The I book’s the thing
Mark Fisher name-checks the best of the year’s theatre books.
This was the year I discovered Oberon Books, a small London-based company with little presence in Scotland, but nonetheless remarkable for printing a large number of the plays of Robert David McDonald, the prolific translator and director at Glasgow’s Citizens' Theatre. There are six volumes currently in print, featuring nine plays up to 1990’s Enrico Four (Oberon £4.95). Oberon‘s address is 5 Richardson Mews. London W l P 5DF.
Nick Hern Books continues to do its bit for Scottish theatre. bringing out John Clifford‘s Light in the Village (NHB £5.99) and Chris Hannan’s
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The Evil Doers and The Baby (NHB £7.99), as well as Stephen Mulrine’s tranlations of Ludmila Petrushevskaya. Cinzano (NHB £12.99). and Martin Bowman and Bill Findlay‘s translation of Michel Tremblay‘s The Guid Sisters (NHB £8.99) in a volume which also. includes earlier translations of Sandra/Manon and Albertine in Five Times. Rona Munro recently won the Evening Standard Drama Award for Most Promising Playwright thanks to the London success of Bold Girls (but remember 7:84 did it first). and that play is included in
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First Run 3 (NHB £9.99).
Alan Spence’s collage of the life and times of Edinburgh’s Old Town was revived by the Royal Lyceum and published complete with photo-insert in Changed Days (Hodder & Stoughton £4.99) and the Traverse’s 1990 James Kelman hit was printed together with The Busker and In the Night in Hartlie and Baird and Other Plays (Secker & Warburg£5.99). Vivien Devlin’s King’s Queens and People’s Palaces (Polygon £9.95) presented a- browse-worthy 20th century oral history of the Scottish variety theatre.
In a year of political upheaval in the old USSR, two books with a Moscow theme coincidentally provided some of the most interesting reading. Dundee-born Brian Cox, who starred in the National’s King Lear and Richard 1]], reported on his work with students at the Moscow Art Theatre School in Salem to Moscow: An Actor’s Odyssey (Methuen £14.99), while Jean Benedetti brought together a fascinating documentary account of how that theatre was established in The Moscow Art Theatre Letters (Methuen £20). ,
Ifyou‘re looking for presents. you could try The Methuen Book oi Theatre Verse (Methuen £15.99), a labour of love bringing together every conceivable poetic reference to the
theatre from John Dryden to Elizabeth Jennings. Or there‘sJohn Lahr‘s entertaining backstage look at Barry Humphries in Dame Edna Everage and the Rise oi Western Civilisation (Bloomsbury £14.99). And for the more studious reader. there are opinionated biographical contributions in John Gielgud‘s Shakespeare — Hit or Miss (Sidgwick & Jackson £17.50). Donald Spoto‘s Laurence Olivier (Harper Collins £18) and John Osborne‘s A Better Class of Person (Faber £9.99) and AlmostA Gentleman (Faber £ 14.99).
The Bloomsbury Theatre Guide (Bloomsbury £14.99) was already the best reference book in its price range and it‘s just been broadened to include entries on John Clifford. Bill Bryden. Chris Hannan. Liz Lochhead, Rona Munro and Stuart Paterson. making it even more invaluable.
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The List 6— 19 December 1991 81