Alan Cumming‘s Accidental Death (below). Colin Baxter moves into drama. plus reviews.
LISTINGS: THEATRE 56 CABARET 60 DANCE 60
Rebirth of an'
Scots actor Alan Cumming puts Andrew Burnet right on the real Dario Fo.
If we had created a dramatic play we would have created another liberating catharsis. But this play doesn 't allow you this outlet. because when you laugh. the sediment ofanger stays inside you and can '1 get out. Some directors concerned to make pure entertainment have taken all the real conflict out. arriving. in the end. at a kind ofsurreal pochade. where everyone splits theirsides laughing. and goes out ofthe theatre quite empty ofpolitical anger or indignation. Dario Fo. 1990.
Accidental Death ()fAn Anarchist is a jolly comedy by that funny Italian man. isn't it'.’ The one who went on to do Trumpets And Raspberries. Female Parts and that religious one with Robbie Coltrane. what was it called . . . ‘.’ Damn funny anyway.
It‘s precisely this dismissive attitude (established. incidentally. by the light-hearted translation of/iccidentai [)eth which introduced Fo to British audiences in 1980) that has led to its reassessment and revival by the Mobile touring company of the Royal National Theatre. due to visit Cumbernauld this month. DirectorTim Supple commissioned a literal translation ofthe original Italian text. which revealed a very different play from the one we thought we knew. and set to work on a new. more faithful adaptation.
Having cast Scots actor Alan Cumming (known
here for his leading roles in (‘onqttest ()f The South Pole and Great Expectations. and of course the North Kelvinside Young People’s Amateur Dramatic Society) in the central role. Supple invited him to collaborate on the script. ‘It was becoming apparent.‘ explains Cumming. “that whoever was playing the madman would have to inject a lot of his own thoughts and language. because it‘s such a personal kind of characterisation.’
Rewrites continued until two days before the show opened. incorporating appropriate references to British judicial scandals. ‘I-ots of things were happening over the summer.‘ says Cumming. with relish. “The (iuildford Four and stuff like that. Lord Denning was very kind to us. giving us some extra material. And then Paul llill from the (iuildford Four came to rehearsals. That fired us. He came in and told us all these dreadful things that had happened to him and we were in hysterics because it was so funny. We realised that that was what the play was all about. that mixture of farce and tragedy.’
The play is itself based on real events in an Italian police station in 196‘). when a bombing suspect 'jumped‘ from a fourth-floor window. The newspaper Lotta ('ontinua accused the police of murder. after which a libel case began to reveal the murky details.
‘The whole premise of the play.‘ continues Cumming. ‘is that it's about something quite horrible. We‘ve tried not to make the policemen so silly and caricaturey. to give it a bit more bite. The ending is not funny — it breaks the whole ﬂow. and because it's jarring people remember it. I think.‘
It seems the maestro himself approved when he visited rehearsals. ‘He was absolutely fine about the changes we‘d made. It was written to be contemporary and provocative. and he‘s all for the adaptation of his work. The more daunting thing was that l was playing his part. But he was really fab. He gave me a few gags. lie was a scream.‘
Which brings us back to Victor and Barry. who — we‘re relieved to learn — will be reunited when the show visits Cumbernauld. ‘We‘re doing a video. and we‘ve got a series coming up on Radio 4.‘ says Cumming. his native Carnoustie lilt giving way to Kelvinside twang. Variety is the spice. after all. ‘I‘ve just spent a year frolicking around the Forest of Arden in Y-l'ronts for the RSC. so it's good to be doing something
Accidental Death ()f/in Anarchist is at (‘umbernauld Theatre. Mon 29— Wed 3 1 ()ct. See listings for details.
amora- Oh my Kosh
Two Edinburgh Festivals ago The Kosh had a hit with Endangered Species. It had all the right ingredients to constitute a touching and entertaining evening: humour, ingenuity and physical dexterity. This yearthey are dusting oh the costumes, limbering up the cues and exits and putting the show on the road once again.
Endangered Species is about a music hall double act struggling to survive. ‘The male character is a complete
dreamerwho lantasises about the act . but doesn't do very much about it. It has l only survived because at the way the woman has managed it,‘ explains choreographer and periormer Sian Williams. ‘The piece came irom a
desire to pay tribute to our acrobatics director, Johnny Hatch. As a young man he was performing with tumbling i troops up and down the country. All the stories that we heard trom him overthe years we worked with him, we thought should be brought together in one
‘Going back to an old piece is hard work,’ says Sian Williams. ‘It is a very linelytimed act, so every single move
tends to affect the other person. It’s rewarding though because this time we can think ahead.’ The production has changed, not so much in structure but in the relationship between the two
main characters. Working with two leading men on the same show has affected the dynamics at the piece explains Williams, who has played the temale hall at the double act in both versions. ‘I think it is worth a second look,’ she continues, though she is probably sale in assuming that most Edinburgh talk will have missed it the first time round. (Jo Roe)
The Kosh are at St Brides Centre, Edinburgh, Tue 6 and Wed 7 Nov.
The list It) ( )etober 5‘ November l‘)‘)(l49