’ WOMAN DFGLENCDE
I. Seen at The Assembly Rooms,
Edinburgh. On Tour.
It is a strange idea. Colin Baxter's photos, which have almost
slngle-handedly advertised the Scottish tourist industry. projected onto a stage backdrop. An
percussion. And, not so much a play, but rather a couple of sketches, running simultaneously. It may be strange but it‘s quite wonderful.
Baxter 5 photographs provide the focus for the evening. The slides are peppered with several of his A pastel-shaded, soft locus pics, which are only really at home sitting on 3 postcard racks next to tartan dolls. But , this display shows that Baxter can also produce haunting, disturbing and vivid pictures which evoke the power and the mystery of Glencoe. When these images are accompanied by Ron Shaw's pleading cello and Jim Sutherland’s rhythmic percussion, the whole effect is awesome. You simply cannot help feeling intimidated by the historic mountain.
Jim Crumley’s play provides,
? initially. a diversion from Baxter's threatening images. Eliza Langland plays a disgruntled, cold, wet and miserable partner to her hiking boyfriend. She sits in the car
.3 bemoaning this godawful place while Donald strides purposefully about off-stage. Her wrestling both physically and linguistically with a map are genuinely hilarious and tremendously well played. The emphasis on the ‘ridiculous' nature of Highland place names is heightened when Ms Langland changes roles to play a hard on the day alterthe Glencoe massacre in 1692. Now, the names which had caused the ‘sophisticated’ Sarah so much trouble, trip poetically off the jtongue.
But the comedy evaporates when the 905 girl is enveloped by a timeless Glencoe mist. All of the potential threat contained in the projected images is suddenly realised, only to lift when the . mist itself abates. Such is the relief when the skies clear that the towny expresses her gratitude to the : mountain with an almost religious 1 reverence. She even says that she will return, maybe. Glencoe is that kind of place, and this performance evokes it perfectly. (Philip Parr)
madm— TORCH SONG TRILOGY
Seen at The Arts Centre, Paisley. On Tour
And this week's sweeping generalisation: small theatre companies are only happy when
' pertorming Ayckbourn. Simon or, at a
push, Coward. The Strathclyde Theatre Group set out to trash that particular
assertion by tackling one of the most challenging and (if performed well)
j rewarding plays of recent years, Torch ; Song Trilogy. They pull it off, but only
just. Credit aplenty must go to David de 1 Gray in the lead role of the camp drag queen, Arnold, who meanders through the three sections of the trilogy with a ' blissful scepticism towards lite. De I Croy gets the characterisation of the gay in a masculine world exactly right and even though the occasional line is ? llutted, he carries a testing part splendidly. The main problem is that his only genuine support comes from Carl % Pickard's snappy direction. With the exception of fan Cusick as Arnold’s lover. Alan. the rest of the cast range from mediocre to pitiful. David A. Stevenson as Ed - the love ofAmold's 9 fire — gives not the slightest hint of being tanciable. Mr Stevenson is wooden and boring unlike Ed who should be an irresistable passion machine. . . and boring. Admittedly, 5 one is meant to wonder what on earth I the vivid and vibrant Arnold sees in the grey Ed, but not to this extent. One point to note is that, on the evening I saw the play, the company ; and the theatre had their wires crossed about the starting time, which led to me missing the first twenty minutes. That epitomised most of this production -- amateurish. But don't let that disuade g you. Torch Song Trilogy is certainly a i play worth seeing almost whatever the quality and there is definitely a star in l the making in David de Croy. (Philip ‘ Parr)
5 [Elm— l
Citizens Theatre. Glasgow. Until 17 November.
It's difficult to be moved one way or the other by the latest Citizens’ find. The 1714 play, unearthed by director and designer Philip Prowse, is an austere tragedy concerning Jane Shore, the mistress of a now deceased Edward W, who inadvertently gets in the way of the Duke of Glouster's ambitions for the crown. Played here by Julia Blalock, Jane Shore begins the play in weepy mourning and ends it, having been banished onto the streets, in mentally unstable anguish.
Playwright Nicholas Howe, himself an important early editor of the plays of Shakespeare, combines the high tragic human charge of his precursor with the restraint ofhis owntimes. Certainly in this production, the first half has the dry, formal air of a Racine, containing no extraneous action or diverting comedy, while the second hall’s climax aspires to the insanity and bleak despairol King Lear. Straight backs, expansive dresses and delicate poetry give way to much wailing and rolling in the barren streets.
For all the company’s clear and crisp enunciation, it’s very dillicultto 3 become engaged in Janes Shore's ; tragedy. Perhaps this is because the emphasis of the play lies in the 5 political machinations of men hungry ; for power, rather than the greater ’ human dilemmas of Shakespearian
drama. Only when Stephen
i MacDonald's Dumont defends his right i to tend to the dying Jane — ‘Has charity f become treason in your court?‘ — does
7 the conflict come into focus, but by that . time we really don‘t care sufficiently to worry. (Mark Fisher)
AND THE COW JUMPED
' ' I Gerda Stevenson in And The Cow Jumped OverThe Moon
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh. Until 25
in some respects, this new play by Donna Franceschild is simply another of those gallus Glaswegian comedies.
