Unfortunately. the cabaret on offer at Glasgow‘s Mayfest. for all its collective talent. inspires little but a strong sense ofdéja-vu. It could be the Edinburgh Fringe shifted fifty miles along the M8 and brought forward by a couple of months. Ironically. one of the highlights could turn out to be an elder statesman ofthe cabaret circuit. Shameless name-dropper and tale-teller. Victor Spinetti. will be bobbing about on the Renfrew Ferry and beguiling audiences with stories culled from his associations with The Beatles (he was the one in ‘A Hard Day‘s Night‘ who didn‘t have the girls chasing him). Princess Margaret. Salvador Dali er a1.
‘lt‘s like a talking book for the sighted.‘ says Spinetti. who retains his Welsh lilt 30 years after leaving close harmony singing country. ‘Coming from a Welsh background you don‘t treat the establishment with a great deal of respect. but I don‘t think that any ofthose involved in the stories should be offended. Peter O‘Toole even accused me of not mentioning him. There‘s no way I could tell the stories I know about him.‘
The stories he does relate illustrate the kind of rags to riches success that only seemed to happen in the 605.
‘Everything I did until I was twenty was on the same bus route in Wales — in fact on the same Western Welsh bus. Suddenly I got offthe bus. actually and metaphorically. in London and went straight into the swinging 60s. I found myselfon the West End stage in what seemed like two minutes. Then The Beatles troop backstage and say ‘Hey Vic. you‘ve gotta be in our film.‘ Basically that‘s the kernel ofthe show. I‘m in the middle of these things saying ’1 can‘t believe these people are talking to me‘. This is a celebration about some ofthem.‘
Recently returned from Australia. where audiences warmed to his stories. Spinetti explains why he was choosing Scotland‘s spring rather than summer festival.
‘There is an awful lot going on up there.‘ he says ‘I think Edinburgh‘s a bit miffed actually. There‘s always a lot going on in Edinburgh but only during the festival. It‘s like Adelaide where they have a festival every two years. When the festival‘s not on it‘s like a well-kept grave.‘ (Philip Parr) Victor Spinetti will be on The Renfrew Ferry, [Om-[2 May.
Last year, Vandekeybus and company wowed Glasgow audiences with What The Body Does Not Remember. At the vanguard of a modern breed of violant, confrontational choreography, the group rouse respect and admiration from the severest quarters, while their elemental energy makes them widely accessible.
Wim Vandekeybus is one of those infuriating types who seem to attain great heights whilst flouting traditional values. ‘I never had a dance ortheatre education. It is my own vision of the thing,’ he insists. ‘I hate to limit myself by saying I make dance or I make theatre. When I made my first playl just had in mind a kind of energy and the things which fascinated me, which were of course, to do with movement.’
It is not that Vandekeybus is blindly arrogant, rather that he is prepared to take risks and change the accepted scheme of things. ‘If you see how people have to work in the States or New York, like everywhere, it is so unlresh,’ he comments. ‘I may take people with just an acting background, or who have never been on the stage
and I “sensible-ise" them for what we do. I find we arrive at something new.‘
Mayfest hosts Vandekeybus’ second major piece, The Bearers 0f Bad News first performed a year ago. Like last year’s What The Body Does Not Remember, it explores danger and energy. ‘The more I continue with my work I have a fascination for an energy: something very pure and brute, like an accident. This fascination may be to do with the fact that l have been riding horses all my life, which is more important than any education in dance I could have had.’
The company undergo rigorous training, initially to learn a specific, acrobatic language, and thereafter to keep them in peak condition. This helps maintain spontaneity on stage. ‘The performance is so demanding that each time you have to be careful,’ he remarks. ‘We always try to push things to extremes. It is quite dangerous-you have to be very accurate.‘ Likely to be a hit this year as well, Wim Vandekeybus and Co should not be missed. (Jo Roe) The Bearers 0f Bad News is on at the Mitchell Theatre 13 May
‘lt's quite radical forTony,’ comments Michael Boyd, artistic directorof the Tron, in reference to Tony Roper‘s new play, Paddy’s Market. ‘He‘s thrown away traditional play structures and just let the day at Paddy‘s hang out. It works terribly well.‘
Defying conventional plot device, the play is simply a day in the life of Paddy‘s Market; however Michael Boyd is Ioth to relegate it to the ever-expanding dossier on The Dear Green Place. ‘It is not about being Scottish or about being Glaswegian, it's about surviving: surviving when you don't have much money, with as much dignity and joy as possible.’ Pausing an instant he continues: 'It it is to be about anything it‘s not even that. Paddy‘s Market is a real oddball place. The play is defending the oddballs in life, individuals and vulnerable people who have been slightly knocked off their pedestals.‘
Tony Roper made a name for himself as a comic author with The Steamie, which toured widely in 1988, and he has another play, Only An Excuse, at
the Clyde Theatre during Mayfest. His skills as a comic actor complement those of the author. ‘He has the extraordinary comic timing of a very good comic actor,’ says Boyd. ‘He also seems to have an absolute inability to censor anything that he smells out as true, regardless of whether it contradicts what he said in the last page. So what comes across is a tremendous truth from moment to moment.‘
All the cast as well as Boyd have explored the market where you'll find junk not Oxfam chic. ‘There’s been a mixture of reactions,’ says Boyd. ‘The market manager has read the script and loves it. He was trying to get a tenner off each of the stall holders, and there are about five hundred in all, to help us with the budget. Their response was that we should be paying them a royalty. They drive a hard bargain.’ (Jo Roe)
Paddy‘s Market is on at the Tron Theatre 10 May—1 0 June before touring.
MAYFEST PREVIEW THEATRE
READY BRECHT ‘I can‘t believe I'm talking so much when I‘ve only been up for an hour.‘ says Roberta Taylor as she prepares to go into rehearsal and I prepare to eat my lunch. Not that
E she's any slouch. To
perform in Brecht‘s Mother Courage is a mammoth undertaking at the best of times —Taylor is playing Yvette Poitier. the prostitute — but as the Citizens‘ Mayfest ﬂagship production starring Glenda Jackson, this version is getting more than average attention. Equally. they are not taking it too seriously. Brecht‘s sprawling epic that straddles the 30 Years‘ War may not be laugh-a-minute stuff. but it has a vigour and energy ofits own. ‘Earthy is the
one word I‘d use to
g describe it.‘ says Taylor. ; for whomthisisthc first Brecht she has worked in
since leaving drama college. ‘There‘s nothing sentimental or wet — it‘s very raunchy.‘
A long-standing member ofthe Citizens‘ company. Taylor has great enthusiasm for the theatre‘s creative approach. Just back from playing Chekhov in England where one .ictor‘s ego impinged on
; the imaginations ofthe
other performers. she is
':hrilled to have returned
to a company that encourages artistic freedom. Director and designer Philip Prowse is giving the play a paccy. pared down production
with his usual sense of
visual panache. but his method is less to impose a style than to hone one down from the contributions of the cast. "There‘s a great freedom in what you‘re asked to do.‘ explains Taylor who insists that the presence of Glenda Jackson brings with it none of the prima donna trappings of stardom. And Prowse‘s creative licence means that when Taylor gets up to sing in the middle of scene three it matters little that singing is not her forte. ‘I think Philip wanted my mouth to open and a dustbin to fall out!‘ (Mark Fisher) Mother Courage, C irizens' Theatre, Fri 4 May—5012 June. 7.30pm.
20 The List 4— 17 May 1990