WILL YE DANCE AT MY WEDDING?
Seen at Orumchapel Unemployed Workers Centre. On Tour.
One of the great things about community theatre is that a strong play can generate the kind at intimate atmosphere unheard oi in the big city arenas. Without the fancy props or stage eiiects oi a ‘showpiece extravaganza’, a well-conceived production can become a kind at photo album iorthe audience at large. Will Ye Dance At My Wedding stands as a particularly powerful example at this level oi theatre, and as such deserves ahenhon.
The play describes itseli as an account oi the movement during the 1960s from the inner city tenements to the outlying housing schemes, and uses these circumstances to develop what is essentially a story about three women: Cath, her daughter Irene, and Eva —the adopted tamin blacksheep. The plot is complex and involved, but it' boils down to a balance between two strands: a unique historical event on the one hand, and a universal account of human iallibility on the other. Both are carelully constructed, but eventually it's the human story which wins the day. By the end of the play, Eva's wayward ramblings had reduced hall of the audience to tears.
Overall, this is an exemplary illustration of what can be achieved in limited space and with minimal resources. The acting is excellent, with Susan Cubie particularly impressive as the timid and judgemental Irene. in fact, my only criticism comes courtesy oiAnne-Marie Grant, aged four, who gave me a running commentary throughout the second hall. The music, for all that it authenticated the period in question, is painfully loud. (Philip Kingsley)
E3113_ JOHN BROWN’S eoov
Tramway Theatre, Glasgow. 9—21 Apr. John Brown’s Body is the third part of John McGrath’s epic trilogy oi the history at the Scottish people, which began with There is a Happy Land in 1986, and continued with Border Warlare last year. The trilogy covers a thousand years at Scottish history, and this latest chapter tells the story of the rise and tall at Scotland’s great industries, and the working people who built and survived them. Wildcat themselves describe the production as
‘a remarkable theatrical event’.
There is a curious irony in this claim, because John Brown’s Body is indeed
remarkable. it is an unmitigated disaster: a trite musical spectacular which combines cliched iolksy songs with a watered down version of the ‘0’ Grade history syllabus. There are no central characters, and the only continuity comes courtesy of ‘Lumpen Proletariat’ (Dave Anderson), a bizarre apparition in a sackcloth shirt whose intermittent appearances, remind the audience that this is supposed to be more than an extravagant history lesson. It doesn’t work. The audience are altered nothing that might have drawn them into the period, only an endless procession oi songs which ended in ‘0’ (Where are you going my laddie-o? l’m going down the mine-e-o).
Not only is this play bad, it actually manages to be offensive as well. One look at the set tells its own story. Somewhere along the line, somebody with a lot oi public iunds decided that Glasgow needed a big budget production in orderto export the city as cultural capital oi Europe. By sheer coincidence Wildcat were planning to complete John McGrath's ‘epic trilogy’, so the powers that be decided that (what with Mr McGrath being a famous name and all that), John Brown's Body would make a suitable guinea pig. The result, I’m afraid, comes across as a directorial sell-indulgence. Surely this amount oi money could have been better spent?
John Brown’s body is to be televised by Channel 4, and therein lies its only possible useiul iunction. As an ‘Export Only' job, it might serve as a useiul barometer of The Scottish image nationwide. If this one succeeds, then we've undoubtedly got it wrong. (Philip Kingsley)
[Elmi— SINGLE SPIES
Theatre Royal, Glasgow. Until Sat 7 Apr. The title ‘Single Spies’ reiers to the lowest common denominator ol two Alan Bennett mini-plays rolled into one: ‘An Englishman Abroad“ and ‘A Ouestion oi Attribution'. The common denominator is, ol course, the well-trodden theme at English aristocrats spying tor the socialist motherland, this time using the real Iiie characters at Burgess and Blunt.
‘An Englishman Abroad' is a short, light-hearted account of an encounter in Moscow between Guy Burgess and the actress Coral Brown. Burgess has been living in Moscow ior some time and, despite altectations to the contrary, is starting to suffer lrorn the ‘yesterday’s news’ syndrome. Through a series ol sharp and witty innuendos he steadily reveals the irony oi his situation, without actually having to admit that things might have turned out better. The piece is lunny and well suited to the sheer cleverness oi Bennett's language, and it does well to hold back both the sentimental and the patriotic possibilities inherent in the subiect.
‘A Ouestion ol Attribution’ is an altogether weaker example at Bennett’s work. The play is set in the early 1970s, when Anthony Blunt, who had coniessed to being a Soviet agent, was being regularly questioned by the security services while continuing to work as the Surveyor oi the Queen's Pictures. The action describes an imaginary encounter between Blunt and the Queen, who use the language oi art history to discuss Blunt's treachery. Again, the plot is a vehicle ior Bennett's double entendres, but this time it seems a bit ludicrous- partly because we’d already seen it during the iirst piece, partly because the circumstances seemed a bit contrived.
. it was a bit like sitting through a cheap
sitcom. (Philip Kingsley)
mam— THE oucness or MALFI
Seen at Theatre Royal, Glasgow. Now at Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh.
Those were the days. John Webster's revenge drama is set at a time when you could give birth to three illegitmate
children beiore your brothers even noticed. To be honest, Hugh Hodgart’s production speeds by at such a pace that the audience nearly don’t notice either. The delivery-verbal as opposed to gynaecological — is precise and articulate, but in the first hali especially, the speeches charge out at a bewilderineg break-neck speed.
