am Snake in

the grass

Blake Brooker and Denise Clarke of Canada’s One Yellow Rabbit company tell Sue Wilson about their decidedly different take on East-West relations.

‘So much theatre is so boring how many times have you been to the theatre and just wanted to cut your own feet off. anything. just for some stimulation. So for us it‘s not a case of. are we pressing all the right philosophical and intellectual buttons. it‘s this simple thing: are we boring?‘

Director/co-author with the Canadian One Yellow Rabbit ensemble. Blake Brooker certainly doesn‘t come across as boring. despite a bad case ofjet-lag. and neither does their show. Serpent Kills. on which he and choreographer/performer Denise Clarke are eagerly expounding. ‘lt‘s about the image the West has ofthe East. and the image the East has of the West.‘ Brooker explains. ‘Each represents a certain kind of freedom to the other. and people who travel between the two carry these ideas in their heads. so that even when

amm- Belfast and


‘It certainly grabs your attention, doesn’t it?’ says Damon Quinn from Belfast’s Hole in the Wall Theatre of his company’s new show title. Butthis isn't just the usual comic opinlng about how witty and imaginative he and his chums have been, for the show is called, ‘Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Northern Ireland But Were Too Terrorised To Ask’. Dangerous, even taboo, topics have become the norm in a Hole in the Wall revue. Coming from a region where far too much is sacred, the five-person group have gone in completely the opposite direction respecting nothing and nobody.

‘It may well be regarded as very black

l l

x I“ :2: l they're actually in the other reality. they‘re not interacting with it.‘

At the play‘s centre looms the real-life figure of Charles Sobraj. an Indian/Vietnamese ‘businessman'. murderer and con-man who, in South East Asia during the late 70s. led a gang on a crime and killing spree which left at least fifteen tourists dead. Sobraj exerted a mesmeric influence over his associates. in particular his Canadian girlfriend Marie Andree LeClcrc. who abandoned an utterly conventional and respectable small-town existence to join what Brooker calls ‘this maelstrom of anarchic criminal activity. where you don‘t give a shit for anybody else‘s rules.’

Rather than simply re-telling the story. however. the company use it as a springboard for a Conrad-esque exploration of how seductive fantasies about the hippy-paradise freedom of the mystical East. or the anything-goes-as-long-as-you‘re- rich freedom of the West can all too easily slip into a dangerous blurring of moral boundaries. An exploration. too. of how an excess of rules can contribute to the same end. as in (Brooker and Clarke believe)

humour,’ says Quinn, “but it’s very much to do with our own experiences. Being a Northern Irish company we are dealing with a lot of things about Northern Ireland or dealing with other issues from a Northern Ireland perspective and that can get quite dark. But I wouldn’t say it’s pessimistic or anything like that. And it’s certainly not apologetic. Most oI all, it’s funny: it’s not a whinge or in any way intended to beseflous!

In the show, expect to see

i well-known Northern Irish celebrities

such as Ian Paisley (discussing a very personal problem with Claire Rayner), a Belfast edition of the Antiques Roadshow in which the punters attempt

'to find the value of the Alt-47 they found

in the attic and a homely Down Your Way in South Armagh where the old custom of command-wire bombing ls looked at. Tackling these issues has won the company a great deal of praise since Its formation in 1986. Last year,

-1, i .7" 33'


l NW» . s

the ease of Marie LeClcrc. ‘Imagine if you‘d never had an orgasm.‘ Clarke says. ‘You’re from this stultifying background. small-town Quebec, going to mass six times a week. and you come across a world of intense passion. ofbreaking every rule. right there in front of you. She

just went all the way she fell in love.

and all of a sudden she was in so deep she didn't know what the rules were any more.‘

The company develop their characterisation and themes using an emotionally-charged combination of dramatic, poetic and dance techniques. with visually striking. physically intense and emphatically non-naturalistic results. ‘We want to go beyond naturalism,‘ explains Brooker, ‘simply because we live naturalism let‘s get away from it in the theatre. Then again. when people say to us that our stuff is weird. it’s not real, I‘d say that every morning when you get up and open the door you‘re looking into a reality that's far. far weirder than anything we could do onstage.‘

I Serpent Kills (Fringe) One Yellow Rabbit. Traverse Theatre (Venue

15) 228 1404, until 5 Sept (not Mons), 9pm, £7 (£4), 8—10pm.

they won the Best Comedy award in the UK National Sony Radio Awards for their show ‘A Perforated Ulster’, ‘beating all of the competition including Weekending and the Huddllners, although that’s no leatl

i suppose,’ says Quinn, once again

displaying that lack of respect which makes Hole in the Wall’s comedy so successful. And the show is getting better all the time, alter a few initial hiccups when trying to make the transfer from radio to stage.

‘The first year we went to Edinburgh there was a cast of about 30 and blackouts all overthe place- a major Richard Attenborough production. This year there’s just the five of us and we think we’ve got it right.‘ (Philip Parr)

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Northern Ireland But Were Too Terrorised To Ask (Fringe) Hole in the Wall, Festival Club (Venue 36) 650 2395, 24 Aug—5 Sept, 8.30pm, £4 (£3).


Sue Wilson picks out live shows to fill in that tricky gap between the fish supper and the late-night cabaret.

I Jo Brand Laid-back. larger-than-life comedienne, with a truly wicked glint in her eye. who enjoys nothing more than testing the shockability of so-called New Men. 10 Brand (Fringe) Assembly Rooms (Venue 3) 226 2428, until 5 Sept, 8pm. £6.50/£7.50 (£5.50/£6.50).

I Grimm-The Telling oi the Tales All the bits of fairy stories your mum never read to you at bedtime murder, incest, cannibalism. infanticide and more, imaginatively staged by Edinburgh University Theatre Company.

Grimm The Telling of the Tales (Fringe) E U TC, Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49) 225 9893, until 29Aug, 8.15pm. £4.50 (£3.50).

A- "4 \’

I Doug Anthony Allstars More manic musical mayhem. spitting, swearing. bestiality. brutalism and general inspired silliness from the three Antipodean Fringe favourites. on fine form with an all-new show. Doug Anthony Allstars (Fringe) The Pleasance (Venue 33) 556 6550, until 5 Sept (not27, 29Aug), 9.30pm, £7 (£5.50). I Below the Belt Intense. disturbing two-hander by the Northern Production Co. about male violence rearing its ugly head in a yuppie relationship. Below the Belt (Fringe) Northern Production Co, Assembly Rooms. 226 2428, until5 Sept (not27), 8pm, £7.50/£8.50 (£5.50/£6.50). I Mitchell Zeidwlg Musical comedy. balancing tricks and much more from a top classical pianist-eum-comedian. here with his first solo show. Mitchell Zeidwig (Fringe) Pleasance (Venue 60) 556 6550. until5 Sept (not 27), 8.15pm, £6.50 (£5.50).

The List 21 27 August 1992 43