Philip Parr talks to Christopher Hampton, adaptor of Liaisons Dangereuses, and previews King Ubu at the Theatre Royal. Plus the Tron in Canada.
LISTINGS: THEATRE 61 CABABET 66 DANCE 67
This fortnight, Glasgow will at last Liaise Dangerously with the Royal Shakespeare Company, who bring their sumptuous and award-winning adaptation of Laclos’ steamy novel to the
Mitchell Theatre. Philip Parr spoke
to the versatile Christopher Hampton, the man behind both stage and screen adaptations.
Ifyou have been walking the streets of Glasgow recently, you’ll probably be sick of the sight of cute, up-turned noses and luminous brown eyes
gazing down from billboards. The city is besieged
by images of Louis XIV‘s teenage mistress because the play with the most cultured of
neglecting one or two pieces that your average playwright would consider the highpoint of their career, ‘which I wrote after a break of five years. The play before that, Treats, was written at the end of a period when I had done ten years on the trot in the theatre writing a play every 18 months or so. I found that very draining. After Treats 1 had no ideas — an absolute dry spell or block which I got out of by doing a translation and then a movie. Whereas I’d always put a lot of thought into working in the theatre, I never really knew how to write for the cinema and television so, in those five years, I learned how to do it. When I then went back to the theatre to write Tales From Hollywood, I had this enormous energy and pleasure which I had never felt before.’
With diversity apparently the key to Hampton‘s talent it seems strange that, since his screenplay of Dangerous Liaisons, (a film of which he says he was genuinely proud) he has been firmly rooted in the theatre. I wondered if he still finds eclecticism so irresistible.
‘That‘s what I like — diversification’ he claims. And then, to prove his point, ‘I’ve just written a movie about Vietnam which is something absolutely unlike anything I‘ve ever done before. It’s being produced by Jane Fonda and is based on a book brought out last year called A Bright Shining Lie— a huge American best-seller which won The Pulitzer Prize and the National Book
advertising blurb, Les Liaisons Dangereuses. will soon be commencing its occupation ofThe Mitchell Theatre.
Les Liaisons is the first of two visits the RSC will make to Glasgow this year. and has been awaited with great excitement. It is the script. though, upon which the most purple praise has been laden. So I asked the scriptwriter — Oscar, Olivier and BAFTA award winner, Christopher Hampton — ifwriting was as effortless as his
Liaising Dangerously: Pip Miller as Valmonte with Alison Fiske as La Marquise (to be played in Glasgow by Emma Piper).
groaning sideboard would seem to suggest. ‘My first really big break in the theatre came with Tales front Hollywood‘, says Hampton,
Award. It’s a very interesting biography of a man called John-Paul Van who died in Vietnam in 1972. They offered it to me and I originally thought ‘I don‘t think that I can lift this book let alone adapt it‘ but it was so fascinating that I went to meet the author in Washington. After that, I just couldn’t resist it.’
Les Liaisons Dangereuses will be at The Mitchell Theatre, Glasgow from 10(h July — 22nd September.
_ Urbane Ubu
The Theatre Royal may still be shrouded in scaffolding, but the treats on offer inside will cause the exterior eyesore to fade rapidly into the mists of memory. The List will feature the entire Five Theatres of the World season next
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issue,thistortnight, we concentrate on 7' . 7“
the opening attraction, the much lauded Katona Jozsel Theatre Company from Hungary.
The company will present an interpretation oi Jarry's King Ubu which has, (along with The Government inspector), been greeted with universal acclaim by the
privileged audiences of Paris, Berlin and London. The choice of plays with such potential for allegorical reference to life behind the Iron Curtain would seem to indicate a company primarily motivated by a desire to subvert the pre-1989 Communist environment. However, although Katona Jozsel was formed in 1982 by a group of actors and directors who felt unfulfilled by the stilling limitations of Hungary's National Theatre, their productions are not saturated with didactic preachings. King Ubu concentrates not upon the obvious political metaphors but rather on a more specific examination of human weakness. This enhances the tradition set by Katona Jozsel in their previous triumphs, The Impostor, The Flight and The Three Sisters. Politics is
important but the motivations of the individual are paramount.
The company’s success has been built largely around the twin pillars of artistic director, GaborZsambeltl, and the awesomely talented leading lady, Juli Basil. Basti takes the pivotal role of Me Ubu in Jarry’s blaclt vision of life, and has astonished audiences with the vivid earthiness of her interpretation. Zsambelti’s direction creates a world where vulgarity reigns supreme, and conjures images which are startlingly powerful. To describe them would ruin the impact, so i would advise a visit to the theatre to see for yourself. (Philip Parr)
King Ubu will be at The Theatre Royal, Glasgow 10-14 July. (There will be simultaneous English translation).
The List 29June — 12 July 1990 57