I Brand Seen at Old Athenaeum Theatre. Glasgow. Touring to Cumbernauld Theatre 9—10 Apr. lflbsen's sprawling tale about the quest for spiritual absolutes is to be performed at all— and it was written only with the intention of being read it must be with a directorial flair that makes stylistic sense of its epic wealth of characters and near- cinematic production demands. Unfortunately. 'I’he Troupe lacks any hint of such flair and produces two and half hours of half- baked characterisation. imprecise use of space. and performances that are as unsympathetic to the text as they are to each other. Humourlcss and relentless. it isa production lacking in both colour and charisma.

I Dancing at Lughnasa

Theatre Royal. Glasgow.

Until Sat 28 Mar. Like a slightly more affluent Bondagers, Brian Friel‘s drama is a lovingly human re-creation ofa 193(ls rural Ireland where women rule the roost. It‘s a subtly constructed piece that sets its own bucolic pace. craftily engaging us in its various domestic tribulations and sharp sense ofhumour. so that we hardly notice Friel‘s finely-woven fabric of ideas to do with dogma. instinct and compromise from which the threads of the story hang. It‘s a rich and accessible play you‘ll be very lucky to get tickets for its remaining nights in Glasgow— pcrformed with verve. unity and understanding by this touring company. In particular Kate Fitzgerald brings an earthy charm to Maggie. the rough-and-ready force of stability in this 90 per cent female family. Inevitably. perhaps. what‘s missing is that rare edge that can only be achieved when an Irish company talks directly to an Irish audience and that must have infused the original Abbey Theatre production in 1990. But it‘s still a special play. sensitively handled and deservedly successful. (MF)


Laugh lines

Beatrice Colin goes in search of a laugh. a guffaw or even a titter in a selection of West coast comedy haunts.

Flavoured condoms. Sean (‘onnery

and panty pads with wings on the

comedy circuit these topics become

pretty familiar. You have to blame

one ofthe first ‘alternative' comics.

; Ben Elton for spear-heading the obscrvationalist style of humour : which has been wholeheartedly

adopted by so many. and wholeheartedly kicked to death.

- Glasgow. once home to such greats

as (‘hic Murray. Rikki Fulton and Billy Connolly. deserves better. but with a flourishing comedy club scene

1 which puts on truly diverse acts from

around the country. there is a choice ofvenue and the chance ofseeing some of the most exciting comedy in Britain.

Blackfriars' The Comic Club is the city's longest-running gig. Situated

in a narrow basement. it is a platform i

for up-and-coming Scottish comedy and has acquired a faithful. ifeasily amused. crowd. (‘ompere Jill Peacock hosted a night which featured three acts. First on were May and Fay. a singing duo. May (or was it Fay?) looks uncannin like Josie Lawrence’s student sister. Although they aren't hilarious. the pair are mildly funny in a tacky.

i l

Kenny Harris: natural delivery and perfect timing

wacky way. Next up was the ‘open spot’. where a bearded Geordie. a member of last week‘s audience. did an extremely tedious card trick. After the short interval. Glasgow‘s favourite suit. Stu Who'.’ commandeered the stage for an hour ofobservations. By this time the atmosphere was intimate and every move the audience made was incorporated into the act. Too many expletives and not enough gags for this reviewer's taste. but Stu has an off-the-cuff delivery which almost has you believing he's making it up on the spot. Blackfriars‘ appeal is in its laid-back. real—ale ambience and the genuine kindness of its audience. Rico‘s in Greenock hosts The Comedy Church every Sunday. 'I‘inted mirrors. a large friendly bouncer and a genial. friendly atmosphere makes it feel like you've gate-crashed sotnebody's 2 I st birthday party. (‘ompered by Parrot. his pockets stuffed full of amusing cuttings from the (ireenock local paper. the night featured John Gillick and Neil Robert Ilerd. (iillick‘s observations are in a personal vein and although he looks as boring as a bank clerk. his

fast-talking. unselfconscious style is very funny. Herd comes from Bute via London and has an uncanny resemblance to Louison in Delicatessen. Like Billy Bragg with a sense of humour. his set features politically aware songs interspersed with silly gags. Infinitely likeable. his wit is as sharp as his quiff.

