does little to detract from an enchanting evening and towards the end. even without indulging in the Glenmorange, Duncan almost convinces you that you can see the fairies flying over the sea to Ireland. (Philip Parr)


Royal Lyceum Theatre. Edinburgh. lnthe Royal Lyceum'sever—expanding programme notes. directorRobertJ.

Carson writes abouttheresonances

that Henrik lbsen's Ghosts has for a contemporary audience. There isa dangerintakingthis sort ofthinklngtoo

far. So many modern parallels with a hundred-year-old playdon'tquitellt

and you can end up both missing the

pointofthe play andfailingto satisfy the demands which you are putting on it. To communicate clearly, a healthy modern theatre should be staging new plays aboutAlDS. not old plays about syphihs.

Butin many ways Carson is right. By talking aboutbelievable people with real histories of regret, mistake and deception. lbsen's play speaks to us, notbecausewe are in Thatcher's Britain and we hear a lot about ‘Victorian values. but because we are human beings who recognisethese humanloibles. The estrangementof motherand son. the memory otan unfulfilled romance. the dashed hopes ofyouth;this is all the stullot

compelling drama. Ghosts is a lot richerthanjustatractagainst intransigence. which lswhyit continues to stand up long after so much ofits ig'tlicenturyshock-value hasdissipated.

Chieiobstacte inthisproduction is Kenny Miller'suntyplcallyunweildy set. His recent designs forthe same stage have coped brilliantly with the demands olthe large space, buthere the clumsy realism of the furniture and the meaninglessness oithe backdrop, give no aesthetic pleasure and —l am reliablyinformed—little ofthe breath-taking beauty oiScandinavia. Particularlyirritating isCarson‘s decisionto staqethe opening lines of theplaytarawayattheback olaset ) where. from my seat at least, the actors were hidden behind a badly positioned chair.

The production itsellwavers across the evening, at turns drawing you in, then losing you again. Paola Dionisotti | as Mrs Alving and Jonathan Hackett as Pastorh‘landersholdthe playtogether. like sparring partners, eachtryingto get one over on the other. George Anton plays Oswald like he has the world on his shoulders. consequently losing some sympathy andventuring into melodrama. Indeed, there are times whentheplotmechanicsshowthrough —notably whenthe orphanage burns down—andthe company has yetto smooth over these more obvious moments. In the end it is the rich and radical intelligence oiibsen'splaythat grips the modern imagination. (Mark l Fisher)

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