NIGHTINGALE FOR DINNER
The ﬂourishing contact between East and West in post-Cold War Europe is not limited to Bolshoi extravaganzas or belated West End productions of Havel: contacts are being made at humbler levels with intriguing and innovative results. One such is the linking-up of EUTC member Richard Metcalf and Czech student group J enom J ednou (‘One-off‘) to perform what is certainly the British premiere, and possibly the first English-language version, of Joseph Topol‘s 1967 political satire Nightingale For Dinner.
Topol was himself a victim of the 1968 ‘Prague Spring' uprising. suffering severe injuries after being forced to leave the theatre. The play itself, although long banned, is premonitory in a more subtle way. ‘Most things were banned not because oftheir content‘.explains Metcalf, ‘but because of the political activity the writer was involved in. But one of Topol‘s central themes is communication —- people having ideas behind what they say, but refusing to deal with reality at all. That at the time was a criticism of other writers who were refusing to engage in political problems.‘
The play takes the form of a macabre dinner-party where the eponymous Nightingale is a guest — the company consider that its Pinteresque atmosphere has plenty to say about the current situation. Actor Leos Rousek: ‘There is a great problem in that people have stopped going to the theatre — they are all watching uncensored TV, after decades of control. This image is disturbing.‘ Adds Martin Schultz: ‘Pcoplc in Czechoslovakia are always talking about freedom, but they still don‘t know what it
means.‘ (Andrew Pulver) I Nightingale For Dinner (Fringe) Jenom Jednou, Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49) 225 9893, 10—25 Aug. 10.15pm, £4 (£2.50).
LADY MACBETH/ A VISION or 9”???” .
Aki Isoda fairly gallops
through a solo version of
Macbeth with no help
from the man himselfand
even pinching some of his
best lines (‘tomorrow and
tomorrow‘). only in
Japanese, of course.
Meanwhile three winsomc
witches, dressed in black,
tiptoe anxiously around
the stage receiving
directions from a shady
figure I feel guilty for
having spotted backstage. Ms lsoda has been
heroines for twenty years
1 and brings a stirring
; passion to her performance. While her
! Lady Macbeth strides
around in medieval-style
clothes. Ophelia is all
kimonos and Japanese reverence. The costumes are spectacular but it‘s a
. reliefto get away from the
5 bizarre 60$ soap opera
! music which accompanies
; the first half. lhave to say
i I preferred Ophelia.
l (Miranda France)
1 I Lady Macbeth and a
5 Vision of Ophelia (Fringe)
j Aki lsoda, Chaplaincy
Centre (Venue 23), until 1
3 Sept (not Suns), 6.20pm.
l £3 (£2.50).
I CAN’T GET STARTED
The best work in the hard-boiled genre always stands perilously balanced on the very edge of parody, at a point called “burlesque‘. Declan Hughes and the Rough Magic Theatre Company have succeeded in playing this dangerous game. re-creatingin one ofthe two intertwined stories that make up their play, the feel of Dashiel Hammett‘s novels. The other presents scenes from Hammett’s long and troubled love-affair with playwright Lillian Hellman, played sympathetically by Anne Byrne.
Action and dialogue in both move swiftly and surely, and the play is often very funny. The stories complement each other at the point where they ask questions about what constitutes a valuable relationship between a man and a woman, what it is to have principles or convictions, what it is about American society that is corrupt, and
However, often these questions seem little more than general allusions in
the direction of rather more complex problems. Once asked. the play tends to wander from them, reluctant to interfere with a very full, enjoyable ninety minutes. (Matthew Barrell)
I I Can’t Get Started (Fringe) Rough Magic Theatre Company, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 1 Sept, 3.45pm. £5 (£4).
Using dance, drama and
mime, this young, all-female Japanese company explores the emotions of a pregnant teenager. A realistic range of contradictory thoughts and feelings are conveyed: fear, bewilderment, pride, excitement, fantasies that it can all be wished away. The use of games and dolls expresses her inability to accept the reality of her situation, being little more than a child herself.
It is a patchy show; vivid and exuberant at times, disjointed and obscure at others. Although it is performed in English, the cast‘s accents mean that many of the lines are lost. Some of the dance
sequences are scrappy, and seem unconnected to the rest of the action. It may tighten up in time: perhaps one to see later in the run. (Sue Wilson)
I lie + TI (Fringe) Monogonies, Hill Street Theatre (Venue 41) 225 7294, until 1 Sept, 2.15pm, £3.50 (£3).
When the play opens, the poet Edmund Spenser is discovered lying foppishly in the centre ofa gargantuan mirror. Reﬂecting only what is above, the mirror serves as a metaphor for the lyric poet‘s flighty imagination, untroubled by the starving and rebellious Irish peasants outside his castle. The metaphor runs throughout the play: in London, the Queen and her courticrs are similarly unconcerned with cares of state; rather they submit to be carried upwards by the sensuous skill of the poet. Only the arch-bourgeois Prime Minister, Lord Burghlcy, is unimpressed.
Spenser‘s Laye tells ofa victory for imagination and poetry over the narrow obsessiveness of the Protestant work-ethic. Wonderfully written and acted, it features some fine comic performances— Mal Whyte as Lord Burghlcy is excellent, while Michael James Ford who plays Sir Walter Raleigh as a brash American - his honied tongue sharp in interplay with stately, ﬂowery Elizabethan English — is a delight. (Matthew Barrell)
I Spenser's Laye (Fringe) Connacht Productions, Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 1 Sept, 6pm, £6 (£5).
J oyicity mingles — to rather odd effect — a potted biography of Joyce with a superbly evocative one-man dramatisation of some of the best of his work. This ﬁrst element is reminiscent at times of a TV lecture, of Johnny Ball almost; while in the second, Vincent O‘Neill displays his skills learnt as a mime artist, choreographer and actor, making sense of the babble of meaning which characterises, in particular, Joyce‘s later work.
As one might expect, Joyce‘s words are everywhere superior to those of writer Ulick O‘Connor. Indeed, watching the play, one comes to sense that his work was more an act of anthologising, albeit a good one.
For what remains with the audience is the beauty of J oyce‘s prose, cleverly brought to life by O‘Neill as he switches from character to character. His ﬂuid gestures - arms and hands rippling — redolent of the river and the sea which are identified as lying at the heart of Joyce‘s work. it almost all becomes clear.
I Joyicity (Fringe) Abbey Theatre (Eire), Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 1 Sept, 6pm.£6 (£5).
— THE omemnon
The rough magnificence of the Demarco Gallery theatre provides an atmospheric setting for this riveting one-woman exploration of birth and death.
Yvette Boszik uses startling concentration and physical virtuosity to suggest both agonised vulnerability and awesome generative power. Like an aboriginal tribal performer, she blends representative symbolism — such as the feather on each middle ﬁnger — and closely observed mimesis of a bird, to fuse the universal and the particular.
The result is a mesmerising and authentic evocation of our primordialorigins. lts troubling images burn on in the memory. such as the almost comic revelation of a tiny, muddy, bloodied egg, emerging from so much pain.
Anyone who misses this performance deserves never again to be stunned. haunted, electrified by a piece oftheatre. (Tom Johnstone)
I The Originator (Fringe) Collective of Natural Disasters, Richard Demarco Gallery (Venue 22)5570707. 13.15.17. 22. 24. 25 Aug. 10.15am. £4 (£3).
I The Yesterday of Victory (Fringe) Collective of Natural Disasters. Richard Demarco Gallery (Venue 22) 557 0707. 18 & 20Aug.10.15am.£4(£3).
The List 17 — 23 August 199039