theatre/new PLAYS


I GLAO At last the homeless men of Edinburgh have found a public voice. Full of character and genuine experience, Glad ls , a production to bring you down to earth after the heady excesses oi the Fringe. Grassmarket Project (Fringe) The Grassmarket fillssion (Venue 21) mm Sept, 7.30pm, £3.50 (£3).

:3 -

I PREVENTION OF INNOCENCE A chance not onlyto see Splinter Group's study ofthe relationship between Lewis Carroll and Alice, but also enjoy the provocative exhibition at the illustrators gallery. See Review.

The Splinter Group (Fringe) The Nlllside Gallery (Venue 88) 5566440. 24. 27, 29 G 31 Aug, 3pm; until 1 Sept 1.30pm, £4 (22.50)

I COMPANY OF WOLVES Birmingham Rep Youth Workshop brings to life Angela Carter's dark adult fantasy novel based on the Little Red Riding Hood story. Bestiality and innocence. See Review. Birmingham Youth Rep Workshop (Fringe) Greyirlars Kirk liouse (Venue 28) 225 3625, until 26Aug,12.30am,£4(£3). I V List cover stars prove their worth in a powerful physical interpretation of Tony Harrison’s poem. See Review.

Volcano Theatre (Fringe) The Netherbow (Venue 30) 556 9579, until 1 Sept, 9.30pm, £4.50 (23.50).

I NO RElAlSSlON Less about the prison system than about the psychological relationship between three men in confinement. Another hit from a iAobll intemaiional Playwright Award Winner. Lucky Porcupine (Fringe) Theatre Workshop (Venue 20) 226 5425, until 1 Sept, 1.15pm, £5 (£3.50)

Angel deflght

From its nervous, almost stilted, opening moments Neil Bartlett’s new work Sarrasine generates the kind of theatrical intensity so rarely seen, in this country at least. Developed from Balzac‘s short story dealing with the obsessive, mistaken love of a young Frenchman for a castrato singer, the performance finds its way into the richest seams of imagery and emotion, overpowering in their capacity to move and transfix.

From the outset, the performance develops its own rhythms and cadences, creating what is becoming . a distinctive Bartlett texture. His particular gift is in the broken evocations of past glories, where scraps of the past fuse to form new. highly synthetic forms, worlds away from the deliberately realist images ofinstitutional theatre. The mixture of music, spanning grand opera, Paris-cabaret and bump-and-grind music-hall combine with a richly poetic and patterned text, producing a theatre heavy with atmosphere of ambivalent decadence. The collection of reference extends into the stage design scraps of heavy

velvet curtain and the ornate

footlights providing the space where a series of startling, sensational images can take root. This sense of spectacular artificiality is at the heart of Sarrasine, where the paradoxical fusion ofopposites is the central theme. The crucial figure of the castrato La Zambineila is splintered into three performers, each representing a separate component ofsignificance. The falsetto voice of Francois Testroy is Zambineila‘s youthful personification, seductive, teasing, essentially childlike. Beverly Klein stands as a maturer figure, knowing and mediating. But dominating them all is the tremendous presence of Bloolips‘

Bette Bourne, combining the world-weary cynicism of the expert vaudevillian with the overwhelming pathos of grotesque, decaying beauty.

The tale winds to its close, its emotional effects refined and mercilessly heightened by a four-piece ensemble (led by Nicholas Bloomfield). The murder is done - the band pack up and go. leaving a woman alone to change her clothes and leave in turn. Never have I experienced such a sense of loss in a theatre. (Andrew Pulver).

I Sarrasine (Fringe) Gloria. Traverse Theatre (Venue 15) 226 2633, until 1 Sept. 10pm, £6.50 (£3.50).

- Rule 45

The entrance guard tells me l’m late.

As I am led through the doors and along the empty corridors, Ilancyi touch on a fraction of the tremoring dread of the new prisoner. lam so glad i am wearing soft shoes, the echo of hard soles down these Roman roads would be quite unbearable. Each corridor is identical, so at every junction the effect is oi increasing disorientation. Even the light is rationed ‘the windows are clusters of three inch cubes embedded along the tunnels at regular intervals. ' NMP Shotts is a purpose built maximum security prison on the outskirts oi Glasgow, it has been in service for nearly three years. Our destination is the chapel where the Cracked Actors Company, in Scotland for the Fringe, are putting on two performances of their play, Rule 43. But for a passionless crucifix centre stage, it is completely devoid of religious awe. On the wall is an austere selection oi Christian posters that look like health education publicity from another age “here today, gonorrhea tomorrow and so on.

Thankfully the play requires no

elaborate set. lam offered a chair by one of the prison officers that line the back wall and sit among the boys in stripey blue shirts, instantly caught up in the performance. This is the first time i have seen prisoners en masse, so my imagination is running on prejudice. l force myself to stare at no one, stealing surreptitious glances when the opportunity allows. Apparently there were hecklers at the morning show so i am half expecting to be taken hostage and burnt at a stake while the guards are castrated with serrated cutlery stolen from the kitchen. Save the odd murmur and the passing of precious roll-ups around the room, attention is firmly directed ahead.

The play explores the individual's

experience of prison with insight that the lads seem to identify with, ‘the bit about wanking seems to go down particularly well. The writing is emotional, sensitive and well structured. The acting is very strong, Clifford Milner being able to gauge the reactions of this particular audience perfectly. Sarah Hays is equally impressive, effortlessly switching between the roles of wife, mother, and prison officer, as the narrative shifts backwards and forwards in time.

Rule 43 successfully achieves the elusive balance between political comment and compassion. One man is so convinced of the play’s authenticity that he asks if Clifford has done time himself.

The doors are unlocked and the prisoners file out like obedient schoolboys, the spirit of 1990 apparently dispersed. i think they enjoyed themselves, it only as a break from the mind-numbing daily routine.

lam escorted out, unharmed and slightly wiser. At the last doorl see the entrance guard staring at me fiercely through his glass screen. lie taps his watch and emits a loud chuckle. l have done my time in this hotel. (David Mackenzie)

Rule 43 (Fringe) Cracked Actors, Chaplaincy Centre (Venue 23) until 26 Aug, 6.10pm, £4.50 (£3.50).

16 'I‘thist 24 - 30 August 1990