mama— MAJOR BARBARA
Cltlzens’ Theatre, Glasgow. Until 27 Sept.
Shaw audiences should have access to courtesy protective headgear belore they enter the auditorium; goodness knows you need some shield lrom his constant hall at polemic, and Major Barbara Is a particular triumph ol message over medium. Plot and characterisation are marginalised in deference to the overall proselytizing spirit. This play is simply a manilesto loosely draped in theatrical requisites which leaves your head buzzing with ideas but your emotional palate dry.
It is entirely to the Citizens’ credit that it recognises the paucity ol ellective characterisation and instead just plays up to it with a series oi stereotypical portrayals: Lady Brit, the domineering matriarch with the squishy centre; Stephen, the camp, snivelling son; Charles Lomax, the bulloon with the inheritance; and Snobby and Rummy, hearts ol gold, down on their luck but with lighting spirit- every one an insultineg obvious dramatic throwback, but every one played to maximum witty ellect.
Most important are the two poles at the debate: Barbara, major in the Salvation Army and nauseating paragon ol sanctimony, and her lather Andrew Undershalt, the munitions mogul played with the understated demeanour oi one who knows he's just a cipher in the writer's grander purpose. Barbara’s llance Adolphus, the man in the middle who eventually reconciles the blood and fire at both parties, is far and away the only truly llkeabie character, a man of sharp intellect but allable manner, played with elan by Gerrard McArthur. (Fiona Shepherd)
Y0 TENGO UN TIO EN AMERICA
Seen at the Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh. At Tramway, Glasgow, until Sat 12 Sept. One oi the cleverthings about Els Joglars' contribution to the Columbus debate is how the political commentary emerges slowly and organically from a show which is ostensibly cheery, vibrant and amusing. This is no tub-thumping polemic (lor all the kettle drums that are beaten), but a lile-allirming celebration that has an increasingly evident sinister side. Translated sparingly with the aid ol surtitles, this mental-asylum drama makes its points clearly and theatrically, although linguistic nuances can be lost on the non-Spanish speaker. In a forest ol ropes, which become everything lrom lreehouses to electrodes, a group at psychiatric patients extend to the limit the themes ol a drama-therapy class about the 'dlscovery' ol the Americas. When the role-playing patients start to conluse the doctors with conquistadores, there is further conluslon over whether it is America or Catalonia that is being conquered. The audience, wise to the various layers ol meaning, has a moral dilemma about whether to applaud the
doctors' accomplished llamenco dancing orto condemn it for its associations with Spanish imperialism. These additional repercussions broaden the play’s historical and geographical perspective to make a statement about all power relationships.
It the ideas are slower to develop in the second hall, it is nonetheless a production that demands to be seen lor the originality of its vision, the brashness of its politics and the chill at its concluding scene. (Mark Fisher)
THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING
Seen at preview perlormance at the Drama Centre at the Ramshorn, Glasgow. On tour.
Carson McCullers’s novels have all been made into films. Their light and shade, humour, despair and subtle characterisation spill lrom the pages into the imagination in Technicolor. This stage version at the novel was laithlully adapted by McCullers hersell.
Set in a small town in the deep Deep South, the plot lollows Frankie, an awkward twelve-year-old girl who discovers her brother is about to get married. Longing to escape from her childhood, which she spends playing with her young cousin John Henry, and listening to the expansive tales other black maid Bernice, she dreams ol the wedding as a means ol escape.
New Stage Theatre's production aims tor a cinematic realism. Music is used to underline certain dialogue and the set is naturalistic to the extent ol looking cluttered. Lynette Clark‘s leisty Bernice is excellently portrayed with a rare and powerful presence, lully lleshing outthe black mamma ol the Hollywood tradition. Her hot-headed husband, Honey, is also well played by Des McLean. But the rest of the cast are not so strong. It’s quite a challenge lor adults to play children. They become hen-toed and coy and start talking like Donald Duck. Judi Stewart plays Frankie like a hammed-up Huckleberry Finn, all swinging arms and Bisto smirking. Likewise, Becky Baxter's John Henry is intensely irritating as she upstages the rest at the cast by being cute and restless all the time.
This is an ambitious production, three acts long, dealing with taut and complex emotional and political themes. While hall the cast is straining towards realsim, the other hall seems to be playing panto. The result, at least on the strength at the preview night, is sadly cringeable. (Beatrice Colin)
The Lament for Arthur Cleary By Dermot Bo/ger directed by Iain Reekie designed by Graham Johnston lighting design by /an Scott
Acclaimed Dublin poet and novelist Dermot Boiger‘s powerful and moving drama of Arthur Cleary's return to Dublin. A passionate and lyrical tale. based on a Gaelic poem. Cleary becomes a figure of hostility and
hope to a disheartened community. and a means of escape for one enchanted young girl as they embark upon a tragic love affair.
Tron Theatre. Glasgow (Irish Festival) Wed 14 - Sun 18 October 7.30pm Box Office Tel: 041 552 4267
St Brides Centre. Edinburgh Tue 20 - Wed 21 October 8.00pm Box Office Tel: 031 346 1405 And on tour until Novemimr 2'1
Antigone: daughter of the dead king, Creon: the new ruler. The individual conscience against the power of the state in a compelling clash of human passions and pride.
On tour February and March 1993 Booking Now
BURN GUILTY The Children of Nazis
From the novels of Peter Sichrovsky
War Guilt at the most personal level.
On tour May and June 1993 Booking Now
C L O S E S H A V E A new play by Scots poet and playwright Jackie Kay
On Tour Autumn 1993 Booking Now
Information packs & full details from 7:84 Theatre Company Scotland, 2 Port Dundas Place. Glasgow, G2 3L8 Tel: 041 331 2219
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The List 11- 24 September 1992 43