Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh. Until Sat 17 Oct.
Every self-respecting theatre-goer cringes at the sight of a teapot on a stage. The pouring of tea — coffee and whisky are little better—invariany signals the worst excesses ol cloying naturalism; theatre that mirrors the deadening minutiae of everyday life; plays concerned with mundane objects instead of vibrant ideas.
Harold Pinter knows this and so does director Hugh Hodgart, lorwhen the best-drink-of—the-day leaves the pot in Old Times, every drop, every splash, every dainty tinkle of spoon against china grates across the uneasy silence, making tangible the awkwardness of the on-stage relationships, giving voice to the embarrassed politeness of human contact. Few plays could get away with it, but when Pinter pouring follows Pinter pausing, we see beyond the dry formality of the sparse dialogue to the inarticulated anguish that lies beneath.
I suspect that as this production runs, the three-strong company Michael ‘legs’ MacKenzie, Irene MacDougall and Basienka Blake—will get an even better measure of the fragile balance between what is said and what is left unsaid. Certainly on the first night, they were not far off, taking amazing risks with the length of their on-stage inactivity and, twitchy audience notwithstanding, just about getting away with it. A less enigmatic relationship between Deeley (Mackenzie) and wile Kate (MacDougall) might emphasise the shifts that take place when Kate’s
long-lost ilat-mate Anna (Blake) arrives, and similarly the brooding air of menace could be signalled more clearly as it develops, but these would be extra shades and subtleties in an already sensitive production.
Gregory Smith’s design, all polo necks, side-burns and cork tiles, is splendidly period, setting off a well-realised, if not quite brilliant, performance. Worth a look. (Mark Fisher)
Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh. Until Sat 17 Oct.
It’s not that the set, with cabin and sandy beach front, isn’t impressive. Nor is the lighting design, with its swirling clouds and cyclorama, ever less than excellent. And the costumes too should not be passed over without praise (with the possible exception of Sebastian’s trousers, whose problematic zip gave the Highers students a chuckle or two).
So why all the negatives? Because the Big Question the production provokes is ‘Why?’ Why set the play, however pretty it might look, on a late-Victorian beach? The ‘bugger it, it looks good,’ school of theatre has a long and noble tradition, but in their rush to register, the producers have had little time to consider any other aspects of the performance. Accordingly, the verse the actors speak is at best bereft of meaning, at worst completely garbled, and seldom clarified by the utterly irrelevant stage business they are obliged to engage in: fiddling with a deckchair, for instance, while discussing Olivia’s beauty.
But whatthe hell, it looks good, and the director has periodically plumped for outbursts of deliberateness as a safeguard against total incomprehension. So when Viola gets her man you know she lancies him, not only because she stands next to him, but because she stares at the side of his lace with wide eyes and open mouth. And that, in the lexicon of Rep, means Love.
Despite all this, the performance is in no way inferior to the bog-standard RSC production it so closely resembles, and far better given the comic skills the cast unleashes in the many humorous scenes of the play. (Stephen Chester)
- -".- -~N~‘r
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Wed 14-Sun 18 Oct - 7.30pm Tues 20-Wed 21 Oct - 8.00pm Box Office Tel: 041 552 4267 Box Office Tel: 031 346 1405
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TRON THEATRE GLASGOW
1% 0! TM! POPULATION 0i THIS COUNTRY OWNS 8‘95 0? THE WEALTM (Source The Econornisl 1986)
the old athenaeum
scotland's youth arts centre
the Carol Laula
band . special guest [days jane Weidlin A Regular Music presentation. Thurs 29 Oct, 7.30pm long. (doors) £6.50 wet, senior drama boring
groups Season of drama classes
for lS-2l and 22+. Limited Places.
Gold Bier presents Fools Paradise
Late night comedy every Saturday, starts with Greg Proops & Parrot. Sat 3| Oct, l0.30pm £6 (£3.50)
(OCt | 2 -l7) contact
bow/live.- MI 332 2333 ’m'vj'liw: 04! 332
I79 buchanan street.g|asgow.gl 212
the old athenaeum
scotland‘s youth arts centre
drama, workshops, movement, fun, performances
for the full programme
I79 buchanan Street.g|asgow_gl 212
The List 9 — 22 October 1992 45