Theatre is listed by city first. then by venue. running in alphabetical order. Touring shows are listed separately undertire relevant heading. Prices in brackets arelire concessionary price. Long running shows. unless specified otherwise do not run on Sundays.


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Farce within a farce at the Brenton Theatre.

BruntonTheatro. htrisselburgh. Until 13 Oct. Firstand foremost. the Brunton’l‘heatre Companydeserves congratulationsfor successfullycarryingollwlratmustbe afiendishiydifficultptayto produce. Michael Frayn's clever. frenetic. multi-layerediarce—within-a-farce could easilycollapse into chaos. Maintainingthe many complexdetails of plot and staging demands a skilful dramaticiugglingact.

The story ofasmalltouring rep company. all has-beens or never-weres. producing a soulless bedroomfarce. the playitseltemploys and subverts the conventions of tarce to expose its bestandworstexcesses. Alternater presenting back and front-stage views ofrehearsal and performance. it charts the inexorable disintegration 0t cast and production as theytravelwearilyaround oft—season seaside resorts. Events in 'real‘ life rapidlybecomemoreiarcicalthan those inthe play—except. ofcourse. this‘reality' takesplacewithin another fiction.

The second act. set backstage during a performance. is a masterpiece oi apparent mayhem. Misunderstandings and crises abound as the actors catch each otherin compromising positions, lose props and costumes. argue.

extractrevenge. and still manage—just *logetihroughthe'sbrilliantly and hilariouslyexeculed.underpinned t byrazor-sharp precisioninplotting, timinganddirection.

The oddtruibblezthevariouslevelsof satireandself-parodycouldhavebeen drawnoutmore clearly;greater variationindeliveryandsharper individualcharacterisation would have helped. as would an occasional. slight. slowing ofthe pace. But overall. this is an intelligent. energetic and highly enjoyableproduction.which recognises and brings outthe

subsrance ofthe playano‘ skilfully

weaves its mass of small details into a coherent. satisiying whole. (Sue Wilson)

THEHOUSEKEEPER 7 Citizens. Glasgow. Until 27 Oct.

The icing-pinkdoubte doors ofMichael Levine'sdining—roorr. setbetokenthe qualities oithis production. It is predominantly deliciously sweet. But it

is also at times a little too cluying: pushed to an excess that it does not sustain. andthe icing cracks.

Rich old gent. Fabrizio. is besotled with hishousekeeper. Valentina. who usesthistowheedle moneyfrom himto keep herindigentloverin gambling stakes. Unfortunatelyiorher. Fabrizio's nieces are onto hergame and battle to expose her. They contrive to hidetheirown secretive affairs and marriage intentions. While much is made ofthethreatthat'One daylshall show you wholam‘. thisis all aboutthe lengthspeople will goto. tohide and disguise things. So much so that even the truth is used as a means to continue deceh.

Although with its stock comic characters itisindeed a little likea ‘Carry-Onltaliana'. the balance ofthe playand its denouementare inch perfect. Not thatthe production shies away from playing off some old gags and "Allo. 'Allo' humour. Butthe audience loves it: being lead down talsetrails and laughing atitself. What else could onethinkwhen Fabrizio

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fumbles through his dressing gown at his crotch and says ‘I‘ve got something toryou. It's rather big‘?

The play opens as a morning-after- the-night-before which sets us up for the delicacy oftouchthatthe playing requires. Too much huffing and puffing andthe effortto be funny is revealed. Whatmighthave been delightful becomes a strain. Andrew Wilde as Fabrizio falls prey to this and he lacks the facial dexterity ofAngela Chadfield‘s Felicita to execute the finer elements of the humour. It seems too mannered. trying to betoo sweet. Generally however. the roles are well-cast and performances well-judged. The second act reveals Gavin Mitchell's drunken servant Tognino. and the embarrassingly shy lppolita played by Daniel lllsley. These minor roles are a delight.

This is Goldoni dusted off and he sparkles with typical Citizens' lustre. revelling in theatricality. some lovely comic inventiveness and a strong cast acting well together. (Tom Maguire)


Seen atArches Theatre. Glasgow. Now ontour.

Many modern writers have difficulty finding a poetic voice for the theatre. the overbearing social realism of much

contemporary drama seemingto deny itspace, but in Blood and Ice. Liz Lochhead sidesteps the problem by having poets themselves as her subject matter. From Lord Byron and the Shelleys. language thatwould be mannered and flowery in some. comes across not only as believable. but also thoroughly enjoyable.

Pen Name Theatre Company. which has created a niche foritsetfwith linguistically demanding and physically absorbing drama. rises to Lochhead‘stheatrical challenge intfris justifiably revived production. Like the company‘s more recent version of Don Juan. Blood and Ice delights in presenting a decadently foppish world undercut by a brooding sense of morality. For instance Byron, played with commanding. near-frightening presence byJohn Kazek. is initiallytull of inspirational free-thinking, but i slowly shows himselfto beaman whose philosophy is a desperate charade.

But the interest in Lochhead‘s interpretaton lies more in herroundly drawn characters, particularly Mary Shelley and her therepeutic creation of Frankenstein‘s monster. than in her tendency to moralise. Alexa Kesselaar's servant. Elise, provides a gratuitous commentary on the hypocrisies ofherbetteroffemployers whose lives are clearlyrich in aesthetics. but poor in substance. Consequently itmighthave been more rewardingto seethe Shelley—monster relationship developed furtherandto delve deeperintothe Shelley psyche.

David McVicar‘s direction is fluid and lively. kicking much energy into what could easily be a static and academic

script. Performances are uniformly strong. the company‘s mannered. actorly style suiting the self-consciously romantic and melodramatic characters portrayed. And whilethe production—perhapsthe play—is weakened inthe second half bya series ofunsettlingjumps in time which arguably parallel the poets‘ own rocky development. Blood and Ice stands as a rich and considered work. (Mark Fisher).

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