Seen at the RSAMD. Now on tour. Douglas Henshall is one frightening actor. His performance in Lynn Bains' sophisticated anti-racist drama, has an all too believable intensity. Where his style had an edge at dark comedy in lain Heggie’s Clyde Nouveau, here the same mannerisms are downwright unnerving.
In Nae Problem, Henshall is the personitication ol tascistic hatred and rage, but that isn't to say this is a crudely drawn morality play. Bains writes with tluidity and assurance, using a broad range of style and language. Semi-poetic montage replaces naturalism, betore gliding swittly into soliloquy and back to stylised expression. Director David Hayman responds to the challenge and inspiration 01 the text, pulling the audience with him through a tree and imaginative production that plays with the emotions.
It's about a white mother, an Indian lather and their two dark-skinned daughters, who move to Scotland, and encounter racism in all its subconscious and insidious torms. The emotional heart 01 the production lies in the sensitive, convincing and lively pertormances ot Harmage Singh Kalirai, Shobu McAuley, Kathryn Howden and Venu Dhupa who avoid the dangers ot mawkishness and cheap appeals tor sympathy in their tough portrayal ot the victimised tamily.
But don’t go and see Nae Problem expecting it to pander blandly to your anti-racist beliets. Go because it gives those beliets an emotional toundation, a theatrical truth and a tulIy-rounded humanitarian voice. The greatest tragedy is that even in 1990, Nae Problem does not have a happy ending (Mark Fisher)
EEDHEDIIIIIIIIIIII THE TDKYD TRIP
Seen at The Cumbernauld Theatre. Now on tour.
The Tokyo Trip is the tale 01 Chris, a 21 year-old employee in a Japanese electronics tactory who thinks that the ventilation system is taulty. She starts inciting the other workers against the management and is promptly ottered
the bribe ot a trip to Tokyo to shut up. Does she go or doesn‘t she? That, basically, is it. But The Tokyo Trip surpasses such simplistic statements.
Stephen Greenhorn's script has already received national recognition by being placed third in LWT's Plays On Stage competition. It this was a commendable runner-up, lwould certainly not miss the winnerand second. The author has powers at observation which youraverage train-spotterwould kill tor. Greenhorn succeeds so well by giving ordinary, everyday characters, ordinary, everyday lines. This may not sound like much at an achievement, but when you hear Chris‘s lather spouting the kind of rhetoric which your lather came out with last week, the humour out of association is a revelation. We see elements olourtamily and triends (not to mention ourselves) in allot Greenhorn’s characters, and the audience unsurprisingly becomes completely engrossed in the lives at people which could be themselves (on a good day).
The author‘s cutting dialogue could succeed without any help, but in Liz Carruthers, Cumbernauld have found a director who is developing apace with the theatre itselt. She seems to revel in the contines at budget and space which working in a small town theatre always brings, and she gives the production the energy and vitality which the script deserves. With the actors contributing a suretooted knowledge at the material, and Helena Gillies, in the role of Chris’s best friend, Sheila, relishing some at Greenhorn's wittiest lines, this is a play which is exuberant and exciting in every department. It also has a moral, but not sentimental, ending. What more could you ask tor? (Philip Parr)
REVIEW A COMEDY 0F ERRORS
Theatre Royal, Glasgow until March 10. Glen Wallord, director otThe English Shakespeare Company, recently left The Everyman in Liverpool. She has brought with her a sizeable section of that company, some adventurous staging techniques and a Comedy 01 Errors which owes as much to Scouse, as it does to Strattord, humour.
Under her direction, the company exude the ebullient and vibrant performances which are so often the trade mark at actors brought up on a staple ot Russell and Bleasdale. The entire cast keep the story cracking along whilst the tour principals display the necessary enthusiasm when acting up to the hilt in some at Shakespeare’s most implausible misunderstandings. In spite ot Ms Waltord’s prostestations (see The List 115) the dialogue and plot mean that this play was never, and neverwill be, anything otherthan a tarce. What makes this such a successtul interpretation is that, notwithstanding the dubious use ot
layered human voices to give
atmosphere, the whole proceedings are given the suitable bawdy earthiness which one suspects that the bard intended.
It you are into Shakespeare as an arena for social posturing then this doesn’t run The RSC’s Henrys (dahling) even close. But ilyou are in the mood torthe kind at comedy which Brian Rix will always try to (but never remotely) emulate then this production is unbeatable. And it’s got possibly the tirsteveranti-Belgian joke; thatcan’t be bad, can it? (Philip Parr)
IEEWEHIIIIIIIIIIII THE FISHER BOY AND THE HDNESTLASS
The Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh. Until March 17.
Everything has its place. Words at wisdom trom George Bush, Toryism in Scotland, a new album from the Blue Nile. Such things are acceptable only because they rarely happen and so rarely ottend (apart, of course, from the Tories). In just the same way, there is a place for a serious social message in a work of theatre. But in The Fisher Boy and The Honest Lass, Donald Campbell tries to get his morals across without a break, throughout an entire play and
with the detttouch ot a lumberjack wielding a Sledgehammer.
In a discussion ol the Fisher Boy of the title, it is mentioned that he’s in South Alrica. One of the very taintly drawn characters starts waxing lyrical about what a great country it is. Until, that is, another otthese Musselburgh philosophers cunningly predicts, ‘There’ll be trouble in that country you mark my words.’ This would have been good theatre had it been written in 1953, but it wasn’t, so it isn’t.
And so the play goes on. Vietnam, CND and the miner’s strike 01 1974 are all dealt with in a similar clumsy and obvious way, whilst the characters do
nothing but engage in high brow social commentary. Maybe this is all the people of Musselburgh did trom 1945 to 1970, but it the contused audience reaction on the ﬁrst night is any guide, none otthem can remember it. (Philip Parr)
EEDEEDIIIIIIIIIII SHESTDDPSTD cououen
King’s Theatre, Edinburgh, 13—17 Mar. Seen at Royal Exchange, Manchester. The easy bit tirst. James Maxwell's production of Goldsmith‘s enduring comedy She Stoops To Conquer lines and troths: the rough and tumble ottwin love plots and a night ot mistakes is entertainineg brought oil. Una Stubbs grabs attention as the vain Mrs Hardcastle, padded and prodded into tashionable shape. Good time had by all, critical success, high spirited entertainment: you know the lorm.
And now to rattle my cage. Renewed acquaintance reminds me at the play's barbs. To oversimpity: two dashing 18th-century lads are all to Yorkshire to meet one’s true love (sub-plot) and the other's parentally arranged but previously unseen intended (main plot). Lost in the wilds, they are mischievously directed to theirtrue destination, but told that it’s an inn. They visit upon theirsocially equal hosts the behaviour which would normally be reserved tortheir interiors, and cause outrage. The betrothed young Marlowe, paintully tongue-tied with respectable women, is conned by the daughter (his intended) into treating her as a barmaid (ie available), grabbing rumpy-pumpy bythe handtul.
The normal power relationships ot society are thrown out of true, the conventions of decorous behaviour stripped away. The plot requires all to be reconciled: mistakes are discovered, apologies sought, and the whole treated as rather a joke among the landed classes.
The production, with its cheery yokels and rumbustious closing dance, apparently endorses that opinion, and the audience love it. ltind it much more ditticult to be complicit: the arrogance which is exposed seems so broad, the wisdom attained so socially limited. A problematic play, rather too smoothly rounded oil. It only someone had asked the servants what they thought. (Simon Cherry)
The List 9— 22 March 199053