New play at Cumbernauld Theatre. The Ship reviewed. and the National Review ()fLii'eAi-t.



Hit of fancy

Philip Parr takes a trip into recent history with Tom McGrath.

1, - Q.EIM;M‘1WHM '\ ou have to work with a lot of intensity and that can’t he simulated. As soon as rehearsals start I I W ' “W” " .272; see a lot further. I hat s why I write for the M, theatre. I think it s the only way I can work. Ml

The words are 'l'om \le(irath’s and the motive is an explanation (or excuse) for why he has only just completed the first draft of his play The Hitting. which opens in (‘umhernauld in October. .-\ final script. he assures the actors. will be finished in good time for them (at the very least) to learn their characters’ names. 'l‘he dialogue and scenario may provide more of a


‘lt's a form ofexpressionistie writing where I'm

trying to let it all hangout.‘ says .\lc(}rath. ‘l’m

little sanctuary from a world ofdisasters even


finding out what’s there and what it means. rather than planning out everything in advance and having a definite story. There is a soap level which has been very controversial recently. especially with Anne Marie (Di Mambrol's plays. Critics have been going for that and I think that it's now a strong issue in Scottish theatre. Writing tends to he naturalistic soap and I feel that we need to go beyond that. So I’ve allowed a form ol'expressionism. surrealism and included a hasic soap as well .'

It would seem that. with this embracing of the surreal. McCirath may he moving away from his traditional role as Scottish theatre‘s social conscience. The play. though. is set in 1988 - the vear of Zeehrugge. l’iper Alpha and King's L‘ross. .-\s .\lc(}rath explains. The Flirting offers

when it is in dream mode.

‘I think that there are two aspects of reality which we have to cope with objective. mundane. day to day existence and then all ofthe dreams and nightmares that are inside us. That's what we are. and that kind ofcomplexity is what I‘m trying to get across. There's a lot ofdarkness in the play and it's considering death all the time. So you‘ve got all these terrible things happening in soap world that extend right out till you get into enormous political issues like ecology which you can do very little about.‘

Nevertheless. .\lc(irath is convinced that there is comedy to he found in all situations and this is no exception. There is also a degree of warmth and even hope which has only manifested itself (as the playwright knew it would) since rehearsals

‘In The Flitting. you see the fatherhood principle which has taken a fair bit ofslagging recently. I‘m interested in fathers because I'm one myselfand I think that they get a raw deal. The play is about caring and men as carers especially. As far as optimism and pessimism goes. the contact with the younger actors has created a feeling of life going on. of life-soul continuum. and that comes through at the end. But it's not reassuring and it's not depressing - it's a mix oftwo elements. the pleasurahle and the painful and both ofthose are happening simultaneously. lt's reality .' ( l’hilip l’arrl The Flirting it'll/beat The ('lmtherntiuh/ l’hetitrt'

from 11—13 ()(‘toherbeiin‘e turning throughout



House style

a. Robert David MacDonald's version of

The Housekeeper will be his ninth Carlo Goldoni translation forThe Citizens‘ Theatre. No mean feat, but when you consider the Italian dramatist

clocked up around 200 plays before his deathin1793, itputs MacDonald‘s

achievement into perspective. 'I keep a card index of them all,‘ he says. ‘Their names are all similar and you can forget which one is which, but occasionally there‘s one that sticks in

ordinary. I‘ve got anotherten to do, then I might have to dig a bit. That'll keep me going way into my bus card.‘ Receiving only its third production in 200 years, the comedy is about a housekeeperwho tries deviously to win favour with her employer in the hope of snaffling his daughters‘ inheritance. MacDonald, who is also directing the

as live a subject as ever, and argues that Goldoni‘s work has both more variety and more clout than he is often

given creditfor.

‘He hauled comedy kicking and sceaming into the 18th century,’ says MacDonald. ‘He abolished more or less single-handedlythe whole tradition of using masks. Having done that, he started the whole thing of domestic comedy. He‘s wrongly regarded as the dramatist of the happy

: ending.Thaf‘s absolutely ridiculous,

because all you have to do is to look at the nine that we've done and you could hardly find a writer with more variety. Plays like ‘The Battlefield' and ‘Country

I Iargelyforeshadow people like

Schnitzler, Chekov and lbsen.‘

1 And Goldoni‘s approach suits the

Citizens‘ penchant fordebunkingthe

= idea that the playwright is sacred,

because he knows, like only those with

immediate stage experience know, the

importance of the actor to the final

: creation. ‘There‘s very much more to him than meets the eye,‘ says MacDonald. ‘lt's all written for actors

: as opposed to readers. He knows

precisely the moment he can say to a good actor, don‘t bother about a line

- here, just actdisappointment.‘ (Mark


The Housekeeper is at The Citizens‘

yourmind—ithasto befairly outolthe piece, reckonsthe pursuitolmoneyis , Liie'reauy covemiomggmund and

l Theatre, Glasgow, Fri 5—Sat27 Oct. 3 _._ a The list 35' Septemhei iltlt‘lohei WW 1 51