Anideal facelift

Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre has been dragged into the 20th century with a major rebuilding programme. Mark Fisher takes a sneak preview of what’s in store.


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It has been a busy few months for building ' . " improvements in Scotland’s capital. The work in progr Netherbow, Theatre WOkahOP and the Queen‘s bar, twice as big and with easier access. For . an eye to this year’s Christmas show in particular, Halt have recently Upgraded thett aUdtehee wheelchair-users, there are ramps, a new lift and a Artistic Director, Ian Wooldridge, is looking facilitieS, White 0"er in Grthdta)’ Street~ a Year's shelf at the box office at a usable height, while the forward to using equipment that is both efficient worth OfSUbStantiat TebUtIdthg t5 abet“ to be backstage area has been adapted to the needs of i and economical. ‘You can fly a piece of scenery completed at the Royal Lyceum The sum 0t£3oe disabled actors. The theatre is following the ' and it‘s not going to take six guys to do it, it‘ll take million has been spent in order that the teStdeht admirable work at the Citizens‘. Glasgow, by one guy,‘ he says. ‘The designers have always company can better cOPe bOth With the VaSt . introducing signed and audio-described thought imaginatively, but now they can exercise increases in audience numbers - now 150,000 a performances on selected nights, as well as an that additional resource.‘

year, compared to 1984‘s 92,()()()- and with the induction loop system operating throughout the The company is maintaining its commitment to backstage technical demands of a modern theatre. theatre. the classics and to a mixed season of comedy and

The most immediately apparent alteration is the Upstairs, the Grand Circle bar has been drama, but ideas that were once daunting— such as

large, glass foyer extension at the front, making extended by moving the women’s toilets Tankred Dorst‘s epic and demanding Merlin lined the building more visible from Lothian Road and elsewhere, and old office space has been up for April can now be tackled with much more creating an audience reception space three times converted into a reception suite for sponsors. No confidence. And in the long-term, if funding is

as big as before. ‘The foyer was extremely longer relying on the unpredictable heating plant forthcoming, the company hopes to turn its cramped,‘ explains General Manager Roger once shared with the Usher Hall, the theatre now rehearsal area into an adaptable studio to

Spence in the comfy new administration offices , boasts a reliable heating and air-conditioning complement its main stage work. In the meantime. over the road in the old Heriot Watt Students j system. ‘The general ambiance in terms of period the company is kicking off its season with what Union. ‘We‘ve created this new space which is ; feel will remain,‘ says Spence, ‘there‘ll just be should be a crowd-pleasing Oscar Wilde comedy. unashamedly modern. We felt that it was far more . more space to appreciate it. People won‘t feel so ‘Inevitably there‘s going to be a buzz about the appropriate to do something that was modern and ; crushed and pushed around when they come, and opening of the building,‘ says Wooldridge, ‘and I stood alone rather than something that somebody l hopefully that will be a good experience they will think An Ideal Husband is going to be an

in 50 years’ time would take away and say, ' want to repeat.‘ appropriate piece to keep it up. It‘s going to be “Yeuch! That awful 19905 excrescence!“.‘ I But the changes aren’t all to do with pandering to very stylish and a lot of fun.’

Once inside, the audience will find the old : the comfort of the audience. It‘s going to take time broom-cupboard of a sweet stall replaced by a l for directors and designers to fully appreciate the An Ideal Husband, Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, Fri

full-sized shop and the previously cramped Stalls i potential of the backstage modifications, but with 6—Sar28 Sept.

. A book at


Set against the rural landscape of the Meams In North-East Scotland, Sunset

rural nostalgic play,’ says director , Billy Jackson of Ossian, has been

Tony Graham. ‘What we were looking i developed organically on a day-to-day

for was a contemporary vantage point. i basis. The company has also

; How do we look at Sunset Song in the collaborated with choreographer

l 90s?’ Andrew Howitt, using his skills not in ‘a

Graham notes two major points: the series at pretty dances', but in

question of sexuality-the incestuous structuring the telling ol the story. ‘We

obsession of John Guthrie and his wanted to avoid establishing the

i daughter— and more broad-ranging oppressiveness ol the work on the land

Song is a celebrated ScottiSh Class": by ' ' <1 " i ' philosophical concerns by naturalistic representation,“ says Lewis Grass": Gibbon- A Passtonate "5 "‘"t" "mm sun‘t’tsm'“ i contradictions, ambiguities and 9 Graham. ‘At times we just dropped hall and evocative story of Chris Guthrie by Alastair Cording, the company has , paradoxes embedded in Gibbon’s E a page or text and went for a I and her life within a traditional farming tried to lind the essence of the story, f mmng. TAG has worked as an i choreographed moment, because it community at the heliihhihil M the but more importantly to capture the : ensemble to develop these rich layers i said it much more clearly.’ (Michael , century, it has now been adapted lor spirit of the book in theatrical terms. : in me production, Baum") ' the staoe bv TAG Theatre Company. ‘We were not trying to nresent It as a l The design by Karen Tennent, and to . Sunset Song, Tron Theatre, Glasgow, From the commissioning DI the SCIIpt historical spectacle, or as a kind DI i some extent the music by George and um" Sun 8 Sept, and touring.


The. List 30 August —— 12 September 1991 47