There’s more than a little rivalry between fellow Irish stand-up comedians Sean Hughes and Owen O‘Neill, even though they‘ve come together to write and perform their very first dramatic work. ‘Working with Sean is a pain in the arse,’ laughs O‘Neill. ‘He can‘t walk down the road without mentioning the word Perrier at least three times.‘
Fed up with being asked to do ‘Irish acts’ whenever St Patrick’s Day came round. Hughes and O’Neill decided to write a play showing St Patrick's Day as it really is— ‘one great piss-up‘.
‘St Patrick‘s Day is bollocks, really, it doesn’t mean anything to anybody,‘ complains O’Neill. ‘I don’t know about Ireland, but for my
generation it‘s just an embarrassment.” He is quite aware
A Sean Hughes and Owen O'Neill In Patrick’s Day
Hughes and O’Neill play two Irish barmen arriving in London ‘full of enthusiasm for St Patrick’s Day. We’re not actors so it’s got bits of us. We don’t want it to have that, but I suppose it does have that whether we wanted it to or not.’ Apparently, everyone loved it in its London previews, but the press haven’t seen it yet. ‘There’s just me and Hughsie and a few imaginary people in the play. . . they‘ll probably get the best reviews as well.‘ (Robert Alstead) I Patrick's Day (Fringe) Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 226 2151 , 9—24 Aug, 7pm, £5 (£3.50).
that the humour in the play may have the opposite of the desired effect, and end up celebrating Patrick‘s Day piss-ups. ‘When we wrote it, it started off seriously but it got a bit bizarre at the end. It might fail abysmally.’
On top ofyears of boozing, they took jobs in a pub to ‘research‘ the comedy, but only lasted out a week. ‘It was the most boring time ofour lives and nothing happened, so we went away and made it all up. You know, true life, it’s not as adventurous as you are led to behevef
The arrival ot a Ninagawa production In Edinburgh iorthe International Festival is by now a near institutional event. The Festival Committee can congratulate itsell on its championing oi the Japanese director, whose work In past seasons has proved Itseli
, impressive, intriguing and regularly
‘ enchanting. Tango In Winter, by established Japanese playwright Kunlo Shimizu, is an entirely new production, with an English cast and adapted Into English by Peter Barnes, oI a play already produced with great success in his homeland.
In rehearsal in London's Docklands, Ninagawa explains some oi the long history behind the production. ‘The lirsi play I directed was by Shimizu. It was 1969, the time when students allover the world rebelled against society. That struggle was lost- and because we could not sort ourselves out alter having lost this battle, alter that we did not collaborate for nine years. When, years later, we discussed working together, and we asked ourselves what play we should do, we decided to do something about the meaning oi this battle against society- what It meant to us. But we were no longer young.’
The changed perspective oI post-liberal disillusionment has resulted In a play oi sombre meditation, taking as Its symbolic centre a iaIIlng actor returning, In winter, to his rural home, to an old, isolated cinema where his dreams,
samurals any more, we just live ordinary lives like in Britain —so lam asking is this Japanese story translerable? ’
Award-winning playwright Peter Barnes, called Into create an English-language stage version, has particular qualities that Ninagawa intends to exploit. ‘There is a comic element In the play and that wasn’t done well In Japan. There are also lets oi ordinary people In the town - ordinary tile is a very important aspect in this play-l needed a playwright who could describe ordinary people, make their speech live on stage, as well as make it tunny.’
In his production last year at Mishlma’s ‘modem' version oi a traditional Japanese ‘noh’ play, Ninagawa’s imagemaklng abilities were brought to their lushest, most sensuous pitch. He can be seen manipulating -almost manhandling— theatrical culture at many dIIierent levels, as an acknowledgement ol the deep cultural crisis that has beset Japan ior most oi this century. Yhe almost total rejection oi the past in Japan’s pre and post-war drive tor modernisation has inevitably leit Its mark. ‘When I work in Japan, land all my colleagues have Ieamt In Japan 100 per cent European theatre and culture — that is how we were educated tor the past 100 years. That obviously makes us think about our Identity as Japanese: alter the process at modemlsatlon In Japan the country dropped so many things. My work started by thinking again about what had been lost. In my theatre the West and East have overlapped.’ (Andrew Pulver)
Tango in Winter (Festival) King’s Theatre, Leven Street, 8—17 Aug (not Sun), various times, lid—£12.
Yukio Ninagawa, director oi Tango AtThe End OIWinter
thoughts and struggles come alive. Ninagawa elaborates on the bleak poetry oi his protagonist's journey: ‘The lines an actor speaks are lines written by someone else — ii an actor is good, the lines he speaks become himseli: this actor’s power to do that has gone. In this story the actor represents the ordinary person - in ordinary lite people have to act every day to go through their IIIe. This play’s theme Is to make clear ordinary people's lite —this actor, played by 3 Alan Hickman, at the and cannot lind himseli and so he dies. However, at the bottom oi this text the spirit oi the revolution, the hope, Is alive.’
What Is remarkable about this new production is its atmosphere ol cultural experimentation: an entirely English j cast periorming In a language that their j director does not speak. ‘I want to see it i this play is unlversal,’ declares | Ninagawa. ‘In the past 100 years In 1
Japan we have teamed a lot at things lrom Europe. We don’t live like
Mark Fisher comes up with live good reasons Ior delaying your evening meal.
I Kwamanzi Surprise discovery of last year's Fringe. Theatre For Africa returns with one of its most acclaimed productions, a vibrant and physical plea for the wildlife of Southern Africa.
K wamanzi (Fringe) Theatre For Africa, The Netherbow (Venue 30) 556 9579,12,]4, 16, 19,21. 23, 26, 28. 30Aug, 6pm, £6 (£5).
I Medea: Sex War Last year‘s List cover stars Volcano Theatre in an uncompromisineg punchy interpretation of Tony Harrison‘s tale of forbidden love.
Medea: Sex War (Fringe) Volcano Theatre, Theatre Workshop (Venue 20) 226 5425, 12—17Aug, 7.30pm; 19—31Aug, 11pm, £5 (£4).
I JBﬂ Green Playing on a double bill with Lee Evans, we‘ve been tipped off that topical stand-up Jeff Green is one to watch. Watch this space to see if
the word was right. b
Lee Evans and Jeff Green
(Fringe) The Counting willl.l';’l:m:n House (Venue 66) 226 “no.” 2151, 9—31 Aug, 7.45pm, him
I Too Clever By Hall A ﬁlm
director and member of parliament, Mark Zakharov somehow gets. time to direct the Lenkom Theatre of Moscow in Ostrovsky’s comic masterpiece. T00 Clever By Half (International Festival) Lenkom Theatre of Moscow, Empire Theatre, 2255756, II—I4Aug, 7.30pm. I Khovanshchlna Moussorgsky‘s five-act opera is just one of host of performances by the Kirov Opera, but undoubtedly the most spectacular— the company has brought over an incredible 350 singers, dancers, musicians and technicians. An especially pertinent study ofthe forces of reaction and reform. Khovanshchina (International Festival) Kirov Opera of Leningrad. Playhouse Theatre. 225 5756, 10, 12 Aug, 7pm.
The List 9— 15 August 199135