I Mollie McCollie Traverse Theatre. Edinburgh. Sat 7. Sat 14 and Sat 21 Dec, 12.30pm. Man‘s best friend is the apple of Harry‘s eye. the canine anodyne to his ‘wife‘ troubles. He dotes on Molly the Collie; his neglected wife finds comfort — and eventually death— in drink. Harryis nostalgic. but unperturbed. and before calling a doctor. he feeds the dog. An unsugared black comedy by David Kilby as pathetic as it is funny. and acutely well-observed. Recommended. (AH)
I The Angels With Closed Eyes St Bride‘s Centre. Edinburgh. Run ended. Unlike anything l‘ve seen. Japan‘s Third Stage Company presents a high-energy blend of allegorical fantasy and JapaneseTV parody. Technically brilliant. the level of enthusiasm can become wearing. but it‘s one of the most accessible — and amusing — Japanese shows l‘ve seen. (MF)
I The Archive of Countess D Netherbow Theatre. Edinburgh. Run ended. Anyone who can make the tiny Netherbow stage look so huge and interesting must be doing something right. Fifth Estate celebrates the end ofits first year with a production of uncommonly high professional standards for any company, let alone one so young and small. Excellent set and lighting design and many imaginative. often witty. interpretations of the characters in Alexis Apukhtine's Russian short story, make this a thoroughly enjoyable night. (MF)
bl- ’ 1' I Spinning A Line Seen at Traverse Theatre.
Edinburgh. Run Ended.
Can’t help thinking I‘ve heard many of the themes in this year’s new writing festival several times before, but there are signs that the latest batch of novice playwrights have at least begun to graspthe mechanics of play structure. Not surprisingly, The Cellar by Lance Flynn, with two professional productions to his name, stands out as the most sophisticated piece, but there are solid showings from Kathleen C rombie in Mouthing Off and David Kilby in l Slept
L With Goofy. (MF)
The Steele thing
Mark Fisher sees a 305 comedy and a 505 musical and comes out smiling.
ln Philip Prowse‘s production of Design For Living at the Citz. Noel Coward's sense of humour plays second fiddle to the company‘s own eccentric idea of fun. It's an odd policy that produces a disappointingly ﬂat. even sour. reading ofthe early part of the play,
’11}. .. Laurance Rudic and Roberta Taylor In Noel Coward’s Design For Living
discomfort of an emotional triangle.
; Otto and Leo (Jonathan Phillips and : Greg Hicks) are very fond ofeach 1 other and, it transpires, both in love
but that wins out with what develops ;
into a liberatingly original interpretation by the end. It goes to show that the company has not yet lost its ability to shake life into old standards in irreverant and surprising ways.
The most obvious innovation is that (‘oward‘s society comedy of free-thinking partner-swapping has been updated from the 305 to the present day. It‘s a transition that
works remarkably smoothly; a minor
line about the price of a painting has been altered and there‘s an inspired gender-change ofone character from wealthy young wife to fashion-victim gay man, but Coward's vision would seem progressive even without such interventions. The undertones of bisexuality and theme of true love conflicting with socially acceptable behaviour are emphasised here. but not in a way that is oppositional to Coward‘s intentions. It‘s a provocative play and the Citz rises to the challenge.
Prowse directs the first halfof the evening almost as a tragedy of passions. underplaying the glib one-liners and drawing out the
with Gilda (Roberta Taylor. interestingly cast older than her foppish admirers) whose affections are similarly divided. Earnest Friedman (Laurence Rudic), a slightly older friend and art dealer, waits in the wings to give expression to his more austere feelings. Rudic
gives an intriguing performance I which grows in stature as the play progresses. but which is too subtle to
do justice to the broad comedy of the opening act. Consequently, it is not until the end of Act Two when Otto and Leo join forces in a wonderful scene of drunken reconciliation — Hicks slipping into a bizarre French accent. Phillips sending up the script with a brief spot of Alan Whicker— that the production begins to find its comic pace and energy.
But one of the show‘s great strengths is the peripheral detail that constantly colours the action: a sharply-observed French concierge with mumbling delivery men in tow; Ellen Sheean's maid completing impossible backstage laps to reappear at unexpected entrances with a top-volume Hoover or a curious way with the telephone; or Hicks and Phillips‘ inexplicable conversion to Hare Krishna. These are details unique to the production that point to inventive theatrical
minds, able to resist slavishly following the text and to present a play afresh. If Coward’s own comedy had been allowed to breathe with the same sort of flexibility. it could have been an irresistible production.
Leaping a couple of decades across to the King’s Theatre. Edinburgh, we find Tommy Steele leading an all-singing. all-dancing stage version of Some Like It Hot. The man with — depending on your disposition - the most infectious or most irritating top-teeth grin in showbiz. teams up with Billy Boyle as Joe and Jerry, the musical double-act forced into cross-dressing to join an all-female band in order to escape from vengeful underworld hoods. It’s a classic plot-line leading to comic situations aplenty and this
' production, directed by Steele
himself, has the confidence to let it
work for itselfwithout playing on the
success of the original movie version. If the sadly ubiquitous use of
; microphones means that the songs —
a different set to the film — are rarely tackled with much force, it is nonetheless an exceptionally slick and well-timed show, with tight choreography, stylish red and gold Art Deco designs and smoothly-orchestrated special effects. Terry Parsons’s sets are reminiscent of the film. but claim the stage for their own, making full and varied use of the space and overcoming problems, such as how to represent a train interior, with skill and imagination.
The two men in women's clothes give an early hint ofpanto delights to come. Billy Boyle particularly enjoying his spell in drag. and there are enough witty one-liners to keep the show moving. I couldn‘t claim it is better than the film. but it certainly makes for an enjoyable evening, the undeniable highlight ofwhich being ‘ a quite brilliant car chase played out before a back—projected film sequence co-ordinated with an accuracy that is both hilarious and thrilling.
Design For Living, Citizens’ Theatre, Glasgow. until Sat 23 Nov.
Some Like It Hot, King ’3 Theatre, Edinburgh, until Sat23 Nov.
Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh. Until Sat 7 December.
In a year of 703 revivals. Roddy Machllan's 1973 play stands up as well as any, here In the capable hands of a strong cast. MacMillan's un-selfconscious use of Glasgow speech and humour rings true, his characters are sharply drawn, and he develops dramatic situations with ease.
Set in a glassworks, the play centres on the arrival of new boy Norrie. The basics of the unfamiliar trade thus need to be explained to him, which is also handy for the audience. It's an unoriginal device, but MacMilIan
Joseph Brady as Peter Lailaw and Donald Douglas as Bob Damley in the Royal
Lyceum's The Bevellers
knows how to make it work. In his first professional role, Kevin Green as Norrie gives a confident and controlled performance, quite on a par with his experienced peers.
Kenny Ireland’s direction rattles the thing along at great speed. But It's
frustrating that the actual work-activity Is so skimmed over. Whether for safety or other reasons, you don’t see much bevelling - enough, certainly, to satisfy the demands of realism, but on another level, such activity in Itself can become theatrical.
The play’s weaknesses emerge in the second act, which falls to develop the tensions of the first. Nevertheless, it ends strongly, with the two antagonistic hard men siding together against Norrie to maintain the status quo. At moments like this, wider implications ripple out. These might include the question, why didn't theatre culture In Scotland challenge MacMIIIan to write a whole lot more than his two finished plays? (Ken Cockbum)
TWO FLIGHTS T0 MADRID TO BE WON! SEE BACKLIST SPAIN FEATURE
50 The List 22 November — 5 December 1991