Anne Lannan in Jane Eyre

[Ell—fl— JANE EYHE

Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh. Until Sat 16 Mar.

You can see why someone should be attracted to adapting Jane Eyre. Charlotte Bronte's classic novel is driven by a compulsive story oi romance, liberation and near tragedy— standard ingredients oi gripping drama - as the young heroine narrowly avoids a bigamous marriage beiore discovering, almost too late, where her aiiections truly lie.

But the problem about such an adaptation, aside irom the obvious diliiculties oi compressing and editing a sprawling novel, is that the real drama oi Bronte‘s book is expressed internally, not externally. Lionel Hamilton's adaptation suiters in places irom ham-listed speeches and awkwardly explicit dialogue, but its principal lailing is not to give Bronte's characters the human depth that surlace impressions can hide.

Consequently, Anne Lannan‘s austere, plain-speaking Jane and Jonathan Rigby‘s reserved, authoritative and ironic Rochester can give only hints about the leelings that tuel their mutual attraction. There‘s no doubting their conviction, but they get little chance to develop a stage magnetism, and as a result, the emotional range at the evening is supressed.

As an undemanding piece oi story-telling, however, Charles Nowosielski's production is certainly absorbing. Nick Sargent's open, tree-lined set allows the locus to shiit,

so that as the play progresses, the characters‘ memories and leelings begin to interplay in lluid and theatrical torm. The ligure oi Rochester's mentally unstable wile haunts the production, while storms brew on the moors outside-the kind oi elemental lorces that often crop up in

5 Nowosielski‘s work and which he could . develop stilllurtherhere.Butitworks

best as a period love story and one which the Brunton company puts across ' with well paced control. (Mark Fisher)

l)( )1 '(il..-\S R( )BI'IR'I”S( )N

it contained some moving moments, it . second-rate Hollywood epic. Set in the

attempts tell the story at a set oi

: characters who spend time together on , a iloating theatre. Individual

1 mistortunes are set against the deep,


7 Citizens‘ Theatre, Glasgow. Until Sat

; English society comedy, to 1920s

puts to good use the money saved on the minimalistic Gospels, with an

: opulentdisplay otgolden elephant I ' heads and hanging tropical loliage, backed with a neat series at screens behind which the actors overhear

I conversations and throw in their

3 asides.

i military men court gentriiied ladies

? behind the scenes. A problem,

1 traditional English comedy. Laurance

Justabout every member oithe

marriage at words, written by Oscar . Hammerstein II, and music, by Jerome 4



Playhouse, Edinburgh until 19 Mar.

audience emerged irom the Playhouse 3

satislied and smiling. Containing

extravagant costume, an ingenious set E and a host at well-known songs this i production at Showboat easily places itseli amongst the many lavourite

musicals known to British audiences. What raises it above most, is the line

Kern, which ranges irom negro

1 spiritual to ragtime. These are easily : . brought to tile by the combined talents . , oi Opera North and the Royal '

Shakespeare Company. Why then, did this reviewer lind the periormance so unsatisfying? Although

was too much like watching a

Deep South at the turn oi the century, it

silent suttering oi America’s black population. The most moving moments are aboutthis sutiering, encapsulated in two marvellous songs, Old Man River and Mis’ry’s Comin’ Aroun'. Sadly, however, this show panders to stereotypes we would now reiuse to accept. Most oi the main characters are white tolks while the negroes lorm an appropriately rustic backdrop.

The result, ior me, was a limp, but extravagant show. It works in the way that anything iollowing a tried and tested iormula works, aided by clever direction and a iaultless cast. The show itseli is not great enough to withstand the test oltime. (Jo Roe)


23 March.

With an unusually smooth stylistic jump, Robert David MacDonald has transposed Sheridan’s 18th century

colonial India. Julian McGowan’s set g

it’s a transition that holds true to the class structures oi Bath in the 1770s, as

while their llunkies do the dirty work

however, is that the cool, sun-beaten rhythm of civilised Indian lite goes against much oi the knockabout pace at

; Rudic as Fag,in particular. opens the ' playwithaIanguid,loppishairbetter i

suited to the Citz' more mannered productionsthanto Sheridan'sribald

5 humour. Theplaygraduallytorcesits l

it ;

3;; '.

own pace, but there are too many lines delivered like Wilde or Coward despite Sheridan having nothing oi their sententiousness.

Appropriately, in a play where the temales are the instigators oi the plot, it is the women who are the prime movers here. Ellen Sheean has the best lines as Mrs Malaprop, generating the biggest belly laughs with the unseliconscious imprecision oi the well-to-do. But perhaps most entertaining is Debra Gillett whose coy ingenue, Lydia Languish, introduces the art oi Vogueing to the theatre, striking period poses with comic abandon and calmly leading her suitors and guardians into a wild lrenzy.

In a play structured around a series oi

E double acts, the evening is inevitably

f uneven—the subplot, ior example, has . yet to lind its comic momentum but

MacDonald enlivens the piece with

i some sophisticated stage business

I and, once the Monsoon rain takes away i the cloying heat, the production does

much justice to Sheridan‘s punchy

; comedy. (Mark Fisher)


Clyde Theatre, Clydebank. Until Sat 23 March.

Playwright John McGrath and actor Elizabeth MacLennan devote much space in their recently published books (The Bone Won‘t Break and The Moon Belongs To Everyone) to the decline in the type oi political theatre pioneered by 7:84 in the 1970s and early 80s. Whether the decline can be directly attributed. as they argue, to politically

motivated lunding policy, is open to debate, butwhat is unquestionable, as

Wildcat's revival oi The Cheviot, The

,1”; : .v v. " \ '. ’. ,.~

Ellen Sheean as Mrs Malaprop in The Rivals

i Stag And The BlackBlackOil

E poignantly reminds us, is how lar away

i irom those proselytising ideals our

§ theatre has drilled.

5 Itisappropriatethatthislirst

proiessional stage production in nearly

two decades should be mounted by

Wildcat, itseli an oil-shoot oithe

original 7:84. With its commitment to

} popular lettish entertainment, Wildcat

5 is the rightlul bearer oi the traditions

; established by McGrath and, given that

j its work has become increasingly

[ salt-centred, it is good to see the

3 company re-examining its roots.

f Good also, because eighteen years

, on, The Cheviot, The Stag And The

Black Black Oil still makes tor a

g thoroughly entertaining night at the theatre. McGrath's contention that the

people oithe Highlands have been

victim to the exploitation ot capitalism

, from the time at the Clearances to the

i discovery oi North Sea oil, is made

5 theatrically palatable by structuring the

argument around a celebration oi

Scotland's indigenous culture.

Fighting irom a position oi strength

2 makes better politics and better

' theatre.

' The cast, made up at some oi the

; brightest talents around. clearlyloves

[ every moment, as actor and musician

i alike dance, sing, play and crack jokes,

beiore driving home political and

emotional punches. Alexis Daly, in

particular, proves herversatility, while

Jimmy Chisholm and Paul Morrow

make a splendid double act. it John

Bett’s production tails to ignite the

ceilidh spirit in the audience, it is not

lorwant oi skill and energy-the large

Clyde Theatre is not by any stretch ol

the imagination a Highland village hall

and with some neat updating,

McGrath’s play is as iresh and as

pertinent as ever. Go and see it, and

when you go home, write some more

plays like this. (Mark Fisher)

44'l‘hc List 8-- 21 March 1991