Joie de vivre
‘lt‘s just such a marvellous bloody tale. a beautiful thing to work on - it really reminds you ofwhat a play should be about, which is a huge slice ofthe world.‘ Communicado‘s artistic director Gerry Mulgrew is enthusing about Cyrano de Bergerac. the company‘s first Fringe production since 1989. Rostand‘s 19th century tale of a poet‘s love thwarted by his gargantuan nose. newly translated into Scots by poet Edwin Morgan, is presented as ‘a romp of the wilder sort‘, with ‘complete disregard for the rules of French costume drama‘.
‘Well. we can‘t afford the costumes. for one thing.’ says Mulgrew. 'But it‘s more to do with my approach to theatre in general. I don‘t like reverence — that‘s for religion. not for theatre. It‘s a battle. really, an engagement with a theme; you have to do battle with it. not bow down to it, otherwise you can‘t get hold of it, and the audience won‘t feel it.‘
Morgan‘s translation. while being. he says. ‘pretty faithful‘ to the
\ .. ,, original. takes the same kind of ﬂexible line. ‘1 think Eddie‘s responded to the spirit of the thing quite boldly.‘ says Mulgrew. ‘He uses a lot of modern. anachronistic words and phrases. which was a bit of a shock to read at first. but as we've rehearsed it. it‘s become very joyful. this mixture ofclassical poetic speech with rough street language. rap phrases and so on - it‘s just great. I love it.‘
Rostand‘s rhyming couplet verse form has been preserved in Morgan‘s version. in order to preserve the linguistic richness ofthe original. ‘1 think the play offers a great sense of poetic release.‘ Morgan says. ‘ln our time there‘s been a good deal of
realism around. political plays. plays ofsocial concern. and that's fine. but they‘re not always very interesting from a language point ofview. So it‘s good to get something like this which really pays homage to language; it‘s something l‘d like to see coming back a bit more. an awareness of language‘s importance in theatre.‘
considerable challenge to the actors. ‘First of all you have to work really hard to get the rhythm right.‘ Mulgrew explains. ‘And then you have to justify that rhythm emotionally — it's actually very good acting experience.‘
The play is described in the publicity as ‘a toast to poets in an age ofaccountancy‘. and the production is intended as a celebration ofwhat Mulgrew sees as the good things in life. ‘lt‘s really a celebration of Bergerac himself,‘ he says. ‘Ofthe way he thinks. which is very anti-establishment; he takes a stand against hypocrisy. against lies and deceit; he‘s a professional outlaw. His friends are the poets. the musicians and drunkards— the people with stars in their eyes. It’s an antidote to the last ten years. basically.‘ (Sue Wilson)
I Cyrano de Bergerac (Fringe) Communicado. Traverse Theatre (Venue 15) 228 1404. 15 Aug. 5pm; 16 Aug,1—5 Sept, 8pm; 18—23 Aug. 1pm; 25—30Aug4.30pm, £7 (£4).
It was the French-speaking monkey that did it. Eddie luard was about 45 minutes into his two-hour set, with the audience laughing continuously, but not helplessly. Then Izzard launched into a seemingly never~ending story about the primate who accompanied him on a trip to France and the audience was done lor. Inard’s tangential, wandering comedy lends itselito this kind at sudden impact. But it would be too simple ior this enigmatic surrealist to cultivate laughs in the conventional(lsh) manner oi using scripted material, so he now ad-Ilbs anything up to a quarter oi his show.
‘I think the harder I make it ior myseli, the more any tear that l have will disappear and the more risks I can take,’ says Izzard. ‘I think that perhaps you could go on and do an entirely dliierent show each night. ll you aimed tor something ridiculous like that, then you could keep pushing it back and see how iar you could go.’
Speaking to Izzard priorto a gig in Glasgow's Theatre Royal, the lormer street-entertainer was calmness personilied, even though he was about to step on stage without any concept oi what his iirsi line would be.
‘I think oi ideas,’ he explained in that pre-show limbo. ‘I might go out and say “Have you everthought about. . .lish” and then I'd look ior angles while l’m outthere. And because it's chatty all the way through, they think l’m going into something when, in iact, I'm just saying “Fish, lish, do you like lish?" and searching around ior something iunny to say.‘
Obviously our conversation stirred the iertile Izzard imagination, iorthe llrst hali hour at his show was littered with lish reierences. It is this
; improvisational zestwhlch makes
1 Izzard so very good: the stand-ups’
' ‘l’m quite happy to be called a
j stand-up. You don't have to have
; props, it doesn't matterwhal you wear, i you could break a leg and still do it.l
know that ii you ever stop and think
3 you’ve got it that’s when it all starts
, going backwards, so the idea is iustto keep pushing and see where it can go. ; Groucho Marx played Carnegie Hall at 82 and that made me think “Yeah you , can just keep going on and on iorever." '(Phillp Parr)
1 Eddie Izzard (Fringe), Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 226 2151 , 14 Aug—5 Sept i (not18,25,1),8pm,£6.50(£5).
The verse form. of course. presents a ,
sides ,, (16y; '
‘i .3. ’-
I . t 1 Sue Wilson picks iive mid-evening hits. I Scenic Flights The ‘ever innovative‘ Paines Plough company start out where Beckett‘s Happy Days left off, following the middle-aged, menopausal Winnie out of her mound and off on a voyage ofgeographical and personal discovery. Scenic Flights (Fringe) Paines Plough, Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, 13Aug—5 Sept (not 18, 27, 1), 9.30pm, £5.50 (£4.50). I Cyrano de Bergerac 'I‘op Scottish company Communicado return with Edwin Morgan‘s new Scots translation of Rostand‘s ebullient, romantic ‘heroic comedy". Cyrano de Bergerac (Fringe) Communicado, Traverse Theatre (Venue 15) 228 1404, 15 Aug, 5pm; 16 Aug, 8pm; 18—23 Aug 1pm; 25—30 Aug,4.30pm,1—5 Sept 8pm,£7 (£4). I Eddie Izzard The creme de la creme ofoddball wit. the apotheosis of ad—libbing, the stand-ups‘ stand-up— laughter doesn‘t come much more solidly guaranteed than this. Eddie Izzard (Fringe) Gilded Balloon Theatre (Venue 38) 226 2151,14 Aug—5 Sept (not Tue). 8pm. £6.50 (£5). I Holsten lmpro Five for the price of one — Jeremy Hardy. Kit Hollerbach. Stephen Frost. Alan Marriott and Ben Keaton — among them two Perrier-winners and a Comedy Store founder. Holsten lmpro (Fringe) Gilded Balloon Theatre (Venue 38) 226 2151, 14—29 Aug (not 27). 9.45pm. £6.50 (£5.50). I M8, Myseli Us Quirky and very funny two-hander from Forbes Masson and writer John McKay. in which a brat-pack author wakes up one day with an unusual case of writers‘ block: his creative side is l lying in bed next to (but very : definitely detached from) him. Me Myself Us (Fringe) Forbes Masson and John McKay, Assembly Rooms (Venue3) 226 2428, l4Aug—5
Sept (not 17, 24, 31) 8pm. I
£6.50/£7. 50 (LS/£6). The List 14 —-20August 1992 41