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REVIEW BOLD GIRLS
Seen atThe OldAthenaeum Theatre. Glasgow. On Tour.
Just coming to the end of a Scottish tour is Winged Horse'sBailegangaire—an allwomanthree-handerexploring conflicting loyalties in contemporary Ireland. lfaweekisa longtimein . politics, it is an age in theatre. How we ’ have progressed. Now. just starting a Scottish tour is Bold Girls— an all womenfourrhanderexploring conflicting loyalties in contemporary Ireland. Progress is a wonderful thing isn't it? How long before we'll have a dozen women on stagediscovering long-heldsecrets in the course ofan evening‘s revelatoryrevelry?
7:84 and writer. Hona Munro. recreate a Belfast where rifles live alongside religion. ‘Brits' nexttb beauty packs and stilettos alongside ...well. stilettos. The absence of men onthe stage is because mostare in H-blockand one nevermade iteven thatfar(literallylosing his head one day).
Althoughfarfetched (all otthe women'skin are notonly sympathisers. but activists with the IRA). Bold Girls is a success both as a
7284's Bold Girls by Rona Munro.
reflection of Ireland‘s continuing disintegration and as an analysis of these four complex personalities who happen to live there. The acting is uniformly razor-sharp. and deserving special mention is Paula Hamilton's sensitive handling of a tumultuous final scene. Vulnerability. anger and sympathy are conveyed with utter conviction in the course of a couple of highly-charged minutes.
Complementing the drama. the scripts wit avoids the ‘we had a piss-awful life but by God we were happy‘ sort of cliche. Sure. the women can laugh. but onlythrough the despair of their fatherless and husbandless plight.
The only real criticism is that the women have a little too much to despair about. The ‘Troubles‘ are constantly in the background from the first scene when we are told that ‘there‘s buses burning right along The Falls.‘ to an army raid on the tacky disco frequented by the girls. The setting is closer to Beirut than Belfast and so the reality of the characters is dissipated by the implausibility oftheir situation. But. after all. this is a night at the theatre and suspension of reality is nogreatfault.
A play which is definitely worth your attention. (Philip Parr)
REVIEW ; : THE KING AND I
King‘s Theatre. Edinburgh. Until 13 Oct. Also at King‘s Theatre. Glasgow. 6—24 Nov.
What a glam night it was. In the seat in frontofme satJames Hammerstein. director. and son of Oscar. silver-haired and sixfootfive. Atterthe show. a Japanese satellite TV crew spotlightedfreeloading criticstoquiz us onthe importance ofKabukitothe lead performance ofKoshiro Matsumoto IX. Later Susan Hampshire, garlanded inbouquets. turned up. a suitable time afterthe rest ofthe company. to enthusiastic applause. while an ebullientAmerican producer—whose daughterhadjust clocked up an embarrassing £90 phone billto herNew York boyfriend—chatted aboutinternationaltransfers and big namehitsinthe won'erfulworld of showbiz.
Usingthe original 1950s set. which hastouredthe world eversince. the production spoons out exactlywhatyou expect of a classic musical and makes no concessionsto modernity. There is a massive cast. a long chain of lavish sets interspersed with tacky backdrops. a full orchestra and of course. the cracking Rodgers and Hammerstein score.
Mostdated arethe show's patronising. imperialistic politics. but it really is astonishing how theatrically fresh and contemporarythe ‘Small House of Uncle Thomas‘ play within a play sequence remains. Choreographed by Yuriko. who played Eliza inthe original stage and film productions. this Siamese reinterpretation of Harriet Stowe's anti-slavery novel is a colourful and captivating display ofEastern dance thatprovokesthe audience to rapturous applause.
Hampshire and Matsumoto have some touching set-pieces—he is suitably exotic and she suitably stiff upper-lipped-thoughthe moral complications ofa Christian cavorting with a bigamistpreventthe romance from being properly resolved. But the real starofthe show isthe musical itself—several unforgettable songs packaged in a pacey. colourful. large scale. ensemble spectacle. And the sell-out audience loves it. (Mark Fisher)
LSD (. . .JUST THE HIGH POINTS...)
Seen atTramway. Glasgow.
Time and again this year. Tramway has presentedtheatre which has challengedtradition and complacency. Never. though. have they stretched the boundaries likethis.
The Wooster Group not only shatter a few traditions with LSD. they pick them up by the scruff of the neck. beat them about the head and leave them as a pathetic wreck on the pavement. You know something‘s awry whenthe actors appear on the stage. you wait for the house lights to fade and . . . nothing happens. The wholefirstact is played with a fully illuminated audience.
Then there is the material itself.
There IS no scriptas such. (usta
selection of readings from some elder statesmen ofspaced—outlovedom: Burrows. Kerouac. Ginsberg and. of course. Timothy Leary. And that. basically. isthe first act. In the second. a surrealist romp through ArthurMiller‘s The Crucible is interspersedwith more reading. Finally youthink‘There is some acting
i going on here.‘ But this is a very temporaryillusionlorgeneralchaos
soon startsto reign as the cast is interrupted by a buzzer each time they swearor lapse into some genuine Miller as opposed to their own thinly
disguised pastiche. (The Miller
mockery is the result of a court case
filed by Arthurwhen the original LSD
opened in 1984.)
Asthe piece (playisa misnomer) develops. various interludeshombard the senses from white noise so awesome it makes the ears ache to one ofthe castwhirling Iikea dervish fora full five mirutes to glaring spotlights aimed into the audience at the close of eachact
Thenthere isthe diversification of activities alongthetable which dominatesthe stage. Atone end there appears to be a tightly scripted section but we are once again thrown into confusion by apparentimprovisation (usuallyinvolving Willem Defoe) atthe other.
What is most surprising. though. is thatitalI—improvisation (ifthat's what itis). comedy(there is plenty) andthe small. obviouslyscripted sections— work magnificently. There is nota secondforthe mindto wanderand if there isaflawitisthatthe company expect too much ofus. Tofully appreciate LSD you needtotakethe trip down to Tramway as often as your constitution allows. (Philip Parr)
The WoosterGroupwill be performing The Temptation ofStAnthonyfrom 11—15 Get and Brace Up from 177—19 Oct atTramway.
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