Fools Paradise. at the Old Athenaeum Theatre. despite the most uncomfortable seats in any venue in Glasgow. is packed every Saturday night. It's the biggest venue running a comedy night and aims to present Britain‘s best new comedians. Resident compere ‘twittish' Jes Benstock got everyone in the mood and first onto the stage

2 was East Kilbride‘s Kenny Harris. A

natural delivery and perfect timing make this man‘s observations funnier than most. and he has the audience on his side from the start. Nothing could have prepared us for Chris Lynam. who was met by supressed gasps when he launched into a nonsensical monologue ending with. ‘My God. you‘re actually paying for this shit’. Like across between Pee Wee Herman. Tom Waits and an ex-member ofThe Cure. Lynam bases his act on a healthy disdain for the audience. Shock tactics include stripping off his clownish suit to reveal a dress with lacy tights and then eating copious amounts ofchocolate and smearing it over his chest yes. it was that sick. From a clever Chandler-style monologue to singing in a silly voice. he had the audience in hysterics almost despite themselves. Surreal, narcotic and highly entertaining. Lynam is a man to avoid at all costs. but not to miss. With comedy this strong. it should only be a matter of time before jokes about pina colada condoms are relegated to the toilet. See cabaret listings for details.


Seen at Knightswood Youth Centre, Glasgow. On tour.

Shuttling around a tiny podium in a safety-pinned coat, with a plastic bag of belongings and a bottle of Irn Bru, Michele Waering is playwright Frank McGuinness's hall-crazed baglady. In

a monologue of about 45 minutes, what

sounds at first like ranting, begins to take the form of a fragmented account of her life. Sexual abuse by her lather, the drowning of the resulting child and her emotional isolation have resulted in homelessness and derangement. With very little in the way of dramatic possibility, the production, directed by Lesley Finlay, relies heavily on symbolism. A huge, rusty chain suggests her guilt, and a pack of cards on which she recounts a tarot reading implies that hertragic life could have been dealt to anyone. Although the poetic language is slightly too dense

for the monologue’s short duration, the

production is carried by Michele Waering's bare-laced fervour.

(Beatrice Colin)


The Scottish Ballet. Seen at Theatre Royal. On tour.

Hoffman's tale of a toymaker trying to bring a doll to lite, of a young man falling for her, thinking that this image of female perfection is real, and the timely intervention of his fiancee, is credited with sparking oft Freud‘s history-changing imagination. It is also thought-provoking material for a ballet and much more than the simple vehicle for technical wonders that it might at first appear.

The choreography— Peter Wright has deterred to Petipa’s classic version the animated Delibes score and the careful design ironically emphasise the fact that the dancers themselves

look like dolls. It is the sprightly heroine Swanhilda (Noriko Ohara) and her tulle-clad friends who really ‘come to lile’ when they sneek inside the toymaker's house in the second act. These mischievous sequences and then Swanhilda’s impersonation of the doll - which not only subverts the toymaker's ideal of a young girl, but also runs rings round the creator himsell— point up the fairytale and balletic conventions of the first act and the female and male role-playing upon which they depend. It is more than coincidence that in the third act, the set returns to an open ‘stage for ballet' from the more anarchic toy-workshop interior, and that all the betrothed damsels, including Swanhilda, coming to dance before the Duke, are dressed in the same shade of sugar pink as the doll had been, complete with cute embroidered aprons.

The costumes are superb throughout, and the performance very stick. The beaming, ellin figure of Noriko Ohara is staggering to watch. Her dancing is light and assured, but full of personality; she may be in her 403 but she is perfect here, her experience allowing her complete mastery over her girlish role. (Catherine Fellows)

42 The List 27 March - 9 April 1992