Letting off steam
All around the town, the bars are shutting up shop. But the theatre goes on long into the night and tackles life’s darker issues, as Sue Wilson finds out in the Boilerhouse.
In their four years ofexistence Boilerhouse (formerly Mandela Theatre Company) have won the respect of audiences and critics alike for their confrontational, performances and their commitment to tackling contemporary issues with no punches pulled.
‘Our approach is very much one of non-naturalism.’ says director Paul Pinson. ‘We aim to recognise the uniqueness of the medium in which we’re working— we’re in a theatre and we don’t forget it, and we make sure the audience doesn’t forget it. either; they’re not sitting there with their packets of chocolate eclairs having theatre “done” to them. What we’re doing is pushing issues into people’s faces so that they have
to deal with them, but we’re not telling them how they should deal with them. The other thing I never lose sight ofis that, by God, I want to entertain an audience. By entertainment I don’t necessarily mean laughter, but the experience of going into the theatre and really being taken out of yourself in some way.’
Boilerhouse’s latest show, Play, Boy, a new work by award-winning Scottish writer Paula Macgee, concerns four female characters competing for centrefold status in a free-market ‘psycho-sexual emporium’. The play explores issues of exploitation and complicity through tales ofprostitution, child
abuse, telephone sex, violence and abortion. ‘There’s no “reality”, as such,’ says Macgee. ‘It’s not set in your granny’s kitchen, or up a close somewhere, it takes place very much in your mind. We start from the fact that men abuse women; we don’t really delve into the reasons why they do, we just take it as read. We deal with the reasons why women accept it, the many different forms acquiescence can take; like the old thing of Page Three girls, saying. "I don’t see the harm in it, it’s my body and I’ll do what I want with it.” They don’t see where that leads to; or, rather, that’s the point beyond which they choose not to see.’
As always, Boilerhouse do not want their audience to leave the theatre feeling too comfortable. ‘The main challenge is the same for the performers and the audience,’ Pinson says. ‘During rehearsals. all the actors in turn have told me that they keep seeing bits of themselves in the women they’re portraying. which they find really scary. And it‘s not just a female thing. Even though the men don’t actually appear, they‘re very much present, and l’ve been experiencing that sense of recognition as well. That‘s the challenge. I think there’s something in there for everyone to recognise.’ I Play, Boy (Fringe) Boilerhouse. Theatre Workshop (Venue 20) 226 5425,17—29 Aug(not23). 11.30pm; 30 Aug—5 Sept. 9.45pm, £5 (£3).
‘Don’t expect a normal interview,’ came the warning belore meeting Corky and the Juice Pigs. The Corkles (The Juices?, The Pigs?) hail irom Canada, not a country renowned lor its zanlness, but this trio, who could be described as ‘a musical comedy act’ it that epithet wasn’t so woefully inadequate, look like making up ior all oi their countrymen‘s deiiciencies. Their act is high velocity, high intensity, wham bam songs, belted out without any regard for audience inhibitions. Their interview technique lollows roughly the same track.
‘There’s like a big brother/little brother thing about the US and Canada,’ begins Phil, the most outwardly sane oi the group. ‘The Americans are like the older brother, the great guy, the lootball quarterback, and Canada is like the little brother who reads comics and ends up being in punk rock bands with zits.
‘That's the way we see ourselves,‘ continues Seen, the most vocal. ‘When
we started oil we'd come on and play a few songs and in between say, “Hello, we're stupid.” And that’s basically what we still do now, only longer, and more stupid.‘
As the interview increasingly looks like veering out at control, Phil attempts to draw things back to some degree oi normality while Sean seems content to verbally wander oil as far alleld as possible. For instance, this is how the group got its name.
‘We were touring in Alghanistan in a Kabul retreat in the late 1800s and had a candle wax stand,’ he says. ‘There was a riot and we had to pack up our
stuff and run, we tripped and wax spewed onto the sand. We were the only three to survive throughout the whole retreat. The pig is a religious ligure to the Alghans so the pigs were allowed to run tree in the streets. They ran through the wax as it dried and their hoot prints beat out the words Corky and the Juice Pigs, and we started touring all over northern India and eventually came down to the Ganges and bathed ourselves there. And i caught dysentery.’
The final memberoi the trio, Greg, as you may have gathered, is the quiet one. ‘I stand on the stage and pretend to look interested,’ he says alter some prompting. ‘Phll plays the guitar; he’s the best in the show cos he plays an instrument and he’s 80 good at it. And Sean is SO talented too. in tact i think I’ll leave, I’ll go and make some money for a change. I would be happy to be out of this group, it would be aces. Three square meals a day, a regular income.’ I think he’s kidding, but with this I crowd, you never can tell. (Philip Parr)
Zuberaree (Fringe) Corky and the Juice ; Pigs, Gilded Balloon (Venue 38) 226 l 2151, “Aug-5 Sept, 11.30pm, £5.50 ‘ (£4.50). |
Philip Parr checks out the late-night talent.
I Thea Vidale Big, bold, brash American comedienne with a rapier tongue honed in the Deep South downtown dives where she used to waitress. Not for the faint-hearted. nor for anyone with prejudices of any kind.
Thea Vidale (Fringe), Assemny at the Meadows (Venue 116) 229 9281, l4Aug—4Sept (not 18, 27, 1), 10pm, £6.50 (£5.50).
I Dylan Thomas: Return Journey Bob Kingdom’s tour-de-force.
which was a huge success last year. Dylan Thomas: Return Journey (Fringe) Bob Kingdom, George Square Theatre ( Venue3 7) 6502001, 15Aug,17—22 Aug, 10pm, £5, £8 (£6).
I Sin Bruce Morton, Scotland’s best comedian with a brand new show for the Fringe. Guaranteed excellence
‘ and, just possibly, a shot at the
Sin (Fringe) Bruce Morton, Riﬂe Lodge (Venue 101) 5571785, 17 Aug—5 Sept (notSuns), 10.45pm, £5 (£3.50).
I Variete Chameleon The world’s most happening town sends over what is reputedly one of the raunchiest cabaret groups in the world. Berliners’ humour can often be, err. . . lost on us Western audiences, but hopefully this show will set a new trend in trans-European mirth-making. Varieté Chama'leon (Fringe), Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, I4—22Aug, £6.50/£7.50 (£5.50/£6.50).
I Moulin Russ More trans-global comedy— this time from a tried and tested source. Moscow State University’s Blue Knights ofthe KGB comedy group is a far cry from the Oxbridge student medics who annually trek up to Edinburgh. In 1990, they sold-out over their entire run, received unstinting praise from all quarters and won a Fringe First. Moulin Russ (Fringe) Moscow State University, Hill Street Theatre (Venue 41) 225 7294, 16 Aug—5 Sept, 11.15pm, £5.50 (£4.50).
The List 14 — 20 August 10‘): 47