= Seton a cancer ward, where four
women’s struggle against the disease leads to a camaraderie among very different people, it offers that familiar brew of wisecracking one-liners and tear-jerking agonies which characterise Scots comedies of the past decade. The play's form does not in any way exploit a theatrical setting, and its imminent transfer to television could be comfortably achieved with no changes to the script. Ian Brown's rigorously naturalistic production and Stewart Laing‘s hospital-sterile design — lit mainly by anti-atmospheric strip-lamps— supportthis approach to the full, throwing the audience’s attention squarely onto the script and the acting.
it is therefore fortunate that both are of a very high calibre. While following well charted guidelines, Franceschild has managed to be consistently funny without ever compromising the seriousness of her subject matter; and though she flirts with sentimentality, the play’s humour and basic truthfulness allow the guilt-free shedding of an occasional tear, even at the outrageously implausible ending. As the presence of death forces the four women to examine their lives, Franceschild also articulates a subtle theme of feminine identity, in stark contrast to the jovial cailousness of Eddie, the hospital DJ, and the brisk masculinity of the male nurse.
Though both seem the wrong age for their roles, Gerda Stevenson and Myra McFadyen work beautifully together at the centre of a convincing, likeable cast, and only uncertain first-night rhythms allow the illusion of real life to drop. The ‘soapy' tag which dogged the
i Traverse company‘s production of
Tally‘s Blood early this year may be revived in certain quarters, but within its straightforward structure And The Cow. . . proves an intelligentand liberating entertainment. (Andrew Burnet)
48Tlie l ist ‘)~ 22 \iixeinficr 1990
I BLACKFRIARS 45 Albion Street, Merchant City. 552 592-1.
The Comic Club Every Saturday. 9pm. £4.50(£3.50). See Cabaret.
I CITlZEHS' THEATRE Crorbals Street . 429 0022. Box Office Mon—Sat 10am—8pm. Bar. [Accessz l’. L. Facilities: WC. W8. E. (i. R. Help: AA]
Jane Shore Until Sat 17 Nov. 7.30pm. £5 (£1 ). Also known as The Tragedy ofJarie Shore. this play is by the rarely staged poet
‘ laureate. Nicholas Rowe (1674—1718).
Directed by Philip Prowse. it tells the tale of the rise and fall (if l;dward lV's mistress See review. I CLYDE THEATRE Boqtihanraii Road. ('lydebank. 951 1200. Box Office Mon- Sat lllam—bpm. Tickets also available from Ticket Centre. Candleriggs, 227 5511 and all Ticket Link outlets. Cleaning Up Until Sat 10 Nov. 7.30pm. £4 (£2). First year students at Glasgow's colleges and universities can try out the theatre for £l. Wildcat‘s privatisation musical returns to home base after an extensive Scottish tour. The show has its moments. but is marred by weak plot structure and naive politics. I CUMBERHAULD THEATRE Cumbcrnauld. 0236 732887. Box Office Mon—Fri 10am—6pm: Sat 10am—3pm: 6—8pm perf. evgs Bar’('afc. (Access: PPA. ST. Facilities: WC. WS. (3. B. Help: A.AA]. The Fiitting Until Sat 10 Nov. 7.45pm. £4.50 (£2.25). See touring. James and the Giant Peach Thurs 22 Nov-Sat 2‘) Dec. 7.30pm. Sat Matsfrom 24 Nov. 2pm. £4.40 (£3.25). (.‘umbernauld is one of the first theatres to jump ontothe Christmas Show bandwagon. This is outgoing director Robert Robson's adaptation of the ever-popular Roald Dahl story. I EAST KILBRIDE VILLAGE THEATRE Maxwell Drive, 03552 48669. The Sash Until Sat 10 Nov. 7.30pm. Tue £2. Wed-Fri £3 (£2). Sat £3. West End Theatre (iroup indulges in the bias. bigotry and comic mayhem ofllector MacMillan's popular play about Glasgow‘s religious divide. I GLASGOW ARTS CENTRE 12 Washington Street, 221 4526. [Access: PPA. R. Facilities: WC. R. G. Help: A. AA]. Torch Song Trilogy Until Sat 10 Nov(not Fri 9). 7.30pm. See touringand review. The Human Voice and The Sound ofSilence Tue l3—Sat 17 (not Fri lb) and Wed21—Sat 24 Nov. 7.30. £4 (£2). New Stage Theatre makes its debtit performance with two new translations by Anthony Wood of plays by French playwright Jean Cocteau. The Human Voice is remarkable for being amongst the first monologues in French drama. while The Sound ofSr'Ierzcr’ was originally written for Edith l’iaf in 1940. See preview. I HARLAHD AND WOLFE Clydebrae Street. offCrovan Road. (iovan. Phone bookings. Ticket Centre. (‘andleriggs, Mon—Sat 10.30am-8pm, 227 5511. The Ship Run extended until Sat lllNov, 7.30pm. £34.25. Anyone for Harland and Wolff in ship's clothing? Maybe not. The episodic story of a boat and its builders features a full-size ship. a cast ofactors and the odd welder. Directed by Bill Bryden. it demands to be seen for being one of the most ambitious productions of 1990. but it's all ship and no substance. I KILMARDINHY HOUSE Kilmardinny Avenue. Bearsden Arts Guild. Box Office open Mon—Fri 9am-1pm, 943 0212. The Marriage of Figaro Wed 28 Nov-Sat 1 Dec. 7.30pm. £2.50(£l .50). lleraldingthe Mozart bicentenary of 1991 . the Glenburn Players tackle the Beaumarchais play which caused several raised eyebrows in