Surprisingly, in the second hall when the going gets gruesome, the pace slows right down. Instead oi spiralling helplessly towards an inevitable bloody conclusion, the production cools to an apparently more meditated carnage. Generally, it is a version that lights shy oi extremes. Despite Gregory Smith’s lusty red costumes, the mood is one oi restraint rather than blood-thirsty indulgence. Similarly at the opposite extreme, the production plays down Webster‘s comic and romantic components.
What the production lacks is a strong ieeling oi good and evil. Jonathan Hackett’s Cardinal and Ian Mackenzie’s Ferdinand are neither sutiiciently wicked nor Nicholas Jeune's Antonio sutiiciently honourable to give the play its proper dramatic thrust. Hodgart presents us with a subtle political intrigue rather than a lully-blown revenge tragedy and the lack oi contrast removes much oi the character irom Webster’s play.
The production does, however, mark a change in style iorthe Hoyal Lyceum. Gregory Smith has designed a set adaptable to both the Theatre Royal and the Royal Lyceum, making much use at curtains to divide the stage with an easy sweep. In tandem with Mike Travis’ live percussion, this gives the play a lighter, more spontaneous ieel than some recent productions, although too often the music is incidental and not integral. No serious complaints about the acting in an unusually large cast, but the major interest is in the visual and not the dramatic style oi the show. (Mark Fisher).
Prunella Cree. Rodney Bewes. Peter Byrne and Ross Davidson. head the cast in Frederick Knott’s early 70s thriller. A blind woman. three criminals. an ordinary flat and a drug-filled doll are the key components. I MITCHELL THEATRE (iranville Street. 221 3 I98. Box Office Mon-Sat noon—8pm. Bar. Cafe. TickeLs also available from the Ticket Centre. Candleriggs. 227 55ll Mon—Sat l0.30am-~o.30pm. [Access: PPA. ST. Facilities: WC. “S. (i. R. B. Help: A. AA]. Kiss oi the Spiderwoman t'ntil Sat 7 Apr. 8pm. £4. See Touring. I MOTHERWELL CIVIC THEATRE Civic Centre. Motherwell. 069867515. My Fair Lady L'ntil Sat 7 Apr. 7, 15pm. £3.50. Motherwell and Wishaw Amateur Operatic Society in the musical adaptation of Shaw‘s Pygmulrtm. I PAISLEY ARTS CENTRE New Street. Paisley. 887 1010. Box ()fficeopen Tue—Sun noon- 8.30pm. Bar (open noon—1imeue~~Sat1 12.30—230pm & 6.30—1 1pm Sun. Meals served). Cafe (open noon—l lpm). ]Acees’s: I’I’A. ST. Facilities: WC. WS. Ii. (i. R. B. Ilelp: A. AA]. Speaking For Myseli. . .? I5ri t» Apr. 8pm. £4 (£2). SeeTouring. I PAVILION THEATRE l2l chfield Street. 332 18-16. Box Office Mon »Sat 10am—8pm. Bar. ]Access: ST. Facilities: WS.(}. Help: AA]. Brigadoon L'ntil Sat 7 Apr. 7.30pm. Sat Mat 3pm. £2-—£5.50. The Apollo Players revive the popular fantasy Scottish musical about the village that appears once every seven years. Hands Off My Crumpet! Mon 9 Sat 14 Apr. 7.30pm. Sat Mat 2.30pm. £4—-£(i. Monday two for the price of one. Rich in characterisation. sublime in plot structure. subtle in poetic nuance. Hands ()ffMy Crumpcr.’ will surely prove to be the most enduring play of the 20th century dramatic canon. Alongside ()livier. Burton and Brando. Bob (irant — oh. how we laughed at ()n The Blues — is one ofthe world-ranking greats. When you said crumch I thought you meant . .. I ROYAL SCOTTISH ACADEMY OF MUSIC AND DRAMA I00 Renfrew Street. 332 5057. [Access: I’PA. 1.. Facilities: WC. WS. AS. R. B,T. (i. Help: A. AA]. To Kill A Mockingbird tintil Sat 7 Apr. 7.30pm. Sat Mat 3pm. £4 £8.50. TVstar Jack Iledley takes the lead in this West find production out on its second national tour. Ilarper l.ee's novel of lynch mob politics and Southern States racism in an adaptation by Christopher Sergel. SNAYT Festival oi Youth Theatre See listing below. it's Friday and They Don't Send Flowers Any More Thurs i9--Sat 21 Apr. 7pm 6; 9pm. £3 (£2). l’at Trevor‘s real life dramatisiation of the problems laced in coping with Alzheimer‘s disease. Performed by Facets Theatre (iroup. I SCOTTISH MASK AND PUPPET CENTRE 8 Balcarres Avenue. Kelvindale. 339 (3185. The centre is open Tue— Sat 10am—5pm and Sun 2-5pm. A 30-minute talk and tour round the centre costs £1 (75p). Workshops and information are available by appointment (the centre's library containsover 800 titles). The Hogarth Collection L'ntil 29 May. Ann Hogarth and Jan Bussel‘s collection includes 150 puppets from all over the world and taking pride of place isyour very own Muffin The Mule. I 7134 OFFICES 302 Buchanan Street. Acting Workshops livery Sunday I 1.30am. Playwright and tutor Lynn Bains leadsthe weekly class in association with 7:84. More details on 0592 773079. I THE SHELTER 7 Renfrew Court. Renfrew Street. The Comedy Shop See Cabaret. The Actors Shelter livery Monday. 7.30pm An informal meeting place and information exchange for actors based in Scotland. Initially operating asa
AGThc List 6— 19 April 1990