has incorporated different movement forms into the piece. ‘I play Botcho. a rather mischievous young chap who causes trouble and is constantly hungry for attention.‘ says Reid. ‘Sometimes Botcho is street performing. using elements of body popping. ’
Similarly Chim Sui Man, graduate of the Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts uses quite a bit of Chinese acrobatics. ‘All the way through there is a kind of play on the fact that he is Chinese,‘ Glass reveals. ‘In commedia there was often a Chinese character. It was very rare to see a Chinese person so just the fact that they were on stage was funny and interesting. Though you have to be careful that you don't appear to be mocking a race.‘
Each night the play changes shape. ‘David has imposed a lot of ideas on us but as the performances are changing we are now starting to use a lot more ofour own ideas.‘ observes Reid. ‘Ifyou'd seen the show over a fortnight. you’d see four different shows.‘ Like a ring-master Glass harnesses the ingredients for an exciting production and whips them into shape, while each performer retains some autonomy. ‘He gives you a lot ofspace.‘ muses Reid. ‘He‘s 3 like one the lads — he is the lad.‘
Joking aside. the piece has quite a sinister edge to it. ‘It is highly theatrical. as Popeye was. but I think it is a much darker piece.‘ says Glass. Following the legacy ofcommedia and the romantic Pierrot tragedies of the 19th century perhaps Glass and his troupe represent the 20th century I clown. (Jo Roe) 8020 '5 Dead can be seen at the SI , Bride's Centre. Edinburgh. 4—5 Mar, and Ctmrbernau/d Theatre, 6 Mar.
Dashing white Wildcat
A generation might have grown up since 7:84 toured John McGrath’s The Cheviot, The Stag And The Black, Black Oil, but the play remains a landmark in recent Scottish theatre. Why was it so important? John Bett, a pertormer back in 1973, is now the director ot Wildcat’s current revival. He suggests that the tact it travelled throughout the Highlands to village halls unused to live theatre was one lactor, but ‘to have a play speciticaily about Highland history, involving their own songs with Gaelic spoken in it, was extraordinary.’ Indeed, audience response was more than lavourable. ‘I used to think some of these halls would take off into orbit,’ herecahs.
The tour also coincided with an upturn in support for Scottish sell-government. Bett points out that any nationalist message was unintentional — ‘the villains ol the piece were as much Scotsman as anyone else’ — but the play’s expression at frustration coupled with a still intact sense ol community struck a chord throughoutthe country.
The new production leatures a young cast who, as in the original, act, sing and pertorm all the music. ‘There’ll be eight people telling a story,’ says Bett. ‘John’s called it a cellidh play, so like a |
The Cheviot, The Stag and The Black, Black Oil.
ceilidh, everyone’ll get up and do their turn.’
While McGrath has contributed ‘a small update’, those nostalgic tor the mid 708 and students of theatre history will otherwise hear the script as was. But John Bed is hoping that people ‘unencumbered with a past viewpoint’ will also be drawn to see it. He believes in its continuing relevance. ‘The underlying principles that tormed the crude capitalism ot the Highland clearances were still very much part of the Thatcherite movement- the lack ol concern for human lives and human dignity. It’s all there really.‘ (Ken Cockburn).
The Cheviot, The Stag And The Black, Black Oil, Clyde Theatre, Glasgow, 1—23 Mar.
V COMEDY .
Nicola Kathrens in Her Aching eart.
What is it with Barbara Cartland and The List? No sooner has the Princess ol Pink had her very own profile, than we tlnd a new play at the Traverse peppered with Cartlandisms. But although Bryony Lavery, the author at ‘HerAching Heart', revels in the windswept, misty moor images, hers is one interpretation in which Heathclitt is not to be lound.
‘lt’s really a very simple story,‘ says Lavery, ‘ot two very ordinary broken-hearted and shattered women who are never going to tall in love again. Oddly, they both start reading the same book- Her Aching Heart- which is a lesbian historical romance. As they read it, we go into the book and, spookily enough, the two lead characters in the book have the same names as our everyday heroines. There are these two women inavery
sticky romance and the equally sticky romance in their alter-egos—the liery and wily Lady Harriet Helstone and the simple and good Molly Penhallow.’
See what I mean about the Cartland inlluence? But of course. deep down, ‘HerAching Heart' is completely ditterent, isn’t it?
‘Ho, actually it's very similar,’ says a mock-serious Lavery. ‘My nearest models are Georgette Heyer and Daphne Ou Maurier. And you’ll not believe this, but I think that they’re much better writers than Barbara Cartland. That means that my historical characters can speak in very long sentences using a lot at imagery. I don’t think even Barbara Cartland would use “A wind ol hope whistles through the empty corridors of my heart rattling at the knobs and knockers at my dry and dusty emotions.” ’
No indeed, I’m sure she wouldn’t, or rather, couldn’t. But in spite olthe ton to be had reworking the historical, hysterical novel, Lavery is well aware that her play, and many others, are , serving a greater purpose than simple j entertainment.
‘l’m very glad that it's doing so well in spite ot the climate cl Clause 28, 'cos I did write it thinking “Get me lorthis it you will.” Since Clause 28, I’ve made all the stuff I’ve written very ‘out’, which I think a lot at gay writers have done. It’s good thatthe clause has had the opposite to the intended ettect. It has frightened a lot of people, but it’s also made a lot at people fiercely courageous.’ (Philip Parr)
Her Aching Heartis atthe Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, 27 Feb—2 Mar. |
l Maytest Mayfest
reaches its ninth year with
an explosion oftheatrc.
music and arts events in
and around Glasgow from
3—25 May. For the first
time under the guiding
hand of Robert Robson.
the ex-Artistic Director of
the festival promises over
100 events in its three
weeks. Amongst the
announced are Belfast's
Lyric Players Theatre.
mimic Rory Bremner and
the Jimi Hendrix inspired
dance group. Bebe Miller
and Company, from the
USA. The full programme
will be announced at the
end of March.
I Youth Theatre
Youth Theatre has
published its plans for the forthcoming year.
! includinga residential
' theatre festival. a young
. communityprojects. lf
you are aged between 12
and 21 and would like to
. know more send a large SAE to .S'cortish Youth
3 Theatre. ()Id A Iherrueum
Theatre. I 79 Buchanan
Street, Glasgow G 1 2! Z or
i phone ()41 3325127. I Glad Back Having
; played London and
f Berlin, the homeless men of Edinburgh‘s
‘ Grassmarket project are
! preparing to take Glasgow
by storm. The show.
: Glad. was one ofthe hottest tickets in last
; year's Edinburgh Fringe
‘ and is lined up to play Glasgow University.
5 V 'IN PRINT
79 HONVO ZS HUVHVO 09 BUlVBHl
l Poliakott Plays: One Stephen Poliakoff (Methuen£4.99). Amongst this collection of five plays is ShoutA cross the River which is performed at Glasgow Arts Centre this issue (see listings). The collection by Poliakoff. who had his first play performed at the Traverse. Edinburgh. in 1971 . brings together plays written between 1973 and 1979. Loosely described as ‘city' plays. in l’oliakot‘f‘s own words ‘ they‘lassotheatmosphere ot‘tltat time. but they also . look forward to many of theanxietiesanddesires ‘ of the late b‘lls.~ l’unchy I slut-land. at Jollpages‘. I good value for money. l
The List 22 February — 7 March 199147