"Gaudeamus: a powerful indictment ofthe military

usual style, once the topic had been decided upon. there followed over a year ofrehearsals and improvisation sessions in which the actors contributed their own experiences of conscripts‘ lives. The end result is a play which, although set in the old Communist regime. still has resonances for Russians today who have seen little change in the military since last year‘s coup. However, in spite ofthe presence ofcorruption,

: beatings and the pointless, repetitive tasks peculiar to the army, Dodin‘s stage adaptation is more (and less) than a powerful indictment ofthe military.

Subtitled 19 improvisations, the play consists of frequently humorous vignettes which the actors and director conceived during rehearsals. While ostensibly depicting life in the army construction battalion where Kaledin set his novella, the company veers into dream sequences which include ballroom dancing on the drill square and making love atop a grand piano. Acclaim for the piece (which features an almost light-hearted depiction of a gang-rape) has been much less whole-hearted than was the case for Brothers and Sisters. However, everybody does agree that the visual style and panache remain unimpaired even ifthe whole is reminiscent of a group of squaddies given a free hand to perform whatever they wanted. But that is almost certainly the effect that Dodin hoped for anyway. Gaudeamus, Tramway, Glasgow, Mon 4—Thurs 7 May.

Palais ballet

‘As an event, it’s very controversial work,’ says Patricia Cowie, Dance Programme Co-ordinator for Mayfest, about Compagnle Claude Brumachon who she picks as this festival’s highlight. ‘You tend to find that half the audience comes out loving it and half will hate it; very few people will think it was wishy-washy. Their work is very theatrical and extremely physical - after seeing it I wondered how can they do that to their bodies, they must be just covered in bruises.’

This French company is presenting Les Palals des Vents, a diptych consisting of Eclats D’Abslnthe, which was first performed in a swimming pool and a Turkish bath, and Fauves, which was always intended for dry land. Sophie Constanti, writing in Dance Theatre Journal, described Part One as ‘a late-night exercise in carnal awareness . . . with knee-shattering, soda-masochistic movement vocabulary,’ and added that ‘it could not be relocated’. But that is exactly what Artistic Director Brumachon is going to do in Glasgow.

Brumachon started his choreographic


life in 1983 ith a performance at the famous Bagnolet Competition. One year later he won three prizes at the 1984 event which led, unsurprisingly, to a grant from the Ministry of Culture. During the next four years, he toured extensively to Eastern Europe and ltaly, and in 1988—9 he made Nautrages for Transitions Dance Company at the Laban Centre in London.

‘Brumachon’s favoured territory- the narcissism-ot-agony school - is where brute force, desperate couplings and flickering cruelty are interrupted only by moments of unashamed posing,’ writes Constantl. And the effect on the audience is spell-binding, as Cowie recalls. ‘You could have heard a pin drop from the minute it started until it ended,‘ she says. ‘It was absolutely silent. People were completely mesmerised by it.’ (Tamsln Grainger)

Le Palais de Vents, Tramway, Glasgow, Fri 1—Sat 2 May.



it might not have lost the rumble of trains from below, but with its comfy new seating bank, the Tron Theatre has transformed itself into the professional-looking space that its productions have long suggested. ‘lt’s less shambolic and more maturer ambitious,‘ says Artistic Director Michael Boyd of the new single-tier rake that ups the audience capacity by 52 seats to 272. The theatre has retained its rough-and-ready converted-church atmosphere, but lost the us-and-them distance of the old balcony, improved the acoustics and made space for a proper sound and lighting box at the back of the auditorium (distracting clunks from the side of the stage no more).

The opening production, directed by Boyd, is C.P. Taylor’s Good, which will go on to form part of the season of plays by the Glasgow-bum writer at the Edinburgh lntemational Festival in August. The additional support of the Festival has allowed Boyd to take on a relatively large cast - ten actors and tour musicians - for Taylor’s emotionally-disturbing drama about an ordinary ‘good' man who is sucked into the corrupting machinery of Nazi Germany. it’s the first of a long run of promising productions-some still at the planning stage - which includes a second revival of The Gold Sisters, a comedy by Forbes Masson, a new play by Anthony Neilson and an adaptation of Janice Galloway's The Trick is To Keep Breathing.

The last Scottish production o and atthe Brunton Theatre

Before all that, the Tron is attacking Mayfest from a second angle by moving into the Centre for Contemporary Arts for a staging of Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber. Adapted and devised by Assistant Director Caroline Hall in close collaboration with three actors (including Peter Mullen and Anne Lacey), a composer (Jane Gardener) and a designer (Angela Davies), the production teams Carter's sensuous reworking of the Bluebeard story with Bartok’s Duke Bluebeard’s Castle and elaborates from there. 1 wanted to have a go at putting a piece of prose on stage and be very creative with lt,‘ says Caroline Hall. ‘lt’s a performance piece rather than a straightforward play. We can go off at tangents, because it is just “based on" the story and you are free to fly. The aim is to make a beautiful, imaginative and inventive piece of theatre which still has the spirit of Angela Carter.’ (Mark Fisher)

Good, Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Tue 5-Sun 24 May.

The Bloody Chamber, Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow, Tue 19—Sat 23 May.


Jail words

While most theatre groups will be out enjoying themselves this Mayfest, one company‘s creative core will be stuck at home. This is because ‘home' for a good proprortion of Cat. A's members is Barlinnie Special Unit. The other section of Cat. A is made up of RSAMD students, and it is they who will be presenting three works at the Arches. The Eye of the Hurricane and Glasgow Boy are by Billy Elliot, an inmate of the special unit for the past five years. The third play, No Mean Fighter is a collaborative effort between Elliot and the rest of the company. The Eye of the Hurricane is a fifteen-minute confrontation between two inmates with sharply divergent opinions on rehabilitation. Talking to Billy Elliot, though, there is no doubt on which side ofthe fence he stands: ‘I think that the unit‘s the best thing since sliced bread,‘ he explains. ‘We've our own governor and staff, we’re self-contained within the confines of Barlinnie prison. it’s the only

' regime like this in the


world and it‘s a very dynamic place; there‘sa

' lot of creative guys in here

a lot ofwriters, poets

{ and artists.‘

Glasgow Boy concerns Elliot’s own childhood and slide into crime and he hopes that, especially on the community tour which follows Mayfest, that it will serve as a lesson. ‘lt‘s bascially for all the kids who‘ve been through the paths that I‘ve been through.’ he says.

No Mean Hero, a musical, centres on a Peterhead prisoner‘s dicovery of ‘Red Clydesider‘ John McLean‘s diary, hidden up an air vent for over half a century.

‘lt's about Peterhead,‘ says Elliot. ‘and talks about experiences shared by McLean and prisoners today- like solitary confinement. When McLean was in there. they tried to say he was

paranoid because he kept i claimingthattheywere " trying to poison him,

torture him. He was anything but paranoid— long term solitary's the worst torture known to man.’ (Philip Parr) Glasgow Boy. Arches Theatre, Fri 1—Sat2 May. No Mean Fighter/ E ye of the Hurricane, Arches Theatre, Sun 3 May.

The List 24 April 7 May I99213