Spirits, mirrors and quartz

Mark Fisher rounds up the latest crop of new shows.

It’s that old pre-Mayfest lull again, when local companyis hold their fire before entering the cultural combat of Glasgow’s annual spring festival. The big theatres have shows up and running as ever, but there’s relatively little new on the touring and small-scale circuit. But what there is could well prove to be worth seeking out.

As we go to press, Glasgow’s Tramway is opening Speaking Volumes, its three-play season of stage adaptations of books, with Paines Plough’s treatment of George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London. Directed by Anna Furse, who also directed Augustine and Sky Woman Falling in last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, the show drafts in 50 local people to play the part of the homeless in 1920 and 305 Paris and London with whom Orwell lived to research his book. Each city the production visits provides a new set of volunteers to form the gloomy backdrop of mass-unemployment.

That production precedes firstly Communicado’s Therese Raquin, reviewed on the next page, and secondly Yorick Theatre Company’s adaptation of Isabel Allende’s epic


State Theatre’s The Ouartz Cycle opening at Science Festival

House ofthe Spirits. Yorick is also a regular visitor to the Edinburgh Fringe, receiving a Fringe First a few years ago though faring less well with the George Tabori plays Mein Kampf: Farce and Weisman and Copperface in 1990 and 1991 at the Traverse. The new play is a considerable step up in scale for director Michael Batz, premiering in the airy space ofTramway before a national tour and taking two evenings or one all-day marathon to get through. Batz secured the first stage rights from the Chilean writer for this political novel which traces a family through three generations of women with magical powers.

Another company looking to up the scale of its operations after Fringe First success is Edinburgh’s American Connexion which has



| long-term plans to tour Europe. Before those

ambitions can be realised, it is presenting the Scottish premiere of two Arthur Miller one-aeters from 1984 collectively billed as Two-Way Mirror. The plays Elegy ForA Lady about a married man’s quest to understand his love for his mistress, and Some Kind of Love Story about a detective who pieces together a murder story from his prostitute lover are more abstract in style than Miller’s early realist work, concerning themselves with deception, meaning and coherence. The double bill tours Scotland and down to Newcastle and London.

Finally, three new plays open this fortnight; The Quartz Cycle by State Theta, The Response by Impetus Theatre and Damaged Goods by Wiseguise Productions. Opening at Edinburgh‘s Science Festival, The Quartz Cycle is a multi-media trip through geological time that tells the story of quartz; sounds pretty unlikely, but the involvement of director David Glass, who recently brought Gormenghast to Tramway, is likely to make all the difference. David Harrower won the British Telecom Scottish Young Playwright of the Year Award in 1990 and The Response, at Glasgow‘s RSAMD and his first commissioned play. is about public and personal reactions to the Gulf War. Over at the Arches Theatre, Damaged Goods by Martin McCardie also takes a look at war, this time from the perspective ofa young Scot

, who wants to join the IRA but changes his perspective when he kidnaps a British soldier to

prove his worth.

Down and Out in Paris and London, Tramway, Glasgow, until Sat 11 Apr.

House of the Spirits, Tramway, Glasgow, Thurs 2 3-Sat 2 5 Apr.

Two Way Mirror, on tour.

The Quartz Cycle, on tour.

The Response, RSA MD, Glasgow, until Sat 11 Apr.

Damaged Goods, Arches Theatre, Tue 14—Sat 18 Apr.

Strings attached

Although of noticeably smaller scale than certain other Edinburgh festivals, the Puppet and Animation Festival is nevertheless the largest gathering oi puppeteers in Britain. From modest beginnings in 1985, first Edinburgh Council, and this year the Fllmhouse, have collabomed with the lietherbow .Arts Centre to make the festival a city-wide event. Organiser Donald Smith is keen to point outthe importance of the Filmhouse’s involvement in taking the festival to new heights.

‘Thls is the most important development so far,’ says Smith. ‘It is a quantum leap forward for us to create an entirely new event; this is the first ever combination of live puppetry and animation in a iolnt festival anywhere in the world.

“The moving images of puppetry and animation have a unique ability to evoke everything from the folk tale to science fiction,’ he continues. “They're uniquely flexible, exciting and hands on.’ This theme is evident in the programme of events for the festival which lays as much emphasis on the use of puppetry in education and therapy for the disabled as it does on performance. The plan is to involve the public In the creation of the puppets and sets before the final show is put on bythe professionals. Unfortunately, in all but one case, the workshops and performances are for children.


htoliy Whuppi ad the Giant in Pekko's Puppets' Molly Whuppie Am.

‘The intention was for the animation section, which includes filmmakers like Jan Svankmajer, to push the age range up,’ explains Smith, ‘but the target range for this year is still children. I hope that next year we’ll see the puppetry moving in the same direction but we have to establish our audience first and then move forward. We do want to support the British companies that are doing work for adults and we think that, as the festival grows, we'll be able to attract them here. That’s the underlying strategy of the whole thing -that we'll be able to , offerthe Scottish audience a much more balanced view of puppetry than it i currently has.’ (Philip Parr)

; Edinburgh Puppet and Animation ' Festival, Netherbow Arts Centre and Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Mon 13-Sat 25

The List 10— 23 April 1